Radwinter 3…

I’m playing about with my story of the Radwinter family, trying different scenes, not quite knowing where I’m going with it, only the vaguest of route-maps! In this part, the youngest of the Radwinter brothers, Thomas has agreed to help his brother Paul and fiancée Ruthie find out more about the family tree and in this ‘scene’ Ruthie has sent Thomas to talk to a woman about the family. It is not revealed exactly what the connection is between this woman and the family, nor what Thomas is going to ask her… whatever it is doesn’t get asked and Thomas receives a dreadful shock!

My nose is so sore, my whole face aches; they said it isn’t broken but I can’t breathe because it’s so swollen and my teeth feel numb. I never got into fights at school but I did get hit occasionally because I was fat.

When he thumped me I felt a mixture of shock, pain embarrassment and indignation.

I’d knocked on the door, feeling, I admit, slightly nervous, but Ruthie had briefed me well so I thought I knew what I was going to say.

I’d rung up and arranged to come, checked I knew where the house was, just outside Little Oak, and parked in a little pull-in just past the front gates.

It was a wide gate, like a farm-gate with a metal fastening that looped over the gate post. The front garden was beautiful, neat and well-kept. There was a wide gravel drive leading to a double garage at the side with a bright red Cherokee Jeep parked in front of it.

The garden itself was laid out with stone chips of different colours and brick-paved paths between the beds. There were huge ceramic pots full of colourful flowers but I couldn’t say what they were, only that they made the garden look opulent and well-maintained.

The house was large and old and the windows were open through which I could hear music playing, Michael Bublé or some such easy listening girlie music.

I rang the bell, then rang again. I couldn’t hear anything so maybe it was broken so I rapped on the door with my knuckles several times. Apart from the music there was no sound from within, and if the Jeep hadn’t been parked there with its pink pom-poms dangling from the mirror, and if the windows hadn’t been open I would have left.

It was a lovely day and I felt rather hot in my suit and I wondered whether to take my jacket off.

Perhaps she was in the garden, perhaps sitting on a patio with a cool drink. There was a path which led along the front of the house, past the open windows. I knocked one more time, waited a few moments then followed the path round the side of the house.

I had guessed right; there was a patio with elegant wrought iron table and chairs. Beyond it was an area of decking with a couple of loungers and on one of the loungers was a woman. She lay there with sunglasses on and absolutely nothing else. She was stark naked.

I must have stood there for several seconds, no doubt with my mouth dropped open, gawping as Rachel would say. I couldn’t help but stare, it was such a surprise and she was… well, she was gorgeous. She was tanned all over, blond, but slim and shapely.

I felt sweat on my forehead under my fringe prickling along my eyebrows. She made no sign she saw me, her eyes hidden behind her shades.

I spun round to hurry away and bumped straight into a huge angry man.

“You dirty bastard!” and without giving me a moment to explain he punched me straight in the face. I reeled back and staggered against the wall, my hands over my nose, blood already trickling between my fingers. I don’t know what I said, muted indignation, protests of innocence in the face of this man’s bellowing outrage. I fleetingly thought of trying to explain or retaliate but he was so big and so angry.

He grabbed me by the shoulders and I thought he was going to head-butt me and I somehow managed to pull back and tear myself out of his grasp to stumble back round to the front of the house, expecting a kick or a shove at any second.

I got the gate between us and stood for a moment panting. He hadn’t pursued me but stood on the front doorstep, hands on his hips, glaring at. I contemplated calling out something, that I’d call the police, that I was sorry, that I’d made an arrangement…

He threw back his head and roared with laughter, and embarrassed now and in pain I got back in my car, wiped my bloody hands on my trousers and drove away.

One thought was in my mind. The woman had turned her head and silently and expressionlessly had watched the man and me.

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