- Helen Dunmore - Orange Prize winner - Novels - Burning Bright - Extract
Helen Dunmore
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Burning Bright / Extract
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The phone rings, and Paul Parrett takes the call without looking up from the papers on his desk.
‘Yeah. Just getting back to you about your query. You know, yesterday.’
‘Thing is, can you wait? I mean, I can fill you in for the meantime but there’s something really special coming up which might be just right for you.’
‘How long would that be?’
‘Well, could be six weeks, two months.'
‘That’s ridiculous.’
‘Yeah, I know what you mean, but this is once in a lifetime stuff. Is this line OK?’

‘Right,’ says Tony in a burst of candour. ‘Sixteen. Really classy. And looking for her daddy all right. This could be it.’

‘Sixteen,’ says Paul Parrett. A faint, responsive sweat tingles in his armpits. ‘Really sixteen?’
‘Yeah, guaranteed. No kidding. I wouldn’t mess you about. I mean, it’s wasting my time as much as yours, isn’t it?’
‘Six weeks.’
‘Could be as much as two months, I got to be honest with you. But it’ll be worth it. We could be talking long-term here. And, like I said, Vick’ll fill in for the time being -’
‘No. No. We’ll leave it like that. You let me know when.’
‘Soon as I can. The only thing is -’
‘If Kai gets in contact -’
‘Kai’s not in on it?’
‘Yeah, course he is, he’s my business partner. But not till it’s ready to roll, case there’s a problem.’
‘No funny stuff.’
‘This is straight.’
‘Isn’t it always?”

The safe line goes quiet. If it’s safe, of course. Paul Parrett takes off his jacket, walks to the window. Night-time London blossoms beneath him. The smoky, reinforced windows don’t open, but he leans his cheek against the glass for coolness. The glass is rainy. Amplified bubbles of it roll down towards his eyeball. He can smell his own sweat.

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The Lie
The Greatcoat
The Betrayal
Counting the Stars
House of Orphans
Mourning Ruby
The Siege
With Your Crooked Heart
Your Blue-Eyed Boy
Talking to the Dead
A Spell of Winter
Burning Bright
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Zennor in Darkness
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