At the other B&B, Caitlin and Sven were also finding it near impossible to refrain.
They did though. ‘We’ll regret it forever, Sven if we don’t. I know a woman thinks this way and the man goes along with it because he has no choice.’
‘I’m doing nothing to jeopardise this. I’ve watched as we four just seemed to drift into two pairs, I bet you two girls had everything to do with that.’ She dropped her eyes. ‘Chances of this happening to four people at the same time … what are the odds? You’re both asking for celibacy until tomorrow … well, speaking for myself, I don’t see it as blackmail in the least, I see the six person cell idea too … we do have to get up to speed …fast.’
‘Yep, there’s a curious case coming up, we need to hit the ground running.’
By mid morning, the four had been dropped at two different churches far from each other … officiated, signed, no reception, the vicars were not even going to send it to government … it was not in the eyes of the state that they were married, it was in the eyes of the Almighty, had said Faye.
Cam came through, concerned, the pastor was obviously used to this, he led the way to a back room.
‘Congrats, Lee, best to you, Faye.’
Faye: ‘Something’s happened?’
‘Yes. After the other wedding, they took the pastor. That can be good or it can be bad. It might mean he will be tried for aiding and abetting, that situation does not mean we’d have to spring him. Alternatively, they keep him without bail, no way can we get in after their last staff rotation but we’re bound to spring him all the same.’
He continued, ‘Someone close is betraying us. Fen and Tom were one hit, one of our vans was also hit a few days back. No one’s above suspicion … not me, not Jeanne, not our senior advisor, not the crew. Not you lot either. It may even come down to who fails to turn anything up. My feeling is it’s not a serious hit on us at this point, other than Fen, more to put doubt in our minds, as I’ve just done with you. Effective, less organisation required.’
‘And you’re living this way 24/7,’ breathed Lee.
‘Society’s changed, Lee. By the way, did you notice the girl in the white Astra, passenger seat, as you came in?’
‘Across the road? Straw blonde, hair in braids?’
‘Good boy,’ said Faye. ‘Natural blonde?’
‘You’ve got me.’
‘All right, where was her man?’
‘In the rear footwell I’d say. She kept deliberately not turning her head but was still speaking sideways, no phone in sight.’
‘In a holder?’
‘Quite possibly but my money is he was across the rear footwells because of the side talking.’
‘Correct,’ said Cam, ‘he eventually sat up, we have photos, reg, all that. From Stoke, car not stolen … yes, we still have people in the DVLA but the records needed hacking … 70% of what we do is online, we have our own database, including prints.’
‘We feel,’ said Faye, ‘that the girl is far more than just a factotum, too downdressed, no concession whatever to style, not natural, nor a chav, but look at her hair.’
‘The braids,’ said Lee ‘… they looked well done.’
‘Yes, as if she had a function later. No doubt Cam checked.’
‘We did. Charity ball, it’s on our hit list, you two will need to get some hours of sleep, can you postpone the consummation, we need you fresh for this evening, this one’s been in the pipeline some time. But first, Lee, here’s the photo of the ‘Tom’ you were meant to have in Stranraer,’ he showed it, ‘and here’s the one murdered, found in the ditch. You do see the issue, no?’
‘Well, I see one issue … yes, the first was the Tom we trained, the one we sent through, ‘the second I’m sure I’ve not met. Why would Fen even get into the car with such a man, calling him Tom?’
‘In one. Now this is unfair to you, Lee, not even Faye knows this, but her fiance’s name is Tom. Now, both of you listen to this again, the last moments before the ditching of the car …’
They listened, chilled
… then once more.
Asked Cam: ‘Well?’
Said Faye, ‘Definitely Fen’s voice, I’ve never heard fiance Tom’s.’
‘This is it, a talk at a local tech college not far away but it hardly helps, as the driver kept his mouth shut.’
They listened, Faye exclaimed, ‘That’s Field 3, he was delivering with us.’
‘Yes he was, he was down here, but we only have Fen’s word that it was her Tom in the car anyway. Why would she be telling her Tom which roads they should be taking?’
Lee added, ‘All right, all right, she was up to something and it’s my job to tell the three of us if there was some nuance, anything whatever.’ They nodded. ‘She took the newbie Tom in the Audi from Stranraer, I’m assuming it was the Audi which was found ditched …’
‘Nope, it was her Tom’s Passat. Her Tom had the Audi down here.’
‘I repeat, Cam, she took the Audi from Stranraer. Field 3 was much later as you know. There was danger pressing on her, I’m surmising this, which became apparent soon after leaving our place. How did the Audi get down here?’
‘You tell us what you think.’
‘Ok, she used to stop in during such runs, via the low roads, at her home, so she said. They swapped cars this time round, took his Passat. Who was in the ditch?’
‘The boyfriend of Miss Braids.’
‘Oh dear. Then they’re right inside. I’m still nonplussed by Fen’s actions.’
Said Faye, ‘I’m guessing here but Fen’s voice was not live, it was sampling put together in a sound lounge. There might not even have been a man in that car at all, nor a woman, no one, not even her, it was arranged after the event. She was being murdered, brutally …’
‘In one, Faye. Fen did go to her home with this new Tom, as per normal, as she would normally do … snoopy neighbours etc. confirm. Her Tom was elsewhere in his Passat, we know he was on a regular job as that job was for us, before heading south as Field 3, with the new Tom. He says he met up with her, they swapped cars. We know Miss Braid’s BF had gone north. New Tom was dropped at Gretna station, as per procedure but did not go in. Yet he’s on vision getting out there. We’re pretty sure Fen’s sound was not live. What we know beyond a doubt from the police report, shots etc., was that two people were in that ditch, plus that Passat. One was Miss Braid’s BF, result of the ditching we think, which leaves these questions … why was he in that car with Fen? And why the excessive mutilation of Fen?’
Said Lee. ‘She was already dead, perhaps he’d done it with his thugs, he just ran off the road. Sounds to me they were tidying up, tell us what you really know of new Tom.’
‘All right, both of you,’ sighed Cam. ‘You have that image in your head of new Tom, yes? Right, look at this one.’ He pulled out a photo of a cocktail party, two people were dancing. Both gasped.
Said Faye: ‘That’s Miss Braids.’
Said Lee: ‘And that’s new Tom. Oh my goodness.’
Said Cam: ‘Miss Braids calls herself Cleopatra and yes, the other one calls himself Antony. I’m thinking because that’s his real name. Here’s a report from social media.’
They skimmed down it. Said Lee: ‘Head of a shadowy section in Brussels, anti-terrorism, I’ve got the picture. If Antony was dropped at Gretna, was it Miss Braids who did the embellishments on Fen?’
‘We don’t know that. Surmise on our part. But what it also shows is that there’s a hell of a lot of collusion going on. You were given ‘Tom’ in good faith, Lee, so the rot was in how he was ever approved and sent to Stranraer. That’s our current task but it’s beyond us. We’re fed by an Irish cell which has never gone wrong till now. They’ve now severed links with us, so a win-win for Antony, plus you’re obviously under suspicion as the Stranraer end, plus Jeanne and I were the ones brokering the ‘Tom’ deal … you see how it works, Lee?’ He recovered his composure and added, out of the blue, ‘What do either of you know of Tosca?’
Said Faye: ‘You mean the opera? As in Quantum of Solace?’
‘In one. Where is it next being staged? Either of you?’
‘One moment,’ asked Faye, reaching for her minipad.
‘Don’t bother, Faye, it’s on this evening at Mentmore. Either of you heard of the place?’
‘Yes,’ said Lee.
‘Whose house was it?’
‘Quite right. Who did a music video there?’
Said Faye: ‘Give me five minutes.’ She reached again for the minipad but Lee got in first.
‘Roxy Music, Avalon, Glastonbury, occult, actress was also in a film directed by someone with the same surname, that man has a son with the name of the type of feathered bird which was on her arm in that music clip. The actress playing Tosca this evening is named Morgan. Guess who’s directing the opera, even though he’s not an operatic director? Doesn’t need to be … it’s an alternative production. I’ll lay a bet now that they’ll go with modern music and the last song will be … go on, Faye, tell me.’ She’d found it all.
‘Avalon. And when she jumps, the bullets will again have been real, Cavaradossi will be killed, Scarpia will escape … for real. I assume we’re after her though.’
Cam spoke. ‘Good thinking, both. Heavens, you two have only just been married for crying out loud … but yes … spot on up to whom we’re after. Yep, weather eye out for Morgan for sure but a bigger eye out for Cleopatra.’
‘Ah,’ said Faye. ‘And … er … have we any interest in Merlin? Best you tell me what this Tosca is about anyway, Lee, I never got into it. Potted history please.’
‘Nor am I into it but I did read up after watching the falcon girl who’d been in the clip in Avalon, after she’d been in a Caribbean episode of Miss Marple. Her real story’s even stranger.’
‘It is that,’ agreed Cam. ‘But please, go on.’
‘Well, in the story, set hundreds of years ago, there’s a love thing between this singer, Tosca and a painter. There’s also a dirty old man, head of the police or something, name of Scarpia, not unlike this Antony, although Antony’s better looking, he wants her and to frame the painter to get him out of the way, Scarpia tortures the painter, she agrees to sex if they can have free passage out after that … the two lovers … Scarpia agrees to use blanks in a mock execution of the painter … it’s on the top part of a castle by the way …’
‘Think I have it,’ cried Faye. ‘She kills Scarpia but the treacherous sleaze had not arranged for blanks, the painter dies, the secret services junior agent comes for her, she leaps off the wall, hence Mentmore.’
‘Pretty much,’ said Cam. ‘They’ll play Avalon this evening, reprise the modern music, yes. The real life thing is Morgan will escape after jumping … maybe into a huge cushion thing like pole vaulters, I don’t know but we will.’
‘What if they fail to put out the huge hay thing or cushion, whatever?’ said Faye. ‘What if it’s full of something all right but she jumps and there’s nothing cushioning her?’
‘Yep,’ agreed Cam. ‘Could be any one of those. There’s clearly something going on tonight, something sacrificial, I suspect.’