Read an Excerpt
Snowflakes. I’ve always loved them; to me, there is nothing more romantic than staring out of the window on a dark winter’s night and watching soft, fluffy flakes of snow spiral to the ground. But when that same snow is pelting hard against the windscreen of your car, making it almost impossible to see more than a couple of feet ahead of you, and you’re on a winding, unlit country lane you’ve never driven along before, there is nothing soft and romantic about it.
It was late afternoon on Christmas Eve, and I had been on the road since leaving the office at lunchtime, which had begun to seem like an awfully long time ago. I’d hoped to reach my destination well before now, but the gradually worsening weather and my unfamiliarity with the area had put paid to that. I knew the house couldn’t be much farther, but the directions I had been given involved looking out for local signs and landmarks, most of which had been obscured by the rapidly falling snow. When my father had offered to buy me a satellite navigation system for Christmas, I’d told him it was the last thing I needed, a comment which sounded incredibly foolish in hindsight.
But that was before Joe Collymore had got in contact with me, asking me to spend the holiday at his late aunt’s home in the Yorkshire Dales. He apologised for sorting out all the arrangements so close to time but, having been left the place in her will, he had decided on the spur of the moment to host a celebration there before putting the property on the market in the New Year. “It’s just too big for a man on his own,” he told me in his e-mail, “but it’s absolutely perfect for a party.” He mentioned he had invited another half-dozen of his good friends, some of whom I would know from our time at university, others who he had met in the years since I’d last seen him.