‘ Hooked me in and I couldn’t put it down.’ StefLoz Book Blog, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sit back on a sunny Somerset terrace and watch Posy fall for the neighbour she loves to hate, whose melting brown eyes and taut muscles are almost as annoying as his hot temper… When twenty-seven-year-old Posy arrives at picture-perfect Oleander House in the Somerset village of Astercombe, she is enchanted. Adopted when she was just a baby, Posy is excited to re-connect with her birth family and help out on the family cider farm with its old stone walls and bees buzzing in the hedgerows. There’s just one tiny problem – her new next-door neighbour, haughty, handsome vineyard-owner Lachlan. Lachlan has taken an instant dislike to Posy, and after a furious argument when she ventures on his land, she’s pretty certain there’s not a heart of gold beneath his frosty exterior. Yet as she falls in love with the flower-filled hedgerows and apple-green fields of her new life, she discovers more about her grumpy neighbour. Even though he acts like the world is out to get him, she can’t ignore the sad expression in his dark eyes. And when Posy discovers the heartbreaking secret that is tearing Lachlan apart, she understands why he has shut the door on the world and vows to help him, as well as the vineyard, which has fallen on hard times. Yet just as Lachlan lets Posy in, a terrible night threatens to destroy everything she has begun to care about and puts someone she loves at risk. Will her dream life in the country come at an awful price? If you love Nicola May, Debbie Macomber and Milly Johnson, then you will adore The Little Orchard on the Lane. An enchanting summer romance about new beginnings, second chances and trusting your heart. What everyone’s saying about The Little Orchard on the Lane : ‘ Yet another fantastic book from Tilly… real hug of a book that I desperately needed to cheer me up on these cold winter days ’ Fiction Book Reviews, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘A perfect summer read… What more could you want? Only problem with this read? The story and the evocative description had me buying apples and wine in the supermarket and dreaming of that perfect Somerset summer.’ Netgalley reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘ I adored this story… perfect for a summer getaway!’ Red Pillows ‘ A really lovely story… Loved it!!!’ Netgalley reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘ A gorgeous, romantic book, that will whisk you away to sunnier happier times. Make you forget what we are living through at the moment and pop a smile on your face as you sink into a lovely romance.’ Goodreads Reviewer ‘ The perfect way to while away a gloomy winter afternoon… enjoy a sweet romantic story…’ Goodreads reviewer ‘Love this book.’ Netgalley reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘A wonderful trip to literary escapism… engaging and entertaining. You won’t be disappointed! ’ Beanie Bookworm
Release date: April 16, 2021
Print pages: 350
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A Cider Apple Summer
Oleander House was bigger than it had looked in the photos too. Much, much bigger. In fact, Posy had never seen a house with so much space that hadn’t belonged to a Russian oligarch or Saudi prince. But then, she had spent her life living in London and you needed a lot of money to buy space in London. Her family weren’t poor by any standards, but they certainly weren’t rich enough to buy a place like this where they lived.
She took a breath in. The air was heavy with the scent of the giant rhododendrons that bordered the gleaming gravel path to the house, boughs laden with purple and fuchsia blooms. She couldn’t remember ever smelling anything so sweet and intoxicating. She must have, of course, because it wasn’t like flowers didn’t grow in London, but she couldn’t remember it right now at all.
An immense, iridescent dragonfly crossed her vision, sapphire and emerald scales glinting in the sun – its presence must mean there was water close by, though Posy couldn’t see it. Perhaps the grounds of Oleander House had a pond, or even a lake. She hadn’t seen that on the official website but perhaps that was private, just for the family. The thought was exciting, but the idea of such grandeur was also a little daunting.
They’d parked some metres away, on the road, leaving the car out of sight of the house. Somehow, even though they’d been invited, to be here felt like trespassing. And Posy, hard though it was for her to admit, secretly wanted some kind of get-out clause. If the occupants of the house didn’t see them arrive, they could always make a quick getaway if her courage failed her.
She turned to her mum now, who had a hand to her forehead, shielding her eyes against the sun as she gazed up at the house too, the same look of wonder and trepidation on her face.
‘This is definitely the right place?’
Carmel – Posy’s mum – nodded uncertainly. ‘I followed the directions to the letter. But it’s…’
‘Massive!’ Posy breathed. ‘They must be loaded!’
‘I don’t know about that. We’re judging prices here by London standards. It might be a lot more affordable to have a house of this size in Somerset.’
‘Even so, it’s a fair pad and not too shabby a location either. It must have cost more than your average house.’
Nerves showed through the thin veneer of Posy’s laughter. The only way she could deal with this was to make light of it, but the fact remained that she was about to meet her blood relatives for the first time – two uncles who, until very recently, had been blissfully unaware of her existence, as she had been theirs.
Their relationship would doubtless prove to be complicated too. From what Posy had managed to glean, her biological mother, Angelica, had done something dreadful that had led to her leaving their family home – Oleander House – as a young woman and cutting herself off from them for many years. She’d later died, but not before she’d given birth to Posy and in the same breath given her up for adoption.
Angelica’s brothers – Giles and Asa, both younger than her – hadn’t been in contact with her and hadn’t even known she’d had a baby. The only person who had known was Philomena – their mother and Posy’s biological grandmother – who had since died from cancer but had left the bombshell secret she’d kept for the past twenty-odd years to be revealed in her will.
It was like something out of a midweek TV drama, and Posy could scarcely believe this melodrama was her beginning. The life she’d been given with her adopted parents, Carmel and Anthony, was so ordinary and secure, so far removed from such tidal waves of upheaval, that it felt as if all that was someone else’s origin story, not hers.
She’d asked herself many times since the start of the year, when she’d first been contacted by a solicitor, how she felt about it all, whether there was any sadness for a mother who had been marked by such tragedy, for a grandmother who had seemingly done very little to help her, keeping Posy’s existence a secret from everyone else. Eventually she’d had to conclude that because it all felt so utterly removed, and as if it was happening to someone else, there was no sadness, only curiosity, a thirst to discover the truth of who she really was.
Carmel had told her that was a good, sensible attitude to have, and that she ought to keep her guard up because she honestly wondered if this new family would prove to be a little toxic, and Posy had been forced to agree on that point.
For a start there was her grandmother, Philomena. Regardless of what had gone on before, what kind of woman refused to help a daughter in need, and what kind of woman kept a granddaughter secret, never acknowledging her to another soul until her dying day? Who had she thought to protect – Posy? The family reputation?
Posy was bursting with questions – who else might have known, did anyone suspect, why hadn’t anyone ever gone in search of Angelica after she’d left, why had Angelica given Posy up? Would her new uncles, Giles and Asa, have any answers? Even if they did, would they want to give them? And if their mother, Philomena, was as hideous as Posy imagined she must have been, would they be just as bad? Would Posy regret making this trip to meet them in just a few short minutes?
At least, she mused as she took in the view, she’d got a nice weekend away out of it all. If the house was breath-taking, the backdrop was even more so: a patchwork of fields, greens, golds, yellow and lavender, stretching for miles to frame the house with vibrant colour.
‘It is gorgeous,’ Carmel agreed. ‘You could get used to a view like this.’
Posy shook herself. ‘Just because they’ve invited us to talk about the will, it doesn’t mean Giles and Asa want us as a permanent fixture in their lives.’
‘It seems like a friendly enough invitation though. They didn’t have to reach out personally; they could have done all this through solicitors and never had to meet you. They could have chosen not to contact you at all, but they did.’
Posy nodded, her eyes still fixed on the house. ‘I suppose that makes them good people at least,’ she said, doubting her words even as she uttered them. ‘Nice people… But it still doesn’t mean we’ll ever see them again after today.’
‘You underestimate how easily people fall in love with you.’ Carmel smiled and looped her hand around the crook of Posy’s arm, pulling her close. ‘So… on a scale of one to ten, how nervous are you right now?’
‘Twelve. I’d swear like a trooper if it was anyone but you standing next to me right now.’
Carmel laughed. ‘Feel free to let rip if it makes you feel better.’
Posy gave a quick grin that instantly faded. ‘I feel sick – absolutely horrendous now that I’m here.’
Carmel slid her hand down her daughter’s arm to take her hand and give it a squeeze. ‘I know it’s your big deal and not mine, but I feel a bit sick too. It’s a scary moment.’
‘You’re perfectly entitled to feel scared too. It’s a whole new family for both of us – of course you’re nervous; I wouldn’t expect anything else.’
‘Nervous for you more than me. I couldn’t bear it if they were horrible to you.’
‘They won’t be,’ Posy said, though she didn’t sound certain of that at all.
‘Posy…’ Carmel began slowly, ‘we don’t have to go in. Nobody would blame you if you turned around right now and we never came back. We could go back to life as it was, forget all this and nothing would have to change… I can only imagine what it took for you to even come this far.’
Posy let out a long sigh, turning her gaze back to the house. ‘I wish Dad could have come with us.’
‘I’m sure he would have done if he could.’
‘I know. It’s silly to need him – I’m a grown woman and it’s not as if I’m not used to having to do things without him; he is, after all, away from home more than he’s there. You’d think I’d be more than capable of talking to some people for the first time.’
‘Not some people,’ Carmel reminded her. ‘Family. Family you’ve never met and who didn’t even know you existed until a few weeks ago.’
‘I suppose it’s going to be strange for them too,’ Posy replied thoughtfully. ‘I just hope they don’t see me as a threat.’
‘Nobody could see you like that.’
‘But they don’t know me from Adam—’
‘True. But you’ve decided not to take anything from the estate and so I don’t see what other kind of threat you could pose.’
Posy had said from the start she was going to tell Giles and Asa that she didn’t want anything from Philomena’s estate, which had apparently stipulated that she ought to receive a sum equivalent to what would have been Angelica’s share, had she been alive. But it was a lot of money and would they take her statement at face value?
To Posy it felt like cursed money. Taking it might make her enemies where she wanted friends – it would certainly cause resentment and bad feeling and risk breaking up a family she’d only just discovered she had. She only wanted to meet them (and at times had admitted to Carmel that she didn’t understand fully why it mattered that she did), but would they believe that either? Would they trust there was no other agenda?
There had been a brief discussion on the phone with Giles – older than his brother Asa by six years – and he had seemed friendly and welcoming, but it was hard to tell from a quick phone call what he really thought about any of it.
Judging by the size of the house in front of them, Giles and Asa had a lot to lose if Posy did decide to pursue a share in the estate. There was the house, but there was also a sizeable parcel of land containing orchards, sheds for commercially produced cider, outbuildings and gardens as well. If the tables had been turned, would Posy and Carmel trust two strangers who could easily walk off with a chunk of their livelihood?
Posy glanced at her mother and her other frequent and nagging doubt occurred to her again – would today’s meeting change things between them too?
That was a question much harder to answer.
As Posy and Carmel arrived at the gates, three people – two men and a woman – were already walking down the path to greet them. Clearly the occupants of Oleander House had been anticipating the meeting as keenly as they had.
There was an obvious family resemblance between the two men. Posy assumed this was Giles and Asa, though she was disappointed that she didn’t recognise much in either man’s features that was like what she saw so often in the mirror. Perhaps she looked a lot more like her unknown father than she did her mother. She didn’t know who the woman was, but she did know that Giles was married to a woman named Sandra while Asa was single. So was this lady Sandra?
Posy’s heart was thumping in her chest so hard she thought it would burst free. If she felt like this, God only knew how her poor mum was feeling. Carmel would be plagued by her own fears, and Posy had to admire her guts for coming here at all. Posy had reassured her adopted mum that she’d always be the most important person in her life, and Carmel had taken that in good faith, but she wouldn’t have been human if she didn’t have doubts.
She glanced across to see Carmel wearing a frozen smile, fixed in place not by pleasure but by fear. Posy wanted to make a good impression, but it was hard to make charming, easy small talk when you felt like you could hurl yourself inside out.
The trio approaching them now looked far more relaxed and were all wearing smiles (which was a promising start), but then, perhaps it was natural that they would be more relaxed. This was, after all, their turf, and – as far as Posy could see – they held all the aces.
The men were both tallish – around five ten, five eleven – with mid-brown hair. One was thinning a little at the temples. The younger-looking brother – Posy guessed this was Asa – was stylishly dressed in dark denim and a fitted dove-grey sweater, while the older had on baggy corduroy trousers a little worn at the knees and a well-loved flannelette shirt. The woman reached for the hand of the older man, a gesture that seemed so natural and unconscious that she probably didn’t even realise she’d done it. She was a bit on the tall side too – certainly a few feet taller than Posy and her mum – her blonde hair cut into shoulder-length layers, with dark roots just poking through to suggest that she wasn’t a natural blonde and didn’t make root touch-ups a priority. She had on a full-length denim skirt and a sleeveless cotton shirt. She was hardly skinny, but she looked toned and fit.
It was the woman who spoke first. She opened the gate and looked at Posy with a warm smile.
‘Yes.’ She put her hand out.
‘Oh, nonsense!’ the woman said. Instead of shaking her hand, she pulled Posy closer and kissed her lightly on both cheeks. She then turned to Posy’s mum and welcomed her in the same way. ‘So you must be Carmel? We’ve been looking out for you. Did you find us easily enough?’
‘Yes…’ Carmel said, though she looked vaguely shell-shocked, as if she might well have said yes to anything at this point.
‘The directions were brilliant,’ Posy said.
‘I’m Sandra. Married to Giles – for my sins.’
One of the brothers stepped forward and offered his hand, rather than the less formal cheek-kiss they’d had from Sandra.
‘I’m Giles,’ he said, shaking with Posy and Carmel in turn. ‘And this is my brother, Asa.’
Asa also offered his hand to shake. Posy noted that his grip was a lot less certain than that of Giles.
‘Pleased to meet you,’ Posy said. Asa gave a brisk nod in return.
Posy studied both men, trying to read them. While Sandra was very open, the two brothers were less so. They were friendly enough on the surface, but something about them suggested they were scrutinising Posy and Carmel as much as Posy was scrutinising them now. It was hardly surprising, she had to conclude, given the circumstances of this meeting. It wasn’t every day you discovered you had family that, up until a few weeks ago, you had no clue existed.
‘How was the traffic?’ Giles asked.
‘Once we left the motorway not bad at all,’ Carmel said.
‘Good…’ He plunged his hands into his pockets and nodded slowly, as if giving the information as much thought as he might had he just been presented with the secret to the meaning of life. ‘Good…’ he repeated.
‘You must be parched,’ Sandra said. ‘I put the kettle on as soon as Giles saw you approaching; I should imagine it’s boiled by now. You drink tea? Or would you prefer coffee? I can do a cold drink if you’d prefer of course…’
‘Tea would be lovely,’ Carmel said. She glanced uncertainly at Posy, who wondered if her mum was thinking of making a run for it. Posy wouldn’t have blamed her at all – the thought had crossed her mind too. Perhaps it would be less awkward once they settled down to tea.
‘So…’ Sandra placed a tray on the mosaic-tiled table that graced the broad patio. The space was shaded by a wide trellis with what looked like some kind of vine woven into it, paved with dark slates and furnished with the table and chairs, a swinging seat and two rattan armchairs. She poured tea from a fine bone china pot into matching cups and saucers. Like everything they’d seen of Oleander House so far, they looked old but well loved and very traditional, decorated in a classic blue and white willow pattern.
Posy, Carmel, Giles and Asa sat around the table after Sandra insisted she could manage the tea-making by herself and that the brothers needed to be with Posy because they had so much to talk about.
Sandra cut in as their polite chat grew silent. ‘Who’d like a slice of cake with their tea? We’ve got apple sponge – made with apples grown here, of course.’
‘Not from the orchard, though,’ Giles added. ‘We use a different kind of apples for our cider-making. We have a couple of trees in the garden for cooking apples.’
‘I’d love one,’ Posy said. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten home-made cake. Carmel was no baker and neither was she. In fact, she didn’t know anyone who had time for baking, let alone the inclination. It was yet another way that life here in Somerset seemed impossibly romantic compared to her own in London, like she’d just stepped into the pages of an H.E Bates novel. She half expected Ma Larkin to appear from inside the house with a towering tray of scones and clotted cream she’d made from milk produced from a cow only hours earlier.
Sandra poured the tea while Giles cut slices from a generously layered sponge decorated with white icing. He handed one to Posy who wasted no time sinking her fork into it.
‘My God!’ she exclaimed as the tanginess of the apple chunks hit first, followed by a balancing hint of vanilla and sugary icing. ‘That’s divine!’
Carmel took a mouthful of her slice and nodded enthusiastic agreement. ‘You’re a baking genius,’ she said warmly.
‘Actually, Giles baked it,’ Sandra said mildly.
Posy smiled at him. ‘Wow!’
‘I know I don’t look like much of a baker,’ he replied, almost apologetically.
‘What’s a baker supposed to look like?’ Sandra asked as she settled with her own plate.
‘Big poofy hat and a white tunic,’ Posy said, instantly wondering whether she’d misjudged the joke and wishing she hadn’t made it.
‘Oh, he saves those for his private time,’ Asa said in such a deadpan tone that it took Posy a full second to realise he was joking too.
‘That’s true,’ Sandra said. ‘I can’t get him out of that poofy hat. Morning, noon and night – he’d wear it to bed if lying down didn’t flatten it.’
Carmel laughed lightly. Posy had heard that laugh many times before – it was reserved and polite and meant she still didn’t know these people well enough to show them what her real laughter was like. But it was still warm, as was Sandra’s answering smile. Carmel and Posy didn’t know them yet, but Giles, Sandra and Asa seemed easy to get along with, free of airs and graces, and it gave Posy real hope that she would be able to build a meaningful relationship with her new-found family.
Posy had been raised as the only child of two only children, and their family group had been tight-knit but necessarily small. Growing up, she’d always envied friends with big, noisy, chaotic homes full of siblings or other extended family. Her own had always seemed far too quiet and dull in comparison, even though Carmel did her best to make life for Posy as interesting as she could and had always explained that only adopting her had been a financial decision – with one child they could comfortably give her what she needed without worrying about money. Having discovered Giles, Asa and Sandra certainly expanded Posy’s family exponentially.
Now that Posy thought of it, Giles and Sandra hadn’t mentioned having any children and neither had Asa. Did that mean there were none? Was that why they seemed unduly relaxed about their farm – because they had no kids to pass it to? Most people introducing themselves as long-lost family would mention children as part of that deal fairly early on, and now that Posy thought about it, she hadn’t seen any signs of children around the place – no discarded toys or textbooks, no brightly coloured trainers kicked into a corner or photos and school certificates on the fridge.
Sandra topped up Posy’s cup. ‘Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.’
‘There’s not much to tell,’ Posy said, lifting the freshly filled teacup to her lips. ‘Not much that’s very exciting anyway.’
‘There must be something. Surely living in London is very exciting all the time?’
Posy gave a light laugh, a little like the one Carmel had given only a few moments before. ‘Well, there’s always plenty going on, but when you’ve grown up there you sort of take it all for granted. I suppose that’s a shame, isn’t it? I mean, I do appreciate that there’s lots to do but sometimes I wish a little bit that it could be quieter.’
‘Well, there’s plenty of quiet here,’ Asa said. ‘So much that I often wish for some disaster just to liven things up.’
Posy’s smile slipped and she looked to see if Sandra and Giles were shocked at Asa’s statement, but they both remained serene. Perhaps it was the sort of thing he said a lot but didn’t mean. For Posy, not knowing him meant it was hard to know how to take him.
‘So you must be… twenty-seven now?’ Giles asked.
Sandra laughed. ‘You know you don’t ask a lady that! Have I managed to teach you nothing in all our years of marriage?’
‘Oh, I’m sure Posy’s young enough not to care about questions like that yet,’ Giles replied breezily, reaching for his cup.
‘I don’t mind,’ Posy said. ‘Yes, I’m twenty-seven. Only just – couple of weeks ago.’
‘Oh, happy belated birthday,’ Sandra said.
‘Posy’s an interior designer,’ Carmel said with a fond glance at her daughter. ‘A very good one too.’
‘Oh, you have to say that.’ Posy smiled at her mum. ‘I wish my boss at the agency could be as enthusiastic about my work as you are.’ She looked at Giles again. ‘I don’t have my own consultancy or anything yet. I’m really still finding my feet in the industry. I work for a design agency. We do a lot of commercial interiors. I’d like to have my own business one day, of course. I’d love to design private homes and things like that rather than corporate places.’
‘That sounds very exciting.’ Sandra looked at Asa. ‘You said you wanted to redesign your place, didn’t you? Looks like we’ve found your woman.’
‘As long as you’re cheap,’ Asa said to Posy. ‘We’re hardly made of money around here.’
It was yet another statement Posy just didn’t know how to take. Was he warning her that if she and Carmel were after a fast buck they wouldn’t find it at Oleander House?
‘I could always take a look,’ she said, choosing not to take offence. ‘I’d be happy to make some suggestions and I wouldn’t expect you to pay for that.’
‘That would be very kind,’ Sandra said. ‘Wouldn’t it, Asa?’
‘Very kind,’ Asa repeated before hiding his face behind his teacup as he took a sip. Out of the three of them, Asa gave Posy the most cause for wariness because it was becoming clear that he was the one who trusted her least. That wasn’t to say he wasn’t trying as hard as Giles and Sandra were – Posy believed that he was – but maybe for him a natural instinct to trust was just that bit harder to find.
‘Do you all work in the family business?’ Carmel asked.
‘Yes,’ Giles said. ‘We employ some people too. I expect you’ll meet a few of them if you come back on a weekday.’
Carmel exchanged a brief glance with Posy. They might well have been thinking the same thing – Giles mentioning them returning here was a good sign that he at least wanted them to.
‘Are you planning to drive all the way back to London today?’ Sandra asked Carmel. ‘It’s such a long way.’
Carmel shook her head. ‘We’ve booked a room at a little guest house. We’ll leave tomorrow – we thought we might as well use the opportunity of coming here to explore the countryside. After all, it seems a shame to come all this way and not see any of it.’
‘That sounds lovely. Is your guest house close?’
‘I think so. At least, it looked close on the map. Sunnyfields? Do you know it?’
‘Oh, yes, that’s Karen’s place. Not too far at all. She’ll treat you like royalty – you’ll have a lovely stay there.’
‘She does have very good reviews online,’ Carmel agreed. ‘Now I know it’s nice I’m beginning to wish we’d booked for longer.’
‘Well,’ Sandra said, smiling, ‘you can always come back. Somerset is beautiful at any time of the year.’
Giles very deliberately set down his cup and saucer and looked around the table. His expression had hardened, barely perceptibly, but to Posy it looked as if they were finally going to get down to the real business. Because while the meeting had been pleasant so far, everyone knew that the reason Posy and Carmel had come to Oleander House was to address something a little more thorny than whether the guest house they’d chosen to stay in that night was nice or not.
‘Perhaps we ought to tackle that great big elephant we’ve been trying so hard to ignore. Not that the conversation hasn’t been delightful of course, but I think now’s the time to be serious for a moment.’
‘I don’t want anything from you,’ Posy said firmly. ‘I haven’t changed my mind on that. I know Philomena left instructions that I ought to be provided for, but I really don’t need it and I don’t feel it’s due to me.’
Asa looked faintly disbelieving while Giles and Sandra maintained expressions of calm neutrality.
‘I don’t feel I’m owed anything and I don’t want it,’ Posy insisted. ‘I only wanted to meet you because… I can’t explain it; not really. I just needed answers, I suppose.’
‘We wanted to meet you too,’ Sandra said. ‘But surely—’
Posy gave her head a firm shake. ‘I don’t want anything else.’ She glanced at Carmel, who gave a nod of encouragement. ‘I’m already happy enough with my lot, and even though everyone could do with a little more cash I don’t want to get it like this – it doesn’t feel right.’
Sandra gave a slight smile. ‘You’ve obviously given this a lot of thought.’
‘I’ve thought of little else but meeting you since I first found out about you,’ Posy said. ‘But it took two seconds to decide that I’d rather have more family than money. I don’t want to be the cause of a rift before we’ve even begun, and if you having to give me a share of my grandmother’s estate means it affects your home and your business by making you sell bits off then…’ She shrugged, uncertain how to finish her sentence but hoping they would understand.
‘A lot of people would feel they owed us no loyalty,’ Giles said. ‘In fact, many would feel just the opposite. And Mother said—’
‘I know all that,’ Posy replied. ‘It makes no difference to my decision. I’m not going to change my mind either, in case that’s something you’re worrying about.’
Sandra glanced at Giles, sombre and silent for a moment, and then they both looked at Asa, who was just as serious.
‘Well,’ Asa said finally. ‘I think it’s safe to say you’ve thrown us a curveball. We were expecting some kind of fight – at least a heated negotiation. Instead, we find ourselves practically begging you to take some of our inheritance.’
‘I said all along I wasn’t going to do that,’ Posy reiterated.
‘I can’t say I’m not a little bit disappointed actually,’ Asa replied. ‘I was quite looking forward to a Dynasty-type showdown.’
‘It’s very noble and generous of you,’ Sandra said. ‘What Asa means to say is that we were all a little bit worried, despite what you’d told the solicitor. This place is our life – Giles and Asa especially have never known anything else. The orchard is in their blood… the thought of having to sell bits off or break up the property in any way to pay someone a portion of the estate was scary. And Philomena left no actual cash; everything is tied up in this place.’
She paused for a moment, exchanged a brief look with Giles, and then turned to Posy again. ‘If it’s not too delicate a question, would you be prepared to sign something to that effect? Not that I doubt your intentions for one second, it’s just…’
Her sentence tailed off, but if she’d been afraid of offending Posy she needn’t have been.
‘I’d be asking the same thing,’ she replied. ‘I wouldn’t be able to relax for a moment with something like that hanging over me. I could easily be the sort of person who changes their mind like the weather.’
‘Thank you for being so understanding,’ Giles said. ‘You have no idea just how much of . . .
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