A.N: Ok I kinow I haven't finished my other story.. its just hit a big dead end again after my rl life got in the way and put me of track, and now won't go where I want it to, so I might have to give up on it for now

So I thought up this one, which is looking a little more promising so far, the characters are a little more interesting and spunky and seem to go well together that I can write about then easier so I hope you like them.

I just want to add the places and people in this story are all fictional, and do not exist anywhere in the real world, and only in my imagination

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(PART ONE- Alison)

Alison Stewart found herself swearing in annoyance as she realised she had somehow manage to get a puncture in the back wheel of her push bike.

Trust it to happen now, when she had just reached the foot of the steep hill, and she would not only have the exertion of walking up the hill, but having to haul her bike along as well.

It didn't help that the sky above her was turning dark grey and stormy, that's when she felt the large wet drips of rain starting to fall on her. Her thin jacket would be no protection, she would be soaked to the skin before she reached home, she realised in dismay.

Her mood grew as dark as the sky over her head as she grudgingly pushed the bike up the hill hoping the rain wouldn't come down in the heavy downpour that was threatening before she got home.

At least when she got there to her Gran's cottage, her supper would be ready and a she would probably dry off quick by the large burning log fire.

These thoughts just made her quickened her pace somewhat.

After almost twenty years of climbing this hill, she was well used to it. But after a tiring day which she had spent on her feet in the bakery where she worked in the town of Rathendene, which was situated on the small almost isolated Island called Cushnagh just off the Irish coast, her legs protested at the stress and strain of the steep path. Unfortunately for her, the rain did came down heavier, soaking her long dark hair in the process, she could feel the dampness come through her jacket, but she trudged on telling herself it would not be long till she was home.

As she reached the bend in the road which led to her Gran's cottage her spirits lifted a little, knowing it was just a short distance to go.

It was then she noticed the light in neighbouring cottage, a few yards away from her own home, which caught her attention

The cottage belonged to Harvey Maxwell a well known American publicist, who used it as a holiday cottage in the summer. But right now as it was the middle of winter, and the place was usually empty and deserted, which was why she was surprised to see the lights lit.

When Harvey came to stay or visited, he always phoned to let her and her Grandmother know. He had given them the spare keys of the cottage, so they could usually air the place, and get it ready for his arrival.

But as far as Alison knew Harvey hadn't been in contact with her Gran about coming to visit.

As she got closer, she noticed the red car in the driveway. It was not Harvey's car, unless he had got a new one.

Then the front door opened. Despite the rain and the growing darkness, Alison could make out the figure that appeared in the doorway, that was flooded by the light from the living room, and she realised it was not Harvey, who was middle aged and on the plumpish side with thinning grey hair.

This person was thinner and much younger, maybe in his early to mid twenties with short dark hair.

He was hurriedly going over to the car boot and opening it, unaware of her presence

Alison didn't even realised that she had slowed down to the point of stopping in her tracks to watch him, until he turned and straightened up after he had pulled a blue hold-all out of the boot of the car, then closing it again with a slam, intending to return to the house, that was when he caught sight of her standing at the other side of the cottage gate, making him halt in his actions also

His expression seemed a little hostile; maybe it was the darkness, and the rain give her that impression she wasn't too sure.

"Yes, Is there something you want ?" he demanded, his tone conveying no real friendliness.

"Oh, S-sorry," Alison found herself stammering in apology, recollecting herself, as she realised she must seem rude just was standing gawking at him, making cheeks started to burn in embarrasment, "its just that I live in the cottage just up the road a bit, and I know the owner of the this cottage, Harvey, he is a friend and we look after the place for him when he is away, so when I saw you, I just wondered who you were." She then attempted to explain

"Well you needn't worry, I am not some sort of squatter, if that's what you are thinking," he informed her dryly. "Actually if you must know, I am a friend of Harvey's also, and he has kindly let me use his cottage for a while," the dark haired stranger then explained

"Oh, I see," realisation and relief filled Alison, she pushed her rain soaked hair that was clinging to her face away from her eyes, so she could see him better.

She noticed he was unshaven giving him a somewhat rough scruffy look.

Alison was also realising although he spoke in clear English, it was tinged with a slight foreign accent, it was not American like Harvey's. but more European, French or Italian perhaps; she wasn't exactly sure, as it was rare they had many foreigner visitors

She knew she had never met him before, yet, somehow he seemed vaguely familiar

"So, you live in the next cottage up?" he asked thoughtfully. "Then you must be Alison, actually Harvey did mentioned you." He informed her, now sounding less hostile

"He did?" Alison was a little surprised.

"Yeah, he told me if I needed to know anything about the island, like the best fishing spots and so on, to make sure to ask you"

"well yes, I have lived here all my life, so I have a good knowledge of those things," Alison informed him. With a small friendly smile

"I see," she felt his eyes briefly inspecting her up and down speculatively before replying, "Well, I will keep that in mind. But for now, I just think I will get out of this rain, and you should too, before you catch your death." He then suggested

"Oh yes, of course, I had better get going, my Gran will be waiting on me," Alison replied.

"Um It was nice meeting you Mr-?" she faltered uncertainly.

"He seem to hesitate, as if not sure whether to reply, but then finally he said, " You can just call me Paul."

"OK," Alison said, and as he abruptly turned and hurried back into the cottage, closing the door after him, she started walking the few yards left to her Grandmother's cottage.

As soon as Alison struggled through the front door with her bike, her Grandmother Mary Stewart greeted her in the small hallway.

"Oh look at you Alison, you are soaked right through, I told you to put on your heavier coat with the hood this morning.

"I know Gran, but it never started to rain till I got half way home then I puncture in my back tyre, which meant it took me longer."

"Well go up and get out of those wet things and get yourself dried, and I will have your tea on the table for you." Alison only too gladly obeyed.

Twenty minutes later she was sitting at the kitchen table eating her supper, whilst her Gran put on the kettle for tea.

"Hey Gran, did you know that there is some friend of Harvey's who has just moved into the cottage. I saw him when I was coming past. It was some fella' with a red car, He said Harvey was letting him stay at the place." Alison informed her Grandmother with a slight look of intrigue in her brown eyes,

"Actually I am surprised Harvey never rang us to let us know, I mean the cottage has been lying empty this past four months, so I am even not sure if it is in a fit state for anyone to just move into it right now," she then finished with a small frown of concern

"Well its probably one of his city friends, or clients," Mary Stewart replied. " But you are right, its strange for anyone wanting to come and stay here in the middle of winter; that cottage will be most likely damp and very cold. He'll need to get a good fire going to dry that place out properly."

"Yes well, he didn't exactly seem over friendly when I got talking to him," Alison said, "though he did say that Harvey mentioned my name to him, So I knew he was being truthful about knowing him," Alison she explained, " but he looks much younger than Harvey though" she then added thoughtfully

"Hmm," her Gran remarked, sitting down to pour the tea for the both of them, "Well I can't imagine He will want to stay long. There is not much going on here in the summer never mind the winter for tourists or visitors. So I reckon, who ever he is he will get bored easily and be packing his bags after a few weeks to head back to the hustle and bustle of the mainland."

"Yeah more than likely…," Alison agreed with a small sigh. But she was still curious about the new arrival, and the reason why he had suddenly decided to take residence in the cottage. Living in such a small place, where hardly anything really happened made little events like this, couldn't help but perk her interest.

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The next morning when she got up Alison rode past Harvey's cottage on her bike as she started off for work. The red car was still in the driveway but all the curtains and blinds were still pulled down and drawn. She supposed the visitor, Paul was still asleep.

But then it was still early, seven a.m. in the morning, so she shouldn't really be that surprised.

It was only starting to get light, and despite the heavy rain of the evening before, the sky looked clearer. But just in case, her Gran had insisted she wore her coat with the hood.

When Alison reached the Bakery, Teresa McGrath, the owner, had already opened up, and greeted her cheerfully. "Morning Alison dear, hope you didn't get to soaked on your way home last night, It was a terrible downpour."

"Well actually I did, my stupid bike got a puncture, but lucky I was able to repair it for this morning," Alison informed her, "but hey I have some new gossip for you. Some fella called 'Paul' moved into Harvey Maxwell's cottage last night, I seen him as I was going home," she then informed her, coming behind the counter to join her.

"Oh?" Teresa's eye's widened with interest, after all new gossip was hard to come by on the small Island, so she was immediately intrigued. "So what is this fella like?"

"Well he is a lot younger, A bit scruffy looking to be honest; and I made an eejit of myself, because he caught me standing gawping at him, but I didn't know who he was, or where he came from. Then he explained he was a friend of Harvey's, and he was staying at the place for a while," Alison explained.

But she then moved closer to her employer, looking more conspiring as she added.

"Though me and Gran think it's a bit strange like, him wanting to come and stay here at this time of the year, and arriving so sudden. I mean it is kindda weird that Harvey never even phoned to let us know about it, so we could get the place fixed up for him coming."

"So you reckon there is something mysterious about his sudden arrival?" Teresa asked with widened eyes.

Alison shrugged, "well I am not sure - but I guess time will tell," she replied.

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The Bakery was always busiest in the morning with the locals coming in to get their bread and pastries.

So there wasn't much time for Alison to think about the events of the night before and the new occupier of the cottage next to hers.

But then she glanced through the shop window and seen the familiar red car pulling up on the narrow kerb beside the shop.

Straining her neck to get a better look, she was able to see the driver get out,

It was him, Paul.

He wore a long dark overcoat and a cap on his head. But the really odd thing was the fact that he was wearing sunglasses when there was no sun; in fact it was still rather cloudy and overcast.

Then she realised he was making his way towards the bakery, so she hastily moved away from the window where she had been watching him

As he opened the door to the bakery and entered, he removed his dark glasses. Catching sight of him more close up, Alison realised his eyes were blue.

She now hurried over to Teresa, "that's him" she hissed excitedly.

Teresa gave their new customer more than her usual scrutiny, then smiled as she stepped forward to serve him.

"Can I help you?"

"Yeah, I need to buy some bread; wholemeal preferably," he replied in a businesslike tone, as his blue eyes peered at the different loaves of bread set out on the tray behind the counter, Then he glanced up, his gaze taking in Teresa and also Alison, who standing just behind her employer.

He recognised her immediately,

"Hi again," he said, shooting her a brief smile, "I see you have dried out after last night."

Alison smiled back, he seemed a little more friendlier today, and although he still hadn't shaved, she noticed how his blue eyes were a little bloodshot and weary.

It looked like he hadn't slept very well, perhaps that was the reason he hid them behind the dark glasses.

He still looked somewhat familiar to her, but for the life of her, she couldn't think why.

She felt sure she had never met him before; maybe he just reminded her of someone.

In the end she decided not letting it bother her too much.

"Yes, thankfully the rain has stayed off today so far. Have you settled in ok last night in the cottage?" she then enquired, "I Hope it wasn't too cold or damp, it hasn't been lived in for a while," she explained

"I was fine," he replied," and I didn't really notice the cold or damp." He added as he searched in his coat pocket for the money when Teresa put the loaf of bread on the counter for him.

"Is that all you will be wanting?" she enquired.

"For now, yes." he lifted the loaf of the counter, seeming uneasy with all the questions and just wanting to go.

But Teresa, being a nosy woman, decided to find out all she could while she had the chance,

"So, you are staying in Harvey Maxwell's cottage? He's a nice man, always very polite and friendly when he comes to stay, you must be a good friend if he is letting you use his place."

"Yeah kindda," he replied vaguely as he handed her the money.

"Pity you decided to visit in the middle of the winter. It's much nicer here in the summer, right now, it can be a bit bleak," she said ruefully as she went to the till to get his change.

"Well that doesn't really matter, I didn't come for the weather," he informed her curtly, "it's the privacy I am really interested in." It didn't escape Alison's notice that he had emphasised the word privacy, so it was probably his polite way of making it clear he preferred them to mind their own business

"Well you came to the right place then," Teresa replied, handing him his change. "Apart from Alison and her grandmother Mary, you are pretty isolated where you are, there is not another soul around."

"Just the way I want it," he told her giving her another one of his quick smiles. "Have a nice day ladies, I got a few more places to go," he then said before turning and leaving the shop.

Teresa and Alison watched him go.

"Hmmm, doesn't give much away does he," Teresa remarked. "But, y'know, I think I know what that young man needs."

" Oh, what?" Alison asked with interest for Teresa's words of wisdom on the new arrival.

"A good woman to look after him," Teresa replied, making Alison laugh.