Extract from Chapter 3 of The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett

‘Rosy, there’s no easy way to say this.’

Her heart plunged. She looked at him steadily whilst clasping her hands together very tightly on her lap. The whites of her knuckles shone through. It was the kind of detail logged in women’s magazine stories, she thought.

Richard spoke. ‘To get straight to the point, it seems that in err…’ he looked down at his papers, ‘… in July this year, Simon bought an alpaca farm in Dorset, near Blandford Forum – Prior’s Gate Farm in a village called Kirmington Abbas.’

Rosy sat stunned. His love of surprises meant he had been known to keep things from her, small things, but this was in a different league. For some reason, she suddenly vividly remembered being in this office with Simon when they had made their wills. How he had taken her hand, looked at her and grinned, saying that with the amount of wine she drank, she’d be dead long before him. Still stunned, she brushed an imaginary bit of fluff from her skirt. A door in the outer office opened and closed. There was complete silence.

‘A what?’ she whispered.

‘A farm, a farm of twenty acres, so nothing too big,’ he said almost apologetically, as if it was his fault. ‘But including a farmhouse with six bedrooms, a range of outbuildings and a barn. And alpacas.’

‘Why would he?’ she breathed. And then, a few moments later, ‘Aren’t alpacas llamas or something?’

‘I believe so,’ he looked at her over the top of his glasses. ‘The situation is that to enable him to do this, he sold everything – his portfolio of stocks and shares, and he used those funds as a deposit on the property.’

She hurriedly interrupted. ‘Everything? What? Are you saying there’s nothing left?’

‘Not that I’m aware of. There may be a little in an account I haven’t as yet found. Do you know of any other accounts Simon might have had?’

She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak. Feeling giddy, and then being cross with herself for being so tiresomely weak, she gripped the side of the chair and leaned forward. ‘Alpacas, are you sure?’

He nodded. ‘Yes, quite sure. And to continue, I know this is very hard for you, I can hardly believe it myself, but having had detailed conversations with this bank yesterday and seeing all the documentation that they have emailed over to me, it seems that Simon paid well over a million for the property and livestock, and to do this took out a mortgage of over £900,000.’

The numbers floated around Rosy’s ears; she heard them but wasn’t able to take them in.

‘Although the property is not mentioned in Simon’s will, as his wife you inherit it and also, unfortunately, its funding. There was no insurance to back up this sum. As you are probably aware when you take out a mortgage, building insurance is mandatory but it is not necessary to take out any other type of insurance.’

‘But how was he going to pay it back? The monthly payments? We didn’t – don’t – have that kind of income?’ She bit her bottom lip.

He shook his head, ‘I don’t know. He did make three payments, for August, September and October. There is one other thing I feel I must tell you…’