Jenny Ford has sworn off men forever, but just when she begins to think life is offering her a second chance her past comes to haunt her with bloody vengeance in mind. Jenny is the latest book from Jane Jago
They pulled into the practice car park and it wasn’t difficult to locate Mike’s car, as the rather battered BMW sat in solitary state.
Jenny shook her head.
“Are all your possessions scruffy and poorly maintained?”
“Mostly. Probably. And anyway I’m getting a bit fed up with the car. Beamer jokes and all that.”
Jenny chuckled. “Why are BMWs like haemorrhoids?”
He grinned back at her, showing excellent, white, teeth. “Because sooner or later every silly ass gets one.”
She offered him a high five, and he leaned forward to open the door. He stopped with his fingers on the handle. “Jenny. Can I buy you dinner? By way of thanks for the lift and the loan of the phone.”
“Sorry, Mike, but no. Not here and not now. Mum and Dad suffered enough gossip when I was seen to have failed in my marriage to Graham. If I was thought to be occupying the attention of the new young doctor who is the natural property of the Amanda and Lucinda brigade, the whisperers would have another field day.”
He swore under his breath. “Sometimes,” he said in a grumpy voice, “I wonder whether or not this place is actually living in 2017.”
“This far south and west, no. Round here things have barely crawled out of the nineteenth century. Get used to it.”
“It’s all very well for you to say, but I’ve been here for six months now and the first woman I meet who interests me turns me down flat because of the gossip mongers. It’s not amusing.”
Jenny patted his arm. “Okay. I get that. If you are serious about wanting to get to know me Exeter isn’t that far.”
“Neither it is. So. Can I come to Exeter and take you out to dinner?”
“Yes. I think I’d like that. Give me your phone.”
He handed it over and her thumbs flew. “There you go. My number is in your contacts along with my email.”
There was one of those awkward pauses, which was interrupted by the phone in his hand playing ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ slightly off key. He grinned as he answered, but then his face changed.
“I’m on my way.” He jumped out of the disco, stopping only to touch Jenny gently on the cheek. “Sorry. Emergency. I will call you. Soon.”
He ran to the disreputable Beamer and within a matter of seconds he was gone.
Jenny drove back to the farm in a pensive mood. She was more than halfway persuaded that she should refuse to meet Mike, but then she thought that a single date wasn’t exactly a lifetime commitment and it might even be fun.
When she walked into the kitchen, her father was sitting beside the Aga unlacing his boots. He smiled at her.
“What’s your idiot brother been up to now?” He tried to sound stern but underlying worry tinged the edges of his deep, country voice.
“He’s okay, Dad. Really. And surprisingly it doesn’t even seem to have been his fault. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“So your mum said, but we all know his rugby club mates would swear black was white to get him off the hook.”
“They would, but the guy who brought him home wasn’t one of his oppoes. It was the new young doctor from the Streamside Practice.”
Dad looked less tense. “Your mum never said. Too busy worrying about Bob.”
“Well it is the first time Sorbo Man’s come home with anything worse than gravel rash no matter what idiocy he’s been involved in.”
“True. But now your Mum’s in such a flap that I’ll have to get my own tea.”
Jenny laughed. “You are a bloody old fraud. Go and make sure he’s okay. You won’t rest any easier than Mum until you do. I’ll see what’s for tea.”
Dad slid on his slippers and went quietly out of the room while Jenny checked the oven, where she found a tray of pasties that were just on the edge of being overcooked. She rescued them and set the table for three. Meg came to her side and she crouched for a brief conversation with the pretty blue merle collie.
“You are a lovely girl. It’s a shame you are bugger all use with the sheep.”
Meg wagged and Jenny rubbed her silky ears.
Mum and Dad weren’t that long, coming into the room hand in hand. Mum was smiling, but then she threw up her hands in horror.
Jenny grinned. “I rescued them. How’s the son and heir?”
“Groggy. But he woke up enough to give me a hug.”
“And say sorry. Which is a first.”
Jenny thought about that one. “He’s probably just figured out he isn’t immortal. Always assuming he has the equipment to figure anything out.”
Mum shook her head. “He’s not as thick as he chooses to appear. He just learned from an early age that if he bodged things up sufficiently his big sister would always rescue him.”
“Mum. You aren’t trying to say that the adventures of Sorbo Man are my fault are you?
“No love. I’m just trying to explain the world as Bob sees it. He learned from an early age that being thick has quite a lot to recommend it.” She looked at Dad who was standing open mouthed. “Think about it, Tom,” she said earnestly. “He’s never been a disaster about the farm has he? He even enters his expenditure on the spreadsheet Jenny set up. Which is more than either of us does.”
For a moment Dad said nothing as he absorbed the portent of what he heard. He shook his head in a bewildered fashion before responding. “You know something. You’re only right. And now I feel bad because I never noticed.”
“You weren’t supposed to notice.”
Jenny found herself laughing helplessly. “He really is an unprincipled…”
“He is. And I shall have to adjust my thinking a bit.” Dad scratched at his thatch of curly auburn hair.
Mum laughed, bright and young, and Dad leaned over to kiss her smiling mouth. Jenny could see how their love affair still burned with a steady flame after better than thirty years and wondered if she would ever find half of that.
To distract her mind from uncomfortable thoughts of marriage to the wrong man, and the mistrust it had engendered, she moved to dish up pasties groaning with meat and vegetables.
A Bite of… Jane Jago
(1) As a genre-hopping author, what is the biggest challenge you face with your writing?
The biggest challenge is getting it all done. Sometimes I wonder where all the words come from and why my brain is so full of stories. That having been said I have never found a change in genres challenging – it’s like the difference between having a shower and brushing your hair: instinctively different but each thing is familiar in its own way.
(2) What advice would you offer your younger self sitting down to write her first novel?
Advice? To the younger me? As I wrote my first novel when I was a pre-teen maybe I’d say there was plenty of time. Of course had I known I wouldn’t publish an actual novel for another fifty years I might have freaked.
(3) Mountains or seaside for a vacation – and why?
There’s a question. It’d have to be the seaside because my dog loves to swim and he likes me to swim with him. So not a freezing cold mountain stream. So. Seaside, but nowhere too people-y. Someplace with nothing but white sand and blue sea and me and my little crew.
Jane Jago lives in the West Country with a large shaggy dog and her husband. The term genre-hopper could have been coined to describe her and her books, modern-day thrillers sitting side by side with sword and sorcery, wicked dragons, and short stories and verse. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.