The move to New Zealand has suited Bronwen. She has a good job and a beautiful home. The only downside is her lawyer husband, Jack, who is drinking too much and is obviously unhappy.
When her enigmatic cousin Marged arrives, Bronwen’s life spins out of control. Discovering that Jack was fired months ago from his firm, Bronwen discovers that he has also left his apartment in the city. He has also disappeared taking most of her money with him and leaving behind him a stack of debts.
Can she trust the mysterious Job Tepi, or does he know more than he is revealing about Jack’s disappearance?
Published by Robert Hale
Excerpt – Breaking the Clouds
Bron was not sure when she realised that her life was spiralling out of her control. She had been so happy and maybe that was a problem. Coming to live in New Zealand was a good move for her. She had a good job – Deputy Head at a small school – a beautiful home, far grander than she could afford to buy England. Most importantly she loved the country. Not only were the people friendly and gracious, but she could do all the things she loved, sailing in particular.
No, the problem was not with her but with Jack. It had been his idea to come to North Island; she had not been really bothered but since her parents had been killed, there was nothing to really keep her in England and she had always been adventurous anyway.
Ducks to water, came to mind, that what was how she had taken to the country. Jack, however had massive problems. He hated it. That he had not given it a real chance was clear but she was sympathetic to his homesickness, if indeed that was what it was. He never actually said that was the problem.
He chaffed at life in the far North and had left his position as a lawyer and moved to Auckland. “You stay up here, it might not work out for me down there,” he had said.
It was not ideal but she had gone along with it. After all they had so much invested where they live. It was hardly likely that she would be able to get as job as good as she had anyway.
At first it was okay, Jack came home at weekends and they went sailing but then he started missing weekends. When he came home he drank more than she had ever noticed before. When she suggested he go back to England for a holiday, let him see what he was missing, he said the idea was ridiculous. Besides, he had to get established in the firm he was working at.
“But if you are unhappy..”
“Oh, shut up Bron, I don’t want to talk about it!”
Taking out the boat and then swimming off Russell, had done nothing for her worries. As she nudged the boat into its berth, alongside the motor-sailor, she barely noticed the man on the pontoon. He obviously had called her previously because he said. “Wake up there!”
“Throw me the line, Bron.”
She did so and he caught it smoothly, fastening it around a bollard.
“How you doing?” He asked with a grin.
“Fancy a coffee, I have some freshly made.”
She scrambled from her boat onto his. There was a delicious aroma of fresh coffee, taking a seat on deck she waited for him to bring it from below.
She liked Job Tepi, he was the brother of her closest neighbour Ruthie and had her easy going friendly charm.
The Tepe can were the product of a union between a Scottish Grandmother and Maori Great Grandfather. He was too good-looking for his own good, she often thought. He had thick jet black hair that he wore long, and tied back with an elastic band. His skin was like highly polished copper and his body was slim but muscled He owned two successful hotel. It was hard to believe looking at him that he was quite a businessman. He generally went around dressed in denim shorts and tee shirts. Only once had she seen him “dressed up” and that had been at his sister’s Burns Night.
“You looked miles away,” he said. “School’s out, can’t be worried about that.”
“No,” she blushed.
Job was too easy to talk to; she had had that experience before when she had coffee with him, something about him teased things out of her. She definitely did not want to discuss her marital problems with him – him of all people!
“To tell you the truth, I am a bit bothered about a letter I got today.”
His eyes were very dark but there were tiny slivers of green against the black iris, there seemed something in there, something more than curiosity, surely not fear. She was being ridiculous. Why would be afraid of any letter she would receive? Was she getting paranoid as well as worried?
“From a cousin. Marged. She’s going to come over here.”
“And that is bad news because..?”
“I didn’t say it was bad news.”
“You said you were worried.”
“Well yes, no, I .. it sounds terrible but, well she and I don’t exactly get on.”
“What’s terrible about that, Bron? Thanks God for friends, don’t you say that? I have plenty of relations that I would not give houseroom. It’s not a problem.”
“You have dozens of relations. I have only her and her mother. I was an only child, my Mam had one brother and my father was an only child. We’re a tiny family, not even a family. Well, Marged is a strange girl. Not her fault. She was always under the thumb of her other. They went everywhere together, and I mean everywhere, even when she was a teenager. She never went to dances or clubs. I don’t think she ever went in a pub with her mates.”
“Wow, strange,” he conceded.
“Her mother was horrendous, really possessive. My Mam put up with her because she was her brother’s wife, and then when he died, well Mam felt she had to keep the family together. My Mam was full of love and personality. A real chatty Welsh girl. How she tolerated those two introverts I’ll never now.”
“And now she wants to come, with Mommy dearest?”
“No, she said she’s coming on her own. The strangest thing though, is that Marged once married. I don’t know how she met this guy, though they did have a sweets and tobacco shop, but how they courted I’ll never know. Anyway, when they did marry he went to live with them. It was a sort of really weird ménage a tois. Anyway, it didn’t last. He went away. He was a good-looking lad too, dark and attractive, sort of Italian looking. I think my aunt must have driven him away.”
“Sounds like Marged had a sad life,” he said.
At once making her feel guilty. How could she explain how she felt about Marged. How things seemed to happen when she was around. Bron always seemed to lose things, or things got ruined when she was around. Bron was always the one to be blamed. Pure innocent Marged, fair and beautiful with her long blond plait of hair could never do anything wrong.
“She did. I am totally selfish but things¡” She stopped biting off the words, dredging her mind for something to say. “Well things will be okay, I’m off school as you said. It will be fine.”
“When she’s coming?”
“Tomorrow. I have to meet her at the airport. It’s not a problem!”
Oh but it is. With Jack how he is it is going to make for a tense situation.
“Well if I can do anything, you know, take her sailing or you know we have things at the hotel she could join in with.”
“Thank you, Job, that’s thoughtful of you.”
“I’m a thoughtful kind of fellow.”