Best laid plans
The funeral was hard enough but at least it was private, he’d mentioned that to her a few times, forensic had done their thing and Young was on the trail.
He was cremated and the ashes scattered at sea, easy enough to do from a boat, Laura didn’t know if she was coming or going, she was out of it as far as Jenny B could see.
It was over fairly quickly really and there was a wake for those aboard that boat, that was all.
There’d be a memorial service for the wider contacts and DI Young would take care of that.
The day of the reading of the will, Young thought it best to address two things on the one day and asked Laura if she’d visit his home to talk about the sinkings – he thought he might have some information.
She arrived about 10 a.m, she’d have a brunch with them and then be driven to the solicitor’s. Young got straight down to it.
‘You’ve drawn a blank for the same reason Jenny did, plus Miles, plus me, plus anyone else.’ Put that way, she conceded this with an inclination of the head. ‘One place we didn’t really look in depth was EU subsidies.’
‘I did – they’re finished.’
‘Very true but various EU members are still desirous of having the fishing grounds.’
‘An enormous, bottomless slush fund. I’ve often wondered where it actually came from – was it drugs, was it porn, white slaving, or was it that the old families have gathered this over millennia? If not millennia, then over hundreds of years? Whichever it is, there’s endless money but they’ve learnt only to show a certain amount to give the impression of scarcity.
To stop the English fishing, sink the boats. Someone on board is passed enough money to make it much more worth his while to sink the boat. I believe the skippers of those boats are in the know but I have no proof. When I’ve gone on board, I’ve looked for who the crew member is who exchanges any sort of glances with the skipper -’
‘You get anywhere?’ Young showed not the slightest amusement.
‘I think I did. I’ve tracked the crew manifests before and after sinkings and naturally, they’re out of business so there is no crew any more, except on boats Miles supplied but there are always some different people. I have a list of those leaving the crew and can give it to you.’
Young had changed his tune. ‘I’d be most interested in those, thank you. I’m going to start on this with my men – that sort of rote checking we can do quite speedily and efficiently. Give me, say, five days and let’s reconvene here for a second look. Now let’s eat and then we’ll have to go.’
There was Miles’s solicitor, Mr. Pendlebury, facing twenty or so people in the room and no great surprises were expected.
The old chap began with the preliminaries and this was the first big shock – this will was not the one which had stood for eight years, it was a new will drawn up, witnessed and signed a few weeks back and when Laura heard the date, she realized it was made soon after the sinkings had begun.
A few others there realized that too. The solicitor now got down to the details.
The patrons had been given an heirloom each, according to their tastes – Laura knew which went to whom, they would be appreciative.
Every skipper was to have a small gift Laura had kept in a cupboard, already labelled – Miles had always been thorough on such things. Tom’s was best. All had a nautical flavour. However, there was a most surprising stipulation – that any skipper who had received payment from the EU or any officers or former officers of the EU or any organization attached to it was to get nothing. Laura glanced at DI Young.
Three -quarters of the estate was to go to Laura, including the business at an independent valuation some months back. She’d assumed 50% was coming to her, maybe two-thirds. It turned out it had been two-thirds, but Miles had increased that.
The minor bequests – cash sums to Jenny B and DI Young, not small ones either, Jenny B was shocked and gratified, Young was appreciative. Some to his old school, some to various parties she’d not heard about from the past. Chloe was to have some, some relatives of his and others were mentioned – good thing he actually had some assets, thought the patrons.
Another surprise – there was actually something for Jenny A and Jan but it was contingent on Jan not being in charge of any of the Forrester enterprises at the point of bequest and Jenny A not being charged with any wrongdoing, from the date of Miles’s death to the last date of a two month period, ending at midnight on that last day. Another strange stipulation.
The solicitor explained now in detail. The executors, jointly Laura and DI Young, were to make every attempt to distribute the estate according to the provisions, within that two month period, i.e. there were to be no delays and if nothing untoward happened in that time, that would be the end of the matter, except for one thing – Laura would only get her portion if she agreed today, after the reading, to abide by Miles’s stipulations regarding her.
If she would not, then the portion of the estate coming to her would be held in trust by Mr. Pendlebury’s firm for up to one calendar year, at the end of which time there would be a meeting with Mr. Pendlebury and the two executors and Mr. Pendlebury said here and now that his intention would then be to grant her portion there and then.
Laura sat, staring. Young thought about cases he’d known. If it had been a divorce, she’d obviously have been entitled to a large portion under law, as his former wife, almost straight away. But this was not a divorce and Miles had actually increased her share, but also added the stipulations.
Mr. Pendlebury got onto the stipulations.
1. At the point the estate passed to her, from now until the end of two months, from that day for the period of one calendar year she could not redistribute any of the estate which had passed to her in any form, not even as a gift. Obviously any of her own extant estate she could do with as she pleased, it already being hers.
Mr. Pendlebury explained to the room now that that provision was to preclude anyone pressurizing Mrs. Forrester for money or for any other assets. She simply was not allowed to give them away or sell them during that year, she could not even pay someone a salary from the estate. She could pay from moneys coming into the business of course. But it was best not to, as that might be subject to challenge and challenges both tied up time and were expensive.
2. For a period of one calendar year from receipt of her portion, she could not alter her will. That is, her will legally current at the point of Miles’s death was, for the purposes of this bequest to her, her only legal will.
Mr. Pendlebury reiterated that at the point she took her portion, no one could coerce her to alter her will now for a year, or else her portion would automatically go to trust for the remainder of that year. He further explained that of course, under law, no one could coerce her not to alter her will – she had every legal right to but if she did, then her portion, as had been said, would immediately go to trust for the remainder of the year.
He asked if she understood this, and were there any questions? Would she like to speak with someone at this time before assenting to or refusing the stipulations?
She looked at DI Young who shrugged in such a way as to say – sounds fine to me, it’s up to you.
She turned back and said, ‘Of course I assent.’
‘The executors will remain for a few minutes after the reading, if they’d be so good, and we’ll take care of the written form of this and other documents which need signing. Any problems with that?’
None whatever. Seemed pretty straightforward and everyone in the room knew the thrust of those stipulations.
‘Now to other matters, ladies and gentlemen:
1. If, during the initial two months ‘paying out time’, one of the executors or both cannot pay out to one or more beneficiaries for some reason, they are to request a meeting with Mr. Pendlebury, the fee eventually coming from the estate. The decision would be made at that meeting as to how that bequest would be distributed, most likely in the same proportion the rest of the bequests were distributed.
2. If either or both executors should file an objection with the solicitor, Mr. Pendlebury over some matter relating to their duties, the distribution process would be stopped that day and the estate not yet distributed at that point would be held in trust by Mr. Pendlebury until the matter was resolved by the three of them or for a period not longer than one calendar year from the death of Miles, whichever was earlier.
The objector though had to have good grounds and majority vote of the three would determine that.
Both executors agreed to that.
There was one last matter, people were getting restless, it had been a long reading but Mr. Pendlebury held that it was important.
‘The thrust of this will is that all bequests be finite and clear in intention. In the legal opinion of two colleagues, the law would accept that it was clear in terms of persons and amounts and a challenge would have little chance of success.
Regarding the matter of the trust, my colleagues and the two executors are keen that there is no ambiguity. With Mrs. Forrester having accepted the stipulations, then any objections or challenges not stemming from those two would need to be on the basis that something illegal was done today. Such a challenge would not succeed, in the opinion of my colleagues, were it on the grounds of some other matter, even if it involved previous illegality not related to the will.
The only challenge, therefore, is on the sole grounds of legality. Any questions? No? Thank you ladies and gentlemen.’
The two executors met at his house as arranged and he had news.
‘As thought, there has indeed been a payout by names which might not mean much to you – here they are,’ he handed over the sheet, ‘but more interesting is the means of transfer. They were not to accounts from the continent but by cash, which immediately brings in HMRC, which we’ve done. And the ones handing over the cash we’ve not nailed yet. But we know the conduit.’
‘Jan de Vries and by extension – Jenny A. You’re right about the names of the sources – I do know of two or three but not in any substantial way. So, the rump of the old EU is still trying to wreck things for British firms -’
‘Fisheries are the key target. It’s not only the payments which ensure fewer and fewer ships but arresting the skippers and halting the boats that way also achieves their ends.’
‘Not nice, is it? Tell me something … Leyton … why kill Miles?’
‘To me, in terms of their goals, it seemed unnecessary. Whether you or he were in charge, it would go on – fewer and fewer boats, you’re down to 17 now? There may have been something in Miles’s other revenue producers but they seemed innocuous enough. Seems to me, forgive me here, that if he really was the target,’ she went cold, ‘then there is something we haven’t seen, something he was doing or was about to.’
‘I have to ask it – it may have been me, no? Estate goes to me, I rejoin a lover, I’m a rich woman.’
‘You were of the opinion in our discussions that about 50% was coming to you.’
‘Firstly, words and secondly – that’s enough in itself for many. Who’s to say I hadn’t had a falling out or I’d seen some provisions I didn’t like. The reason I’d like you to thoroughly investigate that is so that I can be cleared.’
‘We already are looking, naturally.’
Time does go by. The two months had gone like that, the estate had been distributed, all except for Jan and Jenny A, who were due at the solicitors today, with the two executors in attendance. This was at the request of Mr. Pendlebury who had received a solicitor’s letter and this meeting would not be charged to the estate.
‘Please, sit down.’ They each took a seat. ‘Best you come straight to the point, Mr. de Vries.’
De Vries took some papers from his briefcase and handed them over. ‘You’ll see from those that there might be some irregularities with Mrs Forrester. Enough for an objection to be made to the estate going to her.’
Laura was stonefaced, Young’s eyes had narrowed.
Mr. Pendlebury commented, ‘But it’s already been distributed. Besides, this can only alter if there was something irregular in the legal proceedings, not on the basis of anything in Mrs. Forrester’s life.’
‘As beneficiaries, we’ve arrived to take what was bequested to us. We’re entitled to that?’
‘The provisions of the will give Mr. Pendlebury discretion. If he thinks something untoward has happened regarding the will, then he can suspend her portion, as he says. If, for example, she had deliberately prevented someone from receiving his or her portion or if Mr. Pendlebury himself had made statements which knowingly contradicted the law of this land, then a challenge could overturn the distribution and a court would decide on any new provision, with or without Mrs. Forrester. That was the main point of the letter Mr. Pendlebury received.’
Young was furious. ‘You lying scoundrels, that reading was -’
‘Please, Detective Inspector, allow me to do the talking,’ said Mr. Pendlebury. He turned to the two smirking visitors. ‘You have made your case, I am in receipt of that letter, that letter will receive a reply in due course.’
‘We take our bequests today.’
‘Ah well that can’t be done, Mr. de Vries, Ms Daniels, quite the opposite. Read the provisions again – if there is a challenge, then the hole process stops, anything left to distribute goes to trust for one year or until the matter is resolved. The next step is our letter of reply to this effect and then your solicitors are free to do as they decide, instructed by you. Good day to you both.’
He stood, Laura and Young stood. Those two did not budge from their seats. ‘You’re diddling us out of our due bequests.’
‘Not at all, those bequests go into trust until the matter is resolved or for one calendar year, whichever is sooner. Good day to you both.’
‘Detective Inspector,’ asked Mr. Pendlebury, ‘I have two people in this room who have refused to vacate the office. Am I legally entitled to have them removed?’
‘You are but to save complications, two of my men will do the removing.’ He took out his mobile but the two got up and stalked out, slamming the door behind.
‘Tea for the three of us. Can you spare some minutes? Good, let’s not discuss it until after we compose ourselves. We require tea for this. Needless to say, this is on the house, as will be the discussion.’
‘What we have here,’ the wizened old man explained, ‘is no legal grounds whatever, in law. My colleagues are quite clear on this point, and on my action of moving their bequests to trust. Now the complications.’
He removed, then put back on his glasses. They waited.
‘We are in a fluid period in law during this transition from EU law to … well, to whatever it becomes. In short, any challenge can have a hearing and the issue is – who hears it. We saw that with the challenge by Ms Miller and the UK government. We saw it in the United States, though that is not our law of course, but you saw how something actually legal could be tied up and declared illegal.
Now, if that can happen over there, imagine what can happen in this fluid situation.’
‘You mean,’ said Laura, ‘that the judiciary can make it whatever they damn well like.’
‘I’d not have put it quite like that but yes … this could tie the estate up, including all moneys already disbursed and most courts would run a mile from such complications. Most courts. But not courts where the plaintiff might be, oh, the European Union or the European Court or whoever. And there’s another aspect of this – the cost. There is no limit to the funds of the plaintiffs.’
‘Point’s taken,’ said Young.
‘You see, under either set of laws, this distribution and all processes as part of it were done legally and would stand. Eventually. The issue is that. Eventually. Maybe ten years. With legal fees coming from the estate.’
‘So, whoever was doing this for political or personal reasons, if they can’t get the money they want, they can ruin the estate, deplete it to nothing and even plunge us into debt.’
‘That’s the sum of it. Those are the times we are in.’
‘But that’s outrageous.’
‘It is, these people are well aware of the legal quagmire. Also, spending the estate now does not end attempts at recovery, and should the decision eventually go against you, they can come after you to recover.’
‘It’s a nightmare.’
‘I’m afraid so Mrs. Forrester. What I suggest is that you proceed as if the estate is yours and if this fight ensues, understand that we also have a stake in it, both our law firm and all law firms in the UK – this would be a precedent you see. It would not then be just us, it would be our entire justice system on trial and moneys would come from elsewhere for that. It’s not really your fight at this time. It’s speculation. My advice is to continue with your business until such time in the future that we need to reconsider. Now you must be busy. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us.’
Today, seven days after that unpleasant meeting, Laura was going back to the launch – that launch – and the strangest thing of all, but not strange to many observing, was that Jenny B had become her trusted companion. Not a sign of the old irascible Jenny.
They were sharing a bed but a distance from each other. ‘Call me Sarah.’
‘I wondered when.’
‘We’re all opportunists, Laura, we all look after N1, we see a haven and want to be in there. It’s not a crime to be taken care of, to do things to take care of your future. But beside you here I know can’t be forever.’
‘You’re starting to sound like Miles when you talk. What will you do?’
‘Depends on you – I still want my job.’
‘Don’t worry on that score. You’ll … you’ll visit?’
‘Well of course I will, silly. It’s just that this is too close. It could develop into something deeper for me and that’s using you.’
‘Are you … you know … that way?’
‘Don’t know … don’t think so. It’s just that no man has appeared, no man has asked. I do resent it but not to the point of going mental over it. It’s just sad to me, that’s all.’
‘See, that’s what I mean. Arms are arms and yours are warm and snugly. I have to break away from this. You have to break away from it too.’
‘Why the Sarah?’
‘Because I suspect sis did it.’
‘For her own reasons?’
‘I hope not. She can manipulate but she’s also easily led. Thing is, I couldn’t lead her, only boys, men could sway her. I’m not so sure what Sarah is any good at.’
‘That’s going to come, you’ll find those things out gradually.’
‘What will you do?’
‘Me? For now, I’ll run the enterprises. Maybe I’ll change direction down the track, I do know I’m not going to think about that now, that’s the route to despair. Not sure I’m even interested in men any more.’
She realized what she’d said. ‘Don’t get ideas.’
‘Listen, I told you, I’m traumatized, I’m not that way. Only as much as this now.’
‘Would you be my bodyguard for some time?
‘Not for money.’
‘Ah … yes … the provisions. We pay out of current income.’
Laura shuffled over and embraced her. The glass of the new shatterproof porthole shattered, a round thudded into the bed, and another, Sarah already had her down on the floor, call to DI Young, he answered they’d seen the boat and were giving chase, stay down.
‘There’s someone just climbed on the boat, Laura. Go under the bunk, it won’t stop a bullet but we’ll fix that tomorrow.’
‘Actually, it will, we had that put in. Going under now.’
There was no light on, the dock lights had shut off, Sarah crawled round to the porthole side of the bed, under the porthole, expecting something through that or the door, maybe shots through the wall although they had kevlon lining, she knew about that bit, probably on the roof too.
She waited and waited, Laura made to speak and Sarah shushed her. She was prepared to wait the night, she’d done that before, hoping Laura had the stamina too. That kevlar problem worked both ways. She was sure there was someone above and in the next cabin. Putting a couple of rounds through both would have felt more secure.
Someone tried to hack through the roof now with a blow, maybe an axe but had hit the kevlar or was it the iron?
Now a welcome sound – an approaching boat. ‘Throw the weapons ten feet from you, lie face down on the roof and put your hands on your head. We’re coming alongside and will board.’
She could feel the launch, as no doubt Laura could, something was thrown over, there was commotion and suddenly they heard whoever it was in the next cabin running, the one on the roof had jumped, so did the other, something was slipped off and the launch took off.
She phoned immediately. ‘Was that your launch came alongside now?’
‘No, we’re not far from you and see them, we’re giving chase.’
‘Did you get the other one?’
‘No, this is the same one, same markings, no number.’
Suddenly Sarah saw a movement on their own boat’s bow, she opened the porthole, reached through and shot whoever it was. Whoever it was nearly fell into the water but became jammed in the railing.
She phoned again and explained. Young replied: ‘Can’t be everywhere, Jenny, we’re chasing this boat, I’ll call for another right now. Call you back.’
They were in DI Collin’s home, sipping on coffee.
‘It was a police launch. They were police. The dead man – yes, he died – he was a constable. They’d received a message that bad elements had boarded your boat, they’d climbed on from the dock silently and were going to do a hostage rescue – or so we’re led to believe. You’re seen as a bad element it seems.
We chased the launch but when we started with the ‘shut down your engines, do this or that’, they used the tannoy to say roughly the same and we realized. Don’t say anything, you two, as we don’t want to seem Keystone Cops.
‘Yes, but why was a police launch running from us? Why did they not complete the rescue?’
‘Second message that there was a bomb about to go off onboard.’
‘Who was the dead constable?’ asked Laura.
‘Local lad and not detailed to be any part of it. Now we’ll never know.’
‘It sounds weird,’ said Sarah. ‘Why am I not arrested?’
‘Me. Someone inside with us is not a good person. He caused this mix up, sending two crews.’
‘You know who it is?’
‘Oh yes. It was put down to wrong data coming through. Bollox. I’ve considered leaving a few times, there are things happening now, people coming in who are not good, not the way officers used to be.’
‘Ouch. All right, but there were still good officers around, now they’re retiring or leaving, even being encouraged to. Hate to say this but the police are turning into a force not necessarily friendly bobbies on the beat. I’ve been offered bribes, many of late.’
‘This is frightening to the citizen.’
‘Citizen doesn’t know yet. You know.’
‘What to do?’
‘That’s what we have to work out.’
‘They want me dead,’ said Laura, head on pillow, looking upwards.
‘It might be, it might not. I’m thinking of another explanation. Let’s say you have quite a bit in your own right. Not perhaps as much as now but still a fair bit. And you, being nice, were trying to get that person back onside, you put them in your will. Or someone from your past heard about your what had happened.’
‘You’re mighty close, Sarah. There are some people I’ve been thinking about but I haven’t seen for some time. I can tell you they weren’t in that room during the reading. They’d know I have assets but as you say – not as many as now. And they might think they were owed, for some crazy reason. Why the shot from the water? Or even the other side of the river?’
‘To show that you can always be got to.’
‘That’s the problem. Nigh nigh.’
DI Young tiptoed back on the landing carpet to his own room before all noise ceased.
For some reason, a solicitor’s letter arrived on Mr. Pendlebury’s desk which made him smile. Whichever forces were behind this ‘challenge’, de Vries’s solicitors felt there was no point pursuing it any further and would the bequests be forthcoming, minus any administrative dues?
‘Excellent.’ He asked his clerk to communicate that to Mrs Forrester and DI Young.
At that moment, DI Young and Laura were having lunch, Sarah had stayed home, a call came through and he put it to speaker. Looking at Laura while he said it, he asked the firm to start the process.
That added zest to the lunch. Sea bass starter, soup, chicken goujons, that little cafe was a gem. The trolley tray was the piece-de-resistance and nothing was said about Miles having been with them the last time.
They wandered out to the small cobbled lane, there was a ‘phut phut’, Laura collapsed in a heap, half a dozen bystanders reacted in half a dozen ways, Young showed his badge and asked if anyone was a doctor, no one, he called base, they’d send help.
He didn’t want to move her and she was clearly alive, he now whispered to her to act as if she’d died, a bizarre request but she understood it implicitly. He seemed distraught.
The ambulance eventually got to them, the crew looked and summed it up, the stretcher was already out. There was blood on the cobblestones but not a lot, it took some time to get her on the stretcher, not laid out but in that same position, Young went in the back with her.
Young had sealed off her room and scrutinized the staff list. He had an officer doing a two hour shift, others round the clock. No one but no one was to go into that room unless the attending doctor, not nurses and especially not anyone familiar or who claimed familiarity with her, certainly no press. And especially not Sarah/Jenny.
Meals would be taken in by the officer on duty. The officer was not to leave the post for any reason, not even in an emergency, not even if there was fire or theft, for no reason – did he understand?
The room itself was in an outer ward far from the street and it could only be reached across about an acre of grass, with a high wire fence at the end.
Arrangements made, he went in and sent the officer to guard the door.
‘Tell me,’ he said.
‘Vest took one, the other did hit my side, some damage. They never tried the headshot.’
‘We can talk tomorrow about all that. You have that buzzer, any hour, I’ll be twelve minutes. Anyone comes in not the officer or doc, there’s trouble, push the buzzer.’
Leyton Young was with Laura the next day and he’d had quite a time with Sarah/Jenny, having to explain the criticality of Laura not having anyone at all visiting, bar the doctor, the officer on duty and himself.
‘He can’t even go to the loo, he has to use a bedpan inside the room.’
‘So no information about her condition gets out – she’s alive, that’s all. The moment I can open up, Sarah, the instant, you will be the first to be told, by me, privately.’
‘Are you going back to see her?’
‘Every few hours, I’m on call 24/7.’
‘Pity you’re married.’
‘I consider myself lucky.’
She didn’t respond to that.
‘Hello Laura,’ said DI Young next day.
She nodded, then whispered, ‘Safe to speak?’
‘Yes.’ He put the chocolates on the side table. ‘I’ve had the medical report on you, two days. There’ll be recovery at home but where ‘home’ will be we’ll decide. How’s the body feel and how’s the mood?’
‘So-so for both.’
‘Well, the mood might just improve.’
‘We found the nest from the trajectory. No prints but there was DNA, maybe from the arm, and one of the two shells was in a planter on the path below the roof parapet where he was. They’re being analysed today. But we have better – on the hill, a tourist had been filming in a panning action, saw someone on the roof, blurred as usual but it will give us an idea. I came straight here to you, so don’t know yet, I’ll report back. Any incidents?’
‘None. Two days you say.’
‘Should be. Keep up the vigilance and don’t let that officer go away for even a second.’
She smiled a weak smile. ‘Sarah?’
‘Chafing at the bit, wants to see you.’
She sighed and closed her eyes, he took his leave.
There was a young officer, well youngish … well 34 actually, wife had died of cancer a year earlier and Leyton Young had co-opted him to this investigation the moment he’d been assigned to Lytton.
Definitely not one of that new type and Young saw two possibilities here.
One was obviously help with investigations, this being the biggest investigation in the area of late and the other was that Tim Madders was unattached … and so was Laura and so was Sarah. And Laura was getting a bit too close to him, to Young, although of late she’d been distracted of course.
It was a bit of a stretch imagining Tim for Laura, though there’d been many cases of women going with younger men and he didn’t know if he wanted to encourage that – rich widow, young man, you know.
On the other hand, what would be in it for Sarah? Also, would he want to inflict Sarah on Tim? And could anyone love Sarah?
Whichever way, Tim was seconded to him and they were at the lab. Neil Fielding came over with what they had – they went over to the light wall.
‘No handprints but there was some DNA – could have been anyone’s but still, we ran various naughty people through the right column and that threw up about 130 of ’em.
All right, the shell. Not widely available but rogues could get them on the continent. That modus operandi brings us down to 16.
Availability on each day in question, details you supplied – that’s for you to sort out. Shells were same type for all three. That’s up to you whether it was a deliberate ploy or a silly man who wanted to get caught.’
‘Or someone who happened to have that type of ammunition and couldn’t afford to be seen getting more, couldn’t get more perhaps, got it from a supplier and that’s all there was.’
‘As I say – that’s up to you to sort out.’
On the way to the car, Young said to Madders, ‘That shell came from Germany but can’t see how that gets us further forward. However, a thought is crossing the mind – something before your time but not all that long ago in terms of this case.’
They reached the car, heading for the hospital and the first introduction.
Madders drove and Young thought it over. There were two jails – one in London and one in Edinburgh – where this make of ammunition was known to be available and bad boys usually bought the weapon to fit the ammunition.
Edinburgh of course was disquietening as it did bring the possibility of Mr. Stammers back into frame. Young had to decide whether to do Tim’s introduction to Laura now or wait until she was out of hospital.
‘Drop me in the hospital carpark, Tim, be ready to return when phoned. You’ll meet Laura soon enough but not today.’
Madders glanced across at his pensive face.
‘Laura, you’re a bit perkier today. Feeling up to it?’
‘No incidents? Food all right?’
‘No and 50-50.’
‘We found the shell and of course, we have the ones from the other two attacks. Same shells, same markings.’ He observed discreetly as her head went back on the pillow and her eyes to the ceiling. ‘Not significant?’
‘It might be. I don’t know.’
‘One of the girls?’
‘I’ve no way of telling.’
‘Price of love, eh?’
‘Why do you say that?’ she said sharply.
‘We’re looking at outside persons now, someone with a connection to either you, Miles or both in the past, who uses such shells, shells he can get either in London or Edinburgh and who might be the one behind it. If it’s who I think it is, he wasn’t actually there pulling the trigger.’
He showed her the garage roof photo and she relaxed too quickly: ‘Doesn’t look like either Jenny anyway,’ she commented.
‘You’re right, it doesn’t. In fact it’s not, as we know where those two are. We also know that Ralph Stammers is still in prison.’
She implored, ‘No, not him.’
‘I’m now in a very delicate position. You’re coming home to our house – you’re welcome to stay for a long time, however, you might not want to after this. No one else will know what I’m about to say, only you and me, but you’ll still call my action a betrayal – Sarah has a place she knows and you could go there in the short term. As I say, you’re welcome at our place as long as you want.’
‘We got a warrant on suspicion of certain letters -’
‘You didn’t. Tell me you didn’t. I won’t ever speak to you again.’
‘That’s exactly what I thought.’ He reached into his case and produced a letter. ‘Why letters? Of all the things, why a written communication? Not even the phone?’
‘I had no part of it.’
‘I know you didn’t. The moment you knew what was planned, the way Miles was hit, you knew how stupid you’d been. He’d written, it was brought to you, you responded, she came back next day and collected. But he suddenly turned savage, because you told him you were happy and to leave you alone.’
‘I’ll never forgive you.’
‘The curse of the policeman. We do our job and are hated for it.’
‘Will I be charged?’
‘What with? You had no hand in it.’