Saturday, 14 April 2007

Chapter 79

As Harry edged his way into the kitchen, Carrie was stirring a pot of home-made tomato and basil soup. He saw she’d arranged a couple of candles on the table, which seemed to turn the kitchen into an intimate bistro, and he noticed she’d already poured two large glasses of red wine from a bottle that sat at the table’s centre.

She turned round and smiled at him. “You feeling more relaxed now, Harry?” she asked.

He shouldn’t have been, he knew. But slowly, one by one, all his senses were being tripped. “Sit yourself down and have a drink,” Carrie said, and she saw him catch sight of an ashtray on the edge of the table. “I only don’t like it around the kids, Harry,” she said, with a wry smile.

Harry took a seat, and watched Carrie as she carved hunks from what looked like a homemade loaf. He took a mouthful of the wine and swirled it around his mouth to obliterate the whisky taste. There was no doubt about it, Carrie was a fine looking woman. And, although she was his sister-in-law, she was divorced. Can you even have an ex-sister-in-law, Harry wondered? Better make some small-talk, he thought.

“How’s the job?” he asked, but it sounded like he was making small-talk.

Carrie turned and brought the bread basket to the table. “It pays the bills, Harry. How about you – anything doing?”

Harry thought about the week that had just gone by. He’d never spent so much time on one, apparently simple, case. And it wasn’t wrapped up yet. He still had the trip to Madrid ahead. An image of Ana, in her own apartment kitchen, came to mind, but he dismissed it quickly. Maybe she was with someone else, now, anyway? ‘You’ve got to stop living in the past, Harry!’ a voice inside him cried.

“A busy week, all things considered. It’s paying the rent, anyway,” he said. He was thinking about his flight time tomorrow. Danny was picking him up at ten. He still had a bag to pack. Some instinct – or maybe guile - made him decide not to mention his planned trip to Carrie.

Carrie crouched to pull open the oven door, and blew a wisp of blonde hair from her face as the heat escaped. A rack of lamb was nestled in a bed of roasted vegetables. ‘This woman might be a domestic goddess!’ thought Harry. The wine was getting to him, he knew. All things considered, Carrie was starting to look like an attractive proposition. His brother had been stupid to leave her, even if he had ended up with Ana’s sister. He considered whether he owed any loyalty to Alan, now that he and Carrie were divorced. It might complicate matters a little for him – but he doubted Alan had considered that he might be complicating matters when he’d hooked up with Yolanda.

“Right – you ready to eat now, hon?” Carrie asked, cupping a bowl in one hand while stirring the soup with a ladle in her other.

“Sure,” Harry said, with a smile. “You’re right about one thing, Carrie – I’m starving!”

*

Although Laurel McFry had reached Harry’s answer phone and left her message, as she lay on her sofa she began to think that maybe the letter she’d received from the mysterious ‘D Lawrence’ was more important than she’d at first thought.

She spent an hour reading a book, to try to clear her mind. Then, as she got up to make herself a light tea, she found herself thinking about the letter again. Why hadn’t Harry rung her back, she wondered? Surely, he’d got her message by now?

What if he was out of town, and didn’t get the call? She realized she knew very little about Harry McFry, even though he probably already knew a lot about her. Was he married? She doubted it. Each time she’d met him (and it had only been twice, she recalled) he’d seemed just a little too disheveled to be a married man. No self-respecting wife would let her husband go to work in shirts that looked so patently un-ironed – even if she had to force him to iron them himself. But he wasn’t unattractive: he had a child-like quality behind that tough exterior of his, and she could see how that might make some women – not her, of course - want to mother him. She imagined he might have had an affair at some time. Probably divorced, then. He looked the sort that might be easily seduced. Not that she herself was interested – he was old enough to be her father, after all. But it was easily possible to imagine that women might fall for his his easy way with them.

She decided she’d better ring Danny Longhurst. She found his number in her address book, and dialed it.

Danny had finished his packing, had just tucked his passport into a side pocket on his bag, when his phone rang. He hadn’t expected a call from Laurel McFry, and sounded surprised when he heard her voice.

When she told him about the letter, he wanted to know why she hadn’t rung Harry.

“I left a message for him, but it seems he’s either not there, or he doesn’t think it’s important enough to call me back,” Laurel said.

Knowing what Harry already knew about Dacre Lawrence, Danny couldn’t imagine for a minute that he’d had Laurel’s message and hadn’t thought it worth ringing her back. When he’d dropped him off at his flat earlier that day, Harry hadn’t mentioned he was going anywhere. Why didn’t the guy just get a mobile phone, – it would make life so much easier!

“Listen, Laurel,” he said. “I want you to keep that letter safe. Harry and I are going to Madrid tomorrow. It’s all mixed up with your case. But I know Harry will want to see it. Can we call round to look at it on the way to the airport?”

Madrid?” Laurel replied, not hiding her astonishment. “Why on earth would you be going to Madrid?”

Danny realized he’d said too much. “I better let Harry explain when we see you tomorrow,” he said. ‘Harry’s going to love me for that one’, he thought, as he ended the call.

1 comment:

Lord Likely said...

This really is first-class stuff.

I await more with baited breath.

I am now baiting my breath.