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Meeting Mr Anderson: Chapter 25


The next week passes with me running on autopilot. I operate a flight to Japan and back, welcoming the way the change in time zones throws my body out of whack. At least being physically exhausted means I’ve been able to get some sleep. Otherwise, I know I would lie awake and think about Jay. I spend my waking hours hiding in bed, crying, or walking around the house like a zombie with red puffy eyes. Rachel’s been great, but she’s struggling to know what to do with me now. I can see it in her eyes. She’s so worried. Matt has been here every day that he’s not at work. Between the two of them, I’ve been under constant watch.

I zip up my bag, everything I need for my stay with Mum and Dad inside. I can’t wait to see them and my sister Sophie. I spot my phone charger lying on the bed. I don’t want to forget that. I unzip the outer pocket of my bag and shove it in, but my hand scrapes against something. I pull it out and drop it on the floor like it burned me. My eyes fill with tears as I bend down and pick up the piece of card. The thick black letters, pick up for Berry, stare back at me. I turn the card over. Missed me?

“Like you wouldn’t believe, Jay,” I say out loud to the walls of my bedroom. “I miss you like you wouldn’t believe.”

I glance down at my watch. Even though I know I should take it off, as it’s serving as a constant reminder, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I look at it throughout the day, seeing what time it is in LA and wondering what Jay is up to. Matt has been speaking to Stefan constantly, as is normal for them. I know Jay was asking about me to start with, but these last three days Matt hasn’t mentioned anything. Stefan is still upset with me. I can’t blame him. I hurt his friend. If he knew the real reason why I had to do it, then I’m sure he would understand, but he can’t. No one can ever know.

I open my bottom drawer and tuck the cardboard sign down next to a pink sweater and head downstairs.

“You got everything?” Rach asks as she appears from the living room.

“Yeah, think so.” I give her a brief smile.

“This’ll be good for you, babe. Having some time with your family. Say hi to them from me.” She comes to give me a hug.

“I will, I promise. What are you going to do while I’m gone?”

Rach shrugs. “Clean the house from top to bottom, do some watercolor painting, join a choir.”

I raise an eyebrow at her.

She rolls her eyes. “As if I’m going to do any of those things.” She smirks. “I’ve actually got some more post to send out to Mr. X.”

I stare at her. “You never mentioned he was back in touch.”

She shrugs. “You had enough on your plate. It didn’t seem the right time to talk about men.”

“Rach,” I cry, grabbing her back into my arms. “I always want to know what’s going on in your life. No matter what crap mine is turning into, I always want to know what’s new with you!”

“I know, I’m sorry, Holly. I just didn’t want to seem insensitive.”

“You? Insensitive? Blunt maybe!”

“Hey! My honesty is one of my best qualities.” She smiles.

“So, going back to Mr. X?” I probe.

“Well, he apologized for going all quiet and jealous on me.” Rach studies her nails. “Now he wants to, you know, pick up where we left off.”

I look at her. “You’re sure about starting this all up again?”

“Yes, Holly. It’s fine. I’ve made it so he can’t track me online, and besides, I’m getting much-needed deposits made into the Rachel house fund.” Her eyes light up.

“It’ll be a mansion at this rate. This guy is obsessed with you!”

“I know. Fucking awesome, isn’t it!” She claps her hands together and bounces on the spot.

“Oh, Rach. I love you.” I smile properly for the first time since leaving LA a week ago.

“I love you too, Holly,” she says, serious again. “I’m going to miss you, chick.” She hugs me again.

“I’ll see you in a few days,” I say, hugging her one last time before I head out the door and to my car.


“Oh, Holly, it was awesome. You’d have loved it,” Sophie says, telling me about her latest weekend away to Rome. “The history and architecture are incredible. It’s such a stunning place.”

We’re all in the living room, curled up with freshly made cups of tea. It feels so nice to be back in my childhood home with my parents and sister. There’s something safe and comforting about knowing the door is always open. It’s the perfect place to come when nursing a broken heart. I almost feel like a little girl again, safe in the belief that Mum and Dad know the answer to everything. Although, as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that parents are just winging it some days, like the rest of us.

Muffin, my mum and dad’s scruffy little terrier, whines and looks up from his place next to me on the sofa. His big brown eyes gaze at me.

“Oh, I’m sorry, boy; did I stop too soon?” I ask as I rub his tummy again. He sighs and lays his head back down, his tail patting the cushion as it wags, satisfied that he has my attention again.

“We went to all the tourist spots and even went on a tour of the Vatican,” Sophie keeps talking.

“I’m glad you had a good time,” Dad says from his armchair across the room.

“Did the others enjoy it?” Mum asks.

“Yeah, they did, Mum.”

Sophie went with a couple of school friends. They have a twice-yearly weekend away together to catch up as they all work such a lot and don’t live close to each other.

“I tell you what we need, June,” Dad pipes up. “Some of those biscuits you made, lovely they were. You know your mum won first prize at the contest for those,” Dad says proudly.

“Tim!” Mum scolds as she and Sophie both throw him a shut up! look.

“Oh right, sorry, Holly,” he says, looking at me with concern.

“It’s okay, Dad.” I know he’s talking about Sheila’s cookie recipe she gave me to share with Mum.

I told Mum and Sophie what had happened with Jay, about Robyn, the photo, everything. They knew something wasn’t right when I came home from LA, but I told them I was just feeling a bit shaken from the car accident. I waited until I got here to tell them the entire story. Mum’s filled Dad in on the details.

“How are Rachel and Matt doing?” Sophie asks.

“They’re good. Matt’s doing all the LA flights he can to see Stefan, and Rach is great too. She’s saving for her own place.”

I move my hand to Muffin’s ears and start stroking behind them. He groans in pleasure.

“Oh, that daft dog will have you doing that all night, Holly,” Mum says as she shakes her head at Muffin, who is now lying on his back with his legs wide open.

“Typical man.” Sophie glances over. “Thinks we all want to see his bits.”

I can’t help but smile at Muffin’s blissful expression. If happiness was as easy for humans as a tummy rub and an ear scratch, then the world would be a much better place.

The next couple of days pass as I bake with Mum and listen to Dad and Sophie discuss big legal cases in the news. In the mornings I go out to the beach, getting up early when I can’t sleep and take Muffin for a run. He loves to take his ball and I throw it for him as far as I can, his little legs tripping over each other to race after it.

As much as I love the beach, being here just makes me think of Jay. He loves the coast as much as I do, growing up near it, the same as me. My mind goes back to when we visited his parents, Sheila and Bill, and his brother, Blake. They were so nice to me. I felt like I belonged there with them all. Now I know why Robyn’s mum, Beth, seemed so surprised to meet me, why she studied me so much. It probably shocked her to see Jay with a woman. Sheila said he’s never brought a girl home before. Then for Beth to see how much of a resemblance I have to her daughter must have been awful for her. At least she won’t have to bump into me again; it’s not like I will go back.

Muffin bounds over to me, his ball in his mouth, covered in sand, and looking like this is the best day of his life.

“Ready, boy?” I say as I hold his ball up.

“Go!” I shout, pretending to throw it, but keeping it in my hand. He looks around and sniffs at the air, not easily fooled.

“Okay, this time it’s for real.” I launch his ball across the beach. He tears after it at high speed, kicking up wet sand as he goes.

My phone beeps with a voicemail. I must have lost signal farther up the beach.

“Holly, it’s Kate in crewing. Just to let you know your swap went through. You are no longer on the AV77 flight to LA tomorrow. You’re on the Hong Kong and Sydney now. Log in when you can and confirm the roster change. Thanks.”

Well, that’s a relief. I had another LA rostered, which I would have been over the moon about before, but it’s the last place on earth I want to go right now. I asked crewing to swap me onto the Hong Kong flight if they needed extra crew. It stops in Hong Kong on route to Sydney and then stops there again on the way back to London. In total, the trip takes nine days. It’s perfect as it will keep me busy. The crew always go out together in Hong Kong. It’s just what I need.

I look up and see Muffin running back toward me again.

“Well done; you’re such a good boy,” I praise him as he drops his ball for me and we repeat his favorite game.


I say goodbye to Mum, Dad, and Sophie after lunch. Muffin looks put out his playmate is about to leave and lies with his head resting on my shoes in the hallway so I can’t put them on without lifting him up for a big cuddle first.

Sophie and I drive together for a bit, me following behind her until she gets closer to Bath and pulls off the motorway. I carry on, giving her a beep and a wave.

The radio plays a country song and I’m transported back to the car with Jay on the drive to his parents’ house. I remember looking over at him while it was playing. He had the perfect amount of stubble that day; he looked so gorgeous, so carefree driving along with the windows down. My chest tightens as I picture him. I was so happy that day.

The song cuts out as a call rings through the car speakers from my phone. I hit the button on the steering wheel to answer.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Holly, it’s Doug.” His American accent seems so out of place in my little car in the middle of a gray English motorway.

“Hi, Doug,” I say in surprise. “How are you? How’s Anya?”

“We’re great, Holly. Just great! We’ve just signed the paperwork on our new house.”

“Wow, that’s amazing news, congratulations.”

“Thanks, Holly. Listen, I wanted to call you as I’ve found out something about the break-in.”

“Oh?” My breath catches in my throat.

“I’ve been asking around and I kept hearing the same name. Apparently, there was a guy talking with some reporters, digging for information, that sort of thing. He was seen handing an envelope to that reporter, Ryan Baker. I can only assume it contained cash.”

“Oh my God.” I concentrate on the road ahead, pulling into the slowest lane so other cars can overtake me as I listen to Doug.

“Yeah, it’s an English guy, Holly. I think you might know him.” Doug clears his throat.

“His name’s Simon Green.”


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