Evie sighed as she walked out of the front door. Clutching the shopping list in her hand, she started along the winding country lane towards the village. Her grandmother was on a baking spree for the Church fete and she'd sent her older granddaughter out to buy more supplies.
As she rounded a corner she came face to face with a large truck trying to drive along the narrow lanes. Evie sighed and waited until the driver had manoeuvred properly around the bend, before squeezing into the hedge as he passed, almost flattening her toes in the process.
Before the eighteen-year-old had come to live in the sleepy Shropshire countryside with her grandparents, she and her younger sisters had lived with their parents in London. Sadly, their parents, Mike and Angie, had been killed in a car crash five years earlier, leaving thirteen-year-old Evie, eight-year-old Millie and four-year-old Erin to be taken in by their grandparents on their farm.
After the twenty minute walk, Evie arrived at the village shop – the only one for several miles. The elderly owner smiled at her as she entered, making the bell tinkle as the door opened. The teenager returned her smile and set about gathering the things on her list. When she'd found everything, she took them to the counter.
"Mornin', Evie." Mrs Evans said with a smile. "How's your Nan and Grandad?"
"Fine thank you, Mrs Evans." Evie nodded politely. "Nan's on a baking spree for the fete."
"Ohhh! I hope she's making some of her famous meringues. And what are you doing in the fete? I heard Millie and Erin are part of the Queen's procession."
Evie nodded, almost embarrassed. "Yeah… they're ladies in waiting. They're so excited. I'm not doing anything… well… I think Granddad wants me to help with the animals when he brings them down for the competition, but apart from that…"
The teenager wished, as she did every day, that she could get away and go back to the city. Country life didn't agree with her. Everyone knew everything that was going on which, in such a small place, was generally nothing at all. She sighed and said goodbye, making her way back towards the farm.
"Hey!" There was aloud roaring sound behind her, which Evie easily identified as a tractor. If she had been pushed, she was horrified to realise that she might even be able to go into further detail; make, model, etc. This put her in a bad mood as she turned around and looked at the driver.
"Alright, Sam?" She asked the boy who was driving it. Sam was the first person who'd done his best to make her feel at home when she'd arrived in Lower Appley after her parents' deaths. He, along with her best friends Poppy and Sarah, had been the people who'd kept her sane.
"Yeah… you going the fete tomorrow?" He asked. Evie sighed, but nodded. Everything seem to revolve around the stupid Church fete. It did her head in that everyone was getting so wrapped up in such a boring event. "Cool… I gotta shift this lot to the lower field for Dad, but I'll see you there."
As the tractor rumbled off, Evie stood and watched she sighed again, wishing that something more interesting would happen. As she looked left to check there was nothing coming – she always did it out of habit, 99% of the time the roads were completely clear – she caught sight of a tall, dark haired man watching her interestedly on the corner of the green. He was leaning against the huge sign advertising the fete with an amused smile on his face. Evie glanced right and, when she looked back the man had gone. Confused as to where he was and how he had moved so quickly, the teenager headed back to the farm in a daze.
"Eviiieeee!" Millie called from her bedroom window. Her older sister looked up from the bucket of chicken feed at her feet and put her hands on her hips, brushing her hair off her face with a dirty hand. Realising what she'd done, Evie sighed and groaned.
"What's up, kid?" She shouted back. Millie was leaning worryingly out of the window, one hand wrapped around the trellis that helped the roses to grow up the side of the farm house.
"I need you to come and curl my hair for me! And Erin needs you to help with her dress." The thirteen-year-old told her. "There's three hours to the fete and we have to be there in an hour and a half!"
Evie smiled and shook her head. "Gimme half an hour and I'll do it." She promised. Before she could even think about helping her younger sisters, she had to finish feeding the chickens, collect the eggs and have a shower.
As she went about her work, which was technically Erin's as they were the easiest on the farm and she was the baby, Evie daydreamed about a totally different life. She missed the lights and hustle and bustle and noise of the city. Out here, apart from the house lights, night time was pitch black. Her younger sisters had been too young when their parents died to really appreciate the culture shock of moving from a London townhouse to a Shropshire farmhouse. They loved the life and had absolutely no desire to go into the city. Maybe it would change as they got older, but somehow Evie doubted it.
"I'm ready…" Evie said almost fourty-five minutes later, rubbing her dark hair with a towel. She never bothered to dry it properly; she'd recently had it cut short and now it was just long enough to be tied into a stubby ponytail and that was how it generally was kept under control.
Millie handed her the hair straighteners and sat patiently as Evie went to work on her long, mousy brown hair. It was quite thin, unlike her older sisters, so reasonably quick and easy to curl, although it took a lot of hairspray to keep it in place. When Millie's hair was done, Evie moved onto Erin, whose hair, somewhere between her sisters' in colour and thickness, was harder to tackle. The nine-year-old was also far more reluctant to sit and be patient as Evie curled her hair.
"Evie!" The teenager jumped as her grandfather called up the stairs. She handed Millie the hot device, warning her not to move, and went to the landing, looking over the banisters at the tanned, weather-beaten face of Steven Carmichael. "Can you come and help me… we need to brush Betty ready for the competition."
"I'll be right down, I'm just getting the girls ready." She said with a smile. Her grandfather nodded and smiled.
Evie retreated to her sisters' bedroom and took over the straighteners. She rushed through the rest of Erin's curls, applying liberal quantities of hairspray. She smiled at the girls, giving each a quick kiss on the tips of their noses.
"You look beautiful." She assured them. "You can use my makeup, but not too much or I'm taking it off."
Millie groaned, but as they went off to raid her dressing table Evie knew they'd be sensible. She trusted her younger sisters, both of whom were far more interested in horses and chickens and other farming things than makeup and boys; at the moment, anyway.
Outside, her grandfather had tied the cow in the yard, leaving the brushes on the old stone mounting steps for her. Patting the docile old animal on her nose, Evie started brushing. After a while, she was gleaming, the black and white patches almost shining in the sunlight. Evie, on the other hand, was sweating and, with a sigh she realised she'd need another shower before she went out. Knowing that she was still probably going to be asked to wash the dogs before the dog show, she decided to leave getting herself sorted until the last minute.