When Paul and Naomi were getting ready to leave, they heard Marcus on the telephone: “Yes, Billy, I’m afraid I got rather inebriated last night, and somehow a window got smashed. I’d rather not have to tell my uncle how that happened. Could you help me out of that particular spot of bother? … Wonderful, splendid. … Yes, I’ll be in all afternoon.”
He turned when he felt Naomi’s eyes on him. She was standing in the door, hesitating. “The question is: will you be in tonight?” She didn’t want him to disappear again.
“If you want me to,“ Marcus answered shyly, looking at Paul.
Naomi turned her smile on him. “I think so. Maybe I’d like another look at your library. Paul, could you give us a moment?”
Paul swallowed and left them alone, not happy with the idea. Marcus was right, Naomi seemed to have no sense of danger.
“Why were you there suddenly?” Naomi asked.
“In the alley?” Marcus looked uncomfortable.
“No, before, near my house.” She was searching his face.
“I… was always there. You tend to get into dangerous situations, I’ve been … watching over you.” Now he was definitely uncomfortable, but Naomi wasn’t letting go.
“I think I’ve… felt you near over the years. You made me feel safe. But why?”
Marcus shook his head. “Please let it go. This goes nowhere.”
“You’re in love with me”, Naomi whispered.
“It doesn’t make a difference,“ Marcus’s voice was rough. “I’m leaving.”
“What if I asked you to stay?”
“You don’t mean that, you don’t know what I am.” Bitter.
“I thought I found that out yesterday, but I’m sure that’s not all you are. I could get to know you better. I think you’re a nice person and a good friend. I would like you to stay. See you then.” She left him standing a thunderstruck expression on his face.
Paul did indeed not see Marcus when they arrived at Kensington, but once he had the feeling of something cold touching his arm. Naomi’s house was empty, and for the moment Paul was relieved. She changed into a black dress they had picked up with the other stuff she had sent to the dry cleaners on Friday and got ready for work and the funeral. Paul saw her to the college which was bustling with people. Good, he thought, continuing down the hall to Clark’s office.
Clark was packing, a frown on his handsome face.
“Oh, no tenure for the Black History expert after all,” Paul quipped.
“Doesn’t seem likely, same old, same old, you Brits crimping my act. I’ve been told to get my sorry ass back home immediately.” He looked at Paul’s slightly ragged look. “You look like you had a short night. Want a Coke?” He pointed to the miniature fridge in the corner. Trust Clark to make sure of his creature comforts.
“Don’t mind if I do”, Paul said. “Hey, listen, I have a proposal for you.”
“You – what?!” Clark roared with laughter. “I thought I just saw you holding hands with Downey and seeing her off at her office door.” He pointed to his computer screen.
Paul shook his head and decided to make sure their crime scene techs were sent to another training course. “Don’t forget to remove all your technical contraptions before you leave. No, a different one. Some good news for you – if you manage to keep it a little quiet, you won’t get me fired in the process.”
“I could arrange that for a bit of good news. There’s more?”
“Yes, it’s also a kind of life insurance for me and Naomi.”
Beneath his jolly façade Clark was getting worried about his friend now. He knew Paul’s tendency for getting into trouble as well as his careless disregard of personal safety from time to time. “Whose nose have you got out of joint now that you need me as insurance? You do remember you’re not indestructible, do you?”
“Absolutely”, Paul had had quite a good reminder of that last night.
Stubborn as always, Clark sighed. “Can’t your father…?”
“No. Hey, Tom, does April 8th ring a bell with you in a British context?”
“Not at all, sorry. Why?”
“No idea, that’s my problem. We’ll see what happens after the press conference.” Paul handed over an envelope with his copy of the papers he’d found. Luckily he had forgotten that in his car on Saturday, thus he had it with him now. On the envelope he’d written down a phone number. “Those are copies of the papers that were with your plant. I suppose that was what you were after. You did not get them from me. Consider it a thank you for Quantico.” He stopped Clark’s exclamation by continuing. “Tom, if anything at all happens to me, can you call that number?”
Clark nodded slowly. “I’ll only be around ‘til Wednesday, but yeah, I can do that. Whose is it?”
“The Cavalry,“ Paul smiled. “By the way, can you stay close to Naomi at the funeral? I assume you’re going?”
“Yeah, sure I’m going, Lynd was the only one who stuck out for tenure for me.”
“Good, see you there then, bye.”
When Paul arrived at the Yard, he found several messages waiting for him, all to the same purpose: Would he please see the Assistant Commissioner at once for a briefing. Oh dear, he must be really nervous about the press conference then. Paul was just about to leave for the upstairs office when his phone rang. “Yes?”
“Can you see the AC…?”
“I’m on my way!”
When Paul arrived, he was made to wait the customary two minutes – nobody got to see the Assistant Commissioner at once, then shown in.
The grey-haired portly man looked up from a file he had pretended to be reading – Paul knew he needed glasses to do that, they could not to be seen anywhere near him. “Ah, Usher, you seem to have been a particularly busy bee this weekend. What were you thinking when you interrogated the victim’s son without his solicitor present?”
Paul sighed. Obviously Dr Jones had already gotten round to filing a complaint about him. “He wasn’t only the victim’s son; he was also our prime suspect for a time.”
“Does that make anything right? This Doctor says he’s suffering from acute paranoia, and you made it worse.”
“He’s just come off drugs, probably the first time for a lot of years, he doesn’t need me for delusions. I would have left right away had he not admitted to being near his father’s flat the night of the murder. Voluntarily,“ he added, anticipating the AC’s next move.
“He saw something?”
“Yes, but that’s not a lot of good the way he is, is it?” Paul did not want Clive Lynd raving about Marcus the monster. He’d rather make his case without that sensation. “Now, about the papers…”
“Ah, yes, have you prepared a statement for the press conference for me? We don’t want wrong information spread about the Lynd case, do we?”
Hadn’t he been listening on Saturday? No, his mind had probably been on the golf course. “It’s not so much about the case itself, it’s more some additional information. Tell them that we found some papers connected to Lynd’s work in a bank deposit box, which we’re handing back to the PM’s archive where they belong.”
“That’s all?” Disappointment was written all over the Assistant Commissioner’s well-tanned face. The only thing he loved more than being on the golf-course was being in the spotlight of the media announcing closure of complicated high-profile cases, among which something to do with a former Prime Minister would certainly belong. “I thought we had something on the murder. What about that boy?”
“Not if you don’t want us sued by this doctor. But the press conference is really important to give us more time. Obviously you could also tell them that we’ve got a suspect for the murder in custody and are looking for a second man in connection with the deed,“ Paul added, hoping not to have to explain Buyden.
The disappointment eased up a little. “Ah, much better. Why didn’t you tell me about that at once? What were those papers about again?”
“We didn’t really read them…” Paul was stalling. Damn, why did he always listen to the wrong bits of information?
“Nonsense. You said something about Iraq.”
“That would be confidential. They are highly confidential, that’s why they must go back to the archive at once.” Paul hoped that the Assistant Commissioner was dense enough not to ask why they were talking about the papers at all then. He wished he’d had time to sleep and could concentrate better instead of being this frantic.
“Yes, I got that, I’m no idiot. So, I tell them about our suspect – where did we catch the man? And what do we have on him?”
“He was making an attempt on a witness’ life last night. He was also impersonating a Scotland Yard officer; we have him at the scene of the crime and for arson.”
“Good. Can you prove all that?” He looked at Paul sharply.
Paul noticed with amusement the change from “we catch” to “you prove”. “I’m reasonably sure we can, but it might not be wise to give away too much about the state of the investigation today, we don’t yet…”
He was interrupted at once. “The press conference is all about the state of the investigation, and if we already have the culprit, then we’re fine.” The AC was shaking his head as if Paul was a rather dense amateur.
“We don’t yet have testimony from him, he’s in hosp…”
“Well, if you have proof of his involvement and we know who the accomplice is…”
“But we don’t have him yet, and they are just the hit men, not the people pulling the strings…”
“Alright, we can at least say we prevented another murder last night during which one of the suspected killers was apprehended, closure of the case is imminent.” He looked as smug and satisfied as if he had just handed over bin Laden.
Paul sighed. “Can you not just stick to handing back the papers and ‘progress as can be expected at this juncture’?”
“Don’t get above yourself! By the way, what do you think you’re doing showing up here like that?” He eyed Paul’s torn shirt with disapproval.
Paul took a deep breath. “I was rather busy apprehending the suspect we have in custody last night and chasing after his accomplice. Sir, the investigation is still going on; we need to find who hired the killers…”
The Assistant Commissioner waved his hands at that. “Details.” He was already out the door, leaving a cursing Paul behind.