Another part of my story of the Radwinter family; it is such an early stage I can’t even call it a first draft. The main character (so far) Peter Radwinter, has had his name changed to Thomas… no particular reason, I just think the image I have of him suits a Thomas better than a Peter:
I was surprised to get an email from Ruthie, I nearly deleted it because it didn’t connect at first, ruthZEwarren@hotmail.com. The subject line said ‘Family Tree’ which made me think it was some genealogical site spam.
Just as I was about to press ‘junk’ I spotted the first couple of lines. “Hi Thomas, great to meet you at last the other night at Paul’s.” it pleased me because I’m not used to saying it’s been great to meet me, let alone to add ‘at last’ as if they’d been wanting to for a while.
“What are you grinning at,” Rachel asked.
“Paul’s fiancée’s emailed me.”
She frowned suspiciously.
“She’s very nice,” I said. “You should have come to meet her.
“How old is she?” Rachel’s frown deepened.
I had no idea, about Paul’s age I would guess. I turned back to my laptop.
“Paul’s told me so much about you,” he has? “So it was good you could come over, sorry your wife was unwell, hope she’s better now and hope to meet her soon.”
Rachel distracted me by asking what Ruthie’s name was, what she looked like and why was she emailing me.
This is the strange thing about Rachel; I get the feeling that our marriage is drifting, we don’t seem to get on with each other at all, she criticises me and puts me down and yet she gets jealous of the slightest little thing.
I couldn’t tell her much about Ruthie; we’d had a nice evening and Paul’s kids had drifted in and out, Henry and Liam, Alfie’s at Uni in Nottingham, and Will had come back from Scouts. I tried to catch up with Paul’s news, I don’t see him that often and I didn’t exactly sit and interrogate Ruthie, the conversation just sort of swirled about all sorts of things as we enjoyed Paul’s wine.
“Um, well, she works in admin at strand tech but I’m not sure what she does…” Rachel wasn’t satisfied with that. “Um, she’s got dark hair with some grey in it… she’s quite short and not slim…”
This inadvertently cheered Rachel and unfortunately made Ruthie sound different from how she really was. Rachel made us coffee and left me, going to chat with her friends on Facebook and play some sort of game involving ‘buying’ furnishings for an imaginary property she ‘inhabited’.
I went back to the email. “You’re probably wondering why I’ve got in touch with you,” well, yes, I am actually. “Paul suggested that you might be the one who could help us,” really? I mean really? This was becoming more and more strange… as a solicitor I do help people but only in an ordinary everyday way. None of my brothers or cousins have ever asked for or needed my help. I came back from these distracting thoughts and focussed on properly reading the rest of Ruthie’s message.
“Paul really wants to find out more about the family tree – has he told you this? I’m guessing he hasn’t, but anyway, he wants to find out about the Radwinters. He tried Googling it but just gets the village in Suffolk. Then he went on a few genealogy sites but didn’t make any progress.
“Anyway, Thomas, he only recently told me this and I was quite excited because one of my hobbies is doing my family tree. So anyway, I started poking about a bit on a few sites I’m a member of and came up with some stuff, but really Paul isn’t interested in chatting about it, he just wants the cut and dried answers. He sort of glazes over when I witter on and just asks if I want another glass of wine.
Anyway, he suggested you might be interested, he said you’re the cleverest in the family and you’ve got a memory like an elephant which is what you need when you’re doing something like this. I said I wasn’t sure you would be – it’s the sort of thing that isn’t particularly interesting until you’re over fifty, so I won’t be at all offended if you don’t want to be bothered.
But if you do want to be bothered, email me or phone me and I can tell you where I’m up to.
This was a real surprise for many reasons. I clicked onto the next email, a boring one from work and read it through.
“So what did she want?” Rachel broke into my thoughts.
“She’s helping Paul with the family tree and wanted me to help him.”
Rachel looked as puzzled as I felt. “I didn’t know you were interested in the family tree?” I shrugged, I wasn’t. “Maybe it’s to do with some legal thing, that’s probably it. Typical Paul, he probably wants to find out if he’s heir to some unclaimed fortune.”
I shrugged again. It didn’t seem typical of Paul at all… but I was intrigued… and I’d liked Ruthie… I emailed back to say I’d help her if I could.