A little glimpse

I’m so near the end of the editing of my next book ‘Lucky Portbraddon’; I am still checking through the text but I am now getting a cover ready, organizing the dedication, the copywrite notices, the links at the end… The end is in sight!

Here is a sneak preview – one of the Portbraddon cousins, seemingly cold and aloof, is struggling as much as all of them to come to terms with the death of his beloved grandmother. He is a dentist and tortured by worries about money and family problems; how phone rings and he expects it will be his fearsome wife Shane…

Two patients had cancelled. Frustrating and expensive and Antoine had a surge of rage, the familiar anxiety clutching his mind, and he brusquely told the receptionist he was going outside, he wanted some fresh air.

 It was an escape, in the tiny courtyard at the back of the practice he was unseen and his shoulders could slump and his impassive face crumple with sadness and despair. Grandma’s money, when he got it, would soon disappear; the house mortgaged, so many things bought on credit, and Shane had such plans, for the house, the practice, sending the boys to boarding school…

Her attitude to money was a secret; none of the family knew how much she spent, he had a reputation for penny-pinching, for being careful to the point of meanness… Well there was a reason; it wasn’t only the huge debt hanging over them for all the years of infertility treatment, it was everything else.

He leaned against the grey brick wall, head down. The back yard was neat and tidy, a couple of tiny green weeds were poking their first shoots through the cracks between the cobbles but they would soon be gone. He sometimes wondered if he was as obsessive as Carla, controlling his environment and surroundings made him feel that at least he had hold of something. One of the receptionists had suggested he put a bench out here, pots with flowers, troughs…. Worrying about the expense he’d told her he’d think about it.

His phone rang. Shane he guessed… his heart sank. What would the matter be now? What had he done wrong, forgotten or neglected to do? It was a number he didn’t recognize and answering it he heard a woman’s voice, familiar but he couldn’t for a moment place it.

”It’s me, Alison.”

He was astounded.

“Hi, Antoine, how are you?”

The sun was shining and was warm on his face and stumbling over his words he replied he was fine, and asked after her family. All were well and she asked in turn after Shane and the boys. Puzzled Antoine answered that they too were fine and there was a moment’s pause. Antoine filled the gap with news that Brandon was settled into college, and Colin was choosing his options. He spoke awkwardly, small talk was not his strong point. Ally commented that it would be a while before her girls had to worry about such things. Again the pause.

“Is everything really OK?” Antoine asked, thinking she’d phoned him by mistake. He hadn’t realised she had his number, he couldn’t think of a single other time when she’d rung him.

Yes, yes, she replied too quickly… Perhaps a bench would be nice out here, he’d noticed Lidl sold them last summer, they wouldn’t be too expensive…

“Look, Antoine,” he sensed her taking a deep breath. “Oh, it’s no good – look, I don’t suppose….”

This was becoming more mysterious. Ally never made any effort to hide the fact that she didn’t like either him or Shane very much; she was a different generation, nearly 20 years younger.

Copywrite © Lois Elsden

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