20th December, 2018
A weekend in an ancient castle and a murder-mystery game that becomes all too real. It’s safe to say Josh’s plans for a romantic anniversary with George are not turning out the way he’d hoped.
In spite of his cynicism, and his promise not to embark on any more life-threatening pursuits for answers, when one of the guests turns up dead, Josh can’t help but put his talents to use to solve the murder.
The Advent of Reason is a (more or less) stand-alone 47,000-word novella-length character special in the Hiding Behind The Couch series.
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“Oh, God. That’s a long way down.” Josh backed away from the panoramic window fronting Gabby’s third-floor studio.
She laughed, but not at him, he didn’t think, and came to stand by his side. “You do realise you were this far up last night?”
“Ah, but I couldn’t see that, could I?”
“That makes a difference?”
“It did last night.” It wouldn’t now he knew. “So the solarium is in the east wing?”
“Correct. At the top of the other turret.”
“You have turrets?”
“We used to. The house was rebuilt in 1661 and again in 1863, after the east turret fell off.”
Josh gulped audibly.
“It’s all right,” Gabby comforted. “Architecturally, they’re towers now and go all the way to the ground.”
“Just as long as we don’t,” Josh muttered, although it wasn’t so bad if he stayed back from the windows, and the view was absolutely stunning. “Has this always been a studio?”
“Since the late 1700s, yes, but not in my lifetime—until now.”
“But—” Josh clamped his teeth together. He’d promised to behave himself this weekend.
“I’m an artist?” Gabby guessed. Josh nodded mutely. She sighed. “Let me finish up here, I’ll order some coffee and then we’ll talk.” She quickly typed into her phone and continued with what she’d been doing when he arrived: setting easels in a semicircle in front of the windows.
“Can I help?”
“Hmm…bring those over?” She pointed to a stack of Perspex paint palettes in the centre of the floor. Josh collected them and left one on each of the stools Gabby had placed in front of the easels.
“I’m sorry if I said the wrong thing,” Josh said, glancing up from what he was doing.
“You didn’t say anything.”
“I was going to.”
“Yes, and you’re right to question it, but there are things I’ve never told you about why my parents were so insistent I study law, or, should I say, were so against me becoming an artist.”
“Art therapy and creative art are entirely different animals,” Josh argued. Quite why he thought he needed to when he was talking to an art therapist…well, he didn’t need to.
“Indeed they are, and I do believe my father finally understands the distinction. But you know how it is. Superstition can override reason in the best of us.”
Josh didn’t agree; he wasn’t in the least superstitious, but he held his tongue, aware that such a statement was also a value judgement of Gabby’s admission, and he wanted neither to offend her nor jeopardise his chances of hearing what was sure to be a story full of the kind of intrigue he loved, as opposed to the awful pantomime this evening’s murder mystery would prove to be.