"But doesn't it bother you Jack that that man, that vile animal may be out there looking for new young girls to manipulate and sell on? It's infuriating!"
"We can't know for sure it's him, even if it's most likely, and you know we can't pin anything on him yet. He's just the brain who lets other thugs do his dirty work. We have to just wait and see what his next move is. We have men shadowing him day and night."
"What if we find another dead girl tomorrow?"
"Calm down Phryne. What do you propose we do? Storm into his house accusing him of smuggling humans? It won't do any good."
Phryne continued pacing his office, looking up only to roll her eyes.
"Of course I don't want him out on the streets either but we are doing everything we can, which I admit, isn't much at the moment", Jack concluded.
Phryne hardly felt reassured, although Jack's deep voice otherwise calmed her.
"I'll see you tomorrow then, Inspector."
"Good night, Miss Fisher."
Jack watched her leave his office. He couldn't tell if she was unusually agitated. Perhaps the dead girl had reminded her of Janey, even if she was much older than her. It would not surprise him.
Restless and irritated that there was nothing they could do, Phryne returned to her house. She didn't blame Jack, of course, just the boundaries of the law. There must be something she could do...there were girls who could be in danger, no, who most likely were in danger. She had to do something. There was always a way, an option. A dangerous one.
Even if Jack couldn't prove it yet, she just knew Derrington, that vile creature, was behind the murder and the human smuggling racket. She had felt it when they interviewed him last week, just like she could feel he was attracted to her. It made her shudder. Jack suspected him too; there was too much circumstantial evidence for him to be innocent. They knew he was in control of the smuggling racket of young girls from Melbourne to America; they just had to caught him in the act. But time was running out. Time to act. Fortunately, she had remained incognito when they interviewed him, so he did not know she was a lady detective or that she had any connection to the police.
Later that night
Derrington had swallowed the bait. He must really desire her if he agreed to meet her the same night. Even Jack had seemed to notice his interest of her.
She had put on her most ravishing indecent dress, deep red, and sparkling diamond earrings. He was early. Dot was with Hugh at the pictures and Jane was staying with a school friend. They shared a sumptuous dinner of wild duck and crème brûlée. He was just as arrogant and calculating as when they interviewed him, but she was confident she would eventually worm information out of him. She oozed of audacity and cockiness, and she could tell he liked it. His constant improper advances gave her the creeps, but he was too tempted by her body to notice...she had to get something out of him before he suggested they go upstairs.
He was very demanding. She was used to steering the conversation but so was he. Her plan was to basically make him crazy with lust so he would be so absentminded that he would let slip some vital information about the girls. After all, she could be very enticing and interrogative at the same time. She constantly had to remind herself she was doing it for the girls, for every touch made her cold inside. She had never tried to seduce a prime suspect like this before.
Up in her bedroom she finally managed to wheedle out something of worth out of him, but he was being were persistent. She would not let him undress her completely, and he was coming more and more aggressive in his advances. Suddenly he stopped.
She had been so intent on satisfying him that she didn't see the first punch coming.
"You're with the police", he hissed. "You're a fucking informer, you whore!
She was knocked sideways on the bed, and before she could get into a position to defend herself the first blow was followed by several other to her face. She hit him in the eye and kicked him in the groin with all her might, but it didn't give her the short break she had counted on. He hit her in the gut with violent force, and she almost lost her breath but was somehow able to remain upright. She had to get to the bedside table. She punched his throat while he almost cracked her rib. Now truly furious she threw herself back to the wall and fumbled after the bedside table. He was beating her senseless when she finally managed to open the drawer and get her hands on the pistol. Staggering, she pointed the gun at him. He froze, for an instant, then grabbed her wrists so hard she thought they might break. She fired the gun straight into his thigh. His beat-up face was pure astonishment and made her feel utterly triumphant!
She heard Mr. Butler race up the stairs. Derrington was now bleeding furiously and could not move a limb.
"Mr. Butler, we may need an ambulance. And tell the neighbours that gunshot is nothing to be worried about!"
Phryne tied his hands and reluctantly put pressure on the wound which by now looked pretty serious. She wished she had shot him in the heart, but she wouldn't be able to save those girls from within a prison cell. The ambulance arrived promptly and Derrington was gone before she knew it.
She couldn't feel her body ache; she was too high on adrenaline. She couldn't feel anything.
"Are you sure you don't want me to clean up in here, miss?", Mr Butler asked?
"No thank you, I'll do it myself."
"Are you quite alright, miss?"
"Just a…miscalculated risk", said Phryne assuredly.
"At least let me see to that". He pointed to her swollen eye and bleeding lip.
"Nothing to worry about. Go and get yourself some sleep, Mr. B". The butler closed her door quietly and went downstairs.
She put on another sheet over the bloodstained bed, changed into a different night robe and slumped down in bed. She tried to calm her uneven breathing. She could feel Derrington beating her, seeing him raise his arm… …and she tried to block it out. She didn't want to admit it but she felt shaken. Deeply so. No one had beaten her since Rene, which she'd made sure to forget. And she hadn't let anyone do that to her since then. She was angry with herself for not foreseeing it, for being so stupid. But most of all for barely getting anything useful out of him.
One o'clock. She eventually drifted away to sleep, but her dreams were full of memories long repressed.
At City South Police Station the following morning
" I've just read the report from the men on duty last night. Very uneventful, sir. It says: Mr. Derrington went to the gymnasium, spent the night with lady friend and ended up in hospital with a bullet in his leg."
"You call that uneventful, Collins?"
"I just meant, he didn't do anything illegal, sir."
"Is he badly injured?"
"Not badly enough. But the hospital says he must stay there at least three months."
"Good. We'd better tell Miss Fisher he won't be abusing girls for quite some time."
He was surprised she wasn't already bouncing about his office at this hour. She was usually in before he even knew there was anything going on. Collins seemed to read his mind.
"It was Friday yesterday, sir. She might have been out all night, Miss Fisher."
"She likes going out, doesn't she?" Jack ignored his question.
"...I talked to one of the officers on duty last night. He did a bit of digging on his own and seems to have found a link between our Derrington and the owner of the gymnasium. He has previous convictions. I think we should bring him in, Collins."
Phryne woke up feeling like hell. The February sun was hurting her eyes behind the curtains. She lifted her head from the pillow. It was impossible to see through the swelling of her left eye. Her whole body was aching and felt incredibly stiff.
Dot knocked on the door with the breakfast tray. She couldn't see her like this. She buried her face in the pillow.
"Just leave the tray and call on Mr. B, will you Dot?", murmured Phryne.
What would she tell Dot and Jane? No, she couldn't have them knowing. Jane had been so very upset that time when Phryne had come home with a blooded nose. Her now black eye, cracked lips and a bleeding eyebrow would make Jane unnecessarily worried. Being reckless when living alone was one thing, but Phryne didn't want anyone worrying about her. She would have to send her and Dot away until at least her facial injuries were healed.
"Miss, you asked for me…""I need you to send away the girls.
"Anywhere. Can't have them see me like this for a couple of days."
"Werribee beaches, perhaps?""That would be splendid in this heat."
"However, it will be hard to explain to them why you won't see them before they leave, miss
That was true…she had to cover up her face somehow. Rummaging around her dressing-table she found a pack for the face and put on thick layer of grey goo. A slice of cucumber concealed the shiner.
Jane was talking to Mr. Butler when Phryne came downstairs.
"Phryne, I don't understand why we must go right now."
"Because I'm telling you, Jane."
"That's no answer", Jane protested. "Something's happened, hasn't it? Is it the case?!".
"No…I just thought you girls could do with a real vacation. It's summer and no fun being cooped up in this house every day. I just have to close this investigation with the Inspector.
"If only you could come with us", said Jane disappointedly.
"I really wish I could…" Jane thought she sounded tired…but she believed she was sincere.
"Bert and Cec, will you take them there? Take my car", Phryne insisted.
"'Course miss, said Bert. Come on ladies."
Mr. Butler turned to Phryne when everyone was out the door.
"I hope you won't be sending away me too, miss. I promise I won't ask any questions. Although, I feel I should advise you to report it to the police, a man like that shouldn't go unpunished.
"Oh, I intend to punish him, but not for this, said Phryne darkly.
"But he could go to jail for this"
"Not without me witnessing.
"I see, miss.
And not without everyone finding out.
Last night's events had left her in a state of irresolution and uneasiness, and it wouldn't go away. She went upstairs to take a bath, but she was interrupted by the telephone.
"The Inspector for you, miss".
Jack! How could she have forgotten! He couldn't see her like this. He would look at her with those painfully kind eyes and make her lose her brave face. Or lock her up for sheer recklessness to get her out of harm's way. She just couldn't see him. It was one thing to have dalliance with a passing acquaintance; Jack had been liberal enough to accept that, but to seduce a prime suspect turning out to be a sadist was something else entirely. Phryne doubted Jack would look favourably upon that, even though she did it for the sake of those poor girls.
She picked up the telephone.
"Miss Fisher. We've had an interesting development in our case. Well, two actually."
"Oh, do tell."
"It's something better seen with your own eyes. ...I thought you'd already be down at the station..., Jack added.
"Can't you tell me over the telephone?"
"Eh...yes. Yes of course...We won't have to worry about Derrington for some time now.
"And why is that?", asked Phryne, overacting her tone of surprise. Jack thought she was mocking him.
"He's in for a long convalescence at the hospital after being shot in the leg."
"Excellent! Do we still award men bravery awards? Whoever shot Derrington deserves a medal!
"Indeed, especially if it was a woman."
"A woman?" Now she was truly surprised. Did he know she had shot him, he couldn't! Then it hit her they'd been shadowing him. How stupid, stupid of her to forget that! Her honey trap seemed all the more foolhardy in retroflex...she'd invited Derrington to her house without a thought on him being shadowed.
"Apparently he was staying with a lady friend last night". So he did not know. Phryne sighed, relieved. But he might find out soon if he read the reports from last night, or decided to inquire after the identity of this mysterious woman. She was getting apprehensive.
"What was the second development?", she quickly asked.
"We have Derrington's right hand man in for questioning, and Collins has dug up some dirt on him.
"Well done!" Phryne couldn't help but feeling excited.
"I thought you might want to question him", Jack said, invitingly.
"I do" said Phryne before stopping mid-sentence.
Jack paused. She didn't sound like she meant it. She sounded different altogether.
"I'm just not sure I can make it", Phryne explained.
"Oh. Right". Jack sounded disappointed.
He had counted on her showing up at the station earlier in the morning, or at least sneaking into the interview room, as usual. Could she be angry with him, somehow? Had he been short with her yesterday? Before he had the chance to ask her she said:"I'll call you when I've sorted this out – just a small domestic problem. Goodbye, Inspector." And she hung up.
She had to get a grip on herself. That was clumsily handled. If she couldn't keep herself together when merely hearing his voice, how would she stay neutral when meeting him? He was so observant, even on the telephone. But she could not avoid him forever if she wanted to be part of the case.
She went to her bedroom and tried to sweep away all traces of Derrington as best she could. She changed the sheets, emptied the gun of bullets and straightened the carpet. It felt better doing something with her bare hands, but she couldn't shrug off that feeling of….shame almost….and….. Ashamed that she'd been so absent-minded that she forgot they had a watch on him. And ashamed she'd let him get to her.…She was too good at pushing things from her mind, and now they came back to her with intense force, just like she knew they would. He'd been vicious. She hadn't understood how much it had affected her until now. She tried to focus on the physical pain instead of her thoughts. The only other feeling overpowering her was the desperate wish for Jack not to find out.
She took a long bath and put on her midnight blue dress and sun hat. Her left eye was now double the size and made her look like a blind panda bear. This was so inconvenient! She should have made sure he only hit her below the throat. She applied large amounts of powder to conceal the cuts and scrapes but there's only so much powder can do. The dark purple lipstick made it impossible to spot her bleeding lip, but the shiner still looked hideous. Phryne thanked the heavens for summer and sunglasses, put her large round pair on, and then remembered she'd forgotten to put soothing ointment on the scrapes. The doorbell rang. Applying the powder had taken ages, so she went downstairs instead. Must be Bert and Cec returning from Werribee, though they usually took the kitchen entrance. Phryne opened the door.
"Jack!". She couldn't help but smiling.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything", he said, hesitantly. Not until now did it hit him she might have had a male visitor staying overnight. Why else would she have sent away Jane and Dot, like Collins told him.
"Not at all. I was just on my way to you." His mere presence instantly made her feel better. He studied her face...and she held her breath. He didn't seem to notice anything
"I just came by to see how you were". She felt a quiet warmth spread inside her.
"You sounded...different on the telephone, he inquired.
"I'm fit as a fiddle. All domestic problems solved", she smiled. Her face was unreadable behind the sunglasses. But she did not seem cross with him.
"Give me a minute, Inspector."
She snuck into the parlour and washed down some hydrocodone with a large brandy.
"I'm ready to go". They walked down the front steps to the street.
"Let's take your car! And you can drive."
Slightly baffled, Jack went over the passenger side and opened the door for her. Phryne thought he'd better drive so he didn't look under her sunglasses.
The sun was blazing from an endless blue sky and it was already hot inside the motorcar. He drove though the alleyways towards the city centre. Phryne was pleased to finally get out of the house, and leaned against the window, watching him steer through milk carts and horse cabs. His fingers were quite long, she hadn't noticed before, as they moved around the wheel...
She was lost in thoughts. Did he know how much it had meant for her to have him by her side when they found Janey's body? She did not think she would have been able to bear it alone...he had been a great support to her at the time. She caught herself staring at him. He looked back at her with his calm, open face and smiled. She smiled back...he didn't look away. She feared he might see the shiner from where he sat if they didn't break eye contact...
"Eyes on the road, Jack".
"Since when are you keen on road safety, Miss Fisher?"
Jack parked outside the entrance. When getting out of the car the door hit her in the ribs and the pain almost knocked her to the ground.
"Bloody... heels! cried Phryne. "I'll murder them!" She managed to get up straight and walk into the station before Jack could give her his arm.
She didn't take the spot she normally occupied in his office, on the corner of his desk so he offered her the wooden chair gleaming in the sunlight.
"I'd rather stand", she replied, staying in the shadows.
He nodded and took a seat.
"I've interviewed Derrington's right hand man and he has a valid alibi for the time of the murder, and he hasn't given us anything to implicate Derrington. But Collin's got something on him and hopefully we can blackmail him into telling on his boss."
"What's Hugh been doing?"
"Collins!""Yes sir. We've just had a report come in. They've found another body".
At the morgue
"I called Dr. MacMillan in", Jack said.
"What a nice surprise. Why?"
Because you don't get on with the other pathologist and I want this investigation to run smoothly. And her presence might make you less upset about the victim, thought Jack.
"Because we make a great team", he answered.
Mac folded back the sheet covering the victim and stepped back. Phryne looked at the body. It was another girl, older than the first victim, the same age Phryne would have been if she'd been killed instead of Janey. How sad to die so young. Jack looks from the body to her, and sensing her distress, regretted bringing her to the morgue.
Mac took over:
"Severe defence wounds to the arms and defensive bruises across the body. Our perpetrator should have some bruising too. Cause of death: a deep knife wound to the lower abdomen. Death occurred instantaneously sometime last night. She'd also been sexually abused."
"Oh no...", Phryne said faintly. She was only glad the girl was dead, so she didn't have to live long knowing she'd been raped... A least, in death she was free of him, who had abused her... Jack thought she looked almost forlorn, wondering what she must be thinking. She looked miles away.
Mac looked at Phryne.
"Remind you of someone?"
"Elle sera toujours libre. Libre elle est née et libre elle mourra…"
"Someone non-fictional…". Mac turned to Jack: "Carmen", she explained.
"She looks like the other girl", Jack said.
"Correct. Her sister."
"So it couldn't have been him", Phryne concluded. "Derrington. He was with a lady friend last night, didn't you say?"
"Only if we assume she was the one who shot him. If this girl was with them, she could've shot him and he could've killed her for it", Jack suggested.
Don't dare say we need to talk to his lady friend, Phryne thought.
"We obviously need to know more about this woman".
"Didn't Hugh tell you?", Phryne lied, "he did check up on her, turned out she was a high toff without criminal record who knew nothing about his dubious activities."
"No...no he didn't". Jack looked a little perplexed.
"So he can't have killed her since he was most likely alone with his lady friend", Phryne went on. " – and besides, the sister's body was found were, Mac?"
"In the coolies".
"Exactly, 20 miles from where he was last seen, and you tell me how he moved a corpse 20 miles between getting shot in the leg and being driven to hospital in an ambulance?"
"The woman could have moved the body for him...", said Jack, trying to keep up.
"After she'd just shot him?" Phryne said sceptically.
"I don't know why you're so determined she shot him?", he protested.
"Any woman alone with him would have."
"Like the sister", Jack teased.
"It can't have been the sister because Mac can tell you she died at the scene where she was found, right Mac?
Jack chuckled. Phryne looked very pleased with herself.
"Admit you were just guessing", he said.
"She was", Mac replied.
Back at the station Collins was busy going through the statements for the fishermen who had found the last victim in the coolies near the river Yarra.
"The murders are definitely linked, the first girl was also found near the river", he noted. "If they are shipping the girls as cargo to America, perhaps they smuggle them on the river to a ship waiting in the estuary to go unnoticed..?""Good thinking, Collins, it's a theory worth testing. I'll need a list of boat owners letting boats on the river or fishermen frequenting the river lands and estuary".
Jack looked through the files on Quale, Derrington's right hand man. "We're not making much progress elsewhere... maybe we should pay Derrington a visit?" He didn't sound very enthusiastic about it. "We could tell him we've got Quale sweating and that we know the murders are linked? He must have had something to do with the first girl, at least."
Phryne agreed. Jack looked at her, thinking. She still wore sunglasses despite the lobby being quite dim. It must be yet another fashion he failed to see the meaning of...sunglasses indoors. He wished she would take them off so he could see her green eyes...it was much easier reading her face then.
"Perhaps you should see him at the hospital, you might be able to coax more out of him than me." Phryne didn't see that coming. She felt her anger building.
"I don't have any leverage over him." she replied slightly irritated.
"But he finds you...interesting"
"What do you suggest, that I work my charms on him so he'll turn soft?", she said, all revved up.
"I didn't suggest anythi...
"Or just let him ravish me there and then!"
"What? No..." He looked bewildered. "I would never do that.", he said sincerely.
She calmed down.
"I would never use you to get information like that. Or let you use yourself", he added.
"I know, Jack," she sighed. She gave him an apologetic smile, feeling she had overacted. She was glad she could hind behind her glasses. He would kill her with his kindness.
The telephone rang. Collins answered.
"City South, Constable Collins speaking! ...yes...yes...O'Slattery you say...thank you, we'll check him up." He turned to Jack. "The list of potential boat lenders is getting extensive, but we have an Irishman named O'Slattery who's looking dodgy. Lives in a mansion up in Woolloomooloo.
Phryne looked at Jack. "I've always liked the sound of Woolloomooloo", she winked.
The drive to Woolloomooloo was quite long, and Phryne didn't insist upon driving.
There were still no sign of clouds on the horizon though it was nearly tea-time.
"It should be here somewhere", Jack said. Phryne caught a glimpse of a white mansion behind the trees and Jack turned into the allée leading up it. It was surrounded by a vast garden in full bloom...rhododendrons and azaleas in every colour were reflected in the quiet pond before the main entrance.
"Isn't this glorious!", Phryne beamed, getting out of the car to inhale the fragrance of the flowers. People could say it was silly; she didn't care, but seeing this beauty, smelling it, made her feel alive.
"Look at this Jack, they've even got vinca minor, aren't they divine?"
You are, he thought.
Her joy made him blissful.
Phryne wafted about the garden, her dark hair glimmering in the sun. The butler greeted them cordially, asked them to wait for Mr O'Slattery, then retreated to the house.
Phryne dragged Jack to a lush bush with golden flowers. "Smell these, Jack".
"Very nice." "Heavenly", she corrected. Going out here was a great idea.
"You know flowers are like an art itself. They have meanings. You can send messages through them...a bouquet is like a whole letter." Jack looked amused.
"Hyacinth means sincerity. Ivy is fidelity. Rhododendron means beware! she said, pointing at the shrubbery covered in lilac flowers. "Begonia implies deep thoughts. Forget-Me-Not is obvious. A white rose is purity, but together with a red one it means unity...like those roses over there, the ones planted in lines."
"Isn't that a poem...", Jack mused.
Phryne raised an eyebrow. "You tell me".
"...unity...something about parallel lines..."
"These red carnations only remind me of Carmen", she replied.
It suddenly dawned on Jack. "It's by Andrew Marvell, I think...about thwarted lovers..."
Phryne stopped admiring the carnations and turned to him, waiting curiously.
"They go about their lives – like parallel lines – never to touch, never to join.", he recited.
It made her feel sad... "So very devoid of hope", she said. He looked thoughtful.
She picked a Carmen flower. "This is the flower Carmen threw at Don José", she said, thinking.
"Did it mean something, the flower?"
"I suppose it meant...I haven't thought about it. But she threw it at him, as in jest. Like a glove is thrown to ignite a duel." It hadn't occurred to her until now that it could symbolize challenging him to a duel. "A duel to the death." Jack made a mental note to listen to the opera after work." Her death", she mumbled.
No, she couldn't let Carmen too dampen her spirits.
The butler had returned. He showed them to a table in sun where O'Slattery was waiting. He was a stout man dressed in a light linen suit.
"You have a very beautiful garden, Mr. O'Slattery, said Phryne while eying his butler offering refreshments. He seemed nervy, Phryne thought, accepting a glass of what appeared to be lemonade.
"We need to ask you some questions about your business.", Jack said with his deep, serious inspector voice.
Phryne withdrew quietly to examine O'Slattery's telephone at the desk on the porch, while Jack continued to question him. Nothing suspicious. She went through the papers on the desk; there were a lot of them. She searched through the drawers while Jack kept him occupied. Nothing there.
It was getting hot in the sun. Phryne blamed the butler for not placing the tea table in the shadows. The lemonade didn't help much seeing as she had way too long sleeves for this kind of heat...but what choice did she have. She should have chosen her linen dress, though, instead of this long blue sleeved one, but blue was the only colour she'd identified with this morning. And she could now see that there was no shadow to be found at this side of the house in hearing distance of Jack and O'Slattery.
Phryne was getting irritatingly flustered and dizzy. She'd always prided herself on her ability to avoid fainting, even when she felt dizziness creep up on her, but she wasn't used to this persistent light-headiness.
The interview was taking ages due to O'Slattery being difficult. Couldn't Jack wrap it up faster? She was getting impatient, although she knew it was only because of the heat. Her head was definitely getting heavier...the hydrocodone was apparently wearing off. She went down the porch, still within cooee.
If only she could wear a bathing suit instead.
Black spots clouded her vision.
"Jack..." He thought she was just interrupting him to ask O'Slattery something.
"Jack!" He was instantly by her side. She blacked out and he caught her as she fell. She looked terribly pale. He scooped her up his arms and carried her into the mansion. Her soft light body felt warm against his chest. She looked like she was sleeping. He tried several doors before he found a bathroom. She turned her head towards his arm. "Phryne, can you hear me?" he said, anxiously.
She moaned. Gently, he put her in the bathroom window so she could lean on the cold stone wall. He still had his arm around her waist as he soaked his handkerchief under a tap and swabbed her forehead. "Are you awake?" he asked. "Yes", she mumbled. It was hard swabbing her head under the hat and the glasses so he removed them. Her right eye looked up at him and the other one was invisible behind an enormous purple bruise.
He felt ice-cold inside. She was utterly bruised up, he could see several scratches under her fringe, and her eyebrow was bleeding too. How could someone have beaten her so viciously? Like she was a bag of sand. She looked so small and diminished all of a sudden, as if whoever had beaten her had taken something from her. He must have hit her again and again... He imagined him raising his arm at her to strike... It made him sick...
"Phryne..." he whispered. He wished he could make her pain go away.
"Don't say anything...", she said, fearing his reaction. He looked miserable; his eyes all pain and sorrow. She tried to meet his gaze but it felt like he looked right into her and it made her self-conscious.
"It's just scratches" she said divertingly.
He saw that image of her again taking beat after beat.
"Could you get me some water?"
He seemed reluctant to let go of her, but he had to release his arm still supporting her to reach the glasses on the sink. He poured her a glass when there was a knock on the door.
"Is the lady alright, sir?", O'Slattery asked.
"Perfectly!", Phryne replied. Jack's eyes disagreed violently.
O'Slattery's footsteps disappeared.
"Do you still feel faint?"
"No", Phryne lied, emptying a third glass. "But I've obviously turned into a hippo. This heat is killing me". He didn't smile.
"Who did this to you?", he asked quietly. She avoided his face.
"Just a...man". She looked out of the window. "I provoked him."
"Don't say that", he winced.
It must have happened last night...It must have been the man she spent the night with...How could he! That's why she'd been so late this morning.
"Are we finished with O'Slattery?, she said, standing up. He frowned.
"I should drive you back. Let me carry you to the car?"
"Not a chance." He silently cursed her stubbornness. But she took his arm as they walked out of the house.
He was silent as they rode back to town. He couldn't look at her face without seeing her being beaten senseless by a raging man. Dark thoughts kept invading his mind.
"Jack, look out! The horse!". He turned quickly to the right, barely avoiding a collision with the rider.
"Why don't you let me drive", Phryne suggested.
"You can barely see through that eye", he replied hoarsely.
She put on the sunglasses to prevent his concerned looks.
"I'll drop you off at home", he said, before remembering it had all happened there.
"The hospital then."
"I'm perfectly fine, Jack, honestly, and Hugh needs us...
"You might have a concussion", he interrupted.
"Or just a headache, my head's been splitting all day, she admitted. "And I often feel light-headed when that happens."
She was relieved when he took the main road leading to the station. The dizziness had finally succumbed but the pain in her ribs was increasing. The hydrocodone was definitely out of her system, she should have brought some with her from the house.