Chapter Nine

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Cassidy didn't remember the walk home. The last hazy recollection she could make was of her stumbling out into the street with Jed. After that, it was something of a blur. She knew that she'd made it back before morning because she was in her own bed when her mother began slamming doors in the cottage a little after dawn, doing her utmost to wake her irresponsible daughter as punishment for the late night. With each bang or clatter came a resounding thud in her brain. The nausea churned in the pit of her stomach, and Cassidy threw herself out of the bed and made the dash across the hall to the bathroom.

When she did see fit to make it downstairs, Meghan had already departed for her day. She wasn't one to sit around just to admonish her grown-up child when there was work to be done, and the bakery had to come first. Instead, Cassidy found an expletive laden note on the coffee table which made her wince to read. One line in particular gave her cause for worry;

-and now, I expect, Oliver will send us the bill for laundering the t-shirt you ruined-

Cassidy dropped onto the edge of the sofa and felt the cushions deflate under her weight. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't remember seeing Oliver in the pub. He hadn't bought her a drink, approached her table, or bade her goodnight when she left. It wasn't that she'd expected him to treat her in a friendly manner given all that had passed between them, but he'd have certainly been in Finn's company, and neither man had thought to so much as acknowledge her. To spare herself further confusion, Cassidy surmised that her mother must be mistaken about the identity of whoever had brought her back to the house, and that it was probably Jed who'd carried her half-dead carcass home.

No, that was giving him too much credit.

Jed never would have made the trek up the hill without getting something in return, and there was absolutely no chance Meghan would have let that reprobate into her house. Cassidy could only conclude, then, that her saviour was a mystery, and hoped that she wouldn't see a cleaning bill from this man for whatever articles of clothing her vomit might have ruined. Yes, she could guess from the tone of the note that it was vomit. It was just unladylike enough to suit her.

Rags jumped onto the sofa beside her and gave a rumbling, irritable meow. Cassidy reached out to pet her head idly, her own still thumping thanks to the powerful hangover, and crumpled the note into a ball. If she was ever going to make it up to her mother, she'd have to really grovel, which probably meant cooking her a decent dinner instead of just bringing her something from the café.

Shit.

Cassidy had a shift at the café, and she was wasting time sitting down and petting their idiot cat. The woman staggered bag up the stairs and pulled on a pair of jeans and the cleanest t-shirt she could find before she clambered back down into the living room, narrowly avoiding knocking herself out on one of the low beams. Perched on the sofa arm, Cassidy forced her feet into her trainers, picking at the laces with her fingernails to loosen them up enough to get them to sit properly, uttering a string of curse words beneath her breath as the precious seconds ticked away.

When she opened the front door, she was met with a gust of wind which knocked her back a few steps. Summers in England were unpredictable things; a week of scorching weather could soon be chased away by a few days of rain and humidity, all culminating in an impressive storm before the cycle began all over again. From what she could tell, the ground was dry, and the rain wouldn't appear until later in the day if, indeed, it appeared at all. It was just a breeze – violent, yes – but nothing she couldn't handle. She didn't quite have the heart to turn the poor cat out in such weather, though, and Cassidy was struck with harrowing images of the animal being blown right off the edge of the cliff. Rags wasn't often left indoors to her own devices thanks to her habit of shredding anything made of fabric, but there was a litter tray in the bathroom and food in the kitchen, and Cassidy thought her mother would understand her decision.

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