Janet Pywell ellie BravoAdvice and family are two things that don’t also go hand in hand as Elly is finding out.

“British summer is here at last,” I speak loudly, “and it’s about time!” I’m Skyping my sister Jenny in London from my laptop. “I’ve been looking after Auntie Annie’s garden – Look!” I pick up my MacBook and scan the garden so she can see the colourful ceanothus and orange poppies.


“And I’m busy preparing a barbecue.” I sprinkle fresh rosemary and garlic over lamb chops.

“What time are the family arriving?” she asks.

“Auntie Annie has taken them to the Titanic Museum. I volunteered to stay at home and cook.”

Auntie Annie and my mother are sisters. Their Irish cousins from Dublin are visiting us for the day.

“It’s so hot here, Richard’s taken the boys to the park this morning. They miss you,” then she adds, “We all miss you.”

I glance at the screen. Jenny is three years older than me; prettier, smaller and plumper.

“Send them all my love.”

Jake is 12 and Matt is 10.

“Any news from Mum?” I ask.

“She’s still on the beach in Thailand with Roger. She sent her love to you.”

“Great!” I chop chicken breasts to add to skewers later. “So she’s still with that dickhead?”

She laughs. Neither of us has time for our mother’s latest toy boy.

“Have you spoken to Dad?”

“I spoke to him a few weeks ago and he was starting work in a new clinic outside Malaga.” I toss the chicken into a bowl to marinate with spices; chilli, ginger, roasted garlic, coriander seeds and cumin. “Oh, and guess what, Auntie Annie is going to visit Uncle David in the summer–”

“In Canada? What will you do?” Jenny asks.

“I’ll be gone by then. I’ll have left Belfast. You should see who I’m working with. Simon’s alright – he has big ideas, but the accounts woman is a frosty bitch and the sales manager is as rude as they come. I won’t be hanging around. They’ll be lucky if I go in at all next week. They’re so miserable and hostile.”

“Well, you’re not always the most–”

“I know, I know, likeable, loveable, smartest, the list is endless.” I wave the mixing spoon at the screen.

I hear her take a deep breath. “Kat called again. She wants to speak to you.”

“Not interested.”

“You have to speak to her.”

“No, I don’t. She stitched me up.”

“I know you wanted the promotion but-”

“But nothing! They gave my job to that prick Peter after I had spent months putting together the marketing seminar programme. It was a huge project and the job should have been mine.”

“She says it wasn’t like that. She said you’ve misunderstood everything.”

“Bullshit! I worked hard for months on that project, and Kat knows it.” I’m scrubbing potatoes to bake later and water splashes into my eye. “But believe me it’s a lesson learned. Never sleep with your boss.”

“She was more to you than that. She was more than just your boss Elly. You were together five years.”

I shove the chicken and lamb into the fridge and bang the door closed, then I lean with both elbows on the worktop to stare at Jenny. We have the same dark hair and intense blue eyes.

“It was four and a half years too long.”

“She forgave you about Marcella.”

“It’s not about that. It’s about my dream job going to an idiot–”

“You stormed out and look at where it’s got you!”

I smile sarcastically. “I’m cooking dinner in Auntie Annie’s house for our Irish relatives from Dublin. Life is Bliss.”

“Why don’t you come home?”

“Because I don’t know where I belong anymore.”

“You should have gone to see Dad and Tia Luisa in Spain. You could be cooking Sunday lunch for all our Spanish relatives. At least you could have swum in the sea!”