"Everything okay, Jane?" Sheila, my manager, strolls out from the corridor to my right and puts a hand on my shoulder. She smiles at Gary and his wife but there's a tightness around her lips that suggests she's heard every word we've said.
"We're going." Gary slaps the counter with the palm of his right hand. "But you haven't heard the last from us."
He turns and stalks towards the exit. His wife remains where she is, fingers knotting in front of her, silently pleading with me.
"Come on, Carole," Gary snaps.
She hesitates, just for a second, her eyes still fixed on mine.
"Carole!" He says again and she's off, trotting obediently at his side.
The bell rings as they leave reception and they cross the car park in single file, Steve leading, Carole following behind. If she glances back I'll go after her. I'll make up an excuse to talk to her on her own. That look she just gave me, it wasn't just about the dog.
Look back, look back, Carole.
The lights flash as Gary points his key fob at the Range Rover and he opens the door on the driver side. Carole clambers into the passenger side. Gary says something as she settles herself and she takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes.
"Jane." Sheila gently squeezes my shoulder. "I think we should have a nice cup of tea, don't you?"
I get the subtext: Jack's your business, Carole’s not.
She heads for the staff room then stops suddenly. "Oh! I forgot to give you this." She hands me an envelope. My full name is handwritten on the front: Jane Hughes, Green Fields Animal Sanctuary. "A thank you letter I imagine."
I run my thumb under the seal and open the envelope as Sheila waits expectantly at the doorway. There's a single piece of paper inside, A4, folded into four. I read it quickly then fold it back up.
"Well?" Sheila asks.
"It's from Maisie's owners. She's settled in well and they're head over heels in love with her"
"Great." She gives an approving nod then heads off to the staff kitchen.
I wait for the sound of her footsteps to fade away then glance towards the car park. There's a space where Carol and Gary's 4x4 was parked.
I unfold the piece of paper in my hands and read it again. There's a single sentence, written in the centre of the page in blue biro:
I know your name's not really Jane Hughes.
Whoever sent it to me knows the truth. My real name is Emma Woolfe and for the last five years I've been pretending to be someone else
heres a link to my review so you can read my thoughts on this book