Hallie has a secret…doesn’t everybody?
Hallie doesn’t have long to live. And to make things even more complicated, she’s in love with a guy who’s seriously out of bounds. She’s never going to let him know, of course; she’s just going to enjoy every remaining moment of her crush. She’s also determined to spend her last months helping those who write into her Dear Rose column with problems of their own. Her doctors can’t fix her, but maybe she can fix a few other people’s dilemmas before it’s too late.
All our lives are full of choices, for better or worse. The amazing thing to see is how connected we all are—in ways we don’t even know. On occasion, we have the chance to see the ways we change one another’s lives for the better.
“Hey, hi, how’s things? What are you up to?”
Hallie brightened at the sound of Bea’s voice. “You really want to know? OK, I’ll tell you. But I’m warning you now, you’re going to be so jealous.”
“I’m in Venice, sitting at a table outside Caffè Florian in St. Mark’s Square. The sun is shining, church bells are ringing and the waiter’s just opened a bottle of ice-cold Prosecco.”
“Is the waiter handsome?”
“What do you think? This is Venice! Of course he’s handsome. He’s giving me one of those handsome-waiter looks,” said Hallie. “With his eyes.”
“Hmm, and is he listening to you saying this?”
“It’s fine, he doesn’t speak a word of English. I may seduce him later. He has a look of Bradley Cooper about him.”
“Sure you don’t mean Tommy Cooper?”
“Are there pigeons there?”
“My mum went to St. Mark’s Square once. A pigeon did a poo on her head.”
“She was so mad,” said Bea. “She’d had her hair done specially for the trip. I wouldn’t stick around there if I were you. Get out while you can. Those Italian pigeons are evil.”
“Fine, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to jump into my helicopter now and fly home.”
“I think you should. Shall I come over after work this evening?”
“That’d be good.”
“Around seven then. See you later. Bye-eee!”
Hallie put down the phone and straightened her duvet, which had gone crooked again. She pulled herself into a more comfortable sitting position and did her best to adjust the pillows too. There was a definite art to staying in bed and not having to endlessly rearrange yourself, and she’d yet to master it. Back-arching, shoulder-stretching, bottom-wiggling and neck-tilting all played their part.
Having stretched and wriggled and gotten herself half sorted, Hallie looked out at the indigo sky as darkness fell. It was the week before Christmas, and multicolored fairy lights were being switched on. From here, she had arguably the best view of the village: to the left, the high street; to the right, the River Windrush with its low stone bridge and the row of honey-colored shops, hotels and houses on the other side of the water. She could watch everyone coming and going, keep track of people she knew, and also view the progress of tourists making their way around Carranford, the self-styled jewel in the north Cotswolds’ crown.
Not so many visitors during the winter months, of course, but still enough to keep the people-watching interesting and the tourist-friendly shops open. A coachload were currently milling around, taking endless photographs, diving in and out of shops and buying souvenirs they didn’t need, as well as Christmas presents for friends and relatives back home. By the looks of things, plenty of them would be opening a festively wrapped umbrella this year, printed with scenes of Carranford. Bea must have sold over a dozen today alone.
Eight days to Christmas. Hallie tried not to wonder if this one might be her last, basically because such thoughts were unanswerable and never helpful. Apart from anything else, the answer was always possibly.
Then again, that applied to everyone on the planet.
About the Author
With over ten million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author JILL MANSELL writes irresistible, funny, poignant, and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.