From a Distance

From a Distance by Raffaella Barker Read Free Book Online

Book: From a Distance by Raffaella Barker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Raffaella Barker
Modigliani types, as Tom identified them. The photographs of her father’s family showed etiolated Trevis picking their way through the back streets of Turin, slight narrow-shouldered men, nimble, orderly and tidy like Antonio himself. Poverty had frayed their sleeves, drawn nervous lines across their faces and given them straight small mouths. The sweetness of disposition that made her father so dear was palpable through the grainy black and white. A hint of softness in his dark eyes, gentleness in a lowered head, hair flopping, a little too long, that essence was in Luca too.
    The phone rang, imperiously, Luisa thought.
    ‘Hello?’ Splashing sounds and a gasp, ‘Oops, sorry, dropped the phone.’
    It wasn’t imperious. It was Dora. ‘Lulu, it’s me, are you in the middle of something?’
    ‘Ice cream, why?’ Water gushed in the background. ‘It sounds like your phone’s leaking, what’re you doing?’
    ‘In the shower. I’m a bit late. It’s on speaker phone so it’s not getting wet.’
    The gasps were slightly soft porn, Luisa thought. ‘It sounds as though you’re auditioning for Readers’ Wives with the shower head.’
    ‘Luisa! Don’t be disgusting! I’m just laying a paper trail. You know, making a call to a friend, making sure someone knows where I am. I’m off on a date.’
    ‘Ah, so it is an audition. Thought so. Who is it, anyway?’
    ‘Oh you know, the man from the North I told you about. The one from the Internet.’
    ‘But I thought you told him you wouldn’t go anywhere far?’
    ‘I’m not. That’s the amazing thing. He’s coming here, Lou, to Blythe.’
    ‘He can’t be. You said he lives in Newcastle. It’s miles away, how’s he getting here?’
    The shower ceased, Dora’s voice loomed. ‘He’s called Bruce, he’s actually from Darlington, not Newcastle. He might be amazing.’
    ‘He might be crazy. Be careful, Dora. Was it his idea to come all the way here?’
    Everything about this date was a bad idea in Luisa’s eyes, but what did she know?
    Dora sighed. ‘Exactly!’ she said. ‘So that’s why I’m making the phone call. I chose a pub near here because I thought it was good to be visible. D’you think he’s a pervert?’
    No point in trying to appeal to Dora’s common sense, she was cynical about a perfect partner these days, but that didn’t stop her from interviewing them. She loved male company. And men loved her right back. With the exception of Maddie’s father. Poor old Benji. He still looked gloomily bemused by Dora when he showed up for Maddie’s birthdays, even though their marriage had ended more than six years ago, leaving Dora alone with their one-year-old daughter. Dora was always happy to tell anyone who might enjoy her stories, which included her fascinated nieces, that she then began a more dedicated search for a soulmate. Meeting Aaron, as she had done a year later, was the proof that such a person existed. Aaron’s tragic death floored her. She had only recently begun to take an interest in meeting anyone again, but even so, there were more candidates than Luisa could keep up with.
    ‘Well,’ she said. ‘You can’t practise tantric sex with him, there won’t be time.’
    Dora’s laugh was full of mischief, ‘Not necessarily, but I was wondering if you could pick up Maddie for me? That way if we go for a walk or something I won’t have to rush off. I’ll meet you in town. She said you and she had a plan to go out to tea this week anyway.’
    Luisa smiled to herself, ‘I love Maddie,’ she said, ‘I told her we had to ask you before we planned it. She wants to go shopping with Mae. She’s such a darling, Dora, you’re so lucky to have someone small.’
    ‘Share her as much as you want to if you feel broody, Lou, in fact, I don’t suppose you’d like to share her today, would you? Keep her for tea?’
    Luisa thought about her afternoon. Seven was the most enchanting age. She could never resist Maddie. Time with her

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