Burying the Past

Free Burying the Past by Judith Cutler

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Authors: Judith Cutler
we’re paying the removal people enough. Let them deal with everything, not just the furniture. If you could just scout around on the Internet for a hotel . . . A week, I suppose, to allow time for Mr Smith to get his cable and install it. And we must make damned sure we label the stuff we need,’ Fran said.
    â€˜OK. I’ll get busy labelling while you microwave our feast.’
    â€˜Excellent. If we’re good, we can treat ourselves and take a look in tomorrow morning. Both of us. That’ll scare Kim. I’ve held you up as a monster of official miserliness, by the way. So don’t worry if she hexes you and backs swiftly into the excavations.’
    â€˜What the hell? You don’t get traffic jams in the country! Especially not at seven thirty in the morning!’ Mark beat the steering wheel in exasperation.
    â€˜Farm plant – you know, those mega-tractors or combines or whatever. Or maybe even a Bulgarian driver with an insistent satnav. Look, there’s a gate. Why not turn there? We’ll get off work early tonight – by which I mean while it’s still light – and come and see the house then instead.’
    â€˜Nope. Farewell drinkies with the neighbours, remember?’
    She squeezed his hand affectionately. ‘Never mind, I’ll contrive an official visit here during the course of the day and update you. No, that’s not good enough, is it? You want to hug it yourself. Well, you’ll have to ask yourself for half an hour’s lunch break.’ When he didn’t laugh, she looked at him harder. ‘OK, what’s up?’ Hell, he’d not got round to checking hotels, had he? And he didn’t want to confess.
    He completed his manoeuvre carefully and set the car in motion before replying: ‘Sammie.’
    She managed to stop herself screaming. ‘Ah. The letter. What did she say?’ And why had he kept quiet for twenty-four hours?
    â€˜Nothing. Nothing that I know about. I’d have said, wouldn’t I? Yes, I would, Fran – I know I tried to keep you at arm’s length, but not now. I need your savvy, apart from anything else.’
    â€˜What savvy?’
    â€˜The bit that got me on to Ms Rottweiler. Maybe I should phone her later – assuming I have time.’
    â€˜That’s one hell of an assumption, sweetheart.’ As was the assumption he’d have the will to do it. But she didn’t want him to see how anxious she was getting – not just about somewhere to lay their heads, but about him and his inertia. ‘See – my phone’s active already. Hell. I’d forgotten that disciplinary panel I’m supposed to be chairing. Thank God we got stuck in traffic – I like excuses with the foundation of truth.’
    Released from a bleak committee room four hours after going in, Fran wanted to cry with frustration. In her youth, when she’d made stupid mistakes, she’d stood to attention in front of her sergeant – at worst, her inspector – and ridden out the bollocking. Occasionally, she’d have muttered an apology in the hopes of stopping the tirade, but it was only when the guv’nor was ready that she’d been sent out with a flea in her ear. And she’d done the same in her turn. Now it was all official and minuted and – God, she hated the whole time-consuming, paper-generating farce.
    Not to mention the fact she’d missed the skeleton’s autopsy and had to respond to the load of calls that had stacked up during her meeting. People who knew her made a point of leaving only brief messages, so she wasn’t surprised when Kim’s voice snapped, ‘Phone me urgently.’ Belatedly, she’d added, ‘Please, ma’am.’
    She was, however, a little surprised to find a text saying much the same thing; she wasn’t used to getting reminders. But then Kim was a newcomer to her team, so perhaps she should forgive her.

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