No rest for the wicked
Saving Charlton Hall will burrow into your heart.
Celia Summers, intrepid mother of two, is too cuddly for sweatpants, she suspects. But then, her class at The Harbour Rest Home are similarly clad. Celia loves her work as an art therapist. She’s proud that she gives her elderly independents something to look forward to, even if her partner, Martin, disapproves of her efforts. He also has other things on his mind - telling complicated lies to Celia so he can sell Charlton Hall, his mum’s house, to pay off his debts.
Meanwhile, Celia fights to secure gallery space for her geriatric charges’ artwork, and to keep The Harbour from being closed. She’s even ready to abseil from a church steeple to bring attention to the plight of her old people, no matter that she might fall and end up splattered all over the flagstones. When she does fall, however, it’s much more painful - in love with PC Alex Burrows coming to her rescue.
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Excerpt from A Little Bit of Madness - Chapter 22
'I think I might be able to assist. Excuse me, dears.' May squeezed between them, potty in hand. 'There,' she said, opening the window and chucking the contents out. 'That should cool their ardour.'
'Oh my God.' Celia gawked. 'May, I can't believe you just did that!'
Eleanor laughed. 'Relax, Celia. He hasn't been assaulted quite as rudely as you think. It's tea, not pee.'
'I've been practising.' May nodded importantly. 'It's not as easy as it looks, you know, making huge potfuls and getting it right, especially when it's orgasmic.'
'Oh, don't be such a baby,' Celia shouted through the window, as Martin gave an outraged screech and clutched his shirt from his chest. 'It was tea, not pee.'
'It was bloody hot!' Martin looked up, po-faced. Appropriately, Celia thought. 'She could have seriously injured me, the silly cow. Come on, Celia, see sense and come out before something awful happens.'
'It already did, Martin. You happened.'
'Fine. Have it your own way,' Martin snapped, 'let's see if the police can persuade you, shall we?' With great fanfare, he flicked open his new mobile, and whoosh, in an instant it was gone—swept away on a cloud of fire extinguisher foam.
'Yessss!' Celia did a little twirl on the landing. 'Well done, Eleanor!'
'That is it!' Martin shouted through a face-full of suds. 'I'm going to find a public telephone. The police will be here in minutes, Celia. You'd better get out under your own steam, while you still can!'
'Do what you like, Martin,' she called, as the two men in suits climbed from their vehicle, now parked behind Martin's Jaguar. They'd had the good sense to stay out of the line of fire until now. 'We're not budging. We're not even prepared to talk until we get assurances no contracts have been exchanged!'
Let him chew on that for a while, Celia thought as she turned away. Damn! The bailiffs! She realised they could split up at any moment and bolted downstairs, missing the last step from the bottom to land in a heap.
'Ooh bloody, bloody Martin.' Celia crawled up the banister and limped on, sure at least one of the bailiffs would be trying to gain entry at the back by now. 'Batten down the hatches,' she shouted, stumbling into the kitchen.
'All battened m'dear. Blighters won't get in here,' the colonel assured her, walking stick ready to thrash any hand that might nudge through the cat-flap.
'Mum,' Luke yelled from the front hall, 'it's Alex.'
Oh no. Celia's heart plummeted. Why, why, why, if he cared about any of them, couldn't he have turned a blind eye, bunked off work, done anything but be involved in their eviction?
'Where?' She raced back toward the front hall, ready to dish out the same treatment to him as they had Martin, except, um, it seemed someone already had.
'Here,' said Alex, meeting her in the hall looking disarmingly Colin Firth-ish. Shirt plastered to his chest, his new shoes sloshing water as he walked, his expression one of total exasperation.
'Who let you in?!' Celia stared at him flabbergasted.
'Luke,' Alex supplied. 'On the condition I told the bailiffs to back off and in the hope I wouldn't drown, I imagine.'
'Good God!' The colonel blinked his monocle-free eye. 'Not raining is it, lad?'
Alex sighed. 'Torrentially. You might want to point out to May that hosing down policemen isn't the best way to proceed if she wants to avoid a visit to the station.'