Annie listened to the instructions on her sat nav, she called it Jessie. The cottage was only a mile away now, it was dark so made it difficult to make out her surroundings, and she had come of the motorway to small roads which eventually had gone to small lanes. The lady had told her to go straight to the cottage and she would meet her there, which was nice of her. It had felt good to leave Pershore, however it had a bitter sweet feel to it as well, Wayne had reluctantly come back down and they had talked a bit more. Laura had been supportive through the whole thing and had amazed Annie how mature she had been. Simon had left all the details in their bedroom with instructions to ring him when she got down there not before. She had been so relieved when he hadn’t been there when she got home, it was only putting it off, and it would give her time to get her strength back up. The sat nav informed her that she was ‘nearing her destination’ a wave of excitement went through her, looking out in the darkness she could just make out some lights ahead. As her car pulled into the drive, she could see a small quaint cottage, a woman stood at the door with a big smile on her face; she was plump with brown hair. Coming over to the car waving Annie shyly smiled at her, ‘hello Im Sandra Tilsley, how was the journey? You must be exhausted! Let me help you in with your bags’ Sandra chattered nonstop until both women were in the cottage. Annie looked around the front room and smiled ‘this is beautiful Mrs Tilsley’ chuckling Sandra looked at her and said ‘Sandra please’ come let’s get you a nice cup of tea and I’ll leave you in peace to settle in my telephone number is by the phone, any problems just give me a ring’
Sandra had trundled out of the drive, Annie turned back into the cottage with a sigh of contentment, she loved the little cottage, it was so perfect and she could hear the gentle lap of the waves from the door. She couldn’t wait to explore tomorrow. Tiredness suddenly enveloped her, grabbing her cup of tea she sat down by the fire that Sandra had lit, and with the warmth caressing her she drank her tea and for the first time in years she felt safe, warm and happy.
The next morning after a leisurely breakfast Annie decided to explore her new surroundings, grabbing her handbag she headed out of the door. She had decided to ring Simon in the evening; she didn’t want anything to spoil the enjoyment she was having at this moment. The cottage had a typical cottage style garden with a mix of flowers that had been planted in a haphazard way giving it a wonderful wild look to it. There was a small path that leads down to the sea; she picked her way cautiously along the path until she could see in front of her the wide expanse of the sea, the scenery took her breath away. Walking slowly down so she could take everything in, the path meandered down a sandy slope of bushes, grasses and eventually to sandy dunes with large tufts of grass growing wildly in patches. The dunes were small and soon she was down on the beach where the cliffs were craggy and large rocks spewed as if thrown by a giant and left in a jumbled mess. Climbing over the rocks, she could see the town of Combe Martin and headed over, she needed to get a few things. Picking up shells and small pebbles of varying colours, Annie had never felt happier.
The town had a few touristy shops, the only food shop was small and limited in supplies, and the girl in the shop told her to go into Ilfracombe where there was a supermarket and a larger town there. Pottering through the small town, Annie decided to go back to the cottage and head for Ilfracombe, get her supplies in first she needed a map of the area. A shop called News of Combe Martin looked like it would have just what she wanted, picking up a map of the area, and grabbing a cold drink of cola out of the chill cabinet, she headed to pay at the till. Scrambling through her bag she pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, it was the lottery ticket she had bought all those weeks ago. The woman behind the counter, smiled and said ‘ do you want me to check it for you dear it might be the winning ticket’ laughing Annie handed it over, ‘that would be lovely but I doubt it. The woman took the ticket and placed it in the machine, and her face changed to one of calm to shock and then shouted, ‘you have won, you have won how exciting we have never had a big winner here’ Annie just starred dumbfounded, she couldn’t take it in, she could feel the room spinning hopelessly out of control and as she fainted away she could feel strong arms holding her.
As she came around she could hear the concerned voice of the woman and the rich voice of a man. Opening her eyes the room had steadied and she could feel her heart racing. ‘She’s coming round Don, it’s okay love you fainted, I would have fainted to’ she pronounced. Her eyes found those of two gorgeous brown eyes that seemed to bore right into her very being, flustered she tried to get up, ‘hold on girl take it slowly, Sue get a chair will you’ lifting her up he gently placed her on the chair. Feeling herself calming down Annie whispered ‘sorry to be a nuisance, it was such a shock’ patting her hand Sue said to her ‘do you think you can move love, let’s take you out back and get a nice cup of tea into you, and then we can sort out this win’ nodding but unsure how she would feel when she stood up, Annie started to lift herself up to find herself supported by Don who took her to the back of the shop and sat on a sofa. ‘I’ll leave you ladies to sort out, I have to get back to work’ smiling at him Annie thanked him ‘her heart just went into overdrive when he looked at her, ‘for goodness sake Annie get a grip’ she told herself. ‘don’t tell anyone Don, that’s the rules until this lady tells us otherwise, she might want to keep it secret’ bowing and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, ‘your secret is safe with me ladies’ tutting yet laughing Sue and Annie watched Don leave, Annie glad as she couldn’t concentrate with him in the room, he just took over her senses completely, ‘I don’t know what on earth is wrong with me’ drinking her tea, she felt herself relaxing as the reality stepped in.
Sue had driven her home, worried that she might pass out on the way back. They had rung the National Lottery number on the ticket and had been passed to an operator who had calmly taken her information, telephone number and address. They rang back after a few minutes confirming the win and allocated a person by the name of Daisy Saunders to come to Combe Martin to talk her through the process. Daisy was going to head down to her that day, and would get to her around 5pm. Annie couldn’t take it all in, the shock of it, the speed of it, and then the horrible realisation of Simon when he found out.
‘Are you feeling okay now dear, it will take time to sink in’ as she place a steaming mug of tea by her ‘ they will advise you and sort everything out, and whatever you do don’t go public’ Sue shook her head and rolled her eyes ‘ you will have begging letters and all sorts of things coming through the post’ sipping her tea Sue suddenly laughed ‘ I can’t believe it, it’s so exciting, I’m so pleased for you dear, oh just a thought don’t tell Sandra, it won’t stay a secret for long if she finds out, lovely woman but such a gossip’ she chuckled to herself. Sue stayed for another ten minutes then had to head back to the shop, satisfied that Annie was ok, she had left her telephone number just in case. Annie left alone sat and thought it all through, she didn’t really know how much she had won, it was all a blur, Simon would be a nightmare if he found out, her life would even worse knowing that her money she couldn’t have as he would insist on having it.
Driving quickly into Ilfracombe, Annie had made a list of what she needed to get, first she needed to go to the bank and get some money out. As she parked up, she had an idea burgeoning in her head. She could have the money placed into her secret account, he would never know, she could buy a house down here, her secret hideaway. It could work, just got to figure away of being able to get away regularly; she could have a secret life down here, the idea was blossoming as she headed to the bank.