Author: Isabelle Grey
Published: 24th March 2016
Happy 4 day working week everyone, today I am kicking off the blog tour for Shot Through the Heart by Isabelle Grey. I am delighted to share an extract with you. I hope you like it. As always, the other stops on the tour are listed below, so please do follow along the blog tour.
The dogs – black Labradors, mother and son – were threshing around, wagging their tails and scenting fresh air. The heat of the Aga, which had been on full blast all day, had warmed even the quarry-tiled lobby where Robyn Ingold and her parents hung their coats and cleaned their boots. None of them had dressed up for the day; it was enough to put on the silly paper hats that came out of the crackers, and she was wearing her everyday jeans and a warm sweater. There would be enough roast goose to keep the three of them going all week. Just as well really. Her mum and dad would be busy tomorrow with the Boxing Day shoot. With the wildfowling season finishing at the end of January, the sportsmen would be wanting to make the most of the holidays; among them would be some of her dad’s best clients, the City types who’d spend tens of thousands on a single gun and then bring it to him for hand-crafted alterations. And meanwhile she’d be stuck into her revision, preparing for the mock exams she had to sit as soon as term started in the New Year. The minimum fuss of cold meat and leftovers would suit them all fine.
The moment Robyn opened the back door the dogs were through it and off, lolloping down towards the line of poplar trees at the end of the garden where they could sniff around for rabbits or other creatures in the long grass beside the fence. She grabbed a jacket and followed them out. It was beginning to get dark, but she could see the snow swirling in over the fields from the marshes beyond the sea wall a quarter of a mile away. She’d already fed the hens and made sure the two donkeys had water and fresh hay, but she made her usual circuit, checking they were all safely locked up for the night. The grass was speckled white and, though it was mushy underfoot, she hoped it would settle. It certainly felt cold enough. She loved waking up to the deep snow-clad silence which always seemed so mysterious and full of promise. She whistled to the dogs and, when they came immediately, let them know they were released: it was important with gun dogs never to slack on enforcing their obedience, even when it didn’t seem to matter. Martha was getting old, maybe a little deaf too, and didn’t always come as quickly as she should. That wouldn’t do in the field; there was no room for sentiment, not when the guns had paid a lot of money for their day out. But Bounder was a good dog, trained partly by Robyn’s father and partly by his own mother, Martha.
She looked east towards the estuary but the gathering snow obliterated the view. The Ingolds had no immediate neighbours and the only visible lights were at least half a mile away. She caught the muffled cry of a curlew carried on the wind. The sound rose, repeating, questioning, wild and lonely like the cry of the wind itself. She loved it, had always loved hearing it, especially at night when she was all tucked up warm in bed. She wondered again what it would be like to leave this place, to go away to university and be constantly with other people, to lose that unconscious absorption with the cast of the sky, the shivering leaves of the poplar trees, the morning’s dewy animal tracks in the grass, all the accumulating details that defined the little kingdom of her childhood. The thought was strange but also exhilarating.
She turned to look back at the house, a rather lumpy extended bungalow at right angles to two solid brick-built Victorian barns, one the garage, the other where her dad had his workshop.
Her mum hadn’t yet drawn the curtains and Robyn could look right into the living room, aware that, as darkness fell, her parents wouldn’t notice her watching them. The red candles on the dining table still shone amid the remains of their traditional dinner. Burning logs smoked on the open fire. Coloured lights on the Christmas tree went on and off in pattering sequence. Her parents stood with their backs to her, watching the television, the news probably, or maybe the Queen’s speech.
Her dad, in worn jeans and a soft Viyella shirt, was stocky, still with a full head of resilient sandy-brown hair. Her mum was about the same height, round and comfortable in a denim skirt and striped blouse, with a practical bob of blonde-highlighted hair. Robyn felt a wave of deep affection. An only child, she’d never been tempted to indulge in teenage angst: every day she saw how hard her parents worked and knew how ready they were to share the rewards with her, so why should she give them any grief?