The Lost Sister: A gripping emotional page turner with a breathtaking twist
I didn’t say anything, just put my bag on my desk and switched my computer on.
‘Selma!’ Monica called out again.
I battled with the desire to continue ignoring her, but then I remembered the look on Monica’s face as she saw her son in the ocean, that awful fear.
I sighed, making myself smile. ‘Nathan okay, is he?’ I called over.
‘Fine. Shaken up but fine!’ Monica called back. ‘Come tell everyone what happened.’
‘I’m sure you have given a better account than I could.’ I sat at my desk, noticing my colleague Matthew smirking at me from over our divider. I smiled back at him. He was the only person in the place I could tolerate. On my first day six years ago, he’d handed me some headphones. ‘You’ll need these, trust me,’ he’d said wryly.
‘Best day of her life, her son nearly drowning,’ Matthew said now in a quiet voice.
My smile deepened. ‘Naughty boy,’ I whispered back.
We both went quiet when our boss, Daphne, approached. ‘Good weekend, Selma?’ she asked.
‘Lovely, thanks,’ I replied. ‘Apart from the barbeque catching fire,’ I added.
Daphne put her hand to her mouth. ‘Oh no!’
It was a lie, of course. Anything to ease the pain of the predictable Monday morning ‘How was your weekend?’ ritual.
‘I heard your book’s being made into a film,’ Daphne said. ‘I hope we’re not going to lose you to the glitz and glam of Hollywood.’
I felt my face flush. How quickly rumours spread in this town. A mere mention to Greg and now everyone knew.
‘Oh, it was just a call,’ I replied. ‘Might come to nothing.’
‘It’s exciting either way! Better get back to work, no film deal for me to pay the mortgage. Chat later!’
I narrowed my eyes at her. Was that a dig? My boss was the queen of passive aggressiveness.
As Daphne walked off, Monica strolled over.
‘Oh God, she’s coming over,’ Matthew said, quickly putting his headphones back on.
‘Did you hear the man who saved Nathan is living in one of the caves?’ Monica asked, sitting on my desk, which was something I detested people doing.
‘I heard something about it,’ I replied as I yanked some proofs of an advert I’d written from under her bum.
‘I left a bottle of wine outside to thank him with a note,’ Monica said excitedly. ‘He wasn’t there though, so I hope nobody nicks it. There were a couple of strange characters in there. I think they’d spent the night.’
I frowned. ‘How do you know that?’
‘I saw sleeping bags. One of the girls was still in her nightie.’
‘Girls?’ Matthew asked with a raised eyebrow.
Monica turned to him, nodding. ‘She looked young, maybe sixteen, seventeen.’
‘I bet he’s having fun,’ Matthew drawled.
Was it was one of the schoolgirls from the other day?
‘There was even a little table with tea and stuff on it,’ Monica added. ‘A few floor cushions as well. It looked rather comfy.’
‘You thinking of moving in, Monica?’ Matthew asked her.
‘Oh gosh, no!’ she said, raising her voice and getting flustered.
Daphne peered over at the sound of Monica’s raised voice.
‘Better go!’ Monica said, waving at them both and walking off as she frowned at Daphne.
‘She wants that guy’s babies,’ Matthew said.
‘Probably. He’s every frustrated housewife’s dream.’
‘So you like him too?’
I threw a pen at Matthew. ‘You know I’m not like the rest of them.’
‘Never, Selma, never,’ he said, winking at me before looking back at his computer.
As I tried to write copy for a leaflet for a local gym, I found my mind drifting off towards that cave. Tea. Cushions. Teenage girls in nighties. How strange.
I peered around me to check nobody was looking then discreetly pulled out my notepad and started writing, suddenly inspired again.
He smelt of tea leaves, of the forest and the snow. The girl watched him, finger flicking to her flimsy white nightie, breath heavy …
I crossed through the line in frustration. Too Mills & Boon.
‘Right everyone, time for our weekly team meeting!’ Daphne said, clapping her hands.
I squeezed my pen in frustration. Why did this have to happen just as I was all fired up to write? I watched everyone trudge into the stuffy meeting room, ready to waste an hour discussing milk being stolen from the fridge, reduced budgets due to the recession and early booking for the Christmas party. I thought of all the other meetings I’d been in, nodding my head at something someone had said while screaming inside, drawing doodles of desperate eyes and gaping mouths around the edges of the paper as I pretended to take notes.
How much longer could I endure it?
I thought of the man painting at the cave. The freedom of it. The creativity.
I shoved my notepad in my bag then slung it over my shoulder, striding over to Daphne.
‘Everything okay?’ she asked me.
‘No actually. The school called shortly after I got to the office. Becky’s ill.’