The Guest

The Guest

Charlotte put down her tea and slowly got to her feet at the sound of the doorbell. She had been expecting it, but her heart still raced a little when it rang. She could see a dark shape through the door as she made her way through the dim hallway to let the man in.
David smiled warmly at Charlotte as he stepped inside and took off his shoes. He slipped them neatly into the rack next to her own without being asked. He was only being polite, but Charlotte couldn’t help but feel annoyed at his confidence, at the way he acted like he already knew his way around the house. But it wouldn’t do to start off on the wrong foot. She needed this to work out. Shaking off her irritation, she showed him through into the kitchen. David looked around and nodded at the cupboard she had cleared out for him.
‘It’s been a while since I had a lodger. I hope it’ll be comfortable enough, but if you need anything else just let me know. I want us both to be happy with the arrangement. Now come through to the back where your room is. I’m upstairs, next to the bathroom, and you’ll be just down here, so we’ll both have our privacy. There’s a little cloakroom through the kitchen, so we shouldn’t be bumping into each other in the night looking for the loo.’
Charlotte smiled as though embarrassed by her words, but David just nodded again. He picked up his bag and followed Charlotte through to his new room.
‘This is lovely, thank you, Mrs Edwards,’ he said as he put the bag down next to the bed. A half-filled bookcase stood in the corner, dust streaked across the shelves as though someone had pulled some books out in a hurry, and recently. ‘Have you always rented it out?’
‘No, it used to be my son’s room, actually. Henry. They were his books. But he left a few weeks ago.’
David looked like he might ask another question, but stopped himself. Charlotte walked over to the windows and started explaining how to lock them.
‘I know it’s not much, Mr Hillbrook, but it’s somewhere to rest your head while you’re working in town.’
‘Oh, please call me David, Mrs Edwards. And the room is perfect. I won’t want for anything here.’
‘In that case, do call me Charlotte. I’m sure we’re going to get on famously. Now I’ll stick the kettle on, you go on and unpack now.’
Charlotte smiled as she squeezed back out past the bed and into the kitchen. David waited for her to go and then sat down on the bed, lost in thought. He had a few weeks here; plenty of time to get some answers. He’d have to take it slowly, build up her trust before he started asking questions. Before he found out exactly where that bastard Henry had gone. Before he could finally get his revenge.

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