I hadn’t realised how much time had gone by since my last Sunday Sample, so to celebrate the paperback release of Diavolino here’s another little taster. If you like it, maybe you’ll think about buying a copy in one form or another? All the links are on the right –
Alice slept in her bed, a length of knotted silk held tightly in her fist. Tom had stacked the dishwasher and tidied away with Elspeth. It was something he tried to do whenever he could. Back in London work got in the way so often. Here they would have more opportunity to share simple chores.
“We could sit outside and have a nightcap,” he said, “if it weren’t for those fucking insects.” The glass walls of the house were pebble dashed with flies drawn by the light from within. “I feel a bit of a fool, actually. I never thought there would be so many.”
“If they’re stuck to the windows trying to get in, maybe they won’t bother us if we sit outside in the dark,” said Elspeth.
“You could be right. Let’s give it a go.”
Tom took two small glasses and a bottle of grappa out onto the terrace. Elspeth nipped through behind him and slid the door shut. The outdoor furniture was still packed in bubble wrap and brown cardboard; it was easier to sit on the floor, legs dangling over the edge of the raised platform that constituted their terrace and main entrance. Tom uncorked the grappa, the heavy perfume of sour pond water clinging to the night air.
Elspeth screwed her face up. “God, it stinks. But it does taste good.”
“Darling,” said Tom, putting his arm around her hips. “Tomorrow, I really should get to grips with the job, you know, like a proper working day. You can afford to be a bit laid back for a couple of weeks or so. How about you take Alice to school in the morning and just have a poke around, see what you can find out about the place, see who you bump into?”
“You mean do the Miss Marple bit?”
“If you want to put it that way. You’re so good at it. I want to know about the history. I want to know what was so bloody terrible that Diavolino had to be erased.”
“You think it’s important?”
“I have to come up with a concept. Any historical coat hooks are welcome at this stage, you know that. If you can do some research in and around Poggio, I can ferret around the island. Apart from that, I’d just like to know. I hate unsolved mysteries.”
“OK, love. It’s fine by me. It’ll almost be like being on holiday. Oh, Tom, I’m so happy that we’re doing this. It’s only our first night here, and it already feels like home.”
“I know. Look at Alice. Most kids would be racing around completely hyper.”
“What did you make of that little outburst? You know, about the nutria?”
“Weird. She’s never been one to snap like that, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. This is all a big upheaval. And it’s been quick by any standards.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“Let’s hope all’s well at school.”
“Oh, I’m sure it will be. If I’m any judge of character, that Annamaria is a first-rate headmistress.”
“Absolutely. Do you think it would be just too cheesy to invite her for lunch or something? I bet she can spill a few beans—”
Something moved across the hollow. The snapping of a dry stick pierced the air. Something was breathing, moving toward them. A vague shape was visible in the darkness. Tom leaped to his feet and peered into the gloom beyond where the house lights pooled on the ground. He could see bushes moving, left, right, and then a figure rounded the big oak tree, its swift movements speeding it on through the darkness toward the house.