Although Anna grew to be much more reliant on herself and was not afraid of the dark anymore, she still put a candle on her window-sill during the long nights.
One night, she was sleeping soundly when suddenly something woke her up. She sat upright and listened carefully. There it came again. A soft screeching. What could it be? Surely no burglar! Chadwick was a safe place where people even let their backdoor open all day.
She got out of bed, put a wrap around her shoulders against the cold, and went downstairs. There she heard the sound more clearly. Surely there was someone there! Would she dare to open up the door?
She thought hard for a moment, and then remembered what Freda would have done. With a quick move, she unlocked the back door.
Somebody was lying before it. She kneeled down to have a better look, and found that it was a young man, obviously wounded and now unconscious. It took all her strength to pull him inside, and she had to use a rug to get the job done.
Once she had the man on her sofa, she took a better look. He had a big gash to his forehead which was bleeding profusely, and more bleeding scrapes on his arms and hands. She took off his coat and shirt to check for more wounds but apparently that was all. The wound at the forehead seemed worst, and she tackled that one first. She managed to stop the trickling of blood by applying one of Freda’s old recipes for a bleeding wound, and then dressed it properly. She cleaned away the blood from his arms and hands and put some band-aids over the gashes that were too big to leave open.
At last, the young man was taken care off. She carefully put a cushion under his head and fetched a warm blanket from the closet. She knew sleep would be the best medicine for now, and so she could return to bed without any qualms.
When she got up the next morning, her unexpected guest was still asleep on the sofa. She set to preparing breakfast as quietly as she could manage, but when she was brewing coffee he opened his eyes.
“Where… where am I?” he breathed, in a raw but attractive voice.
“You are in my home,” Anna answered. “I found you wounded on my doorstep and took you in.”
“Ah, now I remember! It was raining hard, and I could not see the road properly. I drove into something and smashed into the windscreen. I lost consciousness for a while and then get out of the car. My phone was dead, and so I had to wander around to find help. I saw the light in your window…”
“And you came here,” Anna went on. “You are welcome. Can I offer you some breakfast?”
“That would be very kind of you, Miss…?””
“Carstairs. Anna Carstairs.”
Obviously, he had not heard that name before. So far for stardom, Anna grimaced to herself. Not that it mattered a lot. She liked her anonymity and actually enjoyed it. One novel did not make you world-famous.
He offered no last name, and she did not ask for it either. She poured him a cup of coffee and offered him toast and jam.
“Would you like some eggs?” she asked.
“Only if you are having them as well.”
Some time later, they had both satisfied their appetites and were enjoying a final cup of coffee.
“I assume you’ll want to retrieve your car,” Anna said. “Do I need to call Mr. Effington, who owns the local garage?”
“No need,” answered Adam. “Nothing I can’t fix myself with daylight. But thanks anyway.”
“Your phone is dead, you said? If you want to make some calls, you can use mine.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’ll fix the car and be on my way. Nothing bad happened.”
“ So you don’t need the police to make a statement?”
“Oh no, no police!”
Did she catch some uneasiness in his voice? She was not sure, but thought it somewhat strange that he did not need to call anyone.
“If I could just use your bathroom to freshen up a bit?”
Of course she allowed it. Half an hour later, Adam took his leave. He walked down the lane, and soon he was gone for good – or so Anna thought.