Carrie needed some time alone to think about her future, but ended up paying a price for her peace!
For the third time, Carrie balanced her paintbrush on the tin and went to answer the imperative ring of the doorbell.
“Come in, Paula.” Carrie held the door wide and hoped her exasperation wasn’t showing.
Everybody was being so kind. Sometimes, she wished they wouldn’t. It took so much time out of her day.
“I come bearing cakes,” her sister said, waving a paper packet with the name of the excellent local bakery splashed across it. “You go get some plates out and I’ll put the kettle on.”
The little cupcakes did look delicious, the swirls of creamy butter icing dotted with colourful sprinkles.
“Don’t they look so spring-like!” Paula said, regarding them with affection. “Just the thing to cheer you up, I thought.”
“They’re lovely,” Carrie said, wondering how many inches were going on her waistline.
Two small cupcakes weren’t going to do much, but it wasn’t just two small cupcakes, was it?
She still had three-quarters of Mum’s rich fruitcake in the cupboard. Her friend Anne had brought profiteroles and prosecco. And it had been her neighbour Claire’s birthday the day before yesterday. Huge chunks of chocolate cake had been eaten, along with piles of raspberries and cream.
They all seemed to think she needed feeding as an antidote to losing her dream job.
And losing Kieran.
The break-up of her relationship with him couldn’t have come at a worse moment.
With 20-20 hindsight, she knew it had been coming for a while, but she’d tried to ignore it. If she didn’t acknowledge there was something going on, there wouldn’t be… right?
“You’d have been half-way across the Atlantic now, wouldn’t you?” Paula said.
She meant it sympathetically, but it just rubbed it in that Carrie had decided that if she hadn’t been chosen as the firm’s representative in Washington, it was best to call it quits and find somewhere she’d be more appreciated. “You haven’t made a start on the job-hunting yet, then?”
Carrie shook her head.
“I’m sure you won’t have too much trouble finding a new job with your skills, and at least it’s given you a breathing space to do all these spring-cleaning jobs you’ve been going on about.”
Chance would be a fine thing, Carrie thought with an inward laugh.
With all the “cheering up” she was getting from friends and family, she didn’t have five minutes to herself.
But wait a minute…
“Actually,” she said casually, “I’m taking off on a mini-break tomorrow.”
“Ooh! Anywhere exciting?”
“I’m going to spend a few days with Millie in Scotland.”
“That’ll be nice.” Paula didn’t sound too sure, but she and Carrie’s friend had never got on.
“Yes. So don’t try to get hold of me until Friday. You know how bad reception is where she lives. I’ll call you when I can.”
She saw Paula looking dubious and offered the plate of cakes.
“Mmm, these look good. Coffee’s ready. Let’s go into the garden. It’s quite warm for April.”
“Won’t be in Scotland,” Paula muttered as she followed Carrie outside.
The sun’s rays stroked fingers down Carrie’s arm.
She lifted her head, eyes closed, to savour the warmth, then opened them to survey with satisfaction the lovely weed-free patch around the tulips that grew in her garden.
The daffodils were finished now, but they’d been a glorious blaze of yellow. Enough to cheer anybody up.
And there was still some of Mum’s fruitcake left. She’d bring it and her coffee out and have it here before she went into the house and finished off painting the bathroom.
It had been a peaceful three days.
She felt a twinge of guilt about deceiving all her well-wishers, but she’d really needed this quiet time to sort herself out.
Not to mention being able to do the jobs that needed doing before she plunged once more into the hurly-burly of CVs, applications and interviews.
She drew out her mobile. Better call Mum and Paula and let them know she’d told them a little white lie about going away – and why.
“Carrie!” Paula sounded disproportionately relieved to hear from her. She’d only been incommunicado for three days, for goodness sake.
“I don’t want to worry you, but you’ve got burglars!”
“Burglars?” Carried repeated, puzzled. She cast a look around at the villain-free zone that was her garden.
“Thank goodness you’re in Scotland or you might have come back and disturbed them. Who knows what might have happened?
“It’s a good job I was driving past yours this morning and spotted someone in the front room. But you don’t need to worry, I’ve called the police.”
Oops! It looked like she was going to have to pay for her three stolen days with a lot of awkward explaining.
But it had been worth it!
Our My Weekly Favourites series of feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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