TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 33
‘You didn’t come to dinner on Tuesday night. We waited, but you didn’t come. Didn’t we, Phil? Didn’t we wait for him?’
‘I’ve got to be on the ward, white-suited and cheerful, in about forty five minutes.’ Phil helped himself to apple crumble, bought ready made and just as good as home made, especially withDevoncustard, as Emma had explained when she turned it onto a Spode serving plate.
‘Sorry. I got caught up in police business. Didn’t get a chance to phone or anything. Sorry.’ One good thing about being with the police is that people don’t ask questions, don’t doubt. The police are meant to do secretive things at funny hours. And it wasn’t like lying either. Debs was something else. She needed him. What the hell. He needed her. There was nothing to explain about Debs. ‘What was so exciting about your visit to your old school friend? You’re going to tell me anyhow, aren’t you.’
‘If you can be bothered to listen.’ Emma didn’t even put on the pretence of sulking.
Simon watched her wriggle in her chair, pushing herself deeper into the seat, the tips of her fork forgotten in the cheese congealing on the top of the lasagne. ‘But before I forget, I’ve got to tell you about something else. I was quite late for the surgery this morning…
‘I know. I went past and it was shut.’
‘Well, I didn’t have any appointments before half past ten, did I, Phil?’
‘I wouldn’t know, my dear. I was asleep, remember. This is the last of the coffee. If anyone wants any you’d better make yourselves some more.’
‘Not for me. I’m not staying.’ Simon had no idea why he said that. He’d intended to spend the evening at the Willows. There was just a bit of last minute work left on the unicorn. He was going to give it to Emma to keep in her miniature whatnot, next to china thimbles, silver bells, and ridiculously small ornate glass bottles that generations of Martins had collected over time.
‘I came out of the bend atChurch Laneand nearly ran into the back of a silver Jaguar…’
‘You always drive too fast on that bend. One day you’ll hit someone.’ Philip collected his plate and cutlery and headed towards the kitchen.
‘Well, I didn’t,’ Emma shouted after him louder than the distance required. For Simon the shout conjured up long silences at times when he wasn’t there, reticence to say or to ask whatever needed saying or asking or answering. What applecart was waiting to be overturned, what waves to be made?
‘I didn’t,’ Emma repeated more calmly, added a smile, a wink, a small shrug, don’t you take any notice of us, Simon, we’re all right really, Phil and me, nothing to worry about here. ‘The Jaguar,’ she continued and Simon had a feeling she’d rather not, the wind had gone out of her sails, she’d lost interest. But she soldiered on. ‘The Jaguar had its bonnet up, so I sort of mellowed a bit and stopped to see if they needed any help.’
‘You shouldn’t be doing that. You never know who it may be.’ It was a wonder Philip could hear anything in the kitchen above the racket he was creating dropping the dishes into the dishwasher.
‘Well, I did have a shock of my life, I’ll give you that.’ Emma was conciliatory, her tones aimed at drawing him in, drawing him back to the table. Phil dropped something that clanked along the floor tiles without breaking, so she paused waiting for him to retrieve it and listen in. ‘I could hear voices, two men arguing, and you’re quite right Phil, I was just about to forget my good Samaritan act and drive on, but, oh, you should have seen it, the scene, it was priceless…’ She laughed in remembrance, the little cloud forgotten or blown aside.
‘You haven’t told us the joke yet,’ Simon reminded her, but as Emma laughed he laughed with her, it was so infectious, like a naughty child.
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 33
That was when his mobile rang.
‘Sorry for taking so long, Simon, but there was a bit of bother at the Boathouse, I’m afraid.’ Caroline Mortimer sounded out of breath either from running or excitement.
‘What sort of bother?’
‘The safe was broken into.’
‘Anything taken?’ Grant immediately told himself that wasn’t really his problem, but somehow just at that moment everything seemed to be his problem.
‘Three hundred pounds, give or take. Fred didn’t bank yesterday’s takings, as luck would have it. And…’
‘They’ve reported it, I expect,’ he interrupted.
‘They were thinking about it but the word spread, as it always does around here, so our itinerant PC Plod arrived uninvited. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out who’s done it. Guess what else is missing?’
‘What else is missing?’
‘Petra and Mikko’s passports. Apparently, his real name is Michael Bender. So much for a Rumanian Gypsy. How’s that for a turn-up?’
‘It sort of fits,’ Grant said thoughtfully, referring only to the theft of the passports. He’d already known about the name, but there would have been no point admitting that to Caroline.
It fitted, only he didn’t have a clue where, how or why. ‘I’m sure it fits. Somewhere,’ he laughed. Could have they joined Trevor on his unexpected trip to Ai Stratis? Or, maybe only Mikko had joined him? Maybe that’s what the dispute between him andPetrawas all about?
‘Fits what?’ Her curiosity was oozing down the phone.
‘Control yourself, woman. I’ve got hardly an inkling myself just yet.’
She giggled. ‘When you get there, will I get an exclusive? Can I be the one to spread the gossip fresh from the oven?’
‘You’re shameless,’ he laughed with her. It occurred to him, irrelevantly, that she didn’t seem to know that Mikko was Jacob’s son. Status conscious Gladys wasn’t in a hurry to spread that piece of information. ‘Have you managed to check out that book for me?’ He found himself holding his breath.
There was a momentary pause. ‘Yes, I found it quite easily. Petrawas using it as a coffee table display. Your parents signed it in Banbury on 8th June, 1978.’
Your parents was spelled in bold and underlined, it came through so thickly and heavily.
‘Thank you, Caroline. You’re a gem.’
‘I know I am. You’re welcome, I’m sure,’ she said icily. ‘Anything else I can do for you?’
What could he say? Technically, he was off the case already. If he had any sense.
‘I may be able to explain one day. Sorry.’
She laughed. ‘Don’t be silly. I’m just a nosy old bag. None of my business.’
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