Lost Girl by JC Grey


Days become weeks, weeks months, and seasons turn as the house waits.

Spring showers and rich soil see green things sprout, tentatively at first then with enthusiasm, as if they sense the absence of hard, yanking hands. Common jasmine tunnels below ground, thrusting upwards where it will, twisting and twining up the hardy old camellia, suffocating it. A killer dressed in angel’s clothes.

A high wind one night scatters leaves into the gutter above the high window of a bedroom, blocking it. A small waterfall forms, creating a relentless drip, drip against the wall. A menacing green-black stain begins to spread.

Hail fractures a slate tile on the roof, and it hurtles to earth. The impact on the old cobblestones creates a thousand splinters. One ricochets like a bullet into a rear window, producing a spider’s web of cracks.

A shutter comes loose and slams bitterly, soon accompanied by its partner. Wind whistles down the chimneys and the interior doors join the resentful chorus.

At the end of the drive, rusty fingers creep from the lock in the gate, freezing it shut.

Twice, people come. One puts up a ‘For Sale’ sign, only for a sudden squall to strike it down later that night. The other takes one look, shakes his head and carries on past. Even animals do not linger long here.

The house sighs and whispers mournfully to itself as it listens in vain for a heartbeat. Spring ripens into summer, summer turns to autumn. The house is now all but hidden by shadowy vegetation. Yet still it stands. Still it sighs and whispers to itself.

And still it waits …

Chapter One

July last year …

The four other women in the fertility specialist’s waiting room stare at me in envy, despite their bellies ripening while mine remains flat. Some of it may be the loss of their girlish figures but a bigger part of their resentment has to do with me being Sydney’s current It Girl. I know I should hate the way that word objectifies me—an ‘it’, a girlish thing, not even a womanly one—but in a perverse way, I love it too, as it means I am something they are not. So I tolerate their stares.

The other reason for their covetousness sits by my side, oblivious as always to the attention we are attracting. He is Marc McAllister, my husband, wealthy funds manager—the guy who predicted the global financial crisis, in fact—and all-round good guy. He looks the part: sharp navy suit, crisp white shirt, red abstract tie. His blond hair is cut close to his head around beautifully shaped ears. I love his ears.

In this setting—as in any—he looks completely at ease, regardless of the fact that the quality and/or commitment of his sperm are being called into question—by me, anyway. As far as the specialist is concerned, ours is a case of no-fault infertility, though she suspects me. I can tell.

Deep down, I suspect me too. After all, Marc is, well, Marc. As the son, grandson and great-grandson of wealthy, socially connected McAllister movers and shakers, his provenance is known and celebrated whereas my pedigree is less exclusive.

I realise I haven’t yet introduced myself. Marc calls me Em but my real name is Emerald Reed-McAllister. For the moment, anyway. I’m not going to give away all my secrets this early in our relationship—yours and mine, that is. Even Marc doesn’t know everything although I’m sure he suspects that my background is not exactly gold-plated. It doesn’t seem to put him off. At least, I don’t think so.

Of course, as an It Girl, I do have some points in my favour, including a face that transforms from odd to extraordinary when filtered through a camera lens, and one of those long, lean bodies that exhales ‘yoga’, even though I’ve never done a downward dog in my life. I also have a talent for choosing and wearing clothes now referred to by the gossip rags as ‘Em-chic’.

You’re already starting to hate me, aren’t you? Give me some time and you’ll hate me a whole lot more. Most women do.

Marc denies he married me for any of my physical attributes. Instead—get this!—he announced to all and sundry during his wedding speech that he married me for my wicked mouth. He was a little nervous and stuffed up the delivery so everyone got the wrong end of the stick. Anyway, you could have heard a pin drop, then someone cleared a throat and another tried a nervous titter that was strangled at birth. What else was a girl to do? So I stood up, shrugged nonchalantly and said I thought it was for my money. That was a joke. Everyone knew I didn’t have two cents to rub together while Marc had pots of it. Fortunately, at this point his rugby mates—bless them—started laughing uncontrollably and saved the day.

Okay, so he’s not really perfect because that sounds sickly and fake and just impossible to live with. Marc is none of these. Right now, he looks up from the Financial Review, takes off his reading glasses, grins and squeezes my hand. My granite heart has a sandstone moment.

‘Reckon you’ll be up the duff before the ASX reaches 6000?’ he whispers. If, like me, you can barely count to ten, the ASX is the Australian Stock Exchange, and its ups and downs are Marc’s bread and butter. Mine too now that my wagon is hitched to his star I suppose.

I squeeze back. ‘As long as you keep your end up.’

He grins, the creases around his dark eyes crinkling, and I have to look away to get a grip on my treacherous emotions.

In the days that follow the appointment with the specialist, who tells us to keep trying and bills us three hundred dollars for the ‘consultation’, Marc does and still I’m not. Nothing we try works, although we certainly enjoy the trying, even when a hint of desperation starts gnawing around the edges of our conjugal bliss.

On one occasion, I ask the specialist if our problems are because pleasure is somehow a barrier to procreation. Is our enjoyment of sex a signal that we are not treating our mission seriously enough? Marc rolls his eyes and even the doctor struggles to keep a straight face. But, in the end—when even technology fails—all we have left is pleasure.

When I begin to suspect that he might leave me, I do the only thing I can. I leave him first.

I go back shortly afterwards for reasons you’ll soon find out. But Marc learns something about me he didn’t know before. I’m a bolter, not a stayer. The trace of a shadow begins to lurk behind his eyes.

Yesterday, not even a year after that first bolt, I left him again. And now I am here. Which is where, exactly? I wish I knew.

Present day, in the still of the night

Wake up!

My eyes snap open as if pulled by strings and I am staring up into the shadows. An elaborate ceiling rose is all twists and turns and curlicues. It is dead quiet outside. Not even the birds are up.

My ears are attuned to every sound the old house makes, the grumble of water in the pipes and the contraction of the old boards in the cool of early morning. I’m sure I heard something more, something that sounded almost human.

It is possible I am not alone here. When I stumbled in dog-tired last night after driving aimlessly all day, I didn’t exactly announce myself. Squatters, the homeless—others like me—might also be in residence. When I get up I will search the crumbling house, but at the moment I am inclined to stay put.

I am warm and relaxed on the ratty red velvet chaise, covered by the picnic blanket from the car. More to the point, I am safe for the moment—both from Marc’s bewildered disbelief and the terrible, eviscerating pain that has torn at my vitals these past five weeks. Eventually, both will catch up with me, but for now the weight has lifted a little. I sleep.

When I wake again, sunlight has chased away most of the shadows. This is not necessarily welcome. In my current state, shadows are my friends.

Too warm, I push back the picnic blanket and immediately feel a sting of loss. At first I am unsure of the reason, but then I realise it holds a trace scent of Marc’s cologne. We once made love on it, a lifetime ago. I push the thought away and rise, wobbling a little. Properly awake now, I feel an urgent need to pee. I stagger barefoot across the drawing room out into the hallway that runs down the centre of the ground floor. The first door I open reveals a library, but the second is a powder room. Relief!

The toilet has an old chain flush but it works. As I pull up my panties and jeans, I wonder briefly who pays the water rates. I wash my hands and, startled, catch a glimpse of a face in the tarnished mirror above the basin. Who is that woman? She could be me if it wasn’t for the limp reddish hair, chalky skin and puffy eyes. The too-wide mouth is identical, though, as are the chisel-cut cheekbones.

Not wanting to look at her—me—too long, I splash water on my face. There is no towel, so I shake my hands and head, and carry on down the hallway into a vast kitchen, where a double set of French doors leads out to the backyard. One pane of glass is badly cracked.

Burnished copper pots hang from a ceiling rack, an old pine dresser holds a full set of china and the timber bench, inset with a huge butler’s sink, is thick with dust. A chopping board and knife lie on the bench as though waiting for someone to begin breakfast preparations.

‘Hello?’ I call out, remembering the whisper I’d heard earlier. My voice is a strangled croak and I realise I have a raging thirst. The cold tap on the sink grumbles as it turns, sputtering out irregular gushes of water. It is cool, though, and tastes fresh enough. My hands create a dish, from which I lap like a dog until the water runs down my chin into my singlet, dampening my breasts.

I am hungry too, but first I need to know if I have company. I peer into the large pantry and the adjacent laundry. But they are empty, likewise the gloomy dining room with its heavy drapes and vast, banquet-sized table. From there I circle back around to the library, where I eye the long heavy drapes. They would make the perfect hiding spot for a knife-wielding madman but when I yank on the cord, all they reveal is a window-seat where a threadbare stuffed bear lies at an uncomfortable angle. I straighten him and turn away.

Shelves run right up to the ceiling either side of the marble fireplace, stacked none-too-neatly with both fiction and reference books. Jane Eyre is sandwiched between a book on military history and Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation. The spines are ragged, the pages dog-eared. All have clearly been read and re-read. This is a real library, not like the one at the concrete Mosman mansion of Marc’s colleague, Toby Meyer—and Toby’s wife Griselda (I kid you not! Marc calls her Grisly, which she is)—which seems to have been purchased in a job lot from one of those publishers that specialises in the collected works of writers no one ever reads. The Meyers certainly never have, judging by the pristine covers. Marc and I used to laugh about it, in the days when we still found life funny.

Unless someone is concealed up the chimney, there is no one in the library, so I return to the drawing room. It is as I left it: the tall shutters closed against the light, rug in a pile at one end of the chaise, a cushion at the other. My bag is next to my sandals on the hardwood floor, mobile perched on top. It pings to announce an incoming message. Perhaps this is what woke me earlier. Without checking, I know it is him, but we have nothing to say to each other so I force myself away and climb the staircase that curves elegantly from the entry foyer to the first floor where it branches into two.

Upstairs, the rooms are similarly vast with four-metre ceilings that make them seem even larger, as does the absence of furniture. In the master bedroom, my attention goes immediately to the wide bay window and the French doors next to it. The doors open easily onto a small balcony and I step outside and catch my breath, but not from the cold of the stone against my bare feet.

I am at the rear of the house, which seems to be surrounded by green. The original landscaping is a memory imprinted on the soil rather than fact. I can hear the rush of water somewhere in the distance. Topography, humidity and neglect have conspired to produce a jungle that is fast encroaching on the house. Spindly palms tower over the tangle beneath. I recognise lantana and morning glory among the ground covers. Clivia has multiplied unchecked in a great swathe of orange and dark green, but the camellias, leggy and yellowing, are at the mercy of the all-conquering jasmine.

From the position of the sun, I am looking north and beyond the trees I can see tin rooftops and the glint of sun on glass, a wisp of smoke. I suspect it is the small town of Lammermoor, which was where I was heading last night when the mist suddenly emerged from nowhere, crawling along the low-lying road in front of the car, herding me here.

I explore the other bedrooms and a bathroom, all of them empty. It is all but conclusive that I am the only life form in this house, possibly bar the odd mouse or two. In any case I am in need of a shower and getting hungrier by the minute so I decide to abandon the search.

As I walk back to the stairs, past the master suite, the fine hairs on my arms prickle—a draught maybe, but it is enough to make me step back inside the room. I have not secured the French doors and one of them has blown open. As I shut it tight and turn the lock, the door to the dressing room clicks shut. I have already peeked in there and scanned the empty racks and hanging space, and the en suite bathroom beyond. But now I go inside and see that there is a small door tucked around the corner.

Curious, I turn the old-fashioned ball handle. It moves easily in my grip but the door does not budge. This can’t be right. I turn it again, putting my full weight against it. But it is as if a heavy mass lies on the other side, and it doesn’t shift one centimetre.

When I put my ear down to the handle and listen, my arms prickle again, but though I stand, half-crouching until my back aches, I hear nothing but the drum of my pulse.

Chapter Two

Present day

Lammermoor is a bustling small town that has retained its old-world charm. Clearly the local chamber of commerce has ideas of grandeur—a banner across the high street claims Lammermoor is Australia’s favourite country retreat—but most people I pass on the street appear to be local. There’s not a selfie-stick in sight.

The good thing, from my point of view, is there is a delibutchery with a decent cheese selection—my weakness before my appetite vanished. The downside, from the proprietor’s point of view, is the fact that he has likely sunk every cent he owns into a business on the brink of failure. The over-eager welcome and the half-hearted gourmet sausage special is a dead giveaway. I almost think he would have manhandled me into his shop had I lingered one second longer outside. His smile is stretched; his willingness to describe in miniscule detail the characteristic of each cheese is overwrought. Then there is the desperation to make a human connection.

Where am I from? Am I here for Easter? How am I enjoying Lammermoor?

I am Sydney, not born but bred, and I know how you get to those with a gourmet fetish and deep pockets. It is not by trying to suck up to your customers. The typical Sydney shopper prefers to be ignored or condescended to. Treat them as equals or, worse, betters, and they will run a mile. One shops to be enhanced by the experience, as a high-profile model once told me, not to do the enhancing.

I respond vaguely to his questions, take my package of Jarlsberg (excellent with crisp, green apples) and open the door. When I glance back at him, he looks up hopefully. ‘The lamb sausages should be in the window on a bed of rosemary,’ I say. ‘And you need a blackboard easel with a handwritten menu for sausages, mash and sautéed red onions.’ He stares at me so I shrug and leave. As an occasional model, I have been around photographers and stylists enough to know how things should look without thinking, but he is welcome to take or leave the advice.

The afternoon market is thick with locals and a handful of tourists. I am noticed. Some try to hide their stares by rummaging in shopping bags or stopping to wipe small, snotty noses but I don’t think they recognise me. Not really. But they recognise that I don’t belong in town, despite my jeans and checked shirt and pony tail. I try not to make eye contact, but as I hand over a twenty for my vegetables, the rosy-cheeked vendor says, ‘I liked your last movie.’

I am bamboozled until I catch on that she has me confused with a well-known arthouse actor, with whom I share nothing but height. I let the confusion clear from my face and smile. ‘Oh, you mean her. I get that sometimes. Sorry.’

The stall-holder looks embarrassed so I pat her hand. ‘It’s no problem. We can’t all be famous.’

She laughs, makes a light-hearted reply and pops a pack of raspberries into my bag, on the house.

Suddenly in her eyes, I am one of them. Ordinary. Chameleon-like, my specialness is gone. I may not be a movie star but I am a fabulous actor when I need to be.

I am nearly back at the car when something catches my eye in the window of a real estate agency. It is the house, my house, as I have already begun to think of it. The advertisement is curled with age, half hidden behind a newer, glossier picture of a newer, glossier home. The weekly rent quoted is ridiculously low for a walloping great pile of stone, even if the ad is several years old and the place is a wreck. Mind you, everything seems cheap compared to Sydney prices.

A woman, wearing a skirt suit like armour and hair like a helmet, comes out of the shop. Before I can stop to consider whether this is really the best move, I am half blocking her path.

‘The house,’ I say and point at the ad.

‘Yes?’ She is what you might call well-preserved—or mutton dressed as lamb if you’re a rude bitch like my friend Brendan.

‘In the window.’

She looks at me with shrewd eyes, up and down, as used to sizing people up by their clothes as I am, albeit for different reasons. Mine are simple but good, and I know how to wear them. Her eyes fix on the chunky resin band on my wrist. It is one of a kind, and I can see she has sensed its value, and the opportunity to land a good deal in a weak market. She’s also seen the antique wedding ring that is still on my finger, and has me pegged as the wife of a wealthy self-made man, not realising that she is a day too late.

‘Most of the holiday accommodation around Lammermoor has been taken through to Anzac Day,’ she says. ‘But you’re lucky, that one is available. It has great green credentials.’

She thinks I mean the new and glossy pictured next to the old and crumbly.


‘I’ll be back in about twenty minutes,’ she says, skirting around me. ‘I have to drop some keys off. Please make yourself comfortable inside. Sally will make you a cappuccino.’ She rushes off, hips straining the tight skirt. She would do better in loose layers.

I beep open the car, and stash my shopping. Having caught the scent of the cheese, my stomach is protesting its increasing hunger, a good sign as I have eaten little for weeks, but it will have to wait a little longer.

Inside Lammermoor Realty, Sally is a freckle-faced strawberry-blonde a year or two younger than I am, with gap teeth and an endearing terror of the new coffee machine, with which she has been entrusted. She looks even more fearful when I request not a cappuccino but an espresso. Thinking she might burst into tears, I take over the coffee-making duties as we have the machine’s big sister at home—correction, Marc has it in his home. Sally finds me a Tim Tam.

‘I’m renting the place by the river,’ I tell her, flicking idly through a property catalogue as I lick the chocolate off one end of the biscuit. ‘Your boss sent me in to pay and pick up the keys.’ Okay, it is a stretch but a harmless one.

‘No, you can’t!’

I swallow a mouthful of Tim Tam and look up. This is not a response I had anticipated, unless it is an inexpert attempt to drive up the rent.

‘Someone else is interested?’

Sally shakes her head, curls bobbing wildly. ‘You don’t want to stay at that place.’ She is emphatic. ‘It’s creepy. Everyone says so.’

I nearly smile. With so many ghosts of my own, a few more will simply blend into the crowd.

‘It’s just an old house. A few creaky boards, that’s all.’ As I pull my credit card from my wallet, platinum flashes. ‘Four weeks rent all right?’

‘But everyone says—’

‘You’re advertising it in your window.’ I go over to the window and reach for the photo. It is gritty with dust, and I shake free a dead moth that has stuck to it. It makes its last flight to the floor, crumbling to nothing. ‘I’m sure your boss wouldn’t advertise a property she had her doubts about.’

I’m dead sure she would; even Sally, young as she is, is a little uncertain about the depth of her employer’s integrity. But what can she say, especially when the exclusive credit card is winking at her?

‘Well,’ she says. ‘If you’re sure.’

‘I am.’ Actually, I am surer of this than I am of anything else in my life at this moment, so I may as well go with the flow.

Sally’s boss has trained her better in processing rental payments than she has in using the coffee machine. I key in my PIN, realising that I may soon have to drop the McAllister from my name. Maybe the doing will be easier than the thought of having to do it. Sloughing off identities past their use-by date is not something I have struggled with before.

Sally and I both agree that a damages bond would not be appropriate given the state of the place. She has to hunt up the keys, which are eventually located at the back of the bottom desk drawer. Not that I need them to get in, but I would like to be able to lock the door at night.

‘I’ll ask Val about getting the power and water switched on,’ Sally promises.

‘Don’t worry about that. They’ve been left on.’

‘Oh, we never do that,’ she assures me. ‘Not with places empty for so long. Even out here we can get … the wrong sort. You know, squatters.’

Actually, I do know, although you probably wouldn’t think it. Once or twice I had to be … creative in my choice of accommodation, in another life before I married money.

‘Well, they’re on. Someone must have been paying the bills.’

She looks mystified, but as I am worried about Val returning and killing the deal, I postpone my questions about the place. I am just in time. As I drive away, Val is race-walking along the street, anxious to return to her waiting client. I hope she will be happy enough to have leased the place that she will forgive Sally for the lack of a rental agreement, or even a contact number.

On the way back to the house, I glance down at the house keys on the passenger seat. One is big and old, the others unremarkable.

When the river comes into view, I have to concentrate. There is no mist this clear, bright afternoon to force me off the road at just the right place. The track is near impossible to make out, concealed as it is by low-hanging branches. But I slow and make the turn, keeping to the middle of the track for the sake of the Audi’s paintwork.

Almost immediately, I feel as if I have been swallowed whole by the valley. The forest towers over me, more protective than intimidating, and with the windows open I can smell the damp mysteries of earth, roots and leaves. Seconds later, the car is bumping over the narrow wooden bridge that crosses the stream. As I approach the open gates of the house, for the first time in daylight, I am jolted by the quiet dignity of the place. In the mellow afternoon light, the sandstone glows a rich gold, and the tall windows gleam through the dirt. Even the loose shutters and rusted locks are not so much flaws as an opportunity.

This house needs me, I think, as much as I need it.

I see there is a plaque on the wall just to the right. It is so dirty, I cannot make out what it says from the car, so I park and get out. Even close up, it’s hard to decipher. I have to rub my hand across the metal to dislodge the dirt from the copper.

House of Lost Souls. My breath catches and I blink. The letters blur and rearrange themselves into Lammermoor House, and I let out a laugh. It’s been a tiring thirty-six hours.

I continue up to the house, hauling in my groceries and new bed linen and towels, dumping them on the kitchen table. I have a month to make some decisions. But not now. I want hot soup, some cheese and then sleep. I have had as little rest as I have had food in the past weeks. Now my body is craving both.

But before I do either, I use the old key to lock the front door from the inside—keeping the outside world out.


May, the year before last …

It is the night of Brendan’s show. He’s my bitchy photographer friend, and I am one of his subjects. The photos of me are good. More than good. And I am … something. Intriguing, says one art connoisseur, head cocked to the side in thought. Bewitching, says a womanising collector who wants me to hang from his arm as well as his living room wall.

‘I will have you,’ the collector says in his thickly accented voice, almost making me giggle, but he is too late. All four photographs bear red ‘sold’ stickers. Displeased, he storms off to rant at the gallery owner.

Wearing aloofness like a cloak over the green shot-silk cocktail dress that my fashion-student housemate, Claire, ran up this afternoon (striking in a sea of dreary black frocks), I find a quiet corner where I can observe the crowd. Even so, it is hard to escape the speculative glances. Everyone wants to talk about the woman in the photographs, the one with secrets in her dark green eyes. Quite how Brendan achieved the look, I don’t know. The images are so leached of colour they are almost black and white, except for the eyes. My eyes.

I sip my champagne, knowing I appear more poised than I really am. Having been in Sydney for almost five years, I survived the lean, early days by sleeping on friends’ and strangers’ couches at times and attending any function like this where I knew there would be free food. I soon fell in with a creative crowd in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, who see a kindred spirit in me, and so far I have managed to conceal my lack of any real artistic talent. I have modelled for Claire and other emerging designers to earn a little cash and exposure, had some short-term fashion retail jobs and lowered myself to café work during lean times. I have acquired the skin of a free spirit without the soul.

Apart from a couple of brief mentions in the social columns, I have flown under the radar. Now, I am truly noticed and it is both disconcerting and exciting. And, yes, it is also the realisation of something that I always knew would happen, sooner or later. It is this languorous ‘knowing’ that Brendan has captured so acutely in his photography, although I don’t realise it until later.

‘Em, darling,’ he says now, rushing up, his eyes shiny with excitement and possibly something more chemical in nature. His jeans are so tight they make other men wince to look at them, and he is wearing the silver cowboy boots of a true artiste and show-off. ‘You won’t believe it. They’ve all sold.’

‘I know. Congratulations.’

‘To him.’ He jabs a finger across the room towards a group of penguin-suited men, all of whom are looking at me, save one with his back to me.

‘Which him?’

‘Marc McAllister. Tall hunk, blond hair.’ He describes the only man not looking my way. ‘Investment banker. Rich. Straight, sadly.’

‘How can you tell? Maybe he keeps his silver cowboy boots to himself.’

I am, I confess, a little put out that the hunk seems oblivious to me, and I stare at his back, just as he turns. He is strikingly handsome in a kind of fallen angel kind of way, the blond hair set off by eyes that at this distance look almost black. Mine lock on his, and a shiver runs through me. He jolts, as though responding to the same electric shock. Satisfyingly, his hand shakes a little as he places his champagne flute on a table.

I’m not sure which of us moves first. Maybe we move in unison towards each other. But I do know that we meet in the middle of the gallery and then walk side by side without touching, out to the top of the spiral stairs that curl down three floors to the street.

Until he mutters what the hell under his breath as we stand there, neither of us speaks. One look and our sophisticated shells have been smashed on the rocks of desire. Urgency buffets us like a windstorm. I feel too tight for my skin, let alone my clothes. I glance up at him as he tugs at his bow tie.

‘My car is right outside.’ His voice is a low rumble. ‘We can be at my place in about fifteen.’

It is not far and yet it might be the moon. I grip the smooth banister and stare down the snail-shell curves to the tiled lobby below. This isn’t how it works, I tell myself. How I know this, I am not sure, maybe it is instinctive or perhaps I have learnt more than I thought since I landed in Sydney, but I am certain that I must let him pursue me. A man like this will not value anything that falls into his arms too easily.

‘What do you want to do?’ he asks urgently.

‘All right.’ What can I say? When it comes down to it, I am not impervious to temptation.

We are careful not to touch on the stairs or in the street, both knowing that it will be cataclysmic. In the car, it is more difficult. Once, his hand glances off my knee when he shifts gears. We both freeze and stare straight ahead. A moment later, he pulls over and yanks on the handbrake. We are outside a two-star hotel, not the kind of place he would ordinarily patronise, I am sure.

I glance at his jaw where a muscle ticks wildly, and understand why he has pulled up here. We will make it no further.

Inside, the desk clerk asks no questions as he processes Marc’s credit card and hands over a key. He must see this kind of wild fling played out in his lobby night after night.

Still we have not touched each other. He has not even asked my name although, given he has spent a small fortune on four photographs of me, he probably knows it already. In the lift to the third floor, we stand at opposite sides and let our eyes devour each other. I think I moan. He curses again.

At the door to our room, his hand is not steady enough to swipe the card that opens it. In the end I do it. We enter, and we are lost.

We hope you enjoyed this sample of Lost Girl by JC Grey!

Available in print and e-book from January 23, 2017.

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