The next day, I phoned the lawyer to make an appointment. He sounded surprised to hear from me and tried to find out over the phone what I wanted to talk about, but I was insistent. I wanted an appointment, I wanted answers and I wanted them face to face. He wasn’t very helpful. It turned out that he was following the instruction of a lawyer from Germany. He didn’t know the lawyer or anything about Frederick. He had simply followed the instructions, which had arrived by mail; the correct amount of money was deposited into his account for the work in advance; end of story.
“But you must know something about them!” I couldn’t believe that he could act for someone he didn’t know, had never heard of. “Let me get this straight. You got a letter out of the blue…”
“No, I got a phone call first.”
“Long distance? From Germany?”
He thought about it for a bit. “I can’t really remember, I don’t think so.”
I was starting to think that this was not one of our country’s brightest lawyers. “Go on, what happened next?”
“I was asked if I would act for them, I was given instructions with your address and the information to give you, and it was followed up with a letter of instruction from a law firm in Germany.” He shrugged.
“Didn’t it seem strange to you? A bit unusual, the whole thing?”
“Well, yes, but I come across a lot of unusual things in this business.”
I bet you do, I thought. Guaranteed not to ask too many questions as long as he got paid. But, I still had the feeling that he was holding something back. That he knew more than he was letting on.
“Is something wrong? Why are you asking about where the instruction came from? It looked perfectly legal to me.”
I sat for a moment, watching him. “Do you still have the letter of instruction from the German law firm?”
“Yes, it’s in the file.”
“Good, then you wouldn’t mind giving me a copy of it.”
He looked as if he was going to object and I prepared myself for further argument, but he rose from his desk and left the room. I suspected that he wanted me out of his office. I certainly got the feeling that he hadn’t wanted me here in the first place.
The letterhead told me nothing except a German address and the name of the firm. I wondered if Johnny had some friends who could investigate them for me. I’d start by looking them up on the website, after work.
That was the other call I’d made that morning. I phoned, intending to resign from the Uni bookshop. Kiri answered the phone and launched straight into me. “You just disappeared, you never even said goodbye!”
“I’m sorry, with so much going on, I didn’t think.” I was surprised how concerned she was about me.
“After our chat, didn’t you realise that I’d be worried? After all, kid, I had a pretty good idea what you were going through. No one would know better than I. You didn’t say much, but I could read between the lines. You could’ve at least let me know. When are we going to catch up? We sisters have to stick together you know. You don’t have family support like I do.”
Amazing, so small a conversation and yet, I had someone who understood. Now I had a big smile on my face. “Soon, I promise. I’ve just got a few more things to get organised. Oh, and you might see a bit of a change in me.” And I didn’t insult her by asking her to keep my call confidential. I now knew, she knew not to say anything.
The second person I spoke to wasn’t quite as friendly. Moira wasn’t very pleased about no notice, I felt a bit bad about it, but I told her that the circumstances were beyond my control. There wasn’t much she could do about it and anyway, I suggested she might like to offer the extra hours to Kiri until she found a new permanent person. But despite her frosty tone, she added something for me to think about. “By the way, Sam, I know it’s none of my business, but I wondered if you knew that your husband’s been looking for you.”
Shocked, I checked what she meant. “David? David’s been to the shop looking for me?”
“Well, yes. You sound surprised. Is everything okay?”
“We’re just having a few problems, that’s all. Nothing to worry about. I expect it will sort itself out. You know, the usual domestic.” I had verbal diarrhoea; I just wanted her off the phone. I didn’t owe her any explanation about my private life.
“And the other man?”
My heart stopped. “What other man?”
“Another man was asking after you as well.”
“I can’t think who that could have been. What did he look like?”
“I can’t really remember too much, it was a busy day. Pretty normal, but he did have a bit of an accent.”
“What kind of an accent?” I wanted to ask her if it was a German one, but didn’t want to put the idea in her head.
“I don’t know, it was only slight, European of some kind.”
“What did he say? Did he say what he wanted?” I was more confused than ever.
“I don’t really remember. We were busy. And we will be busy this week now that I have to put on another staff member,” she ended sternly.
I hung up feeling disoriented. A frizzon of excitement, David had been looking for me, quickly followed by a streak of fear at the thought of what might have happened if he had found me. And who was the other man? I did the only thing I could think of, I sent a text to Johnnie to tell him. The answer came back quickly –‘Leave it with me.’ I did and put it out of my mind. Worrying about every detail was not only driving me crazy, it was exhausting. I needed all my energy for my new life.
I was enjoying my new job. I loved being back in a bookshop. The staff, like me, were all bookaholics. The owner of the shop, who we called ‘The Boss’ when she wasn’t around, was a bit prim and proper, but smart enough to cater to the reading tastes of the area. We had a thriving science fiction and fantasy section, cheap popular thrillers walked out the door and we had our regulars in the cooking and gardening sections. I quickly made friends with Sara, a student who worked there part time. The boss was always on her case about how she dressed. Sara winked at me and said, “So, Sam, you’re new here. That should mean that you’re unbiased. What do you think about how I’m dressed?” She stood, legs astride with arms stretched wide open.
“Oh, I think I’m the last person you should ask. I couldn’t tell you what’s fashion or even what’s good taste come to that.”
“Come on Sam, step up!” She turned slowly around for me to check her outfit. I looked and tried to ignore the David voice. I so knew what he would have said. I looked again from my point of view. “You know, I think you have your own style. While you’re not traditional, I love how you wear that scarf and those earrings look amazing on you.”
She took a solemn bow. “See, you do know style when you see it. When you’re holding down three part-time jobs and trying to survive while you get your degree, you ain’t going to shop at Chanel. You just have to be great at jumble sales and charity shops and, you have to learn to build a story.”
I soon learned that building a story was about adding the layers to your fashion statement. But I could see what The Boss meant. The accessories would have looked even better if not for the faded black jeans, which hung very low on her hips, very low. Even I looked the other way, every time Sara bent down to pick up a pile of books. “You have three part-time jobs? What are the other two?”
“Well, each afternoon I become Nanny Sara for baby Olivia and Jason, a three year old and a baby from the ‘right’ side of the tracks.” She indicated across the main road to the suburban, tidy side of town.
“Rose gardens, manicured lawns and respectability?” I queried.
“Exactly. Then after dark, I dress down and turn into Sara Luv, barmaid at the local pub three nights a week. Now, that’s fun, but hard work and late nights. Mind you, you do get to meet all the tossers of the area. Great role models on how NOT to live your life.” She grinned.
I smiled back, just being around her lifted my spirits. “You work hard to get your degree. Can’t your family help?” Most people would have been whinging about how hard they worked, but she seemed to make the most of each job. She genuinely seemed to enjoy herself regardless of what she was doing. I envied how she lived every moment of her life.
“No, my family were against me going to Uni. Dad said it was a waste of time and I was on my own, I’d have to pay my own way. Oh, I go home for dinner once a week and mum slips me 20 bucks or what she can afford, but it’s tough for them too. Dad drinks, you know.”
I nodded. I thought about Kiri back at the Uni bookshop. “Anyway,” I said, snapping out of it, “I think you have an authentic look. It may not be quite what some people would wear, but you somehow put it all together so it looks right.”
She grinned. “Thanks,” pirouetted around the ladder and walked out the front to serve a customer. In reality, many of our customers dressed in exactly the same style, which is why I think The Boss didn’t push it too hard.
The work was not demanding and the part-time hours were going to give me time to investigate. If nothing else, I was determined to find out more about Frederick. If only I hadn’t been so stubborn. Why couldn’t I have left well enough alone?
It was with a sense of contentment that I headed home that day. I had a new book in my bag and a new CD. What delighted me and made me feel slightly wicked, was spending my money on things I enjoyed, rather than fussing over my superannuation, mortgage, saving for a rainy day or any of the other responsible obligations that most people spent their money on. I would come to those things once I was settled. I could imagine how horrified David would be, which made me enjoy myself even more.
As I walked through the wooden gate, I looked up at the forest of dark green leaves, the ungainly shrubs and stopped. What was it about this garden that gave me such a sense of foreboding? Why did it always feel to me that there was something lurking in the shadows? I shrugged off the feeling and walked up the path, unlocked the back door and walked in to place my bag on the bench before returning to lock the back door. And I stopped. Where was Marmaduke? I waited, frozen to the spot, waiting. “Marmaduke? Where are you boy?” Walking back outside, I called his name, stopped to listen and heard nothing except the brushing of the leaves. It sounded like someone rubbing hands together in glee at my discomfort. Look out for what’s coming girl, they seemed to say.
I walked over to the bush that Marmaduke had burst from last time he was frightened and bent down to pull the branches to one side and hesitated. What would I find? What if he had been in another fight? What if he was really hurt this time? I pulled the branches back, knelt down and peered into the darkness calling his name. “Marmaduke, come on boy. It’s almost dinner time. This isn’t like you.”
It wasn’t like him at all. He had never once missed meeting me since we moved in. Usually, by the time I get to the back door, he is there, rubbing himself against me, telling me how happy he was that I was home. I was under no illusions as to why he was happy. He knew he was going to be fed and food was a powerful motivator for Marmaduke. If only people were as easily persuaded and motivated as Marmaduke was with his food.
“Marmaduke!” I called louder, hoping that if he’d gone over the fence following a bird, he’d hear me. I stood still listening. Utter silence. Again I had a sense that the overgrown shrubs were watching, that something was holding its breath. I decided to go in and get his dinner and surely he’d turn up by then. I walked back into the kitchen, leaving the door open just in case. I found myself slowly putting away my purchases and realised that I was putting off getting Marmaduke’s dinner. I walked to the door and called him again. Silence.
I opened the tin and spooned large piles of dripping, gravy-covered meat chunks into his bowl. I’d been keeping this as a treat but decided that having him home was treat enough. I walked to the back door and called him again. I could feel fear blooming. Where was he? If he was around, he definitely would come to me. So, if he wasn’t around, where was he? Had someone been around the house again? Had someone been here?
I turned, walked inside, closing and locking the back door behind me. Maybe, my logical brain reassured me, he was exploring the neighbourhood. Maybe, he was becoming more ambitious and had gone further from home than he had ever before. Quite frankly, the alternative was unthinkable. Marmaduke had been my touchstone with normal life. Looking after him had taken my mind off my situation. He was my intruder detector. I knew when he was alert, that something was not right. Oh my God, I wondered if the intruder had returned and Marmaduke had somehow annoyed him. But intruders don’t attack animals, do they?
I phone Anita. “Anita, it’s Sam. I’m sorry to phone so late, but I have something I need to ask you.”
“Go ahead, no problem.” She sounded a bit vague and I guessed she had been studying. “What do you want to know? Have you been speaking to David again?”
“No. I want to know, is it likely that an intruder would hurt a cat? I mean, we’ve all heard that serial killers hurt animals, I mean,” what did I mean? Was I thinking that my intruder was a serial killer?
“Sam, for god’s sake, what’s happened? Has something happened to Marmaduke? You’re not making sense. Calm down and talk to me.”
“I’m okay. Well, I will be when I can find Marmaduke. He’s gone. Oh, Anita, he’s gone.” And I dissolved into tears. I sobbed for all the worry of running from David. I sobbed for all the fear from the night of the intruder. I sobbed away my confidence that I could simply start a new life. But most of all, I sobbed for a life without Marmaduke. Anita talked me through the emotions. There was so much fear, fear of David, fear of being alone, fear of the intruder, fear of being found. We must have talked for a couple of hours and when I rang off, I was exhausted. Again. I had promised her I would call in the morning and let her know if Marmaduke had come home.
“He’ll probably turn up looking self-satisfied and starving hungry. You see if he doesn’t.” Her words stayed with me as I prepared for bed. I was going through the motions but I knew it wasn’t going to be a good night. The wind was getting up and the bushes were starting to sigh and make unsettling noises. Why hadn’t I called someone in to cut them back? The uncanny answer was that I was a bit afraid of them. Now that I couldn’t tell anyone.
I climbed into bed with my new book and settled down to read myself into tiredness. At 1.30am, I went into the kitchen to make a hot chocolate. While I was there, I stuck my head out the back door and called Marmaduke again. However, the wind had really come up now and the bushes were swaying and moving, blocking my voice and muffling it.
It was still dark the next morning, when after a fitful doze for a few hours, I raced to the back door, unlocked it and threw the door open. Something told me that he would be there waiting for me, insulted at spending a night in the wilderness instead of curled up on his comfy bed. But all that came in the door was a dead leaf, which blew in with the wind. I put my dressing gown on and went out into the garden, pulling aside branches and looking for any sign of Marmaduke. Twice I found what appeared to be footprints but I was getting to the point that if someone had sprung out at me from the bushes, I’d tell them to get out of the road and help me find my bloody cat.
The wind whipped my dressing gown around my legs, and threw my weak calls for Marmaduke back in my face. I was determined to search the entire property.
I searched the whole garden, well as much as I could get to and all I found was two bird’s nests. I had just walked once more through the gate, when I looked down at the garden by the fence and saw a mound of freshly dug earth. I don’t know how long I stood there, staring at the dark brown mound. There were leaves around it but nothing on top of it. Unlike the rest of the garden around it, covered with a thick carpet of leaves, this mound of dirt pushed its way out of the leaves, to stand bare. I wanted to go over and check it out, but my legs simply wouldn’t move forward. The wind caught my dressing gown and pulled as if it was trying to pull the garment off me from the hem. I stumbled over to the pile and dropped on the ground next to the mound. The ground was damp and I could feel the moisture through the thin fabric of my dressing gown. I almost retched at the smell of the damp earth, but I reached out and pulled at the dark dirt. I scooped it towards me, more than ever aware of the smell of dank, damp decay. I scooped and pulled but I didn’t want to dig my hands down into the soil. I didn’t know what was in there.
I scooped and pulled, scooped and pulled until my hand hit something hard. I realised that I was crying, and my eyes blurred. “Please God! Please no! Please! Please!” I blinked hard, and again pulled the dirt away revealing a rounded, dirt-covered shape exposed in the dirt. It was a bone. A large bone and my first stupid thought was that it couldn’t be Marmaduke, he hadn’t been gone that long. I put my hands over my face and sat there shivering. What was happening to me? I looked down at my hands and realised that I had dirt all over me and I felt sick. I put my hand out to the fence, to help myself stand back up, when I heard it. So faintly, I wasn’t sure I hadn’t imagined it. I listened, holding my breath. It was a cat, calling faintly, so faintly. I moved towards the garage and I could hear it again.
“Marmaduke? Is that you? Where are you?”
Again I heard him respond, he could hear me! I ran to the garage and pulled on the roller door. As it swung up, I could hear Marmaduke wailing. I stood peering into the darkness of the garage, trying to locate where the sound was coming from. Walking into the garage, I fumbled around trying to find the light switch. It was beside the door in the side of the garage and the light shone weakly, lighting only the centre of the garage. The corners remained dark and dangerous.
“Marmaduke? Where are you boy?” I could just hear him. I walked to the back of the garage and called again. His little meow seemed to be getting fainter, but it seemed to be coming from under the bench. He must have wandered in and got himself shut in. But how did he get in? I crouched under the bench and pulled at the cupboard, struggling to open cupboards I thought were stuck. I couldn’t see what I was doing and stood up, searching the bench for a torch or matches so I could see what I was doing. I found a box of matches and striking one, crouched down under the bench again. And what I saw knocked the breath clean out of me. The door was padlocked. I pulled at the cupboard desperately, Marmaduke’s plaintive meows tearing at my heart. I had to get him out, but I knew that without a key to the padlock, I hadn’t a hope. The cupboards were solid and not likely to allow me to pull them apart. I needed someone with strength.
I don’t remember running down my drive, but I do remember the look on Johnnie’s face when he whipped open the door. “Johnnie you’ve got to help me! I need you to break the cupboard for me. It’s Marmaduke.” My voice wobbled as I gasped for breath.
“Hold on, I’ll just get something,” and he disappeared inside, returning with a large curved iron bar, flat at one end. He pushed past me. “Show me.”
We ran up the drive together and into the garage. “There, under the bench. Marmaduke is locked in the cupboard. Someone has locked him in the cupboard!” The horror of the situation washed over me and now that Johnnie was there, I suddenly felt weak at the knees and dropped to the ground beside him as he attacked the door with his bar. There was a splintering, a crash and two planks of the door collapsed inwards, to the sound of another howl from Marmaduke. He sounded so frightened. I called out to him, wanting to calm him, but suddenly Johnnie pushed me back and I fell sideways. Marmaduke forced his way through the hole and shot past us, hissing and spitting.
We sat there for a moment, looking at each other. “Who would do that? Who would lock a cat away like that? If I hadn’t heard him from the garden, he could’ve starved in there! I wouldn’t usually have a reason to come in here. Who would do that?”
“Someone’s playing mind games with you, babe. Come on, let’s check that he’s not hurt. Come on,” he put his hand under my arm and lifted me up. “God, you’re covered in dirt!”
“I found a mound in the garden, I thought it was him.” By now, tears were streaming down my face. “Who, Johnnie, who would do that?” I leaned against him, against the solid comfort of his chest.
“Come inside, Sam. I’ll make you a hot drink and you can settle the cat.” He led me from the garage and down the path. Even as upset as I was, I noticed him stop outside the door to look in all directions. I wondered if he was expecting someone to still be there and I straightened to look around myself. But it was still dark, even if somebody was out there and watching us, you would never see them. I lost it completely and screamed into the wind, “You bastard!”
Johnnie gently guided me to the back door, which I had left open. I guessed Marmaduke had fled straight to my room and would be hiding under the bed. But I’d guessed wrong. He was at his food bowl.
“Oh, you poor thing, you must be starving! You missed your dinner. He’s never missed a meal before.” I crouched beside him and to watch him eat. Gobbling at first, then settling into a crouch and slowly devouring what was on the plate. I became aware of noises behind me and realised that Johnny had filled the jug and was plugging in the kettle.
“By the time you have a quick shower, I’ll have a hot cuppa for you. Come on,” he reached down and lifted me up, guiding me first, then giving me a bit of a push towards the bathroom. I noticed he had shut and locked the back door. “Go on, I’ll keep an eye on him while you wash that dirt off.”
“Someone’s playing mind games with you, babe” echoed through my mind. I stripped and stepped shakily into the shower and it was there that I started a slow burn of fury. How dare they! Who ever it was who locked Marmaduke in the cupboard, how dare they! Frighten me if you like, but leave the poor cat out of it. What kind of a scumbag slime-ball would do that to a cat? I was furious by the time I was dry and dressed again and burst into the kitchen. “What kind of scum-bag does that sort of thing? Do you know, if I hadn’t been crawling out around the garden, I would never have heard him.”
Johnnie leaned his hip against the bench, folded his arms and grinned at me.
“What’s so funny?” Someone had just tried to get rid of Marmaduke and he thought something was funny?
“You left the room totally wiped out and now you’re back, ready for war. That’s some shower you’ve got.” Then his face became serious again. “I asked you yesterday if anything else had happened, and you hesitated. So, out with it, what else had happened?” He passed me an aromatic mug of steaming coffee. It smelt great. I sipped and it tasted as good as it smelled. I felt strong and clear. Targeting Marmaduke was the ideal way to get me back on my feet again. He was mine! And I wasn’t going to let anyone frighten him again. I explained what had happened to him. “I came home from work and Marmaduke acted really weird. Once before I had seen him like that, it was when he got kicked. My husband kicked him.”
One eyebrow lifted.
“It was only once, I told him he was never to do that again, and he didn’t.” I felt ashamed of having a husband who would kick a cat. “But Marmaduke raced in the back door and hid under my bed. I thought he might have been in a fight, but there wasn’t a mark on him. I wondered at the time if he had been rubbing up against someone hanging around and got a kick for his pains.”
“Judging from what we’ve just seen, I think that is highly likely. I don’t like this, babe. You’ve got someone hanging around and they ain’t very friendly.” He bent down to stroke Marmaduke who was rubbing across his leg. He looked up at me. “See? He’s saying thanks. Great cat.”
Warmth flooded me as I watched him stroke the purring Marmaduke who milked it for all he was worth. I also liked the way he kept calling me babe. Finally, he straightened and walked over to me, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Could it be your husband doing this?”
“No, he doesn’t know where I am.”
“Absolutely. Besides, this all started the first night I was here. He must have had keys, remember? So maybe it’s something to do with this house, rather than something to do with me.”
Johnnie walked over to the table, sat and sipped at his coffee. “I’m not so sure. It doesn’t sound right, this whole inheritance thing.”
“That reminds me.” I reached into my bag and pulled out the copy of the letter the lawyer had given me, “Can your friends on the force check this company out for me? This is the law firm in Germany that gave the instructions to the lawyer who called me.”
He skimmed the letter, “Yea, I’ll get Mark to check it out for me. He’s my old partner. In the meantime, do you have anyone who can come and stay with you?”
“Do you think I’m in danger? Should I get a gun or something?” I felt cold, the anger still simmering. “Maybe, I could sit up and wait for him. I could happily shoot the bastard!” I looked down at Marmaduke who had curled up on one of the cushions. “Bastard!”
“No, I wouldn’t recommend it. Ever handled a gun before? You’d more than likely shoot yourself in the foot.”
“You’re probably right. But how I would love to have a go.”
“All very well while you’re mad, but whoever this is, has spent some time around this house. And he’s come back several times that we know of. That means that he has the patience to wait for what he wants. But it doesn’t mean that he will be any friendlier with you than he was with Marmaduke. I think you should go back into the station and report it, the whole story. Don’t leave anything out. And you need to report every little thing that happens from here on in.” He answered my unspoken question. “They’ll take it seriously. Once is an intruder, but two or three incidents can mean moving from harassment to stalking. They’ll take that very seriously. Especially, when they take a good look at the damsel in distress.” I knew what he was doing. He was trying to tell me that he thought it was a dangerous situation without scaring the life out of me.
“This is something with more menace than simple breaking and entering.” He nodded at the bench. “And take that with you.” On the bench was the padlock, safely wrapped in a plastic bag still attached to a plank ripped from the cupboard. He unlocked the back door and turned back to me. “And you need to tell me every little thing which happens. Something tells me that this is much more than just an intruder. And I don’t like how it’s shaping up. I don’t like it at all.”
I shivered. “Johnnie, do you really think that this is something really bad?”
“I don’t know, but if you’re frightened, you’ll be more alert and more careful. And I don’t want to lose such an interesting neighbour. You know, I would never have thought of you as dirty and desperate. And dangerous,” he added. “Forget about a gun, work with the enquiry team.” A grin, and he was gone, closing the door behind him. I moved forward and locked it, but I was now painfully aware of the glass panels in the door. Really, if anyone wanted to get in, all they had to do was to smash a panel. My hard-won sense of security melted. I was as vulnerable as the moment in the spare bedroom when I was wondering what David was going to do next.
That night, it was Marmaduke who was jumpy. Even walking down the hallway to the bedroom, I shut the kitchen door and he dropped into a frozen crouch, hair on end. I leaned down, picked him up and carried him to the bedroom, crooning to him. He relaxed and purred his approval of my adoration. But when I put him down on the bed, he searched the room, and I felt him sending out sensors to check every corner. He started to make a circle, the first step to a comfortable bed, and suddenly froze, listening. Nothing could have put me more on edge. We both stood there, waiting, listening. Could I hear something? Was it really just the trees? Satisfied, Marmaduke went back to his task of creating his ideal spot, and sank into the soft quilt. While I got comfortable with a book, he performed the day’s ablutions and it wasn’t until quite some time later, that he lowered his head and appeared to sleep. But I noticed his ears were still upright and moving, taking in all noises. Even in sleep, he was staying alert.
It was only then, that I tried to work out what had happened. If I was right the first time, someone had been around and in some way Marmaduke had annoyed them and got a kick. Would Marmaduke go back to the person who kicked them in order to be caught? Possibly, if he thought that he was going to be let inside or fed.
So, why would someone lock him in the cupboard in the garage? If he had annoyed an intruder, they would have kicked him, thrown him over the fence, whatever, but taken the time to carry him to the garage, open the garage, open the cupboard, push him in and padlock it? I don’t think so. And where did the padlock come from? If the intruder had brought it with him, then this was premeditated. He had coldly and calmly planned to lock Marmaduke in the cupboard. But why? The only answer that made any sense was in Johnnie’s observation, “Someone’s playing head games with you, babe.” They wanted to frighten or alarm me. Take away the one thing I cared about. They wanted to isolate me, take away my comfort. Either way, the scenario led to some obvious conclusions. I was a target and they did not have my well-being and happiness as their objective. Now, I really was frightened. Not the shivering scared kind, but the bone-deep, life-threatened kind. I knew that there were some sick puppies out there, but I had never come in contact with anything as malignant as this. Whoever it was, didn’t care if Marmaduke starved to death, didn’t care how I felt about him. That was the measure of what I was now facing. How do you fight something like that?
Was it really to do with the inheritance? Was that just bait to get me into the trap? But I couldn’t believe that. Why, and why now? I had led a quiet, unexceptional life since we left Germany. This thought hung in the air. Did this have something to do with Germany? Was it something to do with our lives back there? But if so, why now? It simply didn’t make sense. But I had to get to the bottom of it or move out. I didn’t want to know what the next level was that this person would go to. Marmaduke slept that night, but I spent most of the night curled around him, deriving comfort from his warm body, going over and over again all the things that had happened, and what they meant. Dawn found me deeply uneasy and unsure what to do next.