TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant – 15
Grant’s female guide opened it without knocking. The office was large and bathed in sunshine coming from a west facing window. Polished wooden floor and a few pieces of finely carved furniture gave it a peculiarly old-fashioned look. The man sat at the computer was in his mid thirties, slim, long limbed, with unruly dark hair. His finely striped blue shirt was open at the neck above a loosened tie, with sleeves rolled up to just below the elbows. One half of his left eyebrow was covered with plaster.
‘Just give me a second, Abby,’ he shouted out, looking intently at the screen. ‘Good, good. Oh, come on, don’t give that…That’s better…’
Grant looked at the smart P.A.
‘Oh, don’t mind Roddy, Inspector. He always argues with his computer and with everyone else, for that matter. Please take a seat. Tea or coffee?’
The tray with coffee and biscuits was brought in before Masters finished his battle with his electronic adversary.
‘The late Mr. Masters,’ Abby, the elegant PA, followed Grant’s gaze. The oil painting resting on an easel in between two windows was as dominant as the man must had been. ‘Roddy re-created his original office here in every minute detail. Rather touching, don’t you think.’
Grant was quickly re-arranging his ideas of the waste disposal business.
‘Do excuse me, Detective Inspector,’ Masters shook Grant’s hand vigorously several minutes later. ‘I hadNew Yorkon line. Those boys over there play hard, I can tell you. You are married to one of the Martin girls, aren’t you?’
Grant wasn’t used to exchange of small talk with people he’d come to question but that had been happening rather a lot lately. Master’s smile and the hand were extended to Pippa’s husband.
‘I’ve come to talk to you about Frances Swan.’
Lock Up Your Daughters – 15
He’d slept on the LA toOrlandoleg of the journey and fully intended to spend the time in the air between Florida and Heathrow in the same state of total oblivion. But, he hadn’t counted on Darren. Darren of the third person singular.
‘Meet Darren.’ The hand was slim, deeply tanned and attached to a very hairy, bony arm. The arm was coming out of a short sleeve of a red and orange floral shirt hanging loosely outside a pair of purple, knee length shorts. Sunglasses like black mirrors. The white hat, pulled up to the hairline, its peak hugging the back of the neck.
Fifteen minutes after the handshake, everyone on the plane knew Darren. The stewardess who had to ask him twice to move his sizeable camcorder bag up to the overhead storage compartment. Or push it under the seat. The middle aged couple across the aisle who had to relinquish their copy of a British paper so Darren could check up on the latest football results. The bursar who confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that indeed Mr… sorry, hadn’t quite caught the name… Darren? that Mr. Darren was very welcome to use his credit card for any purchases he cared to make during the flight. And the young mother whose baby’s blue dummy had rolled under the seats and Darren immediately dived in between people’s feet to retrieve it.
By the time the first coffee was served Simon knew all the vital statistics and intimate identifying marks of at least six goodtime girls who’d made it their business to make Darren’s time in Orlando, not even an hour’s drive from the Disney World and virtually on top of everything that was going, unforgettable.
‘Darren’s going back at Christmas.’ A long index finger tapped the exposed chest covered in red hair. ‘Don’t care what it takes. You only lives once, don’t you?’
Darren munched his way through a red and white carton of chicken nuggets he’d pulled out of one of the buttoned up top pockets in his shorts while deeply and loudly engrossed in the next door’s football news. His fingers were leaving greasy finger marks on the margins, and he excused each emotional reaction with ‘Pardon my French’. Then he liberated a can of Coke out of his camcorder bag, enquired about the time of the next meal, pushed the back of his seat as far down as the man behind him would grudgingly let him, and settled with a deeply satisfied sigh.
‘Okay, man, tell Darren all about yourself.’
And to his own total and utter amazement, Simon did. ‘Nothing much to tell. I got married. Thirty seven hours ago.’
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