Blame it on the Moonlight, страница 1часть #2 серии Michaelmas Bay
it on the
Copyright © Emily Harvale 2018
All rights reserved
Emily Harvale has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this work.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organisations, businesses, places and events other than those clearly in the public domain, are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published by Crescent Gate Publishing
E-edition published worldwide 2018
Print edition published worldwide 2018
Cover design © JR and Emily Harvale
Edited by Christina Harkness
This book is dedicated to my lovely friend, Rachel Taylor.
So many years. So many memories.
Here’s to many more.
Table of contents
A note from Emily
Also by Emily Harvale
Lizzie Marshall’s Wedding
The Golf Widows’ Club
Carole Singer’s Christmas
A Slippery Slope
The Perfect Christmas Plan
It Takes Two
The Goldebury Bay series:
Ninety Days of Summer – book 1
Ninety Steps to Summerhill – book 2
Ninety Days to Christmas – book 3
The Hideaway Down series:
A Christmas Hideaway – book 1
Catch A Falling Star – book 2
Walking on Sunshine – book 3
Dancing in the Rain – book 4
Hall’s Cross series
Deck the Halls – book 1
The Starlight Ball – book 2
Michaelmas Bay series
Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove – book 1
Luna Blake peered through the window and half-expected to see gas lamps illuminating the platforms as her train from Gatwick, trundled into Michaelmas Bay station. Unlike so many larger stations, Michaelmas Bay had clearly not had an overhaul since the year dot. With its olive-green and black pillared walls and its rather grandiose, arched, glass and iron roof, it was like being transported back to the Victorian era. Bijou but not quaint or particularly welcoming, it consisted of two platforms either side of two railway lines and beneath its glass canopy, a small concourse where the tables and chairs of a pocket-sized café, sat empty. The whole place presented a rather forlorn appearance on this cold, blustery morning, with a sky at least fifteen shades of grey. It might have been the last day of February but Spring still seemed a long way off.
The train juddered to a halt and Luna was surprised when Severine, the woman she had been chatting to on and off for the last hour and a half, stood up and asked a man nearby to help her with her luggage. He did so willingly, whilst Severine stepped from the train and waited.
‘Oh. I didn’t realise you were …’ Luna let her voice trail off. Severine wasn’t listening; her gaze was fixed in the direction of the concourse.
Why hadn’t Severine mentioned that Michaelmas Bay was her stop? It was rather odd, bearing in mind that Luna had told her it was where she was getting off. Come to think of it, Severine hadn’t mentioned where she was going or where she was staying. In fact, all she had talked about was New York, and Harvey, her fiancé. She had also said how tired she was and had spent a considerable amount of the journey with her eyes firmly closed.
After assisting Severine with her luggage, the man turned to Luna and offered to help with hers. Luna thanked him, but refused his offer and struggled with her battered suitcases as she stepped inelegantly from the train, which resulted in her adding another tiny dent to one and a couple more scratches to the other. The man shook his head in a rather disparaging fashion and returned to his seat.
Luna took a moment to regain her composure. She was a little disappointed that Severine had walked away without so much as a ‘goodbye’, ‘good luck’, or even a friendly smile. Luna thought she would have waited so that they could walk along the platform together.
Had she upset Severine in some way? Was it something she had said? Luna could not think of anything. She could hurry after Severine and ask but there didn’t seem much point.
Luna buttoned her coat and pulled on her gloves. From where she stood she could view the station in its entirety and counted a mere seven people on the concourse, although for here, that was no doubt considered a crowd. Her uncle, Mason Riley had told her that Michaelmas Bay was a tiny, seaside town. He had also told her that it was ten times larger – if not more – than the miniscule village of Snowflake Cove in which he now lived. He had emailed her several photos of his village, and the ancient Snowflake Inn – his local pub – looked cosy and inviting. Luna hoped Mason’s camera did not lie, because cosy and inviting were the exact opposite of the ambiance of Michaelmas Bay station.
Perhaps it looked prettier in the summer when hanging baskets filled with cascading flowers no doubt hung on the dozen or so, now empty, iron hooks, and dazzling sunlight streamed in through the glass roof. Now it merely looked drab. And somewhat deserted.
Was the rest of Michaelmas Bay like this?
Severine Starr had no intention of waiting for the woman she had been chatting to. She quickly flipped up the pull-along handles on her two suitcases, re-adjusted the strap of her holdall before swinging it onto her shoulder, and marched along the platform. Scanning the excited faces of the three people waiting eagerly by the barrier and the four on the concourse going about their business, she soon realised, not one of them was there to greet her.
She had not expected her family to lay on a brass band to welcome her – especially considering the las
Severine sighed with resignation. Hopefully, there would be a minicab outside that could take her the few miles from Michaelmas Bay to her childhood home, the ancient Snowflake Inn, in the ‘chocolate-box’ village of Snowflake Cove, but she somehow doubted that. She would have to wait for one to arrive, once she’d found the number of a local cab firm and ordered one. She didn’t have a number to hand because, until now, whenever she and Raven had come to visit, one of the family had been there, with a minicab waiting outside. If she had known that no one would bother, she would have booked one from the train. At least the carriage had been warm, if not exactly cosy, but this antiquated station was as cold as Siberia. Not that Severine had been to Siberia so she had no real idea how cold the place was. She’d thought it had been cold in New York, but this – this was enough to freeze her fingers off, if they hadn’t been clad in the fake-fur lined gloves her fiancé, Harvey had given her at Christmas.
The woman she had met on the train was going her way. What was her name again? Luna? Hadn’t she said that her uncle was meeting her, or something? Severine could grab a lift with her, even though that was the last thing Severine wanted. Making light conversation during the journey was one thing – even though she had pretended to sleep for much of the time. Going into details about her family and her life in Snowflake Cove, and why she hadn’t mentioned this was her destination, was another. Luna would hear all the gossip soon enough.
Severine shoved her ticket into the machine – one of the few modern additions to the station – and the barriers parted, allowing her to bundle herself and her luggage on to the concourse. She gasped when a young man pushed open one of the double, Victorian, entrance doors and a gust of bitter wind rushed in with him. She had been here less than five minutes and was already wishing she were somewhere else. Anywhere else. She wished she had stayed in New York, with Harvey, but her family had made it abundantly clear that they were less than pleased with her behaviour, and she knew that delaying her return any longer might well have resulted in her being permanently outcast. Which actually might not be such a bad thing – apart from being separated from her daughter, of course. Not that Severine was flavour of the month with Raven, either. Not since that phone conversation when she had told Raven they would be moving to New York, to which Raven had replied, ‘Over my dead body!’
Severine shivered, not merely from the cold, but also from the fact that that could have so easily been the case. When Raven and her friend Roland had fallen into the ice-cold, swirling waters around Snowflake Cove at Christmas, things could have ended so differently. Thankfully, they had both been rescued. By none other than the TV star and ex-SAS hero, Zachary Thorn, who was now, apparently, Severine’s sister Evie’s boyfriend. How strange life could be. The rescue had been a miracle. It had also been filmed by one of Zachary’s TV crew, and shown on TVs across the globe within hours of it happening. Which had created another nightmare for Severine. The accident was the reason Roggero Tazzeone had returned. And that had opened up a whole new can of worms. Why did life have to be so complicated?
Severine shivered again and turned to look behind her. Luna was heading towards her and even from this distance, Severine could see the woman was smiling. Oh, what the hell. She’d ask Luna for a lift. How bad could it be?
‘Severine? Severine! Is it really you?’
Severine turned again and eyed the young man who had accompanied the arctic blast and who now stood a mere few feet away from her. He was about the same age as her, or possibly a few years younger; thirty-five or so, at a guess, and he was not at all bad-looking. Nothing compared to Harvey, who even made Ryan Gosling look like an ugly duckling in comparison. Well, maybe not an ugly duckling exactly, but Harvey was hot. Really, really hot. This man was … was …
‘Logan? Logan Dorset? Hell’s bells, Logan! You’ve changed.’ The holdall slipped from Severine’s shoulder and landed on the tiled concourse with a resounding thud.
Logan grinned, his eyes wide and bright as he looked at her. ‘It has been more than fifteen years since you last saw me. I’m not the gangly teenager I used to be. At least I hope I’m not.’
His jovial laugh warmed her skin and memories of summers long ago played before her like advertising banners. Gangly teenager would not have been how she would have described him back in those days. He might not have known it, but she had had a bit of a crush on him. Although that had disappeared in a puff of smoke the moment Roggero Tazzeone had shown a particular interest in her.
Better not to think about the past. She had a bright future before her … if she didn’t mess it up.
‘Have you come to meet me?’
Severine watched his smile fade.
‘No.’ He shook his head. ‘Sorry. I didn’t know you were arriving today. As bizarre as this sounds, I’m here to pick up a consignment of oysters. Len Graves – you probably remember him – works here. He lives in the old stationmaster’s house and he gets them delivered here by van, from his son’s fishery on the Essex coast. The oyster beds there are famous, so naturally, when he said I could have some at a very good price, I jumped at the chance. He supplies several other local restaurateurs, but we all have to come here to collect them. But I can tell by the expression on your face that you couldn’t care less about oysters, Len Graves, his son, or my restaurant.’
‘Not at the moment, no. I’m freezing. And shattered. It’s been a very long trip. I thought one of the family would have come to pick me up but as usual, no one bothers about me.’
Logan’s shoulders slumped. ‘You haven’t changed a bit, Severine.’
He frowned. ‘That wasn’t a compliment.’
Severine opened her mouth to reply but decided it was better to ignore his remark.
Logan continued: ‘I’m glad you’ve finally decided to come home. Not that it’s any of my business. Anyway, if you’re going straight to the inn, I suppose I could give you a lift. It’s out of my way but it’ll only take a few minutes. I think I can squeeze you into my van. As long as you don’t mind your cases sitting under trays of shellfish and freshly picked vegetables. They may get a bit … messy.’
Severine tried not to screw up her nose. She was cold and tired and wanted nothing more than to warm herself in front of one of the roaring log fires in Snowflake Inn with a mug of steaming hot coffee in one hand and one of her mum’s chocolate doughnuts in the other. Logan’s less than enthusiastic offer might not be ideal but it meant she wouldn’t have to wait around for a minicab, or beg a lift from Luna and answer questions she would rather not.
‘Messy? How messy? They’re designer, you know, and they cost an arm and a leg. Not that I paid for them. Harvey bought them for me before we went to New York. Haven’t you got a plastic sheet or something you could cover them with?’
Logan tensed momentarily, took a deep breath, and shrugged. ‘I may have.’ He reached into his coat pocket and handed her a set of keys. ‘Here. The van’s parked out front. Put your stuff in the back and wait for me. You’ll have to move the bags of shopping from the passenger seat. I’ll be about five minutes.’
She took the keys, and Logan headed towards a gate to one side of the station.
‘Which van?’ she called after him.
He threw her a sarcastic look over his shoulder. ‘This is Michaelmas Bay, Severine. There won’t be more than one or two to choose from. Hit the remote and it’ll be the one with the flashing lights.’
She sneered at him, but only once he’d looked away.
She watched him for a moment. He had filled out. He had been tall, slim and agile in his teens. During the interv
Logan stopped, turned briefly as if he could feel Severine watching him. Then without so much as a smile, he began loading crates that were stacked just inside the gate, on to a trolley. An older man was chatting to him but he seemed oblivious as he worked and as Severine watched, she remembered why she had had a crush on him all those years ago.
Luna smiled at Severine as she passed along the concourse but Severine did not return the smile. Severine was clearly too engrossed in her conversation with the rather sexy-looking hunk who had obviously come to meet her. He looked so pleased to see Severine and yet somehow surprised at the same time.
Luna had no idea what that was about, but for a nano-second, she wished that such a great-looking guy would look at her like that.
‘You Luna Blakes?’
Luna averted her gaze from the happy couple to the short, tubby, middle-aged man, who was so busy chewing gum that he couldn’t string a complete sentence together. Or perhaps his command of the English language was limited. He was holding an A4-sized piece of paper which looked as if several spiders had trodden in a bowl of ink and scurried across it before scrunching it up and wrapping it in their webs. Perhaps the man was studying to be a doctor. He had clearly mastered the penmanship skills. She grinned and shook her head.