Best laid plans
The funeral was difficult 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 on board 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 he’d asked Laura if she’d visit his home to talk about the sinkings.
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,’ she said, ‘they’re finished.’
‘And yet various EU members are still desirous of having the fishing grounds.’
‘Inspector, there’s 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?’
‘I think I did. I’ve tracked the crew manifests before, after sinkings, and can give you the lists.’
‘I’d be most interested in those, thank you, my men can do that sort of rote checking. 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.’
The will was about to be read.
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 direct 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 – she’d assumed 50% was coming to her.
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 or after and Jenny A not being charged with any wrongdoing, from the same date. 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 a 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, sometime 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 own will. That is, her will legally current at the point of Miles’s death was, for the purposes of his 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 problem 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. A majority vote of the three would then determine it.
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 went back to Young’s house as arranged and there was news passed to him now by his wife of many years, Jane.
He came and sat near Laura. ‘As we thought, there have indeed been payouts from the continent 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. But we know many in the conduit.’
‘Jan de Vries and by extension – Jenny A. You’re right about the sources. Why was it necessary to kill Miles?’
‘Working on it. Maybe something we haven’t seen, something we’re missing here.’
Time does go by. The two months had gone just like that, the estate had been distributed, all except for Jan’s and Jenny A’s, both were due at the solicitors today, with the two executors in attendance.
Mr. Pendlebury had apparently received a solicitor’s letter – their solicitor.
‘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, there was time during that two months to do this. Besides, it can only alter now if there was something irregular in the legal proceedings, not on the basis of anything prior in Mrs. Forrester’s life, that was made quite clear at the reading.’
‘As beneficiaries, we wish to take what was bequested to us. We’re entitled to that?’
‘Of course, it can be done today.’
‘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, for one year. 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 now, Mr. de Vries, Ms Daniels, in the light of your statement just now. Quite the opposite in fact. Read the provisions again – if there is a challenge, then the whole 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 are yours but go into trust as a result of your actions, until the matter is resolved or for one calendar year, whichever is sooner. Good day to you both.’
‘Detective Inspector,’ coughed 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,’ breathed Mr. Pendlebury. ‘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 will be on my action of moving their bequests to trust.
Now the complications, which I very much fear was their intention all along.’
He removed, then put his glasses back on. They waited.
‘We are in a fluid period in law during this transition from EU law to … well, to whatever it becomes or goes back to. 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 Commission or the European Court or whoever. And there’s another aspect to 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, within the constraints you agreed to at the reading, 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 would not really be your fight thereafter. It’s speculation anyway. My advice for now 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.’
Seven days after that unpleasant meeting, Laura returned to the launch – that launch – and the strangest thing to many, but not all, was that Jenny B had become her trusted companion.
They were sharing a bed this evening but at a distance from each other. ‘We’re all opportunists, Laura, we all look after N1, we see a haven and want to be there. It’s not a crime to be taken care of, to do things to take care of your future. But I know I can’t be beside you forever, I do understand that.’
‘You’re starting to sound like Miles when you talk. What will you do?’
‘Depends on you for now – I still want my job for as long as you need me.’
‘Don’t worry on that score. You’ll … you’ll visit?’
‘Well of course I will, silly. It’s just that this is way too close. It could develop into something deeper for me and that’s a complication neither of us need.’
‘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. Your arms are warm and snugly, I have to break away from it. You have to break away from it too.’
‘You’re not Sarah. You had us on all along.’
‘You know why.’
‘To protect her.’
‘Maybe. What will you do now?’
‘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. Would you be my bodyguard for some time?
‘Not for money.’
‘Ah … yes … the provisions of the will. We’ll 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, Jenny already had her down on the floor, calling to DI Young, he answered they’d seen the boat and were giving chase, stay down.
‘There’s someone just climbed on board, Laura. Get under the bunk, it won’t stop a bullet but we’ll fix that tomorrow.’
‘Actually, it will, we had that put in. Getting under now.’
There was no light on, the dock lights had shut off, Jenny 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 kevlar lining, she knew about that bit, probably on the roof too.
She waited and waited, Laura made to speak and Jenny shushed her. She was prepared to wait the night, she’d done this 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 had 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, we see them, we’re giving chase. It actually looks like one of ours but we weren’t told.’
Suddenly Jenny saw a movement on their own boat’s bow through the forward porthole, he was armed and aiming their way, she opened the lock, 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 to come and get this character. Call you back.’
They were in DI Collin’s living room, sipping on coffee.
‘It was a police launch, one of ours, the boat which came alongside you. I’d normally just look at it and it would be so obvious but there wasn’t meant to be anything like that around at that time and it was quite dark. They were only using nav lights – the ones inside and on the staff were off. That was even more suspicious.
The dead man – yes, he died – he was a constable. They’d received a message that bad elements had boarded your boat, these elements had supposedly climbed on from the dock silently, so the launch raced over there.
We chased it but when we started through the tannoy with the ‘shut down your engines, do this or that’, they used their 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 and there was no one else to rescue.’
‘Who was sending these messages?’ asked Laura.
‘One of the girls at the switch but it was whoever was telling her which interests me. I know who it was, he caused this mix up, sending two crews, also the original officers.’
‘But that’s insane – he’ll go down now.’
‘No, he’ll claim it was mixed messages coming in. It will all be put down to a common garden SNAFU.’
The girls had gone to their room.
‘Pillow talk, Jane.’
‘Thought this would come. Go on.’
‘Your thoughts on what you’ve seen and heard about this matter.’
‘All right, my White Knight, my very first thought was this – do you remember those cases you ran by me where a second crime followed the first? I remember three altogether over the years.’
‘Yes, yes, and the thing was that people’s loyalties changed over time. So we lathed onto the motive in the first crime but the second was bamboozling because it couldn’t have happened that way between those two people -’
‘Unless … and one more thing … Miles was a law-abiding man, you’d agree?’
‘To a point.’
‘But you felt you knew his limits beyond which he wouldn’t go.’
‘Then why did he so readily go with Laura, with that history … but go back even further … why these twelve ‘patrons’ as he called them? And he was quite willing to kill when it was needed – but that’s getting away from the point. I can see why he needed them – but why did they still need him after the island passed from his control?’
He thought a moment. ‘Yes.’ He thought another moment. ‘Contraband?’
‘Could be, could be something worse.’
‘I don’t know … but even if I did, I’d not say because you need to come to this by yourself. The reason I can’t say is I’m your wife and you’re soft on all four of them – Miles, Laura, Jenny A and Jenny B. Clear your mind, darling, like a policeman. Now, knowing you, you’ll stew over this for an hour but I’m going to sleep. Nigh nigh, White Knight.’
She planted the requisite kiss on the cheek.
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, Jenny had stayed home – the women had not returned to the boat – 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.
Laura and Young wandered out to the small cobbled lane, there was a ‘phut phut’, she 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 but 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 it was the attending doctor, not even nurses – they had their own nurse – and especially not anyone familiar or who claimed familiarity with her, certainly no press. And especially not 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, 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.
She was quite awake and able to respond. ‘Vest took one, the other did hit my side, some damage they say, it’s sore. 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 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, Jenny, 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, you’ll be two more 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 we 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. ‘Jenny?’
‘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 29 actually … and Leyton Young had co-opted him to this investigation the moment he’d been assigned to Lytton.
Young saw two possibilities here. One was obviously help with investigations, this one being the biggest investigation in the area of late and the other was that Tim Madders was unattached … and so was Laura now and so was Jenny. And Laura was getting a bit too close to him, to Young himself, not in any untoward way but in an almost easy familiarity … as if they’d been married a long time.
It was a bit of a stretch imagining Tim for Laura, she wasn’t that much older than him and yet the new riches made her the Grand-Dame of the piece. Well, that would pan out. What about Tim and Jenny though? He’d like to see how that one panned out too.
So, here they both were, Tim and him, they went over to the light wall. Young would start. ‘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 – that’s for you to follow up, Tim. Shells were same type for all three shots – one on Miles and two on Laura.’
On the way out to the car, Young said to his sidekick, ‘Those shells came from Germany but I can’t see how that gets us any further forward. However, a thought just crossed my mind – something from before your time. 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 is disquietening as it does bring Mr. Stammers back into frame. And Tim – drop me in the hospital carpark, be ready in the vicinity when I phone. You’ll meet Laura soon enough but not today.’
Madders glanced across at Young and smiled.
‘Laura, you’re a bit perkier today. Feeling up to it?’
‘No incidents? Food all right?’
‘No and 50-50.’
‘Same shells, same markings for you and for Miles, all three from Germany’ 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.’
‘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.’
She remained silent.
He showed her the garage roof photo and she imperceptibly froze, then overcame it. She knew he’d seen though. Young went on. ‘We know Ralph was in prison on both days.’
She looked at him curiously but said nothing.
‘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. I have a warrant to search the boat – we’re looking for letters – but I think they’re with you at our home. Neither Jane nor I nor Jenny has looked as yet, that I can guarantee you. I don’t wish to do this, you can see that.’
She was quite distressed and he thought it prudent to finish now. He got up to go.
‘I’ll never forgive you.’
‘It’s 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. I’d take a guess at those letters – they were just indiscreet. I’ve been aware for a long time it never ended with Ralph and the reason I’ve been so interested is that I’ve a soft spot for you myself … I think you knew that.’
‘Perhaps. But you also have a soft spot for Jenny and vice-versa.’
‘It’s that obvious?’
‘Inspect – Leyton, come on. I thought it might be useful. Now I think it might get in the way. I – er – did meet Ralph again. He came to the boat shop I was running and we exchanged words. He wanted to press his advantage but I didn’t let him. The second time I did and you’ll make a motive out of that. I was a fool to see him but not such a fool to let him wreck what I had with Miles. I sent him away, he wrote, I wrote back. I’ll give you those because I want you to see that that’s true.’
‘So?’ asked Laura back in Young’s living room, both Jane and Jenny out shopping for the evening.
He folded both letters and handed them back, to her surprise.
‘They’ll not help the case as there could be a third or fourth, we don’t know, and they could change everything. You could have denied them to me and made sure Jenny disposed of them or put them somewhere.’
‘No, she would have had a hold -’
‘She’d never use that on you herself as she had a cushier number in your employ. You feared they’d find their way to sis or else she’d mention them and then someone you don’t wish to have a hold would now have one.’
‘You like doing that, don’t you? Flying kites. You were right about me leaving – I’m going back to the boat.’
‘Who’ll guard you?’
‘I never said we wouldn’t but yes, I do fly kites and you know I must do my job.’
‘Which is why I must go back. We’ve returned to opposite sides again.’
‘Explain Mandy to me.’
‘Pardon?’ she feinted.
‘The one who shot you, the one the tourist photographed on that garage roof and who put two rounds into you, the one you worked with years ago under Miles and who is being met by my colleague today.’ That made her jump. ‘You met Ralph twice [that we know of] and it did not need your admission. The first time, it was a shopgirl from the wharf who described him and the second was a witness I’ll not identify. The interest to us is not that you met him – but that he was even able to get there from Edinburgh.
You see, Laura, he couldn’t get down from there on day release unless he had some fast transport. He used to have that with Johanssen. That makes it not easy but possible for him to do that round trip. We don’t think he shot Miles. He certainly didn’t shoot you but we know he has a girlfriend who visits him in prison.’ Her lips were a hard line. ‘And you don’t like that, Laura. You used her at first but then she began muscling in on Ralph.’
‘You’re outrageous, you fly kites and I fell for a couple of them but this is fantasyland. I wish to leave.’
‘I’ll call a cab for an hour from now.’
‘Thank you. And by the way, she’ll say anything.’