Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, 1940
"Are you absolutely certain this is safe?" Matthew Galloway said, peering suspiciously out over the lake.
"Perfectly," Kitty Finchley replied. She stepped out onto the ice, the blades of her skates flashing silver. Spinning around, she smirked at him with a familiar look of amusement − he could never decide if it was affectionate or teasing. "I say, you delicate flower. Do come on, it's not that scary. I'll help you up if you fall over." She glided smoothly back to him, mitten-clad hands outstretched.
Matthew readjusted the wire frames of his glasses and wished briefly that he wasn't so invested in pleasing Kitty in every way. He gave the ice another cautious look. The thin surface did seem to be holding up well enough so far, even with the weight of Kitty twirling around on it.
It was utterly ridiculous for them to be going out so soon. The lake had only frozen the night before. No one else at Bletchley was being so risky in their lunch hour. The whole exercise was dangerous in a pointlessly thrill-seeking way. They were at war: it wasn't really the time to unnecessarily risk life and limb in sport.
Matthew had been working as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park for nearly a year, helping to decode intercepted Nazi transmissions. Even with such exciting work, his life had got a lot more interesting since he'd become friends with Kitty, a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service − the Wrens − a few months earlier. She was always persuading him to do irresponsible things. She was terrible.
She was fabulous.
Matthew took Kitty's hands. He blew out a nervous breath, which condensed into a white cloud in the air.
"It'll be a lark," she reassured him again, her fingers closing around his. The ice creaked threateningly beneath him as he stepped on it. He kept his gaze firmly on Kitty's hands and ignored the possibility of imminent disaster. "It's more fun if you relax," she added.
"As the girl said to the soldier," he muttered.
Kitty snorted, drawing him forwards.
"If the view isn't as spectacular as you promised, there will be consequences, Finchley," he warned.
Kitty let out a warm laugh, and tugged him closer.
The two of them had been on the ice for about fifteen minutes, and Matthew was just starting to enjoy himself, when Kitty simultaneously let go of his hand and let out a gasp of horror.
"What is it?" he asked, concerned. Kitty was not the gasping sort. Matthew attempted to stop, which meant skidding across the ice before finally coming to a halt on the edge of the lake. He grabbed hold of a willow branch to catch his balance. When he looked back, Kitty was crouched down, staring at the ice. All of the colour had drained from her face, which had been a lovely wind-chafed pink.
"There's a hand," she said.
"You need a hand?" Matthew carefully skated back to her. "Have you got yourself stuck?"
"No, Matthew. There appears to be a hand. Frozen in the ice."
There really was a hand sticking out of the surface of the lake – a man's, judging by the width of the fingers. Its frosted fingertips, almost blue with cold, were curled up.
Suddenly Matthew felt overcome with dizziness. "Oh."
"Matthew," Kitty murmured. "Oh goodness. . ."
After sucking in a deep breath to steady himself, Matthew brushed a layer of snow away from the ice. The dark outline of a body was just visible.
He stumbled back in horror, sinking down to sit on the ice next to Kitty. He knew that the cold must be seeping in through his clothes, but he felt numb. There was a corpse in the lake at Bletchley Park. A corpse.
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Another TogetherHistorical Fiction
***Another Together is a published Young Adult e-novella, available to download for free on Kindle and other eBook providers. This sample contains only the first chapter.*** "Perfect for holidays" - Marie Claire "Are you absolutely certain this is...