Chapter One

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“Soph? Sophie! I can tell you’re daydreaming again, you know.” Beth’s voice echoed through the receiver. “Do you think you could quit playing with the fairies for just one minute and listen to me? This is important!” I had no idea what had got her so pumped up. Beth was easily excited, and I often switched off mid-flow to give my ears a rest. I was already tired when her name lit up the handset, but I’d never leave her call unanswered. “Sophie Maeva Crevan, listen to me or I’ll put the phone down and you’ll regret it.” Her use of my full name had the desired effect.

“Okay, I’m listening. Get on with it. You’re giving me earache.”

“I’ve done it. I’ve found us a place. I told you I’d get one in time. Repeat after me, ‘Beth you’re the best’.”

At last. I had begun to think that I’d end up kipping on Mr Morrison’s floor, and Beth’s father has never been my greatest fan. “You found us a place? Really? Can we afford it?”

“Only eighty a week, with utilities included, and it’s huge.” I might not have been able to see Beth’s face, but I imagined the goofy grin spread across it as she spoke.

No. I don’t believe you. There’s got to be a catch.”

“Um…well…yeah, but it’s no biggie. Nobody else seems to want it because it’s over the undertaker’s, that’s all.”

That’s all? Great Beth. It sounds exactly like the kind of place where I’ve always imagined living.”

I could feel Beth’s frustration seeping down the phone line. “Now don’t be ungrateful,” she said. “I’ve worked really hard to find somewhere. It’s not easy, you know. All the good places have already gone. Anyway, the last owner died, and the new guy doesn’t want to live in. He’s been trying to rent it for months without getting a single sniff. Goodness knows why?”

What a shocker. “Yeah. Go figure.”

“I’m picking up the keys on Thursday, and we can move in straight away. You’ll need to bring your biggest paintbrush, though. It needs a little TLC.”

“Big paintbrush, check. Don’t worry. I’ll be there next Friday as planned. I can’t wait. I might even let you pick me up from the station.”

“Sure. Just let me know what time, and I’ll be there holding a huge banner saying ‘Welcome to your new life’. Believe me, you’re gonna love it here. The surfer dudes are to die for.” She sighed. Typical Beth. Mind in the gutter.

“Yeah? Well they’re all yours. I want to concentrate on my studies, without any distractions,” I said.

“You know that’s not gonna happen, Soph. Uni is all about the parties, and I need my wing-girl. Don’t worry. You’ll still have plenty of boring painting time. So, I’ll see you Friday, and you’d better have your happy face on.”

I discarded my mobile onto the pretty patchwork quilt my Nanna made, as a present for my seventh birthday, and looked around the room. Every available piece of wall space was crammed with my creations from the past fifteen years.

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