Step-siblings Izzy and Danny are travelling from Scotland to Cambridgeshire for the funeral of their parents, and find themselves in need of somewhere to stay for the night.
A near miss on the motorway leads to a nearby B&B, but it may just have been safer for them to stay at the local Holiday Inn.
Both are hiding secrets from the other, but whose truth is going to be the hardest to hear?
(Chapter 1: Scene 2)
“We need to find somewhere to stay overnight, I think.” Izzy was trying to keep her eyes on the road, but she could see the heaviness of the sky as they made their way across the A66. She hated the road and had been amazed to find it still open to traffic considering the weather.
“There’s the Scotch Corner Hotel.” Danny was playing a game on his phone and didn’t look up. “We could stay there.”
“Oh really. And do you have a spare hundred quid for a room?”
“We could get a twin.”
“Not bloody likely.” There was no way she planned on spending the night in a room with her step-brother. “And besides, I don’t think they have twin rooms. Only doubles from what I remember.”
That was enough to tear his attention from his phone for a few seconds. “When have you ever stayed at that hotel?”
“None of your damn business.”
“OK, forget I asked.”
They carried on for a few more minutes in silence, with Danny furiously tapping away at his phone screen. They had agreed not to listen to any more music after Careless Whisper came on, and Izzy had been so wound up she had ejected the CD from both the stereo and the car.
“I can’t find anywhere else. Not cheap enough for a couple of students, anyway.” Danny rested his head against the passenger side window and stared at her. “I mean, I can always phone my dad and ask him to transfer some money into my account. Then we can stay at the—”
“We’re not borrowing money from your dad, Danny.” Izzy’s fingers tightened around the steering wheel. “And we’re not staying at that bloody hotel.”
Her thoughts were so distracted she failed to notice that the car was slowly drifting over into the hard shoulder. She was getting tired. Maybe letting Danny borrow money from his dad was a good idea. It meant they had somewhere to stay, at least.
A horn blared behind them, and Izzy realized how far off the road she was just in time to swerve away from a man standing on the hard shoulder. There was no car, just a man standing in the rain. His eyes were dark and hollow, his sodden hair flopping over is forehead. His coat was unmistakable. She had seen that coat so many times she could describe every tear and ever off-centre button flawlessly. She instinctively slammed her foot down onto the brake pedal. The car screeched to a halt, and Izzy fumbled with her seatbelt.
“What are you doing?”
“I have to…” She trailed off. What could she say to him? She looked at him properly for the first time. She had missed that face, those stupid confused eyes of his, and the way his lip twitched when he had trouble understanding something. Still watching him, she pushed open her door and baked out. “I’m sorry.”
She sprinted through the icy rain to where the man had been standing, but there was nobody there. Of course, there wasn’t. How could he have possibly been there? But still, she looked around for any sign that someone might have been. The rain and the wind made it almost impossible to see anything, so much that Danny’s hand on her shoulder set her pulse quickening.
“Are you OK?” Danny had to shout over the rain for her to hear him, and even then, it was hard to make out what he was saying.”
“I’m fine,” she shouted back, before heading back to the car. Her hands trembled, partly from the cold and the rain, but mostly from the shock, as she got back into the car and put her hands on the steering wheel. Even the fact she was now getting her seat wet was a secondary thought.
“What the hell happened back there?” Danny climbed back into the passenger seat and slammed the door. “You’re soaked.”
“So are you.”
“Yeah, I guess I am.” He picked up the towel and ran it through his hair before handing it across to Izzy. “So, I’ll ask again. What happened?”
“I was just distracted, I guess.” Izzy wiped her face with the towel, and only then noticed that she was crying. “I thought I saw my dad.”
“Dead, I know.” She could hardly forget that. “I’m just telling you what I saw. What I thought I saw.”
Danny snorted next to her. How typical of him to find something like that funny. “If you see him again, tell him thanks for finding somewhere for us to stay tonight.” He pointed out the windscreen at a sign for a B&B. “Look at that!”