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Banter by Gretchen Grable

It was a cold autumn day in Acer Ridge - a small suburb in the south of England. The leaves were turning red and falling off the trees in gusts of wind, and the weather was getting colder and colder, people shivered in short sleeves, or looked glamorous and snug in sheepskin jackets and long boots. The trees looked black and skeletal against the pale blue sky and still like charcoal on a piece of pale blank paper.

The Jeffrey Jackson Department Store had opened in the town centre of Acer Ridge. It had opened to replace a large co-op shop that had been closed down for years. The building was red brick and had an Edwardian look to it. It had an elaborate window display, people stood and pressed their noses against the glass and exchanged comments to each other about how pretty it looked. One of these people was Julie Jones.

Julie Jones was an interesting, different kettle of fish, sometimes she could be extrovert and feisty other times she was a rabbit in the headlights, shrinking violet type. She had spent the last three years at business school doing one of those gnvq business degree type things. She worked on Friday mornings for a small family business, doing their accounts. The rest of the time she stayed up late studying or was in the library all afternoon researching for her course. She wanted to do really well.

The small family business was called James and Belmont and was in the old part of the town centre. It was run by two brothers. It was situated in three rooms above a furniture shop and had a buzzer at the front door to get in.

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