TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant – Chapter 29
The woman, Emma couldn’t think of her as Anne, not her Anne, not the good old always ready for anything Spence, stood motionless. From the door the reflection in the mirror was only partial, marred by the bleak sunshine seeping dustily from an out of sight window. It tinted the skin above the scooped neck vest shiny pink, soft with sweat and twitching where the neck met the shoulder.
‘Take it slowly now.’
It came out so clearly that Emma wondered if it was meant for her. It wasn’t. The back tilted to the right, pulled by the force of the right arm. As the motion continued fraction by fraction the hum that Emma had learned to accept as a controlling mechanism was replaced by a chant, a sound between a cry and a tune.
‘One and two, and three and four and one and two and three and four and one and two…’
The left foot came off the floor. The neck and arm muscles quivered, the chant was replaced by silence. Emma watched a small stream of sweat run down the spine and into the now clinging woolly fabric. The left arm quickly reached out, the hand grabbed the bar a few inches further down and in one quick move the left foot made a step to the side, the entire body swung to the left, dragging the right foot behind.
The second step to the left seemed quicker, but the near hand nearly slipped off the rail just as both feet steadied themselves in the new location.
Emma suppressed the urge to run over.
The hands, first one then another, dipped into a small wall mounted basin. Minute particles of white powder danced in the sunrays as the fingers wound themselves around the wooden bar again.
‘Just two more. You’ve done it before, you can do it again.’
The torso started its tortuous trip to the right again, slower than before. Emma’s stomach muscles contracted and she pressed her clenched fists on her mouth. Something was missing. Something was wrong. It was the muscles on the back and the neck. They remained flaccid. The elbows, sticking backward under a sharp angle were shaking. And the chant, it wasn’t there. The sound was rapid, hissing. Shit. The woman was hyperventilating.
Emma dropped her bag on the floor to free her hands, inhaled sharply and pushed herself further in. The woman’s head dropped forward, slamming into the mirror tile. The feet started sliding backwards. Emma pulled again, nearly tearing a button off her blouse. The door handle. It got stuck in between two button holes. She stepped back, pushing the unyielding door away with both her hands, freed herself from the handle and pulled out.
The gaze, tears streaming down the flushed face, met Emma’s own in the mirror as her arms wound around the sweat stained bodice of the corset and her knees took the weight of the falling body.
‘Your hair’s still all over the place, House Martin. Isn’t it time you’ve smartened yourself up a bit?’
It was all right. It was all right to cry and chide, swear a little and laugh a lot.
Lock Up Your Daughters – Chapter 29
He was still grinning when Lynn Cooper entered the office carrying an empty tray, shoulder high and on the tips of her fingers.
‘Mail for my lord,’ she bowed and offered the tray for Grant’s inspection. ‘Hand delivered to the front desk.’
‘The heat must have gone into your head.’ But one look at the cream coloured envelope, addressed to Mr. S. Hamilton-Grant, Esq. in perfect cursive, made of thick, expensively ribbed paper explained the butler act. ‘I’ve seen on of those before, I’m afraid. Wonder what he wants.’
‘What’s with theHamilton?’ she asked. ‘And the hyphen?’
‘There’s never actually been any hyphen so “Hamilton” simply dropped off the edge. Okay?’
‘Yes, Sir.’ She moved off quickly and closed the door behind her.
There were no prizes for guessing that back in the general office Lynn was going to tell everyone in a loud whisper that He, the “he” more closely defined by a thumb pointing at Grant’s door, was in a lousy mood and that this was the last time she did anything nice for him. Some people just didn’t deserve it.
The inside of the letter was as pompous as the outside. The same gold and verdigris lettering, the same handsome watermark.
‘Dear Chief Inspector Hamilton-Grant’,
Some research obviously went into this, just not precise enough.
‘I shall be lunching at the Palace at one pm today and would be greatly honoured if you could spare the time to join me as my guest. I have some information that might be of some modest interest to you.
Dr. Gordon Bennett
Grant looked at his watch. He had seven minutes to make it.
On the way out he popped his head around the door to the general office. ‘I shall be lunching at the Palace today.’
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