Elizabeth Clansham

Here’s an exclusive from Contemporary Woman’s novel Elizabeth Clansham by Catherine E Chapman and this book is free for the next few weeks so don’t forget if you like it download it now!

Browsing pulses in the tinned-foods aisle, thinking that a chilli would be a good pick-me-up for him and a peace offering to Dorothy, Angus became aware of a small, fair-haired girl watching him intently.

She stood at the end of his trolley, her head barely visible above it, but the bright red coat she wore barring him from going any further without acknowledging her. ‘Hullo,’ she said. ‘My name’s Lauren. What’s yours?’

‘Angus,’ he replied. ‘Did your mammy never tell you, you shouldn’t speak to strangers.’

‘You’re not strange,’ she said.

Angus laughed.

‘You’re quite hairy.’

He laughed again. ‘Where’s your mammy, then?’

‘Frozen foods,’ said Lauren.

‘Shouldn’t you go and find her?’ Angus suggested.

‘She’ll find me,’ Lauren assured him. ‘Are you a farmer?’

‘No but I do work on the land and I work with animals.’

‘Are you a zookeeper?’

‘Lauren!’

Angus looked up and saw, at the head of the aisle, a Viking princess. She wore tight jeans and a cerise top that was too small for her and her long, blonde, flowing hair enhanced the animation caused by her distress. She advanced towards them.

‘Lauren, don’t go wandering off like that ever again. And don’t talk to strangers.’

‘See,’ Angus said to Lauren.

‘He’s not strange,’ Lauren insisted. ‘This is Angus. He’s a zookeeper–’

‘I’m not actually a zookeeper,’ Angus admitted, holding out his hand to the warrior princess.

She shook it half-heartedly but looked less aggressive. ‘I’m very sorry,’ she said. ‘This one can be a real pest; I hope she hasn’t been annoying you.’

‘Not a problem,’ said Angus, wondering whether Lauren had a father.

‘Come on then, chipmunk,’ the princess said, extending the hand he’d shaken to her daughter. ‘I’m really sorry,’ she repeated.

‘Until we meet again,’ Angus said to Lauren but really to her.

‘Yes,’ Lauren replied definitely.

The princess dragged the chipmunk away, the chipmunk turning and waving to him as she went. Angus noted that the Viking warrior princess wore a very new, very sturdy-looking pair of fawn, suede boots, trimmed with fur around their tops. They were incredibly incongruous with the rest of her attire but incredibly sexy with her long, powerful legs in their tight jeans. He wondered what could be her name: Brunhilde? Isolde?

When Angus went to the checkout he saw them again, two tills down. They were alone – his hopes were raised.

‘Earth calling Angus, Earth calling Angus,’ Lena mocked as she began to swipe his purchases.

‘Oh, how are ye?’ he asked.

‘Not half so lovesick as you by the looks of things,’ she remarked astutely.

‘Get away with ye,’ Angus said, fearing he was blushing.

As he went to the end of the checkout, he snuck another look at her. She was bending over the end of her checkout, packing her bags, but looking up and smiling at someone approaching her from the aisles.

Angus turned to see the bloody rock star waving a leg of beef in the air, signalling to the cashier not to total the bill until he’d reached them. His heart sank.

‘She goes by the name of Laetitia,’ Lena said, without having to look at what Angus was looking at to know what he was looking at.

‘And she’s what, Andrew’s girlfriend?’ Angus asked, trying to sound matter-of-fact.

‘According to Agnes McGinty but then, personally, I don’t think Agnes’s word is the most reliable. She could be his sister,’ Lena suggested, wondering why she was being so nice to him when he never gave her so much as a look.

‘Aye,’ he said, brightening.

‘Although, she is very blonde and he’s very dark – so maybe not.’ She saw Angus’s smile subside and felt glad she’d undermined his optimism. ‘That’ll be thirty-six pounds and seventy-two pence, then.’

When he’d given his card to Lena, Angus looked over again to see them departing. He didn’t think she’d noticed him – why should she? He was slightly comforted to see that, walking side-by-side, Laetitia was at least an inch taller than Andrew. As he looked on, Lauren turned and waved a rather ugly, half-hare-half-human entity at him.

He waved to her and smiled.

‘Put your pin in, for goodness’ sake Angus,’ Lena instructed.

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