Short story: read our NEW three-parter!

Anna’s glam­orous life in Lon­don is brought to an abrupt halt by a tragic ac­ci­dent

YOURS (UK) - - Contents - By Rosie Good­win

The con­fer­ence room door opened and a timid young re­cep­tion­ist said: “Some­one to see you, Miss Mer­rick.”

“Some­one for me?” Anna Mer­rick looked up from the min­utes she was tak­ing of the se­nior man­agers’ meet­ing. “But I asked not to be dis­turbed.”

The girl glanced apolo­get­i­cally at the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor who was chair­ing the meet­ing. “I know, Miss, but it’s the po­lice and they say it’s very ur­gent.”

Anna’s boss, Glen Rid­dle, nod­ded at her: “Go ahead, Anna. We are all due for a tea break, any­way.”

Anna hur­ried from the room, try­ing to hide her con­cern as well as her an­noy­ance at be­ing in­ter­rupted. The girl pointed to a small empty meet­ing room: “They are wait­ing for you in there.”

Won­der­ing what on earth the po­lice could pos­si­bly want with her, she in­tro­duced her­self briskly: “Good morn­ing. I’m Anna Mer­rick. How can I help you?”

Five min­utes later she re­turned to the re­cep­tion area, star­ing numbly into space, her face waxen with shock.

“Are you all right, Miss Mer­rick?” the re­cep­tion­ist asked, pulling up a chair and gen­tly guid­ing Anna to­wards it.

“Not re­ally,” Anna man­aged to an­swer, still in a trance. “It’s my sis­ter – she’s been in a car ac­ci­dent.”

“Oh dear! Is she hurt?”

Anna gulped and blinked back scald­ing tears. “No, she’s not hurt… she’s dead,” she whis­pered just as Glen stepped out of the meet­ing room. He saw at a glance that some­thing was very wrong and, tak­ing her by the el­bow, led her to his of­fice on the sev­enth floor. Stum­bling over the words, she told him what had hap­pened. Glen frowned: “You should go home at once, Anna. You’ve had a ter­ri­ble shock.”

“I will have to go to Wales. My sis­ter was a widow with a four-year-old son. There is no­body to take care of him and there will be the funeral to ar­range and…” she stam­mered.

Glen’s frown deep­ened, as­sess­ing this un­ex­pected turn of events. Surely Anna couldn’t be ex­pected to take the child on? She was am­bi­tious – he couldn’t vi­su­alise her giv­ing up all that she’d worked for to be­come a sur­ro­gate mum.

It was too many months since she had made time to visit her sis­ter and nephew

“Well, I’m sure you’ll man­age to sort some­thing out,” he mum­bled awk­wardly. “Just take as long as you need off work. I’ll get some­one to step in while you are away but, don’t worry, your job will be wait­ing for you when you get back. And Anna – I’m so sorry this has hap­pened.”

She rose, her legs feel­ing as though they had turned to jelly. Word­lessly, she stum­bled back to her own of­fice to col­lect her coat and brief­case.

As she left the build­ing and stepped out into the busy street, the fa­mil­iar sights and sounds of Lon­don as­saulted her. The roar of the traf­fic, the crowds – ev­ery­thing was just as it had been that morn­ing and yet noth­ing would ever be the same again.

She hailed a taxi and within an hour was back in her bright, mod­ern flat hastily pack­ing a suit­case. She scrib­bled a note for Libby, her clean­ing lady, then re­alised she needed to con­tact Justin as well. They had been in­vited to a cock­tail party in Chelsea that evening, but by then she would be on the M4, well on her way to deep­est, dark­est Wales as Justin al­ways called it.

Justin would not be very pleased, but right now that was not her main con­cern. His phone went straight to voice­mail, so she left a gar­bled mes­sage as she hur­ried down to the ground floor to let Fred the door­man know that she was go­ing away for a while. She couldn’t bring her­self to tell him the rea­son, but ex­plained that she didn’t yet know how long it would be for.

“Don’t worry, Miss, I’ll keep an eye on the place for you,” he told her with a

friendly wink. Anna made her way down to the un­der­ground car park and was soon steer­ing her red BMW to­wards the North Cir­cu­lar to pick up the M4 at Chiswick.

Her mind filled with thoughts of Kat, her sis­ter, who would have been 36 on her birthday next month. Al­though Kat was four years older, the sis­ters had been very close un­til Anna had de­cided to pur­sue her ca­reer in Lon­don.

She knew noth­ing about chil­dren and their up­bring­ing – and had no wish to learn

Kat had never fully ap­proved of her new life­style, telling her younger sis­ter that there was a lot more to life than fast cars, de­signer hand­bags and a high­pow­ered job. But Anna had never looked back, lov­ing ev­ery mo­ment of her life in the big city.

To be fair, Kat had never been jeal­ous of Anna’s glam­orous world – she was per­fectly con­tent with her choice to marry her teenage sweet­heart, Steve. They had bought a derelict farm­house in ru­ral Pem­brokeshire and spent ev­ery spare minute ren­o­vat­ing it with the in­ten­tion of fill­ing it with a large fam­ily of chil­dren. Trag­i­cally, Steve had died from a rare form of can­cer only two months be­fore their son, Wil­liam, was born.

Since Steve’s death, Kat had de­voted her­self to bring­ing up their son. And now, un­be­liev­ably, Kat was gone. It was too much to take in.

Anna’s mind went back to the day of Wil­liam’s chris­ten­ing when Kat had asked her to be god­mother. She could see Kat in the lit­tle vil­lage church, her blonde hair in a neat chignon, her blue eyes shin­ing with pride. Anna felt a ter­ri­ble stab of guilt, re­mem­ber­ing that it was too many months since she had made time to visit her sis­ter and her young nephew.

What was she go­ing to do about Wil­liam now? Steve’s par­ents lived abroad and her own par­ents were dead so she was his only liv­ing rel­a­tive, but she knew noth­ing about chil­dren and their up­bring­ing – and had no wish to learn. Moth­er­hood was not for her.

Anna thought, ‘I’ll ring so­cial ser­vices. Per­haps they can find some­one to fos­ter him. A nice lo­cal fam­ily’. But be­fore that, she had to con­cen­trate on other mat­ters; there was a funeral to or­gan­ise and Kat’s es­tate to sort out. Had her sis­ter made a Will? Did she have a so­lic­i­tor?

She drove on, feel­ing she was in the grip of a night­mare. Cross­ing the Severn Bridge, she told her­self that one thing was for sure, she wasn’t go­ing to stay away from Lon­don or Justin for a mo­ment longer than she had to!

■ In the next is­sue, out on De­cem­ber 4, find out what hap­pens when Anna ar­rives to find her young nephew alone in the world

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