Mulberry Lane Babies by Rosie Clarke @AnneHerries @Aria_Fiction #AriaAddict #Excerpt

9781786693006

Mulberry Lane Babies by Rosie Clarke

  • Family Saga
  • Romance
  • Fiction

| Synopsis |

1941 Mulberry Lane, London. War rages but new life brings new hope. Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn and Cathy Sharp.

Times are hard for all on Mulberry Lane as the war rages into yet another year.

Desperate times push people into dangerous situations, and the residents of Mulberry Lane are not exempt.

Menacing shadows lurk on dark street corners, threatening the safety of those who are alone and vulnerable.

When Peggy’s twins are born early Maureen and Nellie are there to lend a helping hand.

The mothers of Mulberry Lane stick together despite the grim conditions of war torn London and a shadowy fear that stalks their lives.

Neighbours and friends look out for each other and new life brings hope and joy to the Lane.

| Author |

ROSIE CLARKE

About the author
Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia. Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.
Follow Rosie
Twitter: @AnneHerries

 

| Excerpt |

Chapter 1
The lane was bitterly cold that morning in December 1941. Clusters of frost clung to drainpipes and rooftops making lacy patterns on the windows of the houses and shops, and the pavements were icy underfoot, forcing the woman to tread carefully as she crossed the road. Somewhere in the lanes, chestnuts were roasting over an open-air fire and the smell made her hungry. She pulled up her coat collar and shivered as she looked up and down the lane. No lights shone in the shop windows and very few had bothered with decorations, except for Mrs Tandy, at the wool shop, who put the same things out every year. Winter was bleak enough in these lanes at the best of times, but the bombing earlier in the year had made things so much worse. Someone had pulled down enough of the damaged building, where the lawyer’s office had once been, to make it safe. But the blackened ruins looked dismal and forlorn, the pavements dirty, much the same as bombsites all over the city as they awaited clearance. Yet it wasn’t the cold weather or the ruins that brought a frown to the woman’s face.
‘Oh, hello,’ Anne said as she met Ellie Morris coming from the cobbler’s shop, just down from the Pig & Whistle in Mulberry Lane. She smiled at the pretty young girl, who was a talented hairdresser. ‘I was going to come and see you later today. I wanted a trim and a shampoo and set on Friday – after school finishes. It takes me a while to see the children off – so about four-thirty?’
‘Yes, I’m sure I can fit you in,’ Ellie said and smiled. ‘You might have to wait a few minutes but I shan’t keep you long. I’ll book you in as soon as I get back to the shop.’
‘Thanks.’ Anne shivered. ‘It’s cold today, isn’t it?’
‘I hate the winter and dark nights.’ Ellie pulled a wry face. ‘I’d better get back or the door will be locked when my next customer arrives…’
Anne nodded and went into Bob Hall’s shop. She had two pairs of shoes that had worn very thin in the soles, but she didn’t like the thick rubber that was being used for repairs these days. The last time her shoes had needed repairing, Bob had used nice thin leather soles, which didn’t spoil the shape of the uppers.
He was sitting behind the counter of his rather dark little shop, which smelled of glue and leather and polish, hammering away at a pair of what looked like army boots. As Anne entered, he glanced up and got to his feet at once.
‘Good morning, Miss Riley.’ He greeted her with a smile of welcome. ‘It’s nice to see you back – are you here in London for good now?’
‘I’m not sure, Mr Hall,’ Anne flicked back her light brown hair as she replied. Her nose felt as if it might be red from the icy cold of the air outside. ‘We’re opening up some of the schools again – at least, we’ve opened a temporary school to accommodate the children who have returned to London. Some of them just couldn’t settle in the country and their mothers wanted them back now the bombing has calmed down a lot, but I intend to stay in teaching if I can.’
‘Well, I’m sure Mrs Ashley will be glad to have you back helping in the bar of the Pig & Whistle at night – and all your friends, too.’
‘Thank you.’ Anne smiled because Peggy Ashley was the landlady of the pub next door, and one of Anne’s best friends. She took her shoes from the wicker basket she carried and placed them on the counter: a pair of smart grey suede courts and a black patent pair of lace-ups that had seen better days. ‘I wondered if you could give me leather soles and heels?’
‘Well, I might manage leather for the suede courts,’ he said after looking at them. ‘But I think rubber would be better for the black shoes, Miss Riley. They need a good thick sole to pull them back into shape.’
‘I don’t like the rubber ones much; they’re so heavy,’ Anne confessed with a sigh, ‘but I suppose…’
‘I do have some thinner rubber…’ He was about to show her an example when the door to the back room opened and a man entered dressed in army trousers with braces over a string vest, his arms and shoulders bare.
‘Bob, are the boots ready…’ the words died on his lips and a faint flush spread up his neck. He was clean-shaven, good-looking, with high cheekbones, dark curly hair and blue eyes, with lashes so thick any girl would envy them, and Anne could smell the fresh clean scent of his soap. ‘I do beg your pardon, miss. I didn’t realise there was a lady here…’
‘You should think before you walk about like that, Kirk,’ Bob reproved. Older, with some grey at his temples, there was a noticeable resemblance between Bob and the younger man. ‘I’m so sorry, Miss Riley. Kirk is my sister’s boy and he’s staying with me for a couple of days.’
‘Kirk Ross,’ the soldier said and moved towards the counter, offering to shake hands. Anne noticed that his nails were broken but clean, his fingers long and shapely, but calloused as if his hands had seen hard work. ‘I’m sorry for embarrassing you, Miss Riley.’
‘That is perfectly all right,’ Anne replied, though her heart was pumping a little faster than normal, because he was rather a magnificent specimen. Obviously, he was fit and strong, with muscles any weightlifter would be proud of. ‘I’ve seen a man in a vest before, Mr Ross.’ She averted her eyes, deliberately looking at the shopkeeper. ‘Very well, leather on the grey and rubber on the black; they’re on their last legs and I should probably have bought new if I could find anything I liked.’
‘Thank you, Miss Riley. I’ll use the thinnest rubber I have,’ Bob Hall promised. ‘They will be ready on Friday afternoon.’
‘Thank you, good afternoon, Mr Hall – Mr Ross…’
Anne went out into the cool fresh air. It had startled her a little when Bob’s nephew had walked in half-dressed, but she couldn’t help noticing how well he looked. You didn’t often see a man with a body like that and she couldn’t wait to tell Peggy about the small incident. She’d been going to call in and tell her friend that she’d moved into her room at Mavis Basset’s house, at the other end of Mulberry Lane. It had been Peggy’s idea and it meant that she wouldn’t have far to go at night after helping out in the bar, as she was this evening. In fact, she now had plenty of time for a little gossip before she went home to change for the evening. Kirk Ross was going to cause a little stir in the lane with those eyes and muscles! She wondered if he would make the Pig & Whistle his local while he was staying with his uncle… and found herself hoping he might be in that evening.

 

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