TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant – Chapter 20
It wasn’t before Pippa left Bonner for the Medical School that Emma was able to start making her own friends. By that time she was known as House Martin, a nickname Pippa ridiculed in public and envied in private. Apart from continuing to exert a “calming influence” on Pippa, she had been, both officially and unofficially, looking after the new intakes.
‘We don’t hold with tears here,’ Mrs Pugh, the house mother, would inform each new eleven-year old face resolutely. ‘Run along now and find Emma Martin. She’ll show you the ropes. Just ask for House Martin, there’s a good girl.’
And Emma did, help them settle in, hold their hands, so to speak, through difficult times. Like when a grandparent died, the parents got divorced or a pony reluctantly left at home died or was given away because there was no use for it any longer.
And right now, she is sixteen once again, preparing for her O Levels, and toeing the dirty, slimy springboard stretching some three slippery feet above the blue waters of the Bonner swimming pool because that was expected of her at least once a week and Emma had always done what was expected of her.
‘Get your butt off that board, Martin.’ Anne Spencer, the queen of all things physical was cutting the water underneath like a powerboat. ‘There’s more to life than ablatives. I’ll make a swimmer of you yet.’
Anne was a fairly recent intake herself and in need of handholding because she couldn’t see why she had to be yanked out of her inner city comprehensive where she’d been perfectly happy and dumped into this back-of-beyond snotty place full of snotty kids just because her father had happened to make a killing on a deal and decided that the best use for his money was to pay Bonner’s exorbitant fees.
‘Get on with it, House Martin or I’ll push you off that board myself,’ Anne’s south east London accent would threaten from below and Emma would jump, inelegantly, feet first, fighting the instinct to pinch her nose closed with her fingers. Anne never did make a swimmer of Emma, just as she herself had never mastered Latin ablatives or the Russian alphabet.
‘Old Romans are dead and everybody else speaks English. Or if they don’t, they jolly well should do. My dad doesn’t like paying good money for a naff commie language like Russian. Get me a date with Dominic Hale, Emm.’
‘You stand more chance of reciting Pushkin in the original than getting a date with Heavenly Hale, Spence.’
Lock Up Your Daughters – Chapter 20
Inez was Papa Lostao Crespo’s unmarried sister and no one’s grandmother. The promotion came about when Angel had complained one day that she was the only one of all the Lostao Crespo children who didn’t have a grandmother on either side . ‘Or a mother. Would you be my Tita, Tia Inez?’
The title caught on and Angel wasn’t best pleased, Bella reported years and years later. ‘They’ve turned it into a nickname,’ Bella mimicked her peeved cousin. ‘Everyone’s calling her Tita now. Even the bloody neighbours.’
‘Ella es la hija de su madre,’ said Tita Inez. ‘Anghel is her mother’s daughter,’ she repeated in English for Bennett’s benefit. ‘She should be with her family. We’ll look after her.’
By that time Dr. Bennett’s own status in the Family had become somewhat dubious. He was always asked around, expected to attend birthdays and anniversaries, saint patron days and various sometimes rather obscure festive occasions, but treated at arm’s length, with a mixture of tolerance and unease. Or, it could have been his imagination. Maybe that’s how he expected them to behave. However, his popularity rose sharply just after Jacinta, the middle brother Jorge’s daughter, had returned home pregnant and divorced after a couple of miserable years somewhere near Leeds. Tita Inez started placing her next to Dr. Bennett at family gatherings and was dropping none too subtle hints.
Jacinta was lovely, smallish, quiet and sweet, hardly more than twenty. On two occasions Dr. Bennett excused himself and left early, once he was genuinely detained and phoned his apologies, and the time after that he simply said he was terribly sorry but wasn’t able to make it.
‘Tita Inez wants to know why can’t you make it. It’s Tito’s patron saint’s day. You can’t miss that,’ said Rosita.
She’d phoned at quarter to nine in the morning and Dr. Bennett was running late for his classes. ‘It’s Jacinta.’ His answer was far more forthright than it would have been if he had more time on his hands. ‘Tita Inez seems to have plans for her and me. Not fair on the girl.’
The silence on the other end was far too long to be accidental. ‘You’re not interested, then, are you?’ Rosita said finally.
Dr. Bennett hated to be unchivalrous. ‘It’s not that….’
‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell her.’ She rang off.
After that he was seeing less and less of his daughter. One day it dawned on him that he hadn’t spent a single minute alone with her since the night he’d found her in the shed after Margot’s death.
‘She’s afraid of you,’ said Sara.
Kindle US: http://amzn.to/scZ1cw
Kindle FR: http://amzn.to/uRu02G
Kindle ES: http://bit.ly/unx9jU
Kindle IT: http://bit.ly/tC4zdU