Authors: Susan Lewis
Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Suspense
About the Book
Two lives. Two families. One tragedy.
Lauren Scott is bright, talented and beautiful. At eighteen, she is the most precious gift in the world to her mother, and has a dazzling career ahead of her.
Oliver Lomax is a young man full of promise, despite the shadow his own, deeply troubled, mother casts over him.
Then one fateful night, Oliver makes a decision that tears their worlds apart.
Until then, Lauren and Oliver had never met, but now they become so closely bound together that their families are forced to confront truths they hoped they’d never have to face, secrets they’d never even imagined ...
About the Author
Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of twenty-six novels. She is also the author of
Just One More Day
One Day at a Time
, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol. Having resided in France for many years she now lives in Gloucestershire. Her website address is
Also by Susan Lewis
A Class Apart
Dance While You Can
The Hornbeam Tree
The Mill House
A French Affair
Out of the Shadows
No Turning Back
Just One More Day
One Day at a Time
To my wonderful partner, James, with all my love.
And to my two endless sources of inspiration, Michael and Luke.
‘GUESS WHAT? I
most brilliant idea!’
Lauren Scott’s exquisite amber eyes were sparkling with mischief as she breezed into the kitchen, where her mother was engrossed on the computer.
‘Really?’ Emma Scott responded, quickly closing down the email she was reading to reveal a job-search website beneath.
‘Yeah, really.’ Unwinding a soft brown scarf as she slumped down at the table, all long, booted legs and clouds of icy air brought in from outside, Lauren said, ‘So don’t you want to know what it is?’
‘Mm?’ Emma clicked to open another page of the website.
Lauren ogled her patiently, her irrepressible good nature lighting her from inside, as it always did, and lending her fresh young complexion a deliciously warm glow in spite of her wind-rouged cheeks. As she removed her woollen hat the sumptuous waves of her honey-blonde hair tumbled randomly around her shoulders and halfway down her back, and caught the light overhead in a way that made it glint like gold. Her enthusiasm for life was as infectious to others as it was a surprise to her mother, who couldn’t claim to have passed on any such sunny gene herself. However, Emma was willing to accept that she’d played a part in the arresting shades of Lauren’s eyes, plus the high cheekbones and pixyish chin – and very probably Lauren’s inherent compassion for others, since Emma had always considered it important to be as supportive to friends and family as she would wish them to be to her. (Although Emma’s consideration hadn’t always been returned, particularly where her mother and ex-husband were concerned, she simply breezed
on past the defaulters and felt thankful for those who did show up in her times of need.)
In most other ways such as height, hair colour and the dazzling smile that lit up Emma’s world, Lauren was just like her father, while Emma’s resemblance to her own father was equally striking, if photos were to be believed, and she saw no reason why they shouldn’t be. This meant that she was five foot six – a good two inches shorter than Lauren – with an olive complexion, lustrous raven-coloured hair, and could easily be passed by in the street, her attractiveness unnoticed. She had no problem with that, since, unlike her long-dead father who’d been a successful musician in his time, she’d never harboured any desire to stand out in a crowd. However, she couldn’t deny loving the little frissons of pleasure she experienced whenever a man she felt drawn to seemed to sense the connection.
She’d definitely chosen the wrong man for that lately, so the least said about him the better, and she certainly wasn’t going to answer his email.
‘Mu-um! You’re not listening to me.’
‘I am. I am,’ Emma insisted, finally tearing her eyes from the screen. ‘Oh God, Lauren, look at you, your lips are blue you’re so cold. Where have you been?’
‘Only over to Melissa’s and I helped some kids build a snowman on the way back. Anyhow, I’ve got to tell you about my idea because it’s totally sick and you are so going to love it.’
Understanding that sick was enjoying a temporary redefinition in teenage-speak as fantastic, or amazing, or totally brilliant, Emma sat back in her chair and folded her arms. ‘OK, you have my full attention,’ she declared, while reflecting (with fingers tightly crossed) how blessed she was to be able to call this golden child her own. So many of her friends back in London had been driven half out of their minds by the stress of teenage hormones, addictions and even, in two unlucky cases, hush-hush abortions. In fact, before moving away, Emma had reached a point where she’d started to feel almost embarrassed by Lauren’s comparatively problem-free journey through what were
supposed to be the most turbulent adolescent years. ‘Still time for it all to kick in,’ she’d often heard herself saying to one mother or another, as if Lauren developing issues would somehow make them feel less singled out as the victims of the dreaded teenage revenge.
‘I have decided,’ Lauren pronounced, fixing her mother with the kind of look that told her there was to be no argument, ‘that
should come to India with me in September.’
Emma blinked, blinked again, and stumbled into an incredulous laugh.
‘You’ve always wanted to go,’ Lauren reminded her, ‘and ever since Donna and I started making our plans I’ve felt terrible about not including you ...’
‘Lauren, I’m your
! You’re not supposed to include me, especially not on your gap year.’
‘It’ll just be for the first couple of weeks, till Donna comes to join me. All right, I could easily delay my flight and go at the same time as her now she’s having to be bridesmaid for her sister, but then I thought, why don’t
– you and me – have a holiday together doing some of the things
want to do in India before I take off with Donna?’
Emma was shaking her head in amazement. ‘You and your crazy ideas,’ she chided, knowing Lauren meant it and wondering how many other girls her age would seriously want their mothers travelling India with them.
‘Isn’t it brill? I knew you’d love it. So shall we check to see if we can get you on the same flight as me, and then we can work out what we’ll do and where we’ll stay when we get there. I mean, I know you won’t want to do all the backpacking stuff, but I’m cool with five-star ...’
With a splutter of laughter, Emma said, ‘I’m sure you are, but I’m afraid the closest we’ll ever get to that is dreaming.’
‘That’s OK, we can find less expensive places to stay like ashrams or hostels. And we can get trains and rickshaws and go in search of ourselves, or enlightenment, or
...’ Electrified by the theme, she went on, ‘Imagine if you found someone like what’s-his-name, you know the mega-zillionaire who that actress was married to?’
With dancing eyes, Emma said, ‘I suspect you mean Liz Hurley and Arun ... I’m blanking on his surname ...’
‘It doesn’t matter, he might still be free, and if he is, once he knows about you ... Actually, I’m starting to think the sooner we get out there the better, because we don’t want him being snapped up ...’
‘Stop it,’ Emma protested, getting up and squeezing past Lauren to go and put on the kettle.
‘No, come on, Mum, you’ve got to think out of the box here, not that this house is a box, exactly, well it is, but a lovely box and I’m totally happy in it if you are, but I definitely think we need a holiday and you need a man ...’
‘OK, Arun what’s-his-name might be a bit radical, but you have to admit that us going to India together is seriously cool.’
Emma couldn’t deny that if she allowed herself to she might easily become every bit as excited by the idea as Lauren seemed to be, since spending a fortnight living a lifelong dream, especially with her daughter whose company she adored, had even more appeal – in fact way, way more appeal – than becoming the future Mrs Nayar – that was his name – as if there was even a remote chance of that! She was getting as bad as Lauren with her flights of fancy.
‘You’ve got some money now you’ve sold the business,’ Lauren was running on. ‘OK, I know you’re going to say it isn’t much ...’
‘Because it isn’t. In fact, I was lucky to come out with anything at all, as you well know, and I need every penny now while I look for a job.’
‘Which you’ll find no problem, because who wouldn’t want you? You’re brilliant at everything and everyone likes you and ... oh Mum, please don’t tell me you’re going to say no. You can’t. It’s what you want, I know it is, and think about it this way, if you come with me you won’t have to worry about me being in a foreign country all on my own till Donna turns up.’
A very good point – a very good point indeed. Even so ... ‘I’m going to need some time to think about it.’
‘What’s to think about? Why don’t we just go ahead and book?’
‘Because we’ve hardly been in this house a month, we overspent at Christmas and if I do manage to find a job I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the time off.’
‘But it’s only January, September’s ages away yet, so if you tell them you’ve already booked something they’re sure to be all right about it.’
Dropping a kiss on Lauren’s head as she reached over her to take two mugs from a cupboard, Emma said, ‘I promise I’ll think about it, and if I find a job by, let’s say, the end of February and they’re willing to let me go, then we’ll get straight online to reserve the flight.’
‘Yay! I knew you’d go for it,’ Lauren cheered, grabbing her mother round the waist. ‘I reckon it’ll be brilliant for you after all the stress of packing up the business and selling the house ...’