How far should you go to keep a secret?
No-one ever accused Sophie Campbell of being a coward. From caving trips to rooftop pranks, it appeared nothing could hold her back, especially once she landed a dream job promising travel all over the world.
But Sophie’s jet-setting lifestyle is not what it seems and she’s been spending more time in the quiet English village of Saffron Sweeting than she cares to admit. When her beloved Great Aunt Wol dies suddenly, Sophie loses one of the few people who truly know her. As friends, family and an old flame gather for the funeral, questions soon follow. Worse, Sophie finds herself increasingly attracted to the man most likely to expose her secrets. Can she manage to guard her past, yet finally follow her long-held dream?
Featuring both new and familiar characters, this stand-alone romantic comedy is set two years before Saving Saffron Sweeting. With side helpings of British tea, cake and wit, Secrets in the Sky explores how finding the courage to be yourself can be the toughest challenge of all.
Bella looks incredulous, but before she can respond, there’s a brisk knock at the front door.
Bugger, I think, who the hell’s that? Surely not someone trying to sell us solar panels in this weather? Bella’s busy concocting our dinner, so I gather myself and head for the door.
When I open it, I find a tall woman with wavy auburn hair standing with her back to me. She’s wearing a chic navy suit with a peplum jacket, which shows off curves like Jessica Rabbit.
Then she whirls around on one heel and proclaims, ‘At last! You’re the one sleeping in my husband’s bed!’
With that, she steps forward, and thrusts out a hand. Instinctively, I take a step back, but then notice her wide, mischievous smile.
‘I’m so pleased to meet you,’ she says. ‘I’m Amelia.’
I shake her hand cautiously. Her grip is enthusiastic and she’s wearing a huge cocktail ring which winks at me, despite the gloom outside.
‘I’m sorry,’ I say, apologising immediately for something I haven’t done. ‘But I’m not sleeping with your husband.’
But I’m really thinking: Joey – the scumbag – is he married and hasn’t told me?
‘No, darling, not with my husband. Just in his bed, right? And I should have said ex-husband.’
‘Umm…’ I’m still not getting it.
‘You’re house sitting, correct? For Michael Hargraves? You’re wearing his dressing gown, you know.’
Now I get it. Bella’s Uncle Mike. And this is his dressing gown? Ugh. I hope it’s been washed.
‘Well, I’m Amelia Hargraves. I own the estate agency in the village.’
‘Oh,’ I say. The penny drops. I’ve seen her occasionally in the post office and the baker’s, always dressed beautifully and talking in that deep, posh way. ‘Sorry. Yes. Would you like to come in?’
Amelia strides past me happily, not needing, of course, to be shown the way to the living room. I shuffle after her, making sure the belt of Mike’s dressing gown is tied securely.
Amelia’s standing in the middle of the room, head swivelling as she assesses her former home. Even though I am entirely blameless in the sleeping-with-the-husband department, I still feel awkward.
‘Where the bloody hell did that come from?’
She’s looking, of course, at Stanley, who opens both eyes, lifts one clawed foot off his perch and echoes ‘Bloody hell!’ at the top of his voice, adding ‘Feed me!’ for good measure.
‘He’s temporary,’ I say. Great. Now she’s taught Wol’s parrot how to swear. Some guardian I make.
British by birth, Pauline Wiles moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2003. Apart from a yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes, she's never looked back.
Pauline’s writing has been published by House of Fifty, Open Exchange and Alfie Dog Fiction. Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was a number one Kindle Best Seller.
When not writing, she can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. Her ambition is to sell enough books to cover the cost of flying herself and a reader to London for tea.
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