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The Endless Beach (Summer Seaside Kitchen #2)
Author:Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach (Summer Seaside Kitchen #2)

Jenny Colgan


To my cousins Marie and Carol-Ann Wilson,

for their amazing work in fostering

babies and children





A Word from Jenny


Hello!

I first wrote about goings-on on the tiny Scottish island of Mure last year and had such a good time doing it I really wanted to go back. There is something very special to me about the communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where it is so very beautiful – but life can be tough up there too.

Let me quickly get you up to date from the last book, in case you haven’t read it – which doesn’t matter, by the way – or just so that you don’t have to rack your brains remembering who is who, because I hate having to do that and I have a terrible memory for names. (I am also saying this as a get-out clause in case we meet and I forget your name!) So: Flora MacKenzie, a paralegal in London, was sent up to the remote Scottish island of Mure – where she was raised – to help her (rather attractive and difficult) boss Joel.

Reunited with her father and three brothers, she realised how much she had missed home, and, quite to her own surprise, decided to stay and make a go of it, opening the Summer Seaside Kitchen, which sells the amazing local produce from her family farm, as well as making old recipes from her late mother’s recipe book.

To absolutely everybody else’s surprise, her boss, Joel, decided to relocate too, giving up his crazy rat race life for something calmer and more grounded. He and Flora are just taking their very first faltering steps into a romance.

They were both working for Colton Rogers, a US billionaire who wanted to buy up half the island, whereupon he (Rogers) fell in love with Flora’s talented cheese-maker brother Fintan. With me so far? There’s definitely something in the water up there (and dreadful Wi-Fi and long winters, both of which help) …

The other two people you need to know about are Saif and Lorna, both of whom appeared in A Very Distant Shore, the short book about Mure I wrote for the Quick Reads series.

Saif is a doctor – a Syrian refugee – who endured incredible hardship to make his way to Europe and was granted asylum in the UK, as long as he took his medical skills where they were most needed – the remotest parts of Britain. He has now had no news of the rest of his family for over a year. Lorna is the local primary head teacher, and Flora’s best friend.

Okay, I think that is us! Oh no … there is one more thing. In my Rosie Hopkins series of novels, there is a baddie who is a social worker, and several social workers wrote to me to complain that they do an underfunded and undervalued job in very difficult circumstances and they didn’t think the portrayal was very fair.

So I had another look at the character and decided this was a good point. I hope the social workers in this book help mitigate this, and go some way to showing a little of the genuine respect I have for the dedicated people who do this really tough job day in, day out.

Anyway, I very much hope you enjoy The Endless Beach, and have a wonderful day wherever you are. And if you are on holiday, one, I am very jealous as it is statistically raining where I am, and two, send me a selfie! I’m on Facebook or Twitter: @jennycolgan!

With love,





A Quick Note on Pronunciation


As well as saying ‘ch’ like you’re about to cough something up, here’s a quick guide to pronouncing some of the more traditional names that appear in this book: Agot – Ah-got

Eilidh – Ay-lay

Innes – Inn-is

Iona – Eye-oh-na

Isla – Eye-la

Saif – S-eye-eef

Seonaid – Shon-itch

Teàrlach – Cher-lach





cynefin (n): one’s place of true belonging; the

place where one feels most fully at home





Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in a high tower made entirely of ice. But he never noticed, as he had never seen anything else, nor been anything else, and to him, being cold was simply the way of things for he had not known anything different. He was the prince of a vast wasteland; he ruled over bears and wild things and answered to nobody.

And wise advisers told him to travel; to take a bride; to learn from others. But he refused, saying, ‘I am comfortable here,’ and eventually the tower of ice grew thick and impossible to enter and nothing grew and it could not be climbed and dragons circled the tower and it became perilous and still the prince would not leave. And many people tried to climb the tower to rescue the prince, but none succeeded. Until one day …





Chapter One


Even in early spring, Mure is pretty dark.

Flora didn’t care; she loved waking up in the morning, curled up close, together in the pitch black. Joel was a very light sleeper (Flora didn’t know that before he had met her, he had barely slept at all) and was generally awake by the time she rubbed her eyes, his normally tense, watchful face softening as he saw her, and she would smile, once again surprised and overwhelmed and scared by the depth of how she felt; how she trembled at the rhythm of his heartbeat.

She even loved the frostiest mornings, when she had to pull herself up to get everything going. It was different when you didn’t have an hour-long commute pressed up against millions of other commuters breathing germs and pushing against you and making your life more uncomfortable than it had to be.

Instead, she would rake up the damped peat in the wood-burner in the beautiful guest cottage Joel was staying in while working for Colton Rogers, the billionaire who owned half the island. She would set the flames into life – and the room became even cosier in an instant, the flickering light from the fire throwing shadows on the whitewashed walls.

The one thing Joel had insisted on in the room was a highly expensive state-of-the-art coffee machine, and she would let him fiddle with that while he logged on to the day’s work and made his customary remark about the many and varied failures of the island’s internet reliability.

Flora would take her coffee, pull on an old jumper and wander to the window of the cottage, where she could sit on the top of the old oil-fired radiator, the type you get in schools but had cost Colton a fortune. Here she would stare out at the dark sea; sometimes with its white tips showing if it was going to be a breezy day; sometimes astonishingly clear, in which case, even in the morning, you could raise your eyes and see the brilliant cold stars overhead. There was no light pollution on Mure. They were bigger than Flora remembered from being a child.

She wrapped her hands round her mug and smiled. The shower started up. ‘Where are you off to today?’ she shouted.

Joel popped his head out the door. ‘Hartford for starters,’ he said. ‘Via Reykjavik.’

‘Can I come?’

Joel gave her a look. Work wasn’t funny.

‘Come on. We can make out on the plane.’

‘I’m not sure …’

Colton had a plane he used to get in and out of Mure, and Flora was absolutely incensed that it was strictly for company business and she’d never been allowed on it. A private plane! Such a thing was unimaginable, really. Joel was impossible to tease where work was involved. Actually, he was quite difficult to tease about anything. Which worried Flora sometimes.

‘I bet there is absolutely nothing the stewardesses haven’t seen,’ said Flora. This was undoubtedly true, but Joel was already scrolling through the Wall Street Journal and not really listening.

‘Back two weeks Friday. Colton is consolidating literally … well …’

Flora wished he could talk more about his work, like he could when she was still in the law trade. It wasn’t just confidentiality. He was guarded about everything.

Flora pouted. ‘You’ll miss the Argylls.’

‘The what?’

‘It’s a band. They tour and they’re coming to the Harbour’s Rest. They’re really brilliant.’