Series: Left At The Crossroads #3
Author: Lisa Worrall
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell
Length: 45,000 words
Release Date: June 29, 2015
Little Mowbury is a sleepy English village deep in the Cotswolds. The kind of village where you’re only a local if your lineage can be traced back to the dinosaurs. Where you can find everything in the single village shop from morning newspapers to dry-cleaning, and getting your shoes mended. And, of course, where everybody knows everybody else’s business. It’s easy to find… you can’t miss it… just ask anyone and they’ll tell you… “It’s left at the crossroads.”
Oliver Bradford has had enough of the hustle and bustle of the A&E department in a big city hospital. Not to mention the tension caused by the break-up of his three year relationship with one of the hospital’s top surgeons. When his sister urges him to apply for the position of GP in the quiet village of Little Mowbury, he wonders if this might be just the fresh start he needs. Unfortunately, hitting the post-mistresses’ dog with his car isn’t the best introduction to his patients.
A solitary soul, Deano Wells grew up in Little Mowbury and has been having lunch at the Thatcher’s Arms on a Thursday for the last thirty-five years. First with his father, who brought him to the pub at the tender age of ten after a hard morning in the fields, and then by himself after his father passed on. He runs the farm with a practised hand and minds his business mostly, but that doesn’t stop Oliver from being drawn to the big, quiet man and he knows the feeling is mutual, so why does Deano keep pushing him away?
“Lost, are ya?”
“Jesus!” Oliver exclaimed. He spun round to find a weathered face staring at him over the hedge. “You scared the crap out of me.”
“Lost, are ya?” the elderly farmer repeated.
Oliver couldn’t see any mode of transportation, so where had the old man come from? All he had was a walking stick and a border collie. Maybe he flew in on the stick, or rode in on the dog. Oliver’s inner voice wasn’t exactly being helpful, so he ignored it and pasted what he hoped was a winning smile on his face. “Yes, sir, I am. My GPS gave out on me about ten miles ago.”
The old man gave a disapproving grunt. “Can’t be doing with those new fangled electro gadgets. They never work round ‘ere. Sun’s best way to get ya where you’re goin’.”
Oliver glanced up at the steadily beaming yellow ball in the sky and frowned. Unless the sun had directions to Little Mowbury etched into it, the bloody thing still looked the same to him. The man was obviously delusional. But then sniffing sheep shit had to have an effect on a person after fifty years or so. “Would you know how to get to Little Mowbury, sir?”
“’Appen I do.”
“That’s great,” Oliver said on a sigh of relief, and smiled widely as he waited for the man to continue… and waited… and waited. What the hell? Is he giving me directions telepathically? Osmosis maybe? “Um… could you tell me?”
“‘Bout eight miles up road,” the farmer replied, scratching idly at the bald pate visible under the rim of his flat cap. “Just keep goin’ straight ‘til you get to crossroad an’ turn left. Stay on road for ‘bout four mile, but don’t go past Thatcher’s Arms.”
“Thatcher’s Arms?” Oliver echoed.
“Uh-huh, pass Thatcher’s Arms an’ you’ve left village.”
Oliver stared, open-mouthed, at the man. Was this actually happening or had there been bad prawns in that sandwich he’d bought in the same garage as the map? It was like conversing with Peter Butterworth in Carry on Camping. Were Sid James and Barbara Windsor going to pop out from behind a bush with Kenneth Williams? He inwardly cursed the Saturday afternoons his dad made him watch old British comedies, and shook his head in the vain hope it would dispel the bad sandwich dream he was trapped in. Nope, Farmer Barleymow still stared him down from the other side of the hedge.
“Okay, thank you,” Oliver slid back into the driver’s seat and closed the door. He fastened his seatbelt and nodded at the old man. “So that’s follow this road to the crossroads, do a left and just keep driving until I hit Little Mowbury?”
The ancient farmer looked at him as though he was mad—or stupid—or both. “You ain’t from round ‘ereabouts, are ya? Like I said, it’s left at t’crossroads.”
“Right, thanks, left at t’crossroads,” Oliver waved a hand out the open window and put his foot on the gas. “’Appen I might make it after all,” he mumbled in a poor imitation of the man’s accent as he headed, hopefully, towards Little Mowbury.
As he drove, Oliver remembered his conversations with the village’s retiring GP, Malcolm Winslow. Apparently his wife had been nagging him for the last ten years to find someone to take over the practice, and he’d finally succumbed to the call of the golf course and sipping Pimms in the garden under an umbrella. He’d told Oliver it was time to hand the reins over to the younger generation and keep his wife in a manner she was completely unaccustomed to.
Winslow had warned him that Little Mowbury was a typical English country village, with one teeny twist. It was the English country village that time forgot. His slightly manic chuckle hadn’t exactly instilled confidence when he’d told Oliver the villagers still considered him an outsider and he’d lived there for forty years. But Oliver wasn’t to worry. New blood was what the village needed—it just didn’t know it yet. Of course, Winslow had waited until last night to divulge that little nugget of information, a little too late for Oliver to do anything but pray. His flat had been let out, his furniture was waiting in storage to be shipped, and his mother had cried enough crocodile tears to make him feel guilty for the rest of his life.
I live in Southend-on-Sea, a small seaside town just outside London on the South East coast of Essex, England that boasts the longest pier in the world; where I am ordered around by two precocious children and a dog who thinks she's the boss of me. I've been writing seriously for three years now and love giving voice to the characters warring to be heard in my head, and am currently petitioning for more hours in the day, because I never seem to have enough of them.
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