Blog Tour: Extract from The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes. As Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history she’d never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget?
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Two black Prada shoes appear in front of my eyes. You don’t grow up in the same house as Philadelphia Simmonds without being able to recognise Prada when you see it. They are attached to two long pinstriped legs. Very long pinstriped legs. Someone who I can only presume to be Edwin Jones is smiling at me, his shirt sleeves rolled up past the elbows, his tie loosely knotted. He’s a lot younger than I imagined. And a lot more handsome.
“Miss Simmonds,” he says. I nod, unable to find my voice. He looks hot. In more ways than one.
“Would you like to follow me?”
I stand up and realise how tall he is, a good five or six inches taller than me. I could have worn heels, I think, pointlessly. At 5’10” I rarely get the chance to wear heels without feeling slightly ridiculous. I follow him up a wide spiral staircase and along a wood-panelled corridor. He holds open the door of his office. His name is emblazoned on it in gold plate.
“Take a seat, Miss Simmonds,” he says as we walk in.
“Julia, please,” I say, finally finding my voice.
“Julia,” he repeats. He turns on a pedestal fan and opens his window a little wider. “Thank you for coming down from Cambridge to meet with me. I’m sorry if it’s inconvenienced you at all but this is a little…um…sensitive and I felt it should be done face to face.”
It’s unbelievably hot in here and I can feel the stray hairs at the nape of my neck getting damp. The walls are wood panelled like the corridor, making the room dark, and I can’t decide if that helps or hinders with the heat.
“That’s OK,” I smile, trying very hard not to show that it has inconvenienced me. “It’s less than an hour on the train.”
We both sit down on leather armchairs either side of a low coffee table, rather than at his overwhelming leather-topped desk. This whole room reminds me of a scene from a Dickens novel. It’s tremendously old fashioned and nothing like the sleek chrome and glass air-conditioned office I work in.
He pours me a glass of iced-water out of a jug on the table and asks if I want any tea or coffee. I shake my head. I just want to get on with things now.
He picks up a folder of papers and looks at me. He really is quite beautiful. It’s so hot in here that I feel a bit odd, a little lightheaded. I can’t quite catch my breath. I take a big gulp of water and I remind myself I’m here to inherit some horrible artefact and then I’ll never see these offices or Edwin Jones again.
“You look exactly like your mother,” he says, still looking at me. “I hope you don’t mind me saying that.”
I shrug. “No, everybody comments on it.”
“I’ve known her a long time,” he goes on, “since I was a child actually. My father was her lawyer originally but he retired a few years ago, her numerous papers have been handed to me.” He pauses again. I wonder why mum didn’t say anything if he’s known her for years as he claims. This is all very odd.
Just as I think I’m going to have to fill the silence with something inane he begins to speak.
“The truth is Miss Simmonds…um…Julia, I don’t really know where to start with this. I asked Philadelphia to tell you herself but she insisted I do it.”
“Typical,” I say.
“Does the name Bruce Baldwin mean anything to you?”
I stare at him, slightly taken aback. “Up until last week I’d never heard of him,” I say. “but over the last few days I’ve heard his name several times. He died in March I’m told.”
He pauses again. I watch him take a breath. He looks as though he is about to apologise for something but stops himself.
“Bruce Baldwin was your father.”
Rachel Burton has been making up stories since she first learned to talk, prodigiously early. In 2013 she finally started making one up that was worth writing down. She has a BA in Classics and an MA in English and has never really known what to do when she grew up. She has worked as a waitress, a legal secretary, a yoga teacher and a paralegal. She never quite made it to law school. She grew up in Cambridge and London but now lives in Leeds with her boyfriend and three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes
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