“Honey I’m home!” The front door to the apartment slammed shut as Bodie threw his briefcase at the hallstand and missed. As he removed his suit jacket and loosened his tie, the kitchen door opened to reveal his partner, Ray Doyle, wiping his hands on a tea towel.
“Hello, love. You’re early.” Ray crossed the hall and greeted his lover with a kiss. Pulling back, he grinned as Bodie smacked his lips and queried.
“What’re you cooking? Tastes good.”
“Mum’s Cottage Pie.”
“Since when did Cottage Pie contain red wine? Or are you imbibing like that chef fella?”
As Ray had been returning to the kitchen, he turned to look over his shoulder, his expression mischievous. “The Galloping Gourmet? Not my style at all. The red wine is in the dish. It’s one of Sam’s recipes.”
“Then it’s not your Mum’s, is it?” Bodie’s hands snaked around Ray’s waist as he pushed him into the kitchen.
Lithely twisting so that he once again faced Bodie, Ray chucked him under the chin. “It’s essentially Mum’s recipe; just with add-ins courtesy of Sam. And why do you care? You’ll eat whatever I put in front of you.”
Giving up trying to catch Ray’s finger with his teeth, Bodie kissed him again, then pulled away.
“That’s very true. But you were just so tasty I had to know why. I’m off to get changed. How long have I got?”
Ray glanced at the eye-level grill where the dish of Cottage Pie was browning nicely.
“About ten minutes.”
Although the apartment had a perfectly good dining area, they, more often than not, ate at the breakfast bar in the kitchen and tonight was no exception.
Bodie grimaced as he entered the room to see Ray dishing up the meal: the steaming hot meat, gravy and mashed potatoes, crisp carrots and broccoli. The twins still insisted on calling the green vegetable “trees” and their presence on his plate was part of Ray’s continuing efforts to keep his partner’s eating habits on a healthy track.
Bodie didn’t need a second bidding. Despite the “green shit”, the meal looked and smelled delicious.
After more than four years living together, the meal was consumed between snippets of conversation and banter as they shared their day and the remains of a bottle of red wine.
“Mmmm that was good. Thanks, Ray.” Bodie slipped off the tall stool and gathered the dishes together. One cooked; one washed up. Perfect definition of household tasks worked out over the years.
“My pleasure.” Dropping the empty wine bottle in the recycling bin, Ray picked up the tea towel and joined Bodie at the sink. One washed; one dried. Both put away.
Before long, the chores were done and they moved to the lounge, coffee mugs in hand.
The September evening light flooded through the balcony doors, dust motes danced in the fading sunbeams. But beautiful evening or not, it was too chill to sit on the balcony so they settled next to each other on the large sofa, which faced the window making the most of the view.
“So why were you home so early?” queried Ray.
Bodie grinned. He’d known that his failure to answer the earlier statement wouldn’t have escaped notice. But instead of answering, he responded with a question of his own.
“And how did you know I was going to be early?”
At Doyle’s startled look, he continued, “You had dinner almost on the table when I arrived … early by all accounts.”
This time Ray grinned. Bodie was as astute as ever.
“I rang your office and Jenny told me you’d just left. Based on the time of day, I estimated how long it would take you to get home and so dinner was ready just after you arrived.”
“Too clever for your own good, Ray. What did you ring me for?”
Ray blushed slightly. “Just wanted to hear your voice. I know … I know … mushy nonsense.”
“After all these years, you still want to hear my voice … God, Ray, I do love you.”
They gravitated together and shared a coffee flavoured kiss. Before it could get too passionate, Ray pulled back.
“So why were you home so early?”
Bodie laughed: a fully joyous sound as he pulled Ray into a tight hug.
“Detective Doyle. Ever diligent.”
“Mmmm. Well, I wanted to talk to you about something and I figured we’d probably need a few hours to hammer it all out to your satisfaction.”
“What do you mean? My satisfaction? What are you talking about?”
Bodie’s demeanour turned serious. “I need to talk something through with you and I want you to hear me out before making any comment. Okay?”
“Er … yeah … okay. What is it, love?”
Taking a deep steadying breath, Bodie finally got to the point.
“I’ve decided to quit.”
“What? You’ve …”
“Hear me out, Ray. You promised.”
“Yeah, yeah, I did. Go on.”
“You know I’ve never really settled in MI5. Oh, I’m good at what I do and when I get involved in an op, it’s still as satisfying as anything we did at CI5. But … well … it’s getting to be more and more a political game. Since my last promotion, I feel I’ve lost touch with who I am and what I want to do with my life.”
He paused, expecting an interruption, but Ray just nodded for him to continue.
“The last few months have been particularly difficult. I know we have to be answerable for our actions but it’s becoming ever more bureaucratic. There’s a committee checking into every operation. Bloody politicians have no clue what it’s like on the front line; the decisions that have to be made, often without all the necessary information; the lives that are saved as well as the lives that are lost. I’ve had it, Ray. I can’t cope with the interference any longer.”
Bodie stopped. Having leaned forward to emphasise his points, he now relaxed back on the sofa and awaited the outburst he fully expected to follow. When there was only silence, he asked.
“What do you think, Ray?”
To his surprise, his partner’s response was positively mild.
“And about time too.”
“Did you really think I would get upset about this?”
“I’ve seen what the job has done to you over the last few years. It breaks my heart to see you so unhappy. But it had to be your decision. Whatever I may, or may not, have thought, it’s an important part of who you are. And my influence could have skewed your thinking. But now that you’ve made your decision, I can tell you exactly what I think about those self-serving, devious bastards …”
Bodie used a tried and true method to shut him up. He kissed him.
They spent the rest of the evening discussing possible scenarios for Bodie’s future. He admitted that he’d worried about being able to find another job at his age.
“I’m not getting any younger. And I’ve honestly no clue about what I want to do. I just know I can’t stay on with MI5.”
“You’ve got six months’ notice to serve before the lack of a job becomes a real problem.”
“But what happens if I can’t find anything?”
Ray looked closely at him. “Are you serious? You’ve never expressed doubt in your abilities before. I’ve always been the one to worry everything to death. Get it through your head that you’re eminently employable.”
“I haven’t been unemployed since I left home at 14. Oh, there have been gaps but there’s always been a job waiting for me. It worries me that I won’t be able to contribute. To pay my way. To support Sophie and the boys.”
About to come out with a flippant comment, Ray realised that, for once, Bodie was sharing his very real fears.
Although Bodie had received counselling whilst dealing with the PTSD aftermath of his mission during The Falklands War, he was still reticent when it came to his feelings. He and Ray had now lived together for four years, building on their friendship to create a loving and secure relationship. Ray had been aware of Bodie’s increasing concerns about his role in Britain’s security services, so he wasn’t surprised by his decision. What was concerning him was Bodie’s uncharacteristic introspection. Deciding that distraction was needed, he clasped Bodie’s hand as he got to his feet.
“Come on, love. We’ll work it out together. Just like everything else.”
Dark blue eyes shone up at him. Trust. Bodie trusted him to help him resolve this situation and there was no way that Ray would breach that trust. There would be a solution. But, for now, he led his lover into the bedroom.
The Liverpool football ground was packed with cheering fans, enjoying the titanic battle taking place on the pitch. Neither side would give way. The ball moved easily from player to player; first in one direction, then in the other. But as the final whistle crept closer, it looked as though the result was going to be nil-nil.
Then the Liverpool centre forward broke away, running down the pitch towards the Everton goal. As he neared the penalty box, defenders faced him down, blocking access to the keeper and the precious goalmouth. Suddenly he lobbed the ball over their heads, straight to the forehead of the Liverpool winger who’d matched his run unseen by the Everton players. Lunging for the ball, the winger touched it just right and the ball sailed into the back of the net.
The Kop erupted. The noise was indescribable: shouts, screams, bursts of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, tears of joy. The twins, Raymond and Andrew, were caught up in the hysteria, jumping up and down in delight, waving their scarves over their heads. Bodie and Doyle smiled at their antics before each reaching out a steadying hand to prevent the boys tumbling over the seats in front of them.
“It’s over,” Bodie nodded towards the pitch where the referee could be seen waving his hands in the air, indicating the end of the match. The goal had literally hit the back of the net as the whistle had blown but there was no way that anyone in the jubilant home crowd could have heard the final blast. As the Everton players slowly left the pitch, the Liverpool team took the opportunity to do a quick half-lap of honour, acknowledging their supporters.
Getting out of the stadium seemed to take hours as ecstatic, excited fans re-lived the last minute goal over and over. The mass of bodies trying to get out of the ground made forward movement almost impossible for a grown man. Two slight, nine year olds stood no chance. Equally, trying to wait whilst the majority left was also impossible. The sheer mass of bodies meant the momentum was with the crowd and not the individual.
Glancing at each other, Bodie and Doyle each grasped a small shoulder and pulled a twin in close, shielding the boys as much as possible from the crush all around them.
But the horror of the Hillsborough match was still vivid for most Liverpool supporters so there was only the normal jostling of any large crowd and not the desperate surge that could lead to disaster.
But even the crushing, heaving crowd surrounding them couldn’t subdue the twins. And it was with huge sighs of relief that the two adults steered them through the gate and into the narrow streets beyond. As the crowd dispersed, it became much easier to walk side by side though both adults maintained a hand on a shoulder to ensure neither boy darted away.
They found a relatively quiet spot on a street corner to stop and assess their options. Looking round at the narrow streets and small terraced houses, Doyle was reminded of his childhood in Derby. Inner city living was similar no matter which city you were in during the 1960s. He now knew that Bodie’s memories were very different from his own, having spent his formative years on his parent’s farm on The Falklands, then several years in his early teens with his aunt and uncle in Birkenhead.
“Can we have chips, Dad?” Andrew was still bouncing with excitement.
“Haven’t you had enough to eat? You haven’t stopped since breakfast.”
The snort from the other adult in the party made Bodie realise just what he’d said as he’d matched the boys mouthful for mouthful. He laughed and punched Ray lightly on the shoulder.
“Don’t start what, Dad?” enquired Raymond as he scuffed his shoes kicking a pebble along the kerb.
“None of your beeswax, Mr Nosey,” answered Bodie as he grabbed Raymond’s jacket to pull him out of the gutter and out of the path of a car taking the corner too fast. “Stay on the pavement.”
“Yes, Dad,” he responded meekly but was promptly distracted by a tin can, which then clattered satisfactorily against the brick wall of the house on the corner.
One quirky eyebrow rose as Bodie shared a look with his partner. Dealing with young boys was an adventure neither of them had ever dreamed of having.
“Well … can we have chips?” piped up Andrew, his attention still focused on the queue of football fans he could see outside the shop further down the road.
“Come on,” said Ray. “We’ll have no peace until they’re fed again.” And he led the way with Andrew as Bodie once more grabbed Raymond, making sure he was heading in the right direction.
Fortunately the chip shop was used to dealing with the post-match hordes and the queue rapidly disappeared as orders were dealt with and in a mere fifteen minutes the four of them were devouring a bag of chips each, heading back towards the car park.
The streets surrounding the Anfield ground were all designated “No Parking” except for residents and fans were encouraged to use public transport. However, Bodie disliked all forms of public transport so they’d driven from Birkenhead and parked a good mile or so away from the ground. The twins hadn’t seemed to notice the distance involved in the walk to the ground. Their excitement level had been building since their father had first announced that he was taking them to Anfield to see Liverpool play at home. Now having expended most of their energy during the game and its immediate aftermath, they dragged their feet.
“Come on, slow coaches. Aunty Irene will have tea waiting for us.” Bodie turned to see that the boys had stopped and were examining something on the pavement.
“Dad! Look at this!” Andrew pointed to something at his feet.
“Better go see what it is,” said Doyle, knowing the boys could be as obsessive as their father when their attention was snagged. “I’ll wait here.” He indicated the low stone wall bordering the small front garden of the house by which they’d stopped.
With a put upon sigh, Bodie walked back towards his sons. Doyle grinned at his partner’s attitude. Whoever would have thought when they were running around the streets of London as CI5’s finest that Bodie would turn out to be a terrific father.
As he watched, Bodie joined the boys and knelt down to examine whatever it was that had caught their attention. Doyle couldn’t help but smile at the sight of three dark heads bent over as they discussed their find.
Eventually Bodie stood up, brushed off his trouser knees, indicated that Andrew should pick something up and ushered the boys along the pavement.
“What’ve you got there?” Doyle queried as the three of them drew level with him.
Andrew thrust out his clasped hands. “Look, Uncle Ray. Look what we found.”
“Can we keep it? Can we?” Raymond was practically dancing with excitement.
“Go on, then. Show me.”
Andrew carefully opened his hands to reveal a small green frog. About two inches long, it sat perfectly still, making no attempt to hop away.
“Dad says it’s scared. That’s why it doesn’t move.” Andrew gently closed his hands.
Raymond tugged at Doyle’s arm. “Can we keep it?” Looking down into dark blue eyes, so like his father’s, Doyle shook his head.
“I don’t think so. It needs to be back with its family. Where do you think it came from?”
Distracted, Raymond started to look around. “What about over there?” He pointed to a patch of greenery about fifty yards further down the road.
“Let’s check it out. He’ll need water and grass.”
As the boys set off, Bodie joined Doyle. “And how do you know what frogs need?”
“I haven’t got a clue. City boy here. But I didn’t want to explain to Sophie that she’d adopted a frog.”
Grinning, Bodie nudged Doyle with his elbow as they set off after the boys.
The patch of greenery was actually an entrance to Stanley Park, a green oasis in the middle of the urban landscape. It had retained many of its original Victorian features: wrought iron railings and gates, a huge glass conservatory, bandstand and, most importantly, a pond.
All four made their way along winding paths, the boys chattering happily. Eventually they left the path, crossed a short swathe of pristine grass and came to the edge of the pond.
“This looks like a good spot.” Bodie indicated a slight dip where the grass met the water.
“Are you sure, Dad?” Raymond’s face was creased with worry. “He’s awfully little. And that’s a lot of water. He might drown.”
Bodie knelt down at the edge of the pond, undoubtedly doing more damage to his trousers, and beckoned both boys forward.
“Don’t worry, boys. Come on, Andrew. Just put him down at the edge of the water and watch.”
Reassured by their father’s calm tones, the twins knelt next to him. Andrew leant forward, put his hands on the ground and opened them. The frog remained frozen. When Raymond went to nudge it, Bodie stopped him.
Minutes passed. Then, ever so slowly, the frog twitched. It gathered itself then leapt. Andrew fell backwards in shock and it was Raymond who watched it land in the water then rapidly disappear.
“It’s gone, Dad.”
“That’s it, boys. He’s gone back to his family. And it’s time we got back to Aunty Irene’s. She’s going to have tea on the table and no-one to eat it.”
Irene Bodie lived in a well-maintained 1930s semi-detached house on the outskirts of Birkenhead. Her husband, Stephen, had died the previous year and she had been finding it difficult to adjust to life on her own. They’d had no children of their own and contact with Bodie had been sporadic over the years. So a visit from her husband’s nephew, his partner and twin sons was to be relished. There was nothing nicer, to her mind, than to see healthy appetites in action and she’d produced feasts for every meal.
As the car pulled up outside the house, Irene pulled the casserole dish from the oven. As the front door opened, she was putting it on the warming plate on the sideboard in the dining room.
There was a lot of scuffling from the hall along with giggles and she called out. “Wash your hands. Tea’s on the table.”
“Yes, Aunty,” came two boys’ voices, followed by two deeper rumbles. Then the sound of four pairs of feet clumping up the stairs, the bathroom door opening, water running, more scuffling – probably over who got the towel first – and, finally, a thunder of feet as they came back down and into the dining room.
Irene smiled as she watched them demolish the hotpot and vegetables followed by apple crumble and custard. The boys chattered happily about the football match and a frog plus all the other sights. Bodie and Doyle threw in the occasional comment, mainly to stop any squabbles breaking out.
Later that evening, the three adults settled in the lounge. The boys were in bed, exhausted from their day and already fast asleep.
“Would you like to see some family photos, Ray?” Although of an older generation, Irene was strongly of the opinion that love was love. She’d found it with Stephen and had liked Bodie’s wife Sophie very much but she could see that it was Ray Doyle who made him truly happy so she’d welcomed him into her home.
“That would be lovely, Irene.”
As Irene opened a door in the sideboard to extract several photo albums, Ray glanced at Bodie who’d slumped down into his armchair looking somewhat glum.
Ray grinned. He knew that Bodie didn’t have many souvenirs from his past, having always claimed that they were useless tat. And Bodie knew how curious Ray still was about every aspect of his partner’s life. Ray couldn’t help it. He needed to know Bodie inside and out. Now he shrugged to show that he understood Bodie’s reluctance to share but he then turned to Irene, who had opened the first of the albums on the coffee table.
Sitting on the couch next to the older woman, he let her lead him through the photographs.
“This is Will with his Mum when he came to us.”
A grainy black and white photograph showed a smiling Lizzie and a very glum eleven year old.
“He wasn’t best pleased as you can see.”
There was a cough from the armchair. “I’m in the room, you know.”
“We know, luv,” said Irene. “But I’m showing these to Ray. And she turned the page to the next photograph.
Later that night, the partners lay together in the three-quarter bed in the larger of the two spare bedrooms. The twins were tucked up in a single bed, topping and tailing, and, once asleep, wouldn’t move until morning.
The two adults hadn’t made love but they were cuddling. Bodie had his head on Ray’s shoulder, feeling secure with the strong arms wrapped round him. He smiled as he realised that they were breathing in unison.
“What’re you grinning about?” Ray’s whisper reverberated through his chest to Bodie’s ear.
“Just thinking about how comfortable this is. The two of us. Quiet, together.”
“Well, we can’t be much else in someone else’s home. Irene accepts our relationship but I don’t think she’d want to hear us! You’re a noisy bugger at times.”
“And you’re not, I suppose.”
They lay quietly for several minutes before Bodie spoke again.
“I enjoyed your quizzing of Aunt Irene over a bunch of old pictures. But you could have asked me.”
“Yeah and got the same old bullshit you’ve been feeding me for years.”
“Well … where’s the fun in telling the truth?”
“May be just because your lover wanted to know more about you.” Ray’s voice, still a whisper, turned serious. Somehow it was easier to ask these questions in the dark, knowing that Bodie couldn’t walk out and there’d be no argument because of disturbing the sleepers in the house. Despite their renewed relationship and the strength of their feelings for each other, Ray didn’t feel that he could push Bodie too much on the past. Hence his delight in Aunt Irene sharing the photographs with him. But her version of the story wasn’t what he’d heard from Bodie. May be now was the right time.
Bodie was a warm, heavy weight, pressing him into the mattress. Gently Ray rubbed Bodie’s back, running his hand over the smooth skin, revelling in the way the muscle groups reacted to his touch. Ray tightened his hold slightly as he asked, “Tell me about it.”
“Mmmm,” came a sleepy response. “Tell you about what?”
“About your time here with Irene and Stephen? What happened to make you run away? To leave their love and security behind.”
Bodie sat up suddenly and looked down at Ray.
“I told you about it when I told you about the war.”
“You told me you were sent to your uncle’s so you could go to school in the UK. There was nothing about why you ran away. For a long time, I thought they’d been horrible to you …?”
“No … that wasn’t so.”
Ray reached up and brushed his fingers gently across Bodie’s cheek.
“I know that now. Having met Irene and heard all about Stephen and having seen the photographic evidence, I know that they loved you and cared for you. So, back to my original question, what happened?”
“Oh, crikey, Ray. It was all so long ago. Why does it matter so much to you?”
Recognising a standard Bodie delaying tactic, Ray decided more direct action was needed. He lay back against the pillows and started to stretch, tightening and relaxing muscles in turn. He knew he’d caught Bodie’s attention when he heard a slight hitch of breath. He stopped moving, opened his eyes and looked at his partner.
Bodie was definitely distracted. His eyes were fixed on the waistband of Ray’s pyjama bottoms, which had slipped down his hips, revealing a narrow band of hair arrowing down to interesting places. Another inch and the slippage would be positively indecent.
As Bodie stretch out a hand to touch, Ray asked again. “Tell me what happened.”
Bodie pulled his hand back as if burned.
“Damn you, Ray Doyle! You’re like a dog with a bloody bone. I can think of much more interesting things to do. Why is it so important to you?”
Holding Bodie’s eyes with his own, Ray gave him the only answer he could. “Because I need to know you.”
“You do know me. No one knows me better.”
“But it’s not enough, Bodie. I thought I knew you before.”
“Before? What are you on about?”
“Before you went away and came back a changed man.” Unable to look into those blue eyes any longer, Ray glanced away. “I thought I knew you and then I found I didn’t. And all these years I’ve wondered. Did I do something wrong?”
Bodie gently turned Ray’s face back towards him. “What am I going to do with you, Ray Doyle? After all these years you are the one person in my life who really does know me. And you did before I went back to the Islands. It was me that changed. And that was because of the PTSD. It was never because of you or anything you did or did not do.”
“I know you love me, Bodie. I know you’ll never leave me again. But I just have these niggling questions about your past. And when you close up, I can’t help but wonder why you won’t share yourself with me.”
“Whatever did I do to deserve you, Ray?” Bodie lay back down and gathered his partner to him. “Okay. Let’s see if I can answer your question.”
“Start at the beginning and work your way through it. Seems to work for most good stories.”
Ray smiled as he snuggled further into the strong arms enfolding him. No matter what Bodie told him, he knew he was trusted and it would be another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that was William Andrew Philip Bodie.
Taking a deep breath, Bodie started his tale.
“As you now know, I had a pretty amazing childhood. Growing up on The Islands was a real-life Boy’s Own Adventure. Oh, there weren’t a lot of mod-cons in the fifties and sixties. We were too far away from so-called civilisation but it didn’t seem to matter. Most of the population had been born on The Islands and accepted their way of life. Incomers, such as my father, accepted the inconveniences because they gained so much more.”
Bodie’s voice took on the sing-song quality of a storyteller as he started to relive the memories. Doyle relaxed into the warm embrace as he absorbed every word.
“I was home schooled until I was eight; a mixture of Mum and the radio school. Then I was sent to school in Stanley. We boarded during the week and went home at weekends. We were all a little wild, I suppose. But we were happy.”
He paused, cleared his throat, then continued.
“But there was no secondary education. A lot of children left school at eleven and went to work with their families. Some were sent to boarding schools in Argentina or Uruguay. And some were sent to the UK.”
“Why did your parents decide on the UK? Eight thousand miles is a heck of a commute.”
“The ties to home were strong despite the distance and Dad wanted me to have a British education. He persuaded Mum and she came with me to see me settled with Aunt Irene and Uncle Stephen. Dad couldn’t leave the farm and Mum wouldn’t let me travel alone. I kicked up a right fuss but no one argued with Dad for long and, once he’d made up his mind, he didn’t change it. So we made the trek north. It’s changed quite a bit since the War. There’s a much better service now linking The Islands with the home country.”
“Ha! I don’t remember it being that great,” moaned Ray.
“Believe me, the trip we took in ’94 was a picnic in comparison. Slow boats, even slower planes!”
“Alright, I believe you!”
“By the time we arrived in Birkenhead, I wasn’t prepared to be happy about anything. Poor Aunty Irene. She’d been so looking forward to finally meeting me. And she got this surly, black browed hulk of a boy. I must have seemed like all her nightmares come in one go. They’d never had children of their own so they were pretty clueless as to how to deal with me.”
“I know how she felt!”
“Oi! Don’t be cheeky.” Bodie gently bit the top of Ray’s left ear and felt the shudder run through the slender frame, before he twisted away from the caress.
“None of that! I want to hear the rest of the story.”
“Okay, okay. Well, Mum stayed for about six weeks to see me settled into school and my temporary home. Looking back now, I know it was the right decision for my parents. I needed the discipline of a more formal education. I’d run wild for too long. Of course, I didn’t appreciate that at the time and I must have made their life a misery.”
“But what made you run away?”
“I just wanted to go home. I ran away a couple of times. You know the type of thing: pack a couple of sarnies in your hankie. Got as far as Lime Street Station the last time I tried.”
Ray grinned. Having seen the photos of Bodie in his early teens, he could easily imagine the surly young tough.
“Uncle Stephen gave me a right talking to after that one. And I did settle down for a bit. Then I saw an ad in The Echo. The Merchant Navy was advertising for crew for a freighter I knew well. The Atlantic Princess made the run into Port Stanley several times a year. I figured this was my chance so I blagged my way through the interview; told them I was sixteen. Got the job – cook’s mate – and I was on my way home …”
“Yes, there’s a ‘but’, Ray. The damn ship wasn’t going to The Falklands but West Africa. So now you know.”
“Now I know.” Ray turned so he could look into Bodie’s eyes. “Thank you for sharing that with me.”
“Go to sleep, Ray.”
Back in London, life resumed its normal course. Bodie was working out his notice at MI5, spending his days in meetings as he handed over responsibility for his caseload and being de-briefed by his senior officers. Ray was heavily involved in the day to day operations of Professional Security Services. Neither of them spent a great deal of time at home so the evenings and weekends they did get off together were very precious. Sometimes it seemed that nothing had changed since their days in CI5.
Their Docklands apartment didn’t have much outside space, other than balconies, so they rented garage space nearby where they stored their motorbikes and all the paraphernalia needed to do most of the maintenance themselves.
Waking up to an empty bed, Bodie stretched languorously, feeling the pull on muscles that were no longer getting the intense workouts devised by Brian Macklin and his team. Too much time spent in the office, not enough time on the streets or even in the gym. Bodie promised himself a workout as he had the whole weekend off.
He chuckled as he realised what Ray would say when he told him. His partner was as fit as he’d ever been whilst in CI5 and put it down to clean living. He’d always nagged Bodie about his eating habits and that hadn’t changed with the resumption of their physical relationship. Bodie had long realised that he’d missed those comments on his diet and exercise regimen whilst he and Ray were estranged. Funny how something potentially so irritating had become a part and parcel of who they were.
As he got out of bed, his eye was caught by a piece of paper propped against the alarm clock on the bedside cabinet. Recognising Ray’s distinctive scrawl, he read ‘In garage’.
After showering, shaving, dressing and breakfasting at an unusually leisurely rate, Bodie wandered down to the lock-up.
The doors were ajar, letting in the autumn sunshine and Doyle sat, cross-legged, on the concrete floor as he carefully and thoroughly cleaned pieces of metal. Bodie paused to watch, seeing the same determined dedication Ray used to give to cleaning his gun now transferred to the parts of a motorbike. Both would keep you alive but only one was intrinsically lethal.
Leaning against the door jam, Bodie allowed himself the luxury of just watching Doyle. Over the years, he had seen his lover in every mood but he still found himself enthralled. The sunlight picked out highlights in the brown hair, both gold and silver. As Ray had aged so he’d changed his hairstyle but, though shorter, the curls were just as unruly. Now he pushed them out of his eyes, smearing oil across his forehead.
“Got a smudge there, Sunshine.” Bodie commented as he moved away from the door and into the garage proper.
Ray glanced up. It was clear he’d been aware of Bodie’s approach as there was no surprise in his expression, only welcome.
“It will clean off with a little elbow grease.”
“I could help with that.”
“I hope you will. Here, give me a hand up. My legs have gone dead.”
Putting the engine pieces to one side, he held up a hand, which Bodie grasped to pull him to his feet. Ray staggered slightly as his cramped legs protested the change in orientation. Bodie steadied him, taking his weight easily, brushing a hand over the still perfect buttocks, currently clad in a greasy brown overall.
“Oi! Hands off! That’s private property, that is!”
“Thought we shared everything these days.”
“Well … that all depends on what you’re prepared to pay for it.”
“Pay? Since when did I have to pay for it?”
Having locked up the garage, they made their way back to the apartment, bickering amiably.
Several hours later the pair were sprawled across their bed, limbs entwined. Neither were asleep but they were both drowsy, replete and too comfortable to move.
Bodie rubbed a lazy hand across his lover’s belly, smearing their combined residue. Ray wriggled.
“Sorry, love. Wasn’t supposed to. Just liked the feeling.”
Ambushed by a yawn, Ray still managed to say, “Then carry on. It’s quite nice actually. Now that the tickle has worn off.” He stretched, like a large languid cat, and purred softly as Bodie’s caress moved slightly lower.
“You’re not serious?” Ray murmured as lips gently suckled.
“Mmm. My favourite dessert.”
“Can’t be dessert. We haven’t had dinner yet.”
“Dinner can wait. Don’t tell me you’re not interested.”
Ray actually giggled, a gurgle of delight, as his cock twitched with renewed interest.
“Alright, I won’t tell you I’m not interested.”
“That’s my Ray. Always ready.”
“Only with you, love. Only with you.”
The rest of Saturday was spent in lazy appreciation of each other. They ate when they were hungry; they made love as and when they felt like it, they chatted about all kinds of topics and they enjoyed the time they had together.
The next morning, as they were finishing breakfast, Bodie glanced across at Ray to see him frowning down at the remains of his muesli. About to make a flippant comment about what Ray thought he could see in the flakey milk, he realised that something had been nagging at him since he’d found Ray in the garage.
Whilst Ray regularly worked on the motorcycles to keep them in tip top condition, he rarely polished the component pieces unless he was worrying over some problem or other. Combined with the frown now trying to destroy a cereal bowl and a couple of incidents of vagueness the day before, he knew his love wanted to discuss something with him and was probably trying to find the best way to raise the topic.
Rapidly running through anything of which he was aware that might be causing Ray concern, Bodie decided that a frontal assault was the best approach. They still had the whole day in front of them so they had plenty of time to discuss whatever it was that had Ray distracted.
“So,” said Bodie. “Are you trying to see the mysteries of the universe in muesli or do you want to talk to me about something?”
Ray looked up, surprised once more at the perspicacity of this man.
“Can’t fool you for long, can I?”
“Known you too long. Can tell when you’re going broody on me. What’s up?”
“Nothing’s up. Well … not really.” He paused and pushed the cereal bowl away from him. “We haven’t really talked about what you’re going to do when your notice is up.”
“Probably because I really haven’t decided what I want to do. And I don’t have to make a decision in a hurry. We’ll be financially sound for a few months at least. And I’ve always fancied being a kept man, unlike some.” Bodie was glad to see Ray’s expression lighten at his flippancy.
It was true that he hadn’t decided what he wanted to do but it wasn’t for lack of thought. He knew that leaving MI5 was the right decision and now was the right time to leave but he really had no idea of what he wanted to do next. Lots of ideas, both practical and fanciful, but nothing that had definite appeal.
“Go on then. What have you got to tell me?”
Ray relaxed a bit more, sitting back in his chair.
“I was talking to Peter the other day. Business is really good. We’ve had a couple of high profile cases, which have brought in more clients through the good publicity. Peter wants to expand and I’m inclined to agree. The time is right to take on another partner to concentrate more on the international security side. And Peter wants to offer you the place.”
To say that Bodie was surprised was an understatement. Since Ray had joined Professional Security Services, they’d kept their working lives as separate as possible. Bodie’s role in MI5 meant that confidentiality and security were paramount so that he couldn’t share a large part of his life with his love. But having been partners in CI5, they were both well aware of the implications of a security breach so Ray didn’t push for details and Bodie only gave the bare bones.
And that went both ways. Ray was aware of the importance of commercial confidentiality so he too only gave the briefest outline of the work he now did. Which meant that Bodie had had no idea of how well PSS were doing. Nor had he realised that Peter Attwood was aware of his circumstances.
For a second or two, Bodie’s mind went blank. Of all the possible scenarios he had considered, it had never occurred to him that he could work with Ray again. Their career paths had parted when CI5 closed. This was a total bolt out of the blue. And he didn’t think he could do it.
“What do you think?” Ray sounded almost nervous. And Bodie realised that this meant a great deal to Ray so his initial reaction was probably not the way to go.
“Er … “
“You don’t like it, do you?” Ray got up from the table and walked across the lounge before throwing himself down on the sofa.
“Give me a chance here, Ray.” Bodie followed him across the room, sitting down and taking Ray’s hand in his. “To be honest, I hadn’t considered private security. I’ve had lots of ideas but not this one.”
“Why ever not? It’s the most obvious next step for anyone in the security services.”
“I’m not an obvious kind of guy!”
“And don’t I know it! No, seriously, Bodie. Would you consider it? Perhaps have a meeting with Peter to see where he sees you fitting into the organisation.”
“Do you want me to join PSS?” Having seen Ray’s earlier reaction, Bodie needed to ensure that he was fully aware of all aspects of this unexpected offer. If Ray really wanted them to work together again, he was really going to have to think very seriously about his next steps.
“I’m staying out of it. It’s not my decision. The idea came from Peter. I said I would talk to you about it.”
“Talk? Or persuade?”
“Talk. Whatever you decide to do next has got to be your decision. I enjoyed our years together at CI5. We worked well together on the Summerhayes case, even though we were in different organisations. Our personal relationship is strong enough to cope with being in the same company but this has got to be what you want.”
“Okay, okay. Let me think about it. I’ll set up a meet with Peter so that I have all the facts. And I’ll let you know what I decide.”
“That’s all I want you to do. Don’t think that because I’ve mentioned this to you that I’m pressuring you into accepting. I think you would be an asset to PSS but it has to be your choice.”
Bodie relaxed into the sofa. He could think about it. And he would.
He tugged on Ray’s hand and pulled him down next to him.
“Come here, you gorgeous creature. Ravish me!”
“Insatiable, that’s what you are! Bloody insatiable!”
“Dad! Dad! Dad!” The shrill tones of nine year old Andrew reached Bodie as he stood at the dining room window looking out over the garden he and Sophie had worked so hard on in the years of their marriage. Now mature, it was both a place of escape for adults and a playground for the twins and their friends.
They’d really dropped on when they’d bought this property in South West London. Not only four bedrooms and detached but on a large corner plot, the house was an ideal family home. And now it was a one-parent family home as Bodie had signed over his share to Sophie on their divorce.
As the back door slammed open, Bodie went to meet his son in the hallway before he tracked half the garden across the carpets.
“What’s up, Andrew?”
Andrew skidded to a half at the kitchen door, hopping from foot to foot.
“The loo’s that-a-way.” Bodie pointed to the under stair space that now contained a toilet and hand basin.
“No, Dad.” Andrew’s voice was exasperated. “Uncle Ray says he’ll take us to the cinema this afternoon if it’s okay with you and Mum. Is it? Is it okay?”
“Fine with me but we need to check with Mum. How do you feel about it Sophie?” Bodie had given no indication that he’d known his ex-wife was standing in the lounge doorway. But Sophie had long since given up wondering at his preternatural sense of his surroundings and the people inhabiting them. It was part of what ensured that Bodie was successful as a security operative.
“I don’t have a problem with it. As long as it really is okay with Ray.”
“It is, it is,” exclaimed Andrew, turning from his father to greet the other two as they came through the kitchen. “Isn’t that so, Uncle Ray?”
“What’s that then, Andy?”
“Going to the pictures. You said we could.”
Picking up on his brother’s enthusiasm, Raymond started to dance around too. “You did, Uncle Ray, you did say we could go.”
Ray couldn’t keep the huge grin from breaking out. The twins were just so full of life and exactly how he’d always imagined Bodie at the same age. He found them irresistible.
“I did say it had to be okay with your Mum and Dad.” He glanced across at the two adults, who were trying to hide their own smirks.
“Dad said yes. So did Mum.”
“Not quite what I said, Andy.” Bodie corrected his son.
“But that’s what you meant, isn’t it?” Dark blue eyes beseeched and Bodie conceded.
“Yeah. It’s what I meant.” He turned his own dark blue eyes to his partner. “Are you sure about this, Ray?”
“Yeah. It’s fine. Sophie gave me the timings earlier so we should get there with time to spare if we leave now.”
“Go and get your coats, boys.” Sophie ushered the boys towards the coat rack and chivvied them into their outdoor coats.
Sensing a definite plot between his ex-wife and his current lover, Bodie caught Ray’s arm as he moved out of the kitchen into the hall.
“Don’t take any nonsense from them. And thanks.”
“Since when do I take nonsense from anyone? Enjoy the peace and quiet. And listen to Sophie.”
With that, Ray gathered up both boys and they disappeared out of the front door. Bodie raised an eyebrow at Sophie. There was definitely something going on. But Sophie refused to be fazed.
“Cup of tea, Will?”
A short while later, Bodie was enjoying freshly made tea and home-made cake. Once Sophie was settled in an armchair, he tackled her.
“Okay! What’s going on? What’s so important you get Ray to take the boys out?” A sudden chill ran down his spine. “There’s nothing wrong, is there? You’re all fit and healthy?”
Sophie looked at him with that half-pitying expression women reserve for men who have said something totally witless.
“There’s nothing wrong with any of us. It’s you I want to talk about.”
“Ray asked you to talk to me, didn’t he?
Sophie looked down for a moment then met his gaze head on.
“Yes. Yes, he did.”
Not quite believing that his lover had asked his ex-wife to intervene, Bodie took a deep breath. It would be all too easy to take issue with Sophie but, looking at the beautiful woman sitting opposite him, he realised how much she still cared for him. To have agreed to speak to him on behalf of Ray was an immensely brave thing to do. She, as much as anyone, knew what a private person he was. How much he kept to himself. But he decided to hear her out. It must be important for Ray to take this route to reach him. After all he could tear a strip off Ray later.
Sitting back on the couch, crossing his legs, he assumed a relaxed pose. “Go on then. What did he want you to find out?”
“He’s worried about you.”
“But why? I’m fine.” Bodie leaned forward, his face reflecting his confusion. “Talk to me, Sophie. What’s Ray been saying?”
“Settle back and drink your tea.” She indicated the mug sitting, neglected, on the coffee table. Even the cake was only half-eaten. Looking somewhat rueful, Bodie picked up both tea and cake and sat back, trying to look as if he discussed his personal life with his ex-wife every day.
Sophie started to speak, her US East Coast accent softened after the years she’d spent in the UK.
“Ever since you handed in your resignation, Ray feels that you’ve cut him out.”
Bodie started to speak but she cut him off. He put the tea and cake back on the coffee table and sat forward.
“Let me say what I have to say, Will. Then you can tell me your side of things.” She took a breath then continued. “He tells me that you’d talked a lot about why you wanted to leave, that he was fully supportive of your decision. Yet once you’d handed in the letter, it was as if a shutter came down and you’ve refused to speak about the future. Ray’s really worried about you. I think he also feels shut out and it takes him back to the bad years after you returned from The Falklands and rejected him.”
“No! God, no!” Bodie leapt to his feet and started to pace around the room. “Does he really think that? Why didn’t he talk to me?” He turned to face Sophie, concern etched on his face.
“I think he’s tried, Will. But, whilst he knows that you don’t like to talk about your feelings, he doesn’t see talking about your future together as a purely emotional matter. It’s also very practical. He wants to see you happy and he’s had no response from you. I know you’ve been back together for over four years and, you’re happier now than you’ve ever been, but Ray still has a lot of insecurity from your break-up. It took ten years for you to explain what had happened and, whilst we both know that it was due to the PTSD, Ray has a very active imagination. He’s worried that you’ll leave him again.”
“Never. That’s never going to happen.”
Sophie held out her hand and he grasped it hard.
“I know that, Will, and deep down I think Ray knows that too. But, if this goes on, things could begin to fester and it will be so much harder to pull back from the edge. Talk to him, Will. You must have some idea of what you want to do. It can’t be that hard for you to share that with the man you love.”
“That’s just it. I don’t. I don’t know what I want to do. Before I’ve always known exactly where I was going, at least career-wise, but this time I feel like I’m drifting. I have to get out of MI5, I know that. And that decision was easy to make. But what’s the next step? I just don’t know.”
“Oh, Will. Just talk to him. Tell him what you’ve told me. He just needs to be included. And this would put his mind at rest. He’s starting to think you’re silent because there’s something wrong in your relationship. That your silence is about more than the job. He just needs to be included.”
Bodie squeezed her hand then released it and moved back to the couch once more.
“I never meant to hurt him. God knows I’ve done enough of that over the years. But I guess a leopard really doesn’t change its spots. And my old habit of hiding even from those I love is still going strong.”
“Now don’t start beating yourself up. Honestly, you two could guilt for England! Just talk to him. Now enough from me. More tea?”
When Ray and the twins returned to the house in the early evening, they found Sophie in the dining room patching what appeared to be a mountain of boys’ clothing. Both boys were tired and hungry and happily accepted her instruction to help themselves to a drink and a piece of cake awaiting them in the kitchen. Before Ray could ask, she pointed towards the lounge, raising one finger to her lips to indicate silence.
Pushing the door open slowly, he peered in and found Bodie asleep on the couch. Curled on his side, with one hand tucked under his cheek, he looked no older than his sons. Ray resisted the urge to brush the dark hair back off the pale forehead and retreated to the dining room.
“How long’s he been asleep?”
Sophie smiled. “About an hour. We talked and he took a long walk around the garden. Well, actually, several laps. Came in and dozed off.”
“I’m not surprised. He’s had a tough few days in work, hasn’t been sleeping all that well for a while and then I dump my worries on him.”
“Now, don’t you start,” she admonished. “Your concerns are important too. Once he’s had a chance to work it all through, I’m sure he’ll talk to you.”
“I hope so. I’ve never really got used to the way he shuts me out.”
“Not just you, Ray. He shuts out the world and that includes you. Just be patient with him. He’ll come round.”
“Thanks, Sophie. I didn’t want to dump it on you but I couldn’t think who else he might listen to.”
“No problem at all. One of the advantages of being his ex-wife. There’s a certain amount of guilt I can play on when necessary to get his attention. Not nice, I know, but I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure Will is happy. And he is happy with you.”
Ray moved across the room, pulled Sophie to her feet and into a hug.
“You are one very clever woman. And I can see why he married you. But I’m glad he divorced you.”
They were grinning at each other like idiots when Bodie walked in, sleepily rubbing his eyes.
“What are you two up to?”
The journey home was completed in almost total silence. Ray wasn’t sure how Bodie would react to his involving Sophie in their personal affairs so he decided to take his lead from his partner. And Bodie was silent. Not in itself that unusual as he was a self-contained person. He’d also been through a bit of an emotional catharsis during the afternoon and was still feeling sleepy. He also didn’t want to discuss things in the car. And small talk just seemed too awkward.
No sooner had Ray secured the front door to the apartment than he was grabbed and pushed up against the hall wall. Even though taken by surprise, he didn’t resist. He knew Bodie would never hurt him physically.
“Why did you ask Sophie to talk to me? Couldn’t you have asked me yourself?”
Whilst the tone was gentle, Ray could hear the pain in his partner’s voice. Wriggling one hand free, he cupped Bodie’s cheek and caressed with his thumb from the corner of his eye to the softness of his lips.
“I don’t know if I can explain it to you, love. You clammed up on me every time I mentioned future plans. It was as if there was no future. And that scared me.”
Bodie pulled back slightly and kissed the thumb still stroking his cheek. Then he grasped Ray’s head in both hands and slowly, oh so slowly, brought their lips together. The kiss was gentle, expressing all the love Bodie felt for this man, who loved him in return. Loved him enough to persuade his ex-wife to push him into a decision about his future.
Ending the kiss, Bodie pulled Ray with him into the lounge, then pushed him onto the sofa, joining him seconds later. Sitting side by side, Bodie took Ray’s hand, holding on as if his life depended on it. And when it came to talking about how he felt about something, it sometimes felt exactly like that. He had improved over the years but this career change had seen him slip back into old habits and he’d hurt the person who meant the most to him. Now he had to get them back on track and he wasn’t sure where to start.
Deciding to follow Sophie’s advice, Bodie cleared his throat, squeezed Ray’s hand and tried to bring his chaotic thoughts into some kind of order.
“I don’t really know why this is proving to be so difficult. It’s not as if I haven’t changed careers before. And I certainly didn’t mean to exclude you. I just didn’t have anything to say.”
“Then why couldn’t you say that?” Ray was trying hard to understand. Even after all the years he’d known Bodie, had loved Bodie, he still found it difficult to deal with his partner’s reluctance to share. He thought they’d got passed most of the difficulties that beset couples in the early stages of their relationship so Bodie’s refusal to talk about his future plans had triggered the deep seated insecurity left by the trauma of their break-up in 1982.
Hearing the slight break in Ray’s voice, Bodie tried again to make his partner understand.
“Because I didn’t know what to say. I made the decision to resign and then it was as if there was a brick wall between me and what to do next. I’ve been trying to find a way round it. I became so caught up in it that I couldn’t deal with anything else and I simply didn’t understand the effect all this was having on you. I have never wanted to hurt you. You do believe that, don’t you, Ray?”
Pleading blue eyes cut through Ray’s remaining concerns. Sophie’s influence had worked and he had his Bodie back. The distant stranger was gone, hopefully, for good.
Tugging on Bodie’s hand, Ray pulled him into a full embrace. His voice was husky with emotion.
“I love you, William Bodie. I lost you once. I’m not going to lose you again. Remember that. And talk to me. I probably don’t have any more answers than you do. But we can at least share the problem.” He gave the short dark hair a quick tug. “Got that?”
“Yes, boss.” Bodie grinned, returning the hug with enthusiasm. “We’ll work it out together.
Taking the stairs two at a time, Bodie raced up to his office. Even though his office was on the third floor, he preferred the stairs to the confinement of the lift. And it went some way to maintaining his fitness levels, which, whilst not at CI5 levels, were pretty damned good for a man in his mid-forties.
He was late. A Chief Inspector from the Met had requested a meeting. Something to do with an old case was all he was prepared to say over the telephone to Jenny, Bodie’s secretary, but it was urgent.
But even knowing it was supposed to be urgent, Bodie had found it really difficult to untangle himself from Ray’s arms, to leave the warmth and security of their bed. He didn’t know whether it was because he was working his notice or the renewed relationship with Ray but his enthusiasm for his work had diminished. It was only his loyalty to his team and a lingering desire to serve his country that kept him from giving the job up immediately.
Pushing his way through the landing doors, he settled his briefcase under one arm as he got his pass ready. Each floor had a security pod and no one reached an MI5 office without going through the bulletproof glass box. The pass had to be inserted to get into the pod and again to get out. And, if you were in a hurry, you could practically guarantee that the system would glitch, bringing the security team scurrying to meet whatever threat had presented.
He managed the manoeuvre with aplomb and was met at his office door by his secretary, who removed the briefcase from his arms, allowing him to remove his overcoat.
“He’s in your office.”
Bodie only had to raise an eyebrow to elicit a further comment.
“Oh, it’s okay. I had young Tracey take him a cup of coffee.”
“And he’s still in there?”
“Of course he is. He may be young but he’s not stupid.”
Bodie grinned over his shoulder at her as he allowed her to usher him towards his office door.
On entering the office, he found the visitor ensconced in a chair and Tracey sitting on the edge of the desk, swinging his legs nonchalantly. His voice tailed off as he caught sight of his boss.
“ … er … and that’s how we took down the McAllister consortium.”
“Thanks for entertaining our guest, Dick. You can go now.” Bodie knew very well that there had never been a McAllister consortium but it was a tale used regularly by his staff when keeping someone’s attention.
“Er, sir, my name’s …”
“Absolutely fine. Now go see if Jenny needs any help.”
As the door closed, Bodie could hear the plaintive tones “… not Dick.” He did so love winding up the newest member of the team. But a surname like Tracey was a gift to be used to keep keen youngsters from getting above themselves during their initial induction.
He turned to his visitor and held out his hand.
“Good morning. I’m Bodie.”
The hand that gripped his was strong; the handclasp firm and decisive.
“Chief Inspector Rowan. And I believe we’ve met before.”
Bodie looked closely at the man in front of him. The years fell away as he remembered. Early morning in an echoing warehouse. The stink of petrol. Frightened men huddled in on themselves.
“Bullion robbery. And diamonds. At Gatwick Airport.”
“That’s right. I was the lead officer on the case. A DI then. Chief Inspector now.”
“And what can I do for you, Chief Inspector?
Taking his place behind the desk, Bodie indicated that Rowan should resume his seat.
“I presume you remember the perpetrator of that particular crime?”
“Indeed I do. Summerhayes, wasn’t it? Caused us quite a bit of trouble before he went down.”
“Well, his name came up again when we got word that he’d escaped from prison.”
“And this concerns MI5, how?”
Bodie found himself at a loss. Why had this Met detective insisted on meeting with him if it wasn’t a case for MI5? And the Summerhayes case had come to a head four years earlier when he and Ray had finally got the evidence to put the psychopath away for good. Or so they thought.
“It concerns you, Mr Bodie,” Rowan continued. “The news came in on the daily bulletin and wouldn’t have had much impact at all, much less come across my desk, but there was a follow-up call from the prison. The Governor wanted to contact you and Mr Doyle.”
His curiosity now piqued, Bodie leant forward across the desk.
“And why would that be?”
“Because of what they found when they searched his cell.”
“And that would be?”
“I’ve not actually seen it. Just had the report this morning with a request from my boss to contact you and Mr Doyle. I’m to take you over there.”
Bodie remembered the Summerhayes’ case all too well as it had coincided with the ten years that he and Ray were apart. He also knew that his partner had had horrendous nightmares about the original murders, which had dragged them both into the case.
Making a decision, Bodie jumped up, pushing his chair back into the wall with a resounding crash.
“We’d better get over there then.”
He strode out of the office, pausing by Jenny’s desk.
“Rearrange my meetings for the rest of the day, would you, luv?”
“Anything else I can do?” Jenny queried through slightly gritted teeth. Even after working for Bodie for six months, he still persisted in calling her that as if he forgot she was a fully qualified field agent only working the secretarial desk as she recovered from injuries received in the line of duty.
As the two men walked towards the security pod, Bodie turned and added.
“Give Ray a ring and tell him to meet me at …?” He looked at Rowan.
Bodie looked back at Jenny.
“Where he said. Ask him to get there as quickly as possible. He’s to ask for the Governor. We’ll meet him there.”
Ray Doyle wasn’t in his office, his mobile was turned off and the PSS offices were closed. Jenny racked her brains for how best to get the message to him. Then she remembered something she’d seen in Bodie’s desk diary. Despite the introduction of electronic calendars, Bodie still preferred the paper version so she continually had to update both.
Finding the diary hidden amongst a pile of case folders Bodie had yet to read, Jenny quickly opened it to the right page. Sure enough, there was an entry in Bodie’s flowing script: “Ray – Wembley Conference Centre – European Security”. Then a scribbled note: “Ray’s car in for service. Ask Sam to get him home.”
She slammed the diary shut and went back to her rolodex to get a telephone number.
The conference was going well. Or as well as these events ever do go. There was the usual mix of entertaining and boring speakers. Unfortunately, for the attention span of the audience, it was usually the boring speakers who had the most useful information to impart.
There were only another three presentations left when there was a break for lunch. The hour gave everyone time to mingle and to partake of some reasonable refreshments. Ray had just snagged a cup of tea and was about to join his PSS colleagues when he heard a familiar voice.
Turning, he saw a tall, dark haired man hurrying towards him.
“Sam. You’re early. There’s another few hours yet.”
“Got a call from Bodie’s secretary.”
Ray’s face must have registered his shock as Sam hurried on. “He’s fine. He needs you to meet him and, as I’m your chauffeur for the day, your chariot awaits.”
There was no hesitation whatsoever as Ray deposited his cup and saucer.
Built in the Victorian era, to a five star design, Winchester Prison sat on the outskirts of the town dominating the local area. Despite Sam’s skilled and fast driving, it had still taken over three hours from North London to get to their destination.
Doyle had always hated going into prisons, especially the older ones. The atmosphere of despair seemed to leak from the bricks and soak into your skin. Even though he’d made his career in law enforcement, putting more than his fair share of criminals behind bars, any time spent within in a prison made his flesh creep.
And today was no different as he and Sam were escorted from the main entrance, through the Administration building to the Governor’s office. Drab green painted walls and tiled floors echoed their footsteps. And this was just the administration offices.
Eventually they reached a closed oak door marked ‘Governor’ and their escort knocked. Invited to enter, they found themselves in a surprisingly pleasant room. Although furnished with standard Government issue desk and chairs, an effort had been made to soften the environment. The walls were painted a soft cream and were hung with an eclectic mix of photographs interspersed with water colour paintings. There were potted plants covering the tops of the filing cabinets and even a net curtain across the window.
As the door was closed behind them, a distinguished looking, grey haired man stood up and came towards them, hand held out in greeting.
“Gentlemen. I’m Governor Dawkins. Thank you for coming. I believe you already know Mr Bodie. And this is Chief Inspector Rowan.”
The other two men had also stood as they entered. Bodie grinned at Ray and Sam as they were so formally introduced.
As Ray returned the firm handshake, he returned the courtesy. “I’m Ray Doyle. This is Sam Curtis. Sam is here as my chauffeur but, in his official capacity, he might prove useful. He’s with MI6.”
Governor Dawkins looked suitably impressed as he shook Sam’s hand, then indicated that they should all sit down. Patience never being his strong suit, Ray spoke first.
“What’s this all about?”
Bodie spoke before anyone else had a chance to do so. “Summerhayes.” One word but it was enough to convey his feelings.
Ray turned to his partner, a puzzled frown pulling at his features. “What about him?”
Governor Dawkins answered the question. “He escaped from here three days ago. We don’t yet know how he did it, though I have my suspicions. But, in trying to find out, we, of course, searched his cell and that’s why we asked the Met to get word to you.”
“What did you find?” That was Ray, detective instincts flaring.
“It might be better if I show you.” The Governor led the way out of the office. They trailed after him as he made his way into one of the prison wings. Through padlocked doors, up metal staircases and along walkways. They were accompanied by several prison officers, who took care of the locks and ensured that curious prisoners were motioned aside.
As they walked, the Governor gave them a little more background.
“This is a Category B prison but we do harbour a number of Category A prisoners because of the overcrowding elsewhere in the system. Summerhayes was one of those. He was transferred here from Wormwood Scrubs as it was felt that he still had too much influence in a London prison. He’s been a model prisoner for the last three years, attending all the required psych evaluation sessions without a murmur of protest, working in the laundry, mixing with the rest of the prisoners with nary a sign of any trouble until this.”
They came to a halt outside a cell. Dawkins gestured for them to enter. It was a typically dingy brick box with one small window set high in the outside wall. There was only one bed, now tipped on one end. The table and chair had also been overturned. The slop bucket stood empty in one corner.
As they looked around at the evidence of one man’s imprisonment – blankets, clothes, books, strewn across the floor – Dawkins drew their attention.
“This is what I wanted you to see, gentlemen.”
Four pairs of eyes followed his pointing finger to the base of the bed. Needing to get closer, both Bodie and Doyle crouched whilst they examined what the prison officers had found. The whole of the underside of the metal bedstead was covered with scratches, which, upon closer examination, proved to be their names etched, somehow, into the framework. Over and over and over again. Interspersed with the phrase: “They will pay”.
“We also found this.” Dawkins pointed to the underside of the wooden table where the same scribbled names and phrase covered the surface. He produced a small exercise book from his inside pocket. “This was wedged under the table. I think you need to look at it. Perhaps back in my office would be better.”
Later that night, four men sat in a Docklands apartment trying to work out just what it was they’d seen. Ray and Bodie sat together on one sofa, whilst Sam and his partner, Chris, sat on the other. The exercise book lay on the coffee table between them. With one MI5 and one MI6 agent, it had been relatively easy to borrow the book overnight, promising to pass it back to the Met the next day. All four of them had now read it, but were no nearer figuring out what it meant.
There was a lot of repetition of Bodie and Doyle’s names along with the phrase: “They will pay”. There were detailed descriptions of the murders Summerhayes had so ingeniously committed and for which he was serving a life sentence. The cramped writing also detailed Summerhayes’ manifesto of why he felt entitled to do anything he wanted.
“The man’s totally insane,” said Chris, ever practical. “I don’t think you can pay much attention to these meanderings.”
“All the same, he is at large and who knows what he might do.” Sam was thoughtful.
“I’m inclined to agree with you, Chris, but I have an itch that tells me he’s not going to go away.”
“Well there’s a hell of a clue, Ray, in his obsession with us two. He obviously believes we orchestrated his downfall. He’s no idea how much was sheer bloody luck.”
“Took us ten years to catch the bastard the first time …”
“And we don’t have to do it again. Let the authorities deal with Summerhayes.”
Sam and Chris shared a look then got to their feet.
“We’ll see ourselves out,” said Sam. “You two have a lot to process.”
“But Bodie’s right,” added Chris. “Let the police deal with him. Just be vigilant in case he tries anything.”
“Night, boys, and thanks for all your help today.”
“No problem, Ray. MI6 is boring at the moment. Glad to have something to do.”
After the front door had closed, Bodie got up to set the locks, then turned to see Ray about to pick up the exercise book once again.
“Leave it, Ray. Chris is right. Summerhayes is a mad man and there are no clues in there for sane men. Come to bed.”
Christmas had always been a special time for Bodie and Ray. Growing up in happy, secure families, it had been a time of gathering together and giving both presents and of themselves. Bodie had missed it enormously after he ran away from home and had retained a sense of what a really good Christmas should consist. Even during the CI5 years when they would most often be working over the Bank Holidays, they’d found some way to celebrate even if it had only been a raised mug of cold coffee and a “Merry Christmas” to acknowledge that they still knew what day it was.
In recent years, it had once more become a family occasion. For Bodie, with Sophie and the boys, he could recreate some of the magic he’d known as a child. And even since the divorce, he and Sophie had promised that the twins would still have Christmas with their parents. The first year this had meant Ray spending the day alone whilst Bodie spent time with his ex-wife and sons. The following year, Sophie had insisted that ‘Uncle’ Ray came along too.
Each year since, they had spent Christmas Day with their ‘family’ and had Boxing Day for their own celebration as a couple. This year though they had guests over for lunch.
Sam Curtis and his partner had moved into the apartment next door about nine months ago and, despite Sam working for MI6, the four had become good friends. Bodie said Sam was one of the good guys. His partner, Chris Keel, also qualified. A US Navy Seal, he was currently assigned to the security detail at the Embassy in Grosvenor Square but he was talking about resigning when this tour was up. He had no intention of leaving Sam behind when that time came so the obvious solution was to find work in the UK. Not that it would be as easy as their relationship, like Bodie and Ray’s, was not legally sanctioned so Chris would have no right to stay in the UK just because his lover was a native. However, they both retained a naïve belief that it would all work out okay for them. Being their senior by over ten years, Bodie and Ray knew how difficult it could, and probably would, be but they kept their advice to themselves until they were asked.
The meal had been excellent, courtesy of Ray cooking and Bodie acting as the commis chef, peeling vegetables and taking orders. After the roast turkey feast prepared by Sophie the day before, Ray had opted for roast pork with all the trimmings – crackling, roast and mashed potatoes, carrots, sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower plus gravy. Their plates had been piled high but four healthy appetites had done the meal full justice. They’d even saved room for the home-made, by Sophie, Christmas pudding and rum sauce.
Conversation had ranged across a wide variety of topics of interest to the four. There were tall tales of derring-do from CI5, MI6 and the US Military; tales intended to amuse and probably carrying only a smidgeon of truth. But all four knew the realities of the work they did. There was no need to splash those realities across a convivial dining table.
Whilst they’d eaten, the December sun had set, leaving the room in darkness but for the puddle of light over the dining table. As Ray got up to close the curtains, Sam was coming to the end of yet another story.
“… and that’s how I got out of East Germany. On a bicycle.”
“Not exactly James Bond, are you?” teased Chris. “He’d have had an Aston Martin.”
“Not too many of those in the Eastern bloc at that time,” commented Bodie.
“Hell, I’d have settled for a Lada. I was that desperate to get out, to get home.”
“Can you top that one, Bodie?” asked Chris, settling back into his chair as he took a sip from the very fine port that had been served with the coffee.
“There was the time that Ray and I had to seek the help of a lady fence …”
“Oh no, you don’t. Stop right there. Sam and Chris are too young to hear about Marge, especially with your embellishments.”
“Aw, Ray, it’s such a good one.” Bodie practically whined but he knew better than to continue when he saw the look he was getting from his partner.
Before either of them could continue, the front door bell chimed.
“Who on earth could that be?” Bodie started to rise from his chair but Ray waved him down.
“I’ll get it. Got to be one of the neighbours as the intercom hasn’t buzzed.”
Ray strode off down the book-lined hallway. On reaching the front door, he reached for the catch, then stopped and peered through the peephole. There was no-one there. Just as he was about to go back to join the party, the bell chimed again. This time he pulled the door open expecting to see one of their neighbours. Instead there stood Raymond, looking scared and bedraggled.
As Ray reached out for him, the boy dodged past and raced down the hall.
Bodie was nearly bowled over as the frantic nine year old threw himself at his father. He clung around Bodie’s neck as if he would never let go, sobbing the whole time.
“Woah there, sunshine. What’s up with you? Where’s Mum and Andy?”
Mention of his mother and sibling set off a whole new series of incoherent phrases. Bodie hugged him tightly, murmuring reassuringly, trying to get him calm enough to find out what had happened.
Glancing up, Bodie found Ray’s eyes on him. He raised an eyebrow, which Ray took as a plea for help and he came across the room and crouched down beside the dining chair.
“Hey, there, Raymond. What’s up?” He rubbed comfortingly up and down the sobbing boy’s back. “Tell us what’s happened. We’ll sort it out. Whatever it is.”
Gradually the soothing tones got through to Raymond and he lifted his head from his father’s shoulder. Huge blue eyes, swimming with tears, he sobbed out, “Mum and Andy. They’ve got them.”
“Who’s got them?” Bodie found his voice choked as he tried to remain calm while he got the story from his son.
A glass of water appeared next to Ray’s hand.
“Thanks, Chris.” He offered the glass to Raymond, who took it but his hands were shaking so much that Bodie held it for him as he gulped down several mouthfuls.
A discreet cough from Sam had Ray glancing towards the other couple. They gestured that they were going to leave but Ray mouthed “Stay” so they moved to the sofa to keep out of the way.
Slowly Raymond calmed down enough to be able to speak coherently.
“Start at the beginning and tell us what’s happened,” coaxed Bodie.
“There was a knock at the door. Mum answered … we’re not allowed to … and there were three men. They had guns, Dad! Told us to come with them. We had to do what they told us, didn’t we?” Pleading eyes asked for reassurance that they’d done the right thing.
“Absolutely the right thing, son. You don’t argue with guns.”
Ray could see the anger rising in Bodie. No one threatened his family. But he kept it in check. For now. The last thing Raymond needed was to see his father on a rampage.
“Go on,” Ray urged.
“They had a van. A big black one. But I don’t know what sort. We were told to get in the back. Mum asked why they were doing this but they just told her to “Shut up”. They used a rude word, Dad.”
“That’s okay. Just tell us what happened.”
“We were pushed into the van and had to sit on these mucky blankets. Mum had an arm around each of us to stop us banging into the sides. They drove very fast.”
“Do you know how long you were in the van?” asked Ray.
“No … I didn’t have my watch on … I’m sorry, Uncle Ray.”
“No problem, mate. None of this is your fault.”
“When the van stopped, they opened the doors and told us to get out. Me and Andrew got out first but Mum’s legs were cramped so she couldn’t get out very quick. One of the men grabbed her arm and dragged her out.”
Raymond gave a huge sniff and gulped as he continued. “She fell. Banged her knees really hard on the pavement. Andy wriggled free and went to help her. The man holding me let go so he could grab Andy. And Mum just looked at me and said “Run”. So I did.”
“Didn’t they chase you?” Bodie queried.
“Not really. Mum and Andy were making such a racket. I ran and ran. Dad, I left them there … but Mum said to run.”
“And you did right. How did you get here?”
“They’d made us bring our coats and I had my travel pass in the pocket. So when I found a tube station I checked the map and came straight here.”
“You did really well, son. Do you know how long it took you to get here?”
“Do you think you can take us back to the place the van stopped?”
“I think so. It wasn’t far from the tube.”
“Right. Ray, would you ring Rowan? Chris. Sam. Would you come with us?”
“Of course,” said Sam. “I’ll bring our car round. You two can sit in the back with Raymond.”
Minutes later, the four adults and one child were hurtling down narrow London streets as Sam manoeuvred the car expertly around stationary and moving traffic. Raymond had joined the underground system at Ealing Broadway so they would leave the car there and attempt to find the house on foot.
It didn’t actually take them long to find the house. It was only a few streets away from the tube station. The black van was still outside.
Bodie bent down to look his son in his eyes and gripped his shoulder reassuringly.
“You’ve done really well. Now I want you to stay with Chris.”
“But what about Mum and Andy?”
“Ray, Sam and I will check the house but I need to know that you’re okay. Okay?”
Bodie looked up at Chris.
“Look after him for me.”
As Chris led Raymond back the way they’d come, the other three men glanced at each other and then at the house.
There was nothing special about it. Just a detached house in an ordinary suburban street. Except the curtains were wide open, all the lights were on and the front door was wide open.
“Right,” said Bodie. “Sam, take the back.”
Immediately Sam slipped down the driveway to the side gate into the back garden. As Ray and Bodie approached the front door, he pushed the gate open and disappeared round the back of the house.
Five minutes later they were all back on the pavement. The house was empty.
Sophie and Andrew were gone.
Rowan had a SOCO (Scenes of Crime Officer) team at the house within the hour. But there was nothing to find. The van was clean too. It was registered to a small one-man decorating company and had been stolen three days before Christmas. In those three days, it had been re-sprayed black and that was all they knew.
On their return from Ealing, Raymond had collapsed. The strain he had been under finally taking its toll. The night service GP from the local surgery recommended rest and good food but he also left a prescription for a mild sedative to be used at Bodie’s discretion. Whilst Raymond slept, the adults worried.
The following day the tension in the Docklands apartment was palpable. Both Bodie and Ray felt helpless. And that wasn’t a feeling with which either of them were familiar. They alternately paced around or mindlessly watched cartoons on television as a distraction for Raymond.
As a contrast to the adults, Raymond was much more relaxed after a good night’s sleep. Having handed the problem over to his father, he reverted to a nine year old and was slowly demolishing every bit of food in the apartment.
“I can’t take any more of this hanging around. Doing nothing!” Bodie slammed a hand onto the back of the sofa making Ray jump.
“Shush! He’s just dropped off.” Ray indicated the sleeping child next to him. “Why don’t you check in with Rowan? Didn’t he promise to send over some mugshots?”
“Yes, he did. I’ll call him.”
Having re-directed some of Bodie’s frustration, Ray turned his attention back to the Summerhayes’ diary he’d been trying to read for the last couple of hours. It wasn’t, by any means, an easy read. Summerhayes had clinically recorded all his crimes, laying out the facts in chilling detail. The pride he had in what he perceived as his genius came through quite clearly as he justified each of his actions.
Although a lot of this information had come out during his interrogation and, later, at his trial, Ray found it difficult to read the man’s own interpretation of events but, whilst he remained at large, there was a possibility that he had left clues as to his plans in what was, essentially, his autobiography. Ray was just starting to read a tirade of abuse about how Summerhayes had been betrayed when he heard the murmur of Bodie’s voice cease and the click of the phone receiver as it was replaced.
He looked up as Bodie crossed to the sofa and leant across the back to look down at his sleeping son.
“Anything useful?” he nodded towards the notebook.
“I can’t find anything. Same methodical detailing of his crimes and the same ranting against us. As a study in insanity, it would take some beating.” Ray tossed the book onto the coffee table. “I was just passing time really. Keeps my mind off Sophie and Andrew. Anything from Rowan?”
“He’s on his way over. Nothing new to report but he wants Raymond to take a look at those mugshots.”
Half an hour later the intercom buzzed and within minutes Inspector Rowan was entering the apartment. After greeting the partners, he dumped several large books on the dining table.
Raymond, who had woken a short while before, peered round the end of the sofa. Recognising the police officer from the previous day, he gave a shy smile.
“Hello, Raymond. Do you remember I asked if you would look at some photographs? To see if you recognised any of the men who took your Mum and brother?”
“Well, come over here, and take a look through this lot.”
As Bodie settled his son at the dining table and took a seat next to him, Ray got coffees for the adults and juice for the youngster.
“Just take your time, Raymond.”
Bodie put his arm around the boy’s thin shoulders.
“Go on, Raymond. Let’s see if you recognise anyone.”
Slowly the boy opened the first book, his intent gaze scanning across page after page of black and white headshots. He shook his head.
“I don’t recognise any of them.”
“That’s okay, son,” said Rowan. “There’s a lot more to go through. Just take your time.”
After an hour or so, Raymond was coming to the end of the last book. He’d worked his way through to the letter ‘S’ when he stiffened.
“Dad.” His voice was quiet but Bodie was immediately alert.
“What is it, son?”
“This one.” A small finger stabbed at the black and white photograph. “He was there when we got to the house.”
Bodie, Ray and Rowan stared down at the picture.
Bodie could feel icy fingers creeping down his spine. Ray’s hand slipped into his with a supportive squeeze. But it was Inspector Rowan who found his voice first.
“Good God! It’s Summerhayes.”
Despite the best efforts of the Metropolitan Police force, there was no sign of Summerhayes or Bodie’s family. They appeared to have vanished off the face of the earth.
Not used to inactivity, both Bodie and Ray had taken turns in contacting anyone from their extensive database who might possibly know, or have heard anything, about the kidnapping. While one was on the phone, or searching through the copies of the Summerhayes’ case files provided by Rowan, the other was trying to keep Raymond occupied.
At nine years old – almost ten – Raymond had never experienced trauma. His parents’ divorce had been handled with great sensitivity and, though he missed seeing his father every day, he had never felt unwanted or deprived of love and attention.
Now he felt lost. His twin, his other half, wasn’t with him. His adored mother wasn’t there to give him a cuddle or to tuck him in at night. But he was an intelligent child and he knew that his father was doing as much as he could to resolve the situation and cooperated with Ray’s attempts to distract him with films and video games and books.
Man and boy looked up as Bodie re-entered the living room. They’d been using the master bedroom as an office, leaving the spare for Raymond. The bed was covered with files, none of which were providing the slightest clue as to where Summerhayes might be holding Sophie and Andrew.
Bodie shook his head as he saw the question on both faces. As Raymond turned back to watch the cartoon, Ray stood up.
“We’re not getting anywhere.”
“I know.” Bodie was subdued but the frustration showed in jerky movements as he tried not to let the anger out. He needed to remain calm, to be able to think straight and not to upset his son any further.
“I think we need to get out on the streets. I know it’s been a while but people are more likely to talk in person. It’s too easy to say you know nothing over the phone. What d’you think, Ray?”
“I think you’re right. We’ve been cooped up here for two days now. We need to get out but we can’t leave Raymond unprotected.”
“Already thought of that. I rang Sam. He and Chris have the time off. They’ve offered to look after Raymond whilst you and I see what we can shake loose.”
“Got it all sorted, haven’t you?”
“Pretty much.” And for the first time in days, Bodie grinned.
Within the hour, they were entering a dingy back street pub off Pentonville Road.
“Over there.” Ray nudged Bodie to indicate a disreputable individual standing at the bar in the almost empty room.
“That’s him,” agreed Bodie, heading straight for the target.
Before they got more than three strides, they were spotted. Panic crossed the weaselly face as he turned to flee but he immediately slammed into the solid wall that was Bodie, who had moved with all his old speed to cut off the retreat.
“Now, now, Alfie. It’s not nice to run out on old friends.” With a gentle push, Bodie backed the reluctant man up to the bar.
“That’s right, Alfie. We might think you had something to hide.” Doyle also reached the bar, blocking off any escape route that might have existed.
“Nah. It was nuffink like that. I just remembered I had to see a man …”
“About a dog. That was it, wasn’t it?” Bodie leaned closer.
“Yeah, yeah. There was this dog … You know me, Mr Bodie. Always one for a good dog.” Sweat had broken out on Alfie’s forehead and he couldn’t seem to remember what he’d wanted to say.
“Somehow I don’t think that’s true. D’you, Bodie?”
“I think our friend has been told not to talk to us.”
“And that’s not nice. We’ve helped each other out a lot over the years.”
“Really, Mr Doyle, that’s not it at all.” Alfie’s eyes flicked between the partners, then to the exits, then back.
“I’d say he was waiting for someone. Someone he didn’t want us to see.” As Bodie jostled Alfie, he saw the shifting eyes widen as they saw something over Bodie’s shoulder.
Reacting instinctively, Bodie shoved Alfie into Ray’s arms with a “Hold him” then he whirled round in time to see a figure rapidly exiting the pub. Adrenalin surged as he raced out of the door.
“Bodie!” echoed after him.
As he barged through the heavy wooden doors, he glanced left then right. There! A dark coated figure disappeared into the side alley. Bodie took off after him with a burst of speed that he hadn’t had to use in several years but which he’d maintained with regular physical training. As he too rounded the corner, his feet slipped on the slimy rubbish accumulated across the pavement. Using his right arm to correct his balanced, his hand scraped across the old brick and he could feel the shards cutting into his skin. But the near accident didn’t stop him and he threw himself forward as he caught a fleeting glimpse of his target turning into the back alley between the nearby rows of terraced houses.
Powerful thighs pumping, breath coming easily, Bodie reached the next corner in seconds.
Glancing over his shoulder proved the undoing of the pursued as he stumbled into a pile of rotting cardboard boxes. As he dragged them from around his ankles, it was too late to run. Bodie launched himself in a flying tackle worthy of Twickenham and his weight crushed breath and fight from his prisoner.
As Bodie lay there, a familiar voice spoke behind him.
“Planning on staying down there all day?”
Getting up on one elbow, he glanced round to see Ray, one hand firmly on Alfie’s collar, grinning down at him.
An hour later they were back in the car. Despite verbal and physical threats, Alfie and his mate had had no information about Summerhayes. As far as they were concerned, he was still in jail. The D-Notice on the escape was proving effective in muzzling the press.
Alfie had been twitchy because his mate had a warrant out on him for burglary and their meet had been arranged to pass on small items of value. On finding out that the partners were totally uninterested in anything other than Summerhayes, the pair had been falling over themselves to give information. Unfortunately none of it was any use so they’d been sent off with a warning to stay out of trouble and a plea for them to pass on anything they did hear if it concerned Summerhayes.
“Where to now?”
“How about seeing if Charlie Foster has anything?”
“Let’s go.” Ray hauled on the steering wheel, flipping the car into an illegal U-turn and, ignoring the angry car horns that accompanied the manoeuvre, set a course for Covent Garden.
It was late evening by the time they returned home. Neither of them had been on the streets for a number of years and, whilst the investigative skills were still sharp, the physical effort required to pound the streets was more than tiring.
Closing the front door quietly, they made their way slowly into the living room. There was one light burning on a side table and the television was murmuring to itself. Sam and Chris were both asleep on the sofa; leaning against each other.
The main light snapping on caused the two sleepers to spring awake. Chris was on his feet, ready to deal with any threat, whilst Sam reached for his gun, sitting in his holster over the back of the sofa. As they realised who was standing in the doorway, they both slumped back.
“Oh, it’s you.”
“Well, I should hope it is us, otherwise there’d be a right ruckus going on about now.” Bodie grinned to show he wasn’t serious. “How’s Raymond?”
“Asleep. He finally dropped about an hour ago. Little tyke couldn’t keep his eyes open. Chris carried him through and we put him to bed. Not a peep out of him since.”
“I’ll just …” Bodie headed towards the spare bedroom the twins always used when they stayed over.
“How did it go?” Chris asked Ray, whose eyes had followed his partner. His attention turned back.
“Not a thing. We chased backwards and forwards all day. No one knows anything. Or they’re not saying. Summerhayes has disappeared.” He glanced after Bodie again. “How was Raymond?”
“Up and down. He and Chris bonded over some video game or other.”
Seeing Ray’s distraction, Sam continued, “Go, Ray. We’ll let ourselves out. See you in the morning.”
“G’night, guys. And thanks.”
Bodie stood just inside the bedroom, staring at his son. They’d decorated the room to suit the tastes of both boys and now Raymond was curled up in the bed habitually used by his brother.
Bodie’s shoulders slumped, not only with the physical tiredness of the past days, but with the sense of helplessness that came from not achieving anything.
A hand fell on his shoulder and squeezed gently.
“Come on, love. Let’s go to bed. Get some sleep. We can start afresh in the morning.”
Sensing that Bodie intended to stay to watch over his son, Ray put his arm fully round his lover’s shoulders and urged him to accompany him. Slowly Bodie moved with him, his own arm settling around Ray’s waist.
“Let’s go to bed,” he agreed.
Turning over, his arm automatically reached out to pull his lover into an embrace. But he encountered only empty space. Groaning as it was still dark, he sat up. The bedroom was also empty. A glance at the radio alarm showed 3.00am.
His movements still stiff from the previous day’s exertions, he got out of bed and stumbled his way out of the room. He didn’t bother to put a light on as there was a yellow glow filtering under the door, which enabled him to walk without stubbing a toe.
He slipped through the bedroom door as quietly as possible so as not to disturb his sleeping son. As he reached the living room, he smiled. Slumped over the dining table, fast asleep, was his missing lover. The table was covered in open files and Ray’s head was resting on a notebook covered in his distinctive scrawl. An almost full mug of coffee sat by Ray’s elbow; a futile attempt to keep him awake.
Bodie placed a gentle hand on Ray’s shoulder and shook him. “Come on, Ray. Wake up.”
A sleepy grunt was the only reaction. Realising more positive action was required, Bodie eased Ray up from the table, pushing his shoulders back in the chair. Then he was able to pull the chair away from the table. Ducking under Ray’s left arm, he took his lover’s weight and, as he stood, pulled him to his feet.
“It’s alright, love. Let’s get you to bed.”
Ray started to pull away.
“I haven’t finished …”
“Oh, yes, you have. You need to get some sleep. You can tackle it fresh in the morning.”
About to protest some more, Ray was ambushed by a huge yawn. When it finished, he looked shamefacedly at Bodie, who had quirked his left eyebrow in an “I told you so”.
“Yeah. Okay. Take me back to bed.”
Several minutes later, Bodie returned to the lounge and, with a resigned sigh, sat down at the table and picked up Ray’s notes.
With Bodie once more hitting the streets accompanied by Chris and Sam, Ray spent the next morning with Raymond trying to get the boy to remember every little detail of the kidnapping.
It wasn’t the easiest of tasks. Interrogating an adult suspect was a very different situation to dealing with a nine year old who was missing his mother and brother. Ray found himself dialling down his normal techniques so that he could just chat casually, hoping to find some clue in what the boy was remembering.
Over the years, with both the police and CI5, Ray had found that witnesses very rarely remembered incidents with any great accuracy. That was why it was so important to interview as many people as possible and to piece together their testimony to form as true a picture of an incident as possible. With just one child’s version of the truth, Ray prompted and prodded to get as much information as possible without causing undue distress.
So it was a slow process but Raymond did remember new details. Unfortunately none of them were of any use in the search for Summerhayes.
As they already knew when the kidnapping took place and where the family were taken, Ray was hoping that the kidnappers had let slip verbal or physical clues that would lead them to Sophie and Andrew.
“They were horrible men, Uncle Ray. They just talked really loud as if we were stupid or something. Andrew and me were really annoyed when they pushed Mum but we’re only little so we couldn’t do anything. And Mum shook her head at us so we knew she wanted us to behave. It was a bit like being in a film. It didn’t seem real.”
Raymond’s attention was then caught by the cartoon they’d been watching so they sat in silence for a short while.
Shortly after Ray had brought them both a snack – both boys having inherited Bodie’s appetite – Raymond started talking together.
“The men talked when we were in the van. They seemed to think it was funny that Andy and I were scared. It wasn’t funny, was it, Uncle Ray?”
“No, of course, it wasn’t. There’s nothing wrong with being scared.”
“I bet you and Dad wouldn’t be scared.”
“We’ve been in some scary situations. And knowing that you’re scared can help you deal with everything.”
“Well, when you’re scared, your heart beats faster, pushing blood around your body. And you can use that as extra energy when you need to move. Like you did when you ran away from them. I bet your heart was beating really fast.”
“It was. It was. I was so scared. But I ran really, really fast.”
“See what I mean about there being nothing wrong with being scared. What’s important is how you deal with it. And you dealt with it just fine.”
“I did, didn’t I?”
And with that acceptance, Raymond turned his attention back to the cartoon film.
Some time later, the front door bell chimed. On his opening the door, the apartment building’s doorman greeted Ray.
“Afternoon, Mr Doyle.”
“This was delivered for you and Mr Bodie.”
A large brown padded envelope was shoved at Ray’s chest. As he caught it, he could see that there were no courier or postage marks on it. Just their names in black felt pen.
“Did you see who brought it in?”
“Sorry, no. I’d just taken a quick break. It was on the desk when I got back.”
Ray knew that the doorman was supposed to lock the front door whenever he left his post. He also knew that he quite often didn’t do so. The so-called secure apartment building was often very insecure.
“Okay, Fred. Thanks for bringing it up.”
“My pleasure, Mr Doyle.”
As he shut the door, Ray stared at the envelope. Their names were written in block capitals. There was no way to identify the sender. It didn’t weigh a lot and there didn’t appear to be any wires so he ruled out a bomb.
He placed it carefully on the dining table, made a telephone call and waited for Bodie to return home.
Less than an hour later, the partners stared at the contents of the envelope.
A Polaroid photograph of Sophie and Andy, both staring intently at the camera, and holding up a copy of ‘The Times’ newspaper, clearing showing the date – 30 December 1996.
A quick call to DI Rowan and the envelope and contents were despatched to Forensics via a police constable. No one expected to find anything as Summerhayes was too clever to leave obvious clues unless he wanted to. But at least they knew, when the photograph was taken, that Sophie and Andrew were still alive. They both looked tired and dishevelled but they were alive.
Early in the evening, the doorman delivered another envelope. This time the contents were a cassette tape and two locks of hair. Bodie clenched his jaw. He wanted to shout out his frustration but couldn’t as Raymond was sitting at the table eating his dinner.
Once Raymond was in bed, they played the tape. The very familiar tones of Dominic Summerhayes sneered at them.
“Well, now, gentlemen. Have you had an interesting couple of days? I’m sure, by now, you’ve realised that it isn’t going to be easy to find the ex-Mrs Bodie and young Andrew. Unless I want you to find them. And I do want you to find them but not yet. First I’m going to have a little more fun watching you and the police running around like decapitated chickens. But I think you need a bit more incentive to try harder. So from tomorrow, it won’t be a photograph or hair. I’ll start on body parts – fingernails, toenails, maybe an eyeball or two – and you won’t know what I choose until the package arrives. Sweet dreams.”
Ray put his arms around Bodie and hugged him tightly.
“We’ll find them, love. We will find them.
After this package was also sent to Forensics, they sat side by side on the sofa.
“We need more help, Bodie. There’s just the two of us, with Chris and Sam helping out, and the police are spread too thin.”
“Who would you suggest?”
“There’s a number of the ex-CI5 team still in London plus my team at PSS.”
“Get them here first thing tomorrow. I’ll call in as many of my team as I can contact. And let’s ratch this search up a notch or two.”
By midnight, they’d contacted as many of their colleagues and ex-colleagues as was possible. All those they’d actually spoken to had agreed to come to the apartment early the next morning for a briefing. The partners had agreed that there was no point in trying to pull anything together overnight. They needed to get some sleep so that they were mentally and physically at their best to take on Summerhayes.
Returning to the bedroom after completing his nightly ablutions, Bodie found Ray posed naked across the bed, head propped on one hand, ankles crossed and an expression on his face that he knew all too well.
Bodie frowned but before he could speak, Ray was on his feet, standing in front of him, fingers tugging at the belt on his dressing gown.
“I know what you’re going to say.”
“Do you now?”
“That this isn’t the right time. That we’re both tired. And, in some ways, you’re right.”
“Okay then. Let’s just go to bed.”
“No.” Ray pushed the gown off Bodie’s shoulders, following his hands with kisses.
“We need this. Yes, we’re tired. Yes, the timing is all wrong. But we need this. Our connection has always been one of our strengths and we need all our strengths. And it look like someone agrees with me.”
Whilst he had been talking, Ray’s hands had roamed over Bodie’s body, the dressing gown dropping to the floor, and now he gently cupped the rapidly hardening cock.
“I think you could be right, Ray. Make love to me.”
31 December 1996. New Year’s Eve. It should have been a day of preparation for the New Year celebrations. Instead the partners were up at 5.00am, preparing for the arrival of ex and current colleagues. Over the course of the next couple of hours, they briefed each individual or group on arrival so as to get everyone on the hunt as quickly as possible.
By 10.00am the apartment was once more quiet. Bodie and Doyle were standing by the dining table talking quietly to Chris and Sam when Raymond came out of his bedroom. The boy had woken early, wolfed down a bowl of cereal and had then sat on the sofa solemnly watching the men and women who had answered the plea for assistance. He’d gone back to his room about ten minutes earlier as the last visitor left. He had his anorak crushed under one arm and his boots gripped tight in the opposite hand.
The four adults stopped speaking as they registered his presence.
“Okay, Dad. I’m ready.”
“Ready for what, Raymond?”
“To find Mum and Andrew. I can help, Dad. I really can.”
“I know you can, son.” Bodie crouched down so his face was on a level with his son. He clasped the boy’s arms and looked directly into blue eyes that were a mirror of his own. “But I need you to stay here.”
As he felt Raymond start to pull away, Bodie continued.
“Someone needs to be here in case your Mum or Andrew escape. This is where they would come.”
“But, Dad …”
“I want you to stay here with Chris and Sam whilst we go out.”
“I could help.”
“You’ll be helping by staying here. Please, Raymond, I need you to stay.”
The boy stared at his father in surprise. He’d never seen that expression on his father’s face; never heard him plead. Much as he wanted to go with the adults so that he could help, he knew he couldn’t refuse.
“Alright, Dad. I’ll stay.”
“Thank you. We’ll be back as soon as possible and we’ll have Mum and Andrew with us. I promise.”
Within minutes, Bodie and Doyle had left to begin their search. Raymond stared at the door before turning back to his bedroom to put his outdoor wear away.
Sitting at the dining table, Chris and Sam desultorily flicked through the files covering the polished surface. Occasionally they pointed something out, made a comment, moved on to another file and watched as Raymond wandered around the apartment. He was obviously restless, wanting action of some kind, very much his father’s son. He sat on the sofa and watched a few minutes of television. He turned the television off, flicked through a comic book. He got up and turned on the radio. Turned it off and ran his fingers along the bookshelves. He picked out an LP and put it on the turntable. Listened to part of one song before turning it off. Then back to the television, trying several different channels before throwing himself down on the sofa. Minutes passed then he started to drum his heels.
Chris glanced at Sam, who had also been watching Raymond. They shared an amused look then turned back to the paperwork. Sam was working his way through Summerhayes’ diary when he suddenly looked up, staring off into the distance, frown lines marring his smooth forehead.
“What is it, Sam? What’ve you found?” Chris leaned across the table and nudged his partner to get his attention.
“I’ve not found anything but something did occur to me.”
“How did Summerhayes know where to send his little surprise packages? I mean, I don’t think Bodie and Ray are in the telephone directory.”
“And they wouldn’t advertise their home address. So?”
“So,” Sam glanced across at Raymond, who was once more engrossed in a comic, and lowered his voice. “What if Raymond’s escape was engineered so that Summerhayes could track him. He took a chance that Raymond would head for his father and not a local cop shop. And the gamble paid off.”
“Raymond led him straight here.”
Sam and Chris stared at each other as the realisation truly sank in.
“Reading this diary makes you realise just how insane Summerhayes is but also how insanely clever he is. I think he wants to make Bodie and Ray suffer but he also wants to see them suffer. And to do that he needed to know where they were.”
“He’s got someone watching the place.”
“He’s got someone watching and reporting.”
“Which we can use.”
“Just what I was thinking,” said Sam.
It didn’t take much to persuade Raymond that he could help his Dad by going to the local playground with Sam and Chris. They told him what they suspected about the apartment being watched but omitted their suspicion about him having been allowed to escape so that he could be followed. There were some things a nine year old did not need to know.
Sam and Raymond left the apartment building and walked to the small play area that had been squeezed in to one side of a tiny park. Chris stayed back, keeping watch from the reception area. As Sam and Raymond rounded the corner of the building, a movement across the street caught Chris’s eye.
As the stranger followed after Sam and Raymond, Chris followed him.
Raymond ran for the swings and Sam found himself pushing a hyperactive nine year old higher and higher. Just as he got into the rhythm, his mobile buzzed three times. He had it on vibrate for discretion. Three was the signal the partners had agreed on to indicate that they’d been right.
Keeping one eye on Raymond and the swing, he glanced back the way they’d come into the park. He saw Chris slip through the entrance, immediately disappearing into the shrubbery. That meant the target was already in the park.
Although Sam was MI6 and Chris a US Navy Seal, it was as if they’d been working together for years. As Chris gradually closed the gap to the stalker, Sam kept Raymond occupied. He’d finally spotted the man, crouched near a tree, partially hidden by a bush. As he encouraged Raymond to use all the play equipment, the movement kept attention focussed on them.
Suddenly there was a flurry of arms and legs as Chris tackled the stranger.
“Stay here, Raymond. Don’t move.”
Sam took off across the park to back up his partner. Not that there seemed any need as Chris had the man in a headlock. He wasn’t moving any time soon. Producing his handcuffs, Sam snapped them on the man’s wrists. Hauling him to his feet, Chris kept a firm grip but there didn’t seem to be any fight in the man. He seemed to shrink under the glares he was receiving.
“Let’s get back to the apartment. We need to get Bodie and Ray back.”
“I’ll escort our friend here.”
Almost before Sam had finished the shout, the boy was at his side.
It didn’t take long for Bodie and Doyle to get back to the apartment. They’d been tracking down a known associate of Summerhayes, who was believed to be on a yacht just down the river. But there was no sign of the yacht or its occupant. The phone call from Sam came at just the right time to prevent Bodie’s frustrations from boiling over.
By the time they rushed in, Bodie was still at boiling point but he quickly checked that Raymond wasn’t around before slamming the prisoner up against the lounge wall.
“Where is she?” he snarled. “What has he done with my family?”
As his hands tightened around the man’s throat, he barely registered the choking sounds as his ears buzzed with anger. Even if his questions had been answered, Bodie wouldn’t have heard the response.
A gentle hand pulled on his left arm and a calm voice filtered through the red mist.
“It’s alright, love. Let him go. We’ve got the answer.”
As the meaning of the words sank in, Bodie’s grip relaxed. The prisoner collapsed to his knees, coughing and spluttering, but Bodie’s attention was now focussed elsewhere.
Looking at his partner, Ray’s green eyes seems to radiate confidence. He smiled.
“Chris got it out of him when they got back here.”
“Next door with Sam,” said Chris. “Seemed sensible.”
“Thanks, Chris. So you’re sure he was telling the truth.”
Chris smiled. “Oh, yes, he was telling the truth.”
Just then the doorbell rang and within a very short time, the apartment was filled with a large group of the hunters who’d left early that morning. Using the time with Raymond, Sam had called everyone and as many as possible had returned.
Forty minutes later the apartment was empty.
He led them to a Victorian red brick school set in the back streets of Hackney. It was surrounded by decaying streets; no longer filled with the sound of children. Though they probably all had doubts about the man’s veracity, Bodie just knew that this was the right place.
The school had been abandoned long ago and the children moved to new schools while their families lived in the new high-rise concrete blocks that had been meant to replace the narrow, dirty streets. However, the streets remained as the slum clearance programme faltered from lack of money and political will.
Now vandalised, the school’s windows had been smashed, doors broken, rubbish rotted in the playground where it had accumulated now there was no one left to care.
The team parked their cars some distance from the school and then gathered in the yard of one of the back to back houses just round the corner from the Victorian buildings. To all appearances the school was deserted but Bodie’s first instruction was for a cautious scout to find safe routes into the school. He needed on the ground intelligence before they could mount a rescue. There was little point in a head on confrontation with lives at stake; incredibly precious lives.
Almost by default, the team deferred to Bodie. Not only was he an experienced commander, it was his family that was at risk. As they awaiting the results of the recon, the rest of the team relaxed, talking quietly.
One by one, the scouts returned and passed on what they’d learned. Some parts of the school were impassable, too damaged by vandalism, but there were lots of access points. According to their prisoner, Summerhayes only had a handful of men with him so they couldn’t be covering every entrance. But although he probably wasn’t expecting an attack, Summerhayes wasn’t stupid so he would have deployed his men to give himself and his prisoners the most protection. It was up to Bodie and the rest of the rescue party to ensure that they dealt with any opposition quickly and efficiently.
After considering all the reports, Bodie addressed the team.
“First of all, I want to thank you all for coming. Ray and I really appreciate it.”
“Wasn’t for you, Bodie. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Sophie.”
“Thanks a bunch, Anson. ‘ppreciate it!”
Bodie continued. “Seriously though, we couldn’t have got this far without you. And we’re going to ask more of you.” He paused and looked across at Ray, who nodded.
“We have to get inside the school. We have to neutralise anyone who gets in our way and we have to get Sophie and Andrew out of there safely. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be pretty. Summerhayes is insane but he’s not stupid. He’s had time to lay traps so be wary. I don’t need to tell you to be careful. I know how good you all are. We’ll split into pairs, each pair taking one of the entrances and work our way east to west. We think Summerhayes is using the offices at the west end but we don’t know for sure. So the whole building has to be searched and cleared. We’ve all done this before.”
“Piece of cake!”
Ray slapped Jax on the back as he finished speaking.
“Oh definitely a piece of cake, Jax.” The two ex-colleagues smiled at each other.
Ray outlined the rest of the plan. “Bodie and I will take the main entrance, across the playground. It’s the closest to where we think Summerhayes is and it’s likely to be the most heavily guarded. We’re also armed, unlike most of you.”
Murphy grinned. “I think you’ll find most of us are armed, even those no longer on active service.”
Bodie looked across at the team and grinned. “You’re probably right, Murph. But I’m not going to be asking any questions about where any armament came from.”
“Alright. Off you go.” Ray released the teams to do what they did best. Although he knew Bodie was anxious to be off too, he held him back as the rest of the pairs made their way by various routes towards the school.
“What is it, Ray?”
“I just wanted to make sure you were up to this. I don’t need you going off half cocked.”
“I’m fine, Ray. Oh I want to get this bastard but I want Sophie and Andrew out of there unharmed. I’ll do what’s necessary but I won’t lose it.”
“That’s all I need to hear. Let’s go.”
As they made their way across the playground, the years melted away and they were once more on the hunt, following George Cowley’s orders. They’d always worked well together even in the dark days of their separation and it was so easy to slip back into that co-dependence. They covered each other as they moved swiftly from obstacle to obstacle but there was no response from the school.
Eventually they reached the edge of an open concrete space. No more cover.
“Right,” said Ray. “You go right. I’ll got left. See you at the door.”
And with that they both sprinted for the main entrance, zigging and zagging to make themselves the smallest possible target.
Seconds later, slightly winded, they took up position either side of the double doors. Sharing a look, they each grasped a door handle and pushed. The doors weren’t locked but they were warped from years of neglect and they scraped open slowly. The screech of wood on tiles echoed through the entrance hall.
There was no one there.
The school had been built with one central corridor. Doors to classrooms, offices and other facilities were positioned at irregular intervals on either side of what had once been a highly polished tile floor. Most of the doors stood open, giving a clear view of each interior. Although they approached each gap cautiously, there was no one there.
Occasionally they heard evidence that the other teams were making egress into the building. Angry shouts, interspersed with the banging of doors, but no gunshots. Their lack of opposition was worrying but it ensured that they worked their way down the corridor at the best possible pace.
They stopped; one on either side of the half glazed door marked “Headteacher”. It was probably the only intact glazing in this part of the building. As they’d approached, they’d seen shadows moving inside the office. This was it. This was where Summerhayes was holding Sophie and Andrew.
As Bodie reached out to grasp the door handle, he glanced across at Ray, who nodded, ready and willing to follow his partner’s lead.
“Welcome, gentlemen. So glad you could make it.” The familiar voice echoed from inside the office. “Do come in. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Bodie turned the handle and pushed the door open.
As they cleared the door, Bodie went left and Doyle swung right. Then they froze.
Summerhayes had Sophie in his arms in a perverted hug. He had her back to his chest with one arm round her waist, holding her tightly to him. The other hand held a knife to her throat.
Sophie was very pale. There was a bruise on one cheek. But she managed a somewhat shaky smile at Bodie.
“Let her go, you bastard. You got our attention. Now let her go!”
“Now, now, Mr Bodie. That isn’t the way to talk to the man holding your wife’s life in his hands.”
“So what do you want?” Ray interrupted before Bodie could explode.
“Oh, I’ve got what I want.” Summerhayes smirked. “I got your attention.”
“Then if that’s what you wanted. You’ve got it. Let Sophie and Andrew go and we’ll do whatever you want.”
Ray hated hearing Bodie beg but he’d drawn Summerhayes’ attention, which created an opportunity to move further into the room.
But the slight movement was noticed and the knife nicked Sophie’s neck. She flinched and Summerhaye’s arm tightened around her waist.
“Stop!! There’s no need to hurt her.”
Bodie lowered his gun, hand hanging loosely at his side.
“That’s better. You need to listen to me. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do to you two. You need to suffer. I should never have gone to jail. I’m Dominic Summerhayes and I have only ever done what I wanted to do. You putting me in jail was not part of the plan.”
Whilst Summerhayes ranted, Bodie and Ray glanced at each other. Bodie frowned and looked at Sophie who seems to have slumped forward. If possible, she looked even paler. She looked at Bodie again. There was a tiny bit of red on her lips.
Not even looking at Ray, Bodie moved. Summerhayes was lost in his justification of what he’d done and he didn’t immediately notice either the partners moving or the fact that Sophie’s forward slump left him exposed.
The bullet took Summerhayes between the eyes and he dropped like a stone. Sophie fell too.
Bodie threw himself across the room to catch Sophie before she hit the ground too hard. As he pulled her into a hug, he realised that one of his hands felt wet. Holding her tightly with one arm, he looked at his other hand. It was covered in blood. Summerhayes had stabbed her in the back before they’d entered the room.
“Ray. Get an ambulance.” He looked up. His partner was also staring in shock at the blood. “Go. And find Andrew.”
That galvanised Ray, who immediately turned to the door, to find Jax standing there with his arm around Andrew’s shoulders.
Realising that the boy could see his parents, Ray stepped in front of him.
“Come with me, Andrew. I need to make a phone call. Stay with Bodie, Jax.”
“Sure thing, Ray.”
“But what about Mum …?” Andrew tried to go around Ray.
“It’s alright, Andy. Your Dad’s with her. Let’s leave them to sort everything out.”
Ray steered the boy back down the corridor as he pulled out his mobile phone.
Bodie settled Sophie across his knees, trying not to jostle her too much. She was only semi-conscious as he stroked her hair, trying to soothe. Her eyelids fluttered as she focussed on him.
“Will?” Her voice was weak but clear. “Will. I do … love you. I always … have.” She coughed, blood dribbled between her lips. “Take care … of the boys.”
Out in the corridor, the heart wrenching cry “Sophie!” echoed.
April 1997. The end of summer on The Falkland Islands. The days were growing shorter but were still warm enough to enjoy long hikes across the hills and moors.
As the twins were off fishing with their grandfather, Bodie and Doyle had taken a picnic lunch and hiked across country. The spot they finally settled on was almost at the top of a brush and heather covered hill. Spreading a woollen blanket in a small dip to give shelter from the somewhat frisky breeze, they settled down to relax and eat.
“Why this particular spot?” Ray was curious as they’d passed any number of equally suitable places. But he also knew that Bodie had brought him here for a reason. He just needed patience.
“I don’t know if you remember my telling you about my stint on the islands with the task force.” Bodie stared off into the distance.
“How could I forget? Being able to tell me about it got us back together.”
“Well … this hill was where I spent one night. This is Mount Longdon and it was where Alan Bagley died in my arms. Oh not this exact spot but close enough. I thought he was you and I think it’s where I went slightly mad.”
Ray moved closer so he could pull Bodie into a one armed hug.
“Tell me why you chose to come here?”
Bodie looked slightly embarrassed; an unusual look on such a confident man.
“The last few months have been hell, Ray. Without your support I wouldn’t have made it through. I wanted you to see my home once more, to see the places that were significant for me. And I felt it was important for the boys to see the islands. With my parents deciding to sell up and move to England, this just seemed the right time to come back. My life has been shredded in so many ways. I felt coming back was a way to re-connect.”
“And has it helped?”
“Yes, yes, it has. I’ve made some decisions, which is why I wanted some time alone with you today. You are the most important person in my life, apart from the boys, and you need to be on board before I can move forward.”
“You know I’m here for you, Bodie. Whatever you’ve decided, I’m by your side.”
“I know that, Ray. I’ve always been able to depend on you. But given our history, I wanted to talk to you before taking any action.”
Bodie smiled and gave Ray’s hand a squeeze.
“I want … no, I need … to give the boys as much of my attention as I can. So I’m not going back to work just yet. MI6 is over and done with and, whilst I appreciate the offer from PSS, I’ve got to make Andy and Raymond my priority.”
“I totally understand. And I’m sure the offer will remain open.”
“Thanks, Ray.” He paused, huffed a quick breath before continuing. “I think it’s time we moved back to the house. It’s the boys’ home. All their friends are close by and they need to go back to school. I … er … want you to come with us.”
“No problem. Where you go, I go.”
“About the apartment …?”
“We could sell. Put the money away.”
“Or we could let my parents have it. At least until they’ve settled in the UK.”
“You have thought about this, haven’t you?”
“Most of this was decided before … Sophie’s death but the last few months have given me perspective on what’s really important. You don’t mind, do you, Ray?”
“Not at all. It’s nice to see you taking charge of your life again.”
“I haven’t been much help, have I?” Bodie’s head and shoulders slumped as he remembered the horror of Sophie’s death, having to tell the boys, dealing with the bureaucracy of a murder and trying to pull his family’s life back to some kind of normality. A tear crept down his cheek.
Ray turned Bodie’s head slightly and brushed away the team. He kissed his love, a gentle affirmation of his support rather than of the passion that still ran so close to the surface in both of them.
“Oh, Bodie! If I could turn back time, I would do so. Take you back to before all this happened. Spare you the horror and the pain.”
“I know you would, Ray. But we can only go forwards. The past is the past. We can’t change it. But with your love and support, I can make a good future for the boys.”
“And for us.”
“Yes, love, and for us.”