Hello There

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Ulla groaned and dropped her head onto her driver's wheel. Bugger. Bugger. Bugger. Why don't you start, you cursed dinosaur?! She turned the key again, and all she heard was a sad asthmatic cough somewhere in the depth of her Honda. C'mon! This is the third time you're dying on me! And we're almost there! And we're three bloody hours late! Ulla gently thumped her head to the wheel a couple of times and made an enraged growling noise.

She pushed her hands into her hair and scratched her head. It marginally helped her to pull herself together - and she reached for her mobile. She typed, 'Oliver, I apologise, but my car stalled again. I checked the map, and I'm about twenty min walk from the village. I'll be there as soon as I can. I apologise again,' and hit 'send.' She didn't check but he surely sent another of his short but polite answers, just like the previous four times.

She climbed out of the car and smashed the door closed behind her. She started walking on the side of the road, her feet sinking in the snow down to her knees - snow obviously quickly filling her ankle boots. Her messenger bag with her Mac was pulling at her shoulder, and the gusts of wind were tearing at her coat - too short and too light for the weather - and creeping under her jacket. The fabric of her office shirt felt unpleasantly cool against her stomach.

Why? Why me? Just... why?! What could I have possibly done in my past life to end up in this aggro? she kept whinging in her head.

She decided that perhaps walking on the road would be easier - and possibly just as safe because there was no one driving on this picturesque village road. Seriously, like a postcard! But why would anyone be here? It's seven o'clock on a lovely winter day. Normal people are having tea, mushroom pies or curry, and Jammy Dodgers– Ulla's stomach rumbled in an irritated manner, reminding her that she'd slept in this morning and hadn't had breakfast. And then at lunch she'd been called into the boss' office. One couldn't leisurely finish warming up their lasagna when John Holyoake called them to his office. Also, how is it humanly possible to be so fit?! The man was like a cover for a bodice-ripper! Given, he was married, and Ulla had a strict rule against fantasising about married men. And also, his wife, Clementine Popplewell was, like, the coolest bird in the world, and Ulla wanted to be her when she grew up. As in writing best-sellers, not being married to a man who looked like the 1960s film star with his masculine jawline and his sexy smirk. Bugger.

Look at Ulla, isn't she the daftest of them dafties? After all, one needed to be properly lacking in the intelligence department to agree to help out the boss' 'little brother with his book.' Yep, that's exactly what she was doing here, plodding through the snow on this lovely January evening. She was on her way to help some spotty teenager, who was lucky enough to be John Holyoake's younger brother, to write his book. Who'd like to take a wager that it was a fantasy novel, and the author wrote himself into a muscly hairy bloke with a giant sword? And a loyal horse. Or maybe even a dragon. And two sexy sorcesses fighting for his affection. One's ginger, and another one is a busty brunette. And their cleavages heave when they see his hairy chest and the muscles bulging on his bare arms!

Ulla slipped and waved her arms in the air, trying to stay vertical. She was starting to run out of curse words in her head. Her Mac decided to add to her misery and slid off her shoulder slowly - so bloody irritating! - and she jerked the strap up.

Oh look, it's starting to snow. Of course, it is. Damn her luck.

***

The village of Lower Woulds was scenic and quiet - and Ulla immediately hated it with every fiber of her soul. The Swallow Barn Cottage was no less lovely than the rest of this cosy village - and Ulla scowled at it. And then she pulled a polite smile on her face and rang the doorbell.

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