People in my books: Manolo. Raising a difficult teen.
Manolo was of Italian extract, with smouldering good looks. Unusually, his eyes were a startling blue. He oozed a sexuality that women of all ages found attractive … and he knew it. He also had a manner to him. It was a reassuring, wholesome manner. He created a feeling of confidence and honesty – till you got to know him, of course.
He was probably quite clever. Certainly, he knew how to manipulate people and get them on his side. Had he been a gangster he’d have been a multi-millionaire, one of those good-looking but ruthless characters you see in films. As it was he was a down-and-out jail bird who had run out of luck … but who hoped more luck was coming his way. Well, he was wrong about that.
Extract from “A Call from France” by Catherine Broughton:-
The double oak front door, thick with flaking navy paint and street dust, opened on to what had once been a fine entrance hall with unusual Eastern floor tiles in a faded red and gold, and a dado running along the wall and all the way up the stairs which must have been installed in the days of Napoleon III. The wallpaper had long been ripped off and painted and re-painted in dark yellow gloss, but at the far end of the hall a fine stained glass window survived, and in the centre of the ceiling, surrounded by exquisite, if very dirty, ceiling moulds, a wonderful example of an art deco glass lamp shade, echoed in the wall light fittings on either side. A traditional Charentais staircase, littered with empty fag packs and empty beer cans and emitting a strong stench of urine, led up to a first floor that had been divided and sub-divided so that nothing remained of the original landing where once – a long time ago – children had played and maids had swept. Now cheap hardboard doors led through to three little bedsits, seedy and smokey and reeking. Our girl shared one of these bedsits with a couple of old men and Manolo.
“There you go!” I said cheerfully as I dumped her boxes on the floor. I raised a hand in salute towards Manolo who was lying on the bed and who tried to leap to his feet when I entered. An old man leant against the far wall, nursing a cut lip.
He was wearing an ancient pair of baggy trousers, almost black along the thigh fronts, and old shoes through which protruded sockless toes.
“Stay!” cried Manolo grasping my hand.
I remembered his warm handshake from when I’d seen him outside the café earlier that summer. You can tell a lot about a person by their handshake, but with this man you could tell nothing. It was a firm grip, the accompanying eyes and smile were sincere. He was very good-looking. I seized the opportunity.
“I’d love to stay, Manolo, but I can’t right now. I can come back later, however. Deborah’s papa wants to get you to taste English beer!”
“Ah bon! Oui, oui, d’accord …!”
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