Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay
By Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pub Date: May 2, 2017
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Length: 416 Pages
International bestseller Jill Mansell weaves a heartwarming tale of love, family and friendship in her latest novel
1. A brief encounter that could have become so much more…if only everything were different
2. Step-sisters, bitter rivals in every area except one—by unbreakable pact neither will ever steal a man from the other
3. A love triangle that starts out as a mess of secrets and mix-ups, and only gets worse from there
Friendship, family ties, crossed wires and self-discovery, second chances and first impressions
Welcome to Jill Mansell’s blustery seaside world. Once you step inside, you’ll never want to leave!
EXCERPTMuch of the beach was busy, but Belle made her way to the quieter section and found a peaceful spot where she could sit and think without being disturbed.With her bags and the bunch of lilies resting beside her, she wrapped her arms around her knees and surveyed the shoreline of Beachcomber Bay.The tide was receding, and small children with buckets and spades were excitedly searching the clean wet sand for uncovered shells, fascinating pebbles and comical crabs. Two dogs, a golden retriever and a mink-gray whippet, were bounding around together in the shallows.OK, back to Ronan and Clemency. Well, well, when had this happened? Had they been hiding it from her last Friday evening at the Mermaid?And if so, how much longer had they been planning on keeping it a secret?Plus, how was it making her feel?This was a tricky one to sort out. Did she feel jealous?Yes.Did she have the right to feel jealous? Probably not, but it didn’t make any difference; the emotions were the same either way. Once you had that sibling rivalry thing ingrained in you, it was hard to let it go.Belle puffed a strand of hair out of her eyes, keeping her arms clasped around her knees in order to hold her skirt in place and remain decent. It was one of those weird beach-etiquette things; if you were wearing a tiny bikini, fine. But if you happened to be dressed in a collared shirt and stripy knee-length skirt, you wouldn’t dream of flashing your knickers. Even if they were super-expensive pink silk ones from La Perla.The dogs were chasing after a ball now, barking with excitement as they cavorted through the waves. A toddler, his face splashed by their antics, let out a wail of protest. An athletic-looking young woman in a slate-gray bikini skipped and swerved to avoid the two dogs as she ran along the shoreline. Seconds later, she passed a group of teenage boys, one of whom wolf-whistled in youthful appreciation. The young woman ignored the whistle and jogged past them, her blond ponytail bouncing jauntily with each step.
Belle closed her eyes and pictured Ronan the first time she’d ever seen him. It had been soon after he’d moved to St. Carys in order to take up his new job with Gavin Barton. Word had spread rapidly around town, of course it had, that the new arrival was a twenty-four-year-old with looks, charisma, and a decided way with the ladies. Belle, however, had assumed he wouldn’t be her type; apart from anything else, he was from a working-class background, and why on earth would she be interested in a boy like that?Until she’d seen him for the first time a week later, playing a game of pool at the Mermaid, and against all odds her interest had been piqued, because he was pretty and he exuded fun and sometimes your brain chose not to care about working-class backgrounds and simply thought: Ooh, he’s nice.Which had been embarrassing in one way and confusing in another. But at the same time it had been a complete thrill. A fresh challenge was always good.As an attractive twenty-one-year-old from a wealthy family, Belle had been accustomed to getting any boy she wanted. She’d expected to get Ronan. But it had never happened, which had been both puzzling and annoying. For some reason he hadn’t been interested in her. Which had naturally had the effect of keeping her interested in him.Belle knew perfectly well that if they’d gone out together for a few weeks, the novelty would have worn off and they’d have drifted apart—because that had been the recurring pattern of her relationships up until then. But it hadn’t had a chance to happen, which was why the weird crush had continued unabated. She’d never had the opportunity to get it out of her system.And now this.Taking out her phone, she texted Clemency.Where are you?As soon as the text had been sent, she was overcome with impatience and scrambled to her feet. Collecting up her bags, her discarded shoes and the bunch of lilies in their tissue paper wrapping, she dusted the sand off her palms and made her way back up the beach to the stone steps that led to the Esplanade. It was only five minutes from here to the real estate agency, so she may as well head over there now.The text arrived less than thirty seconds later, and she stopped in her tracks, fumbling for the phone she’d tucked into the narrow side pocket of her handbag. In the struggle to reach it, the bag’s leather strap slid off her shoulder and the expensive calla lilies slithered sideways, causing her to double over in order to catch them before they landed headfirst in the soft, dry—Woomph! Something thudded into Belle’s side, knocking her off balance and sending her crashing to the ground. She let out a shriek of alarm, the lilies went flying, and so did her shoes as she sprawled on the sand. For a split second she thought it was a mugger, about to make off with her bag and everything in it.“Oh God, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Are you OK?”It wasn’t a mugger. It was the girl in the slate-gray bikini, who’d careered straight into her. Mortified at how idiotic she must look, Belle said furiously, “Well, that’s the stupidest question I ever heard. Do I look as if I’m OK?”“I meant are you hurt?”Was everyone watching? Were they all laughing at her? Belle stumbled clumsily to her feet, shrinking away as the girl reached out to try and help her up. “I’m not hurt.”“Oh, thank goodness. Sorry again. It was all my fault.” Belle glanced at her in disbelief, because of course it was all her fault. Who else could possibly be to blame?“I was timing myself, you see.” The girl tapped a gadget on her left wrist. “Trying to beat my record. It’s harder to run on soft sand, so I checked the coast was clear, then put my head down and just went for it.”“You didn’t see me at all?” Still furious, Belle dusted sand off her skirt then watched as the girl hastily retrieved her scattered bags and handed them back to her.
“Of course I saw you, but I thought you were heading for the steps. I thought you’d be long gone by the time I reached this bit; I didn’t know you were going to stop dead…but of course, I should have been looking where I was going. I’m an idiot.” As she handed over the lilies, the girl fixed her steady light-blue gaze on Belle. “I’m really sorry.”Belle looked away first and gave the kind of angular, dismissive shrug that signaled their unwelcome encounter was at an end. “OK. Bye.”
With over 10 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and 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.
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