The Jedi had gone, the parting sudden and unsentimental. They didn’t do goodbyes apparently, though they did go so far as to leave them with a private number, with instructions to use it if they ever needed anything. The house seemed empty without them and Tom and Sacha lacked purpose. Tom had been uncertain about what might happen next but two days after Devon, she’d sat him down and talked about a future. Their future. If it was ok with him, she’d let the house out and move in here, with him. From there, they’d take things as they came. The next day, they drove over and cleared her personal stuff out and taking down the canvasses of Ellen, had rehung them. Tom was easy in their presence. He could look at her now. The immediate future was filled with hours, then days of waiting for The Twins to be found. After that, if they’d left no trace and no fingers were pointed, the world was their oyster.
“We could always buy an old, classic car and drive around the country solving crimes.” He’d joked.
Sacha talked about doing some good with the money they had left. There was more than they would ever need and there had to be something they could get involved in, if not at home, then abroad. First though, they talked about a holiday, somewhere in the sun. What they didn’t talk about, was what they’d done. They knew they were satisfied, had a sense that natural justice had reasserted itself, a balance had been restored and while they’d never be free of events or scars, they were as happy as circumstances allowed, content even, but the nervousness stayed with them, hanging around like a bad smell, they needed to know that they were free and clear before any of their ideas could become a reality. They had no idea how news of The Twins would reach them, only that it would.
Tom and Sacha sat quietly in the kitchen with breakfast, Pooh nestled in a corner of the kitchen, dozing, until disturbed by the muted ringing of a phone. From habit, Tom had kept his old phone charged though it never rang, hadn’t for years, until now. Frowning. Tom retrieved it from a drawer. Unknown caller. Usually, he would have ignored it and let the answerphone do its job, filtering out unwanted intrusions but given recent events and the fact that it was this, his old phone ringing, his curiosity was piqued so he hit the answer button.
“Ah. Good. You may remember me? Inspector Stuart Ames, or at least I was. Retired now.”
“Oh. Hello Inspector. It’s been a while.” Tom’s heart thumped. This voice from the past could only have one reason for resurfacing.
“Yes. I’ll get straight to the point. There’s been an incident, well accident actually. We wanted to tell you personally. I was asked because this isn’t an official contact.”
“Contact for what? About what?”
“The Christian Twins.”
Tom had rehearsed this next part. This was it. They’d considered that it might be the Police, Press or some other agency but Ames he hadn’t thought about for years. He lowered his tone to that of an angry, aggrieved victim.
“An accident? Nothing trivial, I hope.”
“Oh no. Quite final. Both dead. I thought you’d like to know.”
“I suppose I should ask how.”
“It’ll be in the papers. I’m sending a car over to you now with the latest editions. I thought you’d like to know exactly what happened or at least how it’s being reported.”
Tom lightened his voice, still role playing. “I appreciate that Inspector. I’ve moved though, wherever you’ve sent your car, I’m no longer there.”
The gate buzzer sounded. Tom stood and walking to the window, looked down the drive.
“I take it you can see the car, Mr. Hood?”
“How did you know?”
“I know lots of things Mr. Hood. Most of which I’ll take to my grave. Please give my regards to your wife. I truly hope that comes to something. You can safely assume that unless you give anyone reason to interfere further, you won’t be hearing from me again.”
Anything Tom had rehearsed went straight out of the window. Why would a retired Policeman know where he lived and that Sacha and he had reunited? Surely their lives weren’t that important?
Tom listened to the breathing on the other end of the phone. He got the sense that Ames had more to say, a sense of him knowing more.
“I never forgot your little girl. Mr. Hood. Whether by accident or design, those two got exactly what they deserved. No-one is looking too hard beyond that.”
“I’m not sure what to say to that, Inspector.”
“I wouldn’t say anything, Tom. Certainly not anything that might give anyone cause to believe this was anything other than an accident. Good luck to you both.”
The call clicked off. Sasha was looking at him quizzically.
He strolled over to the gate intercom and pressed to open the gate.
“The papers are here.”
Ames terminated the call. Perhaps he shouldn’t have made it, maybe he should have let sleeping dogs lie but he simply couldn’t resist letting Tom and Sacha know that as long as they chose to be, they were free and clear. He’d timed it about right, the estate entrance was just up the road and getting in could be complicated if you forgot protocols. Ames was intimate with the estate and its entry systems and while no security set up was unbreachable, this place was as good as it got. Getting out of the car, he placed his thumb on the recognition pad and waited for the massive gates to swing open. In time, they did so, moving easily on huge, stainless steel hinges. Driving through them, he waited as they swung closed behind him, locking with a hiss of compressed air as solid steel rams secured them shut. To his front was a second gate, equally imposing and to his left and right, high brick walls. He was in what was essentially, a pen. The enclosure was large enough to accommodate an articulated lorry and covered by an array of cameras, he knew the gate to his front wouldn’t open until the main gate behind him was secure and he and his vehicle had been scanned. Aware he was being electronically studied, he sat it out. Someone, somewhere was clearly satisfied and the internal gate opened. He drove through the grounds, constantly aware of scrutiny, observing motion activated cameras traversing, watching him, silent and unblinking. Passing the unobtrusive entrance to the old underground nuclear bunker, the extent of which never ceased to surprise him, he drove the remaining hundred yards or so up to the wide frontage of the old Jacobean mansion and pulling up into the parking area, noted that Ollie must be about somewhere, his battered Triumph Spitfire out of place amongst the euroboxes everybody else chose to drive.
The routine today would be different to the norm so he bypassed his office and took the elevator to the top floor, it stopped and the doors slid open. Another pen, this one thickly carpeted, the walls a blank white apart from more cameras and a single imposing oak door. He knocked on it. It clicked, indicating that it was now unlocked and he pushed it open. He’d been here on many occasions but never quite got used to the array of large, high definition TV screens that were the only wall decorations. Constantly scrolling, they indicated the state of the markets worldwide. A large desk by the window was perfectly positioned to view all of them simultaneously. Other than that, the place was furnished much as a living room would be, leather sofa’s occasional tables, lamps and the like. Three doors led to what he knew were a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom. It was where Peter Christian lived and breathed.
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