She thought she knew her husband, but he’s been keeping a secret … about her.
About the Author
Though Jenny Harper was born in India and grew up in England, she lives in Edinburgh and loves Scotland and all things Scottish. Her Scottish Heartlands series is contemporary women’s fiction with a bite; complex characters facing serious issues. She is married to former MSP Robin Harper.
Read an Excerpt
Susie Wallace pokes one foot reluctantly out from underneath the duvet, senses a chill in the air and pulls it back hastily. Ten seconds later she tries again. On the third attempt, she has to force herself to pivot her body through ninety degrees until she’s sitting on the edge of the bed. Behind her, a rumpled form stirs as the duvet settles uneasily back into place.
‘You off?’ mumbles the formless shape under the covers.
Susie switches on her bedside lamp. ‘Oh sorry, darling, didn’t mean to disturb you.’ She watches her husband Archie hunch upwards. ‘I’ve got an early telly interview. Will I bring you tea?’
‘I’ll get up.’
His hair is white these days, but to Susie’s biased eye, Archie’s face hasn’t changed in all the years she has known him. She steals a precious moment to contemplate her husband.
‘What?’ He pauses in the ritual scratching of the scalp, his hand hovering above the thick thatch of hair, his blue eyes paler, perhaps, than they used to be but even at this ungodly hour still swimming with tenderness and wisdom and laughter – all the things that she’s always loved him for.
‘Nothing. Just thinking how amazing it is that I still fancy you thirty years on.’
‘Did you forget?’ She isn’t angry, merely amused. Of course he has forgotten. Archie isn’t a man for remembering birthdays, anniversaries, little landmarks of celebration. Why would he remember their thirtieth wedding anniversary when he has unrepentantly forgotten all the others?
‘Just joking.’ His grin breaks through, boyish as the day they met. ‘I’ve booked The Shore for dinner.’
‘Really?’ Susie is astonished. ‘Am I free?’
Life has changed. As an actress, she’d snogged Colin Firth, flown the wires as Tinkerbell and delivered a twenty-minute monologue naked in an off-West End theatre. Now she’s no longer in theatre, she’s a politician – and in the two years since she was elected to serve the people as a member of the Scottish Parliament, Archie has had to learn to negotiate diary time with her assistant.
He yawns. ‘I brokered a seven o’clock slot with Karen.’
‘How lovely.’ She stoops and kisses him, responding involuntarily to the familiarity of his early-morning smell, then pulling herself away reluctantly as she senses his interest quicken. ‘Sorry, darling, must hurry.’
Archie pulls a face and she smiles as she turns towards the shower. How close she’d come to messing everything up, in those crazy days of their early marriage – and how right she’d been to stay with him. She slips off her nightdress, but it’s not just the sudden chill that makes her shiver – it’s the thought of what might have happened if he’d come to hear of her folly.
Her life may have changed but Archie, thank heaven, is as important to her as ever. The thread of security and intimacy that binds them together is a precious treasure in the madness that has become her daily life.