Settling into a new town and a new life wasn’t going to be easy, she knew that. But then it had never been particularly easy and she had always been okay.
Moving round the world sounded like a dreamy life to most kids that Maddy met but to her it wasn’t anything like that.
Her Dad Josh was a diplomat and as such he was moved from city to city, country to country more times than Maddy could count on both hands.
An only child, Maddy was the apple of her father’s eye and she loved spending time with him. Her mother Abigail had died when Maddy was a tiny baby and she had no memories at all of the woman whose looks she had inherited.
Josh had remained single after Abigail’s death. He was a devastatingly good-looking man and had his fair share of admirers. But nobody grabbed his attention the way that Abigail had and although he did sometimes feel lonely he had not once wanted to share his life with another woman. Abigail had been the love of his life and his love for her would never die.
Josh doted on Maddy and together they had a good life. He spent all the time he possibly could with his beautiful baby girl and ensured that he hired the very best nannies that he could find so that he knew Maddy was in safe hands when he was at work.
After work Josh took on all responsibilities himself. Feeding and bathing Maddy, reading stories, playing games and telling her tales of her mother; Josh was as hands-on a father as he could possibly be.
Occasionally Josh would have a few weeks away from work and he would travel back to his hometown in England with Maddy and catch up with his parents and family.
Maddy loved these times as she had the full attention of her father all day long. And she adored her grandparents, aunties and uncles.
Long lazy days were spent walking through the English countryside, horseriding and fishing. Picnics by the river and BBQ’s at night on the back lawn – Maddy looked forward to these summer weeks all year!
Another fortnight she thought about all year was the Christmas break. Josh and Maddy would pack up their things and head over to America where they would stay with Abigail’s parents. Maddy loved staying at the Lodge. She was always allowed to help choose and decorate the Christmas tree as the snow fluttered down outside and the sound of Christmas music filled the air. Grandma would make Christmas cookies and Grandpa would build a huge fire and the family would just enjoy being with each other.
The rest of the year was spent in various homes provided by the government in whichever country Josh was posted. Sometimes he would stay in one country for a couple of years. But other times he would be moved a few times in one year.
When Maddy was young it didn’t matter at all. She wasn’t to know where she was and as long as she had her nanny and her toys with her she was happy to be anywhere.
But when she hit school age it was a different story.
Having not been used to being around other kids very often Maddy found it hard to settle into school life. And no sooner had she managed to get her head around all the rules and routines of school and made a few friends than she was off again, being whisked away to another country, another life.
She didn’t worry too much about the language barriers as she was sent to English speaking schools. Besides, she had been brought up speaking more than one language!
Even with all the shifting, Maddy still managed to maintain friendships and emailed her pals when she moved country. She often said that she could be in the Hardy Book of World Records for having the most penpals.
Sometimes, bizarrely, she would find herself back at a school she had left several years earlier and she would catch up with her old pals again!
Maddy was always a happy child and she adapted well to all the travelling that she did. But as she hit her teens she started to find that things had become increasingly difficult and this marked the beginning of her problems with her father and her family.
Looking around the beautiful city, Maddy was happy to be settled for a year. A whole year! What a luxury!
She soon settled into the school and got on with all the kids in her class. The teachers were okay and the lessons weren’t difficult.
She started to go out at weekends with her new mates and they all hung out at the Mall and spent most of their allowances on clothes and coffee.
It was at the Mall that Maddy first set eyes on Callum. Tall, blond, muscular – not her type at all. But when he spoke to her she fell for him, hook line and sinker.
Most guys she met were totally false and phony, good looking guys who thought they were god’s gift to women. She had no time for people like them.
Some others were intimidated by her. She was so confident, so sure of herself that she scared a lot of guys away. They couldn’t impress her, she could see straight through them.
But Callum – he was different…