Dylan liked dogs. Most dogs, at least. The sort he didn’t like were Rottweilers weighing in excess of a hundred and fifty pounds. Like the one showing him yellow sharklike teeth right now.
“Okay, Sunshine, we’re keeping this gate between us.” Dylan tried to speak with authority, to show it who was master here.
The dog already knew who was controlling the standoff and it wasn’t Dylan. Mud puddled around the creature’s enormous feet as it emitted a menacing growl that shook its well-muscled body.
“Right. I can stand here all day,” Dylan said.
The evil-eyed creature came a step closer. Still growling. Still putting Dylan at the top of the day’s breakfast menu.
Dylan couldn’t really stand here all day. Rain was soaking through his jeans, and a force eight was threatening to knock him off his feet.
The house he was trying to reach looked like something from a child’s painting. Square and built of red brick, it had four symmetrical windows, two on the ground floor and two above. The front door was in the middle of the windows, and a chimney was dead centre in a red-tiled roof. A curl of smoke twisting skyward completed the picture.
That front door was about twenty yards from the gate. Dylan wondered if he could find a stone to throw at the door and alert the occupant’s attention. Another thought came—
“Right, Sunshine.” Dylan wandered into a lane where a vehicle had churned up deep ruts in the mud. He picked up a stone and hurled it the length of the garden at the side of the house. “Fetch!”
The dog simply curled its lip and gave a warning growl.
“Fallen for that one before, have you?” Dylan asked.
A large blue-and-white painted sign told him he was outside the Pennine View Rescue Centre so he couldn’t even hope he had the wrong property. Another sign begged for donations. Anything from blankets to pet food and cash was welcomed.
“Hello!” Dylan called as a figure, it was impossible to guess the gender, came into view at the corner of the house.
“Trudy, are you up to your old tricks? Come here, sweetheart.” It was female, and she walked up the path, laughing at Dylan’s plight. “Don’t worry about Trudy. She only wants to play.”
Who in hell’s name would christen the evil creature Trudy? Probably the same person who thought Dylan was daft enough to open the gate.
“It looks like she’d rather have breakfast than play,” he said.
“Nonsense. She’d play all day.” The woman fondled Trudy’s ears. “Wouldn’t you, sweetheart?”
“I’m looking for Mrs. Kaminski,” Dylan said as the woman reached for the gate.
“Oh, my—” A shocked hand went to her mouth. “You must be Mr. Scott. You’re early. Thank you. I mean, thank you for being early. Thank you for coming at all. Sorry, I’m Mrs. Kaminski. Sue.”
She thrust out a hand. The closed gate was still between them, the way Dylan would like to keep it.
“Good to meet you, Sue. I’m Dylan.” He shook her hand.
She nodded at his car, a 1956 Morgan in Daytona Yellow. “Is that what the best private investigators are driving?”
“It’s what I’m driving.”
“Aw, isn’t it pretty?”
He was about to explain that under no stretch of the imagination could his pride and joy be described as pretty when she yanked open the gate. The dog lunged. Dylan sucked in his breath, waiting for the crunch of teeth on bone, but the dog merely sniffed at his sleeve and wagged its vast backside in greeting.
“You see?” Sue said. “You’re friends already. Come into the house, Mr. Scott. Dylan. This rain’s getting heavier. We’ll be soaked through.”
Dylan, the dog trotting at his side, followed her along a path littered with rope toys, balls and bones that had been well chewed.
“I wanted to keep myself busy until you arrived,” Sue said, “so I’ve been painting one of the kennels. You know what they say about a watched clock. Still, you’re here now. And I’m so pleased to see you. I was too excited to sleep last night.”
“Oh, I really don’t think—”
She was striding on ahead and Dylan’s words were lost to the wind.
He followed her around the side of the house to the back. Here, the garden looked like a mini show-jumping arena. There were small red-and-white painted jumps, a long plastic tunnel and a see-saw. Beyond that was an untidy range of mostly wooden outbuildings. Kennels, Dylan assumed. From what he knew of Sue Kaminski, which wasn’t much, she devoted all her time, energy and money to caring for the area’s stray dogs and cats.
She pushed open a door and led him into a small porch crammed with several pairs of Wellington boots, more dog toys and several waterproof jackets for humans. She yanked off her boots and added them to the pile.
“Come in,” she said. Another door led to a large square kitchen. “It’s nice and warm in here.”
“So it is.” Dylan made for the large cream-coloured Aga that was throwing out the heat. Several towels hung from its rail to dry.
“Here.” Sue handed him a towel. “It’s clean. You can at least dry your hair.”
“Thanks.” He rubbed at his hair but his jeans were uncomfortably damp.
“Sit down and I’ll make us a drink.”
Dylan sat at a pine table, making sure he was close to the Aga. The dog, bored with Dylan, thank God, stretched out on the floor in front of the heat source.
Sue pulled off a blue knitted hat, black gloves, red-and-white scarf, dirty blue anorak and thick black sweater, dumping each item on a chair. Dylan had thought the outdoor clothing was responsible for adding inches to her size, but he was wrong. She wasn’t fat, but she was quite tall and certainly stocky. Her short fair hair was cut with a view to easy management rather than any thought of fashion.
Her chunky sweater looked hand-knitted and, given the rainbow of colours, Dylan wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that she’d used up scrap wool. Black jeans were plastered in mud and her feet were clad in scarlet woollen socks. The only visible jewellery was a scratched band of gold on the third finger of her left hand.
“I’m so excited to see you,” she said.
“I don’t know what you’ve been told, but I haven’t agreed to take on the case yet.” And probably wouldn’t. “Unless something convinces me that your husband is innocent—”
“But he is.”
“Maybe he is,” Dylan said, “but the police and jury thought otherwise. Nothing convinced them he was innocent. Maybe nothing will convince me.”
“You’re visiting him tomorrow, aren’t you?”
“Then you’ll see for yourself. Once you’ve talked with him, you’ll know he’s innocent.”
Such belief was touching, but it meant nothing. Having been a respected member of the police force, Dylan knew that men weren’t convicted of murder without good reason. On the other hand, a spell in prison had taught him about the flaws in the judicial system.
“Right, let me make you that drink. Tea or coffee?”
“Whatever you’re making. Either would be welcome. Thanks.”
“Coffee okay then?” she asked, and he nodded.
While she filled the kettle and took mugs from a cupboard, Dylan looked around the kitchen. Cluttered didn’t begin to describe it. A total of three calendars, two showing pictures of dogs and one adorned with cute kittens, hung from the wall. The sink held around a dozen mugs and a plate waiting to be washed. A pile of mail sat on the table. One envelope contained a red final warning notice from her electricity supplier. Two jackets hung from the backs of chairs. Three plastic dog beds of different sizes were vacant. A vase of wilting daffodils sat on the window sill and blocked the light.
The room was untidy—or perhaps lived in was a better description—but it had a certain homely appeal. Although the surfaces were clean, the floor was speckled with muddy paw and boot prints. Dirty marks on the doorframe showed the height of resident dogs.
“There you go,” she said. “Here’s the sugar.”
“Thanks.” Coffee came in a thick blue pottery mug. Dylan stirred in a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and cradled the mug in his hands for extra warmth.
The door opened and closed, letting in a blast of cold wind and a tall, rangy man.
“Hi, Jamie,” Sue greeted the stranger. “Sorry, but you’ll have to make do with Anne today. I’m tied up for the moment.”
Jamie was early thirties, and he had to be at least six feet tall. He wore his sand-coloured hair short. Rimless glasses gave him a geek look. Beneath a green wax coat he wore a canary-yellow jumper. His trousers looked as if they’d quarrelled with his shoes and weren’t going within four inches of them.
Trudy roused herself to inspect the visitor. He was presumably known to her, judging by the way her rump wriggled as he stroked her ears. Losing interest in him and spying Dylan’s briefcase, the dog picked that up and began to circle the room. Dylan wasn’t about to argue with a Rottweiler, especially this one, but he didn’t want his briefcase decorated with bite marks.
Sue smiled indulgently, removed it from the dog’s jaw and put it on the table out of harm’s way.
Jamie was too busy looking miffed with his rejection to notice. “Anne’s nowhere to be seen.”
“She’s definitely here. I expect she’s walking one of the dogs.” Sue reached for a mobile phone, searched for a number, hit a button and held it to her ear. “Hi, Anne. How far away are you? Jamie’s here. Can you deal with him? Yeah? Great. Okay, I’ll send him down.”
“I’ll go and find her then, shall I?” Jamie asked.
“Yes, she’s only out in the field,” Sue said. “Give me a shout if there are any problems.”
He nodded and, with the colour high in his cheeks, left them alone.
“That’s Jamie, our vet,” Sue explained. “He comes regularly to check out the animals, but I’m sure there’s nothing Anne can’t cope with.” She pulled a chair closer to Dylan, was about to sit and said, “Sorry, I haven’t offered you anything to eat. I forgot you’d had such a long journey.”
“I’m fine, thanks. I stopped at a service station on the way.”
Satisfied, she sat down. “How long are you staying up here?”
“That depends.” He was booked into a hotel in Dawson’s Clough, and was due to visit her husband, Aleksander Kaminski, at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Unless anything interesting was said, he’d drive straight back to London after that meeting. “As yet, I don’t know much about the case. I’m only here as a favour to my mother really. And to Aleksander’s parents. My mother used to live in Birmingham and knew Aleksander’s parents quite well.”
She’d know all that, just as she’d know that Aleksander’s mother had tried to get other people interested in her son’s case. They’d all turned her down. Dylan probably would too.
“At least you’re here,” she said. “At least you’re willing to see Alek.”
“Yes, but it’s only as a favour.”
That wasn’t strictly accurate. He had two reasons for coming to Lancashire and neither had any bearing whatsoever on Aleksander’s innocence or guilt.
First, Dylan was broke and this was the first offer of real work he’d had for months. That alone wouldn’t have convinced him to make the long journey north though. From the little he knew about Aleksander Kaminski’s case, it had been cut and dried. There had been no doubt from either police or jury that he was a cold-blooded killer.
“Have you left family behind in London?” she asked.
“Yes. A wife and two children.”
A wife and two children. It was the first time he’d said that. Ever.
It was also the second reason he’d been persuaded to come to Lancashire. His house had become a never-ending discussion of baby’s feeding times and bowel movements.
“I’ve got a thirteen-year-old son, Luke,” he said, “and a daughter, Freya. Freya is six days old.”
Sue had taken a sip of coffee and she almost choked on it. “Six days?”
“Oh, my God. Well, congratulations!”
What she probably meant was what the hell was he doing in Lancashire when his wife needed him. That was more or less what Bev had wanted to know.
“Thanks,” he said.
“And your wife doesn’t mind you coming here?”
Dylan wouldn’t go that far. “It’s fine.”
No point telling her that Bev had thrown a vase of flowers at him, complete with water, and called him the most selfish, self-centred bastard she’d ever met.
“Right then,” he said. “Perhaps you can begin by telling me why you believe your husband is innocent.”
She smiled at that. “Alek couldn’t hurt a fly.”
How many mass murderers had been bestowed with that particular compliment? Not that Kaminski was a mass murderer. As far as Dylan knew.
“You’d be surprised how few people really know the person they live with.” Dylan sometimes had his doubts about Bev. “Okay, tell me all you know about the case. What happened? How did Alek come to be suspect number one?”
She nodded at his briefcase. Surprisingly, there were no teeth marks on it. “Don’t you want to record this or make notes?”
“No. Just tell me your story.”
“Right.” She tugged on the sleeves of her sweater. A scarlet-sock-clad foot strayed to the Rottweiler’s back and she ran it back and forth. “Carly Walsingham, Alek’s first wife, was murdered in her own home one afternoon. It’s eight months ago now. The third of August to be precise. We saw it on the news that evening. We were in here, in this very room.” She nodded at a small TV on the counter in the far corner of the kitchen.
“We? You and Alek?”
“Yes.” She stood and crossed the room to a notice board where she jabbed a finger at a photo pinned there. “This was taken the same day.”
She took the photo from the board and handed it to Dylan. It showed Sue with an elderly lady. They were celebrating a birthday, judging by the candle in the centre of a decorated cake.
“It was a happy day,” Sue said. “I always visit my great-aunt, that’s my dad’s aunt, on Wednesdays, have done since she went into the care home a couple of years ago, and it was her ninetieth birthday that day. I’d baked the cake and made up little bags of chocolates for the staff. They’re really kind to her so, on her birthday and at Christmas, I like to bake a cake and give out small gifts. It was a good day, and I was telling Alek all about it when the news of Carly Walsingham’s murder came on TV.”
“How did you both feel?” Dylan asked.
Her foot resumed its work, stroking the dog’s ear. “Horrified, naturally. Not that we had much time to feel anything. Poor Alek was still reeling from the shock when the police arrived and took him off for questioning.”
“What made them think he had anything to do with it?”
A wave of colour flooded Sue’s face until it matched her socks. She ran her fingers through her short hair. “He’d been there. With her.”
“He’d been in Mrs. Walsingham’s home? That afternoon?”
Sue nodded, her gaze resting on her socks and her dog.
“Why?” Dylan asked.
She was taking so long to answer that Dylan lost patience. “Okay,” he said, “perhaps we should start at the beginning. How long was Alek married to Mrs. Walsingham? How long have you known him? Give me a history lesson, will you?”
Sue took a breath. “Alek, as you probably know, was born in Poland. His dad was offered work on a big building site in Birmingham and the family moved there when he was three. Alek met Carly there. Of course, she was plain Carly Smith then. They were married in 1992 and divorced in 2005.”
Perhaps, after all, Dylan should be making notes. Remembering dates was never his strong point. So far this year, and they were only into April, he’d forgotten Bev’s birthday, Valentine’s Day and their wedding anniversary. Not that it seemed to matter as she’d bought herself jolly nice—and highly expensive—presents before the events.
Dates weren’t too important, though. Carly Walsingham, formerly Carly Kaminski, formerly Carly Smith, had married Aleksander Kaminski twenty years ago and been divorced from him for seven years.
“What brought them both to Lancashire?” he asked.
“Her job. She trained as a radiologist and got a job at the hospital in the Clough. Alek’s a builder, like his dad, so he can work anywhere. He’s self-employed and works mainly on extensions, conservatories, that sort of thing.”
“I see.” Dylan was making plenty of mental notes. “So they divorced seven years ago. Any reason? Did she meet someone else? Did he? Was it his relationship with you that—?”
“Oh, no. He’d been divorced for a couple of years before I met him.”
“So what were the grounds for the divorce?”
“It’s difficult to say.” The words came grudgingly. “I do know that she wanted children. Nothing was happening though, so she insisted they both go for tests. They found out Alek can’t have children. That didn’t suit her and soon after they found out, she told him she wanted a divorce. Alek’s loyal, he would have stayed with her, but she wanted out. Within a very short time, though, she was married to Dr. Walsingham so, if you ask me, she’d already been seeing him behind Alek’s back.”
Dylan really should be making notes. He forgot that people led such complicated lives.
“What about you, Sue? How did you meet Alek?”
“He came here to adopt a dog.” Her face took on a dreamy expression. “We got talking as we filled in the paperwork, and he came back a couple of times to let us know how Charlie was doing. Sometimes I’d meet up with him when I was out with the dogs.”
“He was divorced and I—I was a widow.”
She nodded. “My husband Keith died twelve years ago. A pileup on the motorway. He was only twenty-six.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise.”
“We’d only been married for four years. Still, there’s nothing we can do about it, is there? I wasn’t the only person to lose someone that day. Five others lost their lives and there were a lot of injuries.”
Dylan shivered, despite the warmth of the kitchen.
“Life goes on,” she said, brightening, “and a few years later, I met Alek.”
“Love at first sight?” Dylan smiled.
“More or less, yes. I was wary at first because Alek’s twelve years older than me, but love doesn’t care about age, does it?”
Alek was forty-eight, which meant Sue was thirty-six. Dylan had thought she was younger.
Her phone rang and as she spoke to her caller, she was frowning in Dylan’s direction. “That’s okay,” she said finally. “I’m on my way.”
She finished the call and looked at Dylan. “I need to walk a dog. Sorry, but it has a skin complaint and we need to keep it moving to stop it licking off ointment. It’s a Yorkshire terrier who can’t wear a head collar.”
Dylan was happy enough to wait. He’d make himself another coffee and enjoy the warmth. So long as she took the Rottweiler with her.
“We can talk while we walk,” she said. “I’ve got spare wellies and coat. Socks too.”
Dylan’s gaze flew to the window. He looked beyond the daffodils and saw that it had stopped raining. “Okay,” he said, reluctantly getting to his feet.
True to her word, she found a pair of huge grey socks, a pair of Wellington boots and a cavernous black anorak.
“We always keep plenty of spares around,” she said.
They walked across the back garden, past the ramshackle kennels to a brick building. A corridor ran through the centre of it. One side housed half a dozen dogs, all leaping up at their doors to see what was going on and all barking at the disturbance. On the other side was a small office and, further on, an examination room where Jamie and a girl Dylan assumed was Anne were inspecting a small Yorkshire terrier.
Jamie smiled at Sue. “I’m really pleased with her. She’s looking great. Another week or so and I think she’ll be ready to leave.”
“Great. So all I have to do is find a home for her.” She stroked the dog. “You’re a little sweetie though, aren’t you, Sophie? I’m sure we’ll soon find somewhere nice for you. You’d like a warm bed of your own, wouldn’t you? Lots of cuddles too? Maybe a fire to curl up in front of?”
It drove Dylan mad to hear dogs being treated like babies. Come to that, it drove him mad to hear babies being treated like babies. What was it that turned grown women into cooing, dribbling idiots?
“Half an hour should do it,” Jamie said.
“Great. Thanks, Jamie.”
Sue put a pink collar around the dog’s small neck, attached a pink leash and turned to Dylan. “Let’s go then.”
Once they were outside in the damp air and howling gale, Sue nodded back at the building. “Alek built that.”
“It’s perfect. He’s so clever.” She strode to the front of the house and into the lane where Dylan’s car sat—pretty, indeed—and on down a muddy lane overhung with dark, dripping trees. The dog pranced along, oblivious to the mud.
“To get back to Mrs. Walsingham,” Dylan said, “you said you and Alek heard about her murder on the TV news?”
“That’s right. We were sitting in the kitchen and the news was on. I was telling him about Aunt Joyce’s birthday party so we weren’t paying attention until we heard her name mentioned.”
“What happened after that?”
“The police came to question Alek the next day. They’d been asking questions in her street, and a neighbour claimed to have seen someone who looked like him leaving the house. And, um, they found his fingerprints there.”
“He was definitely there that afternoon?” Dylan asked.
“He was, yes.” She kicked out at a stone, startling the tiny dog. “I don’t know much about it because Alek doesn’t like to talk about it. Obviously he doesn’t. I mean, he wouldn’t want to upset me, would he? Alek’s trouble is that he’s too kind for his own good. If she said she wanted to see him, he’d go. Not because she had any hold over him, but because he’s good like that. He likes to help people, you see. But—” She cleared her throat and tried again. “But he went to see her. He would have felt obliged. And she—she managed to get him into bed with her. There. It’s said.”
It certainly was and Dylan knew exactly what it had cost to say it. “He—” It was difficult to put his question into words. “Did they make love the afternoon she was murdered?”
The answer was a long time coming. “They had sex, yes.”
Sue was walking so quickly now that Dylan was struggling to keep up. The Yorkshire terrier had broken into a gallop.
“When did you find out that he’d—seen her?” Dylan asked.
“I was eventually allowed to see him. They were holding him in custody, but I was allowed a short visit. He told me then.” She stopped walking so abruptly that the dog was yanked off its feet. “He’s ashamed, of course, but I know it meant nothing. It was just sex. Men will be men, won’t they? All Alek wanted was to be rid of her.”
Not the best choice of words. “He got his wish then, didn’t he?”
“No!” Her eyes showed signs of moisture. “Not like that. I told you, he couldn’t harm a fly. No, he would have just wanted her to stay out of his life.”
So he’d silenced her for good?
Not for the first time, Dylan wondered what the hell he was doing in Lancashire. Police had gathered enough evidence to put Aleksander Kaminski behind bars for life. The jury had been happy to put him there. What did people expect him to do about it?
“Was that the only time he visited her?”
Sue shook her head. “He saw her a couple of times, I gather.”
“And they—had intercourse?”
She nodded, and bit on her bottom lip.
“Is there anything else you can tell me?” he asked.
“I used to be in the police force, Sue, and—”
“A policeman? You?”
“Is it so surprising?” He smiled. “I was trying to arrest a known criminal—well, to cut a long story short, the criminal accused me of using excessive force and I found myself on an assault charge. I spent time in prison and lost my job.”
“Really?” She carried on walking at a more sensible pace.
“Yes. Anyway, as I was saying, I’m seeing an old colleague of mine this evening. He’s retired from the force now, but still has plenty of contacts. He’s going to introduce me to the senior investigating officer on Alek’s case.”
She nodded, but didn’t comment.
“So if there’s anything else you can tell me before I see him, I’d be grateful.”
“There’s nothing else. Alek was there the day Carly was murdered and the police found evidence of that. Not that he would have denied it. He had nothing to hide. Anyway, from that, they decided he must have killed her.”
“You must believe me, Dylan. Alek is innocent.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “You have to get him out of there. You have to.”
Jamie Tinsley was still at the kennels when Sue returned with a muddy Sophie. He’d made sure of that.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“Fine, thanks. She’s a bit dirty, but at least the ointment’s had chance to work.”
Jamie was giving a new dog, a shaggy collie cross, a thorough checkup. The animal was probably eight or nine years old, but he was in good shape.
“How did this one come to be here?” he asked.
Sue stroked the dog’s ears. “He was tied to the gatepost. I saw him when I woke up yesterday morning. The poor thing must have been there all night because he was soaked right through to the skin. He was starving too, poor baby.”
People’s cruelty made Jamie wild. He would love to catch the humans responsible and tie them to a gatepost during a long, cold and wet night. He’d like to frighten them and make them go without food and water.
“He’s all right though, isn’t he?” she asked.
“Yes. Yes, he’s fine. He’s in good shape so someone must have been looking after him before they dumped him.”
“Money’s short, Jamie.” Sue continued to stroke the dog. “People are losing jobs, they can’t pay rent or mortgages, and I suppose even the price of dog food becomes a burden. At least they left him where they knew he’d be well cared for.”
Sue saw nothing but good in people. No matter the cruelty she witnessed, and there was plenty, she could come up with excuses. Jamie wondered if that was why everyone loved her.
“His coat’s matted in places, but other than that, I can give him a clean bill of health.” He helped the dog jump down from the examination table before handing him a meaty treat.
The dog reminded him of Ben. He too had been a shaggy collie crossbreed. He’d had the same huge brown eyes, the long feathery tail that never stopped wagging, and the grey muzzle. Jamie and Ben had been constant companions from the moment they met when Jamie was nine. They’d only had five years together, but Jamie would never forget his special friend. Many dogs had come to him and been helped since then, but not one had touched his heart like Ben.
Jamie leaned against the table, arms folded. “So how are things going? Is everything set up for Monday?”
Sue had been working toward Monday’s event for months. She’d breathed a sigh of relief when the Christmas fundraiser went well and then started making plans for this Easter one.
She gave him a rueful smile. “As set up as it ever will be. I just hope the weather improves a bit. No one will turn up if it’s like this.”
“Oh, I don’t know. The weather wasn’t great at Christmas but you had a good turnout. Besides, people like to get out on Easter Monday.”
“I hope you’re right. Well, I won’t keep you, Jamie.”
“That’s okay. I’m not rushing off anywhere.” He was due to take the evening’s surgery but that didn’t start till five o’clock. “Who was your visitor? Someone wanting to adopt an animal?”
He thought that was all she intended to say on the matter, and that her silence was a polite way of telling him to mind his own business.
“He’s a private investigator,” she said at last. “Honestly, Jamie, I’ve been too excited to sleep or even think straight. He hasn’t actually agreed to take on Alek’s case yet, but I’m sure he will. He’s going to the prison to visit him tomorrow.”
Her words shocked him to the core. He’d assumed Kaminski would fester behind bars until he was an old man. Why the hell did she have to rake it all over again?
“Really? I didn’t know you were thinking of employing someone. I didn’t think you could afford to—with this place to worry about, I mean. Still, why not, eh?”
“It isn’t costing me a penny,” she said. “I would pay. God, I’d give every penny I had, borrow as much as I could. I’d do anything if I thought it would bring Alek home. But no, this is all thanks to Alek’s parents. They used to live near Dylan’s mother. That’s the investigator’s name, Dylan Scott. He says that’s why he’s come up to see Alek, as a favour to his mother and to Alek’s parents.”
“That’s handy then. As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
“Quite.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “I daren’t even think about it. If I start to imagine Alek coming home—God, I’ll die if it all comes to nothing.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you won’t.” He smiled to take the sting from his words. “You’re tough, Sue. Strong and brave.”
She laughed that off. “I wish. Anyway, I’d better get on.”
“Me, too.” He checked that he’d put everything in his bag and reached for his coat. “I’ll see you on Monday, if not before.”
She grinned at him. “Don’t forget to bring your wallet.”
Sue led the dog to its kennel and, with no excuse to linger, Jamie walked back to his car. The sky was grey, the land wet and dreary. It suited his mood.
Sue had said this private investigator hadn’t agreed to take on the case. Hopefully, he wouldn’t. Jamie felt sure it would come to nothing but, all the same, he didn’t want Dylan Scott or whatever his name was poking his nose where it wasn’t wanted.
He’d put a stop to it if he had to.