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فصل 02

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CHAPTER TWO

Edinburgh had been Angus Fleming’s home for eleven years now, but he hadn’t lost the feeling of wonder at walking through its winding streets with their grey-yellow sandstone buildings, small gardens and multitude of chimneys. He had arrived here as a naive 18-year-old and the move from a small Hebridean island to this elegant and eerie city had been a shock to the system. In time, however, the streets, at least in the area around the university, had become as familiar to him as the paths he’d played on as a child growing up on Harris.

Today, he wasn’t concentrating on the buildings but was instead thinking about recent events. Nine months earlier his first novel, a crime story, had been published and had been an instant success. After years of uncertainty about his future, it had come as a complete surprise and still hadn’t really sunk in. He’d just returned from a few weeks of PR stuff in England - the party the night before had been in celebration of that - and now he had some time to recover from it all. His publisher wanted him to start work on the next book, but he didn’t fee under any pressure to get started. Plus he had no idea what it should be about.

Pushing those thoughts to one side, he remembered how touched he was that his friends, Ross especially, had organized a party for him. He smiled to himself; everyone had been so complimentary and Susie in particular had looked at him differently. Or, at least, so it had seemed to him. He just hoped he hadn’t made a fool of himself - the end of the evening was a bit of a blur.

Sighing, he stopped to work out where he was. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a black shape. It disappeared as he turned around. Was he still hungover? No, there it was again: two dark eyes, a pink tongue and a quizzical expression. The lead hanging from its collar confirmed Angus’s suspicion. The runaway dog. Now, would it let him catch it?

Angus stood, eyes fixed on the dog; the dog stared back; they both seemed to be thinking. Then Angus raised his eyebrows, he’d had a brainwave. The dog sat down, intrigued by Angus’s actions. He had lifted up his jacket and was patting the pockets, muttering to himself, “I’m sure it’s still here. What did I do with it?” before smiling, “Aha!” He pulled out a crumpled crisp bag, opened it and lay it flat on the ground, the flattened contents letting off an appetizing aroma of salt and vinegar. He took a step back and waited.

The dog looked at the crisp bag, looked at him, looked back at the bag, and after a brief hesitation moved forward to lick up the tasty mixture, tail wagging. Angus saw his chance and picked up the end of the lead.

The dog raised its head again but with a seemingly defeated air, finished off the crisps before letting Angus quietly lead him down the road.

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