TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant – Chapter 28
‘Mary phoned. Said you’ve got some news for me.’ Unsworth drove up just as Grant was unlocking the door to the mobile unit. Persistent rain was rapidly covering the vet’s rough tweed sports jacket in shiny droplets.
Grant went around the make-shift office, switched on the lights and the wall mounted kettle, checked the answering machine – four messages, but they’d have to wait until there was some privacy – and entertained Unsworth with the story of how he’d hijacked Gary earlier.
‘I forgot all about him. Lennie always sees to that.’ Unsworth seemed mildly upset. ‘It won’t do you much good, you know. Pinching Gary. He won’t do any work in this weather. It seemed fine first thing in the morning, but look at it now.’
With instant coffee and milk in its carton on the tray between them, there was nothing else for it.
‘Has your wife been in touch since Monday?’ Grant went for the obvious. The answer was going to decide on the next question. Only, it didn’t.
‘No, I’m afraid not. No news is good news, I was told. Thanks for asking.’ Unsworth sat opposite him, uncomfortably wedged in between Grant’s desk and two filing cabinets too many in the cramped space.
Bloody hell. The man thought that was a polite enquiry. Grant leaned forward. ‘Are you sure?’
That worked. Unsworth looked up in surprise. ‘Yes. Absolutely. What do you mean?’ A trace of anxiety crept into the question.
Grant told him. Briefly. Emphasised that the Croatian police believed that Helena eft voluntarily. He didn’t mention the absence of fingerprints or the Englishman. For the moment. The face staring at him showed no change.
‘So, where has she got to?’
‘I was hoping you’d tell me that.’ Unsworth still looked as if he was an unwitting participant in an impromptu quiz show.
Grant wished he’d had someone with him. Debbie, for preference. She could have handled the lost wife theme, leaving Grant to concentrate on the real issue. ‘Heading for Montenegro?’
Unsworth considered the possibility. ‘I don’t think so. They’re cut off in more ways than one. Besides, what would she want to do that for? She was very careful not to breathe a word about her trip to Bosniato her parents. They wouldn’t be any happier to see her in Budva. Too risky, too dangerous, they keep saying.’
‘Maybe she’s aiming for Italy?’ Grant tried to ignore the emptiness of the gaze.
‘Yes,’ said Unsworth quietly as if he was loath to contradict. ‘Italy.’ Then he fell silent, his eyes still on Grant. Expecting more.
Jesus, this was going to be difficult. ‘Have you any idea why your wife may have wanted to leave the camp?’
Unsworth shook his head. ‘All she ever wanted was to do her bit for charity,’ he muttered into his chest.
Grant was preparing another unsettling “are you sure?” when the phone rang.
Lock Up Your Daughters – Chapter 28
‘I love you.’ That wasn’t what he was going to say. This was meant to be a serious, adult conversation. No emotional mush. Simple facts. But, he loved her. That was a fact. Probably the most important one. So, from that he moved onto the next most important fact. ‘And if you love me too, we haven’t got that many choices, do we? I don’t know if either Pippa or Phil suspect anything already. My guess is that they don’t. Which, at least as far as I’m concerned, makes it worse. I don’t enjoy abusing their implicit trust.’
‘There was a time when Phil was jealous of you,’ she whispered. ‘Or, maybe he was jealous of everyone. I quite liked that. Made me feel important. As if what I did mattered to him.’
‘I’m sure everything you do matters to him a great deal.’
Emma lifted her head off her palm a little. A few strands of hair, still wet at the ends, were stuck to her cheek. ‘He doesn’t make love to me any longer. Says it would be rude to the baby.’ She pressed her foot deeper into his palm and the skin meeting skin made a small popping sound. ‘I’m not allowed to ride, he’s fussing about the surgery, says I could catch any old infection there, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, and I certainly, under no circumstances, can’t have any of the other.’ The foot in his lap wriggled about, seemingly aimlessly.
But Simon smiled. ‘Forget your womanly wiles for the moment.’ He grasped her ankle with one hand and started massaging her sole and toes with the other. ‘We really do have to sort this out. Let’s set a date. Let’s all the four of us meet, here if you wish, or wherever, and we’ll tell them together. Or…’
‘That’s nice,’ she murmured and curled her arm under her head like a pillow.
‘Or,’ he continued pointedly, making sure she knew he wasn’t to be distracted, ‘we could tell them separately, in private first, then we could all meet together and discuss it further.’
‘Shall I ask Heather to come along and take minutes?’
‘I wish you’d be serious for a moment. Don’t you want to sort it out?’ He hesitated before launching, head first, into the next question. ‘Don’t you want us to be together? You, me and our baby?’ Good job his fingers were busy. He would have crossed them otherwise.
She was chewing at the corner of her thumbnail, half her face covered by her sleeve, the other by the now rampantly curling hair. ‘I don’t know what I want. It doesn’t seem that what I want matters to anyone, does it. You all ask things from me, all of you, all the time. Everybody will be terribly hurt if I don’t’ do exactly as I’m told…’
‘You haven’t answered my question.’
It was such an incredibly beautiful evening. The air was motionless, warm but not sultry for a change, with a thin line of flame coloured light still lingering at the very edge of the deep blue horizon. No one should be hurting on a night like this. He forced his gaze away and concentrated on gently pressing the tips of his fingers into the nodes under her toes.
‘You haven’t answered my question,’ he repeated.
‘You’re asking me if I love you enough to leave Phil, take this baby away from him, lose my sister forever, and live with you?’ Emma was still hidden behind the sleeve and by the way her words were coming out, smudged at the ends, probably still gnawing at her thumb. ‘Or, are you asking me if I love them little enough not to care. You want me to choose between two lies. Can you do that? Can you honestly say that the two of us…’
‘The three of us…,’ he whispered.
‘Can you honestly say that we could ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after?’
Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/shZvJq
Kindle US: http://amzn.to/scZ1cw
Kindle FR: http://amzn.to/uRu02G
Kindle ES: http://bit.ly/unx9jU
Kindle IT: http://bit.ly/tC4zdU