Unexpected treasure, p.1

Unexpected Treasure, page 1


Unexpected Treasure

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Unexpected Treasure
Dear Reader,

  Nell Dixon is a UK based author living in the Black Country with her husband, three teenage daughters, a tank of tropical fish and a cactus called Spike. She writes warm hearted contemporary fiction with a dash of humour and a dollop of suspense. In 2007 and 2010 she was the winner of the Romantic Novelist Association’s Romance Prize for best category length fiction in the UK. She is the only person to have ever won it twice. She is published by Astraea press, Myrmidon, Headline, Mira, E-Scape Press, Samhain and Freya’s Bower.

  You can find her on Twitter and Facebook or check out her website at https://www.nelldixon.com

  Other titles available from Nell include:

  Things to Do

  Marrying Max

  His Darling Nurse

  Animal Instincts

  Blue Remembered Heels

  Brief Encounters - anthology with Elizabeth Hanbury and Phillipa Ashley

  Passionate Harvest

  Dangerous to Know

  Be My Hero

  The Cinderella Substitute

  Cue Me In

  Renovation, Renovation, Renovation

  Making Waves

  September Song

  A Cornish Christmas

  Easter Holiday

  A New Bay Wedding



  This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organisations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Unexpected Treasure. Copyright 2012 Nell Dixon.

  All rights reserved.

  The moral right of Nell Dixon to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of Brierley Rose Press.

  Unexpected Treasure

  Lily blew the fragment of ancient cobweb from the tip of her nose. She tried not to think too hard about the size of spider that might have created it as she pushed her cleaning cloth further into the dark recesses of the built-in cupboard. One of the original features of the once stately Edwardian terraced house, the cupboard was almost as large as the room she was renting.

  Her fingers brushed against an unexpected hard object. Lily wobbled on her toes and prayed she wouldn’t fall off the chair that she was standing on as she nudged the mystery find forwards so she could look at it.

  A small dull coloured box, once silver but now tarnished copper-grey with age came into view. Lily clambered carefully down from her perch and carried it across to the window so she could examine her find. She pushed aside the empty cardboard boxes on the window ledge. Perching on the sill, she examined the box. It had obviously been in the cupboard for a long time judging from the tarnish on its surface. A delicate engraving of a country scene on the lid of the box showed through the grime.

  Lily gave it a rub with her cleaning cloth to remove the loose dirt before attempting to lift the lid. To her chagrin, the box was locked. She gave it an experimental shake and thought she heard something rattle inside.

  “Probably buttons.” She spoke out loud to the empty room and the blind at the part open sash window shivered as if in agreement.

  She had to be at least the fourth or fifth student to occupy the room since the house had been divided for sub-letting. It was unlikely that no-one else had discovered the box. Still, judging from the amount of dirt on her cleaning cloth it was also entirely possible that no-one else had bothered scrubbing so far back in the cupboard.

  A loud knock on her door disturbed her reverie. “Lily! Are you coming to the pub?”

  “Be right there.” She dropped the box into her bag, and hurried to get ready to join her housemates.

  Sara, her friend who had the room next to her, had saved her a seat at the pub.

  “Are you unpacked yet? I feel a bit bad that you drew the lot for the smallest room.” Sara shuffled up along the bench to make more room as Lily sat down.

  “Almost done. It might be small but there’s tons of storage. I just finished cleaning the last cupboard.” Lily smiled gratefully at Callum, Sara’s boyfriend as he passed her a glass of wine.

  She liked her fellow housemates. The six of them had all met the previous year when they’d lived in the halls of residence at the university. Sharing a house together for the next two years of their degree would be fun. There was easy-going Sara, scatter-brained Eve, Callum and his friend Jon and another student she didn’t know so well, Rob.

  “Actually I found something cool while I was cleaning.” Lily fished around inside her bag and placed the box on the table.

  “Wow, that looks old. Is there anything inside?” Eve asked.

  “It’s locked.” Callum picked it up and peered at the tiny keyhole on the front of the box.

  Jon took it to examine it and gave it a gentle shake. “There’s something inside.”

  “The engraving on the lid is lovely and there’s a hallmark so I think it might be silver,” Eve added as she took her turn studying the box. “What do you think, Rob? You’re the history man.”

  Lily took a sip of her drink as Rob turned the box carefully in his hands. “It’s old, probably from the same period as the house. We can date it from the hallmark. Each year has a letter.”

  Lily was impressed. She hadn’t realised it was possible to learn so much simply by looking at the marks on the box.

  “You could take it to a jeweller and see if they could open it for you. These things often have very simple locks. It would be a shame to damage it.” He lifted his head and his hazel gaze locked on her face.

  Lily’s body heated. Something in the intensity of his gaze made her pulse kick up a notch. “Good idea. I wonder who owned it?”

  Rob placed the box down on the table. “I’d say it must have been at the back of that cupboard for a long time. I think your room originally used to be the dressing room.”

  “So cool. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something valuable inside it?” Eve beamed at the others.

  “The party will be on you, Lily, if it does hold treasure.” Sara laughed and raised her glass in Lily’s direction.

  Lily smiled and raised her own glass in reply. She couldn’t see herself wanting to sell the box and it probably didn’t hold anything of any value.

  A little later, as the group made their way back to the house. Rob fell into step beside her.

  “I know a good jeweller who might be able to open the box for you,” he said.

  “That would be great, thank you.” Lily noticed he’d tailored his longer stride to match hers. She peeped up at him from under her fringe and wondered why she had never noticed him before. Rob had always been the extra guy who had made up their group. At one time she’d wondered if Eve had been keen on him but Eve had started dating another guy at the end of the last semester.

  “I could take you there tomorrow if you were free?” His tone was diffident.

  “Okay, I could be ready by eleven.” Lily agreed before she had time to think.

  “Cool.” He flashed a brief smile at her and disappeared off to his room on the ground floor as soon as they reached the house.
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