Excerpt from The River Girl

Suddenly the girl seemed to morph, attitude melting away, leaving a slight, trembling figure in its place. Vulnerability flooded through her limbs and a constricted sob broke from her throat. She sank onto the large rock that formed the backbone of the little pool and turned limpid eyes to Maeve, tears welling.

Maeve felt her heart crack again. “You must be frozen!” she exclaimed, reaching for the girl’s shoulder in a gesture of care. The girl shied away from her touch.

“I don’t feel the cold like other people,” the girl whispered. “Too much time spent swimming in rivers. I’m used to it.”

“You still need to get wrapped up in something warm,” Maeve clucked.

“That’s nice…you’re nice,” the girl smiled winningly.

“Not really, just concerned.”

The girl stood again, her head bowed. Maeve took a step back to give her space, ready to offer support if needed, and heard a flutter of laughter. The girl raised her head and a look of triumph crossed her face. The arrogance was palpable.

“You’re going to be easy,” she said.

“What?” said Maeve.

“You. Easy.” The girl leant her head across and almost spelt out her next words, “You’ll like me whether you want to or not.”