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5.10.17

Extract: Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin by Catherine Ferguson

The message light is flashing on the landline in the living room. Pressing the ‘play’ button on the speaker, I head through to the kitchen, already rolling my sleeves up to start baking and expecting to hear Harrison telling me when he’ll be home.
I stop in the doorway.
Unless he’s caught a horrible cold that’s deepened his voice and added a barrowload of gravel to it, that’s definitely not Harrison. Maybe it’s a friend of his or one of his colleagues. I hurry back into the living room, just as the stranger’s deep voice rumbles, ‘pulling out your heart by its bootstraps. But enough of that …’
Intrigued, I hit ‘play’ to hear the message from the beginning.
Hi Clemmy, it’s Jed Turner. Have to say it was amazing seeing you on Saturday night. Can’t believe it’s been so long since our legendary holiday in France. And by the way, you never spoke truer words than when you said about love reaching into your chest and pulling out your heart by its bootstraps. (A throaty chuckle here.) But on to cheerier matters. I’m calling to invite you to spend Christmas in the country. Log fire, hot tub and an entire forest of fir trees. How could you refuse? Phone me to say yes.


I stand there, staring at the phone, the cogs of my brain whirring madly.
Who on earth is Jed Turner? And who, for that matter, is Clemmy? It must be a wrong number. All the same, I listen to the message again, although it’s more out of curiosity than anything else.
Jed Turner has a deliciously deep voice. Someone’s obviously had their heart broken with all that bootstrap talk! I wonder if it’s him?
I listen to it twice more, shaking my head at the weirdness of the message landing on our phone, and wondering vaguely where this amazing place is with its log fire and hot tub. Somewhere quite palatial, by the sounds of things.
I feel a bit guilty, as if I’m eavesdropping: It should be Clemmy listening to the message, not me. But that’s silly – there’s nothing I can do about it. Presumably when Jed doesn’t hear back, he’ll phone her again and, this time, he’ll get the number right.
But I need to get on. I have mince pies to bake!
I wash my hands and gather my equipment and ingredients, all the while mulling distractedly over the phone message.
What is the relationship between Jed Turner and Clemmy? They’d been on a ‘legendary’ holiday to France, but that seemed to be a while ago. Were they boyfriend and girlfriend when they jetted off together? Describing a holiday as ‘legendary’ means it was obviously pretty special in some way. Maybe they had stupendous sex for the first time in their lives, or maybe they had a mad, passionate fling but were forced to go their separate ways at the end of their magical holiday, or maybe I should stop dreaming up these ridiculously romantic scenarios because the reality is probably very different. It’s just that having heard Jed Turner’s rumbling and seductively deep voice for myself, it’s little wonder my imagination is running riot.
I stop and stare into my bowl. What am I doing? The recipe calls for 200 grams of plain flour, but I’ve somehow carefully measured out the same weight in granulated sugar instead! I never usually get it wrong. What’s going on?
It’s that phone message.
It’s thrown me because I really don’t know what to do about it. Obviously, Jed is keen to get together with Clemmy, and inviting her to spend Christmas with him is a pretty bold move. But Clemmy didn’t receive the message. I did. And how sad is that? What if they never get a chance to meet up and possibly reignite their passion? All because Jed Turner punched in the wrong digits?
I need to get his number on ‘call return’ and phone him to tell him about his mistake.
Oh, shit!
Glancing down, I grimace at the greyish lump of dough in my hands.
What’s the golden rule of making perfect pastry? Use a light touch! But for the past few minutes, I’ve been pummelling the pastry to within an inch of its life, squeezing and mangling it like I’m trying to hand-wash a stubborn stain from a favourite cardy. I stare into the bowl in dismay. Forget ‘light and flaky’. These mince pies will be hard enough to substitute as balls at Wimbledon.
An hour later, I’m just cracking a tooth on one, trying it fresh from the oven, when I realise I’ve got a text from Harrison, sent half an hour ago.
Getting five-o’clock back. Will phone when on train.
I smile affectionately. Harrison’s texts are always brief and to the point, with no emoticon extras, but I’m used to that. It’s just him.
I glance at my watch. It’s five-fifteen. Panic surges within me.
Oh God, what if he phones me on the landline?
Dropping the mince-pie disaster, I race through to the living room and snatch up the phone before Harrison’s call can wipe the last ‘call return’ number. Dialling 1471, I carefully note down the digits on a nearby piece of paper, noticing that it’s a local call.



 When Poppy’s boyfriend Harrison proposes the week before Christmas and gives her twelve days to decide, she doesn’t know what to do. With the festive season in full swing, it’s make or break time for the couple and the clock is ticking…
Meanwhile, Poppy’s best friend Erin is desperate for the pair of them to fulfil their dream of setting up a dinner party catering company – and when an opportunity arises at a luxury log fire cabin, the girls take their chance to impress. But they hadn’t bargained on the owner of the cabin being quite so attractive – or having quite such a sexy voice.
As the twelve days tick on, will Poppy realise that Harrison is the one for her? Or will it be love in the lodge when the new year comes?
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