“He fainted?” Corey squealed with laughter and Giles jumped up throwing his arm up to his forehead in an exaggerated version of an Edwardian lady swooning, bringing tears of laughter to my eyes and delighted barks from Batty’s dog basket in the corner of the room.
Devlin stared angrily at us and then turned himself around in the chair and pretended to be interested in a cookbook he was reading, proving that he clearly hadn’t recovered from the night before and the frantic trip to the vet and the three hours of nail biting, hand ringing worry before we heard the sound of a familiar canine bark.
The phone began to ring, and since Devlin was clearly choosing to ignore everything and everybody at the moment, I dragged myself up from my beanbag and raced into the kitchen to pick it up.
I bit back my laughter and then proceeded to answer the phone with my usual ditty. “Hello, Dr Love’s counseling hotline. How may I direct your call please?” As usual I was met with a brief moment of stunned silence.
“May I please speak to Sean Achias,” I winced as the woman at the end of the line asked politely for me, mispronouncing my name.
“Oh. Well, Mr. Achias my name is, well it was Belinda Matthews, and I found out from my Aunt the other day that you wished to contact me over the McNealy case.”
Momentarily stunned I felt my palms start to sweat as I tried to organize my thoughts and figure out what to say. “Yes that’s right, Ms, ah, Matthews. Um, sorry I hadn’t expected your call so soon. I have been trying to contact you for a year now and only just managed to get in touch with your Aunt on Saturday, she led me to believe it might be a while before she’d have a chance to speak to you about the matter.”
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about this since the police took my statement and I was reluctant to even call you at all, but my Aunt explained to me that you were looking at the McNealy case to tie up some loose ends. I’m sorry but what loose ends could there possibly be?”
“Well, its, ah, not exactly something I can discuss over the phone. Perhaps we could meet somewhere for coffee or something to discuss the matter?”
“Got any place in mind?”
“Ah, well, um...” I stumbled, drawing a complete blank because she had managed to catch me off guard again by agreeing straight away. The truth of the matter was I hadn’t thought this far ahead and since everything up to now had taken so long to come about I hadn’t thought that I’d need to worry about this quite so soon.
“Well if you feel like a drive north, I could perhaps meet you at the café in Maple Vale next Sunday afternoon; say 3 o’clock if that’s ok with you.”
“Yeah, um, sure that will be great, thanks. So, Sunday then?”
“Ok then, well…um,” my eyes darted around the room, as I struggled to comprehend our conversation.
“How about Bye?” she softly chuckled.
“Oh yeah, thanks, bye.”
I heard her low chuckle echo and then the phone went dead. Excitement boiled in my stomach and I raced to the living room, bounding over Giles and Corey who were playing computer games again and lit over to where Devlin was still sulking.
“Oh someone got lucky, hot date tonight hey?” Corey asked.
“Dev, she rang.”
Sighing, Devlin put down his magazine and looked at me with disinterest.
“Belinda. Belinda Matthews, she agreed to speak to me Dev, this Sunday.”
“Belinda Matthews? Why does that name ring a bell?” a puzzled look appeared on Devlin’s face.
“T.R. She’s the witness.”
“Holy shit Sean, so is she coming here or what?” Devlin asked, too excited to remember about his dented pride.
“Maple Vale, she wants to meet me there. So, um”
“You wanna borrow my car?”
“No I want to know if you’d, um, come with me?”
Devlin stopped smiling at me suddenly, as if he just remembered important plans he had for the weekend.
“Oh you don’t have to come. If you are doing something with Kaeli, that’s fine, don’t worry about it,” I began, trying hard not to show the nerves I felt at the prospect of meeting Belinda, or whatever her name was now, alone.
“It’s not that man. It’s Batty; we can’t leave him here on his own.”
“So we’ll take him with us, get him out to see the world, expand his horizons,” I said trying not to sound as desperate as I felt.
Devlin lifted his head to look at me, a grin spreading across his face.