Everything goes Honey’s way until she’s left at the altar on her wedding day. Unable to face the wreck of her hopes, she flees alone to the honeymoon cottage. The beautiful rustic cottage is balm to her disappointment, and so is the man who lets her in and feeds her a ravishing supper. But who is Hob Cottman really? Why does he call her his love? What’s with the cycling colours she sees on his skin? Warmed and enchanted, Honey puts all the questions aside, but one day the honeymoon is over. Can Honey and her harvest hob find their happy ever after?
Honeycomb Bakewell blamed her mother’s sense of humour for her peculiar name.
Skye McFee just had to marry a man named Simon Bakewell. Then she just had to name her daughter Honeycomb.
“Why?” Honey asked when she first realised people found her name odd and amusing.
“You smell of honey, darling. We noticed as soon as you were born,” Skye replied.
“So what? You smell like line-dried washing. No one named you Line.”
My little honeycomb fairy was what Simon called her. A small man with bright eyes the same colour as Honeycomb’s, he worked part-time as a New Age healer at a local clinic.
As a name, Honeycomb Bakewell was clunky at best. At worst, it had an absurd ring to it that attracted the high school bullies like wasps to a picnic. They proved their erudition in Social History by calling her Tooth, from small toothed comb. They showed Food Science lessons were not wasted by calling her Tart, from Bakewell tart. They wondered aloud if she sucked. Sucked? Sucked. They extrapolated it from honeysuckle, naturally. Botany was to blame. Not to mention drama. Her role of Ariel in a school production of The Tempest attracted Bee-Sucks-I. The rude possibilities of that were rich indeed.
None of the crass creativity lasted more than a day, because Honey shut it down. She had a cool stare that mesmerised the susceptible, who then found themselves doing what Honey thought they ought to do. That didn’t include making lame jokes about her name. When she pointed her finger at the culprits, they found something else to do and did it somewhere else. Nevertheless, when she started at a secondary college, she left Honeycomb Bakewell behind and ensured she was plain Honey in the college register. That was not the college policy, but Honey looked at the registrar. After one tiny twitch of her finger in his direction, he was so upset he needed a little lie-down.
The surname was less challenging when paired with the simpler forename, and she foresaw an untroubled future. How could she fail when she gripped the tiller of life and steered her voyage the way she wanted, carrying other people along in her wake?
“Don’t be foolish,” she advised the boy who invited her to what passed for a prom at the end of her second year.
“Don’t be foolish. Are you deaf?”
“No. I heard what you said. I just want to know why you said it.”
Honey tried a different tack. “Think about it. Why would you think I’d go to the dance with you?” She was merely curious and didn’t mean to sound scornful, but the boy’s face mottled and reddened.
“You’re not going with anyone else,” he blurted.
“How do you know I’m not?”
“Who’d dare ask you? All the dudes are shit-scared of you.”
“So why did you ask? Aren’t you shit-scared of me?”
“Yes, but you’re like a fairy queen. I like being around you.”
She eyed him from under drawn brows, then said, “I wouldn’t, if I were you.”
“I like your eyes. They’re the same colour as dark honey. Your hair crinkles. You smell so good, even after PT, when everyone else is sweaty.”
“Mmm,” he said, sniffing. “Like a bees’ nest. You’re gorgeous.”
“Look,” Honey said, in a softer voice. “You know Mab O’Mara, right?”
“And you know Asha Levi, right?”
“Sure. What about them?”
“I’m going to the dance with Asha.”
Understanding dawned in his eyes. “Oh. Okay.” He nodded as if that explained a lot. “I still like you, though.” Then he frowned. “Are you going with Mab too?”
“No, Mab’s not gay, just gorgeous. I think you ought to go with Mab. She was going with Justin, but they’ve broken up. She has a dress my mother made for her, so I think she’d go with you rather than let it go to waste.” And, she thought, but didn’t add, you’re a nice entry-level person to take her. “Just go and ask her nicely the way you asked me.”
“You said no.”
Honey grinned at him. “I did, didn’t I? But you did it beautifully.” She pointed her finger. “You ask Mab. She’ll say yes, and you’ll have the best time, ever.”
The boy went off and invited Mab to the dance. Asha, who had no current girlfriend, was happy to go as Honey’s date, and a delightful time was had by all four. Honey and Asha even danced with the boy, lifting his consequence for the short remainder of the college year. Rumour had it he’d taken three girls to the prom, and all of them were gorgeous, not least because Skye Bakewell had made their dresses. Skye had an eye for style and colour, and she was never wrong.
In later years, Mab, Asha and the boy found that memory magical, but, as Mab put it, Honey had a knack for organising herself and other people. What she organised, no one put asunder. It was the Honey Effect.
At eighteen, Honey emancipated herself in fact as well as in law. She decided not to bother changing her surname at present. It was enough to know she could. She gained a job as a communications officer at a residential performing arts college and moved into the flat that went with the job. She managed social media campaigns with tart wit and a merciless attention to detail, and sold tickets for student productions and exhibitions to people who had never intended to buy one. It was the Honey Effect.
For amusement, she ran her own blog, Honey Mooned, from the flat at night.