Christmas has come early! Enjoy this exclusive extract of Rebecca Raisin’s upcoming Christmas romance Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop.
Livvie is silent. I know from experience it means she’s brewing up an idea in that clever head of hers. ‘Flora . . .’ Her voice rises in excitement. ‘I’ve had the best idea! What about a van, a Christmas van, like a pop-up shop? I met these girls last year, Rosie and Aria, and they had these cute-as-a-button van shops that they travelled around the countryside in! You could pop up at all the London Christmas markets and fairs, that sort of thing.’
The air in the room leaves with a whoosh. ‘A pop-up Christmas van?!’ My breath catches as I picture such a thing. It’s perfect, it’s fabulous, it’s . . . wait. ‘I don’t have any money for a van. Dammit all to hell and back, why am I such a spendthrift?’ But even as doubt comes calling, the idea takes shape. I’d never be able to afford a real shop, but a mini shop would be more feasible, and not only feasible but fun too. I’d call the shots! I’d pick and choose my very own stock.
‘You give most of your money away, Flora! It’s not like you spend it on yourself. There’s a solution but you’re not going to like it.’
‘No, I will not do bar work ever again. I still can’t stand the smell of—’
‘No, it’s not bar work.’
It dawns on me, exactly what she’s implying. ‘No, I could never!’
She grins. I slump. ‘You could, Flora! You could sell your lifelong collection of Christmas decorations if it gave you the freedom to rule your own life!’
‘My Swarovski collection, my Hallmark ornaments, my Christmas décor . . . Nan’s?’ My chest constricts at the thought. It’s taken me a lifetime, all of my twenty-nine years to amass such a sparkly rare haul. It’s my pride and joy and I delight in taking each piece out every Christmas and lovingly displaying them. Most special are the ones handed down to me by Nan.
‘Not Nan’s. They hold far too much sentimental value. But the rest – the crystals, the gold plate, the rare collections . . .’
‘All the expensive bits, then?’
She lifts a palm. ‘Or I could lend you the money?’
‘No, no handouts.’ That’s where I draw the line. Friendships can so easily be ruined by borrowing or loaning money and I’d never risk it. Yeah, sure I live rent-free at the moment but Livvie and I have always had that back and forth, putting each other up when times were tough financially for one of us, like when she studied or I lost yet another job.
I picture my cherishables. Could I sell my collection if it meant I’d finally be free and potentially find some meaning in my life? By holding on to those beauties will I be holding myself back . . . ?
‘Anyway, it’s something to think about, yeah?’ Livvie says. ‘We’ve got our pre-Christmas Christmas to celebrate, don’t forget. And I’ll be home about six today with some overpriced goodies from Harrods.’ She gives me a peck on the cheek. ‘Cheer up, Flora. Think of it like this: if you were the heroine in a Hallmark Christmas movie, what would you do?’ My eyes widen. The heroine in a Hallmark Christmas movie . . . ? Instead of berating myself for every misstep, I could start over knowing that a new beginning might just be the answer if only I’m brave enough to take that leap, just like they do in the movies.