I made sure all my homework was done by New Year's Eve and, after spending the day with my family, set off for Kamilla's house. When I arrived, Selby was already there. He was sitting in the armchair with a white cat on his lap. I assumed it must be Sugar.
I bent over and stroked Sugar who purred.
Then I turned to Kamilla and greeted her too, sinking onto the sofa beside her.
"How far did you get with The Hypnotist?" I asked.
"The Hypnotist? Oh I know that book" Selby cut in. "It's one of my favourites. I've already read the second book in the trilogy. According to Tianna's latest interview she's still working on the third one, The Choice but it should be out sometime next year."
He then gave Kamilla an apologetic look. "Sorry for interrupting."
"No worries Selby, and I just finished reading chapter 5 yesterday." Kamilla then filled me in on everything that had happened in the four chapters she had read. I listened attentively.
"The poor guy" I muttered. "But I guess I can understand why Harriet's being cautious."
"Are you two enjoying the book so far?" Selby asked.
"Yeah" we replied.
"She's a fantastic author. She's written other suspense works too, though The Hypnotist and The Conquest are her best works so far."
I was interested. "What else has she written?"
"Well Devastatingly Magnificent and Foxtail and Eagle are the only other two books that have actually been published though she mentioned in her interview that she was writing the sequel to Devastatingly Magnificent."
"And, have you read them?"
"Yeah. Like I said they are amazing books and very enjoyable in different ways. I actually enjoy The Conquest more than The Hypnotist but I won't spoil it for you guys."
Sugar jumped off Selby's lap just then. She wandered over to the rug near the fire, sat there and started cleaning herself.
"Wow, we'll definitely have to look out for those" said Kamilla. She leaned over and took The Hypnotist off the side table. She turned to me.
"Will you read me Chapter 6 please Mark?"
I took the book and opened it as Kamilla cuddled up to me again. Selby also listened as I read.
At last I finished and put the bookmark in.
"Wow I wish I was a hypnotist" sighed Kamilla.
Selby and I both grinned.
Just then, a boy with short chestnut coloured hair and hazel eyes came in.
"Dinner's ready" he said.
"Thanks Ashley." Kamilla smiled as she got up. "Mark, Selby, this is my brother Ashley."
He shook hands with each of us in turn. We followed him into the kitchen. I was glad to see that I was sitting between Selby and Kamilla. I shook hands rather nervously with Enid and John, Kamilla's parents and watched Selby do the same. The three of us then sat down while Enid served cauliflower cheese and mixed vegetables.
I concentrated on my food, occasionally sipping water from my glass and listening to the others talking. I politely answered a few questions about school but felt too awkward to ask anything myself and my eyes often lingered on Kamilla's lovely hair. Enid's hair too was exactly like her daughter's - soft, dark brown, long and straight. It practically flowed. However, while Kamilla was wearing her usual soft black hairband, her mum had tied her hair in a ponytail. Once dinner was over and each of us had washed up our own plate, Ashley joined the three of us in the sitting room. I found it quite easy to chat to Ashley, given that he was only 2 years younger than me.
Ashley like myself was a real fan of crime fiction and Expiation was one of his favourite Lewis episodes. I also enjoyed it. While Ashley and I chatted away, Kamilla and Selby made conversation. I accidentally heard Selby ask Kamilla whether she and I were together yet and lost my train of thought. I apologised and asked Ashley to repeat what he had just said. At last, at half eight Selby and I took our leave. Pepper was fast asleep in his basket so Kamilla said but at least we had seen Sugar. I thanked Kamila's parents for the meal, said goodbye to Ashley, Nick and Kamilla and walked away with Selby.