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  • Pamela Belle

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

From feeling deeply hurt and upset, Jenna worked herself up into a fury on the walk back, and phoned her friend as soon as she got home. Saskia’s verdict on Rick’s message was typically blunt. “What an asshole! What an unmitigated, smug, insensitive, thoughtless asshole!”

“Don’t pull your punches, Sass, I mean don’t hold back what you really think.”

“Ha! If I said what I really thought, it’d fry your phone. If I were you, I’d block him, or you’ll be getting cutesy baby pix every five minutes for the next twenty years.”

“You know the worst? The baby looks just like Tom when he was born. He can't not have noticed.”

“Christ, Jen, what a shitty thing to do. Just console yourself with the fact that you’re well rid of him. He’s got Madison now, and I hope he has sleepless nights and no sex for the next five years.”

Jenna couldn’t help laughing. “Funnily enough, I was hoping exactly that.”

“Then perhaps the power of our combined ill-wishing might have some effect. Am sending negative vibes towards New York right now, and I suggest you do the same. May this baby grow up into a monster who makes him regret the day she was conceived. What’s her name? I’ll need it for the spell.”

“Harper Margaret Ann.”

Saskia gave a crow of derision. “What kind of a name is that, for Chrissake? I almost feel sorry for the dear little mite.”

“Well, David Beckham’s daughter is called Harper, and then there’s Harper Lee, of course. Rick’s mother was called Margaret, so I suppose Ann must be for Madison’s mother.”

“Is Rosie a Margaret too?”

“No, her second name is Martha. I didn’t want her named after both her grandmothers. I’d rather have called her Rosie May, but Patricia would have been mortally offended.”

“And where’s the harm in that? Your mother was born offended, just like she was born old.” Saskia paused, and then added more gently, “But, seriously, darling, are you OK? Do you want me to come over?”

“Oh, Sass, that’s really kind of you, but no, I’m fine now, I really am. Seeing the picture was a horrible shock, but I’ve got over it now and I’m just furious with him. In fact, if he turned up on the doorstep I’d probably get done for GBH, if not attempted murder.”

“No more than he deserves. I’ll be your character witness and tell the jury you were provoked beyond endurance.”

Saskia could always make her laugh with her outrageous flights of fancy. Jenna said, “Honestly, I’m OK. Cross my heart. I’ll have a massive hot chocolate with cream on the top, and watch something mind-numbing on the box. Then I’m at the shop first thing tomorrow, we’re stocktaking, I'm tutoring later on, and then Andrew’s interviewing for a Saturday assistant on Tuesday, so I’m not going to have time to think.”

“Good. And when you do think of him, send all those nasty wishes winging his way.”

“Oh, I will, don’t you worry. And if our witchery doesn’t work, then let’s hope karma catches up with him!”

Jenna knew that it wouldn't. Karma was for wishful thinkers, not for reality. Whatever life might throw at Rick, he would shake it off like water from a swan's back, and sail serenely on, untouchable, golden, successful in all he did. It was plain that his old family meant little to him now, save as small fry to whom he could demonstrate his superiority. She thought of her new life, of the man who had so unexpectedly entered it, the future that was gently unfurling before her. Was she whistling in the dark to keep her demons at bay?

A good life is the best revenge. She'd heard that somewhere, and now, as she said goodbye to Saskia and put the phone down, it sprang into her mind, full of positivity and hope.

It was still the middle of the night in Australia, so the twins would probably be asleep, but she made herself a fortifying mug of chocolate, with a slug of self-indulgent cream stirred into it, sat down in front of the fire while the rain rattled in the gathering dusk outside, and phoned her daughter. It was answered immediately. "Mum? I was just going to phone you, I've had a text from Dad, have you?"

"Yes, with a photo."

"Me too." There was a fraught pause, and then Rosie said vehemently, "He was boasting about it! And don't say he wasn't, Mum, because you know he was!"

She couldn't deny it. There had been such an aura of smugness about that photo of Madison and her baby. Look at what I've done, had been Rick's subtext. Aren't I clever?

Rosie went on, rather more quietly. "I get what you're doing, Mum, you don't want us to take sides, you don't want us to hate him. Well, we're all grown up now and we can make our own minds up. You don't have to pretend, you know. If you want to scream and shout, you can."

"Believe me, I did quite a lot of that when I got the message."

She could sense her daughter's sudden grin. "Good. He deserves it."

"Seriously, though," Jenna said, wishing Rosie was standing in front of her so that they could hug. "That was a blip. It's been hard, but I'm happy now, I really am. I love my new life and my kittens and my house and my garden and my job. I think at last I've managed to move on. Your dad's in my past now, and I want to leave him there. But it's different for you. He's still your dad, and always will be, whatever he does, whatever happens."

"I know, Mum. But I don't think it'll do him any harm if we let him know how we feel about what he's done. He can play happy families with Madison all he likes, but he needn't think we'll forget - or forgive. Not for a long long time."

As they said goodbye, some ten minutes later after some more light-hearted chat about Rosie's course and her plans for the imminent Easter holidays, the first half to be spent with India in St. Albans and the second at Orford, Jenna felt very proud of her daughter's maturity. Rick's betrayal had been awful, but it obviously hadn't had the deleterious effect that she had feared. Rosie was bright, resilient and sensible. She'd weathered the storm, just as Jenna herself had, and they'd both grown stronger for it.

Some hours later, with the rain rattling against the windows and the kittens playing with a ball on the rug in front of the stove, her phone announced the arrival of a text. It would now be Monday morning in Australia, so she had a good idea who it might be, and so it proved.

'Hey, Ma, did he send it to you too? What a dickhead. I've blocked the bastard. xx J'.

Almost before she'd finished reading it, Tom's message arrived. 'You OK, Mum?'

It was so typical of him to think of her feelings rather than give vent to his own, that tears prickled her eyes. She loved both her sons unreservedly, but Tom was more thoughtful, more gentle and more perceptive than his brother. It made him vulnerable, and she had always worried about him as he progressed through the normal ups and downs of adolescence. But she had come to realise quite recently that there was a core of steel within him, as there was in Joe: and also, perhaps, in her. Life might sometimes get them down, but it wouldn't defeat them. And neither would Rick's insensitivity and arrogance.

'Yes, lovey, I'm fine,' she texted back. 'What about you?'

'OK, but I think Dad's an idiot. Joe wants to kill him.'

'Tell him I don't want to be a prison visitor for the next fifteen years.'

A laughing face emoji. 'I already have. Now he wants to go and get rat-arsed and we haven't even had breakfast.'

That brought a smile to her face. 'Tell him to go surfing instead.'

'I already have. Next!'

She spent ten minutes alternately reassuring Tom and soothing Joe. They'd cope with this, no doubt, but she doubted if they would ever return to any sort of friendly relationship with their father. The betrayal had cut too deep, and Rick's appalling insensitivity had rubbed a sack of salt into the wound. 'Ignore him', she texted at last, to both of them. 'Block him if you like - I don't mind. And don't expect any kind of apology from him, either. One day he might understand what he's done, but for now do what you think fit - as long as it isn't illegal!'

That brought a winking face emoji from Joe, and a thumbs up from Tom, followed by a final message. 'Surf's up! Off to the beach. Take care, Mum. Ciao!'

Jenna signed off with a smile. She finished her chocolate, locked the back door, and was just going up to bed when a thought occurred to her. She paused on the bottom step, weighing her decision, and then went into the living room and picked up her phone. It was the work of a few moments to block her ex-husband. If he wanted to send her any more gloating baby pictures, hard luck.

She slept extremely well that night.

*

"There's been a change of plan."

Fran spoke softly, before she'd even got through the front door of his cottage, so it was obvious that he didn't want his daughter to hear. Jenna felt suddenly apprehensive. "What's happened?" she whispered back.

"Krystal's coming over just after Easter, and she's going to take Flora back with her. To sit one of those entrance exams, apparently."

"And you haven't told her yet?"

"No. Krystal said she'd phone her in the next few days and tell her the good news. Though I'm not sure that Flora will think it's good."

"That's a shame. I've really enjoyed teaching her, it's been very rewarding. I love it when kids are so eager to learn."

"And she's enjoyed being taught by you. She really looks forward to your sessions." He bent and kissed her very lightly on the mouth. "And so do I."

"Well, we knew it wasn't for ever." Jenna realised how that might be misconstrued, and hastened to explain. "I mean, the teaching." Yes, she would miss these cheerful, interesting hours at the big table, Fran softly strumming his guitar or working on his laptop, the fire burning, the talk and the laughter. But even so, a small part of her recognised that without Flora, there would be no obstacle to their affair.

It was not a worthy thought, and she pushed it away. She could see that Fran didn't like the prospect of his daughter returning to the US, however much he was trying to put a brave face on it, and she didn't either, for Flora's sake. A hothouse academic education might feed her mind, but not her soul or her emotions. And above everything else, Jenna wanted the girl to be happy.

She was sitting on one of the sofas with a book on her lap, but jumped up as they came in. "Hi, Jenna! This is great, I've nearly finished it already and it's really funny!"

The book in question would probably fail to pass any test of literary merit, being focussed on the trials and tribulations of a hapless eleven-year-old who was always getting things wrong and causing unintentional mayhem, but it was obviously a fun read and the copious, cartoonish illustrations were a joy. While Fran made a pot of tea, they discussed the plot and the characters, and Flora made several surprisingly pertinent comments about bullying, 'difference', and the need to be kind. Jenna wondered if she'd been thinking about her own future at school, and what might happen, and she herself couldn't help remembering 'Mean Girls', which she'd watched with Rosie a few years ago on DVD. Would Flora find it as hard to fit in as Cody had done, in the film? She very much hoped she wouldn't.

While the girl wrote her comments and opinions down in her 'Review Book', Jenna went to join Fran on the sofa, careful not to sit too close. He handed her a mug of tea and grinned. "All seems to be going well. At least she's not got the grumps today - she's been invited to her friend Amelia's birthday bash next weekend, on Easter Sunday. They're go-karting, and Flora can't wait."

Jenna said softly, "So when's Krystal due?"

"A week on Wednesday. She's going to a couple of meetings and an audition in London, big Richard Curtis rom-com film apparently, so a lot of schmoozing involved. Then I've said I'll drop Flora at her hotel so they can go back to California together on the Saturday."

Well, at least that meant she wouldn't have to meet this scarily ambitious and driven woman who, weirdly, was also the mother of his only child. Jenna said, "I'll really miss her."

"I know. She can be a little madam sometimes, but she's a lovely kid. It won't be the same without her."

And probably the next time you see her, Jenna did not say, she'll have been turned into a mini-me of her mother, and all the quirks and eccentricities will have been ironed out of her. What a shame.

Later, when she'd done some maths work with Flora and the allotted hour had come to an end, she said goodbye and Fran saw her out. The long winter was at last beginning to show signs of spring, and there was blossom in the hedgerow at the end of the garden. Jenna took a deep breath. "For the first time this year, I can feel some warmth in the air."

"So can I, hen." He hummed a few bars of 'Here Comes The Sun'. "Summer's coming, let's hope it's a good one."

"It won't be the same without Flora."

"I know, but we've got to think about what's best for her, not for us." He gave her a considering look. "You don't think it will be best for her, do you?"

"Not if I'm honest, no - but I know there's nothing you can do about it." She gave him a rueful smile. "But I think she'll be OK. She's a tough little cookie, and she's got bags of confidence and resilience. You can make the best of it with Skype and emails and lots of love - and if it goes pear-shaped, which is unlikely, you'll always be around to pick up any pieces."

"Don't worry, I will be." There was a brief grim look on his face, before he obviously gave himself a mental shake. "Anyway, that won't happen with any luck. And I want to make her last week here a fabulous one. She's got the party on Sunday, but how about us all going out somewhere nice before she leaves? Depending on the weather, of course. Any ideas?"

"That sounds really good," Jenna said, suddenly feeling ridiculously happy. "I'll let you know if I think of somewhere. Next week's forecast is quite good, for early April. And because it's after Easter, there'll be places open." She already had a place in mind, but she wanted to check the details first, before committing herself.

*

"Hallo, Jenna," said Flora, leaping into the back of the little red Peugeot with a flourish. "I've decided what I'm going to be when I grow up!"

Fran settled himself in the passenger seat and rolled his eyes. Jenna grinned. "So, what are you going to be when you grow up?"

"Guess," said Flora, fastening her seatbelt. "You've got to guess."

"You won't," Fran said. "Not in a hundred years."

"With a challenge like that, how could I refuse?" Jenna started the engine and put the car into gear. "Astronaut."

"No."

"Lion tamer."

"You can't do that any more, you're not allowed."

The road past Fran's cottage was clear, and the trunks of the oaks lining the verges laid broad shadows across the tarmac. It was a lovely morning, full of springtime promise, and the forecast had promised that it would be the warmest day of the year so far. She'd laid her plans, and phoned Fran two days ago. "I'm going to take you and Flora on a mystery tour."

"Sounds great, hen, where to?"

Jenna laughed. "If I told you that, it wouldn't be a mystery, would it? As you well know. It's not far, and I don't think either of you have been before, and it's great fun. Bring coats in case it rains, and I'll provide a picnic."

Well, rain now looked unlikely, and the picnic was made, and here they were, embarking on a last adventure before Flora's return to her mother's care. She turned the car left onto the road towards Butley village, and said, "I know! Archaeologist."

Flora's contemptuous snort showed what she thought of that suggestion. "Nah, course not!"

"You used to be quite interested in it, once upon a time," Fran said.

"That was years ago when I was little."

Jenna glanced sideways at him, and mouthed, "Does she know yet?"

For answer, Fran gave a small shake of the head. Jenna knew, from what he'd hinted in that last phone call, that he thought Krystal should have told Flora a lot earlier. Even if she phoned her daughter that evening, it would only leave a couple of days to get used to the idea, before their return to the US. It seemed unkind, not to mention foolish, to spring it on the girl with very little warning.

But she wasn't Flora's mother, so it was really none of her business - although she could see only too clearly, with an outsider's objectivity, that Krystal might be storing up a lot of future trouble for herself. And it seemed such a shame to uproot the child now, when she was happy and settled with Fran, and enjoying school and making friends. Jenna had very clear memories of how it felt to have your life changed forever for the worse, at an adult's implacable command. It had permanently soured what had never been a very comfortable relationship with her mother, and tainted her adoration of Nanna May. Would Flora, in twenty years' time, look back with anger and resentment? And would she also blame Fran, who was going along with Krystal's plans for their daughter, even though he thought it wasn't right?

"Go on, guess again!" Flora urged from the back seat. They were just passing a lovely pub where she planned to take Rosie for lunch next week, when she returned from visiting India in St. Albans. Jenna carried on, heading along the road which led to Tunstall and Snape, and ignoring the right turn for Orford. "OK, my last guess. Doctor."

"No," said Flora, though she sounded less certain.

"I give up," Jenna said. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

There was a dramatic pause, and then Flora announced, "I'm going to be a racing driver!"

"Wow," said Jenna. "That's different. I take it you loved the go-karting, then?"

"It was amazing! I got the best time, I even beat the boys!"

"Good for you. I bet they didn't like that."

"Alfie Walsh said I must have cheated, but I didn't. He said girls can't be good at things like that, and I said yes of course they could and he was a sexist pig."

Jenna choked and nearly lost control of the car - fortunately, there was nothing coming the other way. "So what happened then?"

"Amelia's mum said the pizzas were ready and we had to eat them before they got cold, so nothing, really," said Flora cheerfully. "And I expect he'll have forgotten all about it next term. What's in this basket?"

"That's the picnic." Rick had got the hamper when they'd bought Wisteria Cottage, obviously feeling that it was a part of a wealthy second home owner's lifestyle. It had only been used once, on an outing to Minsmere several years ago, and had remained in the understairs cupboard ever since, gathering dust, until Jenna had hauled it out the previous evening to check and clean its contents, and load it with food.

"Can I look?"

"If you do, you'll spoil the surprise."

"OK," said Flora philosophically. "But I hope it's nice."

"Of course it'll be nice," Fran told her. "Jenna's done it all as part of the treat."

"Thank you, Jenna," said Flora, and produced a wide grin in the rear view mirror. "Where are we going?"

"It's a mystery tour, that's the whole point, I'm the only one who knows."

"Dad, don't you know?"

"Of course I don't, it's meant to be a secret."

"And because I'm driving," Jenna pointed out with a grin, "I can change where we're going without telling you, and if my back seat passenger is too much of a pain, I can always take her back home by the scenic route."

There was a notable silence behind her as she navigated along the country roads, through Tunstall and Snape, then towards Aldeburgh. She didn't want to give them too many clues too soon, though, so she turned off before the golf course.

"You weren't kidding about the scenic route," Fran said, glancing out at the fields and hedges, which at this time of year were still looking rather featureless and bare. "I haven't a clue where we're going."

"That's the whole point of a mystery tour," Jenna said, smiling at him. "Anyway, I do, and that's what matters."

She drove through Knodishall Common, with the pylons that carried electricity from Sizewell marring the view ahead. At the end of the village, she took the right-hand fork, heading away from Leiston and the power station.

"You must know where we're going, Dad," Flora urged.

"I don't. I've never been along this road in my whole life before, and I've no idea what's at the end of it." He glanced at Jenna and winked, an expression not missed by his daughter. "You do know! Please, please tell me!"

"I'll give you a small clue - we're heading roughly east. What do you come to eventually, in Suffolk, if you head east?"

"I don't know ... the sea?"

"Right first time, hen."

"Are we going to the beach, Jenna?"

"I'm not telling you, it's a mystery."

After Aldringham, the landscape became less agricultural, with tracts of heathland, birch and Scots pines, and the hedgerows lined with bracken, all signs of a light, sandy soil. Flora said, "I haven't got my swimming kit."

"You won't need it," Fran said confidently. "It'll be far too cold - it's only just April, remember. Anyway, the beaches round here aren't very good for swimming, lots of pebbles."

"Oh." Flora sounded deflated, and Jenna decided to put her out of her misery. "Look, we're almost there, that's the sign."

"Thorpeness. I think I've heard of it somewhere." She let out a sudden shriek. "What's that? Over there? It looks like a house on a stalk!"

Jenna didn't have to take her eyes off the road. "It's called The House In The Clouds. It was built as a water tower, believe it or not, but it's a holiday home now."

"The view from the top must be spectacular," Fran commented. "I hope there's a lift."

"Apparently not, but at least the kitchen's on the ground floor so you don't have to lug heavy bags of shopping up the stairs."

Now they were coming into the village. Flora was gazing round at the houses and cottages that lined the road. "Everything looks really old," she said.

"Ah, and there's a thing - it isn't. It was only built about a hundred years ago."

"That is really old," Flora objected.

"Perhaps, but not as old as it looks. A man built the whole village all at once, including the church and the windmill, as a place just for holidays. You can stay in some of the cottages. And just over there is the sea."

"Is that where we're going to have our picnic?"

"If there isn't a howling gale straight from Russia by lunchtime, yes, if you like."

"Ooh, look, there's a massive lake and there are boats on it! Is that the surprise?"

"What do you think?"

"I think it is," Flora said happily. "I've always wanted to go in a rowing boat and I never have!"

Jenna parked the car in a shady spot, leaving the picnic basket in the boot, and they walked over to the black timber boathouse. A couple of dozen dinghies of varying sizes were tied up against the water's edge, and Flora gazed at them. "I don't know how to row."

"Well, that doesn't matter," Fran said, "because I do."

"So do I," Jenna added. "And that means we can both teach you how. We can hire one of the larger boats, so we can all have a go. Which one do you fancy?"

"Can I have a sailing boat and you row?"

"Not a good idea," Jenna said firmly. "My son Joe decided he wanted a sailing boat once, and the wind swept him right to the other side of the Meare."

"What's the Meare?"

"This is - this lake is called the Meare. Anyway, when he tried to turn the boat round, the wind kept pushing him back into the reeds, and in the end he had to be towed back to the landing stage by the dredger. He wasn't very happy." Jenna grinned at the memory. Joe had been so sure that he could handle a sailing dinghy in a brisk onshore breeze, but hadn't bargained for the fact that the boat had no centreboard because the water was so shallow. It was a long time before the rest of his family had allowed him to forget it.

"Oops," said Flora, grinning. "I think I'll stick to rowing."

Jenna paid for two hours' hire of one of the larger boats, painted a cheerful yellow round the gunwales and with the name 'Claire' written on the transom. She took up a position in the stern, keeping a tight hold of her camera, while Fran sat on the central thwart and picked up the oars. Last of all, Flora clambered in and pushed the bow away from the landing stage. The adventure had begun.

Later, Jenna would look back on that morning as a golden time, full of fun and laughter. Fran proved to have overstated his rowing skills, and Claire's progress away from the boathouse was distinctly erratic. Flora hung over the bow, trailing her hand in the water, and keeping a sharp lookout for any fish. A couple of swans glided out to inspect them, and trailed them lazily as they zig zagged along the narrow channel between two of the bigger islands, and into a wider lagoon beyond.

"There's a castle over there!" Flora called, indicating a white crenellated structure ahead of them. "Can we go and look, Dad?"

Fran glanced round and adjusted their course, while Jenna, operating the tiller, kept the boat unobtrusively heading in the right direction. They tied up at the landing stage, negotiated the muddy path, and found, indeed, a miniature fort complete with imitation cannon.

"You can't fire them," Flora said, with evident disappointment.

"Health and Safety regulations are such a pain," Fran agreed, straight-faced. "But there's no harm in pretending, eh, hen? Is there anything out there you'd like to blast to smithereens?"

"There's a canoe just coming out from behind those trees," Jenna suggested, joining in the game. "It could be full of Mohawks, come to attack us."

"Like in Last of the Mohicans," said Flora with relish. "Scalping us and ripping out our hearts."

"Isn't that a 15?"

"I watched it at Izzy's and I didn't have nightmares, really I didn't. Let's blast them!"

They spent a happy fifteen minutes imitating cannon fire, only stopping when another family's boat arrived. Then Flora was allowed to take one of the oars alongside Fran, and they progressed into the further reaches of the Meare while Jenna kept them on course and told her about Swallows and Amazons. A couple of times they ended up in the reeds, but no harm was done, though a couple of startled ducks shot off up the channel, quacking wildly. Eventually, they came out onto another lagoon, bordered by the beautiful gardens of the big houses backing onto it. Several of them had boats tied up, and Flora looked at them enviously. "I wish I lived in a house like that."

"They're mostly holiday homes," Jenna told her. "And you don't need to go on holiday to somewhere only a few miles away."

"But we could go on the Meare every single day!"

"You'd get bored with it, lass," Fran said. "Now, we've only got another twenty minutes before we're due back - do you want to row the rest of the way all by yourself?"

"Yes please, Dad!" Flora cried, and grasped both oars with enthusiasm, even before her father had moved to the bow. If their previous progress had been haphazard, this was wildly chaotic, until quite suddenly something seemed to click and their zigzag wake became almost straight, while the boathouse grew slowly larger and closer. They did have a very close encounter with a punt just setting out, and a bump against a moored dinghy which tipped Flora into the bottom of their boat, but eventually they made the safety of the landing stage with five minutes of their allotted two hours left, tired, aching with laughter, and very hungry.

"Lunch," said Jenna firmly. "It's still sunny and we've got our coats - the beach?"

They found a sheltered spot amongst the shingle banks. The picnic basket, unpacked, yielded both ham and egg sandwiches, cucumber and carrot sticks, an assortment of dips and several packets of tapas-inspired nibbles. There were bottles of water and fruit drinks, a flask of black tea and a small container of milk, some apples and bananas, these last turning a little black after their journey, and some small bars of chocolate as a treat. Jenna and Fran laid it all out beside the tartan rug that had come with the hamper, while Flora, her energy unaffected by the morning's activities, raced down to the sea, which was comparatively calm today, and began trying to skim stones.

They were just setting out the plates when Fran's phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket and glanced at the screen with a grimace. "It's Krystal. I'd better answer it, I expect she wants to give Flora the good news. Superlative timing. Hello?"

He didn't walk away, which Jenna noted with appreciation despite her sudden feeling of anxiety. Obviously, he thought she should know what was planned.

"OK, yes, I'll call her, she's just over there. Flora? Flora, it's Mommy." The Americanism sounded odd in his Scottish accent. "She wants to talk to you."

Flora plodded back up the shingle bank with an obvious lack of enthusiasm, and took her father's phone. "Hi, Mommy."

There was a long pause while Krystal spoke. Jenna, watching the child's face, saw surprise, disbelief, and then sudden anger. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

Krystal evidently began some explanation, but Flora interrupted her furiously. "I don't want to! I don't want to go! No, I don't have to! I want to stay here with Dad! I don't want to go back with you, and I don't want to go to any horrible boarding school, and you can't make me!"

She threw the phone towards the sea as hard as she could. It skittered across the pebbles and slid down the bank towards the waves. With a sob, Flora turned and ran back up the beach towards the car park.

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