To give you a taste of my book The Unseen here is an extract from the beginning of Chapter 2. Extracts will continue every Wednesday and Saturday.
Extract from CHAPTER TWO
Her back to the door, Danielle fussed over the kitchen worktop not realising Sean had entered. For seconds he surveyed her trim outline, then joined Rebecca, his hormonal fourteen year old daughter, at the table.
“Hi Dadda,” she said, not looking up while frantically scribbling homework.
“Breakfast!” Danielle called. “Eat now or be late for school.”
“I’ve gained half a pound,” Rebecca said. “I don’t do breakfast.”
“Half a pound for a young woman is nothing, please eat your cereal, it’s slimming.” Danielle placed croissants and coffee before Sean as Rebecca scooped cereal onto a spoon, holding it in the air while still scribbling with her other hand.
This appeared to satisfy both and Sean glanced between the two, his gaze slipping slowly from Danielle, her slight smile, her boyish face and pageboy hair cut always a pleasure to see. At forty he figured maybe he had started suffering middle-aged fantasies, for he never failed to imagine a sensual presence in her eyes, same time he also saw a barrier forbidding him to cross. Something about her stance, her manner and strong will made him suspect. Camilla, his ex-wife, had found Danielle through friends. Sean had no objection, she kept house, cooked his meals, looked after Sophie during the week and both girls when Rebecca visited weekends. Not that male desires had ever nudged him to cross the unspoken line, but he suspected Camilla was vindictive enough to have deliberately set him up to share house with a mature twenty-nine year old PhD student with preference for her own gender. Who cared? She was a great cook. Pity she had handed in her notice, her study time in England having run its course.
Sophie strutted in, posing at the threshold, one hand on her hip, the other against the frame. She wore her new prep school uniform, box-pleated skirt, white blouse and primrose tie. Sean felt pride and love brush the world aside.
Danielle clasped hands. “Oh Mademoiselle, vous êtes elegant et si belle. What style, what poise – please to join us for breakfast.”
Sophie’s model walk was not textbook. Sean kissed one cheek, Danielle the other.
“So my first week at boarding school,” Sophie said. “But I am taking my computer games.” She drew a yellow play station from her skirt pocket.
Sean placed an arm to encircle her shoulders and Sophie leant her head against him. For seconds he closed his eyes. All Camilla’s demands for private schooling in exchange for unrestricted child access were worth such moments.
“My eight year old little girl is growing up, leaving home.”
“But I’ll be back next weekend, every weekend we’re not visiting Mum. So just watch out.”
“Yeah, well I’m going to be a real meanie. When Danielle leaves, the housework gets left so when you two visit you’ll be scrubbing, washing and cooking.”
“Dadda.” Rebecca looked up, chin on curled fist. “Don’t fib, you wouldn’t do that. You’re the biggest softy going. And we love you for it”
“Children, who would be a father?
“You would Dadda.” Sophie hugged him. “Because we know you’ll get a lovely housekeeper to do everything while you take us to the theme park. But if you really want us to work … but you wouldn’t, would you?
“OK so I get a housekeeper, but who’s going to look after you, my little sweetheart?”
Rebecca shuffled books into a briefcase and stood from the table. “Don’t worry, Papa, she’s got big sister to mind her.” She came round the table, her fitted skirt high over mid-thigh.
“That skirt’s too short,” Sean said, sitting straight.
“Father, get real.” She helped herself to a Ryvita. “I’m wearing 70 denier black tights, they’re the decency item. The skirt’s simply for school rules. Tell him, Danielle.”
“Les filles seront toujours des filles et les pères, toujours des pères. Eat and be happy. Tomorrow skirts maybe long and computer games a bore.” She sat sipping coffee while the girls ate. Concentration lasted two minutes.
“Dadda, take us somewhere special next visit, please. You know Bradley took us for lunch at the Park Lane Hilton in his new Mercedes, then to the cinema. So you gotta do better.”
Sean grimaced at visions of his ex-wife’s partner, a pink shirt, highlighted hair. “Let’s be original. Let’s sightsee London top of a number 9 bus.”
“Cool.” Rebecca cracked another biscuit and moved from the table. “Can’t wait to tell my friends.”
Danielle stood and started stuffing textbooks into a monstrous shoulder bag. “OK, mademoiselles, we are late. Cases in car. Make sure you have your school work.”
Sean watched his two daughters gather equipment as they hurried from kitchen to hall, assembling coats, cases, sports bags and carriers. He hated this moment. It was Camilla’s method of absent torture. The school was only forty minutes away. Danielle could have fetched and carried, she had time. He rose when Sophie came for her hug.
“Miss you already, Dadda,” she said, clinging around his waist.
“Miss you too, little sweetheart. Have a good week.” She stretched on tiptoes as he bent to kiss her.
Rebecca came next, embracing with both arms, her cheek against his chest. Silence said more than words. Sean kissed her head. “Take care, my lovely. Call mid-week.”
“Rely on it. Bet flash Brad’s never been on a number 9. Love you, Dadda.” She returned the kiss.
Sean watched them depart in Danielle’s ancient Citroen. He felt sadness. His girls were growing up, soon they would be growing away, vulnerable to what lay out there.
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