Move Over DarlingBy: Christine Stovell
For my indomitable mum, Doris, with love.
I’m truly grateful to the following people for their generous support: My daughters, Jen and Caroline, my sister, Tracy, and my stepson, Tom.
The Choc Lit team and my fellow ChocLiteers.
Frances Oakley, thank you for a memorable day in New York.
My dear friend, Jill, and the Amazing Thursday Girls: Ann, Hazel, Julia and Rose.
The many bloggers who have been so kind, but especially to those who were there at the start of the journey and gave me a nudge along the way: Maggie Christie, Gillian Hunt, Jane Price, Jill Shearer and Fennie Somerville.
And, as ever, to Tom, always.
Doris Day was singing in the background, telling Coralie Casey that whatever would be would be. Coralie disagreed. Doris was a goddess – but she was wrong about fate. The future was yours to see. Furthermore, you could look at it, decide you didn’t like it very much and do something about it.
She dragged her thoughts back to the present before they had a chance to head off like a wayward dog and poke around for something nasty festering in the corners of her mind. Instead of waiting to be dealt another bad hand she’d reshuffled the cards and laid out her own destiny. She’d swapped suburban streets for country lanes and the nine-to-five for the steady rise of Sweet Cleans, her range of natural cleaning products for body and home. It wasn’t completely true to say she’d moved on, but she had, at least, moved over.
Beyond the window of her workshop the late January snow spiralled in the air like down, cushioning the gentle green slopes in soft white. In seven swiftly passing months Coralie had seen the west Wales landscape in many moods and was learning to love them all. Even the rain, which seemed to fall in epic quantities in Penmorfa, was eventually followed by pale candyfloss clouds and bright blue skies.
She stopped for a moment to gaze at the delicate beauty of her garden under its white veil. A winter wonderland. Doris Day started telling her it was magic, but Coralie knew it was all down to hard work. By taking a huge gamble and some tough decisions she’d made her own dream come true. Or was making progress towards it. Who needed a crystal ball to see that things were looking good?
And her former colleagues thought she was the crazy one when they were still holed up in their offices! As for job satisfaction? She gave a small smile of contentment. Naturally, in the early days at the management consultancy, she had really believed in what she was doing. Every night, she would turn out the light feeling good because she’d nursed another dying business back to health. Rooting out clogged-up departments, weak processes and bloated boards saved an awful lot of money. But, that was before … Rock! Oh poor Rock! He must be desperate for food!
When she’d woken up early, unable to wait any longer to try out the idea for a new soap recipe which had popped into her head just as she was drifting off to sleep, she’d only intended to allow herself an hour before seeing to him. How could it be almost nine o’clock already? How selfish of her to lose track of time so completely when he relied on her for regular meals! Throwing on her coat, she flew quickly up the garden path as fast as its dusting of powdery snow would allow and grabbed the box off the kitchen worktop.
‘Ro-ock! Rock, Rock, Rock, Ro-ock!’ Back out in the garden Coralie gave the plastic box of dried cat food a hearty shake, but there was no sign of the fluffy black stray who’d adopted her shortly after she’d moved in. Although she would never have admitted it to anyone else, it had taken some time to get used to her new home. Thanks to a weight of unfinished jobs, the tiny cottage had initially felt a bit unloved. Its selling point had been the workshop – and the low price, of course. The holiday let next door might have put some buyers off too, but, touch wood, all the visitors she’d encountered had been very well-behaved.
The relative isolation of the pair of cottages, which she’d found so attractive when she’d viewed them, could also exclude them from the village’s warm embrace. They were accessed by a long, narrow road trailing off from what passed in Penmorfa for a main thoroughfare. By day, it was merely The Lane That Time Forgot; perfect for a bygone age when a pony and trap might have trotted merrily down to the village and back, but less suited to modern requirements and any car without a ‘thin’ button.