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Authors: Barbara Spencer

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BOOK: Turning Point
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Tulsa was filling the kettle with water for coffee and didn't look up, his expression unchanged. So he'd known about it already.

‘She's dead?'

‘No, her chauffer and bodyguard are – she's hanging on. We have to move you.' Sean Terry's bleak tones cut across the air like a bullet, sharp and decisive brooking no argument.

‘But you said we were safe here in the village.' Scott shouted the words, remembering Hilary's magical smile when she had told him she was staying in England. ‘You can't do this, it's my home. My friends, my school.'

‘Scott, you said you wouldn't mind living in America. Remember?' Bill said his voice scarcely above a whisper.

His dad sounded as exhausted as he looked. They'd obviously been talking about moving back to America for hours and hours, depleting his father's fragile strength.

‘That was before,' Scott reined his tone in. His dad never listened when he lost his temper and shouted. As a small boy he'd been sent to his room, to come back out when he'd cooled down. ‘Losing your temper doesn't win friends or influence people,' his dad had lectured him. ‘It only makes things worse. It's cold logic that wins an argument, not temper.'

‘What about the British police?' he said more quietly.

The American shrugged. ‘They're not interested. The Ambassador contacted Scotland Yard but they dismissed the connection as… unlikely.' He ended the sentence, using forceful sarcasm on the final word.

Bill got to his feet and wrapped his arm round Scott's shoulders. ‘I know you think it unfair. Why should the politics of a country like Norway load themselves onto your back? They're not your responsibility. But because of me, you are involved, and so are Sarah and Nancy. We're all in this together. They're safe because they're hidden, and we're going to be safe too. Sadly, it won't be here. I know you love this place,' he hesitated. ‘But the bugging of the offices in Geneva, and now this… It's changed everything.'

Scott shrugged off the arm, the thoughts in his head like a whirlwind of spikes as long as cactus thorns. He felt a sharp, piercing pain as they stung him.

‘This is all
your
doing.' Uncaring, he hurled his words at the person responsible. ‘We were happy till you burst on the scene persuading Dad to go to the UN. If we'd never gone we'd still be okay and Emma Arneson wouldn't be fighting for her life. If she dies, it's your fault, Mr Terry
.
' The words bounced accusingly off the kitchen walls. ‘Dad, you can't do this again,' he pleaded. ‘You're not strong enough and I won't stand by and see you hounded and killed by those men.' The angry flow of words faded away. ‘I know what I said but even I can see they've grown too powerful. One day, Dad. One day! That's all it took and that… and that… woman is blown up.' Scott floundered unable to recall her name.

‘That's why you have to leave.' Sean Terry's expression was bleak, his words unemotional. Histrionics played no part in his life. ‘Your ticket is booked for Saturday. That gives you a day to say goodbye. Your dad argued for it. Reluctantly, I agreed. Left to me, you'd have gone out of the door now. Tulsa will go with you, while your dad heads for Norway. We'll send your stuff along afterwards.'

Scott spun on his heel. ‘So you're in it too, Tulsa. That's what you meant by the weather in America being different. Why didn't you tell me? I trusted you.'

Tulsa backed away, holding up his hands in surrender. ‘Scott, it wasn't my job to tell you. Anyway,' he shrugged. ‘I thought it'd be better coming from your dad. It won't be so bad – new horizons, new places to explore. Somewhere you won't be looking over your shoulder. It'll be great. You'll see.'

‘Well, you enjoy it because I'm not going. I'm quitting this cat and mouse game. I'm giving you formal notice, Mr Terry. Leave me alone.'

Grabbing his jacket and school bag, Scott backed out of the house slamming the door. Breaking into a run, he tore into the garage. How could he possibly leave now when he and Hilary… and his dad? He was far too ill to help. He should have been left alone to get better. Fumbling about, he grabbed a handful of books, stuffing them anyhow into the compartment under the raised pillion seat on the Suzuki, wedging his empty bag in on top. Pulling his keys from his pocket he turned the ignition, the machine bursting into life.

Bill appeared in the garage doorway. ‘Scott, come back in. Going off in a state like this – it's so childish, it's not like you.'

‘I agree…
it's not like me
. Perhaps seeing you blasted off the face of a building changed me. I'd be surprised if it didn't,' Scott spat out. He glanced miserably at his father his tone changing. ‘Don't do this, Dad. I'm begging you.'

‘I have to, Scott. There's no one else.'

‘Let them use the experts at the UN. You said yourself they were good. Make
them
do some work, that's what they are being paid for.'

‘It won't be so bad, Scott. And it'll be over soon.'

Scott shook his head helplessly, tears pricking at the corner of his eyes. ‘So everyone keeps telling me. But it never is, Dad.'

Compressing his lips into a tight grimace, he opened the throttle. As responsive as always, the heavy machine soared effortlessly into motion. Helmetless, a brisk wind streaking through his hair, he tore through the gate and down the slope towards the main road.

Nine

Travers opened the door. ‘Sorry I took so long,' he said, nodding in a friendly way to Scott, his finger poised to ring the bell for a second time. ‘I thought it was one of Natasha's hangers-on. Can't stick the current one… chinless wonder. Even cash can't make up for his lack of brains. All he can do is drive a car. I mean, I'm not too bright in the upper storey,' he prattled, his smile friendly and welcoming. ‘Compared to him, I'm Einstein. So, to what do I owe the pleasure?' Travers peered over Scott's shoulder noticing the Suzuki parked in the driveway next to the garage.

‘Can I stay the night?' Scott followed his friend into the hall.

The house on the river had been designer-built especially for the television star. A world-famous rugby player, responsible for England winning the World Cup on two separate occasions, retirement had taken Doug Randal into television where, in addition to regular slots as a guest on talk shows, he now produced many of its sporting highlights. A house in London and a place on the river gave him a base to entertain celebrities, and an elegant motor launch, in constant use in the summer for exploring the river and coast, had been given a purpose-built home in which to spend the winter.

‘'Course. So what's up? Travers replied good-humouredly

‘Does there have to be something?'

‘No, but there usually is. Mum's about somewhere, I'll ask her. Dad's missing, as usual. Messing around on the boat, I expect. As I said, Tash is about to go out, so it'll only be us. Ah, here's the guy now.'

A long, silver Maserati swung into the long drive, its soft-top raised against a chilly north wind, its engine almost soundless. It drew up behind Scott's bike.

‘This guy gets a new car every year on his birthday,' Travers whispered under his breath, his tone pitying. ‘He told us – several times.'

A willowy, fair young man climbed leisurely out of the sports car. Carefully latching the driver's door behind him, he removed his specs, pausing to check his appearance in the wing mirror, casually flicking a lock of hair into place.

‘Hi, Scott, not often I see you twice in one day. You stalking me?'

Natasha, the oldest of the three Randal children, appeared at the top of the wide staircase. At twenty-two, almost six years older than Travers, she had always seemed so grown-up and far too grand to notice a scrawny schoolboy. Scott gazed admiringly, watching her trip lightly down the steps, her legs, which seemed to go on for ever, encased in a pair of tight jeans. She might almost be within reach age-wise now but she was planets away in terms of sophistication.

Travers grinned wickedly. ‘Your ride's almost here, only he had to stop first to check his make-up.'

Natasha broke into giggles, all at once looking absurdly young and pretty. Guiltily Scott remembered Hilary.

‘Shush, he'll hear,' she hissed. ‘And it was so kind of him to pick me up.'

‘Where's he come from?'

‘The other side of Bath.'

‘But that's a hundred and twenty miles away.'

‘I know,' Natasha cooed. ‘Isn't that sweet.'

‘More fool him,' Travers retorted indignantly. ‘You in tonight?'

‘Not likely.' Natasha pointed to her overnight bag. ‘I've been invited to stay overnight at the parental pad in…' She waved her arm vaguely through the air. ‘Wherever the shoot is tomorrow. That's how we met.'

‘Well, I suggest you get rid of him before Beau hears about it. And don't let them meet. You'll never hear the last of it. You know what he's like. I can accept that you're a weak and feeble woman easily attracted by bright and shiny things – and I don't mean him.
I mean the car
,' Travers growled out.

Natasha caught Scott's grin. ‘You like cars, Scott?'

He nodded, all at once tongue-tied as she zoomed in on him, her dark eyes intense under her long lashes.

‘My two pathetic brothers seem incapable of understanding that I worship cars. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a racing driver.' Natasha spun round, twirling on her scarlet stilettos, and casually raised one arm into the air. ‘Hi, Jonathan, be with you in a minute,' she called waving merrily. Lowering her voice to a murmur. ‘I promise you, it's worth an evening of deadly boredom if I get to drive that car. Dad's loaded but even he can't afford a Maserati.'

Scott smiled. They were a great family, Travers was so lucky. His own sister, Nancy, was only a kid and there'd been no chance to get to know her yet.
Nor will there ever be
, he thought wearily, not if Dad becomes involved in Norway's problems. They'd be under starter's orders to get running again, as fast as they could, to keep one step in front of their killers. For a moment he felt almost thankful for Sean Terry and Tulsa keeping them safe, quickly banishing his gratitude at the thought of leaving Hilary.

‘So what are you doing here?' Travers repeated, closing the front door on his sister.

‘Went to find Jameson but…'

‘Naturally,' Travers interrupted good-humouredly.

‘You forget, he's lives closer,' Scott protested.

The Brody house in Falmouth, although large, was not in the same league as the mansion the Randal family occupied
.
But when it came to the question of a sleep-over, or storming out after a quarrel with his dad, Jameson's was the obvious choice, within easy distance of the small cottage. It was only after passing his test, and with access to his dad's bike, that Scott could reach Travers' house. Besides, Scott had known Jameson since day-one of primary, the Randal family moving from London to Cornwall a few years later.

Whenever Scott thought about it, he still found it astonishing to have Travers and Jameson as best mates. Both were destined for stardom, whereas he… Scott paused, thinking… he wasn't especially good at anything. The best he could hope for was a half-way decent job when he left school.

‘Yeah, and you've known him for ever. May I remind you, that I now know more about you and your dad's problems than even Jay does.'

Scott started back. He'd never given it a moment's thought. But it was true. Being present in Holland at every step, from his own capture to his father's injury, had given Travers the edge. Scott screwed up his face. To be honest, Travers was probably easier to deal with too. Jay was so swept away with everything he did, on occasions he couldn't bring himself down to earth long enough to listen to someone else's problems… even his best friend.

‘Mary's upstairs.'

‘She live here?' Scott said with a grin.

‘I wish. But tonight we're actually doing some work. I'll tell Mum you're staying.'

Scott pulled out his mobile. ‘I'll give Jay a call. He wasn't picking up a while back.'

Travers nodded, padding off towards the rear of the house, leaving Scott to make his way upstairs to the family sitting room, where he knew Mary would be. He liked both houses, the Randals' and the Brodys', feeling equally at home in both, even though they were at opposite ends of the spectrum – like the two families. The Brody house was cuddly, exactly like Mrs Brody. She had never gone out to work, devoting her life to her children, and three children apiece was pretty much the only thing the two families had in common. Two boys and a girl – except in the Brody family Jameson was the eldest and his sister the youngest.

The Brody house in Falmouth, although recently built with solar panelling as standard, had few pretensions toward grandeur, only the lounge sacrosanct and kept for visiting guests. The rest of the time, including Christmas, the family were to be found either in the kitchen or the conservatory; a huge room furnished with soft chairs and sofas covered in cotton chintz, its pattern of silver-pink roses hidden under piles of magazines and bags of knitting wool. It was here everyone congregated in the evening to talk or watch television.

By contrast the Randal home resembled a show home, with original paintings, including a full-length portrait of Catherine Randal at the top of the stairs. She had worked in the fashion industry until five years previously, starting her career as a model in London. Both she and Doug were often in the capital on business and a housekeeper had been employed to look after the three children, plus several women whose job it was to keep the house spotless.

Scott paused on the top step gazing back down into the hallway, admiring the elegant pattern of floor tiles in a soft yellow – absolutely perfect. The river house radiated a Mediterranean feel of warm summer sunshine, its floors covered with Persian rugs in the winter. On the first floor were five bedrooms, including one for school friends, plus a second sitting room for the exclusive use of the family; guests being housed in an annexe that also contained a small kitchen, a swimming pool and a billiards room.

Scott had realised ages before that there was nothing majestic or Mediterranean or chintzy about the cottage he shared with his dad. It had four walls and a roof – plain and simple. With no one but them to do the cleaning and cooking, possessions had been kept to a minimum; no pictures, knick-knacks, or even souvenirs of a holiday – not that they ever took real holidays. Not even photographs decorated the surfaces, except for one of his mother by the side of his bed. At the time Scott had thought it was to save on housework because most of his fights with his dad were about the mess in his bedroom, never tidying it to his dad's satisfaction. And how many million times had his dad sarcastically commented, ‘Your bedroom would be greatly improved if it had less dust in it. The spiders might enjoy their environment, I certainly don't.'

It was only now Scott understood how possessions might have provided clues to his dad's past and identity, something that had to be avoided at all costs; a past which, for fifteen years, he had successfully kept hidden. Okay, so it might be a box with walls but it was still home, bursting with memories of growing up, and no one, least of all Sean Terry, had the right to make him leave.

Mary glanced up smiling as he opened the door.

‘Surprise,' he said sounding rather lame.

‘I saw you coming up the drive.'

‘Jameson's not home and he's not answering his mobile.'

‘Jenny said he was off to London.' Mary patted the seat next to her on the couch.

‘London? He never said anything to me.'

‘He confided in Jenny that he didn't want to steal Hilary's thunder by talking about it because the news had made you so happy.'

‘You sure you've got the right guy? That doesn't sound like Jameson.'

Mary broke into giggles. ‘Travers thinks he's desperately smitten and wants to come over as all caring.'

‘Even so,' Scott replied indignantly. ‘Jay always answers his phone. He's paranoid about missing stuff.' He collapsed onto the sofa, feeling strangely restless. Not only about himself but Jay too – he had the strangest feeling. ‘It's not like Jay not to answer his phone,' he repeated.

‘Jenny said he was going for an interview.'

Travers' head appeared round the door. ‘You staying for dinner, sweetheart?'

‘I'll stay for ever if your mother's cooking.'

Scott heard his friend shout down the stairs. ‘Yes, Mum, please.' He came back into the sitting room and closed the door behind him. ‘Who's going for an interview?'

Good humouredly Scott shifted to one side, allowing Travers to take his place. ‘I was only keeping it warm.'

‘Jay is,' Mary said. ‘Jenny said he was over the moon about it. Apparently, some global conglomerate is head-hunting him. He was coming back on the late train. He left school early and went up after lunch.'

‘He never said anything,' Travers protested.

‘You're right, he didn't,' Scott agreed. ‘Weird, even for Jay.'

‘To be fair,' Mary jumped in, ‘you didn't give him much chance. You were telling us about Switzerland, remember? And then Hilary took over the conversation. Ring Mrs Brody. She'll know.
Stop blowing on my neck and distracting me
,
Travers
. You promised you'd work if I came over,' she said, her tone reproving. ‘Honestly, you'd think I'd have learned by now.' She flipped her hand sharply, making Travers jump. ‘I said
quit… I'm not fooling
. I've got English to do.'

‘Shush!' Scott hissed. ‘Mrs Brody, it's Scott. Any news? Oh, good! I was worried. Yeah, it's not like him. I guess he was in the interview. Well, that's good news anyway. Speak to you tomorrow. Bye.' Scott beamed, closing the connection. ‘It's okay. Thanks, Mary, glad I called. He's staying over for a second interview in the morning. Apparently, they're waving big money to start straight away – an internship.'

‘But what about his “A” levels,' Mary said, sounding concerned.

‘And university,' Travers added.

‘I know!' Scott picked up Mary's book on English poets, flicking through it. ‘Isn't that just typical! For years, it's been Oxford-Oxford-Oxford. Someone waves a bunch of notes in front of his face, and Jay jumps at it.'

‘We don't know that. Hi, Mr Randal.'

The door opened and Doug Randal peered in. ‘He's right here, if you want to speak to him…' He held the phone out. ‘Bill wants a word.'

Scott leapt to his feet, shaking his head violently from side to side. Travers and Mary gazed at him in astonishment.

‘Apparently, the feeling isn't mutual.' Doug Randal raised a hand before disappearing again, the door closing on the words ‘I guess we can hang on to him.'

‘Scott?' Travers and Mary spoke together.

Scott sighed. ‘We had a blistering row and I walked out.'

Travers got to his feet, pushing his friend down onto the sofa next to Mary and perching on the arm.

Mary slipped her arm through Scott's. ‘That's not a bit like you.'

BOOK: Turning Point
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