Friday, November 28, 2008

Still Waters - Kate Johnson

Still Waters
A Writers Vineyard Holiday Treat

‘Tis the season to get deadly…

It’s a week before Christmas. Sophie is out of work, out of love and out of her depth—literally. Stuck in Cornwall on the holiday from hell with her ex-boyfriend, her boyfriend’s ex, and two intimidating colleagues. If that’s not enough, Sophie’s got her hands full trying to prevent her best friend’s perfect engagement from blowing up in her face.

When a corpse turns up in the local harbor it’s the perfect distraction…at least until someone tries to add Sophie to the body count.
Tangled love, tangled lives, tangled clues. Now there’s a holiday menu Sophie can’t resist.

Warning: This title contains bad language, bad behavior and bad puns. There are scenes of violence, gore, and unashamed sentimentality.


On arriving home I found a text on my phone. From Luke. It said, “Call me”.
Not bloody likely. After the day I’d had? Lesbians and super-kids and pregnant friends. I didn’t need Luke in there as well.

But I got no rest. Even with my mobile silenced, he tried to ring the house phone. And then my spare, unofficial family mobile (which I guess will have to be my only mobile again, because SO17 aren’t going to be paying for my picture messages any more, are they?). And then someone rang the doorbell, so I went and hid in the kitchen.

And nearly had a heart attack, because Luke was standing there, laughing at me.
“What, you never played rosy apples?”

I narrowed my eyes. “How did you get in?”

“You should lock your back door every now and then.”

“Get. Out. Of. My. Kitchen.”

“It’s not even yours.” Luke wandered past into the hallway. I think he thought that was smart.

“What are you doing here?”

“Aren’t you pleased to see me?”

He was too cheerful. I was always suspicious of cheerful people.

“Why are you so happy?”

He shrugged. “It’s nearly Christmas.”

“I thought you hated Christmas.”

He walked into the living room. “You don’t even have a tree!”

“It’s on my to-do list. And neither do you—”

“Yes, well, that’s because I hate Christmas.” He turned and grinned at me, and such is the force of his smile that my face cracked slightly. “Sophie. Where in the world would you most like to spend Christmas?”

I blinked. In my parents’ house, was the most honest answer, but the condition was that they’d have to be here too.

“Why?” I asked suspiciously.

Luke looped his arms around my neck, still looking pleased with himself. “How about Eden?”

I narrowed my eyes. “You mean the Eden Village in Norfolk?”

He nodded.

“Like that wouldn’t cost a fortune.” I tried to duck out of his embrace but he held me closer. “Luke, let me go.”

“Not until you agree to come on holiday with me.”

I looked at Luke and decided there was a very real possibility that he was completely insane.

“Are you on strong medication?” I asked. “Do you hear voices? Are there angels talking to you?”

“There’s a very stroppy girl arguing with me,” Luke said. “Does that count? Sophie, listen. You said we needed to talk to Molly Stanton’s friends. Well, they all work at Eden. So we need to go to Eden. So… I booked us in for a week.”

“Over Christmas? Luke, that costs a fortune!”

“I can afford it.”

I could have sworn he got paid the same as me at SO17. “What, do you have a trust fund or something?”

Luke looked sheepish.

“You have a trust fund?”

“Only a really small one,” he said. “For emergencies.”

“And a Christmas break with your ex-girlfriend is an emergency?”

“Fine, stay here then. Eat pizza for dinner with your cat and dog for company and get drunk alone in front of Dr. No for the millionth time.”

I closed my eyes. Okay, I was being a stroppy bitch. Here was a gorgeous man offering me a fantastic Christmas holiday. For free.

Well, probably mostly free…

“What kind of villa did you book?” I asked.

“They only had the one-bedroom ones left.”

I bet.

“Double or twin?”

“Erm, I’m not sure,” Luke said, but he wasn’t looking at me.

“You do know I’m not going to sleep with you this week, right?”

He grinned suddenly, like the sun coming out. “So you’re coming? Sophie!” He hugged me close and kissed my neck.

“Hey, Luke—” I protested, but feebly, because it felt damn good. “Luke, stop that. When are we going? Tomorrow?”

He nodded. “Figure we should get an early start, book everything as soon as we get there.”

“Book—? Luke, I really can’t afford to—”

“My treat. Really. It’s okay. And we need to book stuff, right, because we need to talk to a certain five employees. Two fitness instructors, a beauty therapist, restaurant manager and childcare assistant.” He finally unlocked his arms and counted the five off on his fingers.

“Childcare? What, you’re going to book a baby-sitter?”

“We’ll think of something.”

We. Again with the “we”. Is it normal to go on two holidays with anyone in such a short space of time, I wondered. Let alone someone you used to sleep with.
But then, since when did I worry about “normal”?

This has been an excerpt from Still Waters
A youth mis-spent daydreaming and reading anything she could get her hands on, made it inevitable that Kate Johnson would grow up to write stories. Or possibly go mad. Her job history involves lots of cash registers, early mornings, and many instances of ignoring a ringing phone. She lives in the south east of England and belongs to three cats.

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