By: Skylar Heart
One girl, on the run from her life, flees right into the arms of four boys from her past.
Fleeing her abusive ex, a dead-end job and no prospects for anything better, Mia returns to the coastal town where she used to spend her summers as a kid. She hopes that going back to a time when things were easier will clear her head, but instead she runs right into the arms of the boys she loved as a teen.
It starts with Dylan, the brainiac, now a maths teacher at a nearby secondary school. Then Mal, the joker, who plays guitar in a band and composes music. Then Tom, the protector, a single dad who works as a carpenter. And to make it even more complicated, Jake, the city boy, shows up, carrying the one secret Mia has been trying to hide from the others.
But that’s not where their problems end. There was one more person who used to be with them, Poppy, she was Mia’s lover, Mal’s twin, Tom’s wife and mother of his child. Mia’s arrival couldn’t have come at a darker time with just over a week until the anniversary of Poppy’s death and everyone is on edge.
Can they finally come together, or will this explosive mix of emotions and love forever ruin them?
6 March 2020
Pages: 330 pages
Available in the Netherlands/Belgium:
The stormy clouds rolling in from the sea feel much too similar to the dark mood that has been following me for the last weeks, the last months. So many bad things happened this year, one after another, too many to handle.
Having to miss Oliver’s birthday, then being passed over for a promotion at work, problems with the house, with money, then Grandma died, and then, last weekend… No. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. After everything, after all that time together, I had to get away, for my own sanity, my own health, my own… My own safety. I had to get away from him.
I never thought I’d end up back here again, back in the coastal town that my parents used to send me to every summer because it was cheaper and more fun for me to stay here than back home, but here I am…
It feels strange, standing on this cliff for the first time in eight years, when I used to spend every summer holiday here for as long as I can remember… So many memories are tied to this place, so many important milestones growing up.
To be back here is unsettling and comforting at the same time, but also painful, because I’m not here for fun or anything, I’m here because I’ve got nowhere else to go. Why did I think that fleeing here would be a good idea? Why am I mixing my bad situation now with the happy memories I have of this place?
In a spur of the moment decision, I packed my bags, booked a train ticket and came to the coast. I had to get away, and this seemed to be the furthest I could get without having to make any plans in advance. After Grandma suddenly passed this summer, which caught me totally off-guard and has been pulling me down more than I expected it to, her house is now empty. A perfect place to hide out, away from the world. Maybe I just craved a little of the feeling I had when I spent my summers here. A feeling of lost innocence, of a time where things were easier. But I’m not sure that it will work, now or ever again. I’ve changed, a lot. Not all of it good…
The rough wind pulls my hair out of my bun, whipping strands around my face, and I try to tuck it behind my ear, without much luck. The wind has really picked up as I’ve been standing here and it tugs on me more and more as the stormy clouds roll closer, the sea underneath turning choppy, white heads on the waves growing.
I was always here during the summer months, never during the fall, so the cold air and the dark clouds are somehow a welcome unfamiliarity. When everything is so familiar, so normal, so much like it always was, it’s good to have this one bit of differentness, this one thing that’s not the same as it used to be, reminding me that I’m not the same either.
I step closer to the edge of the cliff, just a little, because I don’t want to fall over, I just want to look. As I glance over, I almost laugh as I catch sight of a railing hanging not too far below me. It used to indicate the edge of the cliff, the final ‘safe’ place where you could stand, and now even that has fallen down, taking with it the sense of security a railing can bring to a desolate view like this.
Time has passed. Things have broken down…
A little to my right, half a house is still standing at the top of the cliff, the rest of it having crashed onto the rocks and into the sea below. I remember that during my final summer here, my friends and I used to sit in the walled garden, protected from the elements but with a great view of the sea, as we got into all sorts of trouble. Back then, only the far end of the garden and all of the garage had fallen down, but now, half the house is gone, revealing pipes sticking out of the walls and wallpaper that has been battered by the elements.
The owners of the house left a long time ago, I can’t even remember if anyone ever lived in it when I was little. I’ve spent many a night in the garden, under the starry sky, surrounded by my ‘summer friends’ as Grandma used to call them, different from my ‘city friends’ from my parents’ place, back in the city.
A particularly strong gust of wind pushes at me, and I stumble a step back, caught off-guard by it. Fuck.
My heart beats like it’s trying to break from my chest. That was dangerous. Looking down the cliff is all fun and games, but I don’t want to accidentally end up at the bottom of it…
“Don’t get too close to the edge, it’s not safe.” A warm voice comes from behind me, the person has to speak loudly to be heard over the wind. My heart still manages to skip a beat, even while it’s racing from the adrenaline from before, not because there’s someone behind me, but because it’s a voice I recognise, a voice I’d recognise anywhere.
I turn around slowly, blinking, as I push the hair out of my face, trying to make sure it really is who I think it is.
Dylan’s eyes grow as his mouth drops open, gaping at me before he seems to come back to his senses. “Mia? Amelia?”
I flash him a smile as I nod, stepping closer to him, away from that cliff, like I said, I’m in a bad mood but not suicidal. “Hey, long time no see.”
“Long time? Heck, that was a different lifetime.” He grins, looking me over appreciatively, as always, the charmer.
A different lifetime, he’s right about that, a very different time. Even though it’s easy to recognise the teenage boy he used to be in the man he is now, it’s very obvious that time has passed for both of us, even just from the lines between his eyebrows, which he never used to have, deep worry lines.
He looks behind me, his grey eyes darkening to almost the same shade as the clouds rolling in from the sea. “Those suitcases by the road, up ahead, I presume they’re yours?”
“Yeah.” I couldn’t pull them all the way here, too much of a bother.
“Let’s get them inside somewhere. Wouldn’t want them all soaked from the rain.” And, with that, he turns around, walking back up the slight slope to the road to a battered black car.
So much for a warm welcome, but as I follow him, the rain starts and I realise that he’s right, my bags will be soaked if we don’t put them away fast. Dylan has always been the practical one. Keeping my stuff dry is probably more important than a hug or something.
Within moments, it’s pouring and we’re trying to fit my large suitcases in the back of his car, both cursing and laughing at the same time at our idiocy for attempting this.
Then he manages to close the doors and he slips into the front of his car, I join him on the passenger side, both of us grinning now, soaked and cold.
The cliff we were just at is a little off the road, but closer than it was when I was here last. There’s even a bus stop around here, though, bus stop is not the right word. The roundabout nearby is an easy spot for buses to turn after they’ve come through the town, and there’s still an old stop, which is technically still in use.
The bus driver was very surprised when I said I wanted to get off at it, asking me if I was sure, that I wasn’t mixing the location up with another stop. But when I said I was sure, he muttered something about this being the first time in all his years driving here that someone asked to get off at it.
On the drive over from the train station, I’d seen the stormy clouds come in, and I just had to see the view from the cliff. Even if it meant that I would have to walk over half an hour with two heavy suitcases to get to Grandma’s house…
It was definitely worth it. But that begs the question, with the cliff not really being on a road going anywhere. “Why were you here?” I narrow my eyes at Dylan, who just grins at me.
“Same reason as why you were, probably. Saw the clouds on my way back from work, wanted to take in the view from the cliff. Good thing too.” He looks back at the suitcases. “You were planning on walking to your grandma’s place with those?” The rain beating on the window almost drowns out his voice and he has to raise it to be heard.
Also looking back, I shrug. “Yeah. Why not?”
He lets out a sigh, shaking his head, then he glances up, his eyes twinkling a little. “I see you’ve not changed one bit. Just, walking all that way with those suitcases, in this rain… not a good idea. Especially since you’ll have nothing dry to wear at the end of it.” He glances around, then puts on his seatbelt. “Let’s go and get something warm to drink first. Wait until this storm is over before we make more plans.” He turns the car on as I quickly put my seatbelt on. “Remember that little pub we used to go to? Sophie owns it now. Let’s go there.”
I could definitely use a warm drink and some friendly faces right now. Maybe it will lift my mood a bit…