Here’s the next part of “Leefdale” by Michael Murray. I’m following a well established nineteenth century tradition and publishing some of the novel in weekly instalments.
You can find the links to previous instalments on this page.
So, if you like the Dickensian idea of reading your novels in weekly instalments,
read on …..
Sharon couldn’t believe it, she was actually telling him about the little shit who’d touched her up at Killingholme Grange. And the racehorse owner. She’d never told anyone about that.
He wasn’t saying anything, just listening. She hoped he wasn’t too shocked. His understanding blue eyes and concerned expression were ineffably extracting her intimate secrets. She told herself to be careful.
Finally, he said, ‘It’s obviously affected you. Perhaps you should get some counselling.’
‘I don’t believe in all that stuff.’
They were passing through Leefdale’s main street on their way back to Luffield. On impulse, as they reached the village pond, she indicated right and turned into a side road. The car travelled a short distance and then she parked opposite a terrace of three whitewashed Victorian cottages.
‘The middle cottage is mine,’ said Sharon. ‘I thought you might like to see it.’
They stared at it together.
‘Honeysuckle Cottage,’ said Dylan. ‘Lovely name.’
‘Yes. But as you can see, no honeysuckle.’
‘Even so, it’s charming. Have you lived there long?’
‘All my life.’
She seemed compelled to keep staring at it. He could tell that just the sight of it gave her pleasure.
‘It was my parents’ house. They’re dead now.’
‘I’m sorry. They must have died quite young.’
‘Yes. They were in their late forties. They were killed in a car crash while they were touring Scotland.’
‘That’s awful. How old were you?’
‘Seventeen. I thought my world had ended.’
They both stared at the cottage in silence.
Dylan said, ‘What does your partner do?’
She turned to him, slowly. ‘I don’t have a partner.’
‘I’m sorry. I got the impression you did.’
‘No. I said I didn’t live alone.’
She gazed back at her house. ‘I love it here,’ she said.
She started the car, executed a three-point turn and returned to the main road leading out of the village.
Now why did she show me that? Dylan wondered.
Sharon and Dylan parted outside Parker and Lund’s. He took her hand and shook it slowly, holding on to it just beyond the point when it should have been released, so that the formality was protracted into something more intimate. ‘Well, goodbye. Thanks for showing me around.’
‘I can hardly claim to have done that!’ she said, quickly extricating her hand from his. ‘Look, if you’d like someone else to view the rectory I’d be glad to show it to them.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Your wife or partner?’
‘No. Not necessary. I don’t have one of those.’
‘Oh!’ She looked confused.
‘Well, earlier, you said “we”.’
He laughed. ‘I was thinking of my friends. They’re very interested in my next house purchase.’
‘I see.’ She gave him her closing-the-transaction smile. ‘OK. I look forward to receiving your offer.’
‘Right,’ he said. ‘What about my other offer?’
She stared at him blankly.
‘To paint you. Fully clothed, of course.’
She smiled, shook her head and took a step or two back.
Laughing, Dylan pulled on his black leather gloves and mounted the Ariel Red Hunter. He started it up, gave her a wave, and accelerated off.
Well, that gets you to the end of Chapter Two.
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