What a Girl Wants by Angie Coleman – extract

Angie Coleman is the author of The Inheritance. Her latest novel, What a Girl Wants, was published by Aria Fiction on 18 September 2018.

Aria have kindly allowed me to share an extract with you.

“Welcome back, Gil. So how did it go at Grandma’s?” my father asks as he embraces me at the door.

“Very productive, I’d say.”

“What does ‘productive’ mean?” he immediately interrogates me. I knew he suspected something. I begged Grandma not to blab before I got home, but I’m sure Father’s already given her the third degree to glean any information he could. Too bad for him, Grandma’s a trustworthy ally, and her lips are sealed if need be.

“Come sit in the living room, Father. I have great news and I don’t want to tell you about it on the threshold,” I urge him to be reasonable, showing him the travel bag still hanging on my shoulder. He studies it for two seconds, then gives in and finally lets me come inside and drop my heavy load on the first step near the entrance.

“Honey, come, Gil has important news for us,” my father yells once we reach the living room. Wow, I dare say, straight to the point.

“Where’s Lillian?” I try to lighten the expectant air permeating the room. She was supposed to be here for dinner, too.

“At work. She should be here in an hour or so,” Father calmly informs me, sitting on the couch and beckoning for me to join him.

“What news?” my mother promptly appears from the kitchen drying her hands on a towel. I go over to her and give her a resounding kiss on the cheek before I go back to sit next to Father.

“Aren’t we going to wait for Lillian?” I ask, taken aback.

“No, we’re not waiting for your sister. With her job you never know what time she gets off and you can’t keep us hanging on like this very long. You can tell her everything later,” Father scolds me with a serious expression.

“Ok. Well, you know how passionate I am about hand-made hats?”

“Honey, ’know’ doesn’t really paint the full picture. There’s no room left for clothes in your closet!” my mother explains, slightly exasperated.

“Well, I have excellent news: soon there will be much more room in my closet,” I announce, and I can’t help but smile.

“Have you found someone who’ll buy all those hats?” Mother inquires in amazement.

“Not exactly, rather, not yet. I’m going to open a hand-made hat shop in Fall River.”

“What are you going to do?” this time it’s Father’s eyes that pop out as he leans forward in alarm.

“I’m going to open a shop. I’ve already found the right spot. It needs some fixing up, that’s true, but nothing that can’t be done with a few weeks’ work and very little money. By chance I saw an antique sewing machine in a shop window and went in. The owner offered to help me with everything I need to begin with in exchange for some part-time work at his place, and he even gave me the address of a good location,” I explain elatedly.

“And who is this guy?” Father’s expression hasn’t changed a bit after my revelation: he still looks alarmed.

“His name is Ernest Clancy, he has a second, third, and fourth hand shop.” Defining that clutter of objects is impossible.

“So he’s a total stranger,” Father insists, not at all reassured.

“No, Father. I talked to Grandma and she confirmed that he’s a very respectable person. She has dealt with him herself in the past on a couple of occasions, and she has no qualms about him. She says he’s a bit of an eccentric, but a good man aside from that.”

Wendell Bennett stands stock still, reflecting for a moment. He seems torn, and I can imagine the crazy fight going on in his head. On the one hand the fear of who knows what, a thing that every father takes into consideration wherever his daughter is concerned, on the other hand the reassurance of one of the two women in the world whom he trusts more than himself: his mother. Finally he seems to agree with the second, because he relaxes a bit and leans back against the couch.

“How much is the rent?” he asks after a moment’s silence.

“What do you mean ‘how much is the rent’? Wendell, you aren’t taking this thing seriously, are you?” This time my mother is alarmed, and she comes to sit in the easy chair in front of us.

“Why not?”

“Why not?! What is that supposed to mean? Honey, it’s a risky job with no guarantees. It’s… a leap in the dark. It’s no good, she needs something more solid, a job as an employee where she will be able to learn to navigate this world full of sharks,” she holds forth. Just as I thought. “Look at Lillian, Gil, she found a good job, and it’s even close by. The veterinary practice is already quite successful and she likes working with Zach. You should find something like that to begin with, learn the ropes, figure out how things work, how to handle being in the market.”

“Mother, I’m not trying to open a multinational corporation!” I try to make her see reason with a touch too much emphasis. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m good at making hats and I’m sure everything will go well. It’ll just take some time, like it must have taken Zach when he decided to open a veterinary practice here in Rochester.”

“It’s different, Gil, he has a university degree, he didn’t open a little shop,” my mother retorts. I knew she would be a hard nut to crack, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.

“What’s the difference?” I ask, feigning the patience I imagine would normally be necessary to keep this conversation reasonable.

“There’s a huge difference!” she exclaims, foiling any attempt on my part.

“Oh, come on, Judith,” Father breaks in. “If Gillian wants to make hats, I see no harm in it. There are people cut out to be doctors or secretaries, and those cut out to make hats. She’ll need all our support for it to work, and I intend to give her mine. If she was able to win the County Prize at last year’s fair with one of her hats, it means she’s better than other people at making them, right?”

“Well sure, honey, I never doubted Gil’s ability, but there’s quite a bit of difference between making nice hats and starting a business,” Mother insists.

“I realize it’s different, but I want to give it a try. Give me two years: if I can’t support myself within the next two years, I’ll find a job like Lillian’s,” I promise, looking at each of them in turn. I’ve already worked as a waitress for a couple of years, I’m perfectly capable of finding a job, but that’s not my dream.

“Two years?” my mother asks. I nod with conviction. Two years will be enough to see if I’m capable of supporting myself with my shop, at least that’s what I hope.

“Ok, Gil. We have some savings, I thought I’d use that money for you and your sister’s weddings, but I guess we’ll use it to help you open this shop. But remember: if in two years’ time we see things aren’t going well, you close it and come back home. I’m certain Wade will always need a waitress like you,” she concludes pragmatically.

About the book

A heartwarming romance perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella.

Gillian Bennett has always dreamed of opening a luxury hat shop, and when she finds the opportunity of a lifetime in the shape of a rent-free shop she thinks her dreams have come true.

Her parents are less than thrilled and she has two years to prove to them that this isn’t just a pipe dream, or she’ll be shipped back home and into an office job.

But she wasn’t counting on a distraction in the form of sexy but enigmatic Jared, a completely unreadable man that she soon finds herself falling for. Yet, Jared has a secret, and when she finds it out, it shakes Gil to her core.

With everything spiralling out of control around her, will Gil ever realise her dreams?

About the author

Angie Coleman was born in 1987 in Lanciano, Italy. She graduated from Organization and Social Relations at the University of Chieti. Winner of the 2016 Ilmioesordio prize.

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