A Christmas Wish by Erin Green

by Erin Green
Published by Atria Books Genres: Contemporary Romance

Flora Phillips has an excuse for every disaster in her life; she was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep one cold autumn night, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Her philosophy is simple: if your mother doesn’t want you – who will?

Now a thirty-year-old, without a boyfriend, a career or home she figures she might as well tackle the biggest question of them all – who is she? So, whilst everyone else enjoys their Christmas Eve traditions, Flora escapes the masses and drives to the village of Pooley to seek a specific doorstep. Her doorstep.

But in Pooley she finds more than her life story. She finds friends, laughter, and perhaps even a love to last a lifetime. Because once you know where you come from, it’s so much easier to know where you’re going.

A story of redemption and love, romance and Christmas dreams-come-true, the perfect novel to snuggle up with this festive season.

24th December 2016

Flora

I’m driving. Not my usual tootle around town driving, but pedal to the metal with power ballad blaring driving – the kind seen in plush car adverts. If I were driving in a snazzy commercial I’d have a backdrop of raging fire, tornados or cyclones looming over a dusky landscape to reinforce my mood. Instead there’s a pitch-black night sky and a heavy flurry of snow pelting the windscreen creating a deep in outer space illusion.

Like the car commercials, I have navigated many winding and twisting roads but despite having a Sat Nav with the destination entered, I have no idea where I am.

‘Take the third exit at the roundabout,’ orders the Sat Nav lady.

I follow her instructions as I have for the previous two hours. ‘Continue for one mile… arriving at your destination on the left.’ The tiny screen depicts a chequered flag and a blobby image unrecognisable as my red Mini.

My stomach flips; I want to be sick.

Not the drunken sickness that Christmas Eve parties can deliver, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol, but that nervy tremor, butterflies in your stomach kind of sick.

Within minutes, I arrive at my destination: St Bede’s Mews, Pooley.

I indicate, park at the kerb and switch off the engine in front of a large church with stone angles and angels illuminated by spotlights strategically positioned amongst the tilting gravestones. The church looks empty and locked, I presume Christmas Eve mass was earlier in the evening. Janet, my mum, always goes to church on Christmas Eve – though not this year.

Is this a bad idea? Should I stay or return home? I want someone else to decide – there’s no chance of assistance; I’m on my own.

The church clock strikes half eleven.

I hadn’t planned on driving here. I’m supposed to be dancing under neon lights at the Pink Coconut, laughing and joking alongside Lisa and Steph surrounded by tonight’s selection of tall, dark and handsome Prince Charmings.

Was I right to dash off into the night? Did they manage to flog my Christmas Eve Extravaganza party invite to the ticketless crowd huddled by the club entrance?

I stare at my surroundings. Adjacent to the church, is a row of Edwardian houses with steep stone steps leading to impressive doorways. A large archway is straight ahead, through which the road snakes before disappearing, linking the houses to a quadrangle of commercial buildings. The buildings edge a pretty cobblestone square freshly decorated with the flurry of snow and dominated by a community Christmas tree. On the far side of The Square, opposite the church, a noisy pub spews festive spirit from an open doorway.

My stomach convulses and my mouth unattractively dry gags.

‘Don’t puke,’ I mutter, looking down at the red chiffon skimming my bare thighs. ‘I haven’t paid for it yet.’

I don’t do tights, even in winter. I don’t do spare plastic bags to act as sick bags stashed in glove compartments either.

I lower the window by an inch allowing a whoosh of cold air to bathe my clammy forehead.

Breathe, just breathe.

I close my eyes.

This has to be the right decision. How many nights have I dreamt of seeing The Square?

It’s not easy growing up being different. Different from every child in the extended family, your English class, girl guides or youth club. Everyone I know knows where they came from: job relocation from Newcastle, divorcing parents or social aspirations – they all knew how they’d arrived in the leafy suburbs of Bushey. Except me, because I am different. I’m special, as Janet says.

‘Special’ – not the most flattering of labels in today’s society. ‘Special’ counts for nothing in the employment stakes, the education system or a long-term romance. ‘Special’ doesn’t get you far in life outside the three bedroomed detached belonging to Janet and David Phillips, my adoptive parents.

What would they say if they knew I was here? I peer into the Mini’s tiny rear-view mirror where my sea-green eyes reflect a wave of guilt that snags in my throat. Was this the way to repay their kindness and love? Snooping behind their backs while they cruise the Bahamas escaping the British winter and celebrating an early Ruby wedding anniversary. What harm could it do? They’d never know. A quick look and I’d be starting the return journey towards Bushey within ten minutes.

 

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Erin was born and raised in Warwickshire, where she resides with her husband. She writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and copious amounts of tea. Erin was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017 and previously, Love Stories ‘New Talent Award’ in 2015.

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Facebook: @ErinGreenAuthor
Twitter: @ErinGreenAuthor
Website: www.ErinGreenAuthor.co.uk

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