Read The Vintage Summer Wedding Online

Authors: Jenny Oliver

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction, #Holidays

The Vintage Summer Wedding

BOOK: The Vintage Summer Wedding
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A Vera Wang dress, the reception at a sophisticated London venue, and a guest list that reads like a society gossip column are all the ingredients of Anna Whitehall’s perfect wedding that never was…

Spending the summer uncovering hidden treasures in a vintage shop, Anna can still vividly remember both her childhood dreams – neither of which included unpacking dusty boxes whilst wearing her oldest jeans…

The first was that she’d become a Prima Ballerina, and dance on stage resplendent in a jewel-encrusted tutu. The second was that at her wedding she would walk down the aisle wearing a collective-gasp-from-the-congregation dress.

Years ago Anna pirouetted out of her cosy hometown village in a whirl of ambition…but when both of those fairy-tale dreams came crashing down around her ballet shoes, she and fiancée Seb find themselves back in Nettleton, their wedding and careers postponed indefinitely…

Don’t they say that you can never go home again? Sometimes
they
don’t get it right… This one summer is showing Anna that your dreams have to grow up with you. And sometimes what you think you wanted is just the opposite of what makes you happy….

Also available by Jenny Oliver

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off

The Vintage Summer Wedding

Jenny Oliver

www.CarinaUK.com

Contents

Cover

Blurb

Book List

Title Page

Author Bio

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Extract

Endpages

Copyright

JENNY OLIVER

wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s
Vogue
, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on
Dynasty
.

Since then, Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wrote
The Parisian Christmas Bake Off
on the beach in a sea-soaked, sand-covered notebook. This time the inspiration was her addiction to macaroons, the belief she can cook them and an all-consuming love of Christmas. When the decorations go up in October, that’s fine with her! Follow her on Twitter @JenOliverBooks

Chapter One

They arrived in the dark in a heatwave. As Anna stepped out of the car, all she could smell was roses. An omen of thick, heavy scent. She remembered being knocked off-kilter by a huge vase of them at the Opera House once – big, luxurious, peach cabbage roses – and shaking her head at her assistant, trying to hide her agitation by saying scathingly,
‘Terrible flower. So clichéd. Swap them for stargazers or, if you must, hydrangeas.’

‘Wondered whether you two would ever turn up.’ Jeff Mallory, the landlord of the new property, a man with a moustache and a belly that sagged over his dark-green cords, heaved himself out of the cab of a white van.

‘Sorry, mate.’ Seb strode forward, arm outstretched for a vigorous handshake. ‘We would have been here earlier but—’

He left the reason hanging in the air. They both knew it was Anna’s fault. Stalling the packing at every conceivable opportunity. Dithering over how clothes had been folded and obsessively wrapping everything in tissue paper, then bubble-wrap until tea-cups were the size of footballs.

‘Not a problem.’ Jeff shook his head. ‘Just been reading the paper, nice to have a bit of time to myself if I’m honest. Nice little cottage this ‒ you’ll love it, just right for a young couple.’

Anna turned her head slowly from the view of the field opposite, the pungent smell of cowpats and hay and something else that she couldn’t quite put her finger on that had mingled with the sweet roses and was drawing her back in time like a whiff of an old perfume. She let her eyes trail up from the white front gate, the wild over-grown garden, the twee little porch and the carved wooden sign that she knew would spell out something hideous like Wild Rose Cottage and held in a grimace.

You have to try, Anna.

Seb did all the chatting while she opened the car door and grabbed her handbag.

‘It’s good to be back.’ She heard him say, taking a deep breath of country air. ‘Really feels good.’

‘Well I never thought I’d see the day.’ Jeff ran a hand along the waistband of his trousers, hitching them into a more comfortable position. ‘Anna Whitehall back in Nettleton.’

She scratched her neck, feeling the heat prickle against her skin, wondering if by some miracle someone had thought to install air-conditioning in this hell-hole. ‘Me neither, Mr Mallory,’ she said. ‘Me neither.’ She attempted a smile, felt Seb’s eyes on her.

‘You know I played you at the village Christmas play the other year.’ He nodded like he’d only just remembered. ‘Best laugh in the house I got. Dressed in a pink tutu I had to shout, “I’m never coming back, you fuckers. Up your bum.”’ He snorted with laughter. ‘Brought the house down.’

Sweat trickled down between her shoulder blades as she huffed a fake laugh, ‘I’m so pleased I left a legacy.’

‘Too right you did.’ He moved round to the boot of the car to help Seb with the other cases, hauling them out as his trousers slipped lower. Seb was smiling along, trying to smooth out the creases of tension in the air. ‘Whole village has been waiting for you to come back.’ Mr Mallory went on, regardless.

Seb wheeled a case past her over the uneven road and let his hand rest for a moment on her shoulder. She wanted to shake it off, not good with public shows of sympathy, trying to keep her poise.

‘Well I’m glad I gave them something to talk about.’
This won’t be for ever,
she said to herself as she gathered some of the plastic bags crammed with stuff out from the back seat.

‘Gave?’ Jeff laughed as he hauled another case out the boot.

‘Oh mind that—’ She ran round and rescued the dress-bag that was being crumpled under the stack of suitcases he was piling up in the street.

‘No past tense about it, Anna. Still giving, sweetheart. Still giving.’ He laughed.

She folded the Vera Wang bag over her arm and took a deep breath. That was it, that was the smell that mingled with the rest. The unmistakable scent of small-town gossip. I bet they loved it, she thought. The great Anna Whitehall fallen from her perch. Rubbing their hands together gleefully, hoping she landed with a painful bump.

Well, she’d made it through worse. She may have promised Seb a year, but she was here for as short a time as she could manage. All she had to do was get a decent new job and, she stroked the velvety skin of the dress-bag, get married. The wedding may no longer be at the exclusive, lavish The Waldegrave and it may not have tiny Swarovski crystals scattered over the tables, a champagne reception, forty-four bedrooms for guests and a Georgian townhouse across the street for the bride and groom, a six-tier Patisserie Gerard chocolate frilled cake and bridesmaids in the palest-grey slub silk, but there was still this bloody gorgeous dress and, she looked up at the cottage, a bare bulb hanging from the kitchen window that Seb had clicked on, and took a shaky breath in, well, no, not much else.

They hauled in bag after bag like cart horses as the dusk dipped to darkness. When Seb handed over the cash for rent, Anna couldn’t watch and, instead, drifted from room to room, flicking on lights and opening windows to try and get rid of the stifling heat. But the air was still like the surface of stagnant water, mosquitos skating over it like ice, buzzing in every room, their little squashed bodies, after she’d spied them, oozing blood on the paisley Laura Ashley wallpaper similar to the type her granny had had.

Looking out from the upstairs bedroom window, she could see Seb talking with Jeff in the street, their shadows as they laughed. She leant forward, the palms of her hands on the cracked, flaking windowsill, and watched as Jeff waved, clambered into his van and cranked the engine and imagined him pootling off to the King’s Head pub, his pint in his own silver tankard waiting for him on the bar and a million eager ears ready for his lowdown.

‘So what do you think?’ A minute later she heard Seb walk across the creaking floorboards as he came to stand behind her, his hands snaking round her waist, the heat of him engulfing her like a duvet.

‘It’s fine,’ she said, leaning her head back on his shoulder and feeling the rumble in his chest as he laughed.

‘Damned with faint praise.’

‘No, it’s really nice. Very cute.’ She turned and almost muffled it into his T-shirt so he might miss the lack of conviction.

‘Yeah, I think it’ll do. It could be much worse, Anna. I think we’ll be OK here. Get a dog, plant some vegetables.’

She bit her lip as her cheek pressed into the cotton of his top, swallowed over the lump in her throat and nodded.

He stroked her hair, ‘We’ll be OK, Anna. Change is never a bad thing. And you never know, you might love it.’

The very thought led to a great wave of nauseous claustrophobia engulfing her and she had to pull away from him. Going over to the big seventies dressing table she unclipped her earrings and put them down on the veneer surface, the reflection in the big circular mirror showed Seb’s profile ‒ wide eyes gazing out across the fields of wheat that she knew from her quick glance earlier was accented with red as the moonlight picked out the poppies. She couldn’t miss the wistful look on his face, the softening of his lips.

She wanted to say, ‘One year, Seb. Don’t get any dreamy ideas. It’s not going to happen.’ But she wasn’t in any position to lay down the rules. The fact that they currently had nothing was her fault. The dream she had been pushing had broken, now it was Seb’s turn to try his. And the feeling was like having her hands cuffed behind her back and her smile painted on her face like a clown.

He turned to look at her. ‘Think of it like a holiday,’ he said with a half-smile.

She thought of her vacations, two glorious weeks somewhere with an infinity pool, cocktails on the beach, restaurants overlooking the sea, basking in blazing sunshine. Or there was schlepping round Skegness with her dad in the rain as a teenager. At the moment, this was more the latter.

‘I’m going to have to shower, I’m too hot,’ she said, peeling off her silk tank-top, wondering whether if she just hung it by the window, the little dots of sweat would dry and not stain.

The bathroom was tiny, the grouting brown, the ceiling cracked where the steam had bubbled the paint. She pulled back the mildewed shower curtain and found herself perplexed.

‘Seb!’ she called.

‘What is it?’

‘There’s no shower.’

‘No shower?’

‘No shower.’

He stood in the doorway and laughed, ‘You’re going to have to learn to bathe.’

‘Who doesn’t have a shower?’ She whispered, biting the tip of her finger, feeling suddenly like a pebble rolling in a wake, her façade teetering.

‘Primrose Cottage, honeybun.’

Oh she knew it was going to be called something dreadful like that.

‘Home sweet home.’

Chapter Two

‘I lay awake most of the night.’ She said this without moving, as if her limbs were tied to the sheet. ‘And do you know what I could hear?’

Seb was standing at the end of the bed in just his boxer shorts, drinking a glass of water.

‘No, honey, what could you hear?’ He raised a brow, waiting for it.

‘Nothing.’

‘Nothing?’

‘Nothing. Not a sound. Just total and utter silence. And do you know what I could see?’

BOOK: The Vintage Summer Wedding
4.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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