Being your own boss has its perks.
I can have lunch whenever I want, for starters. Plus, if I want the day off, then I take the day off.
I also lose money. So that’s why I am hunting around a car boot sale with Lauren one foggy Sunday morning, my wellies sinking into the mud as I blow on my hands. I’d already hit the jackpot with the bag stuffed in my carrier bag, clutching it close to my chest.
The bag is worth at least three hundred pounds, and I paid a tenner for it. Lauren sifts through some shoes beside me, whilst I hunt through a pile of designer clothing.
All you needed was a great find, or better yet; a decent seller on a car boot, and voila. You could relax.
“How much for this?” Lauren asks, lifting a golden bottle of perfume up to the harassed woman dragging boxes from the boot of her car. She squints, before sighing.
“It’s authentic,” she nods towards the bottle Lauren is clutching in her hands. “But I’ll take fifteen.”
“Ten?” Lauren asks, tilting her head.
The woman shakes her head, and the pair battle it out over five quid. I move along to the next stall, smiling as a little girl lines up her dolls neatly on a blanket.
“If you want one, they are a hundred pounds each,” she declares confidently, her eyes glinting with defiance.
“A hundred pounds per doll?” I grin, crouching down to examine the dreary collection of Barbie dolls that had clearly been through the mill.
“No, one pound each,” an older woman chuckles from behind the girl, pushing her silver hair behind her ears. “She’s not quite grasped the value of money just yet, have you Immi?”
The little girl frowns, stroking the hair of one doll. She lifts her striking eyes up to mine and sighs heavily.
“They have been all around the world, they’re well travelled,” she points out, before tilting her head. “Do you like dolls? I love these.”
“I used to, yes,” I smile, lifting myself up. “If you love them, keep them.”
A smile plays at the girl’s lips, but then she drops her gaze to the floor.
“Mummy said I’m too big for dolls now.”
I exchange a look with the woman beside her, and she smiles at the girl sympathetically. She pats her on the head, before turning back to the car.
“Never mind your mother, they are yours,” she huffs, and I nod in agreement.
“Aren’t you a little old for Barbies?”
I turn to see Lauren by my side, peering over my shoulder.
“Ha, yes. I guess I am.”
I wave goodbye to the little girl who smiles, and I pause, digging into my pocket for a couple of pounds. I hand them to the little girl who gasps with delight.
“There you go, I just bought them from you. Now you have sold them, and I’m giving them back to you as a gift.”
Lauren rolls her eyes beside me, and the little girl’s face lights up.
“Thank you! Nanny, I sold my dolls, and the lady gave them back to me!”
The lady with the silver hair looks stunned, and she immediately tries to give me my money back.
“No, it’s okay, honestly. I never did part with my dolls.”
We walk away, and Lauren nudges me. “You’re going soft in your old age, you know that Summers?”
“Hmm, think of it as my good deed for the day,” I mumble, my eyes falling on a collection of video games that had pound signs written all over them.
My morning just got better.
“One sec,” I throw over my shoulder as I head towards the stall, a wide smile on my face.
Try to appear disinterested, Jolie.
“How much?” I ask, allowing my gaze to move to the stall beside ours as the man looks over at me, sizing me up.
“Three quid each.”
The Legend Of Zelda Gold Edition, three pounds?!
“I’ll take these,” I grab a handful, making sure that one is sandwiched in the middle. The last thing I need is another seller spotting it and causing a bidding war. I pay my ten pounds, telling him to keep the change.
It’s the least I can do.
I turn to hurry away, walking straight into someone who is holding a bacon cob and a coffee. My stomach rumbles as I apologise, going to move past him when he speaks.
“It’s you,” he says in disbelief, and I freeze upon hearing his voice.
No fucking way.
I glance at him, and my stomach flips.
A lazy smile, the come to bed eyes. Dirty blond hair. A navy hoody that clings to his body, open a little at the neck so I can see a hint of his tattoos. I blink, trying to recall his tattoos—I thought he had sleeves. So what was the orange flame I could see peeking out at me?
“My Cinderella,” he drawls, his eyes holding me captive.
“Hardly. Excuse me—” I stammer, whirling on my heel as I flee.
But I don’t wait, I run. Blindly into the crowd of bargain hunters without turning back. I daren’t turn back, just in case he is chasing me.
Get real, Joles. Like a guy like that would chase you.
“Jolie! Oi!” I hear Lauren screech from the burger van, tomato ketchup on her lips as she waves me over. “I got you a sausage—”
“Alright,” I hiss, glancing around us nervously. “Keep your voice down.”
Lauren frowns, swallowing her food before thrusting a sausage cob into my face.
“What’s up with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Or my one-night stand,” I mutter, sinking my teeth gratefully into my cob. Brown sauce squirts down my lip, and Lauren makes a face, handing me a napkin.
“One-night stand? What? Here?!”
I chew on my food as she stares around us, blatantly looking for the Adonis from my little hook up a few weeks back.
“I don’t see him, are you sure it was him?”
“Yes,” I grumble, focusing on the menu attached to the side of the van. “He called me his Cinderella.”
Lauren gasps, smacking my arm as she laughs wickedly.
“Oh my God, because you fucked off before he woke up? Oh, that’s good. I like him already.”
I scowl at her as she polishes off her food, licking her fingers.
“I won’t be seeing him again,” I say, chewing thoughtfully. “I’m done for today, are you ready to go?”
“No, there’re loads of stalls just setting up. All I’ve found is that bottle of perfume. Stay!”
The thought of seeing the Adonis again is enough to send me running for the hills, so I decline.
“No, thanks. Call me later. Let me know if you hit the jackpot,” I grin, walking backwards towards the car park.
“Boring. Okay, drive safely,” Lauren calls after me, and I wave my hand in her direction.
The car park isn’t really that; it’s a field. The local farmers direct you as you drive in, and in the mud it was a fucking nightmare.
My Mini is a four-wheel drive, and so far I’d avoided hearing the dreaded wheel spins of being stuck.
I start the engine, reversing my car easily out of the spot as I allow the farmers to guide me. I panic when I have to drive through a deep puddle, but the man waves me on.
“Keep going,” he urges, beckoning me as I drive, praying I don’t get stuck here.
My car must sense my urgency, because she drives through the puddle with ease, not moaning once.
“Thank you, baby,” I whisper, patting the steering wheel. “Get Mama home.”
The skies are still waking up, the grey mist of dawn still dominating the world. I wind my window down, allowing the crisp air to greet me as I drive down the country roads, my little bag of treasure stowed in the seat beside me. I grin down at it, before hitting the knob on the car stereo.
Roxette greets me with It Must Have Been Love, and I’m hit with a memory so vivid it’s like I’m back there.
“This can be our wedding song,” Brad murmurs into my neck, his sour whiskey breath making me wince.
“You wish,” I laugh, turning away from him.
He caught my hand, dragging me to him as he gazes into my eyes. My heart is hammering in my chest, the way his eyes search my face makes me weak.
This man isn’t for you, Jolie. He’s not from your world.
“Marry me,” he whispers, smirking against my jawline as I shiver beneath him.
“No,” I laugh nervously, as his hand skims my elbow, tugging me closer to him.
“Come on, what are you so afraid of?” he asks, tilting my chin up to his.
I don’t want you to break my heart.
Tears stream down my cheeks.
“You fucking bastard, Bradley Cunting Jenson,” I wail into the wind, slamming my hand on the stereo knob. I should’ve known when he suggested a heartbreaking song like that that it would all end in tears.
But who could resist a bad boy? A hot biker, no less.
I thought I was different.
I was wrong.