‘She’s been making cards and stuff all afternoon,’ says Gina in a confidential whisper to Cynthia.
‘Cards? I thought it was a book launch? Anyway, how do you know what she’s been doing?’
‘We’re her characters; we’re in her head, aren’t we? So, of course we know what she’s doing; especially if it’s about to Our Book.’ Gina nods her head meaningfully.
‘Oh, I see,’ says Cynthia. ‘I’ve never noticed. It seems a bit impolite poking about in her head, though.’ Cynthia pauses. ‘But why the cards?’
‘Marketing,’ says Gary, joining them at the little table in the back garden. ‘Giveaways, contact details, that kind of stuff.’
‘Look at you, eh, Mister Marketer,’ Gina gives Gary a playful prod in the arm. ‘Ever since he left the Social Security and went to work in that posh insurance company in town,’ she glances down at her new engagement ring and smiles, ‘he’s come over all ”private sector”. He’ll be voting Tory next.’
Gary pulls a face at her.
‘Connor showed me that lovely review she received, from that nice young lady In Sheffield…what’s her name?’ said Cynthia.
‘Ellie Scott you mean?’
‘That’s right, darling. I though she caught me rather well, don’t you? I’m sure she didn’t mean to imply I was something of a lush.’
‘That would never enter anyone’s head, Cynth,’ says Gary, almost managing to keep a straight face.
Cynthia glares at him frostily and stares toward the bottom of the garden where Connor is gesticulating animatedly. ‘Who’s he talking to now? Or is he just declaiming to that old rosebush again?
Gina follows her gaze. ‘It’s her,’ she hisses. ‘It’s our author! Look, they’re coming this way.’
‘Oh well, in that case…’ Cynthia leaves her sentence unfinished and disappears through the French doors.
I follow Connor back up the garden. He’s been reading to me from his latest slim volume of poetry. Perhaps I like to include some of it in my next book. My next book?
‘Ms Hall and I have been talking,’ Connor announces as we approach.
‘Are you going to write another book for us?’ Gina asks, eyes widening with excitement.
‘Like that nice young woman suggested,’ adds Cynthia, emerging from her French doors carrying a tray of glasses and a bottle of wine.
What’s this? My characters are at it again!
Connor gestures to me to sit down on the garden bench which has been moved to a sunny spot near the little wrought iron table where they’re all gathered. I sit and Asmar, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat, jumps on my knee, purring his head off.
Cynthia pours the wine. ‘We do hope your book launch party goes well on Friday, darling,’ she smiles at me.
‘Hear hear, old thi…Cynthia,’ Connor adds, picking up a glass from the tray and raising it to me. ‘Cheers.’
We hear a noisy old vehicle rattle to a halt outside. Moments later Bob appears at the side gate with Fingers on his shoulder who immediately starts to chirrup excitedly. Tony Wong is behind them in what looks like a new suit. He has an air of someone who’s come into money and has plans.
‘Well, Ms Hall, the gang’s all here,’ says Connor. ‘What’s our next story?’
I take the glass which Cynthia is holding out to me. Maybe. I lean back and close my eyes. Let’s see…
If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!