30

The rest of the day passed peacefully. Bob and Sarah took in a one-man show. based on the life of Houdini, in a converted church hall in Newington. The star – A game guy,’ as Bob declared later – performed several ofHoudini’s easier illusions as part of the show, prevailing upon members of the audience to verify that he was securely chained, or straightjacketed, or boxed in, whatever each trick demanded. Sarah’s enjoyment of the show was dampened slightly by a constant niggling fear that Bob’s mobile telephone would ring, but it never did.

They returned to their bungalow in Fairyhouse Avenue at around 10:30 pm. Half an hour later, Andy Martin and Julia Shahor arrived for a late supper after the evening’s film performance. It was partly a social visit, and partly an opportunity for the two detectives to touch base on the day’s events.

While, in the conservatory. Skinner told Martin of Grant Macdairmid’s peculiar visits to the pub in Greenlands Road, Sarah and Julia chatted in the kitchen.

‘How’s your aunt reacting to all the excitement?’ Sarah asked.

‘She’s taken herself off,’ said Julia, a note of disappointment creeping into her voice, giving it sudden depth where normally it was flat and devoid of accent. ‘She said that I had enough on my hands without having her around, and so she insisted on going back home to Uncle Percy in Brighton. I put her on the Gatwick flight this morning, and he was going to pick her up at the other end. I’m sorry in a way. She likes to be around when it’s busy, to help me as best she can. She still does little things about the house.

I said I didn’t want her to leave, but she had made her mind up.’

‘So you’re there on your own now?’

Julia smiled. ‘Well, not exactly. Andy says that since his work has become involved with mine, and since he insists on looking after me, after my scare the other night, it makes sense for me to move in with him for a week or two. That is nice of him, is it not.’

Sarah laughed. ‘Nice! It’s amazing. For as long as I’ve known Andy Martin, he’s been adamant that he’d never let a girlfriend hang her clothes in his wardrobe. This sounds serious. He’s not the head-over-heels type; and that’s not the way you strike me either.’

‘I didn’t think I was. But when I saw him on Saturday, something just went into melt-down. Earlier tonight he asked me to marry him.’

Sarah’s mouth dropped open in amazement. ‘He did what!

What did you say?’

‘I said that he should ask me again in a month. If he does, and if I still feel this same way, then I will marry him, and just as fast as I can.’

‘Good for you, lady. Bob and I didn’t hang about either. We took a little more time over it than you and Andy but, still, we only met last year. He had to be a bit more cautious though, having the other love of his life to consider.’

‘What, do you mean his job?’

Sarah smiled again, and shook her head. ‘Apart from that! No, I meant Alex, his daughter. If she and I had hated each other, it’d have been difficult for him – and for me too, come to that. It was fine, though. I love Alex. She’s like my kid sister, only she’s no kid. It’s funny, but your moving in with Andy – it’s come just at the right time, in a way. It might help Bob understand something he doesn’t fathom yet.’ •What’s that?’

‘Alex and Bob had their first real row last night. I mean their first ever. She brought her new man home for supper, and Bob gave him the third degree. After he’d gone, Alex just blew her stack. So did Bob. This afternoon she came back from her theatre while he was out – she’s acting in a play – and picked up some of her clothes and things. She’s moved in with Ingo, the boyfriend. I promised I’d break the news to Bob.’

She saw a look of apprehension cloud Julia’s face, and was quick to dispel it. ‘Don’t worry. I won’t let it spoil our evening.

I’ll wait till afterwards, to tell him.’

‘What will he do?’

‘Well, he might just go and find Ingo and give him a quiet going over.’ She paused, and Julia’s mouth dropped open, a frown creasing her forehead. Sarah grinned. ‘But I think I should be able to stop him doing that. Especially now that I can remind him that you and Andy are in the same situation. He’ll sulk for a while, but he’ll be OK. Alex wouldn’t do anything just for the sake of hurting Bob, and he knows that.’

‘Would it help if I asked Andy to talk to him?’ said Julia, tentatively.

‘God no! Andy treats her like a sister, too. He’s known her sinceshe was a little girl. He’d probably have Ingo deported! No, don’t say anything to him. We’ll let Bob sort himself out first, then he can sort out Andy!’

At the insistence of Sarah and Julia, no shop was talked during supper. Instead Bob replayed, shot by shot, his round of golf with Adam Arrow. The walk in the sun had added a pink touch to his tan and a bleached hint to his hair. His account rose in its superlatives until it climaxed in his description of his eagle two at the seventeenth, passed off casually at the time, for Arrow’s benefit, but in fact, a life-time first.

‘And what happened at the eighteenth?’ asked Andy.

‘Trust you, boy. I was going to gloss over that, but OK. Gave it the long handle again, didn’t I. Stuffed my drive in that chest-high rough up the right. Bunkered my second ball. Took eight.

Anyway, by that time I was thinking about work again.’

In a sense that was true. In fact, as he stood on the tee, he had been considering still, in depth, the subject of betrayal.

Contents