Robert Catto always strides into my kitchen as though he owns the place. As usual, I try to divert his attention, offering him claret or brandy in the evening, black coffee during the day. My tactics never work. Nothing gets past this man.
‘Coffee,’ he growls. ‘And, if you please, your word count for Dance to the Storm.’
‘Nearly there,’ I say brightly.
‘Bloody hell, woman, you’ve been saying that for ages.’
‘Life gets in the way,’ I protest.
‘Excuses, excuses. Any gingerbread?’
I set a piece down in front of him, stand back and study his clothes. He’s taken to wearing modern dress on his visits to the 21st century. Today it’s jeans and a black t-shirt.
‘You like those clothes, don’t you?’
‘Practical,’ he says. ‘Easy to pull on. Although I’m annoyed that you took away my Keep Calm and Carry On t-shirt.’
‘A bit overdone, that one.’
‘Still a good message.’ He finishes his gingerbread and runs a hand down his neat ponytail. ‘Been thinking I might get my hair cut short. That would be more practical too.’
‘Don’t you dare,’ I mutter. ‘The readers love your flowing chestnut locks.’
He fixes me with one of his glowers. ‘Think you’ll stop me if I decide to do it?’
‘Listen pal,’ I say, giving him the hands-on-hips fishwife stance. ‘I made you. I can unmake you.’
‘But you want Kirsty and me to win through, don’t you?’ His eyes soften when he says her name.
‘Good grief. That’s almost a winning smile.’
‘So when will Dance to the Storm be finished?’
‘Very soon. I have the final few scenes to write and then the manuscript has to go through editing, copy-editing, proof-reading, typesetting and printing.’
‘So how will the readers know when the book’s ready?’
‘Well, they could sign up for my newsletter…’