Jay, a woman with a new identity is now living in the seaside village of Oxhope. It hasn’t yet been revealed why she’s there, or what happened in her past that has meant she had to start a new life, but she’s beginning to settle into it. She’s begun to make friends, including two women similar in age to her, called Emma and Gemma. Jay and Emma unexpectedly and very shockingly find the body of a murdered woman, and are intensively questioned by the police. Jay didn’t know, Kari, the poor victim, but had seen her at a music festival at the local pub where she had seemed very interested in a local band, Off With Her Head. Several weeks later Jay is in the local pub when her neighbour joins her as she’s having lunch. The woman is only being friendly, but Jay is ever-suspicious, ever wary:
“All on your own?”
Jay jumped and automatically closed her phone. It was Gilly.
“Can I join you?” and Gilly slipped into the seat Louis had just left. “Did you not enjoy the burger, or was it just too big?” she indicated the remains of Louis’s lunch.
“It wasn’t mine, I had the soup, it was very good,” Jay buttoned down her irritation, Gilly was only being friendly. “I’m glad I’ve seen you, Gilly, I was going to ask about the Big Village Street Party I’ve seen advertised.” She wasn’t the least interested in this annual event she’d seen posters about. It was the first thing which had jumped into her head.
“I’ll just order some lunch, then I’ll tell you all about it,” Gilly said, picking up the menu. Jay wondered how quickly she could make an excuse and leave… She mentally sighed, she would probably have to stay and chat to Gilly and just hope the conversation didn’t swing round to events she didn’t even want to think about. At least the beer was good…
Gilly was a perfectly nice person, for some reason Jay had just become suspicious of her friendly neighbourliness – maybe Gilly was lonely too.
“I’ve been impressed with the lunches here,” Jay said, making an effort. “Working at home is great in many ways, but it’s nice to take a break and get away from ‘the office’!”
Gilly decided on a steak sandwich and that she’d treat herself to chips, went to the bar to order and came back with a fruit juice.
“I hope you don’t think I’m being nosy,” she said as she sat down, and Jay’s heart sank again. “But how do you cope with being on your own – I know there are advantages, but actually I struggle, I really struggle.” She looked at the beer mat and sipped her drink.
Jay felt awkward and guilty and was about to reply –
But she would have replied as the person she was before, the woman of her previous life, open, sympathetic, friendly, wanting to help and engage
She took a deep breath, reset, and murmured an ‘oh dear, poor you.’
“It’s lovely living here, it really is, being able to make my own decisions and choices, I’ve joined the local book club, and I go to a couple of the activities in the village hall – yoga and flower arranging – I don’t suppose you’re interested Jay, are you?”
“I’m afraid not, maybe in the future,” but Jay would never be interested in yoga and or flower arranging. A book club maybe…
“The book club are a very friendly bunch, Jay, but I feel a little bit of an outsider, they all know each other so well. If you think you might like it we could go together,” Gilly was hopeful.
At that moment the steak sandwich arrived and Gilly applied herself to it. Jay shouldn’t be so suspicious, the woman was only innocently being friendly as anyone might. On the other hand, Jay would always be suspicious.
“It was terrible about the woman who was murdered, wasn’t it, so close to us as well,” Gilly said.
“Shocking, absolutely shocking – can i get you another drink?” and Jay went to the bar. She stood waiting to be served, and her hand was shaking so much she could hardly get her bank card out.