"Darling? It's only me, I forgot my purse when I changed handbags."
Foyle startled guiltily at the unexpected sound of the front door and his wife.
"Christopher? Where are you?"
Sam's voice from the bottom of the stairs. He heard distinctive sound of the squeaky second step. She was coming up.
He hadn't anticipated her return for at least another hour. He was about to drop the box back in the hole, but he realised that he'd never get it all tidied up before Sam walked in the bedroom. He sat back on his haunches and waited for his wife to appear. It was about time he told her anyway; he hadn't liked keeping it from her.
She appeared in the doorway, looking a little surprised, presumably, about his position on the floor.
"What's wrong? Have we got a leaky pipe?"
"No, no, nothing like that. Please come and sit down, I need to tell you something."
"I say, that sounds serious."
Sam sat down on the bed's edge and Foyle got up and sat next to her.
She absently smoothed a hand over her five month bump. She often stroked it without conscious thought and Foyle found it very endearing, as if she was patting the baby's head in comfort.
"Are you all right?"
Sam looked surprised.
"Of course, just a bit forgetful; I seem so easily distracted these days."
Foyle nodded. He looked at the metal box in his hands.
"You remember Lily?"
"Of course I do. What has she got to do with a hole in the floor?"
Foyle explained that Lily had left a letter, probably not expecting it to be found, but that he had found it and had been leaving letters for her, telling her what they were doing and how things were working out.
"...a little like a diary, I suppose. I just – it seems foolish, Lily will never know, but I..."
Sam's hand took hold of his, and she smiled gently.
"A little odd, but no more foolish than my father putting 'Dear Santa' notes up the chimney before Christmas, I suppose."
"No, I suppose not."
Sam was quiet for a long moment, clearly deep in thought. Finally she squeezed his hand as a prelude to speech.
"I don't want or need to read the letters, Christopher, but I want to ask you one question, to which I would like an honest answer."
"Anything, my dear. No more secrets."
A small lie, but a necessary one.
"Did you love her?"
Foyle thought about it; it was more complex than a stark 'yes' or 'no', but Sam deserved the truth.
Sam looked down at her feet and he wondered if he had made an error of judgement when she pulled her hand away from his and put it to her lips, almost as if she wanted to stem back any words that might escape in the spur of the moment. Foyle was further distressed to see that silent tears were now sliding down her cheeks.
"Please...don't. I...can't, please just give me a minute."
"I asked for honesty and I got it, now I have to deal with it. Please...just leave me alone."
With reluctance in every line of his body, Foyle left the room.
Grammas agreed to keep Jonathan with her for a little longer. How much longer would be anyone's guess. For the first time in my life I was really worried about the outcome of a field trip. Back when I was overseeing other trips, it didn't seem so personal, I didn't think that I had so much to lose, but now it was different somehow. Which is stupid when you think of the size of my family, really.
I went in to meet Mike at work during his break. It was a sunny day, so we walked outside the operations base and along the seafront. I didn't want to chance anyone hearing our discussion.
Mike looked the most solemn I think I'd ever seen him. He just hugged me for a minute, not saying anything.
He pulled back and searched my face.
"With Grammas. She'll look after him until I call her. Or you do."
The unspoken acknowledgement was 'whichever one of us is still alive'. Mike nodded wearily.
"Did you find anything?"
I wasn't sure from his expression if it was bad news, or catastrophic news when he nodded.
"You were right. There's been a Divergence. We have two conflicting sets of data from 1950."
My legs feel weak and watery.
Mike's hands parted left and right. He nodded to one side then the other.
"He lived to a ripe old age. He didn't."
"But what happened?"
"It's not clear. Some sort of vehicle accident."
Remembering Chris' reluctance to drive, had he been behind the wheel?
"Was Foyle driving?"
Mike shook his head.
"No, quite the opposite. He was hit by a car."
I felt sick.
"Was it an accident?"
"It would appear so."
I had the weirdest feeling that Mike was keeping something back. He looked as sick as I felt.
But then he looked at me as my engineer, not my husband.
"How did you know?"
I felt shifty and evasive, but there was nothing for it, I'd have to confess.
"Are they listening?"
He knew what I meant. Are the Powers That Be listening?
He shook his head
"Not unless I don't know about it, but I brought marmy. Just in case."
Despite the seriousness I nearly smiled. The low frequency jamming gizmo that prevented pretty much all technology from eavesdropping on us was nicknamed marmalade, or marmy for short, as a play on 'jam'.
His prompt wasn't needed, I just didn't know how to tell him I'd let everyone down.
Quickly, I guess, like ripping off an old-fashioned plaster.
"I left a letter for Christopher hidden in the house. He found it..."
Mike frowned and I felt really awful that I'd disappointed him. And probably hurt him, too.
"He's – he was - one smart cookie. He doesn't know for sure where I'm from, but he sussed without saying it, that I wasn't...er...local."
Frack; he is majorly angry.
He even has that blasted interrogative eyebrow.
"...and he wrote several letters, leaving them in the same place for me. Some of the letters left were dated after he was supposedly dead."
It all rushed out on one breath, almost as if I kinda hoped it would pass by him unnoticed.
Yep. Couldn't have put it better myself.
"You damn well should be."
But he grabbed me in a sort of desperate hug that told me I wasn't completely up a creek and paddle-less. I felt a soul sigh of relief that he still loved me. It made me brave – or foolish.
"What aren't you telling me?"
Mike eased me away from him and looked me in the eyes again.
"I'll have to report it soon, but I wanted to warn you to be prepared..."
I felt sick again.
"...from what I can tell, the original timeline, the one you initially repaired, has Foyle killed at the Divergence. The time line is now correct. He fathered the children as history dictated, but he was supposed to die at that time."
"No. No! No! That's wrong! He didn't die then; it's in Sam's diary. He didn't die then! He didn't!"
I burst into tears and Mike held me. It wasn't just sorrow that had me in tears, it was blind fury. They were so wrong!