After giving me a quick tour of his apartment, Mike showed me to the spare bedroom. All I took in was a comfortable–looking double bed. Even the short drive here had left me tired and I was keen for some rest. Mike place my bag on the end of the bed.
"You look all in. Have a kip. Do you want anything before you rest?"
I smiled gratefully as I shook my head.
"No, it's fine. All I need is a glass of water and I'm good."
Mike nodded and turned to go.
"Thank you. For everything."
He nodded and gave me a small smile before leaving.
I opened the bag Christine had packed for me and discovered very quickly that she had found my sexy-but-impractical nightwear instead of the big T-shirts with a daft slogans that I use for everyday. I was faced with an array of silky, string-strapped, lacy confections that barely covered the essentials. I sighed, too tired to do anything other than pick the least revealing of them and fall into bed. I was out like a light.
I found out later that I slept for twenty four hours, waking only to drink water, take the tablets left beside the glass, and use the toilet. Mike, I assume, must have replenished my water, but I was unaware of when he did it.
I felt much more rested and I'd had some vivid dreams involving Chris that left me a little more relaxed. I smiled to myself and stretched expansively. Two things happened simultaneously.
The door of the room opened.
And I fell out of my lacy-not-quite-a-nightie.
After a frozen second mid stretch, I pulled the quilt up and hugged it, trying to act as if nothing had happened. I'm sure my face was red.
Mike's lips twitched, but he didn't comment on my garment failure.
"Glad to see you're awake at last. I've got you some food on the table, if you're hungry?"
To my surprise I was. Mike tactfully left so that I could get up and get covered. I went and found him in the dining end of the open plan living space.
Mike, it turned out, was a good cook. The food was light but nutritious, and I felt better when I'd finished it. After an awkward start, we regained the conversational tone we had found while I was in the medical unit. I was seeing a whole new side to Mike and it left me confused. Was I so changed that he now seemed different? Or had he changed too? When we talked it was almost like being with Chris again. The way Mike held his head when in contemplation, the sneaky way he'd be amused without actually laughing, the delicate way he'd say something short but succinct that would change my viewpoint.
I was feeling the same way I'd felt about Chris during my mission and it made me wonder if I was so fickle that I couldn't settle to a proper relationship. How could I be in love with Chris two weeks ago and now develop feelings for Mike?
I came back to myself and found I was staring blankly at Mike.
He looked amused. Could he sense my turmoil?
"I asked if you would like some tea?"
My other passion. I loved tea almost as much as Sam did. My mother is the same – she said it was in the family genes.
"Mmm, please, that would be lovely."
We talked while he made the tea and when he handed it to me, it was just as I usually had it. Obviously he had noticed at work. I was ashamed to realise that I didn't know his preferences.
Thinking of work made me think of something else. I looked at Mike's back as he collected his own tea.
"How have you squared this looking after me with the Boss? You're not using your leave, are you?"
Mike turned back to face me and leaned on the countertop. He seemed to find his tea fascinating.
"No. The Boss has granted me License Leave to look after you for the week."
I was impressed. Usually License was only granted to family members.
"Really? Wow. Normally you have to pull teeth out to get him to part with that. How did you get it? Are you blackmailing him over something?"
He laughed gently.
"No, no blackmail."
It wasn't until later that I realised that he hadn't answered my question.
We talked some more, until my head started to droop. I really wanted to stay awake, but my body knew better. In the end, Mike shooed me back to my room and brought me a fresh glass of water, by which time I was safely covered up in the bed.
"Well, two days down, and we've not killed each other. I reckon we'll do okay. What do you think?"
I looked at him in the dim light of the bedside table lamp and felt myself grin.
"Well, to be fair, I did spend half of it asleep. Gave you an unfair advantage."
Mike gave a dreamy grin.
"It certainly did."
Ooh, I could tell exactly what he was thinking.
"You rat. I thought you were a gentleman."
He contrived to look indignant.
"Nope, you must have me confused with someone else."
The humour died instantly with the unintentional truth. The sad thing was that I had ascribed some of Chris' simple courtesy to Mike. I must have looked as stricken as I felt, because Mike sobered too.
"Sorry. It was just meant as a joke."
I could tell that he was telling the truth, so I just nodded and slid further down the bed. Mike took the hint and turned to leave. I didn't want to end the evening on this note, but I couldn't think of anything to say to fix it.
He stopped in the doorway and looked back to me.
"'Night, Lily. Don't forget your medicine."
"I won't, thanks. Sleep well."
"Yeah, you too."
I did fall asleep quite quickly, but it seemed only a little while later that I found myself in the middle of Hastings during a relentless bombing raid. I was trying to run for shelter, but I was running really slowly, as if I were trapped in molasses. I couldn't find Chris or Sam and I knew that it was imperative that I find them. Masonry and twisted metal barred my way in many places and the bombs were getting closer. Then I felt the now familiar thump in the back and I was falling, falling forever, unable to find the others.
I called out for help and my world started shaking.
Foyle walked into his office and wished for the satisfaction of smashing something, or at the very least to throw something across his office. Passing Sam in the corridor just now it was perfectly evident from her guilty expression that she knew more than she was telling about Andrew's disappearance. This was what he had been afraid of; Sam falling for a younger man. How utterly galling that it happened to be his own son.
"Christ, what a mess."
He rubbed his fingers over his forehead in an effort to soothe his frazzled thoughts and deal with the first problem at hand; Andrew's imminent arrest for desertion in a time of war. The rest could wait. He wished that Lily had told him that there would be bumps in the road ahead, but just to be told to be patient was beginning to wear thin. Foyle looked at his watch and cursed under his breath. He stalked to the door and yanked it open.
A very sheepish Sam emerged from the staff room just along the corridor. She knew that the axe was going to fall and just who would be holding it. She sighed heavily and hitched up her chin. So be it.
"A word with you, please. In my office."
She followed Foyle back into his office and the door closed on his words.
"Where is Andrew? And please don't tell me you don't know, because I -"
The airfield was bitterly cold, the wind whipped up miniature tornadoes that scattered leaves, dust and ground crew with equal efficiency. Andrew Foyle waited until his father had tactfully retreated a few paces before he focused on Sam.
"Look after Dad for me, won't you?"
She nodded, tearful, but trying to be brave.
"We'll look out for each other."
Andrew kissed her goodbye and ignored the residual guilt he was feeling for treating Sam so badly. She was a good sort, and he might have been able to make a go of it with her, but he didn't know what lay ahead and the war wasn't over yet.
Sam returned to Foyle's side and together they watched as Andrew climbed aboard the Spitfire and readied it for take-off.
"Yes, sir. All present and correct."
It was obvious that she was distressed.
"Well, I'll miss him. Will you?"
Her eyes red, Sam nodded.
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to become involved...well, I did, but..."
Seeing that she was unable to continue, Foyle took pity on her and smiled as he dipped his head close to her.
"Well, the Foyles, y'know...always have been hard to resist."
Sam laughed despite her misery and Foyle, senior, gained further ground in her heart.
The two of them watched Andrew's Spitfire take off and give a victory roll before heading off to Debden.
Foyle had never felt quite this conflicted. On the one hand he was going to miss Andrew dreadfully, but on the other hand he was grateful that his son would have little opportunity to pursue his romantic interest with Sam, except on paper. He knew Andrew well enough to know that patience was not one of his strong suites and before long there would be another young lady distracting him from the delays between him and Sam.
At least, he damned well hoped so.
Foyle looked at his desk and sighed. He hadn't need the reminder of his calender to inform him that it was six months since Lily had vanished. April. Where did the time go to?
He harrumphed. His mind still battled with the concept that Lily had come from the future, but he no longer questioned it. Subtle enquiries had yielded enough information to let him know that whatever resources Lily had at her disposal, they were very significant. There was enough evidence to demonstrate that Lily Davies had existed in all the ways that Lily had stated. But then he reasoned, if you have conquered the ability to travel in time, falsifying a few papers was probably small fry. He was considerably cheered by the thought that medical advances had probably made it possible for Lily to have been saved in her own time.
Lily had told him that he had to be patient. It was difficult for him to not allow that to affect his judgement about situations that he and Sam found themselves in, but he relied on his instincts to guide him. He made decisions based on his intellect as well as his instincts; going with his usual practise had served him well in the past – ironically – so they would in the future.
There was a knock on his office door and upon Foyle's bid to enter, Milner did just that.
"Sir, just got a report in that a body has been found on a farm out Pevensay way. Possibly a suicide, but we've been asked to investigate as a German plane crashed near there sometime last night and not all the crew are accounted for."
Foyle nodded and collected his hat and coat. No rest for the wicked. Or, indeed, the not so wicked.
"Find Sam and ask her to get the car, would you? I'll be along in a moment."
He left and Foyle looked again at the date. Patience. But for how much longer?
He sighed again and wondered what today would bring.
Today brought Barbara Hicks. An interesting woman with a chip on her shoulder and a very low opinion of men. But she was amused by Foyle and he was intrigued by her. A dangerous combination, especially as Foyle was aware that Sam was still corresponding with Andrew and was considered - by Sam at least – to be 'his girl'.
It was just as well that he was out of earshot a couple of days later when Sam had a run-in with Joan, one of the two Land Girls assigned to Hugh Jackson's farm. Joan had referred to her as 'Lady Muck, keeping an eye on the sod-busters'. Sam had been feeling a little left out of everything, unsure of her use to anyone, and this unfair attack left her a quite taken aback. But that was nothing compared to the shock she received when asked if she was Foyle's fancy woman. By the time she had formulated even the most basic response, Rose had hustled Joan away and left Sam standing there with an odd look on her face.
'Foyle's fancy woman.'
Sam kept hearing the words, over and over. They followed her back to the hostel that night, stayed with her through a delicious evening meal and lasted all the way up to her bed for the night at the hostel. She had behaved with the utmost of respect and good conduct with the two men she worked with, just in case any impropriety should be perceived, but it didn't stop the words following her into her dreams.
Sam went to sleep trying to think only of Andrew. His letters of late had been a little patchy, their frequency dropping to one or two a month recently, but she blamed the war for disrupting the mail.
In her dreams her attempts to 'get fresh' with Andrew were thwarted by the fact that he kept turning into his father. She would start kissing Andrew, which was as nice as she remembered, but the kiss would deepen and become masterful, the way they were in the penny romances she used to read when her father wasn't about, and she would be caught up in the moment until she opened her eyes and found it was Christopher Foyle who had unlocked the passion.
As she hadn't actually covered much ground in that respect with Andrew, what with being a vicar's daughter, well brought up by both her parents, and with, admittedly, a lack of opportunity, she had had limited personal exposure to the sexual nature of humans. Working on her cousin's farm had given her sufficient information about practicalities but that wasn't the same. Although she did remember one occasion on the farm where one of the farmhands, a lad of about sixteen, had found her watching a stallion with one of the mares. She had been about twelve or thirteen and the boy had nodded at the stallion and grinned.
"Tough act to follow."
Young Samantha had no idea what he had been on about, or why the boy had walked off laughing at her confusion.
After a somewhat restless night that had left Sam yearning for some elusive thing that was outside her experience, she decided that some strenuous exercise was just what her father would have recommended. She asked at the hostel for some rough clothes to work in, with the intention of helping Rose and Joan on the farm with the potatoes. All she had to do was check with the Boss.
Which turned out to be no trouble at all, though she was gratified that he seemed to think that she contributed more to the team than just being his driver. The way he had said 'it's a pleasure' when she thanked him had left her with goosebumps.
Later, after all the twisted ends surrounding Hugh Jackson's murder had been tied together, both Sam and Foyle had learned a lot about themselves. Foyle had learned that he was not immune to the appeal of other women, which gave him a measure of empathy for Sam's feelings for Andrew, even if he didn't like the situation. Sam learned that she was not as sure of her feelings for Andrew as she thought, and wondered if she was lying to herself about the extent of their relationship. Her dreams – there had now been more than one – of the older Foyle were disturbing to her, but she couldn't honestly say that it was in a bad way and that worried at her conscience.
The journey back to Hastings was quiet, much to Milner's surprise.
"Lily! Lily, it's okay, you're safe here."
The shaking and noise had stopped. I was no longer in war-torn 1940, but back in my bed at Mike's apartment. The dim night light in the hall barely illuminated his silhouette as he perched on the side of the bed, with both his hands on my arms.
"Bad dreams again?"
I looked at him and tried to focus on what he was saying.
"Bad? Yes, I was shot again. How did you know I've been having them?"
Mike seemed to become aware that he was still holding me and withdrew his hands. I missed their warmth.
"You had them a lot in the hospital. I'd put a hand on your arm or your foot over the covers and it seemed to calm you."
How extraordinary. I had no idea.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"That's okay. Do you think you can go back to sleep? Or do you want a warm drink, or something?"
I shook my head but then realised that he wouldn't know what I was saying 'no' to.
"No drink, thanks. I'm not sure I can go back to sleep yet, though."
Mike seemed a bit at a loss of what to do for me. He scratched his cheek with one finger in yet another achingly familiar gesture. He then absently tugged on his robe tie, making it more secure.
"Well, umm. Do you want me to stay and talk, or...?"
He shrugged, unable to suggest an alternate.
All I knew was that I didn't want him to leave yet, but I daren't look too closely at why.
"No, it's okay. You go back to bed. You'll get cold."
"Are you sure? You don't sound too brill."
"Yep. Go. Shoo!"
He got as far as the door.
I sounded as sheepish as I felt.
"Can I change my mind?"
He hesitated in the doorway.
"Sure. I'll just be a minute."
He was true to his word and returned shortly. He'd donned a pair of pj bottoms. My eyes had adjusted to the light and the low slung pj's revealed a toned and flat stomach, with a nice amount of chest hair visible with the robe only loosely tied. I liked it better than the currently re-fashionable smooth look – yuk, far too juvenile for me.
The chest hair slimmed to a line that disappeared under the pj's tie. I'd heard Christine at work refer to it as the pleasure trail. I could see why.
But that didn't bother me right now. I was tired, cold and shaken. I just wanted to be held for a change. For once, I wanted to not be the strong or brave or independent one. For one of the very few times in my adult life, I just wanted someone to look after me. I felt very sorry for myself; it was a new experience.
Mike lifted the edge of the cover and slid in beside me. He tactfully bunched the quilt between us and it made me remember the night Chris spent on top of the bedding in his room, when he had insisted that I have the bed.
"Yeah, I know. Sorry. Just can't seem to stop."
"You want to talk about it?"
"Not really. They said at the unit to expect the flashbacks. It'll pass eventually."
"Try not to worry about it then. You're okay now."
Quite naturally he put his arm over me and tucked me gently to his front, spoon style, with the quilt still a thin layer between us. Considering how awkward it should have felt, I was actually comfortable. I could feel myself beginning to relax without really understanding why I had no problem with Mike's proximity.
Then it dawned on me.
I felt safe.