Authors: Ali McNamara
‘That’s a wonderful idea!’ Stan says, his face lighting up. ‘I’d like that very much.’
I have a quick internal debate as to whether this would be a good time to tell Stan the other condition I’d negotiated with Caroline and Johnny for my silence. But I decide perhaps this isn’t the moment to let Stan know he’ll be able to stay at Camberley House if he wants to – because Caroline and Johnny Harrington-Smythe will be paying his fees there indefinitely…
‘I have something else for you, Poppy,’ Stan says, interrupting my thoughts. ‘I think you’ll find a rather delicate posy of flowers hanging off the back of my chair that have your name on them.’
‘What?’ I ask, looking around the back of his wheelchair. I unhook the bunch of colourful flowers that’s hanging there by a white ribbon, and look with suspicion at Stan.
‘Are you in on this too?’ I ask.
Stan just winks. ‘You now have two rather lovely posies. This one contains pansies, meaning think of me; alstroemeria, meaning devotion; and it’s entwined with ivy, meaning fidelity. So go on, open the card, lovely.’
I open the envelope, and there’s a card inside in the same handwriting. This time it says:
So you found the mad one, now you need to find me.
Come to the place where it’s like nothing else matters in the world, and together we can look out at the never-ending sea.
‘It’s the ledge,’ I tell Stan. ‘The secret ledge on Pengarthen cliffs.’
‘Well, what are you waiting for?’ Stan says, encouraging me. ‘Go, go!’
‘But I can’t just leave you.’
‘Ah, here comes Charlie with my pasty,’ Stan says as Charlie wanders over almost on cue. ‘He’ll take it from here. Now go to the cliffs. I think you’ll find something there that will make you happy for a very long time to come.’
As I hurry along to the cliffs, my mind is buzzing with everything that’s just happened.
Stan was giving me Trecarlan! It was amazing, and wonderful, and scary all at the same time.
I was honoured of course, and incredibly happy, but I was also in shock. What was I going to do with a castle? How could I make it into the joyful place that Stan wanted it to be?
‘Ah, you’ll figure it out, Poppy,’ I tell myself as I arrive at the cliffs and begin to make my way tentatively down the stone steps. ‘Trecarlan will help you to, it’s good like that.’ As I reach the slightly firmer ground of the ledge, I’m content knowing that whatever happens now, or in the future, my life is going to be spent here in St Felix, where I’ve always been most happy.
As I half expected there might be, there’s another posy waiting for me on the ledge, bound by another white ribbon. This time it’s made up entirely of colourful tulips.
I lay my first two posies down, so I can pick up this one, and I find another envelope tucked inside the flowers. So I read the handwritten message aloud:
‘Tulips – A declaration of Love.
Want to know who wants to tell you this?
Then look carefully over the edge of the cliffs.’
I do as the card says and go to the edge of the cliff, then I peep over the top, down on to the beach below.
In the sand someone has carved a huge heart, and inside the heart are the words:
P & J was ’ere.
Friends and Lovers
It was just like the words in the heart that Will and I had carved underneath the desk in the little flower shop so many years ago.
As I’m staring down at the sand I see a person emerge on to the beach below.
‘You made it then?’ he asks as he climbs up on to the ledge next to me. He takes my hand as I move away from the edge of the cliff.
‘You did that?’ I ask, pointing down towards the tiny beach in astonishment. ‘The heart – it’s just like the one under the desk in Daisy Chain.’
‘I know. I knew how much that meant to you, and I wanted to do something equally special to show how much you mean to me.’
Jake removes the posy I still have clutched in my hands, and lays it down on the stone ledge with the others, then he takes hold of both my hands, and turns me to face him.
‘If you didn’t know it before, I’m in love with you, Poppy Carmichael,’ he says, his dark eyes gazing down into mine. ‘Every feisty, argumentative, brave, loving, wonderful part of you.’
‘Of course,’ Jake says, smiling. ‘I’ve loved you since the day you pushed yourself into my van looking like a drowned rat.’
‘I hardly think —’ I begin, but he renders me speechless by putting his finger gently to my mouth, which he then quickly replaces with his lips.
‘I’m not very good with words, Poppy,’ Jake says when he finally removes his lips from mine. ‘I’ve been wanting to tell you properly for so long how I felt, but it never seemed the right time. There was always something in our way.’
‘I disagree,’ I tell him, and I see his face fall. ‘I think you can be pretty amazing with words. You’ve said some lovely things to me since I’ve known you.’
Jake smiles with relief.
‘And I knew all this was you,’ I tell him, gesturing to the posies on the ledge. ‘Well, I desperately hoped it was. But why all the flowers?’
‘You were OK with them then?’ he asks. ‘I wondered if I was doing the right thing, sending you flowers – given your past issues. But they all had such wonderful meanings, and could say everything I was finding it difficult to.’
‘The language of flowers,’ I say, thinking about Amber and the books. ‘Who would ever have thought when I came here to St Felix, that flowers, the one thing that gave me the most grief, would be the thing that would remedy all my troubles?’
‘You’re right,’ Jake agrees. ‘It does seem pretty odd.’
‘There were no roses in my special bouquets though?’
Jake shakes his head. ‘No, I thought that might be pushing things a bit too far. I know you’re fine with them now, but they will never be your favourites. Shame though, Amber said they had some of the loveliest meanings.’ He slaps his hand over his mouth.
‘Amber was in on this too? I knew it!’
‘Along with Bronte, and Charlie, and Stan,’ Jake admits. ‘And Lou gave me the idea in the first place. I’ll take credit for the heart though, that was all mine.’ He wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me closer to him. ‘I’m sorry, Poppy, I’m not very romantic, am I?’
‘Jake,’ I say gently, stroking his face. ‘I wouldn’t want you any other way. I love you exactly as you are. Hearts and flowers have never really been
, have they?’
Jake grins as I wrap my arms around his neck.
, Jake. You, St Felix, and a little flower shop by the sea. You’re all the things I need.’