Alison Sherlock shares an extract from her latest novel, A Way Back Home.

He watched the purple haired stranger walk along the side of the trailer towards the back, bending down as if she had run over something. Or perhaps there was a problem with the suspension, if it was in just a bad a state as the rust riddled Fiesta.

He thought he could see a flash of red metal at the back of the trailer. Funny, he thought. That was the exact same colour as his vintage Aston Martin.

And then he realised what had happened.

Will ran across the kitchen, flinging open the back door as he rushed outside.

‘Oy!’ he shouted, running across the courtyard. ‘What the hell have you done to my car?’

The woman straightened up as she turned round, her cheeks flaming in embarrassment. He could immediately see that she was looking completely mortified. ‘Oh, is it your car?’ she said, biting her lip. ‘I’m so, so sorry. It’s the trailer, you see. I’m just not used to driving it.’

Will rushed straight past her and took a deep intake of shocked breath as he stared down. There was his beloved dream car… the bonnet caved in, crushed beneath the back of the trailer.

‘Move it forward,’ he shouted at her.

‘What?’ he heard her say in somewhat of a daze.

He rolled his eyes before turning to glare at her. She was obviously a complete idiot, whoever she was. ‘Would you please move this bloody thing off my car!’

She gave a start at this angry tone, her blue eyes widening. ‘Yes, of course. Sorry.’

Maybe it wasn’t so bad, he told himself, as she got in the car and started up the engine. Maybe the Aston Martin would be fine.

But as she slowly pulled the trailer away, the crunching of metal didn’t fill him with optimism. The fact that the bonnet was pulled off and trailed underneath the Airstream as it moved was the final insult.

He stared down at his dream car which was now minus a bonnet. Thankfully the engine looked intact but the front bodywork was a mess. One headlight was dangling off and the corresponding side panel was badly damaged.

He felt the woman come to stand next to him to survey the damage. ‘Maybe it’s not as bad as it looks,’ he heard her say in a breathless but hopeful tone.

Will slowly turned his head to stare at her in disbelief. He had dated enough beautiful women to appreciate the big blue eyes, smooth pale skin and full mouth. But she was obviously a total airhead. And possibly a hippie as well. Plus she was the owner of the wretched Airstream trailer that had destroyed his pride and joy.

‘You’re joking, right?’ he snapped. ‘It’s a classic car. This is going to cost thousands of pounds to fix.’

She blanched. ‘Thousands?’ she repeated, her eyes growing wide. ‘I don’t have thousands.’

‘I’m sure your insurance company will be able to help,’ he replied.

She blinked at him and remained silent.

‘Don’t tell me,’ he drawled, dragging a hand through his short blonde hair. ‘You don’t even have insurance on this thing?’

‘The car’s covered,’ she said, blushing furiously. ‘But money’s a bit tight and I was only going to be towing it for this one day so I thought I could get away with it. You see, it’s never left the driveway.’

‘I don’t believe this,’ he said, with a groan. ‘Look, Miss, er, who the hell are you, by the way?’ he asked, still wondering why this kind of person was visiting Willow Tree Hall.

She was about to reply when they were interrupted by his elderly grandfather coming across the courtyard.

‘I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about,’ said Arthur Harris, leaning on his walking stick as he came to stand next to them. ‘I say, what a beautiful caravan. I haven’t seen one of these for years.’

‘Not now, Grandad,’ said Will, still trying to take in what had happened during the last ghastly five minutes of his life. ‘I’m trying to get this lady’s details.’

To his surprise, Arthur smiled. ‘I think I can help you there,’ he said, turning to the stranger. ‘You must be Miss Jackson. Welcome to Willow Tree Hall. I’m Arthur Harris.’

She broke into a smile. ‘Yes, hello. It’s nice to finally meet you. Please call me Skye.’

‘Then I must insist you call me Arthur,’ he replied in his clipped, aristocratic tone.

Will watched in a daze as his grandfather held out his frail but still firm hand to shake the much stronger one of the women who had just wrecked his dream car. ‘You two know each other?’

‘Only by recent correspondence. Actually, this is our very first meeting face to face,’ said Arthur, in a warm tone, smiling at her. ‘One of many, I hope.’

Presumably this Skye was going to be using one of the stalls in the refurbished stable block, thought Will.

Over the past summer, the twelve stalls in the run down stable block had gradually been renovated so that they could be used for small and emerging businesses from the village and the surrounding area. Only one was being used full time, but the hope was that any income they could bring in would help to keep the vast estate of Willow Tree Hall out of the red.

‘I’m afraid I’ve accidentally crashed into this man’s car with my trailer,’ said Skye, with a grimace, glancing quickly at Will.

‘It’s only a car,’ said Arthur, wafting away any concern with his hand. ‘And this is my grandson, Will.’

‘Grandad, it may only be a car to you, but to me it’s a classic and an expensive one at that,’ said Will in an exasperated tone. ‘How am I going to get it repaired?’

Especially now that he had lost his job and spent all of his savings. He gulped, still trying to get over the shock of that.

‘Don’t worry, my boy,’ said Arthur, putting a hand on his shoulder. ‘We’ll think of something.’

But for once, his grandfather’s affable nature rubbed Will up the wrong way that afternoon. ‘Look,’ he told them both, ‘I’m going to head back to the lodge whilst you two talk over whatever business it is that you have. I’ll come back in half an hour or so and then we can sort all this out.’

What happens when two lost souls find themselves?

After recent heartbreak, Skye Jackson finds herself homeless and on the road with only a classic Airstream trailer to her name. A surprise inheritance of a rundown little lodge in the grounds of beautiful Willow Tree Hall forces her to change her plans. However there is a problem…

The lodge is co-owned by care-free, playboy Will Harris, who finds himself unemployed after a recent tabloid scandal.

Skye desperately wants a home to call her own and needs to move on as quickly as possible. Will doesn’t want to stay at his family home either to face the ghosts of his past. So they decide to put aside their differences and renovate the cottage together.

But when a storm hits, Skye and Will are forced to stay on to ensure that an important wedding goes ahead. Can Skye finally find a home of her own? Can Will stop running from his past and help out his family when they need him the most?

The magic of winter at Willow Tree Hall is about to change everything…

Alison Sherlock enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Alison lives in Surrey with her husband and a daft golden retriever.

Twitter handle: @AlisonSherlock

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