When Lizzie Green opens up her house to be used as a set for a film based on a bestselling romance novel, she has no idea how her life will change. A heartwarming story of love and second chances.
A must-read for summer – a heartwarming story of love and second chances. Perfect for the fans of Jane Costello and Milly Johnson.
Lizzie Greene is about to lose everything when her husband suddenly dies and his debts come to light.
To make ends meet she opens up her quirky old house to be used as a set for a film based on a bestselling romance novel. Her life and household are turned upside down when a whole cast of colourful characters enters her family’s lives: from an enigmatic author, a handsome location scout, a brooding director, to a heart-throb leading man, never mind her now ex-mother-in-law camped out in her drive. As Lizzie delves deeper into the film’s book, all is not as it seems.
Will her desire to save her house and unravel the secrets of the past lead to new love, or to mortal danger?
Links to buy
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ESS4Nz
Dave was buried, there was a memorial service and a wake that his older brother organised. I was present and accounted for. My mum came for the service and to help with the kids. Unfortunately, having her there didn’t make things better either. She never liked Dave, and it almost seemed like she was blaming him for departing. She left after a week to fly back to Spain where she lives in a retirement community. In truth, it was a relief when all the would-be mourners were gone. By then the quicksand was over my head and I’d stopped struggling, letting it seep into my lungs and suffocate me.
Then, something happened that yanked me out of that quicksand for good. Just after the funeral, I got a call from Dave’s solicitor inviting me in for a meeting. I was mildly surprised that Dave even had a solicitor – we’d had someone do the conveyancing on the house and made a will when the children were born but that was about it.
It felt very Dickensian to enter the lawyer’s office in the nearby town, housed in a three-story Georgian townhouse. I was ushered into a traditional sitting room turned small conference room and offered tea and biscuits. I made it through one cup of coffee and two biscuits before Mr Keswick, a balding man in his early sixties, eventually came in. He was wearing a smart pinstriped suit, and carrying a leather folio of papers. His well-groomed appearance made me hyperconscious of the dog hair on my jumper and the mud on the cuffs of my jeans.
He sat down on the opposite side of the conference table from me, his head slightly bowed. He was joined a minute later by his PA, a hawk-nosed woman in her fifties wearing a neat cashmere twinset and carrying a spiral notepad. She sat down in a chair at the end of the table, making it impossible for me to look at both of them at once.
‘Mrs Greene, I’m very sorry for your loss.’ The lawyer’s voice was grave and sympathetic, but there was something in the way he kept twisting the cap on his fountain pen that made me ill at ease.
‘Thank you,’ I said.
‘These things are never easy, I know. And it’s all well and good what they say – that time heals. It does, but it takes… time, doesn’t it?’
I looked at him, unsure whether he had just tried to make a joke.
The PA nodded, scribbling away on her notepad in an incoherent cipher. Could she possibly be transcribing this chit-chat?
‘And in the meantime there are so many things to sort out. It’s the little things that are difficult, I’m told. Things that seemed so easy before.’ He set down his pen and steepled his fingers. ‘Never mind the big things.’
‘I guess so.’ I could feel the numbness start to creep in.
‘Which is why I hate to be the bearer of even more bad news.’
‘What was that?’ I sat forward, alert.
‘Mrs Greene,’ he gave a long sigh, ‘I’ll cut to the chase. There are some issues with your husband’s estate. If you’d like to retain your own counsel, which I’d advise you to do, I’m more than happy to go over the details with him… or her. But as you’re a lawyer too, I thought it best if I gave you the overview in person.’
‘The overview?’ I said warily. ‘Of what? Dave and I are married. We own the house together. We have a joint account. We…’ I felt a strong urge to explain our marriage to this man. The good times, the bad times. The things that were part of day-to-day life and now were no more. ‘We’re normal,’ was all I could manage.
‘Your husband had some other assets and liabilities that you may not have been aware of. We received a box of papers from his place of work. Unfortunately, it appears that his overall financial situation, was… shall we say… precarious. Once again, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this.’
‘Other… what?’ I felt like my brain was stuck in slow motion. I’d assumed my being here was a formality. Signing papers to close out the estate, or appoint the firm as executor. I may have been a lawyer once, but I did corporate work, not family law. I knew nothing about this sort of thing.
‘Here,’ he slid a copy of a spreadsheet across the table to me. ‘Let me talk you through it.’
Two hours later, I was still sitting there. My wall of grief was riddled with holes, cracked through, and broken down for good. The man’s voice droned over and over in my head. Telling me that my loveable, squeezable, just-a-little-dull Dave wasn’t at all what he seemed. Telling me about the bolthole flat in London. The second mortgage he put on our house. The debts he ran up at casinos and sordid little clubs on all those nights when he was supposedly ‘working late’. Instructing the hawk-nosed PA to leave the room to get the box of things from Dave’s office. Things that detailed my husband’s second life. The receipts – for expensive dinners, gifts for lady ‘friends’ – the unpaid bills… Each sentence – each word – a knife blade in the pit of my stomach.
I caught snippets of the detail. Dave had let his life insurance lapse; he hadn’t bothered with income or mortgage insurance. Dave had maxed out six credit cards. Dave had siphoned all the money out of our retirement account. Dave had left his family destitute.
Lauren Westwood is also a prize winning debut YA novelist and a solicitor for a renewable energy company. Originally from California, she now lives in a rickety 400-year-old house in Surrey, with her partner Ian and their three young daughters.
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