Home > You And Me, Always(11)

You And Me, Always(11)
Jill Mansell


‘Too late. Doing it.’ Her hands had suddenly started shaking. She’d never actually dialled 999 before, and now she’d pressed 666 by mistake, which was probably the number you called when you needed an emergency exorcism.

At that moment the front door opened and the voice said, ‘OK, please don’t. I wasn’t lying before. I’m allowed to be here, I promise.’

A couple of years ago, Lily had been at work shifting a stack of Victorian picture frames when someone behind her had asked how much they cost. Turning to reply, she’d found herself face to face with the deputy prime minister. It had been one of those completely surreal moments when you see someone you’ve only ever seen before on TV but all of a sudden they’re off the screen, out from behind the glass and unexpectedly inhabiting the real world.

Another time she’d been making a delivery in Oxford, sitting in the van waiting for the lights to change, and the girl with the eyebrows who did the local weather forecast on TV had crossed the road in front of her. Just like any normal person.

Neither of those experiences, however, began to compare with this one. A weather girl and a nerdy politician in socks and sandals were no match for what was happening now.

If it was actually happening and she wasn’t having a particularly lifelike dream.

But really, what on earth was Eddie Tessler doing in Patsy’s cottage?

Eyes narrowed, expression distinctly unamused, he checked there was no one else in sight, then said, ‘You’d better come inside.’ As if there was nothing he’d like less.

He headed back in, turned and waited for Lily to follow him, then closed the door firmly behind her.

To be honest, it was hardly surprising he didn’t want to be seen. As far as many people were concerned, Eddie Tessler was currently right up there at the top of the most-wanted list.

It had only been two or three years ago that he’d sprung to the public’s attention when he’d written a screenplay, sold it to one of the major studios and starred in the subsequent smash-hit film. Prior to that, he’d been an unknown, intermittently employed actor with no money, zero prospects and a run-down one-bedroomed flat in Camden. Then the film had been released and pretty much overnight Eddie Tessler found himself catapulted into the shiniest of spotlights. His life changed out of all recognition, everyone suddenly wanted to know every last thing about him and he no longer had a private life.

Before long, he began to find the endless attention wildly irritating.

Then last week it had all hit the fan. Word got out that he had allegedly been having a torrid secret affair with the co-star of his just-wrapped third film. The co-star happened to be married to a major A-list actor/director, who wasn’t at all happy to discover that his lissom young wife appeared to have been playing away behind his back. The press had gone wild, the paparazzi had followed everyone concerned in ever-more-excitable packs, and one of them had ended up being knocked off his motorbike.Then yesterday Eddie had given them the slip. He’d disappeared and no one knew where he was. There’d even been rumours that the furious A-list actor/director might have used some of his dodgy Italian Mafia connections and arranged to have him taken care of.

Except that clearly hadn’t happened, because he was here.

Of all the bizarre hideouts in the world, he’d chosen Patsy’s cottage in Stanton Langley in the Cotswolds.

As you do.

Chapter 7

‘OK, do me a favour,’ said Eddie Tessler. ‘Could you just turn your phone off and put it down somewhere I can see it?’

‘Without you even saying please?’ said Lily. ‘I don’t think so.’

Manners were manners, after all.

He was watching her intently. ‘Sorry. Please.’

‘Why should I?’

‘Because I don’t want you taking a photograph of me. These days it’s all people ever seem to do.’ He paused, raking his fingers through his over-long light brown hair, then said it again. ‘Please.’

Lily switched off her phone and placed it on the table between them. ‘OK, what are you doing here?’

‘Keeping myself hidden, obviously. What about you?’ He looked pointedly at the lock-picking case in her hand. ‘Why were you breaking in?’

To be fair, it was a reasonable question. They were facing each other now, both wary, not trusting each other an inch.

‘Patsy’s my friend. I’ve just this minute been to see her. She didn’t want to lend me her key and I couldn’t understand why, but I needed to get in here.’

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