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“I’d say you look as if you’ve seen a ghost, but I’m pretty sure it ought to be the other way around.”

Gerry just about managed to pull himself down from the ceiling, where he’d leapt (metaphorically) on being greeted by the unlikely sight of Sandra Pullman sitting in his kitchen, drinking his whisky. Eventually, he managed to get his voice back as well. “Cor, blimey, is this what you do these days – go round sneaking into people’s houses, trying to give them heart attacks?”

“Isn’t a bit late for that?” said Sandra, raising an eyebrow. “Besides, even apart from you being technically dead already, I thought it might be indiscreet to march up to the front door and knock.”

Gerry put his hand up to brush back his hair – what was left of it – and blew out a breath. “Yeah. All right, fair point, but how did you know? It was Strickland, wasn’t it? I knew that was a mistake – or was it the girls – maybe Brian –?”

“Gerry,” Sandra said, cutting in, “in case you were forgetting, I happen to be a bloody good detective. Not to mention the fact that I know you far too well.”

He gave a sheepish grin. “Oh, yeah. Of course.”

“So, in answer to your question: all of the above and none of the above,” she returned with a quick smile. “Bit showy, though, wasn’t it?”

Gerry’s grin widened. He didn’t feel that was a criticism. “Maybe. Bet you wept buckets, though.”

Sandra punched him in the arm, and he realised belatedly he should only have risked saying that if he was well out of her reach.

“Ow!”

“That’s for all the time before I twigged that something was off,” Sandra said. “And no, I’m not telling you how many days, hours, minutes, or seconds that was just so you can get some kind of kick out of the idea. But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. And I get why you had to do it. Although, seriously, Gerry, have you considered taking up amateur dramatics?”

“Thanks.” Gerry gave a mock bow, ignoring the protests of his back. He never had been one to let age cramp his style.

She looked at him. “Come on, sit down. Let’s have a drink and catch up. I can’t make a habit of this, you know.”

Gerry nodded, and did as she said. “I like that, when you’re already at my whisky.”

“Oh,” said Sandra, and gave a slow smile, pulling the bottle out of a bag, and putting it down on the table between them. It was, Gerry noted, a fifteen year-old Glen Scotia. “Who said it was your whisky?”

Gerry gave an appreciative whistle, and took the glass she pushed across to him. “This is the stuff, eh?”

“Ages well, apparently.”

He took a sip. “It’s good to see you.”

“Yeah.” Sandra watched him. “Do me a favour, though.”

“For you, Guv, anything!” said Gerry, downing the scotch.

“Live forever – you old bugger.”

Gerry gave another grin. “I’ll drink to that – and, I tell you what, I promise you I’ll at least die trying!”

“Damn right,” said Sandra, and raised her glass in return.