Series: Left At The Crossroads #3
Author: Lisa Worrall
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell
Length: 45,000 words
Release Date: June 29, 2015
Blurb: Little Mowbury is a sleepy English village deep in the Cotswolds. The kind of village where you’re only a local if your lineage can be traced back to the dinosaurs. Where you can find everything in the single village shop from morning newspapers to dry-cleaning, and getting your shoes mended. And, of course, where everybody knows everybody else’s business. It’s easy to find… you can’t miss it… just ask anyone and they’ll tell you… “It’s left at the crossroads.”
Oliver Bradford has had enough of the hustle and bustle of the A&E department in a big city hospital. Not to mention the tension caused by the break-up of his three year relationship with one of the hospital’s top surgeons. When his sister urges him to apply for the position of GP in the quiet village of Little Mowbury, he wonders if this might be just the fresh start he needs. Unfortunately, hitting the post-mistresses’ dog with his car isn’t the best introduction to his patients.
A solitary soul, Deano Wells grew up in Little Mowbury and has been having lunch at the Thatcher’s Arms on a Thursday for the last thirty-five years. First with his father, who brought him to the pub at the tender age of ten after a hard morning in the fields, and then by himself after his father passed on. He runs the farm with a practised hand and minds his business mostly, but that doesn’t stop Oliver from being drawn to the big, quiet man and he knows the feeling is mutual, so why does Deano keep pushing him away?
Oliver stared at the map. Why he had no idea. The next stage of his journey hadn’t leapt out at him in the last twenty-five minutes so what did he think… the power of his frustrated gaze was going to burn the route onto his retinas if he glared at it long enough? He tossed the map onto the passenger seat of the BMW and buried his fingers in his hair, gripping tightly in his annoyance.
The irritating monotone voice on the GPS unit had suddenly sounded as though she’d drained an entire bottle of JD, with her words slurring into one another before she faded out completely. That had been ten miles back, and he’d managed to lose himself twice since his chatty companion had left him to fend for himself. Of course, he’d tried to coax her back with promises and gentle soothing and, when that hadn’t worked, had repeatedly pressed every single button he could find then whacked the screen with his fist. None of which had convinced her to start talking again. That’s when he’d remembered the map he’d purchased on a whim at the garage he’d stopped to fill up at earlier. The same map he’d just screwed up into a useless ball and thrown down beside him.
Where the chuff is this place? It’s like bloody Brigadoon!
Oliver opened the door, climbed out of the car and shielded his eyes against the sun with his hand. He couldn’t deny it was beautiful countryside, or that it was indeed in the middle of nowhere. That combination had been the main reasons he’d found the job opening so attractive. Oliver leaned against the car, crossed his arms and filled his lungs with fresh country air. He could hear Becky’s voice now as she’d burst into his flat, waving the Haymarket magazine at him.
He would be the first to admit that seeing Andrew at the hospital every day had begun to suck all the enthusiasm for his job right out of him, and being an intern in the casualty department wasn’t something you could afford to do unfocused. It hadn’t taken long for him to decide he needed a complete change. A change of employment, of pace, of bloody everything.
Becky, his sister, had been very supportive when she’d found out about Andrew’s string of affairs. Although the support had only come after she’d told him she’d always thought Andrew was a wanker anyway. He had pointed out that it would have been quite helpful if she’d given her opinion when he’d started dating Andrew. Not waited until he’d had his heart plucked from his chest and stomped on by said wanker.
“Well, I thought I’d grow to like him, didn’t I.” Her response had been less than apologetic.
“And did you?” he’d asked.
Becky had simply topped up his glass of Jacob’s Creek and replied, “Good God no. Man’s a tosser.”
Five unbelievably long months later, she’d shoved the Haymarket under his nose and jabbed an excited finger at the advertisement she’d circled in fuchsia lipstick. “It’s perfect! Exactly what you need. New job, new house, new people. Fire up the laptop and let’s send your C.V.”
Oliver gazed around him, the only sounds the gentle thrum of the BMW’s engine and birdsong from the trees shrouding the country lane. Becky had been deciding the route his life should take from the moment they were out of nappies—having a twin was not always a blessing, especially when they knew you better than you knew yourself. The C.V. had been emailed and before he’d had time to breathe he’d had two phone interviews and a Skype call with the retiring GP. Now he was staring at miles of British countryside wondering if Becky had been wrong this time.
His main priority at the moment, however, was trying to figure out how to get to where he was going. There was, of course, the possibility he could be stranded in the arse-end of fuck-alone-knows-where forever. His frantic family would end up sticking posters of him around London and he’d eventually be found wandering around a farmer’s field wearing a cabbage leaf hat, up to his neck in sheep shit.
“Lost, are ya?”
“Jesus!” Oliver exclaimed. He spun round to find a weathered face staring at him over the hedge. “You scared the crap out of me.”
“Lost, are ya?” the elderly farmer repeated.
Oliver couldn’t see any mode of transportation, so where had the old man come from? All he had was a walking stick and a border collie. Maybe he flew in on the stick, or rode in on the dog. Oliver’s inner voice wasn’t exactly being helpful, so he ignored it and pasted what he hoped was a winning smile on his face. “Yes, sir, I am. My GPS gave out on me about ten miles ago.”
The old man gave a disapproving grunt. “Can’t be doing with those new fangled electro gadgets. They never work round ‘ere. Sun’s best way to get ya where you’re goin’.”
Oliver glanced up at the steadily beaming yellow ball in the sky and frowned. Unless the sun had directions to Little Mowbury etched into it, the bloody thing still looked the same to him. The man was obviously delusional. But then sniffing sheep shit had to have an effect on a person after fifty years or so. “Would you know how to get to Little Mowbury, sir?”
“’Appen I do.”
“That’s great,” Oliver said on a sigh of relief, and smiled widely as he waited for the man to continue… and waited… and waited. What the hell? Is he giving me directions telepathically? Osmosis maybe? “Um… could you tell me?”
“‘Bout eight miles up road,” the farmer replied, scratching idly at the bald pate visible under the rim of his flat cap. “Just keep goin’ straight ‘til you get to crossroad an’ turn left. Stay on road for ‘bout four mile, but don’t go past Thatcher’s Arms.”
“Thatcher’s Arms?” Oliver echoed.
“Uh-huh, pass Thatcher’s Arms an’ you’ve left village.”
Oliver stared, open-mouthed, at the man. Was this actually happening or had there been bad prawns in that sandwich he’d bought in the same garage as the map? It was like conversing with Peter Butterworth in Carry on Camping. Were Sid James and Barbara Windsor going to pop out from behind a bush with Kenneth Williams? He inwardly cursed the Saturday afternoons his dad made him watch old British comedies, and shook his head in the vain hope it would dispel the bad sandwich dream he was trapped in. Nope, Farmer Barleymow still stared him down from the other side of the hedge.
“Okay, thank you,” Oliver slid back into the driver’s seat and closed the door. He fastened his seatbelt and nodded at the old man. “So that’s follow this road to the crossroads, do a left and just keep driving until I hit Little Mowbury?”
The ancient farmer looked at him as though he was mad—or stupid—or both. “You ain’t from round ‘ereabouts, are ya? Like I said, it’s left at t’crossroads.”
“Right, thanks, left at t’crossroads,” Oliver waved a hand out the open window and put his foot on the gas. “’Appen I might make it after all,” he mumbled in a poor imitation of the man’s accent as he headed, hopefully, towards Little Mowbury.
I live in Southend-on-Sea, a small seaside town just outside London on the South East coast of Essex, England that boasts the longest pier in the world; where I am ordered around by two precocious children and a dog who thinks she’s the boss of me. I’ve been writing seriously for three years now and love giving voice to the characters warring to be heard in my head, and am currently petitioning for more hours in the day, because I never seem to have enough of them.
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