FolioPhile: Dangerous Water by Anne Allen
‘Oh my God, what’s happening to me? After all this time, please, not again!’ Struggling to breathe, fear and panic grip Jeanne Le Page as the ferry arrives in Guernsey. She had left fifteen years before, traumatised by the tragic and unexplained deaths of her parents. Now she has to return after another death, that of her grandmother, who has bequeathed Jeanne her old cottage. She intends to stay just long enough to sell her inheritance. Deeply unhappy after the recent end of a long-term relationship, she has no desire to pick up her old life in her birthplace. Jeanne is shocked to find that the cottage holds a secret going back to the German Occupation. She becomes drawn into learning more; at the same time she pursues the truth behind her parents’ deaths, putting herself in mortal danger in the process. Jeanne has to relive the tragedy as the ghosts of the past continue to haunt her. Over the months the island works its magic, encouraging her to live and love again . . . .
The author has rated this book PG-13 (questionable content for children under 13).
Jeanne went out on deck as the spring sun broke through the clouds. A warm glow spread over green and gold jewel-like Herm and its larger neighbour, grey and white building encrusted Guernsey.
The salt-laden air enveloped her like an old and trusty coat. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and was a child again, playing on the beach with her parents. The image was so powerful that tears formed and she blundered, unseeing, towards the railings.
As her vision cleared she found herself staring at Herm and, without warning, was overwhelmed by such a strong feeling of fear that she had to hold onto the rail. Jeanne’s heart began to race, blood pounded in her head and her breathing came in short, painful gasps. Oh my God, what’s happening to me? After all this time, please, not again! Struggling to breathe she was on the verge of passing out. Letting go of the rail she stumbled, crashing into a man who was walking past.
‘Hey, steady on! Look where you’re going!’ he said angrily, grabbing hold of her to stop them falling. ‘Overdid the duty frees, did you?’
Stung by his accusation, she took a deep breath before replying. ‘No . . .no. I. I just lost my balance.’ The man’s hands were gripping her arms so hard that she could already imagine the bruises. ‘Hey, that hurts!’ He loosened his grip and guided her back to the rail where she clung on, filling her lungs with the sea air. ‘Sorry, didn’t mean to hurt you. OK now?’
Jeanne nodded. As the man stepped back she took in, through still blurred eyes; dark brown hair, deep blue eyes and the muscled arms of a man unlikely to be a pen-pusher. Responding to his slightly warmer tone, she managed a tight smile before straightening up and walking, unsteadily, to the starboard side.
What on earth was that? Is this what I can expect now? Perhaps I shouldn’t have come back though I didn’t have much choice . . . The thoughts whirled around her pounding head. She shuddered as she leant against the railings and Guernsey came into full view. While the ferry headed towards St Peter Port harbour, she felt as if she were approaching a strange, unknown country rather than the land of her birth. The whole of the northern sea front, from Les Banques into St Peter Port, had been transformed. Towering edifices of granite and glass had replaced the old, tired mish-mash of warehouses, scruffy hotels and shops. With a gasp, she realised that even the elegant landmark of the Royal Hotel had been supplanted.
Wow! What’s happened here? It was if a natural disaster had occurred, flattening the old front and replacing it by buildings more reminiscent of London than of the parochial island she remembered. She’d never have thought that Guernsey would move into the twenty first century with such a bang.
The dramatic transformation which lay before her seemed to Jeanne to be an echo of all the change in her own life and she felt a stranger here. She wished that she had stayed in the familiar, dull Midlands town which had been her home these past fifteen years. For a moment the urge to remain on the ferry and return to England, without setting foot on the island, was overwhelming. Her face must have mirrored her inner turmoil as a middle-aged lady standing nearby asked, ‘Are you all right, dear?
Copyright© Anne Allen. All rights reserved.
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