The second book in the Isles of Scilly series will be available from the 15th of July 2022. Scroll down to read chapter 1…
The tanned and toned gardener was making it difficult for Seren to concentrate. If he’d turn around she could figure out if he was as attractive from the front as he was from the back. Even from a distance she could make out his undulating muscles with every stroke of the shears.
The patio at the Trenearys’ place had always been a favourite spot for Seren. Growing up, the house had been a second home to her, and hanging out with her mum’s best friend always made her feel close to her mum, who’d died before she was old enough to form any memories of her.
Mirren had been chatting away since Seren had arrived five minutes ago, so there hadn’t been a chance to ask about the hunky gardener. With five sons, Mirren didn’t usually have a problem finding someone to do jobs around the place, but on the Isles of Scilly there were always people looking for work, and Mirren would help someone out if she could.
As a warm wind whipped strands of hair from her ponytail, Seren turned to look over the garden at the front of the house. It was wilder at that side, where the land dropped at a gentle slope to the lichen-covered rocks which provided a barrier to the swell of the Atlantic. The rocky headland gave way to a long crescent of vanilla-coloured sand, and a strip of turquoise water hugged the shore. Out in the bay, a collection of small boats and buoys swayed gently to the tranquil rhythm of the waves.
“The view’s great in all directions today,” Seren said, breaking into a grin as her gaze returned to the back of the house. Talking about boys with Mirren wasn’t anything new, so she was surprised by the way her eyebrows shot up at the cheeky comment.
“My baby boy’s really growing up, isn’t he?” Mirren’s eyes were fixed on the guy cutting the bush into a neat, round shape as though he’d done it a hundred times before.
As Mirren’s words sank in, Seren stopped with her glass of iced tea hovering before her lips. Her heart rate went wild and her breath caught in her throat. Calmly, she set her glass back down.
“I meant the garden,” she said weakly. “Obviously I meant the garden.”
“I thought you were checking out Kit.”
Seren shook her head in jerky movements and attempted a small laugh. “Of course not.” There’s no way she’d be checking out Kit. He was six years younger than her and practically still a kid. At twenty-two, he was definitely an adult, but in Seren’s eyes he was a kid. Obviously she wouldn’t be perving on Kit. Especially not in front of his mother. Except for the fact that she quite blatantly had been.
How the hell hadn’t she realised it was him? She’d known him his whole life – remembered clearly the day he was born and her excitement at having a real-life baby to play with. And now she was checking him out in front of his mum, who was like a surrogate mum to her. What was wrong with her? And when had Kit morphed into some hottie who she barely recognised? She saw him most days for goodness’ sake. Maybe she was dehydrated. It could be heatstroke. Reaching for the glass again, she gulped at the sweet liquid.
“He’s filled out,” Mirren said. “It’s all the time he spends helping at the lifesaving club. He’s been doing a lot of football training too. And there’s the rowing.”
“Mirren! I wasn’t looking at Kit.” Seren did her best to sound indignant. “I meant the garden. It’s so colourful now. What are those pink flowers?”
“Sea thrift,” she said flatly. “But I’m fairly sure you were commenting on the way Kit’s bloomed, not the flowers. You were looking right at him.”
“I was looking at the garden. And Kit’s in the garden. That’s all.”
“Talking about me?” Kit said, appearing beside them and making Seren’s cheeks flush.
Mirren flashed Seren a knowing look. “Just saying how healthy you look. All the swimming and football is obviously good for you.”
He dropped into the chair beside Seren. “I’m already missing football. It’s a shame we only play in the winter.”
“You could always meet up with the other lads and play for fun,” Mirren suggested.
“I don’t have time now that tourist season is picking up. Which is why football season only runs over the winter.” He gave Seren’s leg a nudge. “Did you ever congratulate me for my team winning the league?”
She rolled her eyes. “There are two teams in the league, so you had a fifty-fifty chance.”
“Would it kill you to say ‘well done, Kit’?”
“It probably wouldn’t kill me, but it would be extremely painful.”
His features flashed with mischief as he reached for her drink. After gulping it down he sighed happily.
“You could have got your own!”
“I could have, but that wouldn’t have annoyed you, so it would have been less satisfying.” He set the glass down again. “I reckon this summer is going to be a scorcher. It’s not usually this warm in June, is it?”
“It’s not that unusual,” Mirren said.
Kit ran his hands through his thick blonde hair, which curled slightly around his ears.
“You’ve just sprayed me in sweat,” Seren said, shuffling her chair away. “You’re gross.”
In reply he leaned closer to her, shaking his head so the damp strands whipped around him.
“Kit!” Seren shrieked. “Grow up, will you?”
“I’m trying very hard not to.” A dimple puckered in his cheek. “You make it look incredibly dull.”
She gave him a playful punch on his bicep as she told him to shut up.
“What time are the happy couple arriving?” he asked his mum, putting an end to the teasing.
Mirren checked her watch. “The flight should be in the air by now. They’ll land in half an hour or so. I’m pleased things have worked out so well for Noah.”
“Me too,” Seren agreed.
“I thought you’d be heartbroken at losing your best friend,” Kit said, stretching his legs out in front of him.
“I haven’t lost my best friend. What are you talking about?”
“His girlfriend is moving here,” Kit pointed out. “Which means he’s not going to be allowed to hang out with you any more.”
She tilted her head, loathe to acknowledge that he probably had a point. “When you grow up, you’ll learn that men and women can just be friends.”
“And that women don’t have a problem with their boyfriends spending loads of time with another woman?” He was goading her and she should completely ignore him … which was all she could do since she didn’t have a decent comeback.
“Keira and I get on well,” she said with as much confidence as she could muster. “So I’m actually gaining a friend.”
“Are you both meeting them at the airport?” Mirren asked.
“I am.” Seren had offered to give them a lift home. She checked her watch, realising she’d need to leave soon.
“I wasn’t planning on it,” Kit replied. “Noah said they only have a couple of suitcases.”
“At least be around when they arrive,” Mirren told him. “Make Keira feel welcome. I’ll cook them a meal for this evening so they don’t have to worry about that. Shall we all have dinner together, or shall we do a family dinner another night and let Keira get settled this evening?”
“I’m working tonight,” Seren reminded her. Her shifts at the bar hampered her social life somewhat, but she enjoyed the buzz of the place.
“I’ll come for dinner if you’re cooking,” Kit said to his mum, then glanced at his watch. “I’ve got a train trip in between though.” It still amazed Seren how successful Kit was with his sightseeing trips around the island. His electric train was a huge hit with tourists on the island, and his online reviews were absolutely glowing.
“Are you going to have time to mow the grass before then?” Mirren asked, looking pointedly over the lawn.
“Yep.” He shot out of his chair like a hunky Energiser Bunny.
Seren spent the next twenty minutes trying to concentrate on her conversation with Mirren and avoiding letting her gaze stray to her best friend’s baby brother.