Chapter 35 – The Legacy

Colin Robertson reached out with a wrinkled, age spotted hand. “Glasses, glasses!” He nodded and wagged his hand towards a small table positioned beside his chair. Terry leaned forward and picked up the pair of spectacles, he handed them over.

The old man turned the paper, examined the back. A frown creased his forehead. “What’s this?”

Terry spoke quietly, “Just read it.”

“I don’t know what it is. Is it from the lawyers?”

“No, just read it.”

Colin turned and tipped his chin towards Lily, “Who’s this? What the hell is going on today? What are you up to boy?” Lily saw Terry clench his hands into tight fists at his sides.

“This is Lily. She’s a friend of mine. She came with me today because…” It seemed to occur to Terry, quite suddenly, that he couldn’t really explain why she was there. He glanced at her, frowned, and then stepped nearer to the old man. He took the sheet of paper into his own hand. He leaned down and pointed at the typing. “This, this is the proof of what you’ve done. This…” he jabbed at a point on the page, “This is your son, and this…” more jabbing with his finger, “This proves it beyond any real doubt. This proves that you had a child, a boy.  And this!…” Terry’s face was reddening now, his voice becoming a little louder, the words clipped and angry. “This is the proof of who was the boy’s mother.”

He couldn’t continue, Lily watched him struggle. There was nothing she could do to help. Silence fell, except for the harsh rattle of Colin Robertson breathing, and the quiet whisper of wind in the trees outside. Rain shushed against the window.

The old man lifted the paper close to his face, he peered at the writing, turned his head, and stared for one long moment at his son. His eyes were empty of the shock and emotion that should have been there. All there was to see was irritation in his small movements. He cast aside the paper and blew out a puff of breath through pursed lips. And in that moment Lily understood. She saw the hardness, the lack of any sort of concern or guilt. She saw what he was and understood that he would have been able to frighten and control a small child, a lonely woman and a terrified girl.

He reached for the paper where it lay on his lap, ripped it in half, tore it again and again and again, until all that was left were shreds and pieces and he tossed them aside.

“Load of nonsense. Nothing but an inconvenience,” he stumbled over the word, tangling it in his damaged mouth. He pressed on, “I dealt with it. If he’s turned up now send him on his way. I owe him nothing. I did what was best.” He turned with an impatient shrug of his shoulders, stared at the window, watching the drops racing downwards, unmoved, and unafraid.

Terry, looked at the pile of paper scraps and then glanced at Lily. There was nothing she could say.

He bent and gathered it all together, grasped hold of the old man’s wrist and pushed the debris into his upturned palm.

“No. No that’s not what we’re doing. You’re not getting away with this any more,” Terry pushed his second piece of paper towards the man’s face, “Granddad! Oh no, that’s not quite right is it ‘Dad’.” The final word was loaded with pain. Terry reached and pulled a small footstool towards him. He placed it directly in front of the old man’s chair and perched on it. He leaned forward, resting his forearms across his knees and staring directly into the twisted face. “I don’t want to discuss this with you, back and forth, debating what is and isn’t true. I don’t want to hear anything you might have to say about this. I don’t even want to be here with you, breathing the same polluted air. What I am going to do…” He stopped. From where she stood, Lily could see his hands shaking, she could see the gleam of anger in his eyes. She was afraid. Afraid that he wouldn’t be able to finish what he needed to say before emotion got the better of him. She wanted to lay a hand on his shoulder, to give him strength, to let him know that he was not alone. But the atmosphere between the two men held her in place, kept her silent.

Colin tipped his head to one side, a small smile twisted the thin, pale lips, his drooping facial muscles contorted. Lily gulped, she had her hands clasped together and felt the nails dig into the soft skin of her palms. She was immobile, didn’t want the old man to remember she was there. He was worn down by disease, and reduced by age, but she felt the power emanating from him. The strength of his ego, his confidence. She closed her eyes briefly.

When she opened them, Terry had regained control and was speaking again, quietly, clearly. “Let me tell you what’s going to happen now. I’m going to print out more copies of those reports. Both of them.” Colin lifted his chin in reaction, Terry nodded before continuing, “Oh come on, even you must know I can make any number of copies. I can print them off over and over and over and you can tear them up as many times as you like, but they’ll still be there. Did you really think I would be stupid enough to let you see the original? So, I’m taking them to the police. I’m taking them to the papers, I’m probably even going to take them to the bloody Masons, I can send them a copy – should I do that – should I?” There was flicker of something that could have been anxiety, the prospect of shame amongst his peers, the only thing to have evoked anything approaching the reaction Lily had been expecting.

Terry was still speaking, “This is the last time I’m going to come here old man. The next time you see me will probably be in court. And then it will be all out in the open. The disgusting things you did to me, the things you made me do to you. The truth about Mum and the baby that you sold. All of it, and then, you’ll pay.” He leaned back and prepared to stand. Colin Robertson coughed, snorted and began to speak.

He had gripped the chair armrests, his own arms tense and shaking, bony knuckles white under loose, papery skin. “You won’t do that. You won’t do anything like that. I know you Terrance,” It was the first time she had heard his given name and Lily could tell from Terry’s reaction that it was a deliberate barb, “I know you. You won’t risk your easy life, your car and your flat, and your wages. You do anything with this,” he moved now and threw the shreds of paper back towards Terry, his hand was weak, the result was a flutter of white bits onto the blanket across his knees. It spoilt the effect he had been aiming for, and with a huff of impatience he swept them aside. “You tell anyone about this garbage and I’ll cut you off, without a penny. I’ll take back the flat, have you evicted. What are you going to do then – huh. What will you be, you’ve got no qualifications, no experience, except running round after me. Lap dog that’s what you are, my lap dog. Bought and paid for. And how do you think you’ll be treated eh? How do you think people will look at you? ‘Why didn’t you say something before now?’ That’s what they’ll say. Taking advantage of a poor sick man who can’t stick up for himself. Telling lies to get your hands on the money. Jumping on the bandwagon of all the other cases. Don’t be ridiculous. Take this nonsense,” he pointed a quaking finger towards the floor, “and take this bloody witness, if that’s what she is and bugger off. Get out, get out, and don’t come back until I send for you.”  He leaned against the chair back, his physical strength was spent but his eyes were hard, and his mouth twisted into a sneer as he glared at them both.

Terry had taken all he could. He turned to Lily, raised his eyebrows in question, she nodded and then walked before him to the door. She paused, stood for a moment, staring forward. “Are you alright?” He placed his hand on her shoulder. She nodded, reached for the door handle slowly, and then they left the room, stepped back down the great staircase and out into the damp and breezy day.

As they walked to the car, Lily leaned on the arm that Terry had offered, she could feel the thud of blood through her veins, pounding in the back of her head. Once in the car she struggled to control her breathing and rubbed at her chest.

“Are you alright Lily? I shouldn’t have subjected you to that.”

“It was my idea. I’m alright. Well, I will be in a minute.” She opened her bag and took out one of the pills to calm her down. “Are you alright Terry? That was awful for you. I don’t know what I was expecting, but he is so much worse than I could have imagined.”

“Lily, why did you want to come today? It was so odd, in there I realised that I hadn’t really understood. I mean, I just thought it would be good from my point of view to have someone there with me, but why did you want to come?”

She shook her head and answered him in little more than a whisper, “I think I was looking for Peter. I’ve always wondered what he would have been like. I just wanted to see him, Peter’s father. But apart from that I wanted to be with you. I started this, you were coping and I spoiled that for you. It was too hard for you to do on your own.” That was all she needed to tell him, the rest of it was for her and her alone.

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Chapter 34 – The Legacy

They walked together up the sweeping staircase.

Terry had suggested that they come back another day when Lily might be feeling better. She saw in his face something of a frightened child, trying to be brave, but detecting one small chance of escape. This was her own first scary step along a frightening road, there was a chance still to pull back, but she demurred. “I’m fine. These attacks come often. They catch me unprepared sometimes, but the medicine works.”

“Is there nothing they can do?” They had still been in the hallway, he was bending close to her. The nurse and receptionist had moved away, but watched, ready to step in should they be needed. She smiled at them and lifted a hand, reassuring.

“There are some things they have suggested.” She answered Terry honestly, but didn’t tell him that she had made the decision to let the disease have its way. “I don’t really feel up to it at the moment. We’ll see what happens.” She patted his hand and then laid hers onto his arm and he helped her to her feet.

Terry didn’t knock on the heavy wooden door but neither did he burst in. He pushed it slightly open and stood to one side so that he could look inside without exposing the interior to the corridor. He nodded, and pushed it further open.

It was a bright, spacious room. Pale walls, heavy curtains, and though the bed was the sort to be expected in a hospital, the rest of the furniture was beautiful old wood or smart upholstery.

At first she didn’t see anyone, but the chair, pulled into the curve of a bay window, was occupied. Terry walked over to stand before the old man. He was propped with pillows and a light blanket draped over his thin knees.

Lily had tried to imagine what Colin Robertson might look like. She was still searching for an image of Peter, of what he would have become. This skinny, sallow faced person, his sparse hair combed neatly, his face cleanly shaven, came nowhere near to what she hoped for. How could this frail creature have held such sway over his family, how could he have bullied his wife, his daughter, and his grandson in the way that she had been led to believe. Terry wasn’t a big man, but he was no weakling either. His body was wiry, but he was muscular and moved with the confidence of health and youth. But then, for most of it he had been a child, a frightened, confused little boy. Wasn’t it true that bullies weren’t always the biggest, they were just the ones who knew how to manipulate, and who didn’t let things like conscience and humanity stop them taking whatever they wanted, however they wanted.

As if he had read her thoughts Terry moved to the table beside the bed and picked up a trifold picture frame.

“When he first came, they asked me to bring something like this,” he held it out to her. “They said it helped to motivate patients. Huh.” He pointed, “That’s their wedding day, him and Gran. That’s my mum and me, later, when I was at school.” And she saw that years and illness had reduced what had been a tall, well built, barrel chested individual to the thin, old man who was now waking from the doze he had been in when they first arrived. The third image was Colin Robertson, standing alone in a grand hall, his dinner suit and bow tie indicated a formal event, but there was no woman at his side in a glamorous gown. No wife, leaning proudly on his arm. But he looked confident, sure of himself.

Terry stood beside her looking down at the images. “Happy families. Bloody hell, what a joke. He married my mum because her family had property. Once she inherited, he had her sign the management of it over to him, all for the best, all so that she wouldn’t have to worry about things like that, once she became a mother.

Then my mum, when she was young, she couldn’t have friends over, she couldn’t go on school trips, she couldn’t go and stay with other people. He would say that Gran needed her, that it wasn’t right that she wanted to be away from the family. I think he used to hit my gran. I know I said he didn’t hit Mum but, I was a kid, what did I know. I never saw it, but with Gran, there must have been a reason mustn’t there? There was something he did to reduce her to the way she was, she just shrank into herself, ignored him. Of course, he couldn’t let her go, she still ‘owned’ the property even though he managed it. She was on her own. Her mum and dad were gone. It’s isolation isn’t it, isolation that does so much harm. If you’ve no-one to turn to what choice do you have. I think it’s better nowadays. There’s organisations aren’t there? It should help, maybe, but who knows?”

“But, do you think your gran knew what he did to your mum?”

“I don’t think so. She was such a shadowy figure, it’s hard to know for sure. But I’ve told myself she didn’t. I’ve told myself that because if she did, well, it makes it even worse.”

“How awful it’s been for you Terry.”

“I coped. I thought I’d coped well to be honest. Especially since he’s been ill. I thought I’d won. I had the run of his property, I had control of the money, even though he signs the papers, I have a decent flat. One of the ones he owns, but eventually it’ll be mine. I thought I was doing okay. Then you came, you came with that bloody piece of paper, and to be honest I saw that it was all built on sand. He was going to get away with unspeakable things, and I hadn’t done anything, and once he was dead, that would be the end of it. When you came to me it was like a slap in the face, no it was much more than that. It made me see that if I let him die,” he turned now to look at the old man who was shuffling in the chair, trying to turn and see them. “If I let him die without answering for what he’s done, then it would haunt me for the rest of my life. Regret. It would eat away at me. I had someone else to avenge, is that too strong a word Lily?” All she could do was to shake her head.

Colin Robertson drew their attention. He wasn’t impossible to understand, in fact lily was surprised how ordinary he sounded. Yes, the words were slurred a little, the delivery was slow, but that was all. “Terry, who’s this? Who have you brought?” Terry looked steadily into Lily’s eyes. She could tell that he wasn’t about to waste any time, that he was here for one reason and he was getting straight down to business.

He pulled an envelope from the pocket of his trousers, she didn’t need to try and guess what it contained. He pulled out the two sheets of paper, separated them and unfolded one of them.

He walked over to the old man in the chair and held out the DNA report.

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Chapter 33 – The Legacy

Lily stood on the platform in Bath Spa station. From here she could look towards Lyncombe Hill. It was such a short time since she had struggled up to Southcote Place. If she had known what it would lead to, she didn’t believe she would ever have come here. Yes, she had met Terry, who, unexpectedly, was filling a dark void that had blighted her life for decades. But in return, she had ruined what peace he had, and it had been little enough already. Everything she did was tinged with regret, she was tired and disheartened and would be glad when this was all over. All of it. The whole bloody mess of her life.

She walked out and over the Halfpenny Bridge. There was a grey Heron fishing in the pond beside the lock. Crowds pushed past her, they didn’t see her, their busy lives rendered her invisible. She walked painfully onwards.

Later, when she had taken care of her tasks, she called Terry, and the phone went to his answering service. “Hello, it’s Lily. I’m in Bath. I can meet you in town if you like. I’ll go and find somewhere to have a cup of coffee. Just let me know when you’re ready.”

She went back to the place that she had used the first time. The quiet little tea shop. There was a band of pain around her chest, she was gasping for breath and her finger ends tingled. She sent up a silent prayer, not for ease, but only that she wouldn’t have to go on much longer. Just a little while, she needed a short while, and then. She felt a frizzon of fear. Charlotte Mary’s death had been difficult. The cries and struggle agonising to witness. She wouldn’t allow that to happen to her. She would manage it. All through her life she had been carried by the flow of events, that one final act would be hers to orchestrate and control. She had brought the pills with her, just in case she didn’t have the strength for the journey home. She needed to get back if it was possible, but had what people these days referred to as a, Plan B.

She had placed her phone on the table and when it began to hum and vibrate she snatched it up. It was him. “Terry. Hello. Did you hear my message?”

“Yes. Sorry, I was driving. So, you’re here early.”

“Yes, but don’t worry. I can wait until you’re ready. Are you alright, about this I mean?”

“Well, let’s say I won’t be any more alright, if I put it off. So, we might as well get it done.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” She detected hesitation and wanted to give him the chance to back out, though that would be a complication.

“No. I just want to get on and scare the shit out of the old swine. Sorry for the language.”

She laughed, “Oh, that’s alright. Charlotte used to swear like a Docker. I never had her knack, but I used to enjoy the look on people’s faces when she did it.”

“You must miss her terribly.”

She had no answer. She missed something surely. She missed the presence of someone in her life, because there had always been someone. She missed the quiet comfort of a companion to eat a meal with, and she missed the reassurance of having someone there when the pain was so bad that she was convinced she was about to die alone. When she was beset by the idea that no-one would find her for days, and she would be sprawled, undignified on the carpet. But she wasn’t sure that she missed, Charlotte Mary. She had been absent for longer than she had been dead, and even before that, they had become little more than a habit to each other, or perhaps a mutual crutch as the days shortened and the regrets were greater than the joy.

She had lost herself to the musing and was dragged back by his voice, “Hello, hello. Lily, can you hear me.”

“Yes, sorry. It’s a bit noisy. Where shall I meet you?”

“Can you make your way to, St Michael’s Church? Do you know where that is?”

“Yes, I think I can remember.”

“Well, if you have a problem anyone will tell you. I can be there in about ten minutes. Oh I just thought, you don’t know my car. It’s a black VW, a Golf.”

She didn’t really know about cars but it wouldn’t matter, she had faith that he would find her.

By the time the car pulled into the kerb and she saw, Terry waving through the windscreen it had started to rain. She had forgotten her umbrella and knew that her hair would have frizzed with damp. She wasn’t vain, but in her mind, was the impression she had been hoping to give, and a bedraggled old woman in a damp coat hadn’t been the plan.

No matter, she would work with what she was given.

“He didn’t speak, he was stiff and pale with tension. His mood was catching and they drove in silence, out of the city and up into the countryside.

The nursing home was set in acres of lawns and trees, there was a lake and flower borders. The entrance was imposing and this had obviously been a grand home in a previous incarnation.

As they walked under the portico and stepped inside the hall there was no smell of age and decay, which is what Lily had expected. Instead there was the scent of flowers, the clean smell of furniture polish, and the woman seated behind a polished desk wore a neat suit. The only indication that it was anything other than a smart hotel were nurses, walking with the quiet purpose that they had, and a discrete notice with suggested visiting times and a schedule for when the doors would be locked and callers would need to use the side entrance.

The staff wore what Lily had always thought were ‘proper’ uniforms. Dark dresses with neat, white collars and black tights. “It’s very nice, Terry.”

“Yes. It should be, it costs an arm and a leg.”

The receptionist had approached them, her hand extended. “Good afternoon Mr Robertson. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Hello Rachel. How is my grandfather?”

“Matron is very pleased with him, we were going to telephone you next week. The Physiotherapist has put him on a different schedule and his mobility is improving. He may be well enough to have a trip away from The Grange in another week or two.”

“Right. Well, that’s good.” Lily saw from the woman’s reaction that she had expected more delight, more interest from, Terry. He was struggling she knew that, and under the circumstances his kind manners were subdued.

There was a moment of awkward silence. She clutched at her chest, suddenly, dramatically. Terry and the receptionist turned to her as she gave a groan. “Oh Terry, I’m sorry. I need to sit down. I’m sorry.”

They reached for her and helped her to a seat. They fussed. The receptionist suggested they call one of the nurses. “No, no really. Just give me a moment. Just a moment. I’ll be fine. Perhaps a drink of water?”

“Oh of course.” The young woman ran through the door at one side of the hallway. She returned with a glass of water and was accompanied by a nurse who carried a case, or a bag, something medical and rather frightening.

Lily took out the spray, used it, and laid her head against the chair back. She closed her eyes. It was difficult for her to draw attention to herself in this way. Now that she had however, she was confident that they would remember her.

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Chapter 32 – The Legacy

Lily couldn’t look at him, she couldn’t bear to see the disgust in his face, the flicker of hate maybe, in his eyes. Already her mind was forming excuses, reasons, more lies. She forced herself to concentrate, to listen to his words. He was speaking quietly, his eyes fixed on their hands clasped together on the table top.

“I imagine that you might have already thought of this Lily, and I wonder why you never suggested it, but then. You’re kind and so…”

His words were not making sense, ‘kind’ that was not how she saw herself. How could he think her anything but evil? She had his brother buried without marker or recognition in the dark sadness of her basement. She had let him die, a helpless child, and he thought her kind!

“Anyway, I sent them my finger nails.” He couldn’t go on, when Lily looked up she saw despair in his face, the sadness of betrayal.

“I always believed her. Why wouldn’t I?. She was my mum. I never imagined anything other than I was told. When you came to me with this stuff, at first it didn’t even occur to me, then as time went on I didn’t have a lot of choice. I wasn’t sure right up to when I sent the stuff off.” He struggled for control. “In the end, though, I knew I had no other option.” He pushed his hand into the pocket of his leather jacket. He placed another piece of paper on the table. It was face down and as Lily turned it over and began to read Terry stood abruptly and stormed across the room to stare out of the window into the back garden.

“Oh Terry.” Lily laid the paper aside and went to stand beside him. She took his hand and turned him towards her. “Terry, I hadn’t thought of this. You told me your history and I never questioned it. Terry, this, this…” she pointed towards the table, “This doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make you anything other than you have always been.”

“Doesn’t make any difference! Lily, I don’t even know if there’s a name for what I am. A bastard, yes, but I was always that, that didn’t matter, it’s true. But my Grandfather’s bastard, with my mum, his own daughter. What the hell does that make me? I don’t even think there’s a name for it.” He snatched his hand away and fled from the room. She saw him moments later, out in her garden, pacing back and forth, kicking at the lawn edging.

Lily had thought that she started down this road with good intentions. She had wanted to ease her conscience before she died. She had wanted to make sure Peter would not be forgotten, and she had intended only to let the other woman know what had happened to her baby. She had imagined tears of gratitude, a plan to lay the child somewhere better. She had hoped for absolution. It had gone so badly wrong that, not only was she deeper in the mire of deception, but she had ruined another life.

She didn’t know what she could say to Terry, how to make amends for the desolation she had seen on his face.

She heard him walk back into the kitchen, through the hall, and then he appeared in the doorway. “I don’t know what to do next Lily. I don’t know which way to turn now. I should never have asked them to check my DNA.  I was stupid and now I can’t undo any of it.

“If you hadn’t done that, your intention was to face him with what he’d done. Can you not carry on with that?”

“Carry on, carry on!…” he had raised his voice and when Lily flinched he held up a hand, “Sorry, I don’t mean to take it out on you. It’s just that I can’t even bear the thought of seeing him right now.”

“I understand. I think I understand anyway. But, there is another way to look at this.”

“Another way. No, it’s there. It’s there in front of you on the table. There are no other ways, it’s there in black and white, proven by science. He is my bloody father.” He sat down heavily on the dining chair and Lily reached for him but he didn’t take her hand.

“Terry, he always knew this. He knew he was your father. He must have done, but he doesn’t know that you have had these tests done. So, you can just carry on, you could do what you intended. Go to the police, if you want to. Report his abuse. Or, you don’t need to tell anyone else about this. You can destroy that piece of paper and never refer to it again.”

He shook his head before responding, “It doesn’t change it though, does it? Denying something doesn’t make it untrue.”

Of course, she had no answer for him because, so much of her life had been about learning to live with exactly that.

“Sit down, just sit down. I’ll pour a drink. We’ll talk. I am sorry, I truly am, but Terry…” He turned to her. Waited, “Terry, don’t let it take your future. Let me help you to face him. If you must do that and maybe when you do, things will become clearer. You don’t have to speak about this to anyone else. Take your time. Stay with me, tonight. Stay here. Sleep here and then tomorrow we’ll go together to Bath. We’ll go and see him.”

She wasn’t ready, but events had overtaken her and really, it didn’t matter. She would move on now with the plan. She wanted, more than anything in the world to ease Terry’s pain, and she knew how to do it. She had already played it out in her mind.

“No, I need to go back. I have things to do. Thank you, but no.”

“Alright then, but I’ll come tomorrow, or the day after, whenever you say, and I’ll go with you.”

“Okay. Yes, okay. Tomorrow. Shall I come for you?”

“No, it’s an easy journey I’ll be fine.” And so, the die was cast.

He didn’t stay much longer. He couldn’t settle. He needed to be moving, she imagined it had been like that ever since he had read the test results. She let him go, there were things that she must do herself. She logged onto the computer and ordered a ticket for the train. Organised the rest of it.

She walked around the house. Remembering, taking it all in, firming up the memories. Then of course she went down into the basement, she told Peter her plans and sat for a while with him.

Although things were moving quickly, it didn’t matter. She was glad in many ways. It would all be over sooner, and that was good. She felt strong and she felt needed.

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Chapter 31 – The Legacy

Two weeks passed. Lily spent the time putting her affairs in order. She called the solicitor and made an appointment to update her Will. It had to be done now that she owned everything. She had intended to leave it all to Charlotte Mary’s cousin, but now, with this new young man in her life, she was rethinking, was there something for Terry? Something to ensure that, in the years to come he wouldn’t forget her. But then she realised that there was no need. He wouldn’t forget her and he didn’t need her money.

The night before the appointment with Mr. Barnstable, she sat at the desk in the corner of her dining room. She spent a long time with the letter. It had to be clear, the ‘why’ of it all. No excuses, just reasons, simple and concise. It took a long time, eventually she was happy with it. She sealed the envelope and wrote Terry’s name on the front. There might be time to speak to him in person but, just in case, she now had a safety net.

She deposited it with the solicitor. Another task accomplished. Still the days dragged on. With failing strength and the narrowing of her world, it was difficult to fill them. She visited the neighbour, more to make the time pass more quickly, than from any real sense of friendship. All the while that Sandra chattered on, about the garden, the church, the weather, Lily’s thoughts were in Bath, or in the basement, or in contemplation of the darkness to come.

Eventually the call came. “Lily, it’s me, Terry. I’ve got the results. Shall I come to your home or do you want me to tell you now?”

She bit back her impatience. He had obviously realised that she might want to savour this. It was too big to pass in a moment on the phone, and so he had offered the choice. “Please, will you come Terry?”

“This afternoon?”

“Yes. Please.”

When the phone call was finished, she went into the cellar. “It’s time Peter. It’s time. This is the last stretch.” She felt too excited to sit still.

She had a shower, changed her clothes, and tidied the rooms. The morning crawled by. Her heart pounded and she took some of the calming tablets, but only half the dose. It would be no good if she was drowsy and befuddled.

At last there was the rattle of the gate. She scurried to the window and peered through the thin blind. Terry passed in front of the bay without glancing up, and then was lost from sight as he entered the porch. Lily took in a deep breath. She was stepping over a threshold, she must hold her nerve now. The next few minutes would decide how her end would come. The thought both terrified and thrilled her.

***

There was no pretence that this was a pleasant social visit. It was business and hard business at that. Terry carried a brown envelope. Lily ushered him into the dining room where there was room for them to sit together at the large table. Space for the sheets of paper.

He slapped the documents onto the shining wood and slid them towards her. His face gave nothing away, ‘stony’, that was the way she would have described it. “You’ve read it?” Obviously, he must have done, but she asked the question anyway.

“I have. There’s quite a lot of technical stuff. I hadn’t really expected that. When you see it on the television they show you one piece of paper, I think it’s mostly to make you feel that you got value for money. As it turns out there is one that has the conclusion on. I put it on the top, but if you want to read the other stuff, it’s fine.”

Lily shook her head, she didn’t expect to understand, and it wouldn’t change anything.

She tipped the envelope, slid her hand inside to pull out the sheaf of printed sheets.

She closed her eyes for a moment. Terry was quiet beside her. How it had been for him? Had he torn it open with desperate fingers or made the moment last as she was doing? Later they could talk about all of that.

The text was clear. It was easy to understand. Her hands began to shake as she read the conclusion over twice and then looked at him. His face was still a blank.

Lily murmured into the quiet room. “So.”

“Yes. I know they always have to put it in those terms, they can never say absolutely, covering their backsides, but there we have it. Colin, my grandfather, is Peter’s father, and my mum was his mum, Peter’s mum.”

His voice deserted him. He lowered his head to his hands on the table top and as he sobbed, his shoulders shaking, Lily left her seat and moved to stand beside him, patting him gently, murmuring soothing noises. Her own tears trickled unnoticed down her face. How very odd it was. They had known this, both of them. They had never really had any doubt, and now on this quiet afternoon they were overwhelmed with emotion because they had been right.

Once he had himself under control Terry turned to her. “There’s more Lily. There’s something else I have to tell you.” From his expression, she could tell this was not a small thing. He was ashen, all the colour had drained from his face. The pink in his cheeks, the result of his walk from the seafront, was obliterated.

“More?”

“I asked them to do another test.”

Lily’s heart thundered. He had realised that the sample she had given him was newly harvested, from a long dead child. He had mentioned the strange appearance of it. Maybe the lab had been in contact about it. She flopped onto the dining chair.

“I hadn’t ever thought of this Lily. I was probably being stupid. But with what’s happened I should have seen.” He closed his eyes, drew in a breath.

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Chapter 30 – The Legacy

So me and my authorly mate Antonia  Marlowe diamonds  ,we reckon Lily is not a good name for the MC so we have thought maybe Amy, Lilian, Eleanor (Ellie), Grace? any ideas would be welcome

Chapter 30

It had been a long time since Lily had gone out to eat. Charlotte Mary refused to be seen in public after she lost her hair. She had been so proud of it, way past her shoulders even when she was in her forties, and it broke her heart to see it on the bottom of the shower cubicle in soaked clumps. Later she had no appetite, and Lily had tempted her with tiny plates at home, and even they were often refused. So, where to go?

She would book a table, but nowhere too busy. The shopping and leisure centre at Gunwharf Quays offered a range of eateries, but they were modern chain type places. Too busy, too rushed, and the few times they had gone she had felt that the tables, without cloths were greasy and the bottles and condiments overhandled and grubby. Eventually she decided on a smaller place, a Victorian Villa converted and recently refurbished. She looked at the reviews online and it seemed to promise good food, good service and would not be buzzing with children and thumping music. She booked a table and sorted a clean skirt and sweater from the dowdy depths of her wardrobe.

Terry was late, the traffic had been bad, an accident and road works. There wasn’t time for conversation, and they scuttled from the house minutes after he arrived. He wondered if they should drive, Lily told him that, no, she would be fine provided they didn’t walk too quickly.

The restaurant was clean and warm, the food was good and they shared a half bottle of wine. Lily enjoyed herself more than she could remember for an age. They discussed the weather, the traffic, politics, in a superficial way, and she relaxed and enjoyed his company.

Once they were back at her home she made coffee, not the instant sort that they had drunk before, but freshly ground beans she had bought in preparation.

She fussed with the pot and cups, gave him a chance to broach the subject that filled the air between them. In the end it fell to Lily to make the first move. “How is it going Terry, with the tests?”

He nodded, relieved. “Okay, I went to the nursing home. Colin was having a good day as it happened. I had some business things to discuss. I had to wait, until he was asleep. They, the lab,  sent me a thing like a cotton bud, and it had to go into his mouth, rubbed on his cheek. I had no way to ask him to do that, I just couldn’t come up with any sort of reason. Anyway, when he was asleep, snoring his head off actually, I was able to do it fairly easily, he has drugs of course and once he’s out of it, well he is completely out of it. I reckon you could do just about anything with him then. He has naps all through the day. I cut a couple of his fingernails as well. They gave me options so I thought I’d do both. I sent it all away and now I’m just waiting. I’ve asked for Paternal and Maternal testing. I sent them the hair, Peter’s hair. It was still in the bag that you put it in. I thought that was best. I suppose it was because it was so old, but it didn’t really look like the pictures on the instruction leaflets. The ends were odd, clumpy somehow.”

Lily delivered the answer she gave him, on the day that she gave him the sample. “I didn’t do it. It was Charlotte. After he died, she just wanted to keep it. I hope it will be alright.”

He shrugged. “If it’s not I suppose they’ll come back to me and then, well we’ve always got the ashes. Did you have much of a funeral for him? I don’t suppose you could, under the circumstances.  Poor little thing, not even that.” She fought back the panic.

She shook her head and looked away. She didn’t want to lie to him anymore. After a minute he continued.

“I sent them Mum’s old toothbrush, and her hairbrush. I told them she was dead. I’ve spoken to them, told them the baby and the mother are both dead. To be honest they didn’t ask that many questions. They charge a small fortune, and you have to pay up front, so I think that mainly they just want your money. Anyway, that’s what I’ve done.” He stopped and laughed quietly, “A bit disgusting that Mum’s stuff was still in the cupboard, but she had her own bathroom and I’ve sort of left it alone. I don’t use it. I suppose I should get on and do something about it all but I’ve never had the heart. Her rooms are closed up. I don’t go in there much at all. It’s all a bit pathetic really – miserable. He could have done much better for her, but she never asked him for much.”

“Was he violent with her?”

“Huh, what you mean apart from the fact that he made her have sex with him. Sorry, sorry that was unnecessary, uncalled for. If you mean did he hit her? Well, not as far as I know. Not that I ever saw. But she feared him, she tried to keep out of his way. I would get mad with her, when I was younger.  I didn’t understand, he shouted a lot and I wanted her to stand up for us, she never did. I needed her to do it because of what he was doing to me. But I couldn’t tell her and yet, I wanted her to protect me. Well, she couldn’t could she. My gran used to ignore him, they hardly spoke. I thought everyone’s family was like that, until later, more independent and had friends that I visited. Once I was older, bigger than him, I used to ask him for money, clothes, stuff like that. He didn’t argue with me any more then. He started to treat me better, it was too late though, far too late. No matter what he did he couldn’t make up for the past.

“Terry did you never think about reporting him, or at least facing him with it. What he’d done to you.”

“No. Once it was over, when I was about thirteen, he backed off. I was relieved. Every week when he didn’t…” he shrugged, unable yet to say out loud what had been done. He tried again, “Every week that went by, when I’d been left alone, was a bonus, but it was a long time before I could believe that it was over. I thought that if I faced him with it, it might all start again. Like poking at a wasps nest. Then, when I was big enough to be sure that I could stop him, I didn’t need to mention it, not outright. Once I wasn’t a kid anymore he tried to win me over, gave me things, brought me into the business but no, we didn’t talk about it. Of course, I didn’t know the whole story about Mum. I just thought he was mean to her, a bully. If I’d known, things would have been very different.

“Anyway, she was ill when she told me. She knew she was dying. He’d had the stroke, I suppose she waited until she felt safe.” He squeezed his eyes with his fingertips, coughed. “Poor Mum, she never grew too big for him, did she? Anyway, she told me about the abuse. Later she told me she’d had a baby that had been adopted. I never put two and two together, I was still pretty young and you don’t want to hear things like that, about your mum I mean. She didn’t tell me that much, I suppose it was just too painful for her to go into all the details. That would have been the time for me to confess, to tell her about me, but I couldn’t give her even more pain, and it wouldn’t have changed things. He went straight to the nursing home from the hospital. Then not long afterwards, Mum died. Him and me just slipped into the sort of relationship that we have now. I see him about once a month, he signs papers, leases and suchlike and that’s it.”

“So, it’s still his business?”

Terry nodded. “I did try at one stage to take control, have him sign over a power of attorney, but it went nowhere. He’s got a solicitor who has worked for him as long as I can remember and he was obstructive. Accused me of money grabbing and what have you. It just didn’t seem worth struggling to be honest. I enjoy my life and so it all just drifted along. On my own, no more worries.”

“No girlfriend then? Or boyfriend?”

“No, I’ve had a couple of relationships, girls.” He grinned at her, a fleeting brightness, “But they don’t seem to go anywhere.”

For a minute there was silence, not comfortable but stuffy with things not said, questions unasked. Lily was afraid of driving him away, of being too inquisitive. She spoke first though, “What’s the next step then? I mean once you have the results and if they are what we think. If he is Peter’s father, exactly what will you do?”

“I’ll go and face him with it. I’ll tell him what I know, show him the receipt, the results from the lab, and let him know that I’m going to the police. I’ll tell him that I’m reporting what he did to me for years, me and mum. If I have the proof, even if he denies it, it doesn’t alter the fact that he forced me to do the things he did, and that he had sex with his own daughter. I just want to see his face. I want to see his fear.” He was wringing his hands now, Lily leaned and stilled them by briefly laying her own on top of them.

“Does it scare you Terry?

“Yes, a bit. After all this time. But, it’s so that I can live with myself. I’ll do it. It’s scares me, yes, but I’ll do it.”

“Is there anything I can do? Anything at all that I can do to help?”

He didn’t answer for a long time and Lily thought she had overstepped the mark, pushed too much. But eventually, he rubbed his hands together and spoke quietly, “Would you come with me?”

She whispered, “To the nursing home?”

“Yes. You know about it already, you’re the only person who does. Would you come with me if the results are what we expect?”

She didn’t hesitate. It was exactly what she had wanted. “Yes. I will. I will come with you.”

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Chapter 29 – the Legacy

hey – I’m a ‘Paperback writer’!!
tangled-truthtwist-of-truth

 

 

 

 

 

********************

Chapter 29

She filled the days. There was little food in the house and no fresh vegetables, she needed to buy milk, some bread. Lily walked to Southsea centre and shopped in Waitrose. She looked in the shop windows, but had no urge to consider new clothes or toiletries. Charlotte Mary had bought often and extravagantly of such stuff, lotions and shower gel, skin cream. There was enough. She did buy a bunch of flowers for Sandra next door, a little thank you, offered when she returned the plate.

In the quiet house, several times, she picked up her phone, opened the contacts list and looked at his name. She knew that there was no point calling him. He had told her that he had to wait for the DNA kit, to take a sample from his grandfather.

She did some research online but it wasn’t possible to get a clear idea of how long it would take for the result to be sent to him. The calibre of the lab he had chosen, the samples he had from his mother’s belongings, so much information that she wasn’t a party to.

She formed a habit. Every evening she took a new candle down into the cellar. She carried a folding chair one day and placed it in the corner near to the grave.

Sometimes she would talk, but often sat in silence, watched the flame, and let her mind wander. She remembered the years with Charlotte Mary. The ups and downs, and though there was much to regret, there had been good times and she found herself smiling at those memories.

She recalled the awful days when Peter had died, the terrible arguments about what they should do and the dreadful decision that they came to. She had always believed it was wrong and she knew it had blighted the rest of her existence. Charlotte Mary seemed to have shrugged it off, but now, this legacy of the tiny plastic bracelet. How sad, she had believed they knew each other so very well and it hadn’t been true. She wondered what other options they could have chosen and how much difference it would have made. Too late, all too late.

Sitting in the gloom, she remembered her own childhood, her mother and father. Maybe, she thought, all this introspection was just her life moving towards the end. She knew that it was. The pain came often, the breathlessness and a feeling of exhaustion. Maybe this was nature’s way of cleaning and tidying, preparing the way. She should be glad of it, should find comfort in the fact that there had been some warning of how little time there was left. Charlotte Mary had fought it, every day had been a battle and in the end, she had been war weary and demented. That wasn’t the way that Lily wanted it to be and she collected more pills. The local surgery didn’t seem to keep much of a record of how many times she renewed her prescription. She did it online and then the paperwork was delivered to the pharmacist for her, the medicine just waiting for collection. All very smooth and impersonal and so she had plenty of stock. She secreted them in her jewel box and when she was ready, they would be waiting.

First though, she wanted to see this thing through. To find the truth about the baby and see Terry have justice. She found this alone was enough to give her the strength to keep going.

In the china cabinet was another unfinished task. She should fix that.

Terry no longer needed ashes for the DNA testing, now he had something much better, she could dispose of them. Put them back together in the simple cardboard box and take them away. Spread them in the rather odd way she had heard mourners would do. Where would she chose? The Solent, no, Charlotte Mary had never been a ‘beach person’, she hadn’t ever swum in the cold waters of England. They had dipped their toes in the Mediterranean now and again, but it wasn’t something either of them felt drawn to. Portsdown Hill? Above the town. No, it wasn’t right. Although Southsea had been their home for decades it wasn’t where they were from. Charlotte Mary had been born abroad, the Far East, her father posted with the foreign office and they had travelled, far and often, and though there had been stories, there was nowhere that she had said , felt like home. Nowhere that she had been called back to. When the answer came to her, Lily was surprised that it had taken so long.

School had been the only place they had talked of often. The people, the occurrences, the daily trials, and triumphs. That was where their happiness had been most untrammelled. Their closeness and their obvious kicking over of the traces, their unhidden relationship, had made them special, infamous, in a rather delicious way that they had never experienced again, and Charlotte Mary had revelled in it. Yes, when the time came she would take what was left of her and leave her in the quad, there was a small area of shrubbery, a tiny fountain. That was where she would go.

But then, Terry had wanted something of Peter to bury with his mother, something to take to a grave. The thought lurked on the side lines, but she pushed it aside, struggled with it, knew that it would be her final undoing. But it would not be denied. She would need to be brave and accept that he would turn against her, so it would be a final act. Then she would be able to die, calm and at peace. Maybe, if she achieved something even better than she had first planned, giving Peter back to his mother and to his brother. Maybe that would be enough.

She would wait until the proper time and then would make it all right. Better than right, she would do a good thing and it felt like the first really good thing that she had done for many years.

On Wednesday Terry called, “I was going to try and come and see you Lily, but I won’t be able to make it this week after all. I just wanted to let you know, I have the kit now and tomorrow I am going to see Colin. I’m going to get the sample from him and then I will send it all away.”

It was a disappointment, she wanted to see him again but also, she had hoped that they had been further along than this. When she had considered it, she had imagined the laboratory, working on the samples, doing whatever it was they did to access the magic of DNA.

She forced her lips into a smile, she had long believed that a person’s demeanour impacted on telephone calls.

“Oh, that’s fine. Terry, do you have any idea when you might come?” She didn’t want to drive him away with her neediness, but hadn’t been able to hold her tongue. “Just so that I can be sure to be here.”

“Yes, Monday. I’ll come on Monday. Maybe we could go out to lunch. Would you be able to do that do you think? Have you time?”

“That would be lovely.” She smiled, a true and genuine smile that reached her eyes.

 

 

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A Quick Aside

Now available in paperback from Amazon

tangled-truth

twist-of-truth

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Chapter 28 – The Legacy

When Lily went back into the living room Terry was looking out of the window, his back to the room. He obviously didn’t know she was there and she watched him, quietly. His hands were clenched behind him and his head bowed. She heard him sniff, he pushed a hand into his jean’s pocket to take out his handkerchief, and as he wiped at his eyes she was overwhelmed with tenderness.

She turned and crept back into the hall and stamped her feet on the carpet. By the time she came through the door a second time, he had turned and was stepping back towards the settee.

“So, your plan?” She smiled at him as she spoke. Her arms ached to hold him. She wanted to ease his hurt. All the years of longing for the baby in the basement were concentrated in this room. All the nurturing instincts that had been subdued and denied were flooding through her and she felt strange, light headed.

He was serious as he answered her, “If I am to use the fact that Colin sold his own baby then, obviously, I have to be able to say who bought him, where he went. You do see that, don’t you?”

“Yes, of course.”

“But, I don’t want to make you suffer any more than you have done. You’ve told me that it was Charlotte who started it, and that you didn’t know anything about it. I believe you. I think that you would have made a good mother for him, if he’d lived. I don’t know about her obviously, but you…” He paused, “Yes, I think you would have been a good mum and I think it’s horrible that you weren’t given the chance. So, why don’t we simply leave you out of it?”

“I don’t see what you mean. I don’t see how we can do that. I was here, I held him.”

“I know, but it was such a short time. From what you said nobody saw him. You didn’t take him out?” Lily shook her head. “So, is it possible to pretend you didn’t know until she died and you were given those things? Is it possible that she could have had him and not told you?”

She was so tempted. He was offering her a way out of all of it, he was willing to help her avoid any sort of involvement. But, he didn’t know, he didn’t know all of it. There were already too many lies and so she shook her head.

“No, we lived together. We were nearly always together, up until then, until his death came between us.”

“You said she had an affair.”

“Yes, but it was a sordid little incident. A few afternoons sneaking away with someone who was young and interesting. I don’t think she ever really intended to leave me,” Lily paused. “I don’t think she did but…” she shrugged. “Oh, none of that matters any more does it. The point is nobody would believe she could bring a baby home and I wouldn’t know.”

She paused, thought for a minute before continuing. “Though I haven’t got many of our friends from back then, there are enough to raise doubt. If they become aware of it all, and they surely must, they’ll be shaking their heads and having their say.” She drew in a deep breath. “Look, Terry, I think that anything that will weaken your case, anything that will give people something to point at and say ‘Well that’s not true,’ has to be discounted.  Let’s just go forward and see what happens. I’m old Terry, I’m old and spent and tired and if the last thing I can do is to help you find some sort of peace then, well it might make up for… It might make up for what we did.”

Terry took out his handkerchief again and blew his nose. “Thank you. Thank you, Lily. It’s true, what I said, you would have made a wonderful mother.”

***

He had gone and Lily felt exhausted, mentally, and physically, but her spirits had lifted. The cloud of depression that had become so much part of her every day had been pushed back. What had been a background dread, had become a real possibility, and oddly, it was easier to handle. Her mind was alive with plans. She went downstairs and spoke to the baby in the grave, “Well, little man. People are going to know about you. Not everything, I’m sorry, not all of it. I will have to keep this little secret won’t I? But, they will know you ‘were’, they’ll know your name. We’re moving forward. It’s all going to work out.”

She heard knocking upstairs and went to answer the door to Sandra. Her neighbour carried a plate with a cloth over it. She held it forward. “I won’t come in, I’m expecting Roger, but I made a casserole, chicken. Will you have some. The aroma, drifting from under the cover made Lily’s mouth water, suddenly, she felt ravenous.

“Thank you. Thank you very much. I really do appreciate your kindness.” She took the plate.

Sandra beamed at her, “You’re looking better. How are you feeling?”

“Yes, better, thank you.”

“I saw your visitor leaving. Is that Charlotte’s nephew, the one you told me about?”

“No, he’s just a friend. A dear friend.”

“Well, he’s done you good, coming here. It’s nice to see you so much brighter.”

Lily sat at the kitchen table. She ate the casserole, which was delicious, and then she went upstairs to the small bedroom, her own room, and crawled under the clean covers. She felt herself falling into a dark, warm space and she let herself go. She slept until morning, her dreams were vivid but they were kind, sunshine and happiness.

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Chapter 27 – The Legacy

In the event he didn’t look at it. When Terry came to collect what he referred to as ‘The, lock of hair’, she had put the plastic bag into a small brown envelope. She handed it to him and he made no attempt to open it.

“How are you, Lily?”

“I’m alright, thank you.” In truth, she was feeling stronger. In the two days since she had called him her spirits had strengthened. She looked forward to seeing Terry again, the prospect cheered her. She was clearer now about what she was doing. The end might still be hidden in mist but each step forward gave her strength.  Revenge. She didn’t shy from the word.

They were sitting in the living room, he waved the envelope in the air. “I appreciate this. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you and I’m very grateful.” She struggled to keep her expression neutral. He must never know how hard it had been.

She wanted to let him know that she wasn’t an old fogey with no understanding of technology, “I looked it up, what they need. I think that will do.”

“Thank you.”

“Will you let me know? Please, will you keep me informed about what happens?”

“Of course I will. It won’t be fast. It’s not just a simple test and it could take a few weeks, I’ve been researching, I know where I’m going to send it but I’m waiting for a kit from them. To get a sample from ‘him’.”  As Terry spoke he rose from the settee and crossed the small space between them. Lily was astounded when he bent to kiss her cheek. “I’ll tell you everything that’s going on. I’m determined now, with all of this, I’m determined that he’s going to pay. I’ll come again, maybe next week if that’s alright? See how you are, let you know what’s happening.”

“Oh, yes please. That would be wonderful. Thank you.”

“Hey, I meant it, I’m the one who’s grateful and after all you’ve been through, you deserve to be kept in the picture. Then when it’s all over we’ll take the ashes,” he nodded towards the china cabinet, “we’ll bury them, but only if you still want to.” And the brief sunshine went out of her world because of course he didn’t know.

***

“If it’s proved, that he is Peter’s father, what will you do?”

He had regained his seat on the settee and before he answered Terry took a moment, collecting his thoughts, or maybe deciding how best to explain his plan. “So, the first thing is to get the tests done. It all hinges on them really. I could go to the authorities even before that, and tell them about what he did to me, but that feels a bit feeble. After all this time, what would be the point in a way?”

“I thought you wanted to expose him?”

“Yes, I do. But, if the results prove he had been doing it for years, the abuse. And, with his own daughter and then benefitting by selling the baby.  This was the first time he had named the crime so very clearly. As he did she saw him clench his fists, and a nerve in his jaw jumped under the skin. “Well, right.” He paused. “I suppose then I’ll have powerful ammunition to expose him. Most of these cases, the ones that you see on the news, the victims have been strangers haven’t they. Strangers or pupils or – oh I don’t know choir boys, you know what I mean, and it’s hearsay and just victims trying to convince people. I couldn’t face that. All the doubt that there always is, but with this,” he held up the envelope, “it’s irrefutable, isn’t it?” Everyone knows that this goes on in families, uncles, cousins, and I suppose aunts as well sometimes, and yes, fathers. I’m not a crusader, I wish I was, I wish I was that brave, but to be honest. I just think that I want to shame him, this is about me and him.

“I might see if there is a way that I can claim compensation – I only want to do that because it would hit him hard, losing his money. The trouble then is that people’ll probably say I’ve only done it for the money but I don’t need to. I have all I need now, okay I don’t ‘own’ it but I will in time. But it would be good to see it taken away from him. Mainly, I just want to let people know and for me to feel that he didn’t get away scot free. All these years of pretending that we were normal, denying even to myself what he’d done. It’s there every day you know. No matter how hard you try to push it away.”

“Do you think there was ever anyone else?”

“Oh shit, I have thought about that so much. I’ve tried to remember, you know if there were kids around the house when I was younger. He was never in charge of any kids but…” he paused.

“Yes?” Lily urged him on.

“I think it’s possible. He was a landlord. He had plenty of flats and he used to do the rounds, collecting rents. He did it himself back in those days. Before it was all done by direct debit and standing order. There were rent books and he used to go and collect cash. Well sometimes he would take me with him.” Lily nodded, and listened quietly. “Well, mostly I went in with him, to the houses, the flats. He used to say he was training me. But, every so often he would make me wait in the car. Give me some sweets, put the radio on.” Terry shook his head now, “I didn’t ask questions, but now – well I just wonder.”

Again, Lily nodded her understanding. She spoke low and quiet, “So, if there were other women, children maybe, do you think you’d get them to come forward?”

“I don’t know. It’s possible isn’t it?”

“It’s going to ruin your family.”

“There are no family left. There was only ever the four of us. It doesn’t matter, there’s nothing left to ruin. Well nothing but him and that’s the idea. Before you came, showing me that receipt and telling me about what had happened to Carol’s baby, to my brother, well I had pretty much given up. I was going to wait until the old swine died and then enjoy spending his money. Whatever is left when the nursing home is paid for. He’s in the lap of luxury even now and it’s not on, not any more. Now, though, when I think of what he put her through, and me, and I don’t know maybe there are others. Now, I want it all to come out.”

“All of it?”

“Yes, all of it. I have thought about it, yes. It’s going to have an effect on you isn’t it? I have been worried about it. I need to put some ideas to you. Are you well enough?”

She realised that she had frightened him with the attack in the pub, it made him seem so very sweet, vulnerable. “Yes, I’m alright. I’m feeling better these last few days.”

“Good. Yes, that’s good. So, I’ll tell you what I have thought and you can take some time, consider the idea, and then let me know what you feel. I don’t want to cause you trouble, you didn’t do anything wrong, not you personally.”

She couldn’t answer him, she turned away and took the mugs into the kitchen. She looked from where she stood by the sink and stared at the cellar door. If he knew, would he still think that she had done no wrong?

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