This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Jo and Pete, two country bumpkins both in their late thirties who seem to want to live every day in the episode of the Good life, with two dogs, four cats, seven guinea pigs and a hamster thank goodness for their huge overgrown garden! Now with their third and this time unplanned -but very much welcomed child -on the way things are proving difficult without any transport. Well and driving licenses!
Jo had long ago made a very firm decision when she was seven, that when she grows up she will have one husband maybe two if she gets bored of the first one!, two children a big house and a very big car. So far she had the husband nearly three kids and a slightly crumbling cottage which would probably never be big enough.
When the family circumstances change and Pete tells Jo they are moving to London! Life funnily enough suddenly becomes far more complicated even with fresh lattes and all night shops on your door step. Public transport just seems terrifying and facing the Mums at the school gate on a daily basis becomes the most arduous task ever!
Pete also decides now they are in the city ironically he needs to drive and books his first ever driving lesson. Can the alluring Jenny, his annoyingly super attractive work colleague pose any threat on Pete and Jo’s strong marriage? Will Jo keep her cool as she faces yummy mummies on a weekly basis at the posh local toddler group? Where she was once surrounded by parkas and gumboots she’s now surrounded by Jimmy shoes and designer handbags. Not to mention Cleo, Jo’s lovely, yet complicated sister with her manic love life, love of false nails and complete lack of any break down cover on her overpriced Peugeot 404!
A fabulous family story depicting real life, drama , humour and grit urban trail hopefully has it all.
“That’s it!” snapped Pete. Chucking the ridiculously huge, but very handy- tent, into the mud. ’We either get a taxi or leave the tent and the children here!”
Sophie and Charlie both looked horrified; Jo however tried not to laugh then threw up all over the wet grass, an old couple nearby put down their cups of tea, looking disgusted.
“Pete I’m pregnant.”
Jo wished at that soggy point on time, she had a camera or that her phone hadn’t just run out of battery. Barry and Ted the two scruffy collies looked up briefly from chewing sticks and Sophie just continued to chuck mud at her brother.
Sighing Pete scratched his head, something he always did when he was worried or annoyed and sat down, right in the mud. “OK.” he squelching about in the soft clay and watched wistfully as a family happily loaded their four by four and then all climbed in escaping the rain. Smiling at each other like Chevy Chase from the griswolds.
Pete pulled out his phone and pressed the automatic dial button on Johns taxi
“Who are you calling? Jo asked and for some reason she just wanted to laugh.
“The taxi man?” Jo asked.
“Yes.” Pete replied and tried to concentrate on not getting his new I phone wet. Thankfully John was in and said rather begrudgingly he would be there as soon as possible and being that the family were pnly forty five minutes away they would have to be patient.
Eventually the soggy lot were all bundled in to the warm taxi, placing her weary head on Pete’s shoulder Jo sighed. Lovingly he kissed her head as he
always did and squeezed her hand. “It will be al right I’m going to start driving lessons.”
Trying to suppress the grumble under her breath Jo quickly retreated to her favourite spot her dusty pink sofa. Resting her head against the plush cushions she had purchased in a charity shop she was forced to quickly shut her eyes; it was either that or to survey the mess, the happy mess that only children can create. Of course her two lively dogs both wanted to sit on her knee and her bump. Gently pushing the collies onto the floor she made an attempt to stand up but a braxton hix got the better of her.
Oblivious like children should be to their mother’s exhaustion Sophie and Charlie charged past her , Sophie grabbed at Ted’s floppy ears making the him yelp and Charlie who had decided to discard his nappy let one a out right on the new carpet. Gazing at his huge poo he locked eyes with jo.
“Look mummy dump!”
something pete always called it.
Grtiing her teeth jo stood up and grabbed some plastic bags. She had told Pete there was no point buying the new beige carpet, they could have gone on holiday instead!
“Mummy!” said Sophie, suddenly looking slightly panicked. “Is it lunch time?” and she scrunched her small eyes up at her pink plastic pepper pig watch.
Joanne looked at the wild eyed four year old and quickly glanced at the clock on the wall. It was two pm. Oops it was only lunch time nearly two hours ago! A rather freaky image of Jess super mum from Sophie;s pre school flashed into Jo’s mind. Her little Steffi would have been fed, dead on 12 pm then watered then probably taken out for a walk, so far Jo and her lot had got up put on three loads of washing, had a few fights, verbal of course! And watched pepper pig, seven episodes .
“Ur yes, “she muttered and searched frantically around the cluttered kitchen for some bread. Finally she found some on top of the washing machine! Of all places. Doing a quick mental check she had to think had she done her online shop at Tesco’s? The phone rang and answering it with her free hand she quickly began to make three cheese sandwiches with her other one.
“Hello?” she said suddenly feeling rather out of breath.
“Hi Jo “said her younger yet probably more intelligent sister.
“Hello Cleo.” The lump of rather dry cheese fell onto the sticky lino causing Jo to nearly swear. Retrieving the only food she had she wiped off a bit of hair and began to grate it on to a plate.
“How are you? How’s bump?” asked Cleo and Jo heard her take a big slurp of something, coffee maybe? How Jo craved a nice milky, sweet latte.
“Oh you know living the dream I am just packing actually for my holiday to Greece.”
Charlie ran past her and nearly made her drop the knife she was holding.
“Really?” said Cleo, stupidly, and for someone so intelligent Cleo really can be dense at time. Her sister had just qualified as a lawyer and lived in London with her rich boyfriend and two goldfish, Jim and Steve.
“No!” said Jo gently though. “We are good thank you I’m just making lunch. How are you?”
“Oh I’m OK.” but first there was a pause then a very loud sob.
Frowning Jo quickly plonked three plates in front of her TV channelled kids smiling at them kindly although she probably looked insane due to her lack of sleep.
“Mummy!” cried Sophie, pausing Sponge Bob briefly; walking back into the sitting room Jo almost jumped at sponge Bob’s crazy stilled eyes on the flat screen TV.
“Yes darling?” Jo said patiently.
But she just wanted to escape Sponge bobs crazy eyes as quickly as possible.
“Why have you given us three plates?” asked her puzzled daughter her two wonky pigtails sticking up and Jo smiled at the blue crayon smudged all over Sophie’s soft pink cheeks.
Looking at both kids she then looked down at her huge bump and remembered. Taking one on the plates she went back into the kitchen the phone still magically propped under her ear. Sitting down she took a huge bite and suddenly realised how hungry she was.
“Jo!” she heard her sister’s rather squeaky and impatient wail through the phone.
“Sorry yes I’m back.” said Jo and quickly sunk her teeth quickly back into the moist white bread again.
“Richards left me!” her sister wailed and began to sob heavily. Nearly choking on her sandwich Jo put her plate down, rather reluctantly.
“Oh no I’m so sorry and why?” asked Jo, unsure of what else to say.
“He said he doesn’t want to commit or he cannot commit to me, doesn’t want to hold me back he’s too young!”
“He’s 38!” said Jo angrily and hurting for her sister.
“Oh Jo I don’t know what to do, can I come and stay with you guys for a week? I just need to get away for a bit?”
“Yes of course when were you thinking?” said Jo and again surveyed the mess around her.
“Is tomorrow okay?”
“Ok...” said Jo “You will have to take us how you find us.”
“Of course.” said Cleo and stopped crying for a moment.
“You will be all right Cleo. I know that’s probably an unhelpful thing to say but you will be OK. We would love to have you.”
“OK thanks sis,” sniffing loudly Cleo sighed. “I don’t seem to have any luck with men!”
Jo looked out in to her wild but beautiful garden. “You will be OK sis just let me know what time you are getting here tomorrow.”
'Well I have to go now and eat chocolate and watch a trashy film!'
Hanging up Jo went back into the living room and couldn’t help but laugh even though she shouldn’t Charlie had put the reminders of his cheese sandwich on to Sophie’s plate which had been discarded and was trying to get the whole thing into his mouth.
That evening once the children were in bed and Sid the cat was snuggled up next to Jo she put her very weary head onto Pete’s firm and reassuring shoulder.
“Good day?” he asked her meaning it, but his dark eyes were glued to the sport on TV. She sighed deeply and he bent down and lovingly kissed the top of her head.
“Ur yea pretty good but I must say I will be relieved when Sophie starts school next month”
The summer holiday was lovely but getting too long now and with their third baby due in five weeks Jo was getting increasingly weary. Football had finally finished so Pete flicked through some other channels on TV but unable to find anything decent to watch he turned it off. Jo flicked though her magazine laughing at Angelina Jolie’s latest confession that she wasn’t having any more kids.
“I really think it’s time I took driving lessons. I’m nearly forty!” Announced Pete, it sounded like he had just declared he was going off to fight in Afghanistan.
Rather aversely Jo put down her copy of Hello magazine and looked at him, in the manner of a dubious head mistress when little Scotty had promised he would never block the loos with cheap loo roll again. Next time it would be andrex.
“Well. Ok but what about the cost of running or even buying a car?” she said and stroked Sid as he continued to purr rhythmically bedside her he responded with a whinny meow.
“True but with my wage and I am due for a pay rise soon, anyway I think we should look into it. I don’t think we can survive without a car for much longer”
Sighing again Jo tried to stretch out her legs but her huge bump halted her. They had only planned for two children the third let’s say was a drunken but very pleasant mistake! Jo had only missed one pill, due to a slight stomach upset she had been unable to let’s say digest it properly and had the following day consumed a bottle or two of wine with Pete and their very kind neighbours- Sally and George.
Sally and George thankfully lived about ten minutes, if that, away walking distance both in their late forties with no children or pets, commitment free! As they both put it. A delightful couple; who are a bit dotty, had lived in the village for twenty years.
Anyway after Jo’s brief and now not infectious illness they had asked if they could host dinner at Jo and Pete’s house. Knowing that they had the children and getting a baby sitter was almost impossible. So around they had come, Sally and George, bearing flowers, wine and crème brulee. It was a great
evening and very romantic too especially after Sally and George had gone home. Jo had decided not to find out the sex of the baby this time, even though she had with Sophie and Charlie. Charlie being only two and a half was still really a baby to Jo.
“Well let’s think about it” Jo said. As Pete still gazed into the distance now and her unread copy of Hello sat opened on the coffee table. “Oh by the way Cleo phoned today.”
Her husband looked at her and tried to look pleased almost knowing the outcome of Jo’s next announcement.
“She’s coming to stay for a week from tomorrow.” Jo said quickly then tried to get up but was kind of stuck as Braxton hicks took control of her body.
“Are you OK?” asked Pete. “And why is she coming? As nice as it will be to see her.” Pete said almost convincingly. It’s not that he disliked Cleo they just didn’t always see eye to eye. And he especially didn’t like it when his tall blond sister in law gloated about the fact she passed her driving test when she seventeen first time as well!
“She has broken up with Richard.” Jo said.
“Again!” said Pete.
“No it’s more serious this time he has left her. “ Jo could see Pete almost biting his tongue and she had a strange urge to laugh. “Look let’s just be civil you never know it may be a good visit.”
“Maybe” grumbled Pete, and picked up the newspaper.
“Cupper?” Jo asked brightly.
“Yes please.” said Pete quietly a bit like a grumpy teenager who has just been told he’s not a loud to go to a gig because it’s a school night.
Waddling to the kitchen Jo shivered even though it was late August and a rather warm night, as she made the drinks she gazed around her slightly messy but happy and clean home. Who needs a car anyway? A petrol guzzling nosy machine, they will be fine.
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