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Kristina`s Destiny by Diana Daneri - Sample Chapter

Administrator (admin) Nov 18 2011
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CHAPTER 1

I awoke to the sound of the waves washing up on the shore. At first I couldn’t remember where I was and then it all came rushing back to me.

A week ago I had received a letter from a solicitor with the firm Karstairs and Sons in Chichester, Sussex, asking me if I would come and see them regarding a matter that would be beneficial to me. The last time I had been in contact with them was about eight years ago. I had just finished my first year of a two-year college course in Gardening and Design. Robert Karstairs had come to the college to tell me my parents had both died in a car accident.

My name is Kristina Bennett. I am nearly twenty-six years old and I'm currently living and working in Berkshire. I am single and looking for a better job with prospects and excitement. For the past five years I have been working in a garden nursery where my life revolves around the seasons of the year - and frankly, I am bored. So this letter couldn’t have come at a better time.

As I had a number of weeks holiday due to me, I thought I might as well go down to Sussex, incorporating this meeting with a needed break. It was not the usual time of year for a holiday as it was January, but this was not really important to me. I’d managed to find a lovely little cottage in Pagham, which was offering bed and breakfast. As it was only a few miles from Chichester, it was perfect. My bedroom overlooked the beach and what with the weather forecast promising a lovely sunny day, I found myself wishing I didn’t have to visit Robert Karstairs.

As far as I was aware, I'd no other relatives, other than an aunt I hadn’t seen since I was sixteen or so. Being left a lot of money or property was not really an option but my curiosity was getting the better of me, so I decided to drive into Chichester after breakfast and see if Robert Karstairs was available to see me. Luckily a map and directions had been sent to me with his letter, making finding the premises reasonably easy. The office was in a lane off East Street. Fortunately there was parking only a short distance away. Most of the buildings in this part of the city were very old and this was no exception.

I paused outside for a moment before pushing open the door. The outside was typically Tudor, white walls with exposed black beams. The interior was in keeping as well, the walls had oak panelling and the floor a dark red, patterned carpet, giving the place elegance and warmth. Near the door at the front of the office was a dark burgundy Chesterfield suite surrounding a low table with magazines for clients to browse through while they waited. There were four desks spaced out in the rest of the office, with large green potted plants positioned between the desks, giving privacy. The desk nearest to the front of the office was for the receptionist.

There was no one else in the office when I walked in except for the receptionist, who seemed to be ignoring me. She didn’t seem to belong in here; she looked somehow out of place. She was about eighteen years old with long blond hair falling around her face, obscuring most of it. I was expecting to see someone older I suppose; I was being fanciful, having looked around at my surroundings. The whole office had an Olde World look about it.

As I approached her desk, she glanced up, showing little interest, but asked me if she could help me with anything.

'Good morning,' I said taking my letter from my handbag, and handing it to her. 'I was wondering if Robert Karstairs was available this morning.' I then realized when I heard her say 'Bye, Darling' that she had actually been talking to someone on her mobile phone. Her hair had completely hidden the phone and she was clearly not happy with being interrupted. She told me to take a seat while she checked the diary. This done, she got up and walked up some stairs that I hadn’t noticed when I’d initially looked around the office. I walked over to the nearest chair, sat down and picked up one of the magazines. I don’t know why I’d bothered as I’d no intention of reading it.

I love old buildings and this one must have a lot of history to tell. I wondered if it had always been a solicitors’, or perhaps it might have even been originally an 'Inn'. If walls could talk then I’m certain they could tell some tales. I suddenly realized someone was speaking to me.

'Miss Bennett?'

I looked up to find a gentleman standing looking down at me. He looked vaguely familiar.

'Yes – err - sorry, I was miles away.'

He held out his hand for me to shake. 'I’m Robert Karstairs. We met about eight years ago. Would you like to come up to my office?'

I smiled, stood up and shook his hand. 'I’m sorry I didn’t hear you speaking to me at first, I was looking around your office. It’s such a lovely building.'

'Yes, it is. I’m glad you like it. Please follow me.' He led the way up the stairs to his office. It looked as if it hadn’t been altered in over fifty years. I loved it - so much history. He walked into his office and gestured for me to sit down opposite him. 'Obviously, you’ve received my letter.' He was smiling at me. 'Would you like some coffee?' Without waiting for an answer, he pushed a button on his phone and asked the receptionist to bring in some coffee. 'I expect you are wondering what I wanted to talk to you about.' He smiled as he spoke.

'Yes. It can’t be that someone has left me any money.' I said, laughing.

'Now this may sound a little strange to you but you do have someone....... how shall I put it? He paused momentarily. 'Someone has been keeping an eye on you, so to speak.'

'But …..' I was not sure I liked the sound of that.

'Let me explain. I know you have been working in Berkshire for a Mr Frank Fairhead for the last five years. Now the person whom I am representing asked me to set up a trust fund for you. To be precise, it was my father who actually set it all up. It was to be given to you when you either married or had children of your own.'

The door opened and the receptionist came in with the coffee. This gave me time to think. It was strange knowing that someone knew so much about me and I knew nothing whatsoever about them.

Robert Karstairs was smiling. 'Yes, I see it’s a bit of a surprise to you. Let me explain. Your benefactor, for want of a better name, has followed the course of your life; your schooling, your career in Garden Design, your previous job as an apprentice in Oxfordshire and then the last few years working for Mr Fairhead. So when they became aware you were looking for a change in direction, a different job, they thought it time to intervene.'

'Can’t you please tell me who this person is?'

'I’m sorry - but no, I am not at liberty to divulge the person’s name or anything personal about them. All I can say is that you mean a great deal to them and they have your best interests at heart.'

I was now really having trouble taking this in - I had no family, except an aunt, no close friends to speak of, so who was this mysterious benefactor? I picked up my coffee, noticing my hand was not as steady as it might have been. I looked at the man sitting the other side of the desk. He appeared to be in his early forties, quite a handsome man with dark brown wavy hair - he was smiling kindly. I didn’t really know how to respond to what I’d just been told. I thought for a moment. 'What do you mean, Mr Karstairs, when you say I have a trust fund? Are you also saying that all my life I’ve had someone watching me? Don’t you think I would have been aware of this? Don’t you think I should have been told before now?' I paused for a moment, still trying to take this all in. 'But why now, Mr Karstairs?'

'Please, call me Robert, Mr Karstairs makes me feel like my father.' He gave a little laugh, seeming uneasy, I thought. 'It’s exactly that, a trust fund. Every month varying amounts of cash have been put into this account. Now this benefactor - I will call him Mr Black - has, through contacts of his, found you prospective employment. Mr Black had been informed that you wanted a new direction in your life, a new challenge. There is a position for you in America, subject to a satisfactory interview of course. This contact of his knows the proprietor of the Cheyenne Lakes Resort in Colorado Springs.'

I looked across at this man; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. 'I am finding this difficult to take in - now let me see if I’ve got this correct. I’ve been offered a job, in Colorado - the United States?'

Robert looked at me and started to laugh gently - I think he was also finding the tension in me a little hard to handle. Yes, I was certainly tense! I didn’t know what to think or what to say next.

Fortunately Robert started talking to me again. He had a soft voice with a gentle Sussex accent and I suddenly realized that he was finding this conversation almost as difficult as I was. There was something in the way he spoke when he mentioned Mr Black, that I was wondering how well he knew him personally, or even if this Mr Black was in fact a Mrs. Black, perhaps there was more than one benefactor looking out for me.

'Kristina - may I call you that?' I nodded my head, so he carried on. 'Kristina, this person thinks the world of you and only has your best interests at heart. They have supplied you with the tickets; you will see that they are dated for the last Saturday in January - which is just two weeks away. There are enough US Dollars in this envelope to cover any expenses on your arrival or until you are either employed or you do not wish to take the job. If that is to be the case, you are to contact me and I will arrange for tickets for your flight home. There is also, I presume as I have not looked myself, enough money here in this other envelope for you to buy whatever you need, clothes, etc., for your trip and anything else you might need to purchase or to pay before you leave. Now, are there any questions you would like to ask me Kristina?' He was looking inside a buff coloured folder, where I could both envelopes and quite a few sheets of printed paper.

I couldn’t take all this in - who on earth was this person, who not only knows me but apparently cares about me as well? If there was such a person, why have they never contacted me, especially when my parents died?

Robert looked at his watch. 'What do you say to me taking you out to lunch? I have my car outside; we can drive down to Bosham, have lunch and talk about this some more.'

I hadn’t realized it was now after 12.00. I hadn’t eaten any breakfast I had been quite worried about this meeting. 'Thank you, Robert. That sounds very nice.'

Also available to order from many online retail outlets including:

Amazon.co.uk - 9780956853516
Amazon.com - 9780956853516
Play.com - 9780956853516
WHSmiths - 9780956853516
Waterstones - 9780956853516
Blackwell - 9780956853516

[[rating?table= kristinas-sample ]]


: Nov 29 2011 11:06 PM

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