He must see my worry because he squeezes my hand and smiles. ‘It’s fine – I’m a bit tired and hungry, that’s all. I haven’t got used to the commute yet. These are pretty,’ he says, looking at the daffodils.
‘One of our neighbours dropped them in.’
His smile fades, replaced by wariness. ‘Oh, yes?’
‘I caught her taking photographs of the bedrooms.’ My earlier outrage stirs again.
‘What on earth for?’
‘Well, I don’t think it was the Ikea furniture she was interested in. She was on a bloody ghost tour of her own making.’
‘Jesus,’ he mutters.
‘She seemed to remember you.’
Bri ties a blue GET WELL balloon
to my IV pole, dumps
from her shopping bag
a box of pink Peeps bunnies,
a puzzle book,
a whiskery stuffed mouse.
“It’s amazing what you can find
at the ninety-nine-cent store.
Care for a four-month-old Peep?
Your mom said you can’t have
any food, but everyone knows
Peeps don’t qualify.”
Justice hardly dared to breathe as feet clipped past her. Women’s feet, wearing stout walking shoes. Justice didn’t need her torch to identify the slim figure. It was Miss de Vere, wearing a black coat and hat. The headmistress ran down the stairs, her heavy shoes surprisingly light, and Justice heard the sound of a key in a lock. It must be the inner door. Yes, it made a soft, furtive click as it shut behind her.
Vyne led the way up a flight of wooden stairs to another door, which she unlocked. Hark followed her into the study.
The room was half the size of the hall downstairs, and far more chaotic. Hark had helped tidy it only three days before, but already it was back to its usual anarchy. By the rosy light from the round window in the ceiling, he could see every trestle table groaning under sprawled heaps of papers, vials, flasks, varnish bottles, and translucent eyes in jars. It always seemed funny that the shrewd, self-possessed doctor should be so incurable messy.
Commonly known as ‘That Utter Git’, Sir Willikin is number three in the UCC’s Worst Presidents of All Time hit parade. He controlled the club for four years, with his cronies Lady Gardenia Nanbiter, Incontinence Pance, and Bernard Stiltskin. At a secret meeting it was eventually decided that he had to go. As all Presidents must map at least at least one new world, Sir Willikin was told of a newly discovered stone circle on an unmapped planet. There, he was told, time travelled at a very slow speed compared to Earth. Certain that he and his expedition would be back in time for dinner, Sir Willikin set off. At his departure there was much celebration and a highing of fives.
Before I could respond, I felt Cash’s hand wrap around mine. He nudged my index finger out and pointed it to the sky.
“What are you doing?” I asked. “I haven’t challenged you yet.”
“No,” he said. “But I just saw one of my own. Look at this.”
And I watched as Cash traced my finger along a line of stars, following a few more into a curve, and then another, until a long line connected them all at a point.
“A heart,” I murmured.