Authors: Jenny Oliver
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Humorous, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Women, #General
Welcome to Jenny Oliver’s brand new Cherry Pie Island series! There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming...
The Cherry Pie Island series
The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Caf
– Book 1
The Vintage Ice Cream Van
– Book 2
The Great Allotment Challenge
– Book 3
One Summer Night at the Ritz
– Book 4
The Vintage Ice Cream Van
is Book 2 in The Cherry Pie Island series.
The Parisian Christmas Bake Off
The Vintage Summer Wedding
The Little Christmas Kitchen
The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café (Cherry Pie Island Book 1)
And look out for the next two books in the
Cherry Pie Island
series, coming soon in summer 2015
The Great Allotment Proposal
One Summer Night at the Ritz
Ice Cream Van Road Trip
Cherry Pie Island
wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s
, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on
Since then, Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). Follow her on Twitter
‘Have a look! Have a look! Quickly! You’re going to crash… You’re going to crash! Have a LOOK! Oh god.’
Holly Somers started jogging up the river bank, shielding her eyes from the sun so she could see the full impact of the chaos on the water in front of her.
Two junior rowing eights were careering down the river, blades all askew, panicking from the adrenaline of the side-by-side race, the umpire shouting at their coxswains to get them to move apart from one another as their blades crashed, while the crowds on the bank were cheering and pointing or hiding their eyes with their hands, because they knew disaster was coming.
‘Crews, move apart!’ the umpire shouted again, waving his white flag, but no one was listening. This was the youngest Cherry Pie rowing team, the crew members just thirteen ‒ awkward, gangly and not the most accomplished ‒ and this was their first race. Panic had overtaken reason.
‘They’re gonna hit the bridge,’ said Holly’s dad, head coach of the senior rowers. He was cycling up to the start but had paused next to Holly.
Holly had her hands up to her face, ‘STOP!’ she shouted again from the bank but to no avail.
Everyone had come to watch. Martha and Annie, from the cafe, had stopped serving teas and had run over to the water’s edge in their aprons, the crews waiting to boat had abandoned their equipment and grouped together to point and peer and shout instructions at the tiny, inexperienced, panicking rowers on the water.
And then the inevitable happened, the two boats, locked together by their oars, hurtled into the bridge, the noise of wood splitting, carbon fiber cracking, disgruntled swans flapping, and the yelps and screams of eighteen thirteen year olds filled the warm late spring air. The spectators in the hospitality tent let out a great roar of delight. This is what they’d come for ‒ a bit of action and drama to go with their champagne.
Holly’s dad sped off on his bike to the finish line to orchestrate the rescue efforts. ‘That’s two grand’s worth of equipment written off, Holly,’ he threw back over his shoulder. ‘Maybe you should go back to rowing rather than coaching,’ he added with a dry laugh.
Holly refused to rise to the bait. Ever since she’d quit, post-Olympics, he’d taken every opportunity to encourage her back into a boat. He thought it was wasted talent. Wanted her to keep going forever. She hadn’t crushed his dream completely by telling him that stopping had been like taking off a pair of sunglasses. The world suddenly brighter, sharper, hers to explore however she wanted.
But then neither had she then been able to tell him that she’d possibly explored it a little too much. Been a little too free.
She jogged to where the launches were tied up and jumped into one of the boats. The kids in the water, over their panic, now thinking it was hilarious, were splashing each other and swimming around in the sunshine. One of the rowing boats had snapped in two and the other had lodged itself upside down in the reeds on the bank. Some of the rowers were clambering out the water while the little coxswains were bobbing about like Violet Beauregarde in
Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory
, their life-jackets having inflated on impact of the crash.
‘Wait!’ shouted Annie, Holly’s friend and owner of the Dandelion Cafe, who was serving tea and cake at the regatta. ‘You can’t go and help on your own!’ she scolded.
‘Annie, I’m fine,’ Holly hissed.
‘Get Matt to help you.’ Annie looked around for her boyfriend.
‘He’s on the water already,’ Holly said, ‘He’s the next race.’
‘Well I’ll come with you then,’ Annie said, starting to untie her apron. ‘You can’t go and start hauling out kids from the river in your condition.’
‘Annie!’ Holly snapped. ‘Keep your voice down.’
Annie looked around. ‘No one’s listening, they’re all watching that–’ She pointed to the broken boats, the sopping wet kids, the blades snapped and broken that were floating forlornly downstream, then she jumped in the passenger seat of the motorboat. ‘I’ll do any lifting, you just drive.’
Holly sighed. ‘Fine,’ she said and they drove over to where the safety boats, the umpire’s launch and a couple of friendly tourists in a rent-a-boat were helping pull the giggling kids from the river.
‘Hi, miss!’ One of them, Julian, a lanky blond, shouted from where he was treading water, ‘Sorry about that!’
‘It’s fine, Julian,’ Holly said. ‘You getting in here or are you going to swim? We need to clear the race course.’
‘I’ll swim, miss.’
‘OK, off you go.’ Holly stood up in her seat making the boat wobble and Annie grip onto the sides. ‘You lot, start swimming to the edge, let’s go, come on!’ She ushered them all across the river. ‘Stop messing.’
‘We crashed, miss, did you see?’
‘Yes,’ Holly said to an eager red-head, ‘We all saw. As crashes go, it was very impressive.’
‘Holly!’ A voice shouted from the bank. ‘Is that you! And Annie! Hi, guys!’
They both turned and saw a woman with big, bouffant blonde hair standing on the bank in front of the hospitality tent. She had a glass of champagne in one hand, her sunglasses in the other and a turquoise straw trilby on her head.
‘Emily!’ Annie waved from the back of the boat. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Drinking champagne!’ Emily laughed.
‘Get the river clear, Holly,’ Holly’s dad shouted through a megaphone.
‘Hello, Mr Somers!’ Emily turned to look in Holly’s dad’s direction and waved enthusiastically.
Holly’s dad gave her a nod but was more interested in getting the regatta back under way and boomed some more instructions through his megaphone. ‘I’m going up to the start, Holly, can you get that half of the eight that’s stuck by the bridge, drag it over and then we can get going.’
Holly sat back down. All the kids were now either clambering out by the bank or in the safety launch, so she started to drive towards the broken bit of carbon fiber. Annie sat forward in her seat. ‘You haven’t told him, have you?’
Holly didn’t say anything.
‘You have to tell him, even just so you aren’t dragging great bits of boat out the river. Here, stop, Holly, I’ll get it.’ Annie reached forward from her seat and caught hold of two of the metal riggers on the broken boat and, hooking the oars across their motorboat, managed to secure it like a sidecar so Holly could drive them slowly back towards the bank.
They watched as all the soaking-wet kids congregated where Holly was about to moor, all bursting with stories to tell of the crash. Holly glanced over her shoulder at Annie. ‘I will tell him. I just…’ She shrugged. ‘I think I have to believe it myself first.’
Annie smiled, ‘Are you looking after yourself? Taking folic acid?’
‘Ssh!’ Holly glanced back around, checking no one could hear.
‘Holly, they’ve got no bloody idea what folic acid is!’ Annie laughed, pushing cropped blonde hair away from her face. Her clothes were wet from where she’d pulled the boat out the water. ‘It’s quite refreshing actually, being covered in river water! It’s so hot,’ she added, ‘And I’ve got to get back in that ice cream van.’ For the duration of the regatta, the Dandelion Café had decamped into an old blue ice cream van that was parked on the left of the boathouse. Previously owned by the late island matriarch Enid, it had been pulled out of retirement for the day’s events.
Holly tried to land the motorboat, but it was too hard with the addition of the broken rowing eight and reversed so she could get a better angle.
‘We’ll get it, miss,’ shouted Julian.
‘No you stay there…’ she started but, ignoring her, all eight of them plopped into the water again and swam over to unhook the bit of boat.
‘Ah, you’re so good,’ Annie said as they swam-walked it back to the bank. ‘They’re lovely, your lot, and they clearly worship you.’
‘Annie…’ Holly glanced over her shoulder, ‘I know what you’re doing.’
‘I’m not doing anything, I’m just ‒ well ‒ I want you to know that I think you’ll be a lovely mum.’
Holly glared at her, worried that people on the bank might hear.
But Annie just leant forward and nudged her on the shoulder, saying excitedly, ‘You’re having a baby!’
Holly exhaled slowly and turned to look at the next race coming down the river.
‘Oooh, it’s Matt,’ Annie said and got up on her knees to start cheering from the boat.
Holly watched the race coming towards them. Cherry Pie Island Regatta was always her favourite day of the year. The sun was usually shining, the blossom was out, big, fluffy white balls of it, the petals getting in people’s hair and landing like confetti in the water.
Matt’s crew was winning by no more than a foot. The crowd on the bank were shouting and cheering. The two boats stormed past them like great, thundering racehorses, kicking out a wash that rocked their little launch. Annie wobbled and had to sit back down again.
This world Holly understood. But the world that was coming her way, she had no idea about. People often asked her what it was like at the Olympics. How she’d managed to cope with all the pressure. But it was like her old coach said to her,
‘There’s no such thing as a bad race, Holly, just bad equipment and bad preparation.’
She couldn’t have been more prepared when she’d sat on the start line of the Olympic final. Mentally, physically, she was in top shape. This, however, this now, this little lemon-sized baby, this was bad planning and bad preparation. And she was absolutely terrified.