Copyright 2008 Strict Publishing International
Chapter One – Annabelle’s Village
I suppose the great adventure of my life began as I was coming to the end of a pint of strong, flavourful beer, the stuff they call “bitter” up there in the north of England. I was sitting at the bar of a cosy little hotel in a village somewhere in the middle of the Peak District, on a truly ugly November afternoon with rain beating against the thick glass of the windows and wind moaning through the branches of the ancient oak trees outside. There were only two of us at the bar, and nobody at all sitting at the tables, so the bartender – the landlady, as I reminded myself the locals would call her – had apparently found it easy to keep a professional eye on my progress towards the bottom of the glass. She was a big-boned, vaguely matronly woman with very curly hair that was half grey and half blonde, but she had a toughness about her that fitted perfectly with the battered old furniture and the faded hunting trophies above the big, unlit fireplace. I could tell you exactly where the little hotel was and what it was called, but there are some things that should never be told, however compelling the reasons might be for wanting to know them.