(The opening paragraphs of the first chapter)
London, England 2006
Helen could not sleep; she started to think about Rupert. For years she had liked him, but there had never been any reciprocation. This was not surprising, Rupert was her boss although only a few years older than her. Unmarried, seemingly unattached, never seemed to date much or have any close friends either male or female. His only outings seemed to be with clients in the local pubs and restaurants. It was not that Rupert didn’t want close friends but he never made the time because basically he was wedded to his work, his business that he had grown from basically nothing to now supporting a dozen people. Helen had joined the company five years ago straight from University knowing next to nothing at all about the business. She had been however a fast learner and as more senior people left, usually poached, for employment elsewhere, she had risen the ranks to become now Rupert’s manager. Not that she was really in charge of the company as Rupert brought in most of the work himself and as a rule always keep client contacts close to his chest. Therefore her role was really to help Rupert in anyway she could. Helen decided that Rupert needed a holiday.
A few days later Helen broached the subject. Rupert raised his eyebrows and made some comment that they were trying to get rid of him.
“No nothing like that,” remonstrated Helen, “we are just thinking of you.”
Rupert looked up from his desk and the mountain of paperwork he had been working through. “Yes you are right, I need a break away.”
Helen was relieved that Rupert had seen that she was only trying to help. Rupert mentioned several places relatively close near London, but Helen knew his usual ploy of only going away near enough to the office so that he could return if necessary.
“How about Cornwall?” suggested Helen.
“I don’t really know anywhere there,” said Rupert.
“I can suggest St Mawes on the south coast near Falmouth, I know a beautiful hotel there.”
There was a long pause while Rupert thought. In the back of his mind was a dilemma, he didn’t want to stay in a hotel on holiday alone and now he had essentially lost contact with nearly all of his friends. For years he had had a one-track mind, work, work, work essentially. An aunt had left Rupert in her will quite a bit of money, this had enable him to set up this business, but it had won him few friends with many in his family who begrudged being excluded from the will. Many in the family no longer talked to him as if it was his fault. This is why he could not fail in business, he worked tirelessly every day quite often late at night and over the weekend to satisfy the often unreasonable demands of many of his clients.
Rupert opened his leather bound address book. The entries were made in pencil so that they could be changed easily. He dialled a few numbers, left messages on their answerphone machines, and in a few cases spoke to people surprised to hear from him. They were surprised to hear from Rupert because he had disappeared off the radar for all intents and purposes years ago. Most friends knew that he was running a technology business in the West End but apart from that they had not stayed in touch. Rupert was however now inviting them for a long weekend away with him in Cornwall; his treat, his way of saying sorry for not keeping in touch over the years. Within a few hours Rupert had four old friends committed to coming away with him over the Easter bank holiday. Two couples and an old school friend who he had stopped seeing a while ago because he had never got on well with his former girlfriend. It was all planned.
Early in the morning
A loud thud was heard as the car skidded off the narrow road through bleached wooden lattice farm fencing a few miles away from the waterside St Just’s church situated in a semi-tropical garden on the Roseland Peninsula. The car’s rapid loss of control in the unlit darkness of the narrow road was due to a fresh and substantial deposit of agricultural mud, which had caused the road on the sharp bend to become uncontrollably slippery. The young man driving the car was almost immediately knocked unconscious when the car came to an abrupt halt against a spindly tree on the edge of the grazing meadow. Lights went on in the neighbouring farmhouse a few hundred yards away and soon the farmer and his family in tow appeared in their nightclothes to see if they could assist. An ambulance was called for from Truro; being night time the King Harry Ferry was not operating making it impossible for an ambulance from the geographically nearer Falmouth hospital to negotiate the Fal River. The Truro ambulance had a longer eight mile journey but with little traffic in the early hours of the morning it arrived fairly quickly. The paramedics assessed the situation quickly and stretchered the patient strapped onto a spinal board into their waiting ambulance for the return journey to Truro hospital…
Later that same day
Helen rested her head in her hands; she was not sure what to do now. She had just received a telephone call from the Truro police and the news was not good, in fact quite devastating. She half blamed herself for persuading Rupert to go, but then on the other hand the police had mentioned to her that they suspected him of speeding along the narrow country roads to try to make up time.
Typical of him she thought to finish everything on his desk before setting off and then speeding to make up the time. The police had said Rupert was completely unconscious and that the doctors had told them it was still unclear whether he would regain consciousness again and if he did what state he may be left in.
Helen decided to say nothing to anyone yet. Business would go on, clients were booked in for several weeks to come. Things should be fine.