She’d been invited to Averley because it was the sort of place where everyone was welcome. When she got there—more like two hours drive than the ‘bit over an hour’ she’d been told—it wasn’t at all what she expected. No power, no town water, no comforts. But beautiful. The ‘lawn’ was a meadow running all the way to the river. Beyond that were wild foothills and glimpses of alpine peaks tickled by cloud.

Albert Borden took her bag and showed her the bunk room. ‘In with the women,’ he said, ‘so us fellas can get some sleep.’ Then he poured her wine from a cask and introduced her to everyone on the porch, which was the place to be on a warm afternoon.

It wasn’t until after dinner, when she was talking to the other women, that she realised there were more Borden women than men. Albert, it turned out, was not only a client of hers (hence her invitation) but he was on his own. It was information worth knowing. Men her age were usually either partnered up or deadbeats.

‘What do we do for entertainment?’ she asked.

‘Two choices. said a voice behind her—Albert, a guitar slung over one shoulder. ‘Sing or listen.’

‘I can’t sing,’ said Carol.

‘We’ll see about that.’

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