Authors: Adele Parks
Copyright Â© 2013 Adele Parks
Â© 2014 Adele Parks
The right of Adele Parks to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published in Great Britain in 2013
by HEADLINE REVIEW
An imprint of HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
First published as an Ebook by HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP in 2013
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN: 978 0 7553 7140 2
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
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Table of Contents
Adele Parks worked in advertising until she published her first novel in 2000; she has since published twelve novels, all of which have been top ten bestsellers and her work has been translated in to twenty-five different languages. Adele has spent her adult life in Italy, Botswana and London until 2005 when she moved to Guildford, where she now lives with her husband and son. Adele believes reading is a basic human right, so she works closely with The Reading Agency as an Ambassador of the Six Book Challenge, a programme designed to encourage adult literacy. In 2011 she was a judge for the Costa Book Awards.
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âSweet, sharp and simply unforgettable' Lisa Jewell
âA must-read. Romantic, yet truthful, this is a moving love story with unforgettable characters' Jenny Colgan
âA heart-warming, heartbreaking tale of love and loss, with an ending that will knock you off your feet. This is Adele Parks at the top of her game' Mike Gayle
âUtterly engrossing and beautifully written' Freya North
âA fairy tale with bite. Sparkly, compelling and â ultimately unexpected' Jane Fallon
âAdele Parks' wonderful and heartbreaking new novel with stay with you' Chris Manby
âAdele Parks is a deft observer of human nature' Kathleen Tessaro
Larger Than Life
The Other Woman's Shoes
Still Thinking Of You
Young Wives' Tales
Happy Families (Quick Read)
Tell Me Something
Men I've Loved Before
About Last Night
Whatever It Takes
The State We're In
What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.
She's a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he's a resolute cynic â cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.
People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn't even realise they needed.
Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it's when they get off the plane, that their true journey beginsâ¦
A huge thank you goes to my fantastic, supportive, generous editor, Jane Morpeth. I'm grateful to the entire team at Headline; you are â without exception â impressive, dedicated and, well, just lovely! Sorry I made you all cry when reading this one. Special thank yous are due to the hardcore team: the fabulous Georgina Moore, Vicky Palmer, Barbara Ronan and Kate Byrne who all work so tirelessly on my behalf. I also owe a huge thank you to the marvellous Jamie Hodder-Williams.
Thank you, Jonny Geller, for another year of immense brilliance. That says it all really. This thank you extends to all at Curtis Brown for your amazing promotion of my work, home and abroad.
Once again I'd like to thank my readers; I hope I always thrill and entertain you. Thank you to my family and friends, my fellow authors, book sellers, book festival organisers, reviewers, magazine editors, TV producers and presenters, The Reading Agency and librarians who continue to generously support me and my work.
Thank you, Jimmy and Conrad â it's still all about the two of you.
o you know all about love, do you?'
âI know enough.'
âWell, I know nothing. I don't know anything about aliens, or ghosts, or any other empty phenomena either.'
She laughed, as though she thought he was joking. The laugh flew out into their history. It was a strong, heartfelt laugh; bigger than her. He wriggled in his seat, uncomfortable that he found himself intrigued by her nonsense.
you believe in love?' she asked, unable to hide her incredulity.
âOh, the usual. I think it brings nothing but pain,' he said, pulling a well-practised, neatly deflective hound-dog expression. He mocked himself so that she wouldn't guess how serious he was.
âHating isn't exactly a bag of laughs either, though, is it?' she pointed out. âI've never met a happy cynic, or a miserable optimist, come to that. So obviously being an optimist is the way to go. Open-and-shut case.' She beamed, content in her own reasoning, and he slowly moved his head from side to side, bemused. Amused.
ddie stood on the step of his terraced house in Clapham and drew a deep breath. He took in as much of the chilly blue-black night as he could; slow, calming breaths that he hoped might rinse away some of the smells of good times that Diane was very likely to object to. Smoke on his clothes, whisky and beer on his breath; he'd need to shower to remove the scent of woman. As he paused, he noticed that the people next door were now also ripping up the black and white Victorian tiles that decorated the front steps. Eddie had got rid of theirs as soon as they'd inherited. They'd pulled out the old bath and replaced it with a more sanitary plastic suite, in avocado green. They'd installed central heating too, done away with the mess and inconvenience of real fires. He'd felt unshackled. Out with the old, in with the new. Progress. Looking forward, that was what it was all about. Not looking back. That had never been his style. Never would be.
Diane hadn't wanted to make the home improvements. She'd gone on about original features, insisting that they would one day come back into fashion; she hadn't wanted to change anything from the way her mum and dad had had it when she was a girl.
âYeah, but when we want something bigger and need to sell on, no one will look at this dump in its current state,' Eddie had explained. Frankly it irritated him a bit that she had no idea that everyone else in the world actually enjoyed living in the twentieth century. She'd become upset and unreasonable, which was often her way nowadays, especially after a glass of wine.
âWe don't need anything bigger. We can't afford anything bigger!' she whined. Her voice was always whiny or screechy. Had been for a few years.
It was true that they struggled to pay the bills on this place, but even so Eddie regretted Diane's lack of ambition. Anyway, it was his house, even if they had inherited it off her parents. Law of the land. If he wanted to sell it, he could do just that. He found the old panel doors, parquet floors and stone sinks depressing. He'd told her he wasn't going to live in a museum. So they'd all gone.
Eddie sighed as he recognised that he hadn't done much in the way of redecorating for over a year; he'd discovered that no amount of orange plastic chairs could turn number 47 into the home he wanted.
He tentatively pushed open the front door and forced himself over the threshold; he was immediately hit by the smell of regurgitated breast milk and steeping nappies. He wanted to turn and run.
Diane appeared in the hallway. She had a distinctly unwashed vibe. Her hair hung in greasy curtains about her face. She was wearing grubby jeans and a T-shirt stained with perspiration. That said, Eddie could not deny she still had a cracking figure, despite having given birth twice. He noticed it anew every time he looked at her. Even though she was feeding, she still had small breasts and so she never bothered with a bra; her tiny hard nipples were nearly always provocatively visible. She had long legs and a trim arse. It bemused Eddie how she could resist progress when her body seemed to be made for this decade. She'd have struggled in the sixties to warrant a second glance, because back then, men wanted something to grab on to, but her lithe, elongated body made her a goddess in this decade. Or at least she could be a goddess, if she ever washed.
Wordlessly Diane thrust the baby into Eddie's arms, causing him to drop his script on the floor. The sheets scattered like petals from an overblown rose; he regretted not numbering the pages. Diane shrugged indifferently and stomped straight into the kitchen. Words were no longer a nicety that either of them regularly bothered with. Eddie didn't need Diane to tell him that she'd had a bad day; that the baby was teething and had been difficult to settle, that her nappies had been exceptionally pungent. Diane had said as much, often enough, with this baby and the boy, when he'd been younger; it seemed to be the same story every day. Over and over. Eddie could not help. Diane thought that he wouldn't. Eddie barely knew whether there was a difference any more.