surprise? You could have knocked me down with a feather when Carruthers called me back to the office from the site. Heâd had this email from Head Office, you seeâ¦â
At this point the train driver sounded his horn preparatory to departure, the noise echoing round the station, drowning whatever else William Wakefield might have said.
âWhat email?â asked his wife when she could be heard.
âThe one ordering me to report to Head Office in London without delay, of course.â He grinned. âAs Carruthers pointed out it was marked âPrivate and Confidentialâ and he said he didnât know anything about it so he couldnât tell me anyway, darling, and I couldnât tell you â not until Iâd been back to Head Office. Then they said it was all right if I let you know now.â
âLet me know what?â she asked anxiously. âYou havenât been sacked or anything, have you?â
He chucked her cheek. âNo, I have not. What on earth put an idea like that into your head?â
âYour being called back to Head Office like that,â she retorted promptly. âHave you just dropped a clanger or something, then?â
âNo, my dearest, I have not. On the contrary, you might say.â He started to fumble for his ticket.
âAnd what does that mean?â she asked, still anxious.
âIt means, Mrs William Wakefield,â he said impressively, âthat Iâve had some promotion.â
âDarling!â Impulsively she kissed him on the cheek and then stepped back. âBill, where on earth did you get that bruise on your face?â
âThe hotel bedroom door. I didnât realise the spring was as strong as it was and hit the door as it closed behind me. I thought youâd be pleased about the promotion,â he said modestly.
âBut why all the secrecy?â she said as they stepped out of the station. âOh, dear, I do hope I havenât got a parking ticket.â
âI daresay weâll be able to afford it now,â he said comfortably.
âI still donât see why itâs all been so hush-hush,â she protested.
âI didnât either to start with,â he said, slipping automatically into the carâs driving seat and adjusting it to accommodate his legs as opposed to his wifeâs, âbut I do now.â
He steered the car carefully out into the stream of traffic, deftly joining the inner lane. He stretched luxuriously in the driving seat. âIf you could see the roads I have to drive on out there.â
âHang the roads, Bill, and tell me whatâs happened.â
âYou are now talking to a regional manager, South America!â
âBill, how lovely. Isnât that good?â A shadow crossed her face. âBut wonât that mean youâre going to be away from home more than ever?â
âIt might,â he admitted.
âThe specialist isnât going to like that,â said Jan.
âNo.â He twisted his head round to look at her. âBut I couldnât turn it down, could I?â
âNo, no, of course not, darling. Itâs onlyâ¦â
âI know.â He reached over and patted her knee. âI know.â
âSo why all the secrecy?â
âOh, I can understand that now,â he said confidently. âYou see, old Carruthers really wanted the job for himself and they couldnât very well let him find out from an email to me that Iâd got it and he hadnât. Now, could they?â
âNo, I suppose not.â
âDefinitely not,â he said firmly. âNow, young lady, suppose you tell me what man it was you were out to dinner with last night. Iâm quite jealous.â
Mrs Connie Marshall was hovering expectantly outside number 2 Stortford Villas, in Stone Street, Berebury, and welcomed Detective Inspector Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby with evident