Small-town Australia meets You’ve Got Mail in this rural romantic comedy about online dating, second chances, and following your heart.
Small-town sweetheart Annalisa Cappelli has returned to Wongilly to take over her family’s hardware store while she heals from a tragic loss. The business was hit hard by the pandemic, and now a Carpenter’s Warehouse hardware superstore is opening in the district. There’s no way Annalisa is going to let two hundred years of history go down the drain, but she’s going to need to fight to keep her family’s legacy alive.
The one simple thing in her life is her no names, no complications, easy-breezy online relationship with GardenerGuy94. For now, their online flirtation is the only kind of romance Annalisa needs. Until she meets Ed Carpenter. Sexy as hell, he’d be the perfect man … if he wasn’t trying to destroy her business.
Ed Carpenter is in Wongilly to offer the owner of a small hardware store a payout to pave the way for his family’s next superstore. What he doesn’t expect is for the owner to be the woman he’s been talking to online. Annalisa is beautiful and passionate, and he’s sure she’s the one for him. But how can he reveal the truth without losing her?
Annalisa Cappelli stood with her hips pressed against the kitchen bench, absent-mindedly eating her toast and letting the crumbs fall into the sink—something she did every morning. Her eyes watched the sky, still dark except for a sliver of shimmering moon.
The low, dense morning mist covered the paddock and a stillness held the land in its grip, as if the whole world had paused to take a deep breath before the day began. In a min- ute or two the sun would rise above the horizon and flood the fields behind the little house with golden light.
She loved this moment. Here, in the magical space between night and day, she could believe that everything would work out fine, that she wasn’t as in over her head as she knew herself to be. The borrowed hope lasted exactly one precious second, and she wouldn’t miss it for the world.
August was nearly over and the promise of spring was highlighted when the sun rose a little earlier every day. The liquid amber tree in the garden would soon begin to grow its bright green leaves in contrast to the rich, jewelled autumn colours she loved so much. Before she knew it, the spring wildflowers would be covering the fields she used to play in as a child.
Annalisa checked her watch. Nearly seven. Just enough time to watch the sunrise, finish breakfast and tidy up the store before everyone arrived.
The sun flashed its rays as it crested the horizon, filling the fields with soft, buttery light. The day had officially begun. Dusting crumbs off her fingers, she tightened the hand- knitted scarf around her neck. The weather was not quite chilly enough for a jumper, especially once the wood stove in the store was up and blazing. In Victoria you never really knew what weather you were going to get from one hour to the next. You had to be ready for all four seasons in one day, maybe even within one hour. She’d always marvelled at the variety of gear for all weather conditions Ben could carry in his motorcycle panniers.
Her craft project spilled across the kitchen table, taking up every conceivable space including the chairs. Scraps of material, bits of plywood and globs of craft glue told the story of a late night creating what she hoped would be magic. Annalisa decided against cleaning it up. No one would see the mess and she’d be at it again later after she’d finished selling hardware for the day.
She turned off the lights in her little house and stepped through the connecting door into her other world, the family’s hardware store.
The store lay in darkness, watercolour-like sunlight struggling in through the windows while a leaden cold filled the air. Not her favourite time of the day. Here, in the moment before the shop opened, the ghosts of her family wandered the aisles filled with chisels and hammers, screwdrivers and dusty spirit levels, all waiting for their forever home. No doubt disappointed in the dwindling sales and the lack of business acumen of this establishment’s current proprietor.
For over a hundred years Cappellis had kept this store going in one form or another. They’d faced all sorts of hard- ships, from rebellion on the goldfields to war and recession. What advice would they give her? What would they make of the coronavirus and online shopping? Surely they’d have some useful wisdom to impart?
Before she turned on the lights, she closed her eyes and her fingertips automatically found the gold locket that never left her neck. As part of her daily ritual she listened for a whisper of the past. Thoughts of Ben, whose photo nestled in her locket like a talisman against loneliness, took over.
Her thoughts turned to her father. To how he’d hum as he moved about the store getting ready for the day, check- ing the till for change, dusting the shelves and setting things to rights before opening for business. How he’d challenge her to catch dust motes as they danced in the morning sun before she left for school. He’d had a comforting presence. A jovial man with a hearty laugh and enormous heart, Alberto Cappelli had left very big shoes she struggled to fill. Summoning his strength, Annalisa flicked the switch.
Fluorescent lights shuddered into life, dispelling the ghosts of loved ones and the ancestors she’d never met. They’d be back the same time tomorrow, just as useless as today.
First thing, get the wood stove operating before the old guys arrived.
Clearing the ash from yesterday’s fire had to be the saddest, most depressing job she could think of on a frosty morning. Knowing that there would be a cheerful fire crackling away in ten minutes made the job doable.
She crouched down in front of the stove and scraped out the grate, making the inevitable mess she did every time. The stale smell of old ashes made her work quickly. Maybe one day she’d get the hang of clearing the grate out without getting any of it on the floor. Or maybe never.
She’d finished stuffing kindling in the stove and had just got it lit when someone rapped on the front door.
‘Okay, okay, keep your hat on,’ she called as she secured the stove door. The heat began to seep out into the room. Before long the whole place would be toasty.
Behind the frosted glass door loomed a shadowy figure.
Only one person ever turned up this early.
Annalisa swung the door open and ushered the old man in. ‘Good morning, Joe. Fresh this morning.’
‘You’re late.’ Joe Kelly shuffled inside, clutching his ther- mos to his chest like a hot water bottle.
‘I am not.’ Annalisa rose to the bait as part of their daily custom. ‘You’re early. Again.’
Joe shrugged and divested himself of his hat before put- ting his thermos down so he could take off his coat. Annalisa held out her hands for his things. He passed them over, inspecting her, his keen faded blue eyes missing nothing. ‘You got crumbs.’ He indicated her scarf with a flick of an arthritic finger.
‘I was eating my breakfast.’ She hung his belongings up on a peg on the wall.
‘Toast over the sink.’ He hmphed, as if she’d committed a breach of decency. ‘Again.’
‘Have you had breakfast?’ she enquired sweetly, ignoring his grumpiness.
‘At my age, you don’t need breakfast.’
‘I’ll make you some toast. You want coffee?’ They played out the same script each day. She knew her lines and she waited for him to deliver his. He’d been a part of her life ever since the day she was born, playing the role of an elderly uncle, always keeping an eye on her.
‘You still got that stuff in a jar?’ He made his way over to his chair located next to the fire. She noticed he favoured one leg and moved carefully as if he were spun from glass.
‘Then no. I got my own.’ He raised his thermos in salute before plunking himself down with a sigh.
She didn’t have to ask to know the weather would be inflaming his arthritis. They had an unspoken agreement to never mention each other’s ailments or problems, one she was happy to uphold.
‘Don’t move, I’ll be back in a minute.’
‘I’ll hold the hordes at bay. Don’t be long or they might overwhelm me.’
Annalisa shook her head and left him to it, returning to her kitchen out the back to make Joe buttered toast and get him a mug for his coffee.
She couldn’t be certain he ate properly and while a piece of toast wasn’t much, it was all he’d accept from her. He’d rejected meals she made for him in the past. Out of pride or the fact he didn’t like her cooking, she couldn’t tell. After popping the bread in the toaster, she took the opportunity to shake the crumbs out of her scarf into the sink.
The sun had well and truly breached the horizon and filled the kitchen with the illusion of warmth. The shop itself faced west and missed out in the morning although the afternoon rays made the place cosy. How wonderful it would be if she could spin the building any way she liked to catch the sun.
She buttered Joe’s toast and stacked a tray to take through to him. He’d been her grandfather’s oldest friend and even though Lorenzo had passed away years ago, Joe and the other old guys still came every day to drink coffee, play cards or dominoes and talk rubbish.
Annalisa had been very small when Lorenzo’s heart had failed him in his prime. She loved the stories his friends told, about the old days and how happy Nonna and Poppy were together. They’d known her father, Al, from the day he was born and had been there to support Nonna when he’d died all too young.
One thing she realised was she needed these old guys as much as they needed her. She gave them a place to come to, a sense of continuance, and they gave her stability and staved off the loneliness that haunted her day and night.
‘Thank you.’ Joe took the tray she offered him and placed it on his lap. ‘You should get a proper coffee machine like they have in the cafés.’
Annalisa unscrewed his thermos and poured the hot cof- fee into his mug. He never asked her to, or mentioned the kindness, but they both knew some days his hands were beyond the task.
‘I don’t need a coffee machine, Joe. I can’t afford one. I can’t even afford to put the heater on in the house.’
The last twelve months had been hard. She’d grown up in that shop and thought she knew all its ins and outs. Run- ning the hardware store proved to be tougher than she’d known. She couldn’t remember her parents struggling like this. Maybe she’d simply not paid enough attention. What kid did?
The fact that the hardware retail chain, Carpenter’s Ware- house, had chosen to build a new store in the Goldfields area did not help her stress levels. A store that big could swallow her business whole and not even notice.
‘What do you need a heater for? You got that great scarf.’ Joe took a bite of his toast.
‘You can have it if you like it so much.’
‘Then where are you gonna put your lunch?’
‘Very funny. And speaking of comedians,’ muttered Annalisa as the door opened, bringing in the rest of the old guys on a gust of chilly wind.
Terry and Dave bundled into the store, carrying all the things they needed for a morning’s entertainment: newspa- per, thermos, sandwiches and cards.
‘I see you’re still above ground,’ said Terry, the rangiest of the three men. As time passed he seemed to bow more, as if the weight of each year cumulated in burden.
‘How are you this morning?’ Dave, completely bald except for tufts of hair that grew out of his ears, wore a black and yellow striped Tigers beanie pulled down tight.
‘Great. Just taking criticism from the walking cliché over here,’ said Joe, gesturing in Annalisa’s direction.
‘You guys want coffee?’ She ignored Joe’s jibe.
‘Got a coffee machine yet?’ asked Terry as he settled him- self into one of the chairs around the card table.
‘Not since yesterday.’
‘We’ll pass, thanks.’ Terry rubbed his hands together. ‘Who’s got the cards?’
‘I got enough coffee for everyone,’ said Joe. ‘Can we get some more cups please?’
The old guys turned their attention to setting up for their card game, bickering amongst themselves as they had for the last fifty years.
Annalisa smiled, glad to have them here even though they were a bunch of wiseacres. She headed back to her kitchen to fetch some more cups.
The temperature dropped several degrees as she pushed through the dividing door from the now warm hardware store into her little house. The cold only made the place feel lonelier. Maybe a coat of paint on the walls would help, something in a cheerful colour. Perhaps she should get a dog.
Her mobile phone vibrated where it sat on the kitchen bench. She picked it up in anticipation. A DM from Gar- denerGuy94. She shoved the phone in the back pocket of her jeans, grabbed the drinkware and hustled back to the store.
‘Here you go.’ She deposited the cups on the table and reached for her phone. GardenerGuy94’s messages had become the highlight of her day.
Annalisa couldn’t help the smile spreading across her face as she opened the message. How could a perfect stranger make her so happy? It probably indicated a thousand things wrong with her that any good psychologist could diagnose. She hooked a long, dark curl behind her ear and read avidly.
GardenerGuy94 TUE @ 8:05 AM
Cold in my neck of the woods. How about yours? Got a business meeting with my siblings today. Would rather stick needles in my eyes. What are you doing?
She laughed out loud at the unexpected imagery. It took her a moment to realise the room had gone quiet and the old guys were all staring at her.
‘It’s the new boyfriend,’ said Joe out the side of his mouth as if she wasn’t standing there.
‘The one that sends messages but never shows up?’ Terry sniffed his disapproval as he shuffled the cards.
‘Catfish,’ said Dave as he tapped his finger to his nose. ‘Take my word for it.’
‘What has Annalisa’s pretend boyfriend got to do with fish?’ asked Joe.
‘He’s probably some bloke in West Africa pretending to be a prince and trying to get money out of her. Same thing happened to Daphne over at the retirement village. You wait, he’ll sweet-talk her, tell her he loves her, then hit her up for money.’ Dave picked up his cards as Terry dealt them. ‘Slim pickings here,’ said Annalisa. ‘I haven’t got any money. All I’ve got is hardware which nobody seems to want. And those kinds of scams come from all over the world these days.’
‘So, the scammers have gone international. Don’t go get- ting your heart broken,’ said Terry as he fanned out his cards, inspecting them through his bifocals.
‘He’s just a friend,’ she said, throwing up her hands in exasperation. ‘Someone I met on the Goldfields community page. We chat. So what?’
‘Just a friend,’ said Joe as he reordered his hand. ‘Yeah, good friend I bet.’
‘How about you guys focus on your game and leave me alone?’ She slipped behind the counter, putting a barrier between them and her.
She typed in her response quickly. From now on she’d wait until she was alone to read the messages. Some of the old guys’ digs had landed a little close to home.
What if GardenerGuy94 really was some scammer after her fortune? Maybe she should tell him upfront that all she had to offer was a selection of screws, bolts and nails in various sizes—and that she’d have to charge him for postage.
The two of them had exchanged messages nearly every day since he’d contacted her over one of her posts on the community page, sliding into the personal as if they’d been lifelong friends. She knew he was about her age, but she had no idea what he looked like. Handsome, she hoped. His Goldfields community page profile picture showed a smiling chocolate labrador wearing a red bandana.
Annalisa read her return message again. She wanted to sign off with a kiss. They’d become so close recently, shar- ing their innermost thoughts and flirting outrageously, that
she’d begun to wonder if it was time to move things to the next level. Uncertainty held her back.
They’d been chatting for so long—months—that it felt as if the time for asking about his real name had passed. A bit like those casual acquaintances you met where years went by and somehow you still didn’t know their name and now you couldn’t ask. One day soon she’d gather up the cour- age to broach the subject, but until then his daily messages cheered her up and made her feel less alone.
She pressed send.
Suddenly her day had got a whole lot brighter.
Ed Carpenter turned up the collar on his coat against the wind that blasted him as he left the train station. He jogged down the steps of Flinders Street Station towards the tram that would take him to Docklands. When he’d left his mother’s house at Brighton Beach half an hour ago, the sun had been out. Now a light drizzle had begun to fall, coating everything in a fine mist. Welcome to Melbourne.
He jumped on to the tram, finding a strap to hang on to as the doors shut behind him. The ride took fifteen minutes, giving him just enough time to grab a coffee before heading up to the office. How did his siblings plan to torture him this time?
Ed had no doubt they’d concocted some horrible mission for him, as if they wanted to punish him for going off to start his own business in the first place. One that, they liked to remind him, had failed. Now back with his tail between his legs, he had to take whatever they dished out. The phone in his pocket buzzed. His GoldfieldsGirl.
He had a smile on his face before he pulled his mobile phone out to look at it. Sure enough, she’d messaged him back.
GoldfieldsGirl TUE @ 8:08 AM
No sympathy. I’m dealing with a bunch of geriatric delinquents who actively hate on my coffee. Let’s swap.
He grinned and slid his phone back in his pocket, think- ing of witty responses as the tram swayed along the street. Would GoldfieldsGirl approve of the real him, the one on the tram heading to work at his family business, one with a corporate culture he loathed? He’d led her to believe he was a nice guy. Damn it, he was a nice guy, at least he had been before he landed in this mess.
The idea that Goldfields Girl was out there somewhere in the Victorian countryside thinking warmly of him made him want to do better, to get back to who he’d been before he sold his soul to his siblings.
The tram slid into his stop and he stepped out into the misty rain, making his way to his favourite coffee shop. No way could he face his adversarial brother and sister without the aid of caffeine.
‘Yo, Ed. How you doin’?’ Maureen, the proprietor and barista extraordinaire, greeted him. ‘Fine weather for ducks. The usual?’
‘Got a meeting with family this morning so make it an extra shot.’ A shiver ran down his spine, and it wasn’t just from the weather.
‘Well, you know you can always come and work with me if you like. Give up all that corporate crap. Who needs it anyway?’ Maureen steamed the milk, the machine hissing to life.
‘You’d trust me back there?’
‘I know your history. I know you’d be pretty good. Your years of pulling coffee in London means you’re no slouch.’ She poured the milk on top of the espresso shots. ‘Probably not as good as me but we could skill you up in no time.’ She snapped the lid on the takeaway cup and handed it to him with a wink.
‘Nice to know I’ve got a backup plan if I need one.’ ‘I’ve met your sister. You need one.’
‘Cheers.’ Ed raised his cup in salute. ‘Thanks for having my back.’
‘Anytime,’ Maureen called after him before turning to the next customer.
Ed quickstepped across the street, dodging traffic, to arrive at the grand lobby of the offices of Carpenter’s Warehouse. He took a moment, stabilising himself before stepping in through the glass doors and making his way to the lifts.
Closing his eyes on the ride up to the twenty-first floor, he promised himself that this time next year he would not be here, that he would be back amongst nature doing the thing that he loved. He just didn’t know how he was going to pull that off yet.
‘Good to see you, Ed.’
Staff members called out greetings to him as he entered the busy open-plan office. He waved back, continuing on to his own desk. They liked him because he wasn’t scary like Oliver and Rosie, because he’d talk footy with them and brought in cream biscuits for the lunch room. Like GoldfieldsGirl, they believed him to be the nice guy, and compared to his siblings, he was.
He placed his bag and coffee on his desk before hang- ing up his damp coat and unwinding his black and yellow striped Tigers scarf.
‘The boss is looking for you.’ Jeremy, the operations manager, nodded in the direction of the boardroom. Middle- aged with a slightly rumpled appearance, he had an affable air and reminded Ed of a sidekick from an American sit- com. Any sitcom.
Ed suspected Jeremy shared his office space under sufferance, having been forced by Rosie to make room. It must feel like a demotion, yet Jeremy never gave Ed any indication that he held it against him. He’d simply had his desk moved over and carried on as if having the youngest Carpenter take over his office was an everyday event.
Ed checked his watch. The meeting had been called for nine and it was barely eight thirty. ‘Has she been waiting long?’
‘Let’s say she’s checked in three times and leave it at that.’ Ed sighed and closed his eyes. His first instinct was to defend himself and point out he was early for their meeting. What would be the purpose? Rosie had a way of making everyone feel as if they were somehow letting her down and causing her physical pain by doing so.
‘I know how you feel, mate,’ said Jeremy as if reading his mind. ‘Nothing for it but to get in there and take your punishment.’
‘Am I in trouble?’ Ed snapped into focus, picking up his coffee and a notebook.
‘Wouldn’t know but every meeting with your sister feels like a punishment for sins yet to be committed.’
Ed let out a bark of laughter. ‘You’ve got that right.’ While Rosie might be a sharp CEO with some serious money-making capabilities, her people skills left a lot to be desired. ‘Might as well get it over and done with.’
The soundproofed boardroom provided an oasis of peace from the frantic energy of the rest of the office. Floor to ceiling windows gave a view over Melbourne’s Docklands. Padded leather and chrome chairs invited you to sit at the long oak table, whose golden tones were accentuated by cleverly placed lighting that gave the room a cosy yet luxurious feel.
As the door closed behind him, Ed imagined himself sealed off from all help. No one would hear him scream.
‘Glad you decided to join us.’ Rosie stood surveying the bustling city below as the rain ran in rivulets down the windowpane.
Closer to forty than thirty, she had taken to expensive treatments to preserve her youth, resulting in a disconcerting blank expression punctuated by two blazing black eyes that could pierce you like a bolt from a crossbow.
‘I didn’t realise you’d moved the meeting up,’ he said calmly as he took a seat at the table several chairs away from where Oliver sat.
While Rosie had the exterior of a cold, alabaster statue, Oliver preferred an oilier look. His dark hair, already showing signs of thinning, was slicked back with some substance that reflected the light. Expensively dressed, he looked like a manicured extra from a scene in Wall Street which, Ed happened to know, was one of his all-time favourite movies.
‘As a senior member of Carpenter’s, we expect you to be available earlier than our regular staff,’ said Oliver, offer-ing Ed the kind of smile a snake might offer its prey before devouring it whole. He wore red suspenders over his blue business shirt and Ed longed to snap them in a childish fit of rebellion.
‘I pull my weight on this management team.’ He could not help but be defensive where these two were concerned. They managed to push his buttons every single time.
Oliver’s smile shifted to one of condescension and Ed got the impression he was being patted on the head like a pet dog.
‘Whatever,’ said Rosie, dismissing the brothers’ power tussle. As the eldest and their father’s favourite, she ran the show. She sat down at the head of the table like a queen about to hold court. ‘We’ve asked you in today to talk about the community reaction to the new warehouse.’
On firmer ground, Ed flipped his notebook open. ‘I’ve been monitoring social media sites and newsfeeds for the Goldfields area. There’s been a small amount of kickback, which is to be expected. Nothing that won’t be overcome once the store opens.’
Rosie nodded her head and stared out the window, as though bored.
Oliver leaned in. ‘Are you sure there’s no possibility of bad press? We don’t want a repeat of what happened at the Gippsland location.’
Generally agreed to have been a disaster, the Gippsland store had been dogged by protest. Local retailers had banded together to rail against what they’d described as retail monopolies strangling small holders. They’d even supplied a noose in an alarming effort to drive their point home.
The news services had had a field day, presenting Rosie as a cold and evil mogul determined to steal bread from the mouths of local families. The fact Carpenter’s would be employing those very same families had been completely lost in translation.
While the fuss had died down and the store had been built, Rosie still smarted from her portrayal in the press. Although she did nothing to help herself with her frosty demeanour.
Ed couldn’t hold his hand on his heart and say the same thing wouldn’t happen again in the Goldfields. The new store would serve a large rural catchment area, offering hardware and gardening goods to people who would other-wise have to travel some distance for their tool needs. While he preferred the homeliness and knowledge of small family business himself, he saw the irony of Carpenter’s along with its benefits.
He tapped his pen on the pad, a thought forming in his mind. Maybe there was an opportunity to get out from under his siblings’ scrutiny for a little while. They all knew the job they’d given him was token only—something to appease his mother and prevent him from selling his family shares to a third party. The problem was, he had never been more miserable in his life.
‘You know, there may be one place that might cause us a problem.’
That got Rosie’s attention. ‘Where?’
‘There’s a little hardware store in a small town called Wongilly. As far as I know, it’s been owned by the same family since the goldrush days. It’s limping along now but it’s a landmark and I’m not sure people will take kindly to its closing.’
‘Since the goldrush?’ Oliver sat back, steepling his fingers and putting on his thoughtful face. Ed swore he could hear the gears turning in his mind. ‘Do you think we could buy the business out before it goes broke? Head off some bad press, and the owner would have nothing to complain about if they got a fat cheque.’
‘How small is small?’ Rosie turned her laser eyes on Ed as if x-raying him for the truth.
‘My understanding is that it is very small. Revenue has taken a hit with the pandemic and the shift to online retail but it’s hanging in there.’
Privately, he wanted Cappelli’s Hardware to endure, to succeed, to defy Carpenter’s Warehouse and thrive. The odds, however, were not good.
‘Mmm …’ Rosie closed her eyes as if savouring the idea of closing down yet another small business, as if she absorbed their life force every time she did it. ‘And you think you can persuade them to sell to us?’
‘I think so.’ He crossed his fingers under the table, grate-ful she couldn’t see his face. There was no love lost between the Carpenter kids, and Ed had long been appalled at Oliver and Rosie’s approach to doing business. He wondered if his father would have approved. Rosie seemed to believe so.
Her eyes snapped open and she began to speak at machine-gun speed. ‘Right, you’ll go out to this town in the middle of Podunk Nowhere and you’ll assess whether or not they’re going to make trouble. If the answer is no, then walk away and things will take care of themselves. If the answer is yes, then we’ll offer them a standard buyout package. Got it?’
Ed nodded, elation bubbling in his chest. While he wanted to get out from under Rosie and Oliver’s thumbs, he also wanted an excuse to meet GoldfieldsGirl face-to-face. This trip would give him that opportunity. She lived out that way, near a field of wildflowers appar-ently. She’d told him how, every year, she counted the new blooms every morning as spring crept in. Soon the field would be full of colour. Something like that would be hard to miss.
Rosie stood to leave, indicating the meeting had finished. Oliver pointed his pen in Ed’s direction. ‘I expect you to keep me briefed. We’ve got council wanting a smooth process. No one wants a negative impact on the next local election. The build is almost finished and the opening date is set. Don’t let us down.’
The two of them left him sitting alone, the door making a swishing sound as it closed behind them.
He watched the rain, letting his thoughts swirl and settle. It was in his best interests to promote Carpenter’s Ware-house, yet the company had morphed into something he didn’t recognise anymore, its ethos becoming more predatorial with every passing year.
Maybe that strategy had helped them survive the tumultuous times—the change of policy saving them from closing their doors when so many other businesses had been forced into receivership during the pandemic. Their success didn’t make Ed feel any more comfortable about the method.
Carpenter’s Warehouse may have been a different company a year or two ago but Ed had been a very different man too. He wasn’t sure that the Ed Before would approve of the Ed After. The world had changed, and it had changed him with it.
He could design a garden, landscape a property, run his own company and had the respect of his peers yet here he was, an independent man dependent on his family.
A man who hadn’t been able to hold onto his business during the pandemic. He’d managed to fail not only him-self but his team and his clients. He should have done better.
A man who had returned to his family with his tail between his legs, taking a job so he could build up the funds to start again. Bending his own principles to try and regain his life.
A man who lived in his mother’s guesthouse. Something his brother and sister never let him forget.
Ed didn’t know how he was going to walk the tightrope between what he believed in and what he had to do, but he was willing to try. He had to get back to the man he used to be. Even if that meant bending a few rules.
GardenerGuy94 TUE @ 3:35 PM
I survived with all my limbs intact. They’re sending me on a business trip so I’ll be gone for a few days. They think they’re punishing me but I’m going free range! How was your day?
GardenerGuy94 TUE @ 3:36 PM
PS. Ripley says hi.
Meet Me In Bendigo by Eva Scott will be available from July 2021