View Full Version : Excerpt - The House on the Shore

Victoria Howard
September 3rd, 2011, 04:34 PM
Anna MacDonald never felt so betrayed.<O:p

Not only had Mark, the Head of the English Department, given the job he’d promised her to someone else, but he hadn’t had the nerve to tell her himself. But that was just like him. He’d do anything to avoid confrontation.

What should she do? Everyone in the department knew they’d been seeing each other, and would hear on the university grapevine that she’d been passed over for promotion. How could she face the humiliation and the knowing stares? And how could she work with Mark each day knowing he’d betrayed her

Anna leaned back in her chair and considered her options. Could she continue to work with someone she couldn’t trust? The answer had to be no. But lecturing posts in Scotland were hard to come by, especially in creative writing, the subject she taught. And what about their personal relationship? Mark had destroyed her trust in him, not only as a colleague, but as her lover too. Did she really want to carry on dating someone she couldn’t trust? Of course not.<O:p

The more Anna thought about her situation, the more she realized she had only one option. She crumpled the letter into a ball and tossed it into the waste paper bin.<O:p></O:p>

Straightening her shoulders she marched down the university’s wide corridor to Mark’s office. She took a deep breath and pushed open the door. Mark sat at his desk, a pile of term papers in front of him. He must have sensed her presence because he looked up—and paled when he saw her.<O:p


“A letter, Mark? After telling me the job was as good as mine, you send me a letter saying you’ve given it to someone else. Couldn’t you have told me face to face? I’m not just your work colleague, I’m your girlfriend. Or have you conveniently forgotten that fact?”<O:p

Mark held out his hands as if offering an apology. “I was only following procedure.” A lock of blond hair fell into his blue eyes and he brushed it away without thinking.<O:p

“I see.” Anna swallowed her hurt. And rage. She didn’t want to leave on a sour note. “Well, you can’t complain about my letter of resignation, then can you? Either you accept it, or I go over your head and give it to the vice chancellor.”<O:p</O:p

“Anna, darling, I thought you enjoyed your job. Sit down and let’s discuss this.”<O:p</O:p

“I don’t want to sit down, thank you, and I did enjoy my job.”<O:p</O:p

“Then I don’t understand why you want to leave. Isn’t this a bit impulsive? You should take some time and think about it.”<O:p</O:p

“I think I’m being very reasonable under the circumstances. You expect me to carry on working in the department while… while your new blonde bimbo sits in what should have been my office, doing what should have been my job!” Anna felt her blood pressure rising. She took a deep breath.<O:p</O:p

“We only went to dinner…” Mark shuffled the papers on his desk.<O:p</O:p

“Don’t lie to me, Mark.”<O:p</O:p

“I’m not.”<O:p</O:p

“Think again. And while you’re doing that you’d better start advertising for a new lecturer because I’m leaving at the end of the term whether you like it or not!”<O:p</O:p

“But term finishes on Thursday—”<O:p</O:p

“So it does. That gives you three days and all of the summer vacation to find a replacement for me. I’ve marked and returned all the end of term papers to my students. I have no more classes scheduled, so this is my last working day.”<O:p</O:p

“Look, can we talk about this tonight? You can see that I’ve a mountain of paperwork to get through. I’ll stop at the supermarket on my way home pick up a bottle of that red wine you like and a Chinese take-a-way.”<O:p</O:p

“Are you serious? You don’t really expect us to continue our relationship, do you?”<O:p</O:p

Mark stood and stepped out from behind his desk. He rested his hands on her shoulders, his face devoid of expression. “Anna, please, this is business. Just because you were passed over for promotion, doesn’t mean our relationship is over. You love me.”<O:p</O:p

Anna stared at him and wondered why she had ever considered him husband material.<O:p</O:p

“No, Mark, I don’t. What’s more, I don’t trust you. And without trust there can be no love.”<O:p</O:p