Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Snippet

A further extract from Margaret's book Unwelcome Stranger

When a short time later one of the women from the main office came to see her Grace felt a fluttering in her stomach. Once or twice she had caught this woman looking at her but thought nothing of it because curiosity was still rife as to why she’d been given this job.  

“I hope you don’t mind me asking,” the woman said, swaying nervously from side to side, “but are you the lady whose son was killed by a drunken driver?”

Ice slithered down Grace’s spine and she closed her eyes. Time stood still and she fully expected when she opened them again the woman would be gone, that she had been a figment of her imagination. But she was still there. “I am,” she admitted faintly, “but how could you possibly know?”

“I saw your photo in the paper at the time.” said the woman, her voice so quiet that Grace could hardly hear.

“And you’ve remembered me?”

She nodded. “Because - because it was my husband at the wheel. He killed your son.”

     Grace was afraid the woman would pass out as tears rolled down her cheeks, every vestige of colour draining from her face. “Please, sit down,” she said, indicating one of the chairs, at the same time feeling her heart stop before resuming at breakneck speed. Her fingers curled into her palms, nails digging in. It was difficult to swallow and she wanted to lash out but knew it had taken enormous courage for this woman to come in here and make this admission.

It brought everything back. The shock, the anger, the grief. The enormous grief. She sat down too and looked at the woman called Rose. “Have you any idea what it did to me?”

“I can only imagine,” she admitted between sobs.

“It ruined my life! I’ve only just begun to get over it. Why was your husband driving if he was drunk? How can anyone be that irresponsible? I hope they threw the book at him.” She’d been too consumed by grief to read the papers afterwards.

The woman looked at her with immense sadness in her eyes. “He’d just been diagnosed with cancer. It’s why he drank so much. He wasn’t in his right mind.”

Grace closed her eyes, surprisingly feeling sudden pity for this woman. “It doesn’t excuse what he did, though.”

“I know. And he paid for it.”

But as much as she had?

“He was full of remorse, I’ve never seen a man cry so much.”

“I still cry,” said Grace, although now she came to think of it, since Frazer rescued her from her own imminent death, her tears had got less and less until they’d virtually dried up. Not that she didn’t think of her son every day, but it was with fond memories now. She would think of some of the funny things he’d said and laugh out loud.

“My husband was still haunted by it when he died two years later.”

“I’m sorry,” said Grace. But to lose a child was surely the worst thing of all. “Do you have children?”

The woman nodded. “I have a fifteen year old daughter and a son of a similar age to – ” Her words tailed off and she began crying again.

“What’s his name?”


And they were both fatherless!

When Frazer made one of his now customary evening visits he asked what Rose had been speaking to her about.

“She told me her husband was the one driving the car that killed Daniel.”

His brows rose. “Really? A very brave confession.”

“I guess so,” she admitted, “although my first instinct was to lash out. Apparently it began to play on her mind when I started working for you and she realised who I was. She’s suffered, though. Her husband has since died. He’d been drinking at the time of the accident.”

“I hope they threw the book at him,” declared Frazer.

“It’s not that simple,” she said. “He’d just been diagnosed with cancer. I actually feel an odd sense of release knowing the person responsible for Daniel’s death was in his own personal hell at the time. Knowing he wasn’t just a drunken driver as I’d been led to believe.”

“You’re a very forgiving woman.” He took her face between his hands and kissed her, a kiss that told her she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

“I probably wouldn’t have felt like this before I met you,” she admitted. “You’ve helped me turn my life around.”

“Could I turn it around some more?”

Grace frowned. “I don’t know what you mean?”

“Would I be premature in asking you to marry me?”

Her heart skipped a beat, in fact it skipped several. “But you – you said – you said that – ”

“I know what I said,” he admitted with a wry smile, “it was how I felt before I met you. I didn’t know then there was just one woman in the whole world who could make me change my mind. I’m lucky to have found you.”

“I believe I’m the lucky one,” corrected Grace, thinking of her suicide attempt. She shuddered at the thought of having never met Frazer, of ending her life without knowing the immense pleasure he could give her. He had taught her life was truly worth living, that there was no hurdle too large to get over.

A week later they were in his office discussing plans to honeymoon on one of his magnificent yachts when the door burst open and Hilary stormed in. It took Grace a few seconds to recognise the woman from the café, and a few more to understand what she’d come to say.

“This certainly looks very cosy.” Her voice was oddly accusing.

Grace blushed. They were sitting a little too close together for them to be discussing work. In fact Frazer’s hand was on her thigh and she had thrilled at his touch. Now, though, he slowly withdrew and stood up.

“Hilary!” he said. “This is a surprise.”

“So I see.” Her eyes flitted from one to the other. “It was unfortunate our little talk the other day was interrupted because there was something I wanted to tell you. Needed to tell you actually.”

Frazer frowned.

“And since it’s rather personal I’d prefer we were alone.”

“Anything you have to say can be said in front of Grace,” he said at once. “Perhaps you’d like to congratulate us? She’s just agreed to become my wife.”

 If looks could have killed Grace knew she would have died in that moment and she couldn’t help wondering whether Hilary’s sights were set on Frazer. She had definitely seemed possessive at the café.

“Then I’m afraid you’ll have to tell her you can’t marry her after all,” said the woman, a confident tilt to her head, a glint in her eyes. “Not when I’m expecting your baby.”