Another few jottings of my new novel about the Radwinter family; I’m still not quite sure where I’m going with it but I have a few ideas and a broadish outline. No doubt it will all arrive as I write, no doubt surprising me as much as my readers, I hope!
There were flakes of snow curling in the air and it was quite bitterly cold with a thin north-easterly wind.
I rang Paul’s doorbell, suddenly feeling nervous. I was going to meet his new fiancée, his unexpected fiancée. Paul had invited Rachel and me but as usual with anything like this, Rachel couldn’t come. I was so annoyed that I barely listened to whatever excuse she gave, whichever reason she trotted out as if I should already have known about it.
Paul’s front door was flanked by two stained glass windows which always cast a jolly glow into the night, and tonight, as I stood there cold, nervous and annoyed, they seemed particularly jolly. His son, my nephew Will opened the door and grinned up at me. He’s a nice lad, actually all Paul’s children are nice, I like all of them. Will, like me is the youngest, but unlike me he gets on well with his brother and two sisters.
“Hi, Pete! Come in!” he exclaimed. He’s only twelve but so grown up, not babyish at all as I was at that age. He took my coat and hung it up then took his own jacket down and told me he was going to his mate’s then to Scouts. He pointed me through to the kitchen and told me ‘they’ were in there.
With another grin he was out of the door and I was alone in Paul’s large hall. I was suddenly overcome with nerves; ridiculous… but the feeling of panic made me wheeze and I had to take out my inhaler. People who know me don’t realise I struggle with nerves, they just think I’m rude and abrupt.
I overheard two women at work talking about me, saying I lacked interpersonal skills. I blushed with horror and embarrassment that I should be talked about like that and whenever I had to speak to them again I blushed in horror and embarrassment all over again.
“Pete! What the hell are you doing lurking here? Come on through and meet Ruthie!”
Paul, looking sleek and handsome gave me a hug as I stuttered something, feeling caught out, and he took me through to the kitchen. A woman was sitting at the table but stood to greet me and to my surprise she kissed me as Paul introduced me as his baby brother.
“Congratulations on your engagement,” I said.
She wasn’t at all what I expected. Paul had had many girlfriends since Annette, but they’d all been younger than him and quite glamorous. Rachel had hated all of them.
Ruthie was quite small, maybe only just over five foot tall. She was not the least plump, but she was sturdy and looked as if she liked sport or went running or something. She looked toned but at the same time she was shapely with a generous chest…
“Thank you peter, I’m pleased to meet you! I’ve only got sisters so it will be good to have some brothers-in-law!” She had a wide pale face, striking very dark blue eyes and straight, very black brows. Her hair was dark but there was a grey streak over her ear.
“You’ll have three of us then,” I replied feebly. Paul thrust a glass of wine into my hand, something purply-red.
“Paul said you’re a lawyer?” Ruthie sat again by a laptop on the table.
Writing this down it sounds as if she was interviewing me, but she had a low friendly voice and I sat down and told her about my dull life as a solicitor.
“Pete is the brain of the family,” Paul said unexpectedly. He’d never ever said anything like this to me before and I stared at him. “If only he had more confidence he could go right to the top.”
I was stunned and must have turned bright red. I sniffed the wine and took a long swig; it was like drinking liquid velvet.
“Nice wine, Paul,” I said and he and Ruthie laughed but not unkindly.
“I’ve become confused with your brothers and cousins, tell me, are you married, have you a family?” Ruthie asked. I thought afterwards that she probably did know all about me but was trying to be friendly.
She was so nice, I really was at my ease with her and we managed to chat, the three of us, in a way that later I couldn’t recall having done before with Paul, or Annette, or any of his girlfriends.
I even managed to ask about her family; maybe it was the wine, but when Paul rang for a taxi for me saying it was ridiculous to go for a bus so late and in this weather, I gave in. As I left with hugs from both of them, I couldn’t help but think what an enjoyable evening I’d had.