‘Misquoting the Bard, Ms Hall?’ Connor strides across the floor and strikes a dramatic pose by the fireplace. The two bars of the electric fire glow ineffectually against the foggy October day which presses around the edges of the bay windows. Feeling the chill, I pull my cardigan more tightly around me.
‘Turn the fire up, Connor,’ says Cynthia. ‘Ms Hall’s blood will have thinned after ten years in warmer climes than these. I remember when I returned from Singapore, it took me years to readjust to our dismal English weather.’ She takes an emerald-coloured pashmina from the back of the chaise-longue and tosses it over to me.
‘Spot of something warming, perhaps?’ asks Connor, looking longingly at the half-empty bottle of whisky on the sideboard. I shake my head. He frowns. ‘I sense by your utterance you are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Pray tell us what troubles you.’
Before I can answer, there’s a tap on the door.
‘It’s open, darling,’ calls Cynthia.
Gina appears. She flings herself into an armchair and grins across the room at me. ‘Do you have some news for us, Ms Hall?’
I explain about NaNoWriMo. Three years running and three books written within each succeeding year. But last year NaNo was a struggle and didn’t get me off to the same start.
‘It sounds as if you might be taking on a little too much to commit to that for a fourth time,’ says Cynthia gently. ‘Don’t pressurise yourself.’
‘But you’d be picking up our story again,’ says Gina. ‘I mean you’ve just finished writing that other sequel, haven’t you?’
I incline my head. It’s true. The sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess has passed the final editing stage and is soon to be proof-read by another keen eye. I twist the pen I’m holding. ‘Ah well, not quite yet, and I’ve been considering putting a poetry collection together in time for next year’s World Poetry Day.’
Connor’s eyes light up. ‘Congratulations, splendid idea!’ Connor rubs his hands together. ‘I’d like to think my success with the slim volumes I’ve had published has inspired you. You know I’ve had an advance to compose a third..?’
Gina shifts in her seat. ‘But so much has happened in our story since our book came out,’ she holds out her hands. ‘Each time you’ve come round something new has happened.’ Her eyes fall on the notebook in my lap. ‘You’ve noted it all down, haven’t you?’
I look down in my lap. Gina’s right of course, I have been keeping notes… and there are a few more. I smile at three of my favourite characters from You’ll Never Walk Alone. ‘Next year will be your year, but no NaNo this time.’