Sophia Nelson’s father, William, is seventy-eight years-old and was a coal miner. When the mine closed in 1990, he put his heart and soul into the town’s mining museum, only to see it burn to the ground in a suspicious fire and Sophia lose her job there as a result. He continues to hold out hope that the museum will be re-built and, while he is pleased Sophia has found another job, he isn’t too happy that it is as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House.
Sophia’s mother, Maria Nelson, is seventy-five. She worked in an engineering firm in Leeds and became friends with Danielle O’Hara, mother of Sophia’s best friend Michelle, but they drifted apart when Danielle married Don Armstrong and moved to London. Maria now suffers from dementia, has recently had a stroke, and lives in Rich Hill Nursing Home.
Maria has periods of lucidity but at times she thinks Sophia is Sophia’s aunt Sally, or even Sophia’s grandmother. William visits his wife every day but after falling and badly breaking his arm, he had to spend some time in hospital. Because he was unable to visit her, Maria assumed he had died. Even when he left hospital and started visiting her again, Maria still thinks William is dead and that he is her long-dead brother.
Like her husband, Maria isn’t happy that Sophia is now living and working at Heaton Abbey. She begs Sophia to ‘get out of that place’ and but refuses to say why. What happened at the abbey and is Maria speaking to Sophia, or is she thinking of someone else?
Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.
Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.
When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it her attraction to him the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?
How long can Sophia stay at Heaton Abbey knowing what she does?
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“You are looking for another job, aren’t you, Sally?” her mother added.
“I’ve got another job now.”
“Up at Heaton Abbey. I’m the—”
“The abbey?” Mrs Nelson exclaimed. “No.”
“Yes… What is it?” she cried as her mother began shaking her head violently. “Mum, stop it, don’t do that.”
“Not that place. Not that place.”
“Mum.” She tried to calm her mother. “Mum, stop.”
“You get out of that place. You must get out of that place.”
Sophia could hear feet running down the corridor and her father and a nurse rushed into the room.
“Mrs Nelson?” The nurse tried to soothe her.
“You must get out of that place. You have to get out.”
“Sophia,” her father ordered. “Leave her.”
“Why do I have to get out, Mum?” Sophia demanded. “Tell me.”
“Sophia. Out. Now.”
“Please?” the nurse begged.
Sophia got up and went out into the corridor, kicking the skirting board in frustration. A couple of minutes later her father followed.
“What the hell was that about?” he demanded.
“I don’t know. She asked if I had got a job yet and I told her that I was at Heaton Abbey and she just started shouting and shaking her head.”
“Right, well, you don’t mention the abbey again to her. Do you hear me, Sophia?”
“Yes. I’ll just lie as usual. Pretend I’m Sally one day. Pretend I’m her mother the next.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “I’m sorry.”
“I know,” her father said quietly. “Let the nurse calm her down.”
“You like the abbey, then?” he asked.
“Yes. I did my first tour yesterday.”
“What’s Lord Heaton like?” Mr Nelson added. “Is he a recluse like everyone says?”
“I don’t really know,” she replied truthfully. “He seems to work very hard and doesn’t leave the estate much but I don’t know if that makes him a recluse.”
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Paperback ISBN: 9781986599504