Author: Katie L Thompson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: approx. 300 pages
Release Date: 23/09/2012
Blurb: When Jess Cooper hears that her ex-boyfriend, the father of her child has been released from prison and is on his way to see them running off to the country seems like a good idea, however, perhaps things aren't that simple.
As hard as Jess tries she can’t stop her past from creeping into her future and anyway, maybe her future isn't as great as it had originally seemed.
Room to let.
All bills included.
Jess paced quickly around the small one bedroom flat with Ella perched on one hip. She ignored the phone that was continuously ringing, as if it was a song that was blasting out from her iPod where it had been left on repeat. A single suitcase leaned against the wooden door frame ready to go, and the rest of their belongings were in a large pile beside it waiting to be packed away into bags that she had not yet bought.
Jess thought the phone had stopped ringing, but the ringing continued in her mind, permanently stuck in her ears.
Stop calling me.
Jess knew he’d be in contact the minute he could. She knew that he’d be after her. Although she’d been dodging his monthly phone calls ever since he’d disappeared, she knew he wouldn’t have given up on her. However, she didn’t expect him to be back so soon. Twenty-four months was what he had told her. He’d be back in twenty-four months. Jess had been closely monitoring the time she had before he’d be back, so she knew that it had only been twenty months. How was he back so soon?
Room to let. All bills included. No Chain.
They were the only words that kept her going through each day. The only things that stopped her from breaking down into a blubbering mound on the floor.
The ringing came again.
Ella was used to the ringing; some nights she fell asleep listening to the sound of it as if it was a mobile playing to send her to sleep.
Jess had cut her SIM card up when the ringing began. The last connection to him was the landline phone, and when she was out of this flat he’d never be able to speak to her again. She’d be free, and Ella would never have to see him. It was what was best for her. For both of them.
Ella wriggled about on Jess’s hip, dragging her out of her daydream of the peace and happiness they would soon be living in.
Ella pointed one chubby finger at the packet of cookies on the countertop. “Biccy.”
Jess passed Ella the last biscuit and put the foil wrapper in the bin, letting it slip that Ella hadn’t said please or thank you. It had been a stressful few days for the two of them; what did manners matter anyway?
Jess tucked Ella safely in her cot before sliding into her own bed.
She pushed the week’s memories to the back of her mind, imagining that the next week would be better. Tomorrow they would leave. Tomorrow they would be away from him forever. Freedom was only one sleep away.
Jess smiled at Ella, hiding her true feelings of worry.
When Ella was asleep Jess allowed herself to worry. She worried about him finding them. She knew that he was getting closer. She knew that he’d be there soon, she just hoped that they could get away first. She tugged her duvet over her chin, so that she felt more protected, wrapped up like a cocoon.
When Jess had seen him being taken away in the back of a police car she’d told herself that she would never see or speak to him again. But he knew that Jess was pregnant with his child, and Jess knew that he was going to do everything in his power to try and get to know his baby.
Not if I can stop him he won’t, Jess thought to herself.
She had received two voice messages and several calls from him after he’d been locked in prison, all of which she’d left unreturned. The first one said, ‘I’ll be out in twenty-four months’, and the second said, ‘I’m out. Guess you still live in that flat so I’m coming to see you.’ It was the latter message that made Jess panic. The message had the power to create goose bumps on her skin and make her teeth chatter.
When she had received the second message, she had begun searching for a new place to live, miles away from her current flat. The further away she went the less chance there was of him finding her. This was what motivated Jess to look for a place to live in
Devon. She’d heard that Devon was a
nice place, and, although she’d never actually been there herself, she often
painted a picture in her head of Devon having fabulous
views and expansive fields of countryside to be seen in every direction.
It was far enough from Woodley that he wouldn’t be able to find them, but it wasn’t so far away that she wouldn’t be able to afford the petrol to get there. It seemed perfect.
After ten hours of intense searching, she had found a suitable and affordable place for her and Ella to live. It was a large double room on the third floor of a shared house. She wasn’t used to living with other people, or even having the company of other adults, so it would be a change to live among other people. She didn’t like change, but the house was a good price, and it was the only one suitable that she could find within her price limit, so it would have to do. Anyway, it was away from him, so it was better than the place they were currently living in.
As Jess stood up from her laptop and walked towards Ella, who had just woken up from her mid-afternoon nap, she wondered why so many people in
didn’t allow children in their houses. Pets she could understand, but why not
She settled Ella into her baby bouncer and then sat back down at her laptop, typed her credit card number into the space on the form and pressed send. Within minutes she received a confirmation that the large double room was hers. Jess had never been one to make rash decisions and she felt strangely proud of her accomplishment.
When Daniel answered the phone call and heard who was on the other end of the line he wished he’d let the call run through to the answering machine.
“Hello Danny darling,” Lily’s voice sang out through the phone in its usual upbeat manor.
Daniel sighed. Lily was the only person who called him Danny, most people called him Dan or Daniel, but not Lily. Even when he’d been a child no one had called him Danny except for Lily.
“Danny, don’t sigh, it’s very rude. It makes the person you’re talking to think that you don’t want to talk to them.”
I don’t want to talk to you, Daniel thought.
He wished that she would just get to the point of the conversation. Daniel knew Lily only rang when she wanted him to do her a favour.
“Danny darling, will you do me a little favour?” Lily asked, in her most persuasive voice, just as Daniel had predicted.
“What this time?” Daniel resisted sighing again, just so that Lily didn’t have another opportunity to tell him off and prolong the phone call.
“There’s a new girl, Jessica Cooper, moving into the double room on the third floor of the house. Be a lad and clean the room for me, so it’s ready for her. She’ll be arriving some time tomorrow. Oh and you’ll need to let her in and show her around as well. I’m very busy you know. I don’t have time to prepare the room.”
Daniel rubbed at his nose, something he always did when he was annoyed. It annoyed Daniel that Lily had time to arrange for new people to move in, but she never had time to do the things that needed to be done before they arrived. He agreed to clean the room just so Lily would get off of the phone.
“Oh and Danny, the bathroom needs a new seal fitted around the bath and the sink. You’ll need to buy the mastic.”
Before Daniel could object Lily had hung up on him. He didn’t understand how he always got dragged into doing things for her and the house. It was her house and she was the one who got the rent, but he spent more time there than she did, and she never paid him for the materials that were needed to do the repairs he did.
“Sneaky old bat,” Daniel muttered, to himself.
“I know, it’s not fair is it Pickles?” Daniel stroked his cat, which was wrapping itself around his legs, purring. “I can hardly say no to her can I Pickles? It wouldn’t be fair to this Jessica Cooper lady. I wonder what she’s like.”
Daniel was glad no one could hear him; they’d think he was mad to be talking to a tabby cat.
“We don’t care do we Pickles? We’re good company for each other. What would I do without you hey, Pickles?” Daniel scratched Pickles on the white patch of fur underneath his chin. “Well Pickles we better get the room ready for this Jessica Cooper. What do you think Pickles? She could be a single girl for us. We’d like a lady friend about wouldn’t we, Pickles?”
Jess’s mother had always told her to confront her problems face on and that there wasn’t any use in running away from them. Jess was doing exactly that, running away from her problems. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind, along with all the other things her mother had told her, like not to sleep with men on the first date. Jess realised that if she’d listened to her mother’s advice from the beginning she wouldn’t be in her current situation. ‘I’m always right,’ her mother’s voice said in her head, in the way it had every time Jess did something she was told not to and it backfired on her. Jess nodded. Yes mother you are always right, she thought to herself, not that I would ever admit that to you.
After Jess had received the email informing her that she could move into the room whenever she wanted to the following day, she had driven to the supermarket. She filled up the tank of her Peugeot and was given a bill for just over fifty pounds; she hoped the tank would last long enough for her to get to the house in
Barnstaple, as she knew that she couldn’t afford to fill
it again. She wandered into the supermarket, grabbed a roll of the cheapest
black plastic bags she could find and, avoiding the biscuit aisle, she headed
back to the car and drove home to pack.
Jess looked at the roll of black plastic bags lying in the foot well of the seat next to her and hoped that the people whose house she was moving into didn’t think she was mad to be moving in with black bags full of her belongings. She didn’t want to make a bad impression on her first day, but she only had one suitcase which didn’t even carry half of her and Ella’s things, and she couldn’t afford anything better to carry the rest of their belongings in.
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