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Dorothy Lyle In Colour: The Miracles and Millions Saga, #2

Dorothy Lyle In Colour: The Miracles and Millions Saga, #2

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Dorothy Lyle In Colour: The Miracles and Millions Saga, #2

Length:
444 pages
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 14, 2016
ISBN:
9781533796387
Format:
Book

Description

Colour picks up the story where Avarice left off. Dorothy Lyle is back for the second leg of this ten-book series. She feels she has adjusted well to her new life as an incredibly wealthy woman. She holidays in Rome like a celeb. Runs the marathon, and even bets a small fortune on the golf just to prove she is not too chicken to follow her instincts.

When she treats herself to a tarot card reading, she is shocked her hear the mystic’s predictions for her future. Who would possibly want to hurt a woman like her? A woman who lived a humdrum existence for decades, and never made any enemies. Unless you count her extremely dodgy ex-husband and pitiful former fiancé, and who counts those guys? She tries hard to ignore the warning, yet it continues to haunt her. What if there is some truth to it?

There is no doubt in Dorothy’s mind that unexpected wealth brings its own brand of trouble. In the meantime, however, there’s no harm in having a little fun. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

When the nasty texts and phone calls begin, Dorothy remembers the words of foreboding. Is it possible that betrayal and heartbreak are lurking around the next corner? Is she doomed to die before she can begin to fully enjoy her new life? Let’s hope not because this is only Book 2 - Colour!

Miracles & Millions -   A Story of Gratitude. Not standalone. Be prepared for humour, Irish Mammies, weird visions, prolific spending and some profanity – Irish style. 

Publisher:
Released:
May 14, 2016
ISBN:
9781533796387
Format:
Book

About the author

Ella Carmichael was born in Ireland a long time ago, and only toyed with writing when she was young. That changed as she grew older, and the result is the Miracles and Millions Saga.

Related to Dorothy Lyle In Colour

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Dorothy Lyle In Colour - Ella Carmichael

Dorothy Lyle

In

Colour

Book 2 of

The Miracles & Millions Saga

A Series of Novels

By

Ella Carmichael

Copyright © 2017

Ella Carmichael

All rights reserved

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the author, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

––––––––

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo,

but what you want is someone who will

take the bus with you

when the limo breaks down.

~Oprah Winfrey~

ALTERNATIVE TITLE

––––––––

Dorothy Lyle

Acknowledges that

Unexpected Wealth Invites

Its Own Brand of Trouble,

Yet still manages to

Rediscover a full Palette of

Colour

––––––––

Contents

Prologue

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

Author's Note

Books in the series

Prologue

Rosa Barnett watched a rather dilapidated Volvo making its way into the grounds of St. James’s church, and bag the last remaining space. A family of four almost tumbled out in their eagerness to escape the confines of the vehicle. The mother hastily fixed her own dress, then checked her husband and children were not dishevelled.

Looking harassed, she grabbed her young daughter’s hand, and virtually sprinted towards the church entrance. Rosa took a sip from her coffee mug and remained at the balcony railing, certain it was merely a matter of minutes before the limo arrived.

Her patience was soon rewarded. Less than sixty seconds later, a white limousine bedecked in an oversized pink satin ribbon navigated its way through the wrought iron gates. This was followed by a flurry of activity as the driver emerged from the front of the vehicle and ran around to open the back door. A middle-aged man wearing a three-piece suit climbed out of the back and stared around at his surroundings as if searching for someone in particular.

Moving slowly and carefully, a young woman with hair piled on top of her head emerged from the back of the car and raised her hand in order to shield her eyes from the sudden glare of the midday sunshine. Rosa wished for a pair of binoculars so she could get a better view of the dress with the sweetheart neckline. Even from a distance, she was positive it was made of satin, and had a respectable length of train flowing behind it.

As Rosa looked on, two black cars pulled in behind the white limo, and a veritable bevy of bridesmaids emerged from behind the tinted glass. Ignoring their own appearance, the horde descended upon the young woman in the white gown, and proceeded to pull and tug at every square inch of her outfit, presumably convinced the garment required their undivided attention before the ceremony could get underway. The activity ceased as abruptly as it had begun. A bouquet of pink rosebuds was thrust into the bride’s hands and the man in the suit offered her his arm.

The toot of a car’s horn interrupted Rosa’s viewing, and she hastily extracted the electronic fob from the pocket of her jeans. She held it up and pressed it, while simultaneously waving at the driver. Felicity Dempsey manoeuvred the black BMW through the gates of St James’s Court, and parked it next to Rosa’s Polo with a confidence which suggested she had performed the same act many times before.

As the young bride disappeared through the front door of the church, Felicity emerged from her car and bent down to retrieve her handbag and some groceries. When Rosa saw her best friend was wearing a green and white sundress, she glanced guiltily down at her skinny jeans and flip-flops. Seeing as how Felicity had made an effort, she would have to follow suit and change into something more appropriate for a day in the city.

Down in the car park, the other woman successfully retrieved her goods and carefully locked her car using the remote control. It was a recent purchase to celebrate her new job as HR manager of a large multinational organisation, and Felicity was understandably proud of it. Rosa did not begrudge her friend the vehicle. She only wished she could be as lucky with her own career choices.

A young man on a bicycle passed by the BMW on his way to the gate, and almost fell off the contraption when he caught sight of the exotic looking woman holding the bags. Rosa groaned aloud. It was never easy to have an attractive friend, especially when you were inclined to be bony and somewhat horse-faced yourself.

Always gracious, Felicity bestowed her best smile on the young man, then disappeared from view as she walked towards the entrance to the apartment block. Rosa watched the cyclist using his own fob to open the gate and exit the car park, then left the balcony and walked over to the entry phone so she could release the main door.

As she stood by the buzzer, she contemplated her future. It very likely entailed living thousands of miles away from Dublin, without the ever present and oh so comforting reality of Felicity. She rested her head against the white panelled front door and willed herself not to cry.

1

Horace Johnson brought the ride-on mower to a gentle halt and switched off the engine. The machine was his pride and joy, and his first major purchase from the money Dorothy had given him from her winnings. He had gotten it for a good deal because the retailer in question had been forced to close his shop due to a combination of outstanding tax demands and zero cash flow.

Desperate to unburden himself, and sensing the hairy individual was not of a garrulous disposition and therefore unlikely to blab his business to the neighbourhood, the retailer had confided his troubles to Horace when he chanced to stop by in order to admire the garden equipment.

Horace listened to the sorry tale with a sympathetic ear, and grunted in what he hoped were all the right places. His understanding of business matters was vague at best, although his keen ear was quick to pick up on the fact the stock was about to be offloaded at close to cost price. He asked his new acquaintance to put the ride-on to one side then made his way home to dig up the wad of cash he had painstakingly buried under his favourite apple tree.

There was a bank account with his name on it which had seen little activity since his inheritance had dried up. At one time, he even considered closing it, but on Dorothy’s advice had relented and kept it active. The media company that used his services as a book narrator were loath to work with cash, and she was concerned they might stop offering him employment if they were unable to make electronic payments. She also assured him that having a bank account, albeit with a limited number of transactions, looked less suspicious from a tax point of view.

Over the years, he had gotten into the habit of deferring to her judgement in these matters, and the knowledge she no longer lived only metres away felt extremely odd. For the sake of his sanity, he was determined to adjust to a new life which did not include Dorothy and her children. Even as he acknowledged in the innermost secret recesses of his broken heart, that should he happen to live to a ripe old age, he would never grow accustomed to the unexpected alteration in his fortunes.

From his vantage point on the mower, Horace was able to admire the wood anemone that was in full bloom in his woodland garden. Strictly speaking, it was not his garden at all. It belonged to the mystery owner who had not set foot in Bluebell Wood for the best part of forty years. Horace did not understand why anybody would abandon such a beautiful property, although this had not prevented him from using the situation to his own advantage.

During his one and only viewing of the property known as Old Hen, he had spotted the close proximity between the cottage wall and the chain link fence enclosing Bluebell Wood. As he pointed it out to the prospective buyer, the estate agent had been effusive in his apologies. In his opinion, the fence was excessively high at four metres, and ought to be ripped out by the local authority and replaced with something more aesthetically pleasing.

On the day in question, Horace pretended to agree with the man, and even faked a degree of hesitation he was far from feeling about offering for Old Hen. He loved the cottage and fully intended to purchase it. He did not care for the unsightly fence one little bit, but was quick to appreciate how effective a deterrent it was against casual snoopers.

Only the boldest soul was prepared to risk life and limb by scaling its dizzying heights, especially with the prospect of scant reward on the other side. Nonetheless, its sheer height did not prevent snoopers from peeking through the gaps at the two acres of grounds and gardens that lay beyond.

Having speedily detected the design flaw, Horace took immediate steps to secure this weakness in the perimeter. He despised Leylandii hedges, and grimaced to think what his mother would have said about his course of action. Nevertheless, the thought of maternal displeasure did not stop him spending five hundred euro on the necessary trees. During his first year as a Shankill resident, he devoted many weeks to planting his investment immediately inside the horrid fence, at the recommended distance of three feet apart.

In those days, he still had a large amount of money at his disposal, and had not always used it either wisely or well. Still atop the mower, Horace grimaced when he remembered what a wastrel he had been. He had even run a car for the first two years, until the reality of his financial circumstances began to dawn upon him, whereupon he reluctantly sold it and became a full-time pedestrian.

As he busied himself planting the trees, he was blissfully unaware of his future economic woes. Fortunately, the fast-growing Leylandii plants had worked even better than he dared hope. With careful cultivation, his fledgling hedge had grown to an impressive height of six feet by the following summer, and provided the perfect screen from the prying eyes of the outside world. The only exceptions he made to the wall of hedge were the padlocked gate allowing access to the site by the council, and the area at the rear of Dorothy’s house.

The fence backed on to her garden wall in the same way it did to his own, and he had no wish to further exacerbate an already ugly situation. She had gotten her own property at a reasonable price, due in part to the proximity of the barrier, and was philosophical about its constant presence in her life. She said that, considering she was a lone parent with a modest income, she felt lucky to have been able to afford her own home at all, and was not in a position to gripe about something which had formed part of the landscape for many years prior to her arrival in Shankill. Horace saw things differently, and set about making the unsightly mess more appealing for his neighbour.

Still flush with cash, he happily selected a number of shrubs from a rather upmarket garden centre. Methodically spacing them to achieve maximum results, he planted them at the foot of the offending fence that almost touched her garden wall. He did not tell her what he had done, but in what he now recognised as rather boyish enthusiasm, hoped she would be pleased by his little surprise.

The following year, Josh and Deco were playing football in the back garden when they spotted the first of the pink roses beginning their long climb upwards. Horace had deliberately chosen Spanish Beauty, or Madame Grégoire Staechelin, as he preferred to think of it, because it was known to survive harsh winters and because, given time, it could climb as high as eight metres. Dorothy had been more than pleased. She had been reduced to tears by his act of kindness, leaving him with no regrets about either the expense or hard work involved in keeping the wall of roses in pristine condition.

Under his guardianship, the shrubs had thrived over the intervening years, and now their dark green leaves disguised the ugly barrier to perfection. It would be a few weeks yet before they bloomed, and it saddened Horace that, with the exception of the Polish tenants who currently resided in Dorothy’s former abode, nobody would be there to appreciate the magnificent pale pink flowers at the peak of their beauty.

He was well aware that, under the circumstances, it was nothing short of miraculous she had retained her old home at all and, as had become his habit, damped down the feelings of resentment which threatened to overwhelm him when he recalled how he had been abandoned by them all.

Shaking his head at his own folly and, recognising the negative emotions had their source in loneliness and heartache, he turned the key in the ignition once again and set about mowing what he liked to call the South Lawn. The grounds of Bluebell Wood were a balanced mixture of lawns, gardens and woodland. It was the largest patch of lawn he was working on today.

It had taken him years to restore it to its former perfection, yet did not begrudge a moment of the time he had devoted to the task. It had been a labour of love. The early Victorian property nestling at the centre of the site was a crumbling decayed wreck, yet all that surrounded the derelict mansion was natural beauty and abundance that owed its magnificence to the cultivating hands of Horace Johnson.

When he was satisfied the lawn was perfect, he pointed the ride-on in the direction of his own home. Due to the size of the area, it took him a few minutes to travel the distance. He drove around what remained of the old house, and headed for the gap in the fence that denoted the entrance to his own property. This hole was not especially wide; hence he took his time manoeuvring the machine into the safety of his own garden.

As a rule, he never left any of his tools or equipment within the boundaries of Bluebell Wood when his work was finished. In the event that an auctioneer or surveyor should happen to show up one day with a view to inspecting the property, Horace deemed it wisest to leave no trace of himself behind.

It was possible when he was eventually discovered, as discovered he must surely be one day, he might be charged with illegal trespass. Given that he had taken care of Bluebell Wood like a black bear with a cub, he believed a severe scolding from the relevant authority would be the more likely outcome.

This was also the reason he had never succumbed to the temptation of growing his own cannabis plants in the wood. Cultivating them without a greenhouse was always a challenge, although he was confident in his own ability to make them flourish. If such plants were ever discovered, he might find himself in line for more than a scolding, hence his decision not to proceed with the plan. The idea of attention being brought to bear on him by the Irish police force filled him with dread on many levels. Horace shuddered as he pondered the possible consequences of such a dire event.

Despite taking basic precautions, he had never been secretive about his work in Bluebell Wood. If the neighbours made enquiries, he freely admitted he regularly walked Trotsky inside the boundary. If pressed, he told them he kept the grounds in a reasonable state of repair in order to avoid accidents. In addition to this, he often cut up fallen trees for firewood, and destroyed nettles on sight before their root systems had a chance to gain a foothold. The neighbours accepted this story, usually without comment, in the same way they accepted the occasional wheelbarrow of firewood from him during the colder months.

Horace leaped nimbly off the ride-on, and went to close the wooden gate separating Old Hen from Bluebell Wood. He was not likely to make a return visit for at least another day, or possibly even two. His gaze swept the space to make sure all was well and admire the vista for a final time. Trotsky appeared at his side and gently woofed.

Horace absentmindedly tugged on the dog’s ears as he watched the bluebells dancing in the May breeze. The hazy blue carpet stretched before him, its beauty causing him to catch his breath. Only one other person knew the true extent of his commitment to Bluebell Wood, and only one other loved the carpet of flowers more than he. Alas, that other was no longer part of the Shankill community, and was unlikely to ever be again.

Sighing deeply, Horace slowly closed the wooden gate and barricaded it. Not that anybody was likely to open it from the other side, but one never knew. He did not bother to put the ride-on away in its custom-built storage facility. He wanted to mow his own lawn first, but felt the urgent need for a strong mug of tea and a sandwich before he did any more. Since the bluebells had bloomed that year, he had been feeling sadder than usual, and the bottle of whiskey called to him from its home in the kitchen dresser.

‘No whiskey until this evening,’ he told himself firmly, as he strode away to the house with Trotsky by his side.

He made his lunch and carried it and the mug of tea outside so he could enjoy the sunshine. He settled himself in an old deckchair with the sustenance balanced on an upturned crate. Tucked under his arm was a large envelope that had arrived by the morning’s post. He had deliberately saved it until some of his chores were done, but now felt ready to breach the packet and explore the contents. He knew by the handwriting on the front it was from Dorothy, but had no clue why she was writing to him. He groped inside the packet and gently eased out a couple of centimetres of paperwork. After taking a sustaining gulp of tea, he began to wade through the documents, still unsure what they were all about. Then he found the letter.

~~~

May 2011

Hi Horace,

It’s driving me nuts you don’t have a phone; ergo I have decided to send you regular updates by snail mail. Please find enclosed brochures and suchlike relating to my recent purchases. Apologies if some of it is repetitious. I’ve lost track of what I’ve already told you and what I haven’t.

~~~

The letter continued in the same vein and he read it quickly from beginning to end. Then he put the whole lot down and ate his lunch without as much as glancing in its direction. When the sandwich and tea were no more, he set the cracked crockery aside and picked up the letter and other pieces of literature once again.

This time, he read the letter slowly and, as he did, assembled the documents in the order Dorothy mentioned them. By dint of this exercise, he grudgingly admitted she had provided him with a very fair window into her new life.

There was a brochure from Champneys with various treatments outlined in red. He grimaced over some of the more exotic sounding therapies. She had told him all about the spa upon her return from the UK in February, although had failed to mention she had experimented with such barbaric sounding, to say nothing of expensive, treatments. The next piece of paper quickly drove all thoughts of cryotherapy out of his mind. It was a computerised depiction of the anticipated house at Howth, together with a floor plan.

Horace spent a full fifteen minutes examining the design and attempting to wrap his head around it. Not in a million years would he ever have believed Dorothy capable of building such a mansion. It was a totally inappropriate residence for a single woman. Who the hell was going to take care of the monstrosity when it was finally finished? The grounds alone would require a full-time gardener, and the house was in excess of fourteen thousand square-feet.

He scratched his beard and shook his head in bewilderment. Naturally she had mentioned the house to him, but never in his wildest dreams had he anticipated this level of grandeur. He examined the documents again. It looked as if the mansion was scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. He would have doubted the viability of this claim except that, included with the designs, was a recent photograph of the building site.

It literally swarmed with human beings at work, the majority of them men, although he spotted a couple of women wearing hard hats and looking none the worse for wear. He could see work was well underway on the three main parts of the project: the central residence, the leisure complex and the pavilion. He was no expert on such matters, but even he could see if work continued at the current pace, Dorothy would be able to move in by year’s end. He shook his head in horror and, lying beside him, Trotsky whined in sympathy.

‘You may well whine,’ Horace told him severely. ‘The woman has run mad. I knew this lottery business would be her undoing. I tried to warn her, but did she listen to me? Not a bit of it! You mark my words, old man, she’ll rue the day she ever thought of commissioning that pile.’

The next brochure in the collection calmed his ruffled feathers slightly. It was a tri-fold leaflet from the Feather Street Group of financial advisers. The news that his former neighbour had persuaded Claudia Healy, the well-known financial guru, to take her on as a client provided a degree of solace. Next there was a menu typed on the letterhead of a company called M&P Catering, an enterprise in which Dorothy had made an investment. Horace grunted at this but refrained from making any comment. He supposed there was no harm in taking a chance on a start-up, as long as the sums involved were not enormous and the management trustworthy.

The next piece of paper was a printed photograph of a young New Zealander called Jamie Irwin who Dorothy had employed as her personal trainer. Horace knew from chatting to Amanda that the fitness instructor had completely overhauled Dorothy’s diet and enrolled her in the women’s mini marathon to boot. According to Amanda, Dorothy was delighted to have someone to share her apartment, and was positively blooming from all the care and attention the young man was lavishing upon her.

Horace spent a minute perusing Jamie’s white blonde hair and weak chin before transferring the photo to the heap of papers he had already examined. Still with a bunch of documents in his hand, he was promptly brought up short by the sight of a picture of the Family Friendly Hotel in all its rundown glory. This dilapidated hulk was the hotel Dorothy mentioned buying in her letter? He moaned aloud. Trotsky barked to acknowledge he heard and understood his master’s anguish.

‘So much for the little catering company,’ Horace told his dog bitterly. ‘I dread to think what she spent on the kip, and the refurb is bound to set her back millions on top. You don’t have to be a member of the Rothschild family to know when a project is liable to cost a bloody fortune. Has she lost her mind? Who’s advising her for pity’s sake? Certainly not this Healy woman.’

In disgust, he flung the hotel brochure on top of the M&P menu and moved on to the next item. It was details pertaining to the Mini Coopers ordered on behalf of Josh and Deco, together with a sales leaflet from the showroom that would be supplying Diane’s proposed Nissan Qashqai.

Horace settled back in the chair and allowed himself the pleasure of reading every last detail and picturing the vehicles being driven by the twins. He had almost read himself back into good humour when he made the mistake of lifting the next piece of paper. Tucked beneath, he discovered brochures for Dorothy’s new Porsche and Mercedes. He spluttered in outrage.

‘She ordered a Porsche,’ he almost shouted at Trotsky. ‘The Merc looks fairly practical, although I think it’s a shade on the large side for a woman, but a fecking Porsche for the love of God. And it’s amethyst as well. The most impractical colour on the planet. A vehicle like that is a car thief’s wet dream. Why would she put herself in peril like that? Surely she must realise how impractical a car like that is, to say nothing of the risk involved in owning one. I think she’s having a nervous breakdown or something equally bloody hideous.’

Trotsky chose that moment to jump to his feet in order to pursue a wasp down the garden, and was therefore unable to lend much to the conversation. In disgust, Horace put the paperwork to one side and heaved himself out of the deckchair. He gathered up the dirty dishes and returned them to the kitchen. He pulled the bottle of whiskey out of the dresser and examined it. It was two thirds full of the amber liquid. He poured a small measure into a chipped glass and returned outside to finish what he had started.

‘I may as well look at the last couple of brochures and be done with it,’ he told the nearest fruit tree grimly. The ripening plums seemed to nod at him encouragingly, so he made himself comfortable again and took up where he had left off. When he saw the photographs of the house in Spain Dorothy had recently purchased as a holiday home, he drank half the whiskey to calm his nerves. Almost three million euro on one villa in Mallorca. This from a woman who used to refuse to buy toilet paper unless it was on special offer.

He spent a few minutes flicking through the details, imagining Dorothy and her children frolicking in the peanut shaped pool, and lolling on the sun decks. Josh and Deco would no doubt find plenty to amuse themselves in such a location. A part of him hoped to see the villa one day, although he pushed the pitiful expectation to the very depths of his soul where it rightfully belonged.

‘It’s too late for all that,’ he told the whiskey glass. ‘Pecuniate obediunt omnia. All things obey money. Much as you might wish to bury your head in the sand and deny the truth of it, you know you can’t. You made a mess of things and now it’s too late. You’ll never get to loll on those sun decks, or eat lunch under that fancy motorised awning, or swim in that funny little pool with your ladylove. A degree of acceptance is now required.’

He shuffled the paperwork around and scanned the letter again to see if he had missed anything. There should be details on a property called Otter House. He rifled through the heap and found it loitering at the bottom. It was a six-page spread detailing the joys of Dorothy’s new pad on the Dingle peninsula.

Horace’s heart missed a beat when he realised it was set on five acres of land, and situated less than fifteen metres from the banks of the Kenmare River. ‘A third of the price of that swanky villa,’ he told a newly returned Trotsky. ‘Now that’s what I call a solid purchase. I wonder what plans she has for the five acres.’

He spent a pleasurable ten minutes reading and re-reading the description of Otter House. In the unlikely event he was ever invited there, he resolved to accept the invitation and view the estate first-hand. He finished the last of the whiskey, then spent a minute tidying up the paperwork. He gave the letter one final scan through and, this time, focused on the final paragraph. Dorothy was planning a trip to Rome with Bel. She intimated her pal was still a little raw because of her choice of villa. Apparently there had been another house available which had caught the other woman’s fancy. Horace chuckled to himself.

Bel Kinsella had always been something of a snob, although she was by no means a bad woman. He had a soft spot for her because she forcibly reminded him of the friends his mother used to invite to the house when he was growing up. Elegant, skinny, opinionated women, who always smelled good and were adept at air kissing. As memories of his mother threatened to overwhelm him, he addressed Trotsky yet again.

‘By the sounds of it, Bel set her heart on a celebrity villa, and Dorothy upset her by only spending three million smackers on a rather workaday one. I expect she’ll get over it with a little cosseting. Presumably that’s the aim of this Roman holiday.’

He skimmed the final paragraphs of the letter again. There was very little mention of Simone. There was no denying Bel and Dorothy were very close, although that did not explain the absence of the best friend when all this riotous fun was taking place. According to the letter, she was involved in a new relationship and happily settled in Australia. Horace frowned. It had been almost five months since the win, yet in all that time Simone had not come home for a visit.

He knew Dorothy would be hurt by this, and would not understand the long absence, especially now that cost was not an issue. Even though it was not his place to interfere between the two women, he sincerely hoped they would resolve the situation before too long. He was very fond of Simone, and wished her nothing but the best in her new life, although that did not change the fact that Dorothy needed her best friend by her side during this tumultuous period in her life.

Horace reread the couple of sentences devoted to the upcoming trip. The mention of Rome caused him a pang. He had not done anything about booking his own trip to Vienna. His passport had expired. Of course, now he had the means, he could easily afford to pay the hundred pounds for a replacement. He might have to shave for the photographs. He scratched his sideburns this time. Perhaps he should consider trimming it for the summer months and then start growing it again in the autumn.

‘I can’t very well abandon you while I go swanning off to Austria,’ he nudged Trotsky with his foot. ‘Perhaps you and I had better stay safely tucked away in Shankill where we belong. What say you?’

Trotsky woofed half-heartedly, not caring about any travel arrangements which did not directly involve him.

‘Indeed,’ Horace nodded. ‘We should learn to know our place.’

He carefully tucked the letter back into the envelope with the rest of the paperwork. He regretted Dorothy had not included any personal photographs of her and the children, and hoped these might be forthcoming the next time. He frowned at the envelope as he clutched it in his hand. Ideally, he should start some sort of scrapbook for this sort of thing.

If he did not find an effective method of keeping track of her life, he ran the risk of losing touch with her forever. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, he could not bear to let that happen. At the very least, she would always be a dear memory in his heart, even if they could not be together in the flesh as they had in the old days.

He resolved to find a suitable scrapbook and begin his album of memories as soon as possible. Once again, he heaved himself up out of the chair and carried the envelope and whiskey glass into the house. He put the packet in a safe place and spent a few minutes peering out the front window to see who was about. Sharon Dooley came out of her house and hopped into her car, calling cheerfully to her neighbour as she did. A minute later, she drove past his house without as much as a glance in his direction.

‘I have such a way with women,’ Horace addressed the passing traffic with heavy irony. He shook his head at his own ineptitude, then went back outside to work on his garden. Later that night, he polished off the remainder of the whiskey.

2

Blissfully unaware of the mixed emotions her well-intentioned letter had generated within the breast of Horace Johnson, Dorothy sat in the study of the Falcon apartment with her laptop open on the desk. In the hope it would make him appear older, she narrowed her eyes and squinted at the image of Charlie on the screen. Alas, no matter how much she screwed up her face, the young man did not look a day over twenty, and Simone still glowed and looked all loved up. She exhaled heavily and commenced typing.

~~~

From: Dottie8888@chatulike.ie

To: SRedmond@chatchat.com; ANorris@talkalot.com

Date: May 14th, 2011

SUBJECT: LAWYERS AND PACKING

Hi Girls,

I am safely back at Falcon after my recent adventures in Kerry. I will soon be the proud owner of yet another piece of real estate called Otter House. I have attached a link to the details so you can fully appreciate it. Almost as soon as I got back, I met with Nicholas Kerrigan, my new solicitor.

I expected him to be middle-aged, fat and balding, but nothing could be further from the truth. He is early forties, tall, athletic, and beautifully groomed. He was wearing a suit that could not have cost a cent less than one thousand euro. He is one of those square-jawed types, which gives him a vaguely heroic air. He reminded me of a character from an Agatha Christie novel. I kept expecting him to suggest a spot of tennis or perhaps a round of croquet. No sign of a wedding band. He seems highly skilled at lawyering as well...LOL. He will be handling the Otter purchase for me as well as the hotel deal.

He specialises in estate planning, and we agreed he will start to review all my affairs as soon as possible, and of course begin drafting a new will. He kept talking about tax implications and inheritance planning, which he says will slow things down a little. We chatted for a few minutes and you would not believe how complicated these things can be. Unless you are ultra-careful, the taxman stands to take about a third of your estate after you’ve shuffled off

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