Greetings.

Just letting you all know that I am days away from launching my first novel, In Strange Company, on Amazon Kindle. So excited to say the least. I’m sure many of you have either dreamed of being published or have previously been published, and will obviously understand my glee. Although self-publishing wasn’t always how I dreamed it would be, but either way the decision and the hard works been underway.

Below, you’ll find the Prologue to my novel. I hope you enjoy reading it, and perhaps some of you may even go ahead and read the entire novel. Thank you so much in advance, and can’t wait to hear some feedback!

*

Prologue

Day 1

“Attention passengers, due to engine complications, the scheduled flight for Charlotte is delayed until further notice.” The female voice rang out clearly through the small airport.

A young woman turned to the tall slender greying man who stood beside her, holding her overstuffed duffle bag in his hand. She eyed him with hostility.

“What?” the man asked, innocently shrugging his narrow shoulders.

“Hurry up, Clare!” she mocked. “How’s that for being on time? The stupid flight’s delayed”, she replied curtly.

The man chuckled. “Well, for once you’ll find out what it means to be kept waiting”

“Funny!” she spat out, despite a slight grin spreading across her face. “So what do I do now, just wait?”

“Yeah, that’s how it works,”

“But that’s boring” she moaned.

“I’ll stick around till the flight’s confirmed, if you want. In the meantime, shall we grab a hot drink?”

She nodded enthusiastically.

Clare waited, seated in an uncomfortable plastic chair, her eyes roaming the small, yet busy café. She yawned, sleep still inviting her. It was far too early a start to the day for her liking. If it weren’t for Henry, she’d still be snugly tucked up in bed, the ski trip completely forgotten (and rightfully so, she hadn’t wanted to go in the first place). She scanned the counter and saw Henry waiting in queue. She was rather shocked to see so many people already moving through the airport. Did they know what time it was? Dawn had only broken through an hour or so ago.

She could hear snippets of conversation from people around her, who sat sipping from their cups of coffee. She could do with some coffee, strong coffee. She yawned unashamedly. Her eyes drawn to a middle-aged couple immersed in deep heated conversation. The husband, with a balding patch on his ash coloured head, and round rimmed glasses propped on his thin nose didn’t seem too pleased with his wife, Clare presumed. The freckled rosy faced woman with curly hair tied in a bun had either packed too much food or not enough. She wondered where they were headed. She cocked her head to one side and looked at a couple of young men a few tables ahead, one of whom was fruitlessly trying to pick up the waitress. She smiled at his daring and wished him luck. The other, however, couldn’t help but look around the café, uncomfortable at his companion’s shameless behaviour. Noticing Clare’s amused stare and he apologetically smiled.

Clare looked over to the counter again. Henry was next. Her stomach grumbled and she wondered if he would bring some food. She got up from her seat and snaked her way around the tables, noticing the young man’s embarrassed eyes on her as she passed. She smiled back and continued to the front of the café.

By Henry’s side, she looked at the glass food cabinet. “Henry, shall we get something to eat too? I’m hungry” she whispered. The guy before them was already done with his order. He turned around, oblivious to Clare’s sudden presence. He glared at her for a split second before uncomfortably swerving around her. She apologised after him half-heartedly. His hazel eyes were too quick to dismiss her for her liking, as he hurried to a table.

 

Seated at a table again, Clare searched for the young man, finding him seated alone in a corner, away from everyone else, his eyes skimming the cafe.

“Who’re you looking at?” Henry asked, sitting down opposite her. She shook her head. He sighed, “Clare”, his tone was so intense that Clare nervously found herself looking at his haggard face, apprehensive. People only addressed her thus if she was in trouble. She wondered what she’d done this time.

“I’ve been meaning to tell you something for a while now”. He straightened in his seat, watching the waitress approach the table with their order. He waited until she put their food down and was once again out of earshot. “Actually, Daniel has been pestering me to…”

Alarms rang in her mind. What did Daniel Peterson want with his estranged daughter? She cleared her throat and nervously picked up the cutlery, trying to appear as calm as she could. How long had it been since she’d talked to her father, a year or two at least? “What does he want?” Her voice, out of habit, was curt. Henry’s eyes flashed in anger. He did not like her to be so disrespectful, ever!

“I’m sorry. I mean, what is it that he wishes to inform me about? I’m curious”, she asked, her tone a bit softer now. She took a forkful of food and anxiously chewed it.

“It is his personal business, what he would like to talk to his daughter about; however, he has voiced a wish to meet you.” Henry sipped his flat white and picked up his own cutlery.

“When does he want to meet? I’m sure he’s fairly busy this time of the year”.

Henry finished chewing his food then put his cutlery down on the plate. “Actually, he’d prefer you to come home after the trip, and spend Christmas with him. He has a surprise for you, which I hope you’ll be pleased with.” Clare’s mouth flew open; a surprise. “It concerns the Peterson family. “ Henry swallowed nervously. Had he said too much?

“What family, Henry?” Clare chuckled and put another morsel of food in her mouth. “The last time I checked, we met on appointment basis.”

“Attention. Passengers waiting to board flight to Charlotte. Due to engine trouble, PanAir flight 380 has been delayed indefinitely!” The female voice echoed around them and Clare saw that most of the people seated in the café were shaking their heads in disbelief. They were all waiting, just as she was.

“However, transport has been organised to get you to your destination. We’ll keep you posted as to when it’ll arrive. Thank you”.

Clare shook her head and took a sip of her coffee. “The one time I get where I’m supposed to on time and this is what happens.”

“So, will you be returning to the main house when you get back?” Henry asked. He’d already slid his plate away; half its contents still steaming slightly. “Too much salt”, he replied to her questioning glance. “Shall I tell Daniel you’d love to spend some time with him?”

Thinking, she looked down at her food, took another morsel, sipped again, and then finally looked up to meet the man’s eyes. “Is it absolutely necessary?” she asked with half a smile on her face. He nodded. “He’d really like to see me?” she asked, yearning in her voice. He nodded again.

She brought her hand to her mouth and nervously bit down on her nail. Henry gently slapped her hand away. “Do you trust my decision?” It was her turn to nod. “Then please, promise me, you’ll come and spend time with your only family, and me. It is my wish, and your father’s. God knows how long he’s been trying to reach you.”

“Henry, I…”

“I’ll drive all the way to Charlotte myself in order to pick you up if I must, but please, give this a chance, one chance…all is not lost yet.”

Clare blinked desperately. Her relationship with her father was a delicate subject and Henry knew how to hit that note. “Can’t you tell me what this is about?”

“No, I’m afraid not. It’s not my place to.”

“If you think I must.” Henry nodded, “then I’ll come, Henry” she whispered.

 

It was half an hour before another announcement was made confirming that a cargo transport had been organised to ferry passengers to the small town of Charlotte, half an hour away by air. Henry handed Clare the duffle bag, gave her a hug and a kiss, and wished her a safe flight.

“I’ll see you in a few days’ time” he said, smiling down at her. She nodded and watched the young man who’d ignored her earlier walk past her. Then they were suddenly swamped by a mob of twenty or so other passengers, amongst them the elderly couple and the two other young men she’d noticed before.

 

 

 

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