Read Between Friends Online

Authors: Audrey Howard

Tags: #Saga, #Historical, #Fiction

Between Friends

Between Friends
Audrey Howard
Random House (2012)
Tags:
Saga, Historical, Fiction

Synopsis

Brought together by friendship, torn apart by love... Meg Hughes, Tom Fraser and Martin Hunter were friends who had grown up together in the grinding poverty of a Liverpool orphanage. Their prospects looked bleak until the friends were sent to help out at Hemingway Shipping Line's emigrant lodging house. Then their youthful high spirits blossomed into their plans for the future. But the First World War brought an end to those plans, and threatened to separate them. As time passes, Meg grows more and more beautiful, and the love the two men feel for her becomes passionately possessive. Meg, in different ways, is in love with both Tom and Martin . . . and is to bear a child by one of them. Grief and suffering, as well as happiness and hope, must all play their part before the childhood friends' deep and complex relationships are finally and tragically resolved.

Contents
 

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Audrey Howard

Title Page

Dedication

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

 

Copyright

About the Book
 

Brought together by friendship, torn apart by love.

Meg Hughes, Tom Fraser and Martin Hunter were friends who had grown up together in the grinding poverty of a Liverpool orphanage. Their prospects looked bleak until the friends were sent to help out at Hemingway Shipping Line’s emigrant lodging house. Then their youthful high spirits blossomed into their plans for the future.

But the First World War brought an end to those plans, and threatened to separate them.

As time passes, Meg grows more and more beautiful, and the love the two men feel for her becomes passionately possessive. Meg, in different ways, is in love with both Tom and Martin . . . and is to bear a child by one of them.

Grief and suffering, happiness and hope, must all play their part before the childhood friends’ deep and complex relationships are finally and tragically resolved.

About the Author
 

Audrey Howard was born in Liverpool in 1929 and it is from that once great seaport that many of her ideas for her books come. Before she began to write she had a variety of jobs, among them hairdresser, model, shop assistant, cleaner and civil servant. In 1981, out of work and living in Australia, she wrote her first novel
The Skylark’s Song
. She was fifty-two. This success was followed by
The Morning Tide, Ambitions, The Juniper Bush
and
Between Friends. The Juniper Bush
won the Boots Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 1988. Audrey Howard now lives in her childhood home, St Anne’s on Sea, Lancashire.

By the same author

 

THE SKYLARK’S SONG

THE MORNING TIDE

AMBITIONS

THE JUNIPER BUSH

THE MALLOW YEARS

SHINING THREADS

A DAY WILL COME

ALL DEAR FACES

THERE IS NO PARTING

THE WOMAN FROM BROWHEAD

ECHO OF ANOTHER TIME

THE SILENCE OF STRANGERS

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE

BETWEEN FRIENDS
 

Audrey Howard

 

I would like to dedicate this book, with my dearest love, to my sister and brother-in-law, Wendy and Bob Beverly
.

Chapter One
 

THE KITCHEN DOOR
stood wide open and the young girl who came through it paused for a moment in the doorway as the full force of the midday sun struck her. The heat seemed to be sucked down the narrow steps to the basement door of the tall house and she narrowed her eyes in the glare, lifting her left hand to shade them from its brightness. In her right hand she held an iron bucket filmed with coal dust.

‘Lord, it’s hot!’ she exclaimed over her shoulder to someone in the kitchen, then began to climb the worn steps, the bucket held well away from her full, grey cotton skirt and the fresh whiteness of her well-starched apron. When she reached the gate at the top of the area steps she opened it, stopping to lean for a moment or two on the iron railings which surrounded the area, savouring the languorous heat of the sun and the dust-filled peace of the square.

A youth on its far side who was indolently shovelling horse droppings from the cobbled roadway into a bucket straightened up slowly when he saw her and his small eyes gleamed. He turned his head quickly to look about him but apart from himself and several curiously dressed small children who sprawled listlessly on the pavement, their feet in the gutter, the square was deserted.

The sun shone brassily on well-painted window frames and the open doors of the terraced Regency houses which surrounded the square and winked back from polished windows. The houses were elegantly simple though well past their best, once the homes of Liverpool’s merchants and men of shipping before they had amassed their wealth five decades ago and moved out to Everton and West Derby and the mansions they had built for themselves there. They were narrow, constructed from the locally produced bricks before the days of mass production, before the days of the railways which had transported them, the façades a warm red, edged at each flat window and arched, ornamental doorway in white.

The youth put down his bucket and stepped lightly across the
heap
of stinking manure. The small garden in the centre of the square was dry now, the grass a lifeless brown, the marigolds and lavender which had been so lively several weeks ago wilted and parched in the still and withering air. The dessicated leaves of the sycamore trees cast a deep shade about him as he moved across it but the usual assortment of old, pipe-smoking men and mongrel dogs who normally sought its sanctuary were missing today, electing to lounge in the cooler shade of a back yard or a shadowed doorway, too enervated in the dense heat to totter even to the garden’s wooden benches.

The girl withdrew a scrap of white linen from a pocket in her apron and delicately wiped the perspiration from her upper lip. She was tall. Though her waist and hips were slender with the child-like shapelessness of adolescence, her breasts were already budding, promising a full roundness, a womanliness to come. Her skin, a rich creamy-white, was revealed by her rolled up sleeves and the buttons she had undone at her throat but it was her hair which immediately drew the eye for it was a shining flame, like copper caught in the sun’s rays, a vividly abundant warmth which curled vigorously, riotously about her shapely head.

She began to saunter towards the side of the house, the bucket still held carefully away from the full folds of her skirt. She swayed gracefully, her young body relaxed and dreaming, her skirt swinging from side to side, her left hand twitching the hem away from the pointed toes of her black boots as she had seen the grand ladies do in Dale Street. The house was the end one of a row and when she reached the narrow passage which separated it from its neighbour she turned into it and for several seconds, though she continued to move along its familiar length towards the strip of yard at its rear, she was blinded. It was like stepping into a long dark tunnel, cool and completely shaded from the sun and her eyes narrowed as they adjusted to the sudden change. A thin strip of vivid blue sky divided the high walls which rose on either side of her and she craned her neck to look up to it, still, it appeared, deep in the strange relaxed torpor the heat of the day had induced in her.

She sensed rather than heard his footsteps at her back. Though the old cobbles which lined the passage were of stone, moss and grasses had grown up through them, carpeting the ground, softening the sound of his boots and he was almost upon her when she whirled about.

He stopped at once as she faced him, holding up his hands in a supplicatory manner. He grinned foolishly, moving from one foot to the other, swaying in the fashion of a wrestler looking for a weak spot in an opponent but it seemed the girl was irritated rather than afraid though she swung the bucket defensively nevertheless.

‘What do you want, Fancy O’Neill?’ she said sharply.

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