Authors: Jane A. Adams
Alec nodded. Clara had already picked up the phone. Behind them, Paul was groaning softly. Alec fetched the first-aid kit and went first to the fallen officer. This was way beyond plasters and bandages, he thought as he opened the green pack and assessed what was inside. He could hear Clara talking on the phone.
Sitting down in the middle of the road and deciding that Clara could patch her husband up without his help, he took the hand of the fallen man and held on tight.
he news that Eddison had been wounded was the best he'd had in a long time. How bad, he wondered. How far would he be able to drive?
He remembered that night so long ago when Travers had been shot, high up on the thigh, so close to the femoral artery that Gregory had been sure he would bleed out before help could arrive. Travers had been lucky, a finger's width away from not being here any more, and even then it was only that they had kept him immobile, kept the pressure on. Known what to do. On his own and he would have had, what ten minutes? Fifteen? And now, from the sound of it, he'd cheated death again.
Good luck to you, Gregory thought. Make the most of it, Nick.
Another bend, another rise andâ
A police vehicle slewed across the road, the driver's door half open.
Gregory stopped the car and watched for signs of life.
No movement from the car. Had Eddison got out? Was he lying wait in the fields next to the road? He cut the engine and freewheeled down to the back of the other car, listening for any sound that might betray Eddison's presence.
There was none.
Slowly, cautiously, Gregory got out of the car and walked round to the passenger side of Eddison's vehicle. The man lay slumped in the driver's seat, and it was obvious to Gregory that he was dead. He had lost his kill.
For a while Gregory squatted beside the car, looking, just looking at Charlie Eddison. They had history, he thought, and once upon a time that history had been a good one. But that was far too long ago to matter now.
He rose, glanced back in the direction of where he had left Alec with the wounded man. He wished him well. Ironically, Gregory thought, he could have no idea just what kudos he had won in certain circles. Then Gregory got into the battered little car and drove away.
atrick had called them from the airport. They would make their flight, he said. See them when he and Harry got back.
âGood,' Alec said.
They had taken up residence in Harry's home for the time being, and Naomi doubted she would ever want to set foot in their own house again. She wasn't really sure what she wanted now.
Napoleon harrumphed, as though that was his opinion of all this broken routine.
âTotally agree, old man,' Alec said.
Alec had spent twelve hours being debriefed â or interrogated, as he continued to think of it. Harry, Patrick and Naomi had also spent a good few hours trying to explain what they had done, though Naomi knew that Munroe had protected them from the worst of it. Jilly and Kay were with their mother, and Paul would be fine, as would the policeman who had shot Eddison. He had come through surgery, and all was cautiously optimistic. Naomi didn't think Paul and Clara's marriage had such a good prognosis though.
âWhere do you think he went to?' Naomi asked.
âI don't know, and I don't want to know. So long as it's far away from me and thee I don't think I care.'
Naomi agreed. âI've been scared,' she said.
Alec laughed. âWell, yes.'
âNo, I don't mean because of this. I mean, because of what happened last year. I've lived scared. For no good reason. I mean, it's not as ifÂ .Â .Â . I mean, the reason for me being scared had gone away, but the fear was still there, you know.'
âI think it's called post-traumatic stress,' Alec said. âI think it's fairly normal.'
âOh, I know. I'm not going to be all uptight about it. It's just that I'm not now, not scared any more.'
âOK. And what changed?'
âIt was when Gregory dumped us on the beach. Me, dog, and two little kids and told me and Munroe that I'd be OK. Alec, I was terrified. I was just so out of my depth. But it
OK. I managed. And somewhere along the line I forgot to be afraid. Not afraid for me, anyway. I realized he was right, I'd be OK.'
She waited, expecting some glib response or some Alec platitude, the sort he resorted to when he didn't know what to say, but knew he had to try. Instead, he took her by surprise.
âI handed in my resignation today,' he said. âAnd no, I'm not going to withdraw it. I'm going to go in tomorrow and clean out my desk, as you do, and then I'm coming back here and we're going to decide what we both want to happen next.'
It was clear from his tone that he expected an argument. She could hear the defensiveness in his voice. He had said this sort of thing before, when life had grown too complicated or the job too much. But she could hear that he meant it now.
âOK,' she said. âI think that's the right thing to do.'
âYeah. Time to let go. Time for change. We've got options, we've got money â we're in a really good place, as they say. Let's just take it a day at a time for a while. I'll come with you tomorrow, help you pack your box.'
She settled close to him on the settee, Napoleon's head resting on her knees and let the peace and contentment of the moment wash over her.
Miles away, aboard the
, Gregory stood quietly. Thinking of Jamie Dale and looking at the stars.