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Polly Babbington

The Secrets Bundle (PB 7-9)

The Secrets Bundle (PB 7-9)

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Synopsis

Look Inside Ch 1

Chapter 1

Lottie Cloudberry pulled her floaty trench coat out of her basket and put it on over her boyfriend jeans and white shirt as tiny droplets of rain began to fall from the bright, late March sky. She walked all the way along Pretty Beach laneway under her nearly-as-big-as-her umbrella as raindrops plopped down onto her navy-blue wellies. She smiled at a few Pretty Beach locals here and there, and nodded hello to Holly as she passed the bakery. 

Lottie loved rain, mostly because she loved what it did to her garden. She enjoyed the raindrops and how they made everything smell as she sloshed along the pavement, enjoying her stroll through the part of Pretty Beach known as Mermaids, past what was going to be her friend Juliette’s new home, and headed back home towards her house on Strawberry Hill in Pretty Beach Old Town. 

She approached the Old Town as cars sped beside her in the rain and walked along through the shops, looked in the window of Pretty Beach Hospice shop, decided she couldn’t even afford to go in, and carried on walking over to Strawberry Hill Lane. 

Lottie stopped at the bottom of Strawberry Hill and looked up at the beautiful row of huge five-storey Victorian villas looming majestically over her. The one with the grey-blue peeling paint and overgrown garden a few doors up was waiting for its new owners, Sallie and Ben, to move in, and as Lottie’s eyes slowly wandered up to her house at the other end, she took a deep breath in and hoped that she and her boys wouldn’t be the next ones who had to move out of Strawberry Hill Lane because of debt like the owners of Strawberry Hill House had.  

She walked up the steep wet pavement, the rainwater trickling in a stream down the gutter, and strolled past the black railings of the houses next door to hers, and then lastly to her house at the very end. As she looked through the railings she noted that, as usual, the garden was immaculate, but the house itself was starting to veer into the territory of what could only be described as decidedly tatty. And that wouldn’t do in Strawberry Hill Lane, one of the most exclusive areas of Pretty Beach. 

Lottie had done what she could to keep the things she could do herself in good repair, but the exterior walls and upper floor windows were desperately in need of paint and there was no way she could afford anyone in to paint and decorate. Everything in the house and garden was down to her and she was getting to the stage where the bills were touch and go every month. So, painting the outside of the house was right down at the bottom of her list along with a new car and new clothes. Lottie sighed as she looked up at the house. Something was going to have to change. 

Lottie pushed open the gate. At least that was shiny and well kept - she’d re-painted it in a dry spell a few months before and it had come up beautifully. She walked up the tessellated path to the enormous double front door and smiled: the sight of the beautiful house still made her feel very fortunate every time she came home. As she pushed it open she nodded and muttered to herself. She really could not bear to lose the house; meaning she had to find a way to make money and it needed to be soon. 

Each side of the path up to the front door groaned with hundreds of daffodils, and meticulously selected pots of all different sizes sat either side of the front door each planted with an array of tulips in various unusual colours and sizes. The tulips and daffodils seemed to nod and bow their heads in greeting to her agreeing that she needed to keep the house. 

As Lottie put her key in the lock and pushed the huge old brass knob to open the door, she mumbled to herself at the worn paint and scuffs on the bottom of the skirting boards - even though they were currently away boarding, three teenage boys did that to a house. She made a mental note that painting the hallway would be next on her list. Her very long list of never-ending jobs that always needed doing.

Lottie put her basket over the hallway bannister, walked all the way down to the end, and opened the door to the kitchen. As warm air from the Aga hit her she sighed; she really didn't want to have to lose the place. Really didn’t want to have to leave the beautiful handmade kitchen she’d designed and had fitted when she had first moved in with Charlie all those years ago. 

Lottie sat on an old Bentwood chair at the table in the middle of her huge kitchen, looked over at the creamy-white Aga to her right, and shook her head. What was she going to do? Something needed to change or she would definitely have to put the beautiful old house up for sale, and she didn’t want that. She wanted to remain on Strawberry Hill Lane until she was an old lady, pottering around spending all day gardening, riding a bicycle around, and making cakes.  

She put her tortoiseshell glasses on and looked down at the pile of letters neatly stacked on top of the lovely old antique table and then, sighing, got up to make a cup of tea. She walked over to the sink, filled the kettle with water, lifted the lid of the Aga, and put the kettle on the hotplate. She would make a nice cup of tea and then start to make an action list. A list with some solutions as to how she was going to avoid getting into any mess with debt and remain where she was. 

Since her husband Charlie had passed away she’d done a good job to keep her head above water and she wasn’t going to let that change anytime soon.

Main tropes

  • Small town
  • Sweet romance
  • Escape to the coast
Books SEVEN to NINE in Polly's Pretty Beach series.
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