The dry leaves crunched underfoot as Vicky Houseman walked through the woods.
The sun on her face was warm, but inspiration for the new storyline was just not happening. She scooped up a few pinecones for use as Christmas decorations. Ivy from her garden and faery lights (lots of them) would complete the right look for her. Being a true Wiccan, she used her own version of traditional decorations, not something she shared with her colleagues, but a personal choice.
This year Vicky was spending Christmas alone. She’d had many invitations, but had gently turned them down. Oh, the joy of staying in her trackys all day, or even her pj’s if she wanted. Vicky smiled at the thought.
The first threatened flakes of snow started, falling downy soft to adorn her brown hair and settle feather light upon her shoulders, and she retraced her steps back to the car. Her cottage was only minutes away, but she was glad now she had been lazy. She placed her haul of decorations on the back seat and clambered in. Starting the engine to generate some warmth, she stared out at the dusting of snow as she reflected on her life, her grey eyes thoughtful.
Although she was a published author, it was also a convenient cover for her day job. She was a DCI at Sandford Police Station Special Branch Section, vetted to the highest standard, and dealt daily with anti-terrorism. Most of the work was intelligence led, and she was responsible for leading a team of hardened Police Officers. Her relentless work ethic had been recognized by her colleagues and she held the respect of her team, because ‘she got the job done, regardless’.
Frequently she worked from home, which suited her nicely. It aided her cover and her writing was a welcome escape from the crazy world of espionage.
She looked forward to few days away from it all. It would be just her and her new story.
Coming back to the present, she put the car in gear and drove towards home. With a full week still to go, she rather hoped the snow would lie heavily and stay until all the celebrations were over.
Pulling up outside her cottage, she noted that the guy next door was just going on shift. He did many unsociable stints as a fire fighter. Par for the course, she mused. She understood the call to duty.
Nick had moved in a few weeks ago, not the best of timing with Christmas just round the corner. They had managed a few words of introduction, and Vicky had taken in the good looks, brown hair and twinkling hazel eyes, and a wicked smile.
She did have trouble placing his slight accent. He spoke English perfectly, but there was an accent. She had never seen him in uniform, surmising he changed when he got to work. Most women seemed to have the dream of being carried over their shoulders in rescue by a gorgeous hero, but to her he was just a man doing a very worthwhile job.
Getting out of her car, Vicky waved, made a quick comment about the weather and then hurried inside to stoke up the cheery embers of the open fire she had left. Adding a couple of logs and a bit of coal, she replaced the guard again. The fire obediently sparked back into life, sending a warm glow around the room.
Looking outside at the now heavy snowfall, she was glad to be toasting herself in front of the flames. Nature could enjoy itself outside as it pleased. She had already put the garden to bed until spring.
Hopefully, though, her neighbour made it to work safely.
And then she put him out of mind.
A hint of the new story was finally forming. Many times she had relied on memory, only to have it fail her; thus, grabbing her tape recorder she began to make some notes.
She heated some thick homemade soup and then roughly ripped apart crusty bread. Not her best effort at bread making, she admitted, but it was palatable. Too many times she had to survive on a rushed meal and indigestion from the Police canteen.
When she had the chance she unwound by cooking from scratch.
Sitting in front of the fire on a pile of cushions, she pulled forward the purpose built tray and tucked into the meal.
Switching on the TV, she watched the weather report.
Many roads up North have been closed due to heavy snowfall and it’s now falling in the South …
As they panned the cameras around the country, it looked as if everywhere was tucked up under a large fluffy white fleece.
She flipped the TV off and gazed out of the window.
Tell me about it, Vicky thought, seeing only white. Well, the freezer is stocked up, and I have the central heating if the logs run out.
She loaded up the dishwasher and settled down again. She would have a glass of wine later, but for now she wanted to get some work done. With anticipation she referred to her recorded notes, then opened a new document on her laptop and started typing. Eventually her legs, curled up underneath her, began to cramp and, putting the laptop on the side of the sofa, she stretched and walked over to the wine rack. Selecting a Merlot, Vicky unscrewed the top and poured a glass. Throwing another couple of logs on the fire, she settled back down and re-read what she had written.
The characters had begun to introduce themselves and she started to do a bit of backfill. She liked where it was headed.
Already the ending was in her mind, and the working title for the moment was ‘Glasnost’.