Annabelle Atkinson is one of the main characters in Gods of Gold. The fiancee of Detective Inspector Tom Harper, she’s a successful woman, owning the Victoria public house and a pair of bakeries. But she had a life before they ever met. Here’s a moment in her past:
She stared at the mirror. The light flickered in the gas mantle, reflecting on the jet buttons of her dress. In black, head to toe. Even the lace and the petticoats and the new button boots that pinched her feet.
Annabelle picked up the funeral hat off the back of the chair and arranged it on her head, spreading the veil in front of her face. Her hand was raised, ready to pin it all in place, when she tore it off and sent the hat spinning across the room.
She turned to the photograph on the mantelpiece. A shiny silver frame. Herself, younger, happy on her wedding day, arm in arm with her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson.
‘You sod,’ she said quietly. ‘You bloody sod.’
They’d all be waiting downstairs in the pub. Will’s sister and her children, Dan the barman, the two servants, and all the neighbours and friends from round Sheepscar. The hearse was outside, the horses with the ebony plumes.
She breathed deeply, gathered up the hat and set it in place again, hearing the footsteps on the stairs, then the tentative knock on the door.
‘Annabelle, are you ready, luv?’ Bessie, her sister-in-law. ‘Only it’s time.’
A last glance in the mirror and at the picture.
‘Yes,’ Annabelle Atkinson said. ‘I’m coming.’