I might be on holiday, but I can still schedule posts. Here is an excerpt from the upcoming Eternally & Evermore.
Will left the bathroom but didn’t return to the party. Instead he wandered into the foyer and slumped into one of four red leather sofas clustered around a low rectangular coffee table scattered with newspapers and magazines. He shook his head and sighed. Why had no one told him? Warned him? Or was Nugent lying? He’d always been fast and loose with the truth. But something about the way he’d spoken told Will it wasn’t a lie.
He pulled his mobile phone out of his inside jacket pocket and slid his thumb across the screen to unlock it. The screen lit up, displaying a picture of a young girl with a wide grin as the background wallpaper. He smiled as he looked at her.
“Is that your daughter? Sophie, isn’t it?” Lizzie was standing behind the sofa. He looked up at her and when she saw the questioning look on his face she said, “I came out of the ladies just as you left the gents. Saw you coming this way and thought we could have a chat without having to shout over the music.” She paused. “She’s very pretty.”
“She is, isn’t she?” He tapped screen twice to display the photo fully and handed it to Lizzie.
She sat on the arm of the sofa and looked at the picture. “She has your eyes. And your smile.”
“And her mother’s sharp tongue, which, thankfully, she doesn’t use very often. She’s very difficult to get worked up.”
“Then it sounds like she’s got your temperament too. Are there any more?”
Will reached to swipe across the screen and the picture scrolled to one of father and daughter laughing.
“That’s nice,” Lizzie said. “Where is it?”
“Her thirteenth a couple of months ago. One of the few birthdays I’ve been able to get to. I usually have to make do with an early or late celebration. Some dad I turned out to be, huh?”
“I’m sure you’re a great dad.”
He sighed. “How great can I be when I’m only part-time?”
“How often do you see her?”
“Officially I have joint custody, but since she schools in London, I normally see her every other weekend and most of the holidays.”
“We alternate Christmas and New Year, one year she spends Christmas with her mother and New Year with me, next year we switch. Easter and half terms are mine, and we split the summer.”
“And she knows she can call you whenever she wants, right?”
“Yeah. And she does. Although, lately it’s been to complain about some punishment or other that her mother has imposed. She’s a hell of a texter too. But that’s the youth of today.”
“You keep saying her mother. As if she doesn’t have a name.”
“Lynn. Her name’s Lynn. Sad to say, that all she is to me now. My daughter’s mother.”
“You must have loved her once.”
“I did.” The finality in his voice said that topic was out of bounds.
Lizzie nudged him to scoot up the sofa, sat beside him and handed his phone back. “Is tonight as bad as you expected?”
“Who said I expected it to be bad?”
“You did.” He didn’t answer. “What are you doing out here on your own anyway?”
“Deciding if I should call a cab or not.”
“You’re leaving? Why?”
He looked at her for a few moments before answering. “I had a conversation with John Nugent while I was in the bathroom.”
“Yes. Oh.” He took in the look of horror on her face, masked by forced indifference. “Why didn’t you tell me, Lizzie?”
“Tell you what?”
She shrugged. “Amy asked me not to. Don’t look at me like that. She’s my best friend, what did you expect me to do?”
“I’m your oldest friend.”
“And you haven’t spoken to me for nearly ten years.”
“So that makes it okay to lie to me, does it?”
“I didn’t lie to you. I just… left out some details.”
“Pretty big detail,” he mumbled.
“Besides, would have come tonight if I’d have told you beforehand?”
He looked away. “Probably not.”
“That’s what I figured.”
Eternally & Evermore is released by Phaze at the end of August.