About the book
Returning to the heart of her beloved Cornwall, Kate Ryder weaves another deliciously irresistible tale of desire, jealousy and the search for understanding, set against the stunning backdrop of the glorious Lizard Peninsula.
Globally renowned actor Oliver Foxley has made the most difficult decision of all and set the love of his life free, in order to try and bring his family back together. But there’s a magnetic pull back to both Cara and Cornwall that Oliver can neither deny nor resist…
Heartbroken for a second time in her short life, single mother Cara knows she has no choice but to pick up the pieces yet again and carry on. Perhaps a complete change of scenery would help her, and her young family? Yet her mind, spirit and heart yearn for the windswept shores of her Cornish Cove…
Cara and Oliver face the agonising choice between following expectations, or following their hearts. How will their story end…?
Cara slides the last canvas into the car and closes the boot. She looks out across the Atlantic in the direction of Puerto Rico and wonders what all those people four thousand miles away are doing. Although there’s a chill in the air, it’s still and calm today. A seagull catches her attention and she watches it glide on the thermals, eyeing the beach below for any tasty morsel. Cara wraps her cardigan more closely around her body. She loves the cove. In the past it has offered her the solace she needs, but life is changing. Today, she feels as if everything is slipping through her fingers. It’s a feeling she’s lived with ever since that fateful day when Oliver was so abruptly and brutally snatched away from her. Of course, despite the dreams they’d shared, she knew in her heart there was no other possible outcome for their romance. From the start she’d known he was married and had a family of his own. He hadn’t hidden that from her; he was totally honest and upfront. When she first met him, she was still reeling from her husband’s untimely death and hadn’t expected to fall for anyone ever again. The love she and Oliver so unexpectedly shared was not only intoxicating but also such a gift, drawing her out from the abyss she was fast drowning in. However, in that moment at the Minack – forever etched upon her soul – his wife made it patently clear that Oliver was not for the having. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make the yearning any less raw. Cara takes a slow, deep breath. She has to forget him. She has to…
Stirring herself into action, she walks around the side of the car and opens the driver’s door. Climbing in, she turns to Toby, strapped in the baby seat in the back. ‘OK, young man, ready to visit Aunty Janine?’
The little boy smiles delightedly and holds out his chubby hands to Cara. Scrunching her nose at him, she is instantly rewarded with a giggle.
Cara expertly navigates the tight turning circle in front of The Lookout and heads off down the track skirting the cove. She doesn’t have to travel far. The café at the head of the track is closed until Easter – still several weeks away – and the car park is empty, apart from Janine’s vehicle. Parking as close to the building as possible, Cara unstraps Toby from his car seat and gathers him up into her arms.
‘You’re getting to be a heavy little fella, Toby Penhaligon,’ she lovingly says as she carries him towards the entrance door.
Janine is pinning bunting under the newly painted counter when Cara enters the café. Abandoning her titivating, she strides across the wooden floor and embraces both Cara and Toby in a massive bear hug. ‘Darling people!’
Cara has never grown used to her neighbour’s larger than life presence; though she knows the tall woman with an even bigger voice possesses a heart of pure twenty-four-carat gold.
‘Janine, you’ve done wonders,’ Cara says, positioning Toby on her hip and gazing around.
‘Not bad, honey, if I say so myself!’ Janine looks around the café with pride. ‘Come and see the new signs. The sign man’s coming over later this morning to fix them. There’s one to go over the entrance door, and a longer one for the windows overlooking the boardwalk. I’m really pleased with them.’
Cara approaches the table. Two signs are laid out; one square, the other oblong. ‘Oh they’re lovely!’ she exclaims.
Painted onto a background of pale chalk blue is an illustration of a steaming coffee cup on a beach with the sea behind. In stylish writing, the words:
Janine’s Coffee Shop & Café
sit within swirly lines adorned with breaking waves and a seagull. Beneath this it states:
Proudly serving whatever we make!
‘I wanted to feminise the café. Rick’s style worked for him, but I want this enterprise to start as it means to go on.’
‘Rick’s Beach Hut is no more,’ says Cara, gazing at the painted walls that were previously natural wood. Janine has chosen a muted pastel palette and the space is light and welcoming. ‘This is really pretty. If I were on holiday I’d want to visit every day.’
Janine beams. ‘If Rick and Tania ever return to the cove I hope they approve of the changes.’
‘Have you heard from them?’
Janine shakes her head. ‘No. Typical, isn’t it? Sweeping in here, like he did, taking over the rundown fisherman’s hut and turning it into a really successful and cool place to hang out. But it obviously wasn’t enough for Rick. Almost as soon as Tania turns up, off they go on another adventure!’
Cara laughs. ‘Yes, he certainly made some waves here.’
‘I don’t begrudge them sailing off around the world – I’d do it if I could – but I do wonder if we’ll ever see them again.’ Janine looks around the café. ‘I was so lucky to get this place. It was kind of him to offer me first refusal.’
‘He could see you had the energy to make a go of it,’ says Cara, now swinging Toby between her legs. ‘I know he wanted someone he respected to take it on.’
‘Well, there was a bit of negotiating,’ says Janine, pulling a face, ‘but in the end we agreed on a figure that suited us both. It gave him the cash to splash out on that yacht.’
‘Wonder how Tania’s coping holed up with him on a boat,’ says Cara.
‘Yes, she was always one for a party! Can’t see her settling for the attentions of just one man. Perhaps I should call ahead and alert all the men in their next port of call!’
Cara laughs. Tania was a good sport. Networking was her life and they all got on well. But then she remembers how Tania grew uncharacteristically quiet as her pregnancy progressed. She said all the right things when Toby was born, but it wasn’t the Tania she’d come to know. Interesting…
‘Do me a favour, Janine, and keep an eye on Toby while I bring in the paintings.’
‘Ooh yes! Any excuse for a cuddle! Come to Aunty Janine, young man.’ The big woman holds out her hands to the little boy.
Cara guides her son on unsteady legs towards the new owner of the beach café before collecting her canvases from the boot of the car. For the next hour, she and Janine hang a number of seascapes and landscapes around the café before finally adding sales stickers alongside each painting.
‘They’re beautiful, Cara,’ says Janine. ‘I hope loads of customers buy them as a reminder of their holiday in Cornwall.’
‘Well, if they do let me know straight away and I’ll restock,’ Cara says. She looks around and smiles, pleased with the display. The pretty and welcoming café is the perfect showcase for her paintings. ‘It looks like you’ve been here forever, Janine.’
‘It does feel like home,’ Janine says with satisfaction.
‘What’s that bunting you’ve got over there?’ Cara asks.
‘Oh, I’d forgotten all about that!’ Marching over to the counter, Janine picks up the abandoned fabric. ‘I knocked it up last night. What do you think?’ She holds the string of flags out at arm’s length.
The vintage cotton triangles are in various shades of sea blues and greens and adorned with ditsy prints, rose designs, retro florals, polka dots and gingham. In contrasting fabric on several flags, appliqued lettering spells out Coffee and Cakes.
‘Perfect!’ Cara smiles at her neighbour. ‘And I can’t wait to sample those cakes. Hurry up, Easter.’
‘What about sampling some now, if you’ve got time?’ suggests Janine. ‘I baked a cake for the sign man when he arrives, so there’s plenty for us.’
Still feeling unsettled and out of sorts, Cara checks her watch. Perhaps it would be good to spend more time in the company of her jovial neighbour. The commission she’s working on can wait.
‘That would be great. Thanks, Janine. Do you mind if I breastfeed Toby?’
‘Goodness, Cara, of course not!’ exclaims Janine. ‘This is an all-woman zone. Embrace your womanhood, I say!’
Cara smiles. Lifting Toby into her arms, she walks to a table. These, too, have been re-invented in a pastel chalk paint finish. Laying Toby across her lap, she raises her sweatshirt and offers her breast to the little boy, who enthusiastically latches on.
As Janine busies herself with the cakes and lattes, Cara gazes out at the ocean. It’s a dull day. Heavy clouds hang over the cove and quiet waves lap the sand. She watches a couple of herring gulls picking at a mollusc at the water’s edge and reminds herself to add these birds to the commission she’s working on. Their light grey backs, white underparts and black wing tips will make a stark contrast to the acres of blue.
About the author
After pursuing a career in publishing and acting, Kate found her passion in writing. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her self-published debut novel received a Chill with a Book, “Book of the Month” Award. She currently lives with her husband in the Tamar Valley in a renovated 200-year-old Cornish sawmill. She finds the Cornish landscape a great source of inspiration. When she is not writing she enjoys reading, art, theatre and travel.
Twitter handle: @KateRyder_Books