Book no. 3 in the ‘In Love with Love’ series …
The Restaurant is not just about the owners, Hilary and Ben, but as ‘The Restaurant @ The Mill’ thrives and comes alive with the conversations and emotions of people unconnected in their day-to-day lives, another five stories unfold. Only one thing is certain, life is an eternal struggle and that is the common thread, which ties us all together. Life, love, sadness and happiness…
THE FLOUR MILL
The Restaurant @ The Mill; the owners, the staff and the customers – each of the six individual stories reflect a different set of life and love problems. One thing ties them together, they all frequent the Mill.
Is happiness guaranteed? Not necessarily, but when love fails it simply means it’s time to move on. Can young love survive when two people have been parted for most of their lives? Can a wealthy, but lonely man ever find the peace and true love he seeks? Will old wounds ever heal and can people learn to love again?
And then there is the spirit of a young woman name Sarah, who wanders the Mill looking for her beloved husband, will she ever be able to rest? The Restaurant sees it all.
The Flour Mill
The first time I walked around the flour mill at Huntingbridge in Gloucestershire turned out to be a life-changing moment. Reminiscent of the first time I met my business partner, Ben Adams. The initial thought that struck me on both occasions was ‘Great, not perfect, but I can work with this.’ It was enough to clinch the deal for me.
You see, I thought I had a “perfect” life once, but it was a very long time ago. I married Josh, the man of my dreams, only to find out one failed marriage and a broken heart later, that everything could change in an instant. What you saw depended upon where you were standing when you admired it. If you were on the outside looking in on someone else’s life, it was only natural to form an opinion based on the façade you saw. What I eventually discovered was that even when you were on the inside looking out, it was easy to be fooled into thinking everything was fine. On that fateful day many years ago, what I hadn’t appreciated was that what we had was in fact a love triangle and knowing that would have given me a whole new perspective.
Everyone around us believed Josh and I had an enviable life, because we looked like the perfect couple. For two years and four months I thought so too. Then I found out Josh was cheating on me, and had been for quite a while before I eventually discovered the truth. The other woman, who had also fallen under the irresistible spell of my attentive husband, obviously had a completely different viewpoint from where she was standing. What was so poignantly sad and particularly cruel was that even after their affair I continued to remain oblivious to the fact that my life was a sham. Josh continued to be the kindest, most thoughtful, and loving man that I had fallen in love with—and that, above all else, hurt the most. How could he deceive with such blatant disregard to anyone else’s feelings? Had he ever really loved me? Or did he only love himself?
When I first met Josh I opened my heart to him in a way that left me unprepared for what was to come. When the truth surfaced, I was devastated. My heart was broken into so many little pieces I couldn’t understand how I could still be alive, as if the damage couldn’t be purely emotional. However, I learned that the heart was simply a muscle—it continued to beat and function if it was physiologically healthy. My heart was broken, but it continued to beat as if nothing had happened. I knew that once I picked myself up off the floor and glued the pieces back together, the scars would always be there no matter what I did. His betrayal had changed a little part of me forever. I had lost the innocence and naivety that accompanies one’s first love, and with it went the ability to unconditionally trust any man with my heart, ever again.
Sad to say, by the time I had hit twenty-five I found myself divorced and seriously off men for good. I turned to my career as a lifeline to give me purpose and re-energise me. I decided to go back to college to get a degree in Restaurant Management. I did every job imaginable; from sweeping floors and washing up to waiting tables, until eventually I was in charge of organising wedding buffets and grand dinners. Being free and single allowed me to move around the country, to chase the opportunities I needed to gain experience and grow. My mother once asked me if I was running away. At the time I simply shrugged my shoulders and said “maybe”, but I wasn’t sure if that was really true. If it was, what exactly was I running away from? Love? Life? Myself?