Reasons Not To Fall In Love Read online





  Acknowledgements

  First off, a huge thank you to Anna Baggaley, my editor at CarinaUK for believing in me right from the very start of my career. You’ll never know how much that belief means to me. Secondly, for the CarinaUK team for making this whole process so easy. And thirdly, to everyone that has followed me and continues to read my work. You all rock my world, so thank you.

  Dedication

  For three people whom I’ve never met but consider dear friends: Irvana, Hilda and Rebecca. For Irvana, because of her never-ending support and encouragement; for Hilda, because of her beautiful soul; and for Rebecca, who still smiles through adversity and is one of the strongest women I know. Love you all.

  Bronwyn

  June 2006

  Wriggling my toes, I let my cheap white plimsoll drop off, trying to relieve the ache that was getting worse in the ball of my foot. My eyes fluttered closed and the sounds of the busy café washed over me. The smell of burnt bacon lingered in the air as I leant against the counter waiting for Dave, the fry cook, to finish plating up the order for table seven. I could have done with not working today, if I was honest. I’d been bartending at my local pub until just before midnight last night, so the five o’clock wake-up to come and serve food to hungry patrons wasn’t something that I needed. Right now it was the mid-morning brunch rush at the greasy spoon café that I worked at, so I still had another three hours to work before I could go home and wash the fried lard smell out of my hair. My tiredness was only going to get worse as the day went on. The thing was, as a mother of a five year old child, my duties didn’t even stop once I clocked off.

  “Order up,” Dave announced, setting down four plates onto the serving counter.

  Without speaking, I slipped my foot back into my shoe and picked up the orders, balancing the four plates along my arms. I sighed deeply, pushed myself away from the counter and struggled across the busy café towards the table. As I got halfway to the desired table, a pinch to my behind had me gasping and whirling in shock, almost dropping the customers’ food all over the floor.

  “We’re ready to order when you are, little darlin’,” Rex purred, winking at me.

  I forced a polite smile even though I wanted to grab the greasy fry-up I was holding and shove it into his face. Rex was a regular; he also left a nice tip, so I couldn’t afford to be rude to him. “Sure thing, I’ll be right back,” I replied, sidestepping his hand that was dangerously close to my backside.!

  He smiled his predatory smile and I tried not to cringe at his teeth – permanently stained a yellowy-brown colour because of too much coffee and smoking. Before he could say anything else or flirt with me again, I turned on my heel and delivered the food to the waiting family in my section.

  After a round of pleasantries and telling them if they needed anything to call me, I headed back to Rex’s table and tried not to act like I would rather be shovelling horses’ poop than working here. Rex was with his brother and his friend today, they all had the same flirtatious smiles on their faces as I stopped at their table and pulled out my order pad.

  “What can I get you today?” I asked, trying not to let any of the frustration leak into my voice. I put on a smile, pretending that I didn’t resent waiting tables in a pink uniform that was made from cheap, scratchy polyester, and that I didn’t think I had wasted my life.

  Instantly I was pulled down into the booth next to Rex and his heavy arm slung across my shoulders as he smiled at me. “When you gonna accept my offer to take you out, Bronwyn?”

  I laughed and secretly tried not to envision grabbing his face and smashing it onto the table. “I’m married, Rex. Not gonna accept any time soon. Maybe you should stop asking?” I suggested.

  He grinned and shook his head confidently. “Nah, one day I’ll ask and you’ll say yes.”

  Yeah, and one day pigs might grow wings and fly off! “So, what can I get you guys today?” I repeated, pushing his arm off me and standing up, straightening my awful pink uniform.

  Rex sighed, and the guys he was with reeled off their orders to me one at a time. I really wasn’t in the mood for this today. I shouldn’t have even been at work today at all, Fridays were my day off from the café because I worked at the pub on Wednesday and Thursday nights, but a shift had come up this morning and I’d needed the money too badly to refuse.

  After I’d put their order in to the cook, I smiled at Marina and motioned with my head that I was going to take my break. On the way through to the back room, I poured myself a strong black coffee and then almost fell onto the uncomfortable iron chairs because I was exhausted. It just seemed never-ending; every day was so long that, by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was go to bed. That couldn’t happen though, I had responsibilities after all. No one ever told me that life was supposed to be this hard; even if they did I’m sure I would have thought they were exaggerating.

  While I sipped my coffee, my mobile phone buzzed in my apron pocket. I frowned and pulled it out, hoping it wasn’t going to be Finn, my husband, telling me that he was going out gambling with his friends again tonight. I was pleasantly surprised to see my mum’s picture on my screen.

  “All right, Mum?” I greeted, taking another sip from my mug, letting the caffeine seep into my system.

  “Bronwyn, guess what?!” she chirped without even saying hello.

  I raised one eyebrow, curious about what had put her in such a happy mood. “What?”

  “You’re now an auntie!” she practically screamed.

  My body jerked as my heart leapt in my chest. A little squeal escaped my lips at the news that my older sister had given birth. “Oh my God! What did she have? When? Is Skye OK? What time, weight?” I jumped from my seat, grinning from ear to ear. It was a little early for this, Skye was only just over eight months pregnant, but they had told her she was carrying low last time she went for her midwife appointment.

  “Little girl. She went into labour in the early hours of this morning, but there were some complications, so she had to go down for an emergency caesarean. She’s such a dear little thing; she’s only six pounds and two ounces. They’ve called her Evie Lou. Skye’s awake already and laughing so she’s all good too.”

  A happy sigh left my lips at the news. “Evie Lou Hanklin,” I tested out the name. “I love it!”

  My mum giggled like a giddy little girl. “I know, it’s perfect!” she agreed. “So, when are you coming? They’re going to be in the hospital for a few days at least. Why don’t you all come stay with me for a couple of days? I haven’t seen you and Theo for months.”

  My mind was already whirling with thoughts of that. I had to go there as soon as possible, visit the baby and give my big sister a hug. But that meant I had to get tomorrow off work at the café. It shouldn’t be too hard though, after all, it was extenuating circumstances. It wasn’t every day that your big sister gave birth to a baby that she’d been trying for five years for.

  “That sounds great. I’ll definitely come tonight. What time’s visiting?” I could barely wait. My heart ached with happiness and excitement. Being an auntie was something I was going to kick arse at for sure. I loved kids.

  “Seven until nine.”

  I nodded, committing it to memory. “I’m so excited I can barely stand still!” I laughed at myself and bit into my bottom lip. “I’d better go call Finn and get things arranged. I’ll speak to you later and see you tonight up the hospital.” I ignored the distasteful little sound my mum made in the back of her throat at the mention of my husband’s name.

  “Bye, Bronwyn, see you soon.”

  My coffee and the much-needed caffeine boost were long forgotten as I practically skipped out to speak to Dave. I was going to need to flutter my eyelashes a lit