When I woke up in the morning I was alone. The heavy counterpane lay neatly folded on the foot of the bed. For a long moment, I wondered if I had imagined last night. I pulled the pillow over from the other side of the bed on to my face and sniffed.
Well, I did have some detective genes in me, didn't I?
Given how I would have liked last night to turn out, that could have had made quite an amusing double-entendre, but I digress. The pillow did smell – deliciously – of Chris. Shaving soap of some kind; but then it occurred to me that this was Chris' bed, so of course it would smell of him.
However, I'm fairly certain that I hadn't dreamt last night.
The blackout was still in place, so no light filtered in from outside. Needing the bathroom, I got out of bed and hurried over to the door on tiptoes, hoping to minimize contact with the cool, bare floorboards. The landing was clear and lit by daylight as Chris – presumably - had already opened the thick curtains at the window.
Much as I love history as a subject and the Second World War as a specific, I'm really a child of my time. I like my home warm and my milk cold. As I scampered – yes, even I can still scamper – to the bathroom, I thought longingly of my walk-in shower and heated fluffy towels.
Oh, and while I'm wishing, I really miss my heated loo seat.
When I met Chris downstairs for breakfast twenty minutes later, he was just pouring out two cups of tea. Bliss, just what I needed. He looked surprisingly domesticated in his shirtsleeves and tie-less. He noticed me dithering in the doorway and smiled gently.
"Good Morning. Did you sleep well?"
I nodded as I took a chair at the kitchen table.
"Like a log; woke up in the fire."
Chris frowned as he added a little milk to the tea.
I have to remember not to use inappropriate phrases; it marks me out as different. Not for the first time I wonder how I could have been deliberately picked for this job, when my best friends know that I have no governor on my mouth. Loose lips might sink ships, but I'd be responsible for sinking the whole fleet. I sighed.
"Sorry; I slept very well, thank you. Are you all right?"
"Thank you, yes."
Oh how terribly polite and British we are being this morning. We will pretend that we didn't sleep cocooned together in his bed, even if several yards of sturdy Egyptian cotton kept us apart.
He turned back to the cooker, where I could see that he was frying some eggs.
"Have I upset you?"
Chris looked surprised.
"Not at all. I'm sorry that you were forced into having to stay here last night, but I'm relieved to see that your bumped head seems to have left no permanent damage. Eggs?"
Chris brought two warm plates to the table; fried bread, fried eggs and fried tomatoes. I managed to hide my alarm at the fried everything, but then realised that here and now fat equalled energy. There would be very little in the way of processed food available for snacking; working and staying warm would use up most of the calories here on my plate.
We ate in silence and drank our tea. When we had finished, I got to my feet quickly and, courteous as always, Chris followed suit. I hurried into speech.
"Thanks for breakfast, and for not leaving me on my own last night; all joking aside, I won't mention anything at work. I'm sorry for any hassle that you'll get from your neighbours. If I leave now, I can go home before I go to work and still get there for eight, if that's okay with you? At least that way we won't be walking in to work together."
Chris looked as if he was going to say something, but he didn't. Obviously changed his mind.
He nodded once instead.
"Very well. I'll see you later at work."
I collected my coat, gloves and bag, and Chris saw me to the door.
I said my goodbye in the hallway. I didn't want to let myself have any lingering glances on the doorsteps, or do anything the old biddies could grumble about later.
A full-on snog would have been wonderful, but I wouldn't have stopped at that, and then the biddies would really have had something to moan about.
And it would have left Chris even more confused about what I was up to.
All the way back to my place, I lectured myself on my duty and the top five rules for Working in Time. I'm pretty sure I've broken at least two of them; one in spirit if not in deed.
It was a lovely morning; the sunshine lifted my spirits a little, and the walk was soothing. I'll say two things for walking everywhere; first, you sure get to admire scenery that you wouldn't see when you whizzed past it on wheels and second, you get time to think. While I was walking to the police station from my lodgings I thought about waking up this morning and my physical reaction to finding Chris holding me. Even now, I could feel residual tingling at the memory of his body behind me, his arms around me and his hand in mine. No-one had made me feel like that, ever.
It made my real life seem lonely, and I didn't like the feeling.
Sam will have Foyle to make her feel that sparkle one day and I felt an irrational flash of jealously. Not of Sam, per se, but of the relationship that the two of them would enjoy for as long as they did; will do, would do…
Now even my grammar is abandoning me.
I found myself thinking about the future; more specifically, my future. I realised that somewhere in the last ten years I had given up on me. I'd drifted into the premise that I was 'past it', I suppose. I hadn't met Mr Right, but that wasn't a surprise really, when you consider I wasn't looking for him anyway. I didn't need anyone; I could function on my own perfectly well, but…
If I could meet someone like Chris, or at least, someone who made me feel the way he did, then I'd consider myself bloody lucky to have met two such men. You can't force a square peg in to a round hole, but being with Chris had made me realise that I was capable of feeling that passion for someone. It was a liberating thought and opened up a world of possibilities.
I remembered what I'd said to Chris about soul mates and soul-companions last night and it occurred to me that I should be listening to my own advice.
So it was with quite a jaunty step that I walked into the police station and greeted the desk Sergeant before hanging up my coat and heading for my office. A pile of work had already made its way to my desk; God knows what they'll all do when I've gone.
I became immersed in an interesting case I was typing up and quite forgot the rest of the world until I heard a tap on my door. When I looked up Sam was standing in the doorway. She was in her working disguise, tan coloured overalls, but carrying her brown beret.
"Sam! How lovely to see you; how's the big case that I know nothing about going?"
She grinned and stepped into the room.
"Absolutely hush-hush, can't breathe a word. Have you had your tea yet?"
I looked at my watch, surprised that so much time had passed. I stood.
"No, I haven't, yet. You have time for one?"
We chatted about non-work subjects until we had our tea poured, then we went back to my office with our cups. My nose involuntarily wrinkled at the strong smell of fuel on her clothes as she passed me.
Sam was quick to notice, her smile was rueful.
"Sorry about the awful pong; the stuff gets into your skin and no amount of scrubbing seems to shift it."
"Don't worry; it doesn't bother me that much. Though with those fumes, I'm guessing that now would be a good time to give up smoking, if one was ever daft enough to start."
Sam looked slightly startled.
"How did you know that I smoked?"
It was my turn to be startled. I hadn't known; it wasn't in her diaries.
"I didn't; it was just a joke about naked flames and petrol fumes; please take no notice."
I should have guessed that Sam wouldn't let it drop – that inquisitive mind on the go as usual.
"…and what's so daft about smoking? All the Hollywood stars think it's good for you, it's all the rage."
Because it causes cancer, Sam, and most of those Hollywood people will suffer accordingly. But I can't tell you that, can I?
"Well, it occurred to me that kissing a young man who smokes would taste like kissing an ashtray."
Sam pulled a face.
"I hadn't thought of it like that."
"I wouldn't lie down behind a car and inhale in the exhaust fumes, so why would I breathe in the same stuff with tobacco rolled up in paper?"
Sam looked taken aback.
"I know exhaust fumes are dangerous, but cigarettes aren't harmful, surely?"
I shrugged. I'd already said more than I should have.
"So, how's it going with you? Any nice men snapped you up at the depot, yet?"
Sam's tone was warily suspicious.
"How did you know I was working at a depot?"
Err, good point.
Fortunately, I recovered before she did. I nodded at her outfit and sniffed, then raised both eyebrows innocently.
"Bit of a giveaway, really."
"Oh, of course, gosh, I really am an absolute tizz today. Things are hotting up; I've just been to see Mr Foyle and Milner and given them an update, but you don't know that."
"My lips are sealed. I also type with my eyes shut so that I don't read anything I shouldn't either."
I grinned and Sam burst out laughing.
"Of course; see, absolute tizz, I didn't even think of that. If Mr Foyle didn't trust you, you wouldn't be here, would you?"
She seems surer of that than I am.
Sam said her farewells and went back to her undercover work. After she had left, I went through my brain bank for the reports and Sam's diary entries. If I was in the right place, there would be a bit of a kafuffle at the Flamingo Club tonight and Connie Dewar would not be at work tomorrow. Or ever again.
My first thought was to wish that there was something I could do to save her and Rex; there was the crux of why I'd failed the Field Agent test – difficult, if not impossible to let the good die. But I had to. It would irreparably damage the Timeline if Connie lived; she and her child had no place in it, and heaven alone knows how it could alter my future if Andrew dies in the dogfight when Rex isn't there to assist him.
It certainly put things into perspective.
For the rest of the day I kept my head down and my nose to the grindstone. As soon as I'd finished my work at about five, I left the station as unobtrusively as possible and hurried home. If Chris wanted to see me tonight, I had to be unavailable or out already, I couldn't risk giving in to my temptation. What was also worrying me was that I hadn't seen either of the two Field Agents yet. If they were going to do – or not do – something, surely I had to fix it. For that, I needed to know what it was.
After my evening meal I washed up and left the few dishes to drain. I couldn't risk the radio being heard, so I had a look through the few books that had been left in the spare bedroom. If I read in the bath, I wouldn't have time to get to the door before whoever was calling would leave. If anyone called. If Chris called. I needed security in place to prevent my going to him. God, I'm pathetic. As a temporary practising Field Agent I should have nerves of steel. At the moment I doubt mine would qualify as Bacofoil. Or Aluminium foil as my American chums would say.
Chums? I swear it's contagious.
I shuffled through the books on the shelf and discarded most of them as not my cup of tea until I reached the end and found a wonderful collection of H.G. Wells; The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and my favourite, The Time Machine. Ha! Who would have guessed – a fellow sci-fi lover.
Taking one of the books I went back downstairs to the bathroom beyond the scullery. Without worrying about the water limits advised for baths (my bad, I know, I know), I filled the tub with lovely hot water and dropped some of my own bath oil tabs under the running water. Barely the size of a fingernail and easy to smuggle in a pocket, they contained concentrated oil and perfume. I chose lavender for relaxation and within seconds of the tabs dissolving under the running taps, the fragrant smell filled the warm air.
I returned to the kitchen and poured out a mug of tea from the pot I'd made before running the bath. A SuSub and some milk, a quick stir and I was ready for my soak.
Five minutes later I eased myself into the hot water and sighed with pleasure.
Hot bath, hot tea, and a book that was an old favourite. What more could I ask for?
I ignored the sneaky mind-voice, determined to hang on to my enjoyment. I dried my hands and picked up the book. It felt quite odd to pick up such an old book and have it in such good condition that I didn't have to worry about damaging it. I checked the front and found that this edition was published only six years previously. I frowned. H. died August thirteenth, 1946. I shook my head with disbelief, though I shouldn't have been surprised.
He was still alive in 1940.
So he must have heard about Orson Welles' reading of 'War of the Worlds' over the radio on Halloween in 1938 causing panic in New York. I wonder if he rang him up and told him off? Or laughed?
I picked up my tea and settled into my book.
I wasn't wearing my watch, so I didn't know exactly what time the knocking on the front door finally dragged me out of the book; I put it down but I didn't get out of the bath.
The knocks came a couple of times, but whoever it was eventually gave up.
I hugged my knees while I sat in the cooling water and pretended not to notice the tears falling.
If this is love, I'm not sure I'm strong enough to cope with it.
Eventually I got out of the bath and pulled the plug. I felt cold and miserable, which was stupid, because it might not even have been Chris at the door. I'd be surprised if he wanted to see me again in a 'walking out' sense after last night and, God knows, I shouldn't be encouraging him, but…I missed him.
Pity party for one in the bathroom. Would you like whine with that, madam?
I went to bed and read until I kept nodding off mid sentence and hit myself with the book for the third time, at which point I turned off the light and was instantly asleep.
Sergeant Rivers has just gravely informed me that it was Sam who had found Connie Dewar's body this morning.
After making all the right noises, I took myself off to the kettle to make a quick brew. I was not completely shocked, of course; I already knew all the facts about the case that had made into the original police report, but being here in person was a different prospect. I was forcibly reminded that dusty old names on papers in the future are real people in the here and now.
No-one here yet knew that Connie was pregnant by Frank Gannon, or that Rex was the one who had accidentally pushed her down the stairs while they were arguing. Something about the 'flavour' of the police report made me wonder if there was something else going on with Rex; Foyle had made his report very clipped and factual, almost brusque, and it didn't 'read' the same as his other reports.
The reason I'd wanted a moment alone had been so that I could double check the dates of the Bexhill incident in my mental log of Sam's diary. Unless I was very much mistaken, this afternoon was when Sam got trapped in the depot's main office with a ticking suitcase.
Chris and Milner were gone all morning, interviewing people and visiting the crime scene. I would have loved to have tagged along with them, but I was still trying to keep under everyone's radar.
Although the majority of the people around here don't yet know about radar.
I confess I'm living on my nerves. I'm jumping like a twit at every loud noise as if the Bexhill bomb is just over the road.
Supposing one of the Chrisses inadvertently delay Foyle's rescue of Sam? I know she wrote that the 'you-know-what' didn't go off because it wasn't constructed very well, but maybe this time around that isn't the case?
It's a good job I'm busy trying to type quickly; otherwise I think my nails would be chewed to bits.
I take Chris a cup of tea at three o'clock. As I go through the door to his office I just nudge it enough to make it close slightly so that we aren't too visible to anyone outside the room.
"Tea up, Mr Foyle."
Chris looked up at me and put down his pen.
"Thank you, Miss…er…Davis."
Ha! He nearly forgot.
I placed the tea near his right hand and tried not to look as if I was dawdling. I've seen with my own eyes that he's tough but fair, even with his own staff, so I'm not going to incur his displeasure by actually asking if Sam's back yet.
Plus, I'm not supposed to know that Sam has been recalled from Bexhill today.
I can't think of anything to say or ask about Sam that won't land me in hot water. I tut under my breath and turn towards the door. Chris' voice halted my departure.
"Um…how are things going with the reports?"
I turn back to look at him. He looks tired and underneath his poker face I can see that he is worried. Somehow, I don't think it's about my typing skills.
"Fine, thanks. Almost up to date, despite the fact that anyone would think you lot are scouring cupboards and drawers for any outstanding typing just to get it done before I have to leave."
I meant it as a light-hearted comment about how much typing there was, but Chris' expression became even more bleak. He was in shirt-sleeves and waistcoat – his jacket rested on his chair – and he looked slightly crumpled. My heart went out to him; I felt all sort of squishy inside, like I wanted to go and hug him and take his pain away.
Oh, sod the dog, I've got it bad.
Horizontal wrinkles mar his forehead as he enquires.
"You've…um…heard from your family?"
My family? Oh, yeah, the people who dictate my movements – I nearly forgot.
I shake my head.
"No, not yet."
The wrinkles on Chris' forehead mostly smooth out. Maybe he thinks he has one less thing to fret about.
"Erm, well, just wondered, with the talk of leaving."
I can't think of a single useful thing to say. I know I sound lame.
I left the office and returned to my typewriter. There was another pile waiting for me to tackle.
I worked away almost without thought. I kept looking at my watch – I'm surprised I didn't get repetitive strain with all the checking.
There was still another half hour to go before Sam's call would come for him when Chris appeared in the doorway of my office. He was carrying his hat and wearing his coat.
"If you have any more reports for me to sign, please just leave them on my desk for the morning, would you? I'm going home on time for once, after the very early start today."
Ever had those nightmares where you're convinced that if you were able to make an intelligible sound, you would save the whole world from destruction?
Well, there goes the planet.
Chris turned, already on his way out. Obviously my fluent Martian had been interpreted as 'Sure, off you go then.'
I shot up, bashed both thighs on the underside of my desk and sat back down again. The desk had shifted slightly; I walloped my left knee hard enough to bring tears I tried to hurry after the boss a second time.
"Chr – Mr Foyle!"
Christ on a bicycle, I nearly called him 'Chris', at work!
"Sir! Mr Foyle, please wait up a minute!"
This was it. This must be the moment of conflux that could alter the past and my present. If Foyle left now, he wouldn't be here for Sam's desperate telephone call. The fact that she didn't die was irrelevant – they both needed to get the adrenaline shot that the incident gave them in order to realise where their true affections lay. Sam needed to realise that Foyle was the first person she thought of in her hour of need, and he needed to realise just how bad he would feel had he lost her.
All this I thought of in an instant. I hurried out into the corridor, limping as I went.
There was no sign of Chris.
I'd failed and my family line would pay the price.
But so would Foyle and Sam.