Excerpt from 'A Year of New Adventures'

Outside was a dark-haired man standing propped against the wall. He had one leg in a big plastic surgical boot and behind him an exceptionally glamorous blonde was wheeling his suitcase towards me. She was making heavy weather of it too given the unequal struggle with her stilettos and the cobbled street.

‘It’s raining. I want to come in,’ he said. ‘Is that too much to ask?’

He limped past me, and stood watching as the blonde lugged his case over the doorstep. What a gent, I thought as I went to help her.

‘Who are you anyway?’ I said as we hefted the bag inside and closed the door.

The blonde gasped, horrified. ‘But this is Mr Forest.’

The man himself ignored me and began giving rapid-fire instructions to the poor woman.

‘So, make those calls, do as I asked with Gideon, tell him I’m not prepared to talk to Patterson and he’d better sort it or I won’t go at all. Tell Jake I’ve got no bloody mobile signal so let’s hope the broadband speed is reasonable.’

He looked at me, one eyebrow raised.

‘Well is it or isn’t it?’

I gulped and started to panic. ‘I did explain in the information we sent out …’

He rolled his eyes in exasperation. ‘Did you? Fascinating. Look, can I talk to William Summers? I understand he is the organizer here.’

This happened all the time; thanks Mum for giving me a weird name.

‘I’m Billie Summers,’ I said, ‘and I’m the organizer. Well I’m one of them, you see …’

Organizer? I should have been struck by lightning.

Oliver gave me a look that clearly showed he didn’t believe me and turned back to his hapless assistant.

‘Pippa, put my case in my room. It’s over there behind the kitchen. I checked on the floor plan. And then put my phone on charge. It might be useless but … well.’

He limped after Pippa as she rolled the case across the flagstone floor and into the downstairs bedroom, which already had “Elaine” printed on a picture from Swallows and Amazons that Helena had taped to the door.

‘Um, sorry this isn’t your room,’ I said scurrying after him.

He pulled Elaine’s name card off the door, looked at it, and then handed it to me.

‘It is now,’ he said and went in, closing the door behind him.

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A Year of New Adventures