After stopping off several times due to Jade's inability to hold her bladder for more than half an hour, we finally pulled into the little coastal town we were due to spend the next seven weeks in. It was lively, picturesque and warm. Perfect so far.
'Get your feet off the dashboard,' Stewart chastised me for the fifth time.
'Chill man, we're on holiday.' I observed a group of girls that passed, clad in shorts and strappy tops through my sunglasses. 'I think I'm gonna like it here.'
'Stop being such a pervert, do you have any idea of how much a creeper you look right now? Why do guys think we can't see them looking at us just cos they have sunglasses on?'
'Jade come on, let me have my fun.'
She tutted but I could see she was smiling. We were all in too much of a good mood to take anything seriously. The sun was shining and I could smell the tantalizing scents of candyfloss and a barbeque in the air that made my mouth water. All around us there was animated chatter, children laughing, the distant sounds of a fairground. It was welcoming without being too tacky.
'How long until your aunt's house?' Jade piped up from the back seat.
'Urm, about five minutes from here.'
'Is she rich?' I ask.
'Charlie, what kind of a question is that? I don't know. She worked hard in her life so I guess she's benefiting from it now.'
'That's a yes then. Is her house nice?'
Stewart smiled. 'It's really nice. Has a balcony overlooking the seafront.'
'It was nice of her to let us stay there for the summer. Wish my aunt would do cool stuff like that,' Jade huffed. 'Mine's such a prude. She's all prim and proper and would never dream of having a house by the beach.'
'I'm gonna make this conversation super awkward and say at least your aunts are still alive.'
'Charlie,' Stewart muttered. 'Thanks.'
I grinned. 'Hey I'm allowed to say that, I barely knew her.'
A few minutes later we pulled into the driveway of a neat little house set on the edge of the beach. It was decorated with flowers twining along the brick wall and a little white picket fence. The grass was a healthy green shade and was home to many other bright flowers.
'I feel like I've just stepped into an Enid Blyton novel,' Jade gushed.
I inhaled the air. 'Ahh, can't beat the smell of freshly cut grass.'
I gave Jade a hand with her bags as we made our way up the cobbled pathway to the side entrance of the house. I caught a glimpse of the back garden and saw smoke billowing up from a large stone barbeque, possibly the same one I could smell earlier. A few people were sat in deck chairs sipping from plastic cups.
We followed Stewart straight into the home and could instantly see just how his Aunt was benefiting from her work. The hallway was decorated with black and white tiled flooring and a huge glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Expensive looking candelabrums stood on a huge oak table to the right of us whilst a carpeted stairway spiraled to the first floor to the left of us.
I whistled appreciatively. Jade just stood there, mouth open, still taking it all in.
Stewart came back into the hallway, his arm round a woman who was smiling with such warmth and ease I instantly felt at home. She was pretty, perhaps in her mid-fifties with silver hair and the same brown eyes as Stewart. She was wearing a light blue blouse and a floral skirt that came to her ankles. Shortly after her appearance, we were hit with a sweet scent of her presumably expensive perfume.
'Welcome dears,' she took turns to hug us each. 'I hope the journey wasn't too rough.'
'Oh no, it was fine,' I took the opportunity to speak as Jade still remained incapable of saying anything coherent. 'Thank you for your hospitality.'
I saw Stewart raise an eyebrow at my choice of words.
His Aunt seemed to really look at me and I felt the first waver of doubt in my stomach. I couldn't live with her for seven weeks if she didn't like me. She seemed to appreciate my arguably unique style though and smiled once more.
'I love your hair, Charlie is it? It's certainly very different.'
'Thanks,' I grinned easily.
'Doesn't your head get cold though?' she joked, referring to the side I had shaved.
'I stick a hat on in the winter. It's all good.'
'Jolly good.' She turned to Jade. 'Hello dear, you've been awfully quiet, I hope I'm not intimidating!'
'No! Sorry. Didn't mean to be rude. I'm just taking in your home. It's a beautiful place.'
'Oh thank you sweetheart, that's very nice of you.' She turned to Stewart. 'Your friends are welcome back anytime. Why can't you be this charming?'
'Great guys, you've been here all of three minutes and you're already making my aunt want a different niece and nephew.'