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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(3)

Promised (One Night #1)(3)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

The smile that graces her wrinkled face makes me smile, too, as she embraces me and rubs my back.

‘What have you done today, Nan?’ I ask.

She releases me and points to the dinner table. ‘Sit.’

I do as I’m told immediately, picking up the spoon she’s set down for me. ‘So?’

She turns a frown on me. ‘So what?’

‘Today. What did you do?’ I prompt.

‘Oh!’ She flaps a tea towel at me. ‘Nothing exciting. A bit of shopping, and I baked your favourite carrot cake.’ She points across to the other worktop, where a cake is sitting on a cooling rack. But it isn’t carrot cake.

‘You made me carrot cake?’ I ask, watching as she returns to serving up two bowls of soup.

‘Yes. Like I said, Livy. I made your favourite.’

‘But my favourite’s lemon cake, Nan. You know that.’

She doesn’t falter in her serving, bringing the two bowls to the table and setting them down. ‘Yes, I do. That is why I made you lemon cake.’

I flick a glance across the kitchen again, just to check I’m not mistaken. ‘Nan, that looks like pineapple upside-down cake.’

Her rump hits the chair, and she looks at me like I’m the one losing my mind. ‘That’s because it is pineapple upside-down cake.’ She plunges her spoon into the bowl and slurps off some coriander soup before reaching for some freshly baked bread. ‘I made your favourite.’

She’s confused, and so am I. After that last few seconds’ exchange, I have no clue what sort of cake she’s made, and I don’t care. I look across at my dear grandmother, studying her feeding herself. She seems okay and doesn’t look confused. Is this the beginning? I lean forward. ‘Nan, are you feeling okay?’ I’m worried.

She starts laughing. ‘I’m pulling your leg, Livy!’

‘Nan!’ I scorn her, feeling immediately better. ‘You shouldn’t do that.’

‘I’m not losing my marbles yet.’ She waves her spoon at my bowl. ‘Eat your supper and tell me how you got on today.’

My shoulders sag dramatically on a sigh as I stir my soup. ‘I can’t get on with that coffee machine, which is a problem when ninety per cent of customers order some kind of coffee.’

‘You’ll get to grips with it,’ she says confidently, like she’s an expert on the damn thing.

‘I’m not so sure. Del won’t keep me just for clearing tables.’

‘Well, apart from the coffee machine, are you enjoying it?’

I smile. ‘Yes, I really am.’

‘Good. You can’t look after me for ever. A young thing like you should be out enjoying herself, not tending to her grandmother.’ She eyes me cautiously. ‘And I don’t need tending to, anyway.’

‘I like looking after you,’ I argue quietly, bracing myself for the usual lecture. We could argue about this until we’re blue in the face and still be in disagreement. She’s fragile, not physically but mentally, no matter how much she insists she’s okay. She draws breath. I fear the worst. ‘Livy, I will not be leaving God’s green pastures until I see you pull things together, and that’s not going to happen if you spend all your time henpecking me. I’m running out of time, so get your skinny little arse in gear.’

I wince. ‘I’ve told you. I’m happy.’

‘Happy hiding from a world that has so much to offer?’ she asks seriously. ‘Start living, Olivia. Trust me, time soon passes you by. Before you know it, you’re being measured for false teeth and you won’t dare cough or sneeze through fear of pissing yourself.’

‘Nan!’ I choke on a piece of bread, but she’s not amused at all. She’s deadly serious, as she always is during these types of conversations.

‘True story,’ she says on a sigh. ‘Get out there. Take whatever life throws your way. You’re not your mother, Oliv—’

‘Nan,’ I warn slowly.

She visibly slumps in her chair. I know I frustrate her, but I’m quite happy as I am. I’m twenty-four, I’ve lived with my nan since I was born, and as soon as I left college, I made my ex-cuses to stay at home and keep an eye on her. But while I was quite happy looking after my nan, she was not. ‘Olivia, I’ve moved forward. You need to, too. I should never have held you back.’

I smile, not knowing what to say. She doesn’t realise it, but I needed holding back. I’m my mother’s daughter, after all.

‘Livy, make your nan happy. Put some heels on and go out and enjoy yourself.’

It’s me slumping now. She just can’t stop herself. ‘Nan, you’d have to pin me down to get me in heels.’ My feet ache at the very thought.

‘How many pairs of those canvas things do you have?’ she asks, buttering me yet more bread and passing it over.

‘Twelve,’ I answer, completely unashamed. ‘All in different colours.’ I plan on buying them in yellow on Saturday, too. I take the bread and sink my teeth in, smiling around my bite when she huffs her displeasure.

‘Well at least go out and have fun. Gregory’s always offering. Why don’t you take him up on his constant offers?’

‘I don’t drink.’ I wish she’d stop with this. ‘And Gregory will only drag me around all the g*y bars,’ I tell her, raising my eyebrows. My best friend sleeps with enough men for both of us.

‘Any bar is better than no bar. You might like it.’ She reaches over and brushes some crumbs from my lips, then strokes my cheek softly. I know what she’s going to say. ‘It’s frightening how similar you are.’

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