Fragrance of Violets

Free Fragrance of Violets by Paula Martin

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Authors: Paula Martin
came back into the kitchen.
    Abbey switched on the kettle and steadied herself. “Mum, there’s something I need to tell you.”
    “What’s that?” Edwina sounded unconcerned as she pulled a couple of china mugs from the dishwasher.
    “The thing is—well, I didn’t want you to hear this from anyone else.”
    “Come on, Abbey, you’re reminding me of when you were about twelve and eventually confessed to breaking a Mrs. Tiggywinkle plate. What have you broken this time?”
    “Nothing.” Abbey concentrated on putting teabags into the teapot and her words came out in a rush. “Jack’s offered us the use of the barn at Fir Garth for the drama club, and he’s coming to talk to the kids, too.”
    Edwina’s eyes narrowed. “When was all this arranged?”
    “Actually, it was Sam who invited him.” Abbey went on to tell her mother what had happened.
    “And you agreed?”
    “I didn’t have much option. It’s not as if I’ve found any other place where we can meet, and Sam was so excited about Jack’s ideas.”
    “Have you forgiven him?” Edwina said as they sat down at the kitchen table.
    “No, but I think we need a sort of armed truce. I—erm—I’ve agreed to go up and help him clear the barn.”
    Her mother’s green eyes studied her. “He broke your heart once, Abbey. Don’t let him do it again.”
    She gave her mother what she hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m not a teenager now, Mum. Don’t worry, I can handle this okay.”
    No way was she going to mention the frisson of excitement that zinged through her at the thought of seeing him again. That was something her mother didn’t need to know.

    Abbey gave herself a good talking-to as she walked up the lane to Fir Garth. She didn’t have two days to adjust to being with Jack again. She had to do it right here and now. Forget what happened in the past, ignore the jumpy feelings inside her, and pretend he was a casual acquaintance.
    It worked until she reached the house. She turned in through the gateway just as he came out of the barn, carrying a pile of boxes.
    The sight of his strong body, in jeans and a blue polo shirt, created an odd, tugging sensation in the pit of her stomach. Broad shoulders, wide chest, firm tanned arms, slim waist and hips, and—Quickly she averted her eyes from the lower part of his body.
    “Hi,” he called. “Let me find someplace to dump these, and I’ll join you in the barn.”
    He continued into the house, and Abbey tried to calm herself as she walked past the front of the house to the stone barn. When she went in, a kaleidoscope of memories crowded into her mind. The eight or nine teenagers in their friendship circle had met here frequently, talking and discussing everything from world events to local gossip, listening to their favourite pop music, fooling around, laughing and joking. How wonderfully simple life had been at that time.
    “Thanks for coming,” Jack said behind her.
    She turned. “It’s the least I could do. I see what you mean about all the junk.” She surveyed the boxes and other paraphernalia that covered half the barn floor. If they concentrated on the practicalities, she might be able to ignore the way all her senses seemed to be on fire. “What is all this stuff?”
    “Everything my parents cleared out of the house when they decided to rent it out. Books, ornaments, and whatever else they didn’t want to take to France.”
    “Where are you putting it all?”
    “The more valuable things will go into the house, the rest I’ll put in the garage.”
    “Okay, what do you want me to do?”
    “The boxes with Dad’s old law books are probably too heavy for you to carry,” Jack replied. “They’re all hefty tomes, but some boxes in that corner aren’t labelled. Can you find out what’s in them?”
    “Will do.”
    As he went back and forth with the boxes of books, she opened the ones he’d indicated. Several were full of old videotapes and CDs. Others had

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