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Chapter 8

For the rest of the therapy session, Ava dismissed the Anonymous subject and urged Isaac to tell her about his visits to crowded spaces. When his mother arrived to take him home, Ava walked her patient out of the office with a soft smile.

“Isaac is doing very well. He is ready to meet more people his age, Mrs. Drew.” Ava said politely yet with a kind of firm tinge.

Mrs. Drew was one of the most overprotective parents Ava had met and her son had a lack of self confidence because that.

Mrs. Drew looked at the therapist before she took her son and left. Isaac was talking happily but his mother looked deep in thought.

“You shouldn’t blame the parents for everything.” Charlie mumbled from behind her desk.

“I don’t. I read between the lines. Isaac enjoys coming here because I give him confidence to act by himself instead of telling him what to do.” Ava said coldly before walking into her office.

The brunette searched for her phone and dialed a simple three digits number. It rung twice before someone with a very soft voice responded.

“911, how can I help you?” The man asked calmly in a noisy environment.

“I wish to speak to the chief of the Scotland Yard.”

There was a break before the man answered.

“I’m sorry Madame but I cannot give you-”

“Then tell him I’m coming over. We have to talk about detective Marvin Lanchester.” She said and hung up.

Walking down the halls of the Scotland Yard for the second time felt different. Ava wasn’t there as a babysitter but as herself, the person Ava Atkins who had something important to say.

“Miss Atkins!”

The man who drew her attention was familiar but Ava could hardly remember his name. He was most definitely in charge of her visit seeing how he found her before she could find her person of interest.

His shirt was tucked inside his pants because he just stained it with coffee. His hair was sticking everywhere and had a very greasy look, his eyes were sore and his pupils dilated from lack of sleep. He was an overworked officer whose life was mainly about submitting to his higher ups.

“Do you remember me? I am-”

“The puppy.” She continued his line yet not with the right appellative.

“Marvin told you that, hadn’t he? That prat. He always does whatever he wants and gets away with it. I’m surprised you’re looking for him and not the other way around.”

“The chief called my office and announced my secretary that Mr. Lanchester won’t continue our sessions. I wanted to know why.”

The puppy’s eyes widened and he grinned like a Cheshire cat, “Oh. Well, that is quite a big curiosity if you came all the way to the Scotland Yard, Doctor.”

Ava took a quick glance around the cubicles before she turned to him with a firm stare.

“I’m sure it’s no secret even if it is classified. The whole section knows. Mr. Lanchester is the kind of person that needs freedom and for that he has to earn the trust of his colleagues. So, where is he?”

The puppy was ready to deny everything if it was correct. Fortunately, one short stuffed man walked out of his cubicle and smiled sheepishly at the elegant woman.

“Eric’s only talk and no act. He could have gone with Marvin but he didn’t have the guts. The Interpol’s been asking for reinforcements.” The short man said loud enough for both of them to hear.

Eric scoffed, “My gut is the one that told me not to go running after that crazy old man.”

Ava blocked the noise and searched for the chief. He knew exactly where Lanchester’s been sent and why did the Interpol act so carelessly. Unfortunately, the chief had a meeting that was taking longer than expected and Ava had to wait. She went in Lanchester’s old office and was surprised to find it tidied up. It looked like she hasn’t even been there a day ago.

Looking out the window, the sky was clear though it was far from being sunny. People were rummaging the streets below and they were moving quite like ants.

Ava’s phone rung twice before she bothered to respond; the number was not English.

“Yes?” She asked, her voice automatically raising a few notes.

“Is this Doctor Ava Atkins?” The man on the other side asked, his thick French accent making it hard for Ava to understand at first.

" Oui. Comment puis-je vous aider?” She asked in fluent French, surprising whoever was on the other line.

" J’appelle de Prague. Un de vos amis, le docteur Johnson, a été trouvé mort ce matin.” The unknown man informed Ava.

She couldn’t say she was surprised but she didn’t expect death either. Ava tensed but not in worry or regret; she was getting a chilling thrill out of the events.

" Pourquoi avez-vous m’a appelé à la place de sa femme?” She asked in a controlled voice.

“Parce qu’il a laissé des instructions. Voilà pourquoi vous êtes attendus à Prague ce soir. Inspecteur en chef d’Interpol souhaite vous interroger davantage afin s’il vous plaît soyez à l’heure.”

“Quand et où?”

The man shifted, looking for something before he answered, “Devant l’Hôtel Galileo, 20:00 forte.”

Ava raised an eyebrow and hung up. The door to the office opened slowly, grabbing Ava’s attention, and a tall imposing man walked in.

“Chief Inspector Leyland of Scotland Yard. How can I help you Doctor Atkins?” He asked softly though it sounded more polite than anything.

“Marvin Lanchester’s been sent to Interpol to assist with the Anonymous case, am I right?” She asked, placing her phone in her beige medium sized bag.

Leyland grabbed a hand through his neat hair, the heavy gaze of the therapist not reaching him yet he could feel that Ava was not just a regular citizen asking out mere curiosity.

“I suppose he told you about his obsession with Anonymous, then?” Leyland said, walking towards her unevenly, his face contorting into a grimace whenever he was pressing his right foot on the floor. “Lanchester is one of the best officers Scotland Yard has ever had. He never wanted to move forward with his career but never stepped back either. He was just working.”

“Then why is he not working here right now?” She asked, her brown eyes falling over the chief. He looked to be in great discomfort, which wasn’t the case a day ago when she first saw him. “What happened that you’re limping only one day after Mr. Lanchester’s gone?”

“He left this morning. I had an accident on the way to work, nothing important. I’ll be fine in no time.” Leyland mumbled, walking towards the chair across the desk and sitting down with a grunt. “I am grateful for watching over my officer, even if it was a short time but the rest does not concern you, Doctor Atkins.”

“You said, sir, that Mr. Lanchester has made an obsession for Anonymous. The Interpol’s been having troubles with this group and called for reinforcements, as I heard,”

“Did Eric tell you already? Or was it Tom? He’s always giving out classified information to ladies…” Leyland grunted, his eyes narrowing at the thought his officers could give out very important information for free.

“Anyway, where has he been called? I have something I’d like to tell him; tip him off, if you’d like.”

Leyland looked up at Ava with curiosity. If she wanted to tip him off, that meant she knew something Lanchester didn’t and that rarely happened.

“What do you know about Anonymous, Doctor?”

There was a long silent break in which the two stared at each other, seizing the danger into each other. Leyland found Ava amusing but the brunette was searching through her memories. Leyland’s imposing figure reminded her of another man, one who held her hand tightly once. That warm hand gave her a teddy bear and helped her cross the street; the same hand became cold and snatched every bit of happiness from her.

Ava’s fingers twitched nervously, the unwanted memory growing more livid in her mind. She had to leave and take a pill or else she wouldn’t be able to leave her house, moreover go to Prague.

“Anonymous is a group of idealists who have nothing to do with religion. They never attacked religious principles, they only urged people to listen and believe in Anonymous. They never threatened international peace, they just-“ Ava wasn’t sure how to continue because she wasn’t sure if she was right. The unwanted memory was still tugging on her mind and she could feel her hand trembling.

“If you need to speak to him so badly, I can give you his phone number.” Leyland said before he grabbed a random piece of paper from the desk and copied Lanchester’s number from his own phone. “I’m sure he’d be more than happy to have someone to discuss with, especially someone who has the same view as he does.”

With one polite smile and nod, Chief Leyland dismissed Ava, preferring to stay in the room while she quickly left.

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