Читать онлайн «Her Last Breath: The new gripping summer page-turner from the No 1 bestseller»
‘The view still has that effect, doesn’t it?’ Autumn said, squeezing Estelle’s hand. ‘I still have to stare at it for ten minutes each morning when I wake up, just to convince myself it’s real. We are so lucky to live in a town like this.’
Estelle peered out towards the heart of Lillysands and hints of the white glimmer of sails from its marina. She wondered if Aiden were out there somewhere.
Behind her, Autumn went to the fridge. ‘So, what will it be? Pancakes and maple syrup? Poached eggs and muffins? Or the full shebang, the famous Garland fry-up?’
Estelle took in the contents of the bulging fridge freezer. Autumn was a food taster for high-street stores and always brought home boot-loads of food.
‘People have between two thousand and ten thousand taste buds,’ Estelle remembered Autumn telling her on her second day there. ‘I’m one of those with tens of thousands. Taste is everything, darling. Taste is the epicentre of what it means to be alive.’
‘I ate on the train,’ Estelle said now. ‘But thank you, I appreciate it.’
‘I’m hungry,’ Max said.
Autumn rolled her eyes. ‘Aren’t you always? Tea then,’ she said to Estelle. ‘Or coffee?’
Estelle reached into her bag, handing over some sachets of peppermint tea. ‘Tea would be good, thanks. I hope you don’t mind using these for mine?’
Autumn and Max exchanged a look. Then Autumn took the teabag, holding it with her fingertips as though it were poison before dropping it into a mug.
‘Honestly, it feels like we’ve gone back eighteen years,’ Autumn said, sighing contentedly as she slapped some bacon onto a pan. ‘Doesn’t it, Max, having our Stel back in this kitchen, sitting at that stool?’
‘Poor girl,’ Max said, shaking his head. ‘Still makes me ill thinking of the state you were in when you got here. We’ve all had our fair share of difficult childhoods but yours was particularly difficult. We soon changed that though, didn’t we? And now look at you,’ he said, smiling that magnetic smile of his. ‘Author, vlogger, Olympic advisor. I’m so proud of you, and so proud we played a part in that.’
‘Yes, we really are,’ Autumn said, leaning over and squeezing Estelle’s hand. ‘It’s good to be able to tell you that to your face, darling, how very proud we are.’
‘Thanks,’ Estelle said, feeling her face flush.
‘You’ll stay tonight?’ Max said.
‘Of course she will!’ Autumn exclaimed. ‘Your old room is ready and waiting for you, I’ll even add some chocolate to the pillows,’ she added with a wink
‘Oh, you really don’t have to; I was planning to find a hotel in town.’
The truth was, she wasn’t even sure she’d need to stay overnight. She just knew she needed to get to Aiden before the police did and try to get a sense of whether anyone else knew about Poppy here. She peered out over Lillysands. Someone out there must know something. She could feel it in her gut. But the police had no hope of squeezing any information out of the people here if they decided to ask questions. Only someone who was part of the community could – or someone who used to be part of the community, at least.
‘You will not stay in a hotel,’ Autumn said, pouting. ‘If you’re going to stay, I insist it’s here.’
Estelle smiled. ‘Okay, I’ll let you know. I take it you don’t have any foster kids staying?’ Estelle asked as she sat on the stool Max pulled out for her. ‘It’s very quiet.’
They both shook their heads sadly. ‘Just too busy now,’ Max replied.
‘With the property business?’ Estelle asked.
‘I’ve even gone part-time with the food tasting to help out,’ Autumn said.
‘That’s good news though,’ Estelle said. ‘Means it’s expanding.’
‘Very good news,’ Max said in a bright voice.
‘Keeping you up, are we?’ he said with a laugh.
‘Sorry! I’ve just been on the go since five this morning.’
‘Five?’ Autumn and Max exclaimed.
Estelle laughed. They’d never been early risers, she was surprised to see them awake and ready at this time in fact. ‘Like I said, it was an impulsive visit.’
‘So you just woke at five in the morning,’ Autumn said, moving the pan about as the bacon sizzled, ‘and thought “what the hell, I’ll go visit Autumn and Max”.’
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