Chapter One

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Loren woke to her alarm, which was shortly followed by silence. Letting out a yawn, she climbed out of bed, dressed and brushed her teeth all without a sound. Walking through her comfy flat, she wandered into the kitchen and got herself breakfast and tea, all in silence.

This was the normal routine.

Her phone did not ring off the hook; neither was it vibrating constantly from texts or messages from social media. She lived alone so did not talk to anyone in the mornings, if she did speak it was usually a curse because something went wrong, or she was late. The television was the only sound that emanated from her flat between the hours of six and seven and seven to eleven.

Breakfast eaten, lunch made, Loren walked out of her flat. She skipped down the stairs towards the carpark beneath the apartment block and drove to work.

This was not quite so silent though.

The music was loud, the singing was out of tune and vigorous. She had an hour and a half to entertain herself while driving the same old roads with the same people; she'd even started to name some of the cars she saw every day. There was Twatty, the guy in the black Merc who raced past her on the first crawler lane, Granny, the bloke in the mint green Clio and of course Fitty; the guy with the awesome beard in the land rover who pulled out of his estate every morning as she passed.

Loren checked her reflection in the mirror as she pulled up into her parking space at work. It wasn't her parking space, but she got there before everyone every day and got the same spot... people started leaving it open for her when she was late. Her brown hair was pushed back into a bun which was probably too severe for her features, but she didn't give a shit in all honesty.

Climbing out of the car, she wriggled to let her trousers down to cover her brightly coloured socks before heading into the office. As she walked into the reception, she put on her work face. She smiled brightly at Lorraine and sung her greeting.

"I've stuck him in the canteen." Lorraine added as Loren swiped her ID badge against the door.

"Who?" Loren asked, stopping and turning around slowly.

Lorraine had a wide smile on her face and waved her over. "Auditor, they've been booked in for ages." She responded before dropping her voice to a whisper. "The man is gorgeous. Not Peter Andre gorgeous, but still. You could have him."

"Lorraine!" Loren hissed, blushing madly. "I don't want anyone, and he's probably married if he's that gorgeous."

"I didn't see a ring." She shrugged, a cheeky grin over her face. "I'll find you a man, Loren, if my boy was old enough you could have him!"

"I'll take that as a compliment." Loren laughed, waving as she slipped through the security door.

Instantly, her mask slipped and she continued in silence. Her hands sunk into her pockets searching for some change to get breakfast. She passed people she didn't know without glancing up, not caring if they thought she was mardy.

"Loren Birch?" A deep voice asked.

Instantly the smile came back on her face and she looked up. "That's me, are you my auditor?"

"Craig Holland." He nodded, offering his hand out to her. "Did you need breakfast?"

"No." she smiled, ignoring the slight pang. "I'm fine."

"I can practically hear your stomach." He stated, turning around and walking back into the canteen. "I've been told you travel quite a way each morning."

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