A/N: The towns called Bode and Vale are fictional, and if they do happen to exist out there, I can assure you that it is a complete coincidence. Enjoy.CHAPTER1
Lucinda Reeves closed her diary. She felt strange. She didn't feel like Lucinda Reeves. She felt that she was a stranger to herself; but then she looked up and saw her timetable stuck onto the pin board, and all at once everything seemed familiar again; the strange sensation of not knowing herself lifted.
She was a student; French and English were her main subjects, and she was tired of going to college by train. Getting up at the crack of dawn, sleepwalking to the station and napping for one and a half hour in a forsaken compartment...She was just as tired and sleepy when she had to take the train home nearly every evening. She had decided to search for a flat she could share with someone. Her best friend Shelley was already cooped up in an apartment with her boyfriend, so Shelley was out of the question. Lucinda looked at the notice she had discovered on the notice board of the French Institute and photocopied. A student doing his doctorate in French Linguistics was searching for a roommate; his name was Gareth Greene, and any prospective roommates were welcome to phone him up on his mobile. Lucinda's hand moved towards her own mobile. She bit her lip, hesitating. Then she shook her head and dialled the number indicated on the piece of paper.
The dial tone was soon exchanged for a deep, pleasant voice saying: "Hello, this is Gareth Greene."
Lucinda moistened her lips.
"Er..Uh…Hi Gareth, my name is Lucinda Reeves. I believe you are searching for a roommate?"
"Ah, so you read the notice. Yes, I am. Are you interested?"
Well, obviously she was interested; otherwise she wouldn't be calling him.
"Er…Yes," she said awkwardly.
"Mmh…You'll want to see the place first, naturally."
"Yes, please. Which time would be okay?"
"One moment, please. I need to fetch my agenda."
There was a small click as he put down his mobile. Lucinda's cheeks were burning with nervousness and excitement.
"Are you there?" Gareth asked her.
They fixed the date, and he asked her if she had a job, or was searching for one in Vale, because of the rent. She told him that she was looking around for one.
There was a short silence, as if Gareth was not too pleased by her uncertainty.
But then he said:
"Fine; if you like the flat after viewing it, then we can discuss the details. See you on Friday afternoon."
"You're welcome. Bye."
Friday afternoon came soon enough; Lucinda shivered as a cold gust of wind ruffled her black hair. She took off the elastic holding it together in a ponytail; it was a bit tight, and her scalp was starting to protest. She glanced at the enlarged section of a map of Vale she had printed from the internet. She was taking the correct route so far. In another five minutes, she found the apartment. Her heart began to beat rapidly. Nervously, she rang the bell. For a few seconds nothing happened; then a loud buzzing told her that she could open the door; she passed inside the building. It was warm, and with a sense of relief she climbed up the stairs to the second floor.
"Are you Lucinda Reeves?"
She turned; a very attractive young man was facing her, his hand on the door handle behind him. He was about one meter eighty; his hair was short and dark-brown, his eyes were steely-grey and his features exquisitely moulded.
"Er…yes, I am Lucinda. You are Gareth?"
"Uh, pleased to meet you," Lucinda said, extending her hand. He shook hers briefly; then he opened the door and stood back to let her enter before him. Lucinda stooped and removed her shoes and placed them on the shoe-tray outside. She waited until he had closed the door.
"Would you like something to drink?"
"No, thank you," she said, smiling shyly.
"Well…let's start, then," he said.
Half an hour later, Lucinda decided that she liked the flat very much; the division of the rent between the two of them was reasonable, and she told him she would like to move in once she had found a job.
"I've been looking for one, and I've got an interview on Monday," she told him.
"Good luck," he said. Gareth was polite but rather distant; he didn't ask questions about her life or her studies; on the other hand, Lucinda thought sensibly, it was a bit early for all that. It was not yet even clear whether she was going to move in or not. She would only know by Monday.