The Storyteller Of Brompton House – Part One

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Carrie had got over her immediate panic at the phone call from her sister. Eric had been in a car accident – he wasn’t really hurt, but Liz needed to fetch him from Edinburgh, which was a six hour round trip. Could she babysit Phoebe and her friends? Her niece, Phoebe, had been promised that she could have three friends for the afternoon, followed by a sleepover until Sunday morning. She could stay with Mrs Harper next door until Carrie could get there, but the friends were arriving at three o’clock. Carrie had agreed, and then wondered how you kept four eight-year old girls happy. Liz had said there was plenty of food ready and all she had to do was ‘entertain them’ and that they were probably quite capable of looking after themselves in that respect. Carrie had a brainwave. She would call in at Waterstones Books and ask what sort of thing eight-year old girls liked, and get some short stories to read to them. As she walked into the shop she noticed the big sign with an arrow, ‘Storytelling in Children’s Books’. She followed, and entered an area where about twenty young children were sat on cushions before a large chair on which sat the Storyteller. He had clearly come to the end of whatever it was he was telling them because there was a sudden shriek of delight from the whole audience, followed by applause. Carrie joined because although she had no idea what the story had been, she could see wonder and delight on so many faces. Cat Taylor smiled in appreciation of the applause, then turned to see who it was clapping from behind. He had never met Carrie Nicholson, but he knew he just had to get to talk to this woman. The chemistry was working both ways. Carrie held his gaze, longing for it to continue. The moment was broken when one of the Waterstones’ staff began to make a small speech. Feeling quite self-conscious, Carrie hovered at the edge of the gathering. She had picked up his book, ‘The Witches of Findhorn’ and waited for an opportunity to get close, feeling butterflies she hadn’t felt since she was a teenager. Cameron Taylor was trying to be nice to everyone who wanted to chat, but he was anxious to get to the girl who had held his gaze, and put such a spell on him. “Hello,” he said with a Cheshire Cat smile as he finally made it across the room, “would you like me to sign that for you?” “Oh, please,” said Carrie, “it’s for my niece Phoebe – I have to entertain her and her friends this afternoon and I thought I would read to them.” “Phoebe!” exclaimed the author. “Ha! Princess of the West Woodland.” He saw a puzzled look on the girl’s face and quickly opened the book and found an illustrated page. Carrie gasped as she read the caption, ‘Princess Phoebe commanded Dragon Slayer to take up her lance.’ “Wow,” she said. “I’m Carrie Nicholson.” bursa escort “I’m Cameron Taylor, I tell stories.” He thought to himself for a moment. “I’m a storyteller – and I don’t know what to say next.” Carrie was similarly afflicted, until she had an inspiration. “Is there any chance you could come and read to Princess Phoebe this afternoon?” Cameron grinned, and they both realised that the awkward moments were past. He had thought of a quiet corner in the bar of the Coach and Horses with a book and a pint. The opportunity to keep company with Carrie was just heaven sent. “Sounds fun,” he laughed, “what time and where?” “Oh! Brilliant, thank you, thank you. This is amazing. Look, it’s after one o’cock now. Why don’t I buy you a coffee and a sandwich and then take you? It’s over in Heslington.” They left Waterstones rather than use the coffee bar where he might have been pursued, and went over the road to Mays. They chatted very easily, and all sense of shyness and reservation was gone as they learned more about each other. They were both thirty. Cameron wrote and told stories as well as doing workshops for amateur literary groups and primary schools. Carrie worked part-time in IT support for RPA International and part-time on freelance web design. Neither of them were in a relationship, but each sensed that was about to change. Carrie drove them away from York city centre out towards the university and Heslington, and she was reveling in having this wonderful man in her car with her. They arrived, and Carrie pulled well over to the side on the drive to give room for Liz when she got back with Eric later. She went to Mrs. Harper next door to collect Phoebe. “Thank you so much Mrs. Harper. I am sorry, I meant to get here sooner but I have managed to get someone a bit special to help me entertain the girls.” “Oh?” replied Mrs. Harper. “Who’s he then?” making little attempt to keep suspicion out of her tone. At which point Cameron walked up and charmed the scowl off her with a simple open smile and handshake. He recognised, and approved of, the reticence the neighbour was showing. “I do school workshops for the local authority, fully DBS checked etcetera and only eat small children at Christmas.” “Look, Mrs. Harper, Cameron has signed his book for Phoebe.” The good lady was completely reconciled and doubly assured when invited to join them – an invite she accepted gladly, not out of suspicion but by being infected by the young man’s enthusiasm and passion for his craft. Almost on the dot of three, the friends arrived, Daisy, Tamsin and Ally amid a lot of excited squeals. The Mums had been apprised of the situation regarding Liz not being there, and were reassured by the presence of Mrs. Harper. When they learned the identity of the unexpected bursa escort bayan man they wanted to stay. Cameron was gentle and firm. That was a no-no, he explained. It would make it an adult event at which the children were spectators rather than the focus of attention. “Girls,” called Carrie – thinking to bring some order. They didn’t hear her and Cameron touched her arm and beckoned her, and Mrs. Harper and the three grown-ups withdrew to the kitchen. “They have to have a bit of giddy time,” he said. “We’ll know even before they do when they need us.” Carrie knew she was in love. Mrs. Harper was enchanted – in fact she was enthralled. They sat drinking coffee for twenty-five minutes until Cameron stood suddenly and announced, “It’s time.” A moment later Carrie and Mrs. Harper heard the first note of discord among the girls, followed by a summons from Cameron calling them to gather. “How did he know?” mouthed Carrie at Mrs Harper. “He’s a Storyteller,” she whispered back. The magic began, and the girls were not only enthralled, but lived the stories. Princess Phoebe listened to the voice of wisdom (Mrs. Harper on cue from Cameron), Daisy was Dragon Slayer, Tamsin was Guardian and Ally was Messenger. The girls lived their parts and Carrie was a bit jealous and felt a bit left out until the climax – she had bought the book, but not read it. Then the Storyteller came towards her with his now devoted acolytes in tow. “Queen of all Hearts,” he intoned, “the Realm of Findhorn is now safe and the dragon is slain. I surrender my heart to you with the kiss of offering.” With that he prostrated himself at her feet and kissed her toes. The girls did not notice that he also gave a little lick, a suck, and a soft blow. Carrie did – and so did Mrs. Harper, who shocked Carrie to her core, whispering in her ear, “Get him into your bed girl, get him into your bed.” But Cameron was now lying comatose and the girls were alarmed. Even Carrie was confused but then his eyes opened. The girls held their breath. “Pizza!” said the Lord of Time. The uncontrolled shrieks of hilarity and fun that followed were what greeted Liz, and the bruised and aching Eric, as they came through the front door. Liz was relieved that her daughter’s day had not been spoiled, but she was also surprised. She was then a bit disconcerted when Phoebe appeared. Rather than leaping with joy on Mummy and Daddy she intoned, “Dragon Slayer, more beasts are here – slay them!” and then ran off. The ‘party’ was ending. The ‘grownups’ had arrived to claim all the attention. Carrie ran to see how Eric was and resisted the urge to give him a huge hug – his stiff body language told her that it would not be a good idea. She was relieved to see his broad, and rather embarrassed, grin. escort bursa Mrs. Harper, wearing a concerned smile, hugged Liz and said, “I’ll make everyone a cup of tea – you all look as if you need one.” Phoebe bounced back, laughing. “Mummy, Daddy – come and meet the Lord of Time,” she said grabbing both parents by their hands. She pulled them into the lounge where they saw, for the first time, the strange man who had clearly been behind the escapades they had arrived in the middle of. He stood and walked over to them with a beaming smile. “I’m Cameron Taylor – you must be Lizzie and Eric? How’s the bones, chum?” Eric was a little nonplussed but Liz was agog. “Cat Taylor, the writer?” “The storyteller,” interjected Carrie, “I kidnapped him in Waterstones, but they’ve paid the ransom and I have to take him back. Does Tiffany’s train get in at six-thirty?” she asked Cameron. “Six-thirty-five,” responded Cameron, understanding that something was going on and realising that if they were not careful they were all about to be ‘organised’ by Liz. He turned to the room. “Guardians of Findhorn,” he called. “The forest is safe and I leave you now. Be vigilant – summon me if you need – but I have a quest to pursue. I bid you farewell, fearless maids.” The world knows full well the pleading noises children make for something to carry on, and the four girls gathered to hug him and Auntie Carrie before the couple made good their escape. At the door, Mrs. Harper caught hold of Carrie’s arm. She leaned in and whispered, “Remember what I said girl, remember what I said.” Once in the car and round the first bend, Cameron went into a Bogart like character. “I think we shook em off, Queenie, and we’re clear. Watch out for the Feds but head for the state line.” “Naaah, too soon,” slurred Carrie, “better hole up awhile in the Greedy Duck and get us some chow.” They both laughed. “Seriously,” said Carrie,”I owe you dinner.” “You owe me nothing – but I’m not turning down dinner at the Greedy Duck.” Carrie was relieved; she had this wonderful man captive for another hour, at least. Cameron was relieved; he had this wonderful woman for another hour, at least. “I liked the Tiffany touch,” he said, “I take it we narrowly escaped a third-degree interrogation and having our lives planned for us?” Carrie was glad they had been stopped at the junction of City Road waiting for traffic to clear; when Cameron had said ‘us’ it had come as such a shock that she might have let go of the wheel – in her head choirs of heavenly angels sang glorious hallelujahs. Hoping she didn’t look as flushed as she felt, she turned and grinned at him. “By now she would have found out how your great-great grandfather met his wife.” The ‘Greedy Duck’ was still quiet as they pulled into the car park a few minutes after six-thirty. They found a quiet table away from the bar. Each of them felt completely relaxed as they chatted. They both chose the Beef Bourguignon, for which the pub was renowned, and Carrie discovered Cam’s passion for cooking.

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