Paul stayed sitting at his kitchen table for a quarter of an hour, attempting to make sense of Marcus. It seemed like he’d been trying to tell him something in some roundabout way, but he couldn’t figure out what it was. He toyed around with the junkie explanation for a while – he was an obsessive character, if ever he had met one – but discarded that theory again. Marcus didn’t look like cocaine or amphetamines, and someone on other drugs couldn’t have orchestrated Naomi’s rescue from her burning room or dealt with the papers so efficiently. Was someone putting him under pressure from outside, blackmailing him into leaving against his will? Why did he keep close to Naomi and wanted to disappear as soon as she got serious? Lack of commitment could hardly be an issue here after fifteen years. That made no sense, and he kept ending up at that interval. After a while he gave up and called Naomi’s number.
She had just returned from running in the park and was slightly out of breath. Paul imagined what she looked like and started. “Hi, I’ve only just remembered my sister gave me tickets to a concert for Christmas. She said I needed some feminist input. And then I remembered seeing some CDs by this Tori Amos person on your shelves. Would you like to come along tonight? That is, if you’re not busy working or something like that”, he quickly amended so as not to sound too enthusiastic.
“You got tickets for tonight?” She sounded delighted. “Wow, your sister must really like you!”
“Hey, I’m quite likeable most of the time, don’t sound so surprised at that!” He was flirting, yes!
“I’d love to come. I tried to get tickets myself but I was too late.” She had also not been too enthusiastic about going alone when everybody else was with someone. “Should we have a bite to eat before the concert?” she asked, then kicked herself mentally.
She really should think more before speaking. Only last night she had invited two men to her house who – as it had turned out – were not too keen on having dinner with her. Now she was making a date of what had probably just been a courtesy invitation for the poor academic spinster. If she had gotten that desperate for male company, maybe she should consider putting an ad in one of those papers or try internet dating, she thought sarcastically. She was definitely getting too old for this. She had spent the better part of the night before on the telephone to Germany to talk to her best friend about her men trouble – to no avail: Brigitte it seemed was just in the process of splitting up with her long-term boyfriend and declined giving any advice on relationships.
On the other end of the line Paul was blissfully unaware of Naomi’s scruples. This was easier than he’d thought. “Yes, why not? There is this nice Italian in King Street, quite close to the Apollo…”
Naomi almost dropped the receiver of her old-fashioned phone and quickly caught herself. She tried not to sound as euphoric as she felt. “Hmmm, good job I just went running, that sounds brilliant.”
“So I’ll pick you up around seven?” He couldn’t believe this was happening.
“Excellent, I’ll see you then.” She put the receiver down on her handbag and went to take a shower.
When she came downstairs again, she found Stan outside her front door with a worried expression. “I tried to call you when we returned, but something must be…” He interrupted himself and pointed to the handbag. “Naomi!”
“Oh”, she blushed and put the receiver back where it belonged, “eh, I think I got side-tracked.”
“Aha, well, what I wanted to ask was if you’d like to go out with us tonight.”
“No, sorry, I can’t. I’ve got a date.” She beamed at her friend. “But we definitely have to meet; I’ve got so much to tell you. My bedroom got burned and…”
“With who?” Stan was not happy about Naomi going out with a man so shortly after the police had taken her in in connection with Lynd’s murder. “Why haven’t I met him? Hey, wait, your bedroom was on fire? What are you up to this time?”
“That is a long story, and I don’t know the end yet”, Naomi smiled. “Actually, you have already met him. It’s that nice police man, the tall one.”
“Naomi!” Stan said in exasperation. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Actually, he had liked the guy; he definitely seemed a good idea, the more he thought about it. Besides, if Naomi had set her heart on him, there was not a lot one could do as he had learned from experience; and maybe having the police handy would be an even better idea with her knack for getting into trouble. “Oh, all right. Bring him round to our house to dinner some time next week.”
“Ok.” She pecked him on the cheek before he left.
When Paul put down the phone he jumped a foot in the air. Yes! Then however, his good mood was dampened by the state he was in, and he decided something needed to be done about that.
Ok, first things first. He checked in with the Yard and was told there had been no sighting of the two impersonators so far. They were also not on their files anywhere. Surveillance was still on Naomi’s house, and the press conference was still scheduled for ten tomorrow. Brian was spending the weekend with his family, and the dispatcher wished him a nice day, smiling to herself.
Well, at least he was on the phone. Usually Paul would be in his office at least for a couple of hours on the weekend. Maybe there still was hope for the workaholics of this world. No sooner had she put the phone down however there was another phone call that had her call Paul back with a sigh. “Detective Usher? I’m afraid there has been a new development.”