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"Winter's Cove" - opening scene
#1
“Abbey Fairchild, are you doing the right thing?” I asked myself as I stood on the platform of Penzance railway station, watching my breath condense in the chill night air. My friend Jane had gone to find a telephone to call her father and tell him we had arrived while I stood with our cases. Beyond the pool of dim light shining onto the platform from the window of the Waiting Room, cold darkness surrounded me. I did not feel safe here. Where was Jane?


Pulling the lapels of my coat tighter around me against the cold, I again wondered if coming here to spend all of December - including Christmas - with Jane’s family was such a good idea. I didn’t know Cornwall at all, and I knew the Blackwood family even less. Jane had told me about her father Clifford Blackwood and her siblings Sarina and Julian, but actually meeting them and living with them was something entirely different.


My only other option was to spend Christmas alone, though, and I really didn’t feel like doing that at all. Unlike Jane, I was an only child, and my mother would be away in Majorca over the festive season. My father had passed away fourteen months previously, and mum was going to visit her parents in their sun-kissed villa. I had been invited, of course, but at the time I had still been with Jeffrey, and had planned to spend the holidays with him.


That had ended when Jeffrey had decided he no longer wanted to be with a young woman who had a career. Not that my journalist job with the Nottingham Herald was any threat to our relationship, but Jeffrey’s attitude was. We had a heated argument after I had to cancel a date because I was covering a local fire at the town hall, and I told him that the fifties were a decade ago and his attitude was outdated.
So I had prepared to spend Christmas alone until Jane, my friend from the Herald invited me to stay with her family in their huge clifftop home, Blackwood House.


I had agreed to come because I didn’t want to spend the holidays alone and feeling down about my breakup with Jeffrey, nor did I want to spend them in the sunshine of Majorca with my mother and grandparents. For me, Christmas meant a cold snap and snow, not sunshine and sandy beaches.


I was certainly not going to be disappointed with the weather in Cornwall; small snowflakes had already begun to fall, tossed about like ashes on the chill wind.


The station was deathly quiet. I was used to the hustle and bustle of Nottingham, and the silence here unnerved me as I stood alone on the platform. Jane was taking too long. Her sister Sarina was supposed to be here to pick us up and take us to Blackwood House, but the street beyond the station was devoid of cars. How far away could the nearest telephone be?


Footsteps on the platform behind me made me start, and I turned, expecting to see my friend returning with news of her sister.


But the dark figure walking along the platform towards me was a man.


He wore a trench coat and a hat pulled low on his head.


I had been about to call Jane’s name, but now the word dried up in my throat. My heart fluttered like a moth approaching a deadly candle flame and I considered running. I was wearing sensible shoes so I could probably flee and find Jane. But at the same time, I felt foolish; the man was simply walking down the platform and I had no real reason to assume he meant me any harm. I stood rooted to the spot among our battered luggage and tried to repress my flight impulse as the man got closer.


His walk was purposeful. He strode straight towards me. I felt like crying out - perhaps Jane would come running - but my throat still felt dry and scratchy. He was within the pool of dim light cast by the Waiting Room window now. He halted there and looked at me.


“Are you Jane Blackwood’s friend?”


I felt a sudden rush of relief. He must be here to pick us up and take us to Blackwood House. For some reason, Sarina couldn’t make it.


“Yes,” I said, “I’m Abbey...Abbey Fairchild.” I held out my hand, but instead of shaking it he placed a business card into my palm.


“My name’s Mike,” he said, “Mike Noon. I’m a reporter with the local newspaper, the Penzance Recorder.”


I hadn’t expected this. I looked at the card in my hand. In the poor light, I could make out his name, the newspaper’s name, and a telephone number. “I don’t understand. Are you a friend of Jane’s?”


He removed his hat and shook his head. The ends of his fair hair were wet from the snow, as were the shoulders of his trench coat. He was handsome, with a rugged yet sensitive-looking face and unreadable grey eyes. He looked to be in his late twenties like me. “I don’t know Jane Blackwood,” he said, “but I know of her and her family. And I knew she would be on this train with a friend who is visiting for the month.”


“How...?”


“I’m a reporter. I have contacts. I’m working on a story...been working on it for the past year. And I need your help.”


“I don’t understand,” I replied. “How can I help you? I’m just a visitor.”


“Exactly. You can get close to the Blackwoods. You can find out their secrets.”


“What?”


“I can’t get close,” he said. “There are things in that house that might explain the death of Lillian Blackwood. She didn’t die in an accident; she was murdered. Most people suspect it but I can’t prove it.”


“I think you’d better leave,” I said. I knew that Jane’s mother Lillian had drowned two years ago but Jane had never said that foul play had been suspected.


“Abbey?” Jane’s voice called from down the platform.


Mike looked over his shoulder at Jane, then back at me, and said, “Call me. I’m staying at the Mariner’s Arms...it isn’t far from Blackwood House.” He brushed past me and strode along the platform with the same purposeful gait he had used when approaching me.


Jane reached me and looked quizzically over my shoulder. “Who was that?”


“Someone called Noon. He said he was a reporter.”


My friend’s face became momentarily dark. “What did he want?”


“I don’t know,” I said, immediately regretting the lie. But my meeting with him seemed almost phantasmal. He had disappeared into the dark, snowy night and only the business card which I casually placed into my coat pocket remained as evidence of our meeting.


That, and my journalistic instincts which pondered Mike’s words and raised questions from the seeds he had planted in my mind. Had Lillian Blackwood been murdered? Had it been covered up? Did Blackwood House hold some secret regarding her death?


Jane brought me out of my reverie by saying, “Sarina is on her way. The snow must have slowed her down. The roads around here are treacherous in bad weather.”


We took our cases and carried them through the station buildings to the road.


“I’m so glad you decided to come,” Jane said. “Christmas at the house can be boring but with you here, we can go for walks along the coast. It’s quite beautiful, even in the winter.”


“Yes, I’d like to do some exploring,” I replied.



....that's as much as I've written so far. Smile

Angelina
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#2
I can't wait until you are done with your other book so you can get back to the Gothic. It is so much fun watching one being constructed. Smile
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