Here is an excerpt from my next Radwinter book, Winterdyke; Thomas Radwinter has been commissioned to extensively research and do a full genealogical history of the family of a reclusive millionaire… He is invited to stay for a fortnight at the family home, Athelmond Grange, a strange commission, he begins to realise. It is November, and a freak weather event traps him, the family and staff in the mansion as snow covers the area and everything freezes. . Frustrated by this commission which has secret elements to it, Thomas goes outside for a walk to clear his head:
I was just about blinded by snow but I stomped along, Tibetan hat pulled down, scarf round my face, hands jammed in pockets. Damn them, damn the Robespierres, and damn me for being weak… I’m not usually, despite appearances, and I can be as stubborn as anything, but somehow I’d just bleated a feeble assent to the commision and acquiesced in the face of the mighty bonus which was waved before my eyes.
Damned man, damned them… Now I had the old man wanting me to find who was responsible for the accidental death of his great aunt, Henry wanting me to find out if anyone was responsible for Ellis’s death – and probably more about Ellis as well, and now Charles wanting me to find out if there was any truth in the family legend that one of their ancestors had found a crock of gold… presumably some sort of hoard… Damned Charles – I was seriously out of my depth – finding hidden treasure? Really? No! I padded about among family trees, I wasn’t Indian Jones for heaven’s sake!
Henry hadn’t suggested any financial reward, but Charles jolly well had! It wasn’t the money, really it wasn’t, it was me being taken unawares by the proposition and then being intrigued by it, and me thinking I was onto that idea anyway… He’d summoned me to his office and talked to me in a condescending way as if I was some minion below him. Bloody man! Bloody family!
And damn, damn, damn!!!
It was an absolute blizzard but I couldn’t bear to be inside and my head felt as dull and fuzzy as a dull fuzzy thing, so I stamped around, furious and missing my family.
I’m not sure how it happened, I obviously wasn’t concentrating and pretty much blind in the whirling snow, and I do sometimes have a left/right thing when I take the wrong turn, but somehow I realised that it was a long time since I’d gone round a corner and stopped, panting somewhat, and looked round to realise there was no sign of the house.
Bugger! Where the fuck was I? I turned round, peering into the blizzard. The wind had come up and was driving the snow before it, but which direction it was coming from I had no idea… this could be dangerous, this could be very dangerous… I’d been so cross I’d stomped on, bound up in my thoughts, and judging by the build-up of snow on the front of my jacket, I’d been stomping for some time.
I have a compass on my phone; wherever I was, the coast must be to the north, and the house must be between me and the coast, so if I headed north then at some point I should find some sign, a fence, a wall, with any luck the traces of the footpath, and ultimately the house.
I looked at the compass, turned round and keeping it firmly in my hand I headed north. When I’d arrived in my unknown stopping place, I’d come without any ups or down; now I had garden walls, lumps and bumps, shrubs covered in snow. I stumbled on; if I didn’t find where I was soon I would have to ring the house and have someone come out to find me.
I had my head down, just following the quivering needle on the compass which is why I nearly brained myself walking into the low bough of a tree, I sprawled full length in a cushion of snow and just lay for a moment. I was tired now, too many days sitting on my bum crouched over a computer, and too many five course meals…
It was quite comfy lying on the ground, but probably not a good idea so I clambered to my feet…
here is a link to the other Radwinter books which you might like to read before this next one is published!