Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts

Free Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Book: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lucy Dillon
Tags: Chick-Lit Romance
sorry for herself, Rachel did feel bad about letting Megan do everything. But then seeing the volunteers in their bright parkas and boots appear and disappear from the kitchen, chatting away as the eager dogs hauled them towards Longhampton Common, made her want to hide away even more. They were all so nice, so sympathetic – and so sad that she was apparently so devastated about her aunt’s death that she was laid up in bed with grief.
    That was the worst part of her broken heart: she couldn’t confess it to anyone. It was too messy. Worst of all, it was entirely her own fault and she’d made zero plans for the inevitable devastation to come.
    Where am I meant to go? Rachel wondered, staring blankly at the cracked ceiling. What am I supposed to do now? What’s the point?
    There was a faint knock on the door.
    It was Megan and the cup of tea she brought every morning to lure Rachel out of bed.
    ‘Rachel, are you awake?’
    Gem got up on his soundless paws and slunk to the door, cocking his head as if telling her to get the hell up.
    ‘Um, yes.’ Her voice cracked and she coughed. ‘Yes, just . . . checking my emails.’
    She hoped Megan wouldn’t point out that Dot didn’t have any sort of internet connection.
    ‘Great! I’ve brought you a cup of tea. Thing is, I need a hand with the walking,’ Megan went on. ‘One of the usual girls is sick, and I can’t take all the guys out at once. Do you mind?’
    Rachel flopped back into the pillows. ‘I’m not feeling great this morning . . .’
    ‘I’ve got a . . .’ Rachel’s eyes skated around the room. ‘I’ve got a stack of urgent emails. Um, it’s the tax year coming up.’
    ‘Ah, fair enough.’ There was a pause. ‘But fresh air’s just what you need to clear your head! And I know the guys would appreciate it. And it’ll be good for Gem to get an extra walk, you know? He needs his mind taking off . . . well, you know.’
    Rachel could virtually see Megan’s indefatigable Aussie smile through the door. She also spotted the way Gem’s ears had twitched at the mention of the word ‘walk’.
    I’ve got to go to the bank, she thought. And I need some more wine. Might as well.
    ‘OK,’ she said, throwing back the covers so she had no choice. Give me ten minutes.’
    Megan was down in the kitchen, checking rotas on a clipboard, when Rachel emerged in the least smart clothes she could find in her overnight bag.
    On the big table was the biggest bacon sandwich she’d seen in years, and next to that was Freda Shackley, looking perky in a fleece-lined gilet and matching carnation slacks. When Rachel walked in she gave her a toothy smile.
    ‘Hello, love!’ she said. ‘Ready to join the second shift of the day?’
    ‘ Second shift?’ said Rachel. She glanced at the wall clock; it was only just past ten.
    ‘Oh, yes, Ted’s been round the park with me, and he’s back in the café now. He likes to get a good lap in, first thing,’ said Freda. ‘Opens up his system, he says. Sends me back for round two, to get me out from under his feet!’
    ‘What happened to those retirement plans?’ asked Megan, highlighting something on her clipboard.
    ‘He’ll retire when he’s dead, he says.’ Freda sighed. ‘Says Sunday’s the best time to be open for fried breakfasts. Religion, DIY and a full English. Biggest Sunday sellers.’
    ‘Ted and Freda have the Italian café in the high street,’ explained Megan. ‘With the black and white sunshade? Have done since when, Freda?’
    ‘Since 1912. Shackley’s served fry-ups through two World Wars.’ Freda’s plump mouth drooped sadly. ‘Though some days I wonder how much longer, what with our Lynne in New Zealand and that new deli place opening up and me and Ted not getting any younger.’
    ‘You’ll see us all out,’ said Megan. ‘You just need a new doggie to keep you young.’
    Rachel sensed another long-running conversation.
    ‘There’ll be no replacing our

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