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Bad News and Baubles: Bad News, #0.5
Bad News and Baubles: Bad News, #0.5
Bad News and Baubles: Bad News, #0.5
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Bad News and Baubles: Bad News, #0.5

Автор Louisa George

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A burnt out war correspondent who's sworn off love. A smart-ass soldier home for the holidays. Will a fire, a favour and a snowball fight lead to Christmas kisses in the city?

 

After a devastating tragedy Marnie Fitzpatrick is all out of love. That is, until her elderly neighbour asks for a favour that involves her grandson Ed Stone. Marnie is drawn back to a career she doesn't want, with a man she absolutely can not be attracted to.

Ed Stone is on leave from his job in the army. The last thing he needs is an entanglement or relationship. But he doesn't account for the charms of his gran's neighbour and can't explain why he needs to know her secrets and more about her past. And who the hell doesn't like Christmas? 

The Bad News beginnings book...how it all started. 
Bad News newsroom series where secrets and scandals are all in a day's work. Read all about it…

 

Praise for Louisa George:
'This story was wonderfully written. The author had my attention with every word.. I couldn't put it down. I laughed, I cried and I laughed some more...' Goodreads review

Also by Louisa George:

 

Bad News Billionaire

Something Borrowed

Something About You

Something Beginning With Mistletoe

Something Secret

Something Blue


Healing Hearts Medical Romance series:

Still The One
One More Time
No One But You


The Two Lives of Charlotte Evans
The Summer of Lost and Found

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательLouisa George
Дата выпуска1 нояб. 2021 г.
ISBN9798201587161
Bad News and Baubles: Bad News, #0.5
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Автор

Louisa George

Award-winning author Louisa George has been an avid reader her whole life. In between chapters she managed to train as a nurse, marry her doctor hero and have two sons. Now she writes chapters of her own in the medical romance, contemporary romance and women's fiction genres. Louisa's books have variously been nominated for the coveted RITA Award, and the NZ Koru Award and have been translated into twelve languages. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

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    Bad News and Baubles - Louisa George

    CHAPTER 1

    Marnie Fitzpatrick was used to bad things happening, but she’d thought she’d finally moved on from the shitshow that was her twenties.

    She stared down at the message on her phone, her stomach shaping itself into that all too familiar tight knot.

    Hi Marnie so sorry but the bank didn’t come to the party. I’m closing the doors today. I know it’s a difficult time for you. Hopefully, I can find enough to pay you for the next couple of weeks, but after that… I’m sorry. Good luck. Ellie x

    Clearly, not to be outdone, her thirties were shaping up to be equally crap. And whoever was pulling those shitshow strings had a lousy sense of humour, spectacularly bad timing, and a seriously dubious taste in music… if the current soundtrack of saccharin Christmas songs about love and hope blaring into her flat this early in the morning was anything to go by.

    Sacked by text. A new low, even for her.

    Unemployed. Again. But then, she’d always known the job was a fill-in. Because who built a secure financial future by delivering emergency doughnuts? Especially in London, where rents were through the roof, and even more so on her beloved Portobello Road.

    So, back to square one.

    Okay, not quite back to square one. This time, she’d only lost her job. No one had died.

    She gazed out of her bedroom window into the early morning light and the already busy street. With market stalls set up, the bustle of shoppers had begun. That wouldn’t abate until it was dark again, and a different type of clientele descended to party the night away in the many pubs and bars that dotted Portobello Road.

    However low she felt, she always got a buzz from this place, where people were so friendly, and despite being in the middle of a vast city, it had a lovely village feel. Unusually, for inner London, fat snowflakes were falling, coating the street and the stripy market stall tarpaulins as another Christmas song blasted out of the vinyl shop across the road.

    Merry Christmas? Everybody’s having fun?

    She tapped her reply into her phone: I’m sorry too Ellie. I know it was your dream. Hope you’re okay. The world needs more of your baking, not less x.

    Ellie responded immediately: Will you be okay? x

    Which made Marnie feel even worse. Ellie’s livelihood had fallen apart, but she seemed more concerned about her shitshow friend.

    Marnie shot back an answer: I’ll be fine. You know me 💪🏻💪🏻

    The smell of roasting chestnuts permeated the air, tinged with something… acrid. Marnie opened the window and sniffed. No. It wasn’t coming from the street. It was inside. Ugh. Had she burnt her toast again? Great. A double whammy of doom to start the week.

    But no. It had popped up in the toaster nicely—but not overly—browned. No smoke. No charcoal.

    Weird. If not her toast, where was the smell coming from? Probably her overdrawn bank account erupting in flames.

    She checked each room of her tiny first-floor apartment. Which didn’t take long. Kitchen: burnt-toast free. Hair straighteners: unplugged. No smell coming from her laptop. Hardly surprising, given she hadn’t opened it for two years. In fact, it wasn’t even plugged in. Perhaps it had spontaneously combusted just to get some attention?

    Her phone chirped with another text from Ellie: I do know you. And that’s why I feel so bad. I hate doing this to you x

    Marnie backed away from her laptop, but not before giving it a cold hard stare, and replied: Please don’t worry. I’ll find something else

    What, she didn’t know. It hadn’t been the best step onto a second meaningful career path, but delivering doughnuts around the city had kept her busy and distracted her from the aforementioned shitshow that was her life.

    A loud beeping had her running to her front door and peering down the stairs to the hallway she shared with the ground-floor apartment. The beeping and burning smell were much stronger out here. She sniffed and ran down the stairs. Her elderly neighbour’s door was closed, so she tried the handle. Locked. No smoke. But the smell and the beeping came from inside.

    She knocked on the door, trying not to sound anxious. ‘Alice? Alice? Are you in there?’ No reply. And was it her imagination, or was that a wisp of smoking weaving under the door? Marnie’s heart rate sped up. ‘Alice? Alice, are you okay?’

    Still no reply.

    Okay. She took a deep breath. Don’t panic. It was probably nothing. ‘Alice?’ she shouted.

    Nothing. Nada.

    Right.

    Marnie rushed back upstairs to grab the spare key for her neighbour’s flat, then dashed down again. The second she pushed the door open, the smell intensified. ‘Alice? Alice?’

    Smoke and floor-to-ceiling stacks of newspapers filled the narrow, dark corridor. If that lot went up, there’d be nothing left of this place. Or her home upstairs. Marnie pulled her sweatshirt up over her nose and slid into the flat, fighting rising panic as smoke-filled images from another life flickered through her head. Images she’d worked hard to eradicate. She ignored them. ‘Alice?’

    Nudging the kitchen door open, she felt the fire’s heat before she saw it. Flames roared from a frying pan on the stove. ‘Shit.’

    She grabbed a tea towel from a hook, doused it in water and threw it over the pan. A second towel covering her hand, she grasped the pan’s handle and moved it off the electric hob. Luckily, only the pan’s contents had caught on fire.

    The smoke alarm’s incessant beeping filled her ears and her head. Where was Alice?

    Marnie had been in the flat before, but only in the lounge and only very briefly. As neighbours, they were civil enough but kept themselves to themselves. For Marnie, it was by design, and she’d been more than happy not to have a prying, nosy type living below her.

    She peered into the lounge, scanned the photograph-covered walls and teetering piles of newspapers on every surface, and quickly ascertained Alice wasn’t there. Nor was she in either of the two bedrooms. The bathroom door at the end of the hallway was closed.

    Her panic intensifying, she tried the handle. ‘Alice? Alice, are you in there?’

    No reply.

    She pushed against the door. Nothing. ‘Alice!’

    Putting her weight behind her shoulder, she shoved against the wood. The door sprang open, and Marnie’s stomach tightened all over again. ‘Oh. Alice.’

    In her experience, most ninety-year-old women were stooped and frail. Conversely, Alice Stone was—usually—sprightly and ruddy-cheeked, walked three miles a day, and single-handedly published a monthly local newsletter. But the Alice crumpled on her side on the bathroom floor was ghostly pale. With her eyes shut, she lay there in red flannelette pyjamas, perfectly still.

    Marnie took her phone out of her pocket and rang emergency services, then knelt and put her palm on her neighbour’s cheek. ‘Alice? Alice.’ Talk to me. Please. ‘Alice, it’s me. Marnie from upstairs.’

    A flicker of eyelids.

    Marnie squeezed Alice’s ice-cold hand. ‘Oh, thank God. I’ve called for help. They’re on their way. Where does it hurt?’

    ‘Every… where.’

    ‘Okay. Don’t move.’ Marnie knew little about first aid or accidents, apart from what she’d witnessed… before. But she knew enough not to move an injured person unless absolutely necessary. ‘What happened?’

    ‘Tripped…’ Alice’s usually steel-cut voice came out cracked and weak. ‘Stupid… rug. Hit head.’

    Well, that explained the redness and swelling across her forehead. But Alice’s brain was clearly still in working order, and that was a very good thing. ‘Okay. Anything else?’

    ‘I never… did… like… it.’ A sharp inhale accompanied by a wince of pain. ‘Ugly thing.’

    Marnie glanced at the fifty shades of red with gold tassels rug bunched up on the tiles and had to admit it was rather… ostentatious. ‘I mean, have you hurt anything else?’

    ‘My… pride.’

    Marnie smiled. ‘You haven’t lost your sense of humour then. Where do you hurt, Alice? Just your head?’

    ‘Hip… arm… useless bloody bones—’ Pale blue eyes blinked up at her. ‘What’s… that noise?’

    ‘Your pan caught fire, and it activated your smoke alarm. It might well have saved your life.’

    ‘Oh. Thought I’d died… gone to Hell.’ Her eyes fluttered closed, and her mouth tightened, the bravado fading.

    ‘I’ll probably be heading that way at some point too.’ Marnie gently squeezed her frail hand. ‘But not yet for either of us. Right?’

    The older lady grimaced and slowly shook her head. ‘Hurts.’

    ‘I know. Help won’t be long.’ Marnie heard sirens approaching and breathed out. ‘Sounds like the ambulance now. Are you okay if I just run outside to let the paramedics in?’

    A blink of assent. ‘Tell them to… bring… good drugs.’

    The cavalry arrived in the form of two capable women who’d administered Alice-acceptable hard drugs and placed their patient on a wheeled stretcher within a matter of minutes. While they did their medical thing, Marnie busied herself with quietening the smoke alarm to give them some privacy.

    ‘Righto, Alice,’ the senior paramedic said as Marnie returned to the bathroom. ‘Off to St Mary’s. Promise we’ll try not to bump you around too much in the van.’

    ‘Be good.’ Marnie squeezed her neighbour’s hand and smiled. ‘I’ll come up and visit later. Anything you need me to do? Call someone?’

    Now the painkillers had kicked in, Alice seemed brighter, but she was still pale and bruised and looked every one of her ninety-four years. ‘Can you call Teddy…? Tell him…’

    ‘Teddy?’ Marnie drew a blank.

    ‘Grandson.’

    Marnie’s stomach clenched. Her grandson—the guy in those photographs on the wall in the lounge. She’d seen them when she’d visited before—him as a baby, at school, at some little kids’ football game with a couple she assumed were his parents. Three more recent ones stuck in her mind: in one, he smiled proudly, his arm wrapped round Alice’s shoulders; serious in another; laughing in the third. In all three, he wore a uniform. As soon as she’d noticed that detail, she’d looked away. Not enquired. But that wasn’t important right now. ‘Of course, Alice. What’s his number?’

    ‘In my address book… by the phone. In the… lounge. Please. Call him.’

    ‘Tell him to pack some nightwear, toiletries, that sort of thing.’ The senior paramedic clicked the stretcher up to waist height and wheeled Alice towards the door. ‘She’ll be in for a while.’

    ‘Right. Yes. Okay. Will do.’ Marnie watched as they gently wheeled Alice into the ambulance, then found the address book and called her grandson.

    He answered after only one ring. ‘Hello?’

    ‘Is this… um… Teddy?’

    ‘Edward. Or

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