The mobile ringing pulled the two women apart. Sonja reached into her pocket, she looked at the screen and then held it out for Jean to see. It was from Paul. The beginning of the message told them little, but when the page was opened a fizz of apprehension passed between them. Jean read the text aloud to Carl and Lesley.
I have found her. I need your help. You have to come.
Sonja swallowed hard. Her fingers hovered over the key pad and then she looked at Jean. “I don’t know what to do. I have to help him, don’t I?” The girl, who had been such a scary part of what had happened until now, seemed to have crumbled. Now that she was away from the warehouse, and Paul was away from her, she was insecure, frightened really. Jean leaned and touched her shoulder. She spoke calmly to Sonja and told her that if Paul had found his wife and needed help then they must go and help him.
She was aware of Lesley, half rising from the settee and then sitting back and lowering her head to her hands.
“Hang on. Just for a minute.” Jean grabbed a bin liner from the kitchen. ran upstairs and dragged off the filthy clothes. She stuffed them into the plastic bag. Carl was right, there was no mystery for the police to solve. They could tell them everything that had happened and frankly, they had messed them about too long and missed their chance. Why was it taking them so long, anyway? They assumed that the kidnappers and the people who had caused Suzanne’s death were the same, well hadn’t they all. It wasn’t true and she had already decided that, if she had any say, she would let it go, no legal case against Paul and Sonja, who had acted in desperation. So, there was no need to protect the ‘evidence’.
She longed for a hot shower and her bed called to her. There was a burning sensation in her chest and she took two more pain killers. She was probably overdosing with these, but time enough to worry about that later.
She ran back downstairs. “Carl, if you want to change your top, one of Uncle Rob’s will fit you. There are some in the spare room.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?”
She shook her head. “’Course not. It’s what he would have done anyway.” Obscurely the thought of her husband almost reduced her to tears. She missed him, of course she did, but nowadays it was just a vague background emptiness that she had learned to live with. She was tired, stressed, and anxious that was all. The rush of emotion did though, add another level of determination to this need to help Paul and his wife. Okay, she didn’t know their story, they were illegally in the country and could well be criminals, were criminals, if one considered what Paul had done to herself and Carl. And yet, they shouldn’t be pulled apart by others, and certainly not by the same thing as had happened to poor Suzanne. She handed Carl a bag. “Best put your own in here. I think we’ll be in trouble anyway, but it might help if they think we tried.”
As Carl’s feet thundered on the stairs Jean sat down next to Sonja. “Right, you haven’t heard any more?” The girl shook her head. Jean glanced across at Lesley who was glaring at her from her seat on the settee. She mouthed an apology at her sister before turning back to speak to the younger woman, “Ask him where he is, find out what you can and then we’ll decide what to do to help him. But, I must say, if it seems that the best thing is to ring the police then I will do that. So, you decide.”
Sonja considered briefly, and then her fingers flew across the keypad.
Where are you?
It was a noncommittal answer, though he could assume it was acceptance. As she read it, Jean nodded. Sonja sent.
While they waited, both women peering at the screen, Carl came back into the room. “Mum,” he stood in front of Lesley who sat with her head in her hands, she raised her eyes to look at him. “Do you know what happened to my phone. I know it was here because they told me.
Jean interrupted, “I’m sorry Carl, I lost it. I took it with me and I must have dropped it.”
“No, the police have it.” Lesley’s voice was flat and dull.
Carl was flicking his head back and forth between his mother and his aunty. “The police?”
“Yes,” Lesley nodded, “Bob Rather has it. Evidence he said. They can do stuff, trace where the calls are from and what have you.” She shrugged.
Carl sighed, “Great, don’t expect I’ll get the bloody thing back now, will I?”
There was a moment of silence interrupted by Sonja, “If Paul calls that phone will the police be able to find him?”
Jean considered for a moment before answering, “Yes, but why would he do that?”
“No, maybe he won’t but if he does, then they will be able to find me won’t they, or if they can trace his calls they can find my flat, my home phone, he called me there many times.”
Carl spoke, “He doesn’t even need to call you Sonja, they can request the record of his phone if they get the number. and his number is already in my call log.”
“I’ll lose my job if I am arrested, I could be deported, I am not yet fully a British Citizen.
Lesley spoke angrily, “It’s a bit late now for you to be worrying about your job and your status. Maybe you should have thought of that before you started kidnapping and blackmailing people. Before you started messing up people’s lives and worrying them half to death.”
Carl held his hands up, “Look it’s okay I may be able to fix this. If they haven’t looked at it yet, I can just wipe it. I can delete all the call history remotely. Lend me your Kindle Fire Aunty Jean.”
Jean frowned at him, “No, wait.” I don’t think you should do that Carl. Isn’t it tampering with evidence or something?”
“I’ll just say I didn’t know where it was and so I wiped it because I have bank stuff on there. It’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Lesley’s voice had risen a couple of octaves, “This just gets worse and worse. What are you all playing at. Let the police handle this. Just leave them to do their jobs for Christ’s sake.”
Sonja stood up now and began to pace, wiped at her eyes, and muttered into the awkward silence. “If we were still at the warehouse, if I hadn’t let you go then I could have gone to help him. What have I done?” She peered at her phone, willing it to chime.
Lesley threw out an arm, “There you are you see. She’s only bothered about herself and her boyfriend, doesn’t give a damn about us. And you’re trying to help her.”
Jean glanced around, frowned, “Yes, well, he’s not her boyfriend, is he, and the sooner this is all sorted the better for everyone. My Kindle is in the dining room Carl, help yourself and then we’d better get a move on, hadn’t we? Lesley, I’ve put a pair of jeans and a jumper on my bed. You’re not going to be warm enough in that dress. Carl, borrow my Barber Jacket.” She turned and walked into the hall, where she stopped and raised a hand to her clammy forehead. It was hot and her throat was on fire.