“Thanks for meeting me. I know it wasn’t what you wanted to do, I mean I know it’s hard for you to see me, and well, thanks.”
Karl looked up from the menu and nodded, fixed Susan with an assertive gaze;
“Well clearly you have something to say to me and I think the three years we were together have bought you this much indulgence from me, but I will be honest and tell you that I’m not feeling patient. I mean it’s bad enough that you cheated on me six weeks before the wedding, but to do what you did… No groom to be should walk into a room to see his best friend’s wife eating out his fiancée who is screaming her pleasure without even thinking about how much more likely it must have made the possibility of detection.”
Susan’s shoulders slumped a little and she quickly shot glances left and right to see if they were overheard by the other diners and then turned back to her former partner;
“I’m so sorry, Karl. Still I know that you don’t want another apology so i’ll get to it. You see, the thing is I am pregnant, Dear.
Of course the doorbell went just as I was getting into the shower, I mean when else does anyone come to your door? So there I am, wrapped in a couple of towels trying to sign for some package that I don’t even remember ordering without showing the delivery guy everything I got, and the water’s getting in my eyes from my hair and well, by the time I got the damn thing inside and the door shut I was in a foul mood.
So I’m stood in the hallway, dripping onto the rug and staring at this package that’s about the size of a small dog andwondering what Earth it can be. Is it those speakers I am waiting for? No they were not due for another week. What about a gift from someone, out of the blue? Unlikely, my birthday was still three months awat, and besides I wasno longer at an age for pyhsically large gift giving.
I decided to put off the grand unveiling and get back in the shower, but as I turned to walk away there was a tearing sound and what felt like a feather duster being run over my legs, as a cat shot past me.
The wind fel good in Faran’s hair and face. Climbing to the top of the East Tower had left him tired and flushed, but the cooling wind was, along with the spectacular view of the bay, the perfect tonic.
It had been ten years of war that had laid the foundation for the tower he was now stood atop. Once the Garlanians had been beaten back into the sea it was Faran’s grandfather Retief the Bloody that had commanded his people to raise up a tower overlooking the three bays, from which the guard could keep a weather eye for sails on the horizon.
Of course the Garlanians had since become allies and partners in trade, and the war was far back in history, but the East Tower still had its uses. On hearing her footsteps behind him he wheeled round and grabbed her waist; Hiera had been trying to sneak up on him, even though he was there at her request and he had known she would be there somewhere. She squealed with delight, then rained kisses down on his face as she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer.
Winding the tapes between his fingers was the ritual that took him out of the world and placed him mind and body into the bubble of the bout. From this point onwards nothing else would matter until his opponent was out, or he was.
On the edge of his awareness he could hear Frank checking his bag; best cut man in the business, and the oldest, but he still checked the bag three times before any match. The noise finished and he felt Frank’s hand on his shoulder; a silent encouragement, a notice that Frank would be by his side.
The tapes were wound, and without fanfare Jerry was holding out the first glove, always the left first.
Gloves on, quick warm-up, hood up and start for the ring.
He stepped out into the gaze of the arena and the crowd went wild. His heart skipped a beat, just as it always did, and then he raised his right hand and started to jog down to the ring, hood falling back just as planned.
Into the ring, gently hopping from foot to foot, adrenaline now at full effect.
In the other corner; smiling.
Only people who commute to work via public transport can truly understand how completely depressing it is to wake up to grey skies and rain on a Monday morning. Why, you ask?Surely car drivers and pedestrians have as much to be depressed about; no one likes the rain. Well, here’s the thing; there is a particular smell and atmosphere when
fate groups damp people into enclosed spaces, and while commuting is pretty horrid when it’s really hot, nothing is quite up to the horror of a damp Monday morning.
The sounds of the carnival were ringing still in her ears when she awoke in the morning. Starting from her sleep and flailing around madly at the canvas that seemed to be all around her she realised that she was not trapped, but was merely between two tents that were standing very close to one another.
As she sat up she could feel that the wet ground had soaked her blouse and skirt right through; her clothes were so wet that they felt like wet tissue paper against her skin. It was at about that point that Lena started to wonder why she could not remember why she was there, on the ground. Why was she not at home in her bed, with her lover. Where was Helena?
And so it was at that moment that she became scared. She felt her breath start to quicken, the beat of her heart coming more quickly and then she was on her feet and running, hopping over tent pegs as she went. She burst out from between the two large marquees to find such a scene of devastation…
All those bodies and all that blood, and so she began to scream.
The truth is that the very last thing I had expected was to become a father. The recent past, well the last ten years at any rate, have not brought much actual love into my life. Of course there have been lovers, but no one who stayed very long or really got inside my armour.
No one could get close to me after what had happened, and so when Serena came along I was not expecting to find myself in love. In fact it was such a surprise that the last four months have passed almost without my noticing.
Without my realising I have a beautiful, intelligent woman living in my home, sleeping in my bed and sharing my life, and now she’s pregnant. There is a part of me that wants to slow it all down, that is terrified that nothing that can last can happen this fast. That thinks men who have children with women fifteen years their junior are often chosen for their money, not their inner being. When she tells me that she loves me, that little voice becomes very, very quiet indeed, and all I see is the mother of my child.
“There’s a story here, I can feel it!”
Damian was already getting excited, gesturing wildly and flitting around the table, picking up memos and invoices from the pile of documents that his contact had posted through his door early that morning.
“Come on! There are hundreds upon hundreds of transactions here that are nowhere to be found within the annual accounts of Foliginan, the parent company.”
I watched him, enjoying his infectious enthusiasm, wondering where he was going to take me, as I had not yet looked through the documents and he had spent all day with them. I decided to spur him on;
“So what you are saying is that this anonymous informant is telling you to follow the money, that the answers to our more interesting questions about the shooting at the retreat are actually answered by a money trail?”
His eyes lit up and widened with the rush of joy that I fed to him by following his line of thinking.
“Yes! Yes, absolutely. I am starting to think the Police assumptions about an angry employee are way off.”
“Fire in the Hole!”
Everyone on the gun team stopped for a moment and enjoyed the fruit of the last forty seconds’ labour and then they began to move like a well-oiled machine to cycle the gun’s breech, bring up another shell, load and fire; all in the same forty seconds.
Lieutenant Peabody was calculating the impact of keeping her most senior pilot on the rotation as well as the entire gun crew, as she worked the team through the orders and watched for opportunities to improve their performance. She wondered if warfare had always been about ‘cost-per-round’ and activity targets, budgets and spreadsheets, but only as much as keeping her mind on the battery protocol and her real-time budget would allow.
Off to one side, O’Hare, the pilot that was costing her forty units more than anyone else, was completely in the zone, guiding shell after shell into the target margin as if he was born to be a shell-jock.
Only time would tell about the budget, but the old man would like the hit profile.
The late evening train was not as busy as Felipé had expected, as he climbed aboard the westbound train after an extended day in London. Few people expected to meet a Columbian who lived in Swansea, but he was intensely proud of his adopted country. Most of the time he was happy in partial obscurity there at the University; still the occasional trips up to Town were just enough of a tonic for the urbanite in him.
Renata had brought him to Wales. She had captivated him, and when after three magical years together in Buenos Aries she had come to him and said that she wanted to go in search of her Welsh ancestors he had been more than willing to follow her across the globe to a place famous for rain, choral singing and being subjugated by the English.
It had seemed a natural move for both of them to apply to the University in Swansea, and for the next ten years they had been happy there. Now he could not bring himself to leave. It had been four years since she had left him, and still he was unable to break away.