Cambridge – mid-1990s
Dance music filled the air with the sound of whistles blown and cheers filtering out from the club on to the street. Partygoers milled about outside to have a smoke and a chat, a laugh and to share their bottles of alcopops. Two girls with their bomber jackets tied around their waists walked down from a tall building nearby and down the path towards the entrance of the club. They passed some of the partygoers, one stopping by briefly to take a drag of a cigarette. Her friend waited patiently for her before they walked inside in the direction of the bar area. They placed their order and paid, leaving coins on top. They looked to the direction of the dance floor, the smoke making things difficult. Once their drinks were given to them, they parked themselves on the two stools in front of them.
Two lads suddenly came into view. One was tall and the other a few inches shorter. They glanced at the two girls before facing each other, chatting and swigging their bottles of beer. One of the girls, a blonde with frizzy hair tied up in a scrunchie, kept her eyes on them. Her friend, a shy brunette with a short-bobbed haircut and heavy fringe, was looking elsewhere. The blonde took note of one of the lads looking in their direction and nudged her friend.
“He’s looking at you again,” she told her. She glanced back at the lads before leaning towards her friend. “Come on! Go up to him. He really likes you, you know!” Again, her friend refused to look. “Go on!” she said encouragingly, nudging her again. The brunette plucked up the courage to look over and saw the taller lad looking straight at her.
“I can’t!” she said looking away again.
“Oh, come on!” She took her bottle away from her. “You know he’s fancied you for ages. You keep telling me how fit he is.” She smiled as her friend blushed. She watched as she stood up and walked over. The tall lad whispered something to his mate and gave him his bottle. He walked over to meet her halfway. They stood in front of each other and looked at one another. As the bass of the music filled the dance floor behind them, they held each other to give each other a kiss…
Oxford – present day
DI James Hathaway walked out of a coffee shop with a paper cup in his hand. As usual, Oxford was busy with the usual traffic jams and the hustle and bustle of the public along the city’s streets. The weather was bright and slightly warm. He caught sight of a familiar vehicle on the other side of the road and drank the rest of his coffee, dumping the cup in a recycling bin nearby, before crossing the road. His sergeant, a young dark-haired lad in his mid-twenties, turned the key in the ignition as he got in.
“You all right, sir?” he asked. He then noticed Hathaway was empty handed. “Where’s mine?”
“Oh, sorry, I ran out of change.”
“Cheers for that. I’ll remember this the next time you’re gasping!” Hathaway tried not to laugh as the streets of Oxford became a slight blur as they drove in the direction of the station.
Things have changed for Hathaway since he became inspector. His old sergeant moved back home to serve under the GMP and his old superintendent retired to take the helm as a CEO of a huge company in another part of the country. Hathaway inherited two new recruits to train: Sergeant Stephen Hazel, the keen dark-haired lad in his mid-twenties who drove him from the coffee shop, and a young constable who had to delay their arrival. He was still in touch with his old boss, Robert Lewis, who was enjoying his new life in New Zealand and even his old super, Jean Innocent. A new super was at the helm, whom he had still to meet, but she didn’t sound too good…if what was being said was true. But Hathaway wasn’t one to listen to gossip much. However, he knew his sergeant was on to something by what he kept saying. There was a knock on the office window and Hathaway saw another officer point to the direction of her office.
“Good luck, sir.” Hathaway looked at his sergeant and said nothing as he straightened himself up. He heard Hazel hum the funeral march as he walked out.
The new super was busy writing at her desk. She was South Asian in descent, with long black hair and a flawless complexion. She was middle aged and always dressed smartly with not a crease in sight. She looked the disciplinarian type – one who doesn’t take any nonsense. She made sure she wrote everything with a fountain pen and only used her computer when it was necessary. She looked up as she heard a knock on the door.
“Come in, DI Hathaway.”
“Ma’am,” he greeted as he walked inside closing the door.
“Take a seat.”
“No thank you, ma’am, I’d rather stand.”
“Fine by me.” Hathaway stood in front of her desk like he was facing a court martial. In fact, he didn’t know why he was doing that, but it seemed appropriate. The super scribbled her signature at the bottom of the page and fixed the cap back on her pen. She settled that on the desk and looked at him. “When you joined the force, what did you think it expected from you?”
“Ma’am?” Hathaway didn’t understand the question.
“You joined a while ago. What do you think it expected from you?”
“To do my job fairly, ma’am.”
“Is that all?” She leaned forward. “James, I am going to be frank here. You have been DI for a while now. I have read the reports of you from your old DI and your previous two supers. I have to say I am impressed by what they have written, but your conduct recently I have to say calls into consideration whether you are up to this job any longer.” Hathaway tried not to be taken aback by what he heard. Where did this suddenly come from? “Are you part of this constabulary or not, James? I need to know so I can put a request in.” Hathaway decided against responding to such a ridiculous question. “I’ll give you six months.” He looked at her. “I will know then.”
“Ma’am.” Hathaway walked out and down the corridor displaying a calm exterior, but inside he was absolutely livid.
A dark blue van came to park outside a house with a gate and gravelled path. Two men got out, with one going around the back to open the doors and the other walked to the front door. A young woman met him and smiled as she picked up a box. She handed it to the man and went back inside to collect another. Her friend walked past her also with a box in her hand. She crouched down to leave it on the doorstep. The process lasted a little while before the last box was collected. The first woman wiped away a tear as the back doors of the van closed shut.
“Is that all, love?” the first man asked.
“Yes. Thank you.” She watched as the two men got inside and drove away. Her friend appeared beside her. She took note of how sad and upset her friend looked and rubbed her arm sympathetically.
“Come on,” she said. “It’ll be all right. We had to do this.” The first woman took a quick look at her friend and nodded. They walked back inside closing the door.
DS Hazel was looking at a webpage on his phone. He laughed as he read was what on it, scrolling the screen with his right thumb. He was leaning back in his chair taking it easy whilst Hathaway was meeting his doom. He caught sight of his boss walking past the office windows and quickly shoved his phone into his drawer, sitting up straight and pretended to look busy. Hathaway walked in and slung his jacket on a nearby chair. Hazel took note of how his boss was acting as he sat down.
“It didn’t go well I take it?” he asked.
“Nope!” Hathaway replied, still annoyed by the accusation.
“So, it is true what they say about her.” He didn’t receive an answer. “Bright had a reputation before she came here, or so I heard. Her grandfather-in-law used to be a super here too, apparently.”
Hathaway again didn’t answer. He was still reeling from what was thrown at him. How dare she accuse him of not pulling his weight! Ever since Lewis retired, his own turnover rate for results came at 70% – not bad for someone who had only been in the position for three years. Sure, his methods were a bit unorthodox but still, results were what mattered, and he got them. The sheer thought of him going on leave ‘to think’ was just unthinkable. He couldn’t trust Hazel yet and what about the newbie? Nah! The super can take a running…
“Hathaway!” He picked up his phone. “On our way.” Hazel watched as Hathaway stood up and picked up his jacket. “Body at the Cherwell,” he said walking out. Hazel grabbed his phone from his desk drawer and hurried off after him.
The victim’s body was lying face down with his head to the side. The pathologist was also new. She was small in stature but had the attitude. She had light brown hair and blue eyes. She stood up to make notes on her clipboard as Hathaway and Hazel showed up.
“DI Hathaway I presume?” the pathologist said looking up from her clipboard briefly. “I’m Doctor Aurora.” She glanced at Hazel.
“This is DS Hazel,” Hathaway replied. He looked at Aurora. She reminded him of Laura Hobson. “What have we got?”
“Your vic died of a stab wound to the neck,” Aurora replied. “Time of death, I am presuming late last night, say 10pm onwards. I won’t know for sure until I give him the once over.” She crouched down by the body. “I am concerned about these ligatures on the wrist and hands,” she pointed with her pencil, “but I’ll let you know my full report in due course.”
Hathaway’s phone rang again. He walked off a short distance to answer. Hazel looked at the body.
“Any ID?” he asked.
“Nothing was found,” Aurora replied. “You’re better off asking the SOCO team behind me.” Hazel looked up and saw the white covered team doing their job nearby. He looked round and saw Hathaway and walked up the bank towards him.
“Sir?” he asked noticing the look on his face. Hathaway walked over to the car.
“I have to go,” he told him. “See if you can find out any ID.”
“What about me, sir?”
“Hitch a lift back with whatshername? Aurora!”
“What about Bright?” Hathaway got in and slammed the door. The window slid down.
“You seem to know her more than most. You sort it.” He turned the key in the ignition and the car sped off down the path.
Hathaway pulled up outside a house, the brakes making a deafening screeching sound as the car came to a halt. He ran up the gravelled path and turned the key in the lock, running inside and up the stairs.
“Nell?” he called out. “Nell?” He ran inside a bedroom and saw a very familiar person asleep in bed, her blonde locks visible from the top of the duvet. Hathaway, somewhat relieved, crept up slowly towards her and gently sat down at the edge of the bed, clearing the hair from her face. She stirred suddenly and turned.
“James….” she said sleepily.
“I’m here now, Nell,” he said gently. “Hush now.”
“I am so sorry…” Tears came over her eyes.
“Don’t apologise,” Hathaway said taking a tissue from the box on the bedside table in front of him and gently dabbed her eyes dry. “Never apologise!”
“I’m so glad you are here.” She outstretched her arms and Hathaway gave her a hug, kissing her on the cheek.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He took note of a bottle of pills in front of the tissue box. “You get some sleep, okay?” He smiled and stood up.
“James?” Nell watched as he was about to leave. “There is someone downstairs you might want to see.” Hathaway smiled again at Nell and left.
He slowly walked down the stairs and down the corridor that led towards the kitchen. He looked inside the living room, which was emptier than he remembered, before continuing on his way. He stood by the back door overlooking the garden and saw a woman in the distance shovelling some earth by a flower bed. She was kneeling on a foam knee rest and had her dark hair in a very loose ponytail. He watched as she kneeled back up to wipe her forehead with her checked sleeve and decided to approach her, coming to a stop not far away. Her back was to him and she gently massaged the base of her back with her fingers.
“Hello, Caroline.” The woman’s eyes widened on hearing his voice – one which she hadn’t heard in a very long time. She turned her head and stood up to face him.
“James Hathaway,” she said to him. Her face suddenly soured and she walked off in the direction of a white table and a few chairs. “Three years! Three bloody years and not a damn, sodding word!”
“I’m sorry,” Hathaway apologised following her.
“Sorry! You’re sorry?!” She looked at him in disbelief.
“I didn’t know where you were, Caroline!”
“Bullshit, James! Your sister knew! I wouldn’t be here otherwise!” She wiped the tears angrily with her sleeve.
“I told you I am sorry,” he said softly only for Caroline to look away.
“You had every opportunity in the world, James!”
“Well, I am here now.” Caroline shook her head in disgust. “How is Nell?” he asked.
“Not good,” Caroline replied, her head now facing the ground below. “The doctor gave her some tablets, but her heart is in a really bad way. We just finished giving the remainder of your father’s things to storage when she fell ill. She asked for you there and then.” She suddenly looked at him. “At least I was here!”
Hathaway laughed a little, but not out of amusement. “You do know I am a police officer, yeah? I just cannot drop everything.”
“Huh! Always the smug bastard wasn’t you, James?” She stormed past him in the direction of the flower bed. Hathaway followed her. Caroline was back to shovelling the earth with her trowel.
“Let me take you home,” he said to her. “You look tired.”
“I’m not going anywhere, James! Least of all with you!” Hathaway again laughed, but this time he was getting annoyed by her.
“Okay, so first you berate me for not keeping in contact and now you refuse to let me take you home? I don’t need this!” He made his way back inside.
“Yeah, that’s right! Walk away!” Caroline shouted. “It was all you were ever good for anyway…” She broke off and began to sob, the pressure becoming too much. Hathaway turned and couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. He walked over and placed his hand on her shoulder.
“Come on,” he said gently. “You look exhausted. Let me take you home, at least for a couple of hours.”
“I can’t. Who will look after Nell?”
“I’ll sort that out. Come on.” Caroline nodded, and she stood up, dropping the trowel. They looked at each other.
“You haven’t changed,” she said.
“Neither have you.” Caroline walked past him back into the house. Hathaway looked around the neat garden, the memories becoming far too painful. He followed Caroline back inside.
Caroline directed Hathaway to where she lived. She had a quaint little place near the city centre. As they pulled up outside the front gate, Hathaway could not help but be impressed with what he saw. The gate was painted white and the pathway was clear with a small green space on either side.
“All set for retirement, are you?” he asked cheekily only to get a stony reaction in return. Caroline opened the gate as Hathaway grabbed her things from the back seat of the car. He closed the gate behind him and followed Caroline through the front door.
He kicked the door shut with his heel as Caroline threw her keys on a table underneath a mirror. She flung her jacket on the stairs and walked to the kitchen.
“You can leave the bag by the stairs,” she told him. “Take your jacket off. There is a hanger by the coat rack beside you.” Hathaway did as was told. He loosened this tie and undid his collar button as he walked inside the kitchen. “Would you like something to drink?” she asked as she washed her hands. “I’m sorry, but there is no beer in the fridge.”
“I didn’t think there would be,” Hathaway replied with a smile. “Coffee would be great.”
“Sit down. I won’t be a minute.” She leaned forward to open the window by the sink as Hathaway sat down by the wooden kitchen table. He was inside a very bright and cheery kitchen, the sun easily streaming in. He watched as Caroline got the cafetière ready and placed two mugs on the table.
“Let me give you a hand,” Hathaway offered standing up. He walked to the fridge to take out the milk and grabbed the sugar bowl from a shelf nearby. Caroline placed the cafetière on the table and sat down. Hathaway poured the coffee into each mug and took up the teaspoon. “Two, wasn’t it?” he asked, and Caroline nodded. “I still remember,” he said as he poured a little milk in and gave the coffee a stir. He passed it over to Caroline before preparing his. Caroline took a sip and sat back in her chair.
“Thank you,” she said. Hathaway smiled and stirred his coffee, settling the teaspoon on the table.
“You have a nice place,” he commented. “You’ve done well for yourself.”
“Well… I did have a hand.” Hathaway looked at her. “Mum’s inheritance.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. When did she…?”
“Five years ago.” Hathaway felt guilty. “It’s okay. You didn’t know. I didn’t tell anyone. Not even Nell.”
“How long have you been in Oxford?”
“Last two years. I couldn’t stay in Cambridge anymore. It held too many memories. After Mum died, I went to London. That didn’t work out, so I moved back. Then Nell told me about your father’s passing and I upped sticks to give her a hand. I ended up moving here permanently after a while.” She noticed the look on Hathaway’s face. “I’m sorry,” she said.
“No, that’s okay, Caroline. He was ill.” He took a thoughtful sip and his mind drifted. It was now Caroline’s turn to feel guilty. She stood up to get a tin of biscuits from the shelf.
“Do you remember these?” she asked. Hathaway looked at the tin and smiled.
“Where did you get them?” He took out one biscuit to bite into it.
“A shop in Oxford would you believe?” She took note of the look on Hathaway’s face. “Seriously. I was out shopping one day and saw them. Do you remember Sunday mornings after a heavy night congregating in that small communal kitchen?”
Hathaway laughed. “Sure do!” he said. Caroline smiled. Hathaway pointed at her.
“I knew I’d get you to smile!”
“No, you didn’t!” Caroline said. “You said nothing of the sort!”
“It was a private bet I made to myself.” He grinned as Caroline rolled her eyes. “Did it again!”
She laughed a little. “I often wondered what you saw in me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you could have had any girl at the university and yet you chose me.”
“Why not you?” Hathaway took another sip of his coffee. “I noticed you a long time ago. The library. You were swotting over some exam and I was there reading my theology book.”
“Yeah.” Caroline didn’t believe him.
“But I was such an awkward student! I wasn’t popular like you, James. You seemed to go for those types.”
“You know! The ‘open’ ones? You slept your way around is what I heard.” Hathaway nearly spat out the coffee he had just drank. “Don’t deny it wasn’t true, James. Why do you think I was reluctant to go up to you that night?”
“But you did.”
“Yeah, but only after more than persuasion from Becky and even then, I wondered if I was going to be just another notch on your bedpost.”
“You weren’t though.” They looked at each other. “I fancied you like crazy! You weren’t like the others. You valued yourself. Why do you think I waited? If you were just as easy as the others, I would have made my intentions clear a long time before.”
“You really talk bullshit, James.”
“Well, it is true.”
“You know… Some people thought I was the reason you joined the priesthood.” Hathaway’s eyes widened. “True. Some thought it was because you ended up with someone ‘pure’ I changed you to the point you decided to take a vow of celibacy. You weren’t around, James. It was a nightmare.” Hathaway bowed his head and Caroline looked away. “Why did you join the priesthood, James? I never quite understood that. One minute we were together and the next…”
“I don’t know myself, Caroline. I probably wanted to please Dad that was all.”
“Your father disapproved of us, didn’t he?”
“He disapproved of anyone I dated. He disapproved of everything.”
“Why did you leave? Nell couldn’t tell me.”
“She doesn’t know. Do you remember Will?”
“Will? Will McEwan? Yeah! What about him?”
“You know he’s dead?”
“No, I didn’t. What happened?” Caroline looked at Hathaway and saw how still visibly affected he was. “Sorry, James. It was wrong of me to ask.”
“No, that’s okay, Caroline. Will came out as gay. He came to me because he was in two minds. He wanted guidance. I gave him the wrong advice. I told him that being gay was wrong…” he tailed off. Caroline stood up and walked over.
“It’s okay,” she whispered holding him. “It doesn’t matter now.” Hathaway looked up at Caroline and noticed through the dirt on her face that she was still like how he remembered her all those years ago. His phone went off suddenly and Caroline walked back to her chair as he answered.
“Hathaway.” He sniffed the tears back. “When?” He listened as Hazel spoke to him at the other end. “I can’t right now. Tell Bright I am now on leave. I doubt she would be too bothered anyway. Hazel? Be careful, yeah. If you get stuck or if the new DI is causing you grief, report to me. I’ll help you as much as I can.” He hung up and switched off his phone. Caroline looked at him.
“You always were the rebellious type, James.” She smiled. “I liked that about you.” Hathaway couldn’t help but smile again. He took another sip of his coffee all the time keeping his eyes on her.
Caroline walked down the stairs in slacks and an oversized printed T-shirt. Her hair was still slightly wet from the shower she just recently took. Hathaway was in the bright living room listening to a CD on the music system. He was lounging on the sofa, his phone on the table in front of him. Caroline watched him from the doorway.
“Just like when we were in your dorm room.” Hathaway leaned his head back over the arm rest to look at her.
“Hello,” he said. “That shirt. I remember that.”
“So, you should. You left it in my room one morning.” She walked over and gently tapped him on the leg. “Shift.” Hathaway sat up so she could sit down. She listened to the music playing and shook her head. “Still into the same rubbish I see.”
“Yep!” He grinned. Caroline sat back. “I hope you don’t mind, but I used your phone to see how Nell was.”
“Yeah, no worries. How is she?”
“Better. She’s eaten.”
“Good.” Caroline bent her legs at an angle on the sofa. Hathaway chuckled. “What?” she asked looking at him.
“Nothing,” Hathaway replied in amusement. Caroline gave him a weird look.
“You know I said you were a bastard? Well, you are a strange bastard.” Hathaway burst out laughing. He suddenly went for her and began tickling her to death. Caroline screamed in laughter. “Stop it!” she squealed. This only made it worse as Hathaway tickled her harder. He suddenly found himself on top of her. The tickling stopped and they looked at each other, panting softly through exhaustion. Hathaway gazed into her eyes and was about to caress her cheek to kiss her when his phone went off again. Caroline closed her eyes as Hathaway got off her to answer.
“Hathaway!” he said rather irritably. “Stephen? What happened?” He listened and grabbed a small pad and pen from his jacket nearby. “Are you sure?” He began to jot down some notes. “Okay, you do that. Has Aurora come back with the autopsy results yet? All right, the minute she does, call me. I’ll come down.” He hung up and read back what he had written silently.
“Everything all right?” Caroline asked sitting back up.
“Yeah. A discovery of a dead body by the Cherwell.” He put the pad and pen away. He noticed the faraway look on Caroline’s face. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
“I’m just wondering if your job takes you away most of the time.”
“It can do, yes.”
“I see.” Caroline turned her head to smile at him. “Thank you for dropping me off,” she said. “I guess I just needed someone to tell me enough was enough.”
“No worries,” Hathaway replied.
“Will you be staying?”
“Only if you want me to, Caroline,” he replied. She picked up his warrant card that was lying next to his notepad.
“Detective Inspector James Hathaway,” she read.
“That is me.”
“James Hathaway, all out university rebel. The fittest lad on site who also studied theology.” She laughed a little. “You would have made a shit priest.” Hathaway laughed.
“You’re not wrong there,” he said. He looked at Caroline. “I’m glad we met up again.” Caroline didn’t answer.
“I half expect you to leave,” she said.
“Well, now I know where you live, I’ll have no excuse not to see you again.” Caroline stood up and walked to the window.
“Don’t make promises you cannot keep, James. I mean it. I am not the vulnerable, shy student you knew all those years ago.” Hathaway stood up and walked over to her. He placed his hands gently on her shoulders. Caroline turned to look at him. “How many girls since?” she asked.
“Oh, not this again!” Hathaway walked away.
“Answer me, James! How many?”
“Loads okay!” He turned to look at her. “I slept with loads! There! You happy now!” He realised he hurt her and himself. Caroline nodded and turned back, the tears running down her face.
“Even after we met the second time? Which I still haven’t got a reason yet for you doing yet another runner!”
“Well, what did you want me to do back then? Wait for you?! Yeah, so I slept with a lot of girls. So, what?”
“So, what?!” Caroline turned to look at him, her voice raised. “So, what?! James, do you know how difficult it was going out with you? When so many girls fancied the shit out of you? Remember when we didn’t see each other for a few weeks that time? You know how much I was scared you would go off with someone else? You didn’t keep in touch then either!”
“That was your insecurities, Caroline! Nothing more, nothing less!”
“So, explain why Becky saw you with Amber Westley then!” She saw Hathaway flinch. “See! I knew it! I knew you couldn’t bloody help yourself…”
“Ask yourself why I kissed Amber?!” Hathaway raised his voice, more from hurt than anger. “Because you got it into your head that I was cheating on you, so I thought: sod it! Why not!” Caroline became so incensed she stormed up to Hathaway and raised her hand to slap him. Hathaway immediately grabbed her wrist away. “Don’t ever do that again, Caroline,” he said calmly. “Don’t ever attempt something stupid like that. Besides, you’re too short.” Caroline tried to break free, but the more Hathaway gripped her wrist tighter. He let go and Caroline hit him on the arm. Hathaway once more grabbed her wrist. “What did I tell you?” he said before releasing her. Caroline looked at him and rubbed her wrist. She wiped a tear from her eye. Hathaway gazed at her, upset but also with the look of disappointment on his features. His mobile phone rang again and he rushed over to answer. Caroline rolled her eyes. She walked out when she heard his conversation with Hazel. “…I’ll be right there.” He grabbed his jacket and walked out only to find Caroline had already opened the door for him. “I’ll be back later.”
“Nah, don’t bother,” she said. Hathaway said nothing and walked out.
“Later,” he repeated pointing the remote to the car to unlock it. “I mean it, Caroline. I will keep my word this time.” He got in and started the car. He smiled at her as he closed the door and reversed out. Caroline watched as he turned on to the main road and bowed her head as she closed the door.
Aurora made some notes on her clipboard as she circled around the body on the slab. Her assistant was finishing clearing up the mess. The body of the victim had the usual green sheet covering him halfway, the Y-shape stitches along his chest clearly visible. Hathaway and Hazel walked in and Aurora looked up.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen…” she said. She paused to watch Hathaway silently in quiet contemplation. Hazel caught her glance and he shook his head telling her to ignore it. Aurora gave Hathaway a weird look only to quickly look at her clipboard.
“What have we got?” Hathaway asked taking a look at the body.
“What we have got here is a healthy male. Caucasian obviously. Five-foot-eight and around his late twenties or early thirties. The cause of death is a stab wound to the neck. I did say there could be signs of a scuffle and this is proven by the bruises on his knuckles and hands.”
“Any idea of the weapon?” Hazel asked.
“A knife, detective sergeant,” Aurora replied a little sarcastically. “As to the type of knife, all I can tell you is that it had a serrated edge. Nothing more than that I am afraid.” She stood at the opposite side of the slab to look at both of them. “I can definitely tell you the time of death as being around 10-11pm last night. The chill air overnight helped, but only a little.”
Hathaway looked once more at the body. “Any form of ID?”
“Again, as I told your young sergeant here, SOCO may have found something. There was nothing on his person that I found.” Hathaway thanked Aurora and he and Hazel left, leaving her assistant to cover the body with the rest of the sheet.
Back at the station, it was busy full of hustle and bustle. Telephones were ringing and office equipment humming. Various personnel were walking along the corridors and coming in and out of offices. Chief Superintendent Bright looked out of hers and saw Hathaway and Hazel walking down the corridor. Hathaway caught sight of her glance but said nothing.
“DI Hathaway, a word please.” Hazel stopped by a doorway as Hathaway turned.
“Ma’am,” he acknowledged as he walked towards her. Bright closed the door behind him. Hathaway stopped as he saw a pretty female sitting on a chair in front of Bright’s desk. “James Hathaway, meet Debbie Frost. Debbie, this is James Hathaway.” Hathaway couldn’t help but follow his eyes all the way up her legs. She stood up and put out her hand.
“Pleased to meet you, James.”
“Likewise,” Hathaway replied. Debbie was as tall as him with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. She had a figure to die for, which was clad in a beautiful cream blouse and dark skirt. Bright noticed the way he was looking at her in amusement.
“DCI Frost has agreed to join us for the murder at the Cherwell,” she said.
“DCI?” Hathaway repeated, slightly impressed.
“Yes. I was one of the last few before the force did away with the title.” She smiled. Hathaway found himself following suit, forgetting what Caroline had said to him a little while ago.
“Where did you come from?”
“City of London.” Hathaway nodded once, still impressed.
“James, as I said, Debbie here will be joining the force for this case,” Bright told him. “She will be taking over.”
“Taking over?” Hathaway now was off his cloud and he looked straight at Bright.
“Yes. You did tell Hazel you were on leave, didn’t you? A good decision I might add.” Hathaway couldn’t believe what he heard. His mouth opened slightly but no word came from it. Frost smirked slightly. “So, if you could introduce her to Stephen and give her everything you have on the case, including Doctor Aurora’s report, you can be on your way.” Hathaway glanced at Frost and then looked at Bright, who had already seated herself down.
“Yes, ma’am.” He walked over to the door, Frost following on behind.
“Oh, and James?”
“Ma’am?” He turned.
“Take your time. You are on indefinite leave.” Hathaway glanced again at Frost before leaving.
“Superintendent Bright is a bit strict, isn’t she?” Frost remarked as they walked down the corridor. Hathaway didn’t answer. Hazel stood up as they walked into the incident room. His young eyes nearly popped out of its sockets and his mouth opened upon seeing Frost following on behind.
“DS Stephen Hazel, this is DCI Debbie Frost. Ma’am, this is Stephen.”
“Hi…” Hazel’s hormones went skywards. Frost smiled at him.
“My desk is in that office, ma’am,” Hathaway told her. “I will show you. You are welcome to it as and when. Stephen here will update you on what we have found so far.” He saw Hazel near enough salivating and called his name.
“Yes, sorry.” He grabbed all the info he had so far. Frost looked amusingly at Hathaway who took a back seat. “So, Jim…I mean, DI Hathaway and I were called to this find on the banks of the River Cherwell.” He showed her the evidence on the whiteboard. “We have just come back from the pathologist, Doctor Aurora, who concluded that the victim died of a stab wound to the neck. There were signs of a fight beforehand.”
“Any identification?” Frost asked.
“Not yet, no. I was about to go to forensics to see if they found anything.”
“Okay, good. Hopefully they will have. Any signs of the weapon?”
“Again, I need to go and check.”
“Well, why don’t you go there and gather as much info as you can and we can go from there.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Hazel placed the papers on a desk and grabbed his phone on the way out. Frost picked them up and followed Hathaway into his office. He took some items from his desk and stuffed them into his pockets.
“All yours, ma’am,” he said as he walked to the door.
“Thank you, James. Enjoy your leave.” There was something in her tone that bothered Hathaway, but he turned and smiled.
“Ma’am.” He left. Frost smiled and took her seat at Hathaway’s desk logging into the computer with her username and password. She settled the bunch of papers and began to look through them.
It was early evening by the time Hathaway returned to Caroline’s. He decided to stop off home to get changed and to pack a bag. He grabbed his guitar case and piled them into the boot of his own car. He slammed the door and got in, music blaring as the engine came to life. He started singing along as he drove down the streets of Oxford, which was bustling with evening traffic. He passed the colleges and was actually happy he wouldn’t have to lay eyes on them. He turned a corner and into a residential street passing by his father’s old place just to be sure Nell was okay. He saw the nurse’s car outside and knew she was still being taken care of. He eventually reached Caroline’s and stopped outside, the music abruptly ceasing. He got out and walked over to retrieve his things.
Caroline meanwhile was watching TV in her pyjamas and dressing gown, the back of her mind not expecting Hathaway to return. She was surprised when the doorbell rang and she stuffed her feet into her fluffy slippers as she walked to the door. Hathaway looked at her in amusement.
“I have returned!” he announced happily.
“Yeah, all right, MacArthur,” she said standing aside as he walked in. She groaned as she caught sight of the guitar case. “Oh, don’t tell me you still have that!” she said as she closed the door.
“This is different,” Hathaway replied. “I bought a new one a while ago now.”
“James, this is a quiet neighbourhood. I don’t want you polluting the air with your nonsense.”
“Nonsense?” Hathaway said in mock fashion. He followed Caroline in and dropped his stuff by the doorway. He sat down next to her and looked at what she was wearing. “Miss Fluffy,” he remarked jokingly. Caroline ignored him. Hathaway noticed her slippers. “You always had animal slippers,” he said.
“Yeah, so? Old habits die hard and all that.” She bent her legs up on the sofa to the side again.
“I remember when you first wore fluffy slippers. It was the first time I stayed over in your room. What were they?”
“Elephant,” Caroline replied. She started to laugh in embarrassment.
“I thought they were endearing,” Hathaway said.
“I was such a child!”
“What about now?” He nudged her. “Big baby.”
“Go away,” Caroline muttered nudging him back. “You hungry?”
“Always,” he said.
“There’s something for you in the kitchen. I’ve already eaten.” Hathaway bounded towards the kitchen and groaned triumphantly.
“You little beauty!” he called out. Caroline smiled as she watched the television. Hathaway came back with a tray. He had a plate filled high with a bottle of beer next to it.
“I thought to pop out to buy you something,” she said.
“And you didn’t think I was going to come back, did you?” Hathaway said with a mouthful of food. “Ah, this is amazing, Caroline!”
“It always was your favourite.”
“I know.” He ate hungrily. Caroline smiled again in amusement.
“Go easy!” she suddenly said. “I don’t want you hiccuping all over the place later!”
“Yes, mother,” Hathaway replied taking a swig from his bottle. Caroline rolled her eyes and he grinned. “I always knew how to wind you up. It still works.”
“Whatever,” Caroline said. She changed the channel with the remote. “You have a nice car. Better than that old banger you used to drive.”
“Hey! That was my little baby!” Hathaway protested. “It got me from one campus to another, from your place to mine.” Caroline looked at him and laughed.
Hathaway finished the last bits of food and placed the tray on the table. “Very nice,” he said.
“Glad sir approves.”
“Oh, I do.” Hathaway took another swig from his bottle and brought Caroline closer to him. She rested her head on his shoulder and he kissed her on the forehead.
“Just like old times,” he said.
“Yes,” agreed Caroline. “Just like old times.” She let Hathaway play with her hair and snuggled up close. She looked up at Hathaway and smiled. Hathaway caught her gaze and placed the bottle on the tray. He ran his fingers across the shape of her face and along her eyebrows. He leaned forward to kiss her lightly on the nose. Caroline looked into his eyes. She rested her head again on his shoulder and felt comforted. Hathaway held her closer and rested his head on hers. They continued to watch TV together in silence.
Hathaway walked down the stairs breezily the following morning. He was dressed in a pair of grey slacks and a white T-shirt was draped around the back of his neck. He walked straight into the kitchen to find a note from Caroline saying she was out and will be back later. He looked to the sink area and saw a full pot of coffee and a half sliced white bloomer on the bread board. There were several pots of jam and a butter dish nearby. Hathaway smiled knowing she left these out for him and put his T-shirt on, walking over to get his breakfast ready.
He entered the living room and pointed the remote to the music system. Straight away the music he was listening to in the car came to life and he sat down on the sofa, placing his mug of coffee on the table and his plate of strawberry jam bread slices next to it. He switched on his phone and not even two minutes later several message tones went off. Hathaway read through them whilst eating. They were all from Hazel, updating him on the case and how fit Frost was. Hathaway ignored that part and went straight to sending a reply. A late voicemail alert came through and he listened. It was Aurora this time, saying forensics have found some ID and will be giving that to Hazel. Hathaway set the phone back on the table and carried on eating, happy where he was but also wishing he was back at the station trying to solve this murder.
Caroline meanwhile was walking down Broad Street in the city centre carrying a heavy looking tote bag on her shoulder and a huge shopping bag in her hand. Now her first love was back and staying with her, there would be more food and drink to buy. She stopped by a shop and looked at a dress on display in the window alongside a gorgeous jumper and a pair of trousers and her face fell sadly. She envisaged herself in those items but knowing those were well beyond her means at that moment, walked away. She didn’t notice a guy walking towards her and ended up colliding with him.
“Oh, gosh! I am so sorry!” she apologised as the bag in her hand dropped scattering a few items on the pavement.
“No, don’t apologise,” the guy said crouching down to help pick them up. “It was my fault.” He placed the last few bits back into the bag. Caroline looked at him. He was quite cute, she thought. He had brown hair, blue eyes and a cheeky smile and was very nicely dressed. He was also tall that when they both stood up she had to look upwards the same way she does with Hathaway.
“Thank you,” she said with a smile.
“No worries,” the guy replied. He noticed the heavy looking tote bag and offered to carry it to the bus stop. But Caroline shook her head.
“No, you don’t have to,” she said. “I’m actually not finished yet.”
“You feeding an army?” he remarked and Caroline smiled.
“Something like that,” she replied thinking of Hathaway. The guy smiled at her and she couldn’t help but follow suit.
“Would you like a coffee?” he asked. “I don’t know about you, but I could do with one.” Caroline thought about it for a minute.
“Thank you,” she said. “That would be lovely.” Again, the guy put his hand out to take the tote bag from her and together they walked further down the street, the coffee shop in the distance.
DS Stephen Hazel walked down the corridor towards his office carrying the victim’s wallet in a transparent evidence bag. He walked inside to find Debbie Frost waiting for him. She was dressed in a smart trouser suit with low heeled shoes. Her hair was done into a tight bun at the back of her head. Hazel still couldn’t believe he was paired up with her as he placed the bag on her desk.
“ID from the vic, ma’am,” he said.
“Thank you, detective sergeant. Have they been dusted for prints?”
“Forensics are processing as we speak!”
“Good. Well done!” She took out some gloves from her drawer and started to look through the wallet. “Robbery definitely wasn’t the motive,” she said noticing the bank notes and his credit cards. She took some other cards out and looked through them. A pink driving licence came into view. “Victim’s name is one Michael James Landsfield from Banbury.” She gave it to Hazel who held it by the edges. “See if he turns up on the database,” she said to him. “See if he has form.”
Hazel straight away went to his desk and settled the licence on top. He then accessed his computer and typed in the name. It took a while for the results to come through. Frost meanwhile placed the cards back in the wallet and closed it.
“Ma’am,” Hazel suddenly said. “Have a look at this.” Frost took off her gloves and walked over. Hazel moved his chair back so she could have a look.
“Well, well, well,” she mused. “Armed robbery and violent disorder offences.” Her eyes scanned down the dates of his arrests and sentences, stopping at the most recent. “Last arrest only 18 months ago. Arresting officer one Detective Inspector James Hathaway.”
“Before my time, ma’am,” Hazel said.
“Who was his sergeant before?”
“I don’t know her name, ma’am, but I know she transferred to the GMP.”
“Manchester?” Frost said. “From there?”
“I think so, yes, or thereabouts.”
“I see.” Frost began to think. “Okay, let’s see if we can get the case notes. If needs be, get hold of the GMP and ask the whereabouts of this detective sergeant. We may need to speak to her.”
“Yes, ma’am.” As Hazel got to work, Frost walked over to her desk. She logged off and made her way to the door.
“Is Chief Superintendent Bright in her office?”
“As far as I know, ma’am.” Hazel looked up as Frost walked out and down the corridor. He made sure she was out of sight before picking up his phone from the drawer and took the photo of the licence typing out a text message underneath. He hit send before getting back to the task in hand.
Caroline laughed as she took another sip of her coffee. She and the guy she met were sitting outside at a table, her bags of shopping underneath. The guy chuckled and took a pastry from a plate between them.
“It’s hard to believe that you studied at Cambridge,” he said to her.
“What do you mean?” Caroline asked in amusement. “What, graduates from Cambridge have to look a certain way?”
“No!” He laughed again. “That wasn’t what I meant. I mean, you’re such a normal person…” Caroline burst out laughing again and the guy gave up.
“Students have changed over the decades, you know,” she pointed out. She finished her cup and settled it back down on the saucer. “Thank you again for this.”
“My pleasure,” the guy replied. “And the name’s Andrew.”
“Caroline. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Likewise,” Andrew replied shaking her hand. “Would you like another cup?”
“I honestly can’t,” she replied. “As much as I would like to, I have a couple of bits to buy and then I have to get back.” She reached into her bag.
“No need,” Andrew said gently placing his hand on hers to stop her. “My pleasure.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive.” They smiled at each other. Andrew picked up the bags under the table and he stood up to pass them over to her.
“Thank you again,” Caroline said. “It was very nice of you.”
“No problem.” He watched as she slung the tote bag on her shoulder. “Hey, I know this sounds a bit forward, but I really enjoyed chatting with you. I would really like to do this again.” Caroline looked at him and was a bit surprised. She wondered why another guy would take an interest in her. Andrew noticed the look on her face and backed off slightly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Oh, no!” Caroline smiled. “Nothing like that.” She nodded. “Sure! That would be cool.”
“Great!” Andrew felt a sense of relief. He took out his phone and they swapped numbers. “I’ll call you,” he said and Caroline said goodbye. He watched as she disappeared into the crowd and sat back down again. He grinned as he finished off his coffee and remaining pastry from the plate.
Hathaway took out his Gibson from the case and started tuning the strings. It was deathly quiet. The empty plate and coffee mug was still on the table in front of him. He began plucking at the strings, tightening them as he went along. Once happy, he began playing a tune humming as he did so. He then began to sing a few lines softly stopping every few bars. He put the guitar beside him and leaned over to pick up some music parchment and pencil from the case. A song was half written and he corrected a few notes. He then picked up the guitar again and started playing, singing a little louder.
“I had forgotten you knew how to sing.” Hathaway stopped and turned his head.
“Hey,” he said with a smile. Caroline was standing by the doorway listening. He settled the guitar on the sofa and got up. “Let me take those.” He brought the shopping to the kitchen. “What time did you wake up?” he asked.
“Early,” Caroline replied hanging her jacket on the nearest chair. “I thought to get this done before it got too busy.” She noticed the breakfast things she left for him all packed away, the bread board and utensils all washed and left to dry by the sink. Hathaway began putting the shopping away.
“You should have woken me up,” he told her. “We could have gone together.”
“What, like a typical married couple?”
“Married couples don’t go food shopping together.” Caroline laughed as she sat down. She watched as Hathaway finished off and folded the bags neatly.
“You already know your way around, huh?” she observed in amusement. Hathaway turned and smiled. “Were you writing anything special?”
“The music? Yeah, I have been working on it when I can.” He sat down on the chair opposite. Caroline smiled.
“I remember when you brought your first guitar to my room one evening. You really caused so much anguish to everyone’s ears!”
“What?!” Hathaway wasn’t impressed.
“It was true! People along the corridor kept complaining!”
“You sure it wasn’t because of some other reason?” He winked.
“Always your bloody ego with you, isn’t it?” Hathaway cracked up laughing as Caroline blushed remembering. She rushed over to the sink. Hathaway chuckled and followed her. He wrapped his arms around her body and brought her close as she dampened her face with the running water. Hathaway rested his chin on her shoulder and they saw their reflections in the window. Caroline held his left arm with her left hand and looked at him. She then flicked some water in his face and broke away as Hathaway dampened his hand ready to wreak revenge. Caroline squealed as the water hit her and rushed into the living room. Hathaway turned off the tap and ran after her. He ran in and didn’t see her anywhere.
“Caroline?” he called out laughing. “Oh, hide and seek now, is it?” He started looking for her. Caroline came out from a discreet corner behind him and crept towards the doorway. Hathaway turned suddenly and Caroline squealed as she rushed out and up the stairs. Hathaway was now in hot pursuit and finally caught up with her. He pinned her up against the wall. “You’re surrounded!” he said slightly out of breath.
“Still smoking I take it?” she asked.
“Can’t live without them.”
“For sure.” She watched as Hathaway panted slowly, turning her on slightly. “Am I under arrest, officer?” she asked innocently with a glint in her eye.
“You are!” Hathaway replied. They stared into each other’s eyes for a while and he gently caressed her cheek moving in to kiss her. Just as their lips touched, the house phone rang. “Ignore it,” Hathaway whispered trying again.
“I can’t,” Caroline whispered as she gently brushed her lips against his. “It might be Nell.” She ducked under his arm and ran down the stairs. Hathaway groaned in frustration and turned when he heard the tone of her voice.
“Nell?” he asked as he walked down the stairs. Caroline nodded as she placed the cordless back on its base.
“She has a high fever again,” she replied. “The doctor is going to be on call just in case. It may be just an infection. She has some meds to take.” She walked back into the living room, settling the guitar beside the sofa as she sat down. Hathaway came in and sat down next to her. He then noticed he had a message and picked up his phone. Upon seeing the licence of the victim and his name, he called Hazel.
“Stephen, is she there? Okay, listen. Take this name and number down. The sergeant you need to speak to is Lizzie Maddox. She is now with narcotics at the GMP…” He stood up and walked to the corridor to continue the conversation. Caroline then thought of her own phone and fished into the back pocket of her jeans. She accessed her home screen and there was a text message waiting for her. She smiled as she read the message from Andrew and quickly sent a reply before putting her phone back into her pocket as Hathaway walked back in. He settled his phone back on the table and sat back, bringing Caroline closer to him.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, just work.” He played with Caroline’s hair again and rested his head against hers.
“You wish you were back there, don’t you?” Hathaway thought about it for a little while.
“Yes and no,” he replied. Caroline sat up to look at him.
“Why don’t you fight? Come on! What happened to the James Hathaway that I’ve always known?”
“It’s not easy, Caroline. Besides, I need a time out.” He looked at her. “It’s better I do things from here. That way, if she screws it up I won’t have anything to do with it.”
“If who screws up?”
“The DCI.” Caroline nodded and took note of the guitar behind her. She turned to pick it up.
“Let’s hear what you’ve done so far,” she said. Hathaway smiled as he took the instrument from her. Caroline sat crossed legged on the sofa facing him and he began strumming and singing softly, the words making her smile.
Lizzie Maddox walked inside her Manchester station ushering a dealer in front of her, his hands behind his back. She was dressed in jeans and a hoodie with trainers. She grinned at the desk sergeant and she pushed the dealer in the direction of custody. The uniformed sergeant looked up.
“Another successful bust, eh, Lizzie?” he said as he caught the bag of pills she threw to him. “Name?” he asked the dealer.
“Get stuffed!” came the reply. The officer rolled his eyes having heard this all before.
“Now, come now. That isn’t how you say: ‘good afternoon’. Name?”
“Gerry Hawkins,” Maddox replied for him. “Possession with intent to supply.”
“To teenagers? You lot disgust me. Cell 4!”
“Come on, Gez!” Maddox pushed the dealer forward and into the cell locking him in. She grinned as she walked back into custody. She high-fived the sergeant before walking back into the station laughing. Her phone went off suddenly and she noticed an Oxford number before answering. “Acting Inspector Maddox? That you, James?”
“No, ma’am. My name is DS Stephen Hazel. I work with James Hathaway.”
Concern came over Maddox’s features. “What’s the matter? Is he all right?”
“Oh yes, perfectly fine, ma’am.” She heard his voice from the other end and listened to what he had to say. Her eyes widened.
“Michael Landsfield? Yes, I remember him…” She listened more to what Hazel had to say and she rushed up the steps to her office. “Hold on one minute.” She made sure the coast was clear before closing the door. “Right, Sergeant Hazel, what’s this about Landsfield?” She listened to what he had to say. “Dead?! When?” She sat down at her desk. “Yeah, Jim was the arresting officer. I was there.” She listened again and took note of her colleague outside from the window waving at her to come out. “Listen, Stephen, I have to go. Is this the best number to call you back on? All right. I’ll call you later.” Once the call ended, Maddox accessed her contacts list and scrolled down the entries. She saw Hathaway’s number and wondered if it was still valid. She tapped the side of the phone thoughtfully against her lips before leaving and following her colleague down the corridor.
Laughter was heard coming from outside in the distance and it grew louder as voices approached the front door. A key was turned in the lock and Caroline stepped over the threshold turning on the light. Hathaway followed her in still laughing as Caroline dropped the keys on to the table.
“That was hilarious!” she said as she took off her jacket. Hathaway closed the door and followed her into the kitchen. “I have never laughed so hard!” She threw her jacket on top of the chair and walked to the sink. Hathaway sat down and watched her.
“You were always into your comedy clubs,” he said.
“Well, we had a good one at Cambridge. Besides, you were laughing as well!”
“I know.” Hathaway smiled. He saw Caroline splash her face with some water. He walked towards her and stood behind her. Caroline stood up and turned off the tap. She felt Hathaway’s presence and looked at his reflection in the window. Hathaway started kissing her neck and gently pulled her top up.
“You said you would wait,” she whispered, but Hathaway ignored her. She turned to look straight at him and gently pushed his hands away. “You promised.” She gently caressed his face and smiled. Hathaway respectfully moved to the side so she could walk over to the table where she sat down. Hathaway leaned his hands on the sink, his head bent. Caroline looked away to the side. “Don’t spoil it, James,” she said softly. “We had a good evening.”
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be.” Hathaway turned to look at her. She started to laugh.
“Remember that time you were pissed out of your mind and you decided you wanted me at two-thirty in the morning?” Hathaway walked over to sit down opposite her. “You started serenading me outside! Outside! Gosh, I was so embarrassed!”
“Did I?” Hathaway couldn’t remember. “When was this?”
“Oh, sometime before Easter. You were out at student night at the Union. My days! You sounded like a strangled cat! I was surprised no one threw anything at you.” She noticed the clueless look on Hathaway’s face.
“I honestly… I honestly cannot remember.”
“I’m not surprised! You were swaying side to side making me sea sick. I had to let you in before someone complained!”
“You went straight for the bed. I tried to get you to that big couch by the window, but you were so stubborn! I pushed you to the edge so I could sleep on the other side, but you wanted to have a drunken fumble. You had your hand up my shirt. I pushed you hard. You rolled over, mumbled something about me having nice tits and passed out!”
Hathaway went bright red. “I am so sorry, Caroline.” He paused. “What was I singing?”
“Outside? Sweet bloody Caroline!”
“There’s only one, isn’t there?” But Hathaway shook his head.
“The one that is used at sports events, ” she replied. “The one everyone joins in with.”
Hathaway groaned and covered his face in embarrassment. Caroline laughed. Hathaway took his hands away from his face and couldn’t look at her. Caroline’s body shook from laughter.
“You were a sight that night. When you woke up the next afternoon, you were wondering what happened.”
“Did I miss a lecture?”
“And then some! I had one of your mates give me the notes for you that morning. It was the last one for that semester. You were lucky you had no exams.”
Hathaway started to laugh. He looked at her. “I only remember having the headache from hell! You just laughed at me.”
“Well, serves you right! You think I was going to give you any sympathy?”
“There you go then!” She shook her head slowly in amusement. Hathaway gazed at her and said something under his breath. He ducked laughing as Caroline chucked something at him. “Cheeky!” she said. Hathaway stood up and walked over to her. He put out his hand and looked into her eyes. Caroline glanced at his hand and took it standing up. Hathaway looked at her lovingly and cleared the hair from her face. His hand gently stroked her cheek and he leaned forward to kiss her. Finally, she kissed him back and it turned from gentle to more vigorous. Caroline moaned softly and Hathaway kicked the chair away and pushed her over the table, his hands moving up her shirt taking it off. Caroline pulled Hathaway’s shirt away from his jeans and pulled it up his body. He took it off himself and flung it on the floor. Caroline pushed herself further up on the table and wrapped her legs around his. She moaned again a little louder as she felt his lips work their way down her neck to her chest. Just as he was about to pull down the brassiere straps off her shoulders, the vibration of a mobile phone went off followed by a ringtone. Hathaway reached into his back pocket and fumbled for the off button. But when he realised he answered it by mistake, the familiar voice of Hazel calling him at the other end that he knew he had to reply. Caroline started laughing quietly at the irony of it all and she had no choice but to stay how she was as Hathaway was by now on top of her, restricting her movement.
“Not now, Stephen!” Hathaway said to him irritably. He listened to what he had to say. Caroline meanwhile started to jokingly hit him on the back wanting him to move. “Stephen, it is ten o’clock. Go home. Call me tomorrow.” He hung up to protests. Hathaway switched off his phone and slid it a good distance away across the table. He looked at Caroline and wanted to carry on, but she shook her head. Hathaway moved away reluctantly and she swung her legs across to stand.
“I’m going to bed,” she said to him kindly, taking her shirt and putting it back on. “See what your sergeant wants.” She smiled and walked out into the corridor and up the stairs. Hathaway watched as she disappeared and switched his phone on again calling Hazel.
“What is it?” he asked as he picked up his shirt up off the floor. “When? What did she say?” Hathaway became concerned by what Hazel was telling him. “Yeah, okay. Give her my new number and tell her to call me when she can. Keep this away from Frost, but especially Bright. Okay. No worries. Yep.” He placed his phone back down on the table, a concerned look coming over his face. His thoughts then turned to Caroline and looked up at the ceiling. He walked out of the kitchen switching off the light and walked up the stairs, the lights from the street shining through the windows. He walked along the short corridor and saw a bedroom door slightly ajar. He gently opened it and looked round. There he saw Caroline fast asleep with her back to him, her dark hair catching the light through the curtains. Hathaway gently crept over so he could look at her. He planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
“Goodnight, Caroline,” he whispered. He gently crept out again closing the door gently. Caroline opened her eyes. A smile came over her lips and she clutched the pillow she was cuddling tightly. She grinned and closed her eyes again, falling asleep.
The soft strumming of a guitar woke Caroline up the next morning. She looked at the time on her alarm clock display and sat up at the edge of the bed stretching. She drew the curtains back and opened the window before grabbing her dressing gown and leaving her room.
The sound of the guitar grew louder as she walked down the stairs tying the cord around her body. She walked into the living room to find Hathaway singing his song softly, tightening the strings of the instrument as he went along. He was wearing dark slacks and a white vest top. Caroline stood by the doorway listening to the words and watched as he played. He suddenly stopped and looked to his left.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Caroline said.
“You didn’t.” Hathaway smiled and Caroline walked over. She sat on the arm rest as Hathaway continued to play. She played with the hair at the back of his head and leaned over to kiss him on top.
“Coffee?” she asked making a move. Hathaway suddenly stopped her by grabbing her arm wanting her to stay. Caroline slid herself on the sofa, turning her body at an angle so she could face him. Hathaway gazed into her eyes before getting back to playing. The more Caroline listened, the more she realised the song was about her. She sat cross legged and hugged a cushion as the melody became slightly stronger. Hathaway missed a note during mid song and stopped. Caroline looked at him, wondering what was wrong. She was patient enough, giving Hathaway enough time. She became concerned as he bowed his head before settling the guitar beside him and standing up.
“I’m going for a run,” he said grabbing a navy blue hoodie that was slung on one of the dining room chairs. Caroline stood up as he walked to the front door.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. Hathaway turned to look at her standing in the living room doorway.
“I won’t be long.” As the door closed, Caroline became very puzzled and slightly suspicious about his actions. However, she thought to let it pass and walked to the kitchen.
Hathaway kept running and running and running. It was like he had a huge weight on his shoulders. He ran through the streets of Oxford, turning a corner past the colleges. Finally, his lungs could not take it any longer and he ran into a nearby park and bent over, his hands on his thighs and panted hard. Maybe Caroline was right about him still smoking. Eventually he stood up and pulled his hood back taking deep breaths. He didn’t even know what had got into him. It was like guilt and love and fear all rolled into one. The sound of his mobile phone’s ringtone filled the empty park and he fished it out of the pocket of his slacks.
“Hathaway!” he answered still out of breath. “Hi! No, it’s not what you think. Chance would be a fine thing. How are you?” He walked slowly over to a nearby bench and sat down. “Yeah, he did mention it. No, not as far as I know. I just thought to give you a head’s up they may be investigating.” He listened to the voice at the other end. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Just answer their questions if they ask… I’ll be okay. I have nothing to lose, Liz. You were there. I did everything by the book.” A look of pain flashed across his face as the cramping became worse. “Yeah…no worries. Take care.” He hung up and bent over again trying to take more deep breaths. Once the pain eased he stood back up and continued on his run, going through the park and out the other end.
DCI Frost looked at the case file over again. This was her fifth time in doing so, but she believed in being methodical – one thing which got her promoted in the first place. She went through the bits of paper and wondered why this wasn’t online like all the others. As she placed one paper aside, she came across something she missed. It looked like an arrest warrant and subsequent report. She took a look at a name and typed it into her database. Sure enough, the picture of Robert Lewis came up with his last date of service before retirement. She jotted down some credentials on a notepad in front of her before going back to the report. A smile came over her face.
“Well, well, well, Detective Inspector Hathaway,” she said. “Looks like you are not the boy wonder that had been said about you after all.” She took the report and placed it in between some of the notepad sheets. She then closed the file and logged off, placing the file and her notepad in her drawer and picking up her jacket. She saw the empty seat of DS Hazel and walked out and down the corridor. “Stephen, where are you?” she asked, her handset over her ear. “Meet me in the car park, five minutes.” She placed her phone in her suit jacket pocket and walked out through a door.
Hathaway walked through his front door and picked up some letters that had arrived for him. He closed the door and walked down the corridor into a neat looking kitchen. Robert Lewis gave him his old place when he emigrated and this suited Hathaway to the ground. He walked to the fridge and took out a bottle of beer. He twisted the cap off and took a swig as he walked into the living room, sitting down on the couch. He tossed the letters to the side and pointed a remote control to the music system launching the sound of a fairly good tune. Hathaway sighed heavily and looked to the ceiling and began to think. He knew Caroline would be worried about him and he also knew that she would think he did another runner on her. But his stuff was still at her place and he knew he had to go back to collect them, if indeed he was going to leave. He wanted to protect her was all. The last thing he wanted was to put her in any unnecessary angst or – in the worst case scenario – danger. But he was starting to have feelings for her again, the same feelings he felt back at university and indeed the first time they met afterwards. He thought about the lust he felt when he nearly took her over the kitchen table, but also how he stopped himself from saying how he really felt when he kissed her goodnight. He had a decision to make, but would it be the right one?
The vibration of his phone followed by a ringtone made him sit up. He took a look at the incoming call and saw Caroline’s name. He made the decision to reject it and settled the handset on the coffee table in front of him. But he knew Caroline was persistent and lo and behold – she called him again.
“Hello, Caroline,” he answered. “No, I’m fine. I just needed a run.” He listened as her soft tone broadcasted concern and he couldn’t help but smile. “I’ll be back later tonight,” he told her. He laughed as he heard Caroline make a wise crack. “I’ll get dinner,” he said only to roll his eyes jokingly. “Yes, with cake.” He chuckled. “All right, Caroline. See you soon.” He placed the handset back on the coffee table and sighed. He took another swig of his bottle before placing that next to it and walking out. As he left, his phone rang again. It rang for a short period. A short pause followed before a notice appeared on the screen saying that he had a voicemail waiting.
Caroline was in her kitchen listening to the radio. She started to sing along to a tune that was playing and wiggled her hips in time to the music. She opened the fridge to take some lunch out when her phone rang.
“Chocolate cake. Or strawberry cheesecake. You know my favourites!”
“Do I? I’d like to know.” Caroline’s eyes widened and she reached over to switch off the radio.
“Oh, hi!” she exclaimed.
“Hello,” Andrew replied. He was sitting in his office leaning back in his chair. “How are you?”
“I’m good. I am so, so sorry!”
“It’s all right.” Andrew chuckled. “So, what is this about cake?”
“Oh…that!” Caroline sat down by the table. “Just sorting out dessert for tonight.”
“You have company?”
There was silence.
“Would you like to go out for dinner?”
“Dinner?” Caroline suddenly hesitated. “I’m sorry. I can’t right now, Andrew.”
“No worries.” She could tell he was smiling. “I’ll keep asking until you say ‘yes’.” Caroline felt uneasy all of a sudden.
“Andrew… I’m kinda seeing someone.”
Again, there was silence.
“Kinda? Meaning ‘not really’?”
“No. No, I am seeing someone. I don’t think it is a good idea you contact me again, Andrew.”
“If that is what you want?”
Caroline took a deep breath. “Yes. That is what I want.”
“Okay then. I wish you well, Caroline.” The call ended. Caroline looked at her home screen picture of her and Hathaway together when they were students and sighed. She really didn’t feel like lunch any longer and she grew frightened suddenly. She picked up the phone again and accessed a number.
“James? Hey, it’s me. No, nothing’s wrong. I’m fine. I-I just wanted to hear your voice.” Tears came out of her eyes and her voice shook. “When are you coming back? Please… don’t worry about dinner. Just come back soon.” She sniffed back tears. “No, I’m fine.” She tried not to break down. She heard Hathaway say he was on his way and she placed her handset back on the table. Realising what she had done, or nearly did, she began to cry.
Frost and Hazel walked back into the station, the younger looking very shattered after the fairly long round trip they both took. They walked into their office and Hazel collapsed into his chair with a sigh. Frost smiled as she logged back into her computer. She sat down and looked at the younger sergeant.
“Go home, Stephen,” she told him kindly. “Thank you again for driving me there and back at short notice.”
“No problem, ma’am.” Hazel stood up. “Goodnight.”
“See you tomorrow.” As Hazel disappeared, Frost took out her notepad from her drawer. She took out the case note she hid and looked at it again. She then took out her phone from her pocket and accessed the vocal recording that she saved. As she listened to Maddox’s voice answering her questions, she ran her index finger down the case note seeing if it tallied. To her slight dismay, she couldn’t find any discrepancy. She stopped the recording and sighed irritably. One way or the other, she will find out and when she does, Hathaway will find himself trying to dig his way out of something he probably never will. Her phone suddenly vibrated and she picked it up. “DCI Frost.” She grabbed a pencil and scribbled some notes on the pad. “Yes… Yes… Got it! Thank you!” She placed the handset back on her desk and that all familiar smile returned. She tore the page from its bond and made some extra notes. She took a look at the wall clock ahead of her and wondered what time it was in New Zealand.
Hathaway turned the key in the lock and walked in, calling for Caroline as he closed the door. He walked down the corridor and noticed her sitting on a chair in the kitchen, her head in her hands.
“What’s the matter?” He ran over and brought over a chair, sitting down by the corner of the table facing her at an angle. He gently brought her hands away and saw she had been crying. “Hey…” He held her as she sobbed. “Come on…”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“For what?” Hathaway looked at her. “Tell me. You sounded scared over the phone.” But Caroline buried herself in him again.
“Don’t leave me,” she said. “Please stay.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Caroline.” He kissed her hair. “Come on,” he whispered clearing her hair away from her face so he could look at her properly. “Let’s go out somewhere. My treat.”
“It should be,” Caroline said and Hathaway laughed softly. He raised her head by lifting it gently with his finger under her chin. He leaned over to kiss her and she responded.
“I’m with you now, Caroline,” he told her. “I’m not going to leave you.” He kissed her again. “Now go and get yourself ready.” Caroline looked at Hathaway and noticed he was dressed quite nicely in a pair of dark jeans and a white open necked shirt with a brown leather jacket. She smiled and nodded before standing up. She walked past him only to stop to wrap her arms around his shoulders.
“I love you,” she said kissing him on the cheek before leaving. Hathaway watched her as she walked up the stairs and kicked himself for still not wanting to respond. He couldn’t. Not yet. He suddenly thought about the voicemail on his phone but managed to resist listening to it. He heard a little thump coming from upstairs and looked up to the ceiling.
Caroline was in her room. She had a lovely red dress on and was in the middle of doing up her hair. She was standing by a full length mirror in the corner by the door. The back of her dress was unzipped exposing her back. Hathaway suddenly came into view. He was standing behind her. He gently eased his hands into the back of her dress and kissed her naked shoulder. Caroline turned to look at him and he kissed her. He gazed into her eyes and kicked the door shut.
Chief Superintendent Bright looked at a report that she was holding in her hand. Her face was studious as she concentrated on each word. In front of her, both DCI Frost and DS Hazel were standing waiting for a response. Hazel was growing increasingly nervous and kept playing with his phone, which was inside his pocket. He needed to contact Hathaway and fast. Frost meanwhile said or did nothing except wait for her superior. She watched as finally Bright completed her assessment and chucked the report on the table.
“Are you sure this happened?” she asked Frost.
“And you spoke to…” She leaned over to look at a name, “DS Elizabeth Maddox?”
“Personally, ma’am. We drove up to Manchester specifically to talk to her.”
Bright pondered about things for a moment. You could tell she was thinking long and hard about things. Her eyes rose to look at the two officers in front of her.
“All right, let me have a think. Rest assured I will make my decision as soon as possible.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Frost and Hazel both made a move to leave.
“Yes, ma’am?” She turned to look at her.
“Good work. Both of you.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Frost left first and Hazel faked a straight smile before following her out. As they walked down the corridor towards their office, Hazel took his phone out of his pocket to answer.
“Hello, this is DS Stephen Hazel. Yeah, hold on one sec. Ma’am?” She turned. “I need to take this call.”
“No worries, Stephen. Make it quick though.” She smiled before continuing on her short journey. Hazel made sure she was out of sight before looking at his home screen. He rushed into the men’s bathroom and made sure it was empty before dialling a number.
Hathaway’s phone vibrated and the ringtone went off. Unfortunately, it was on the kitchen table. Upstairs, Hathaway and Caroline were in bed in each other’s arms asleep. Their clothes were dotted in a huge untidy mess around the room. Caroline opened her eyes sleepily and gently turned her head to look at the time on her alarm clock. She groaned softly and rubbed her right eye. She looked at Hathaway, who was still in Dreamland, and gently kissed him good morning on the forehead before gently pushing his arm away so she could get up. She bent over the edge of the bed to pick up her nightshirt and placed it over her head, creeping quietly towards the door, picking up their clothes as she went along and slinging them carefully over a chair. She grabbed her dressing gown from the hook on the back of the door and left only to return a minute later to throw a pair of slacks and a vest top at the foot of the bed before leaving again. The sound was enough to wake Hathaway. He just caught the colour of his girlfriend’s dressing gown zip past the door before it closed and he sat up. He saw what she threw and grabbed the top and slacks putting them on.
Caroline yawned as she filled the kettle up to boil some water. The cafetière was on the sink top already filled with coffee powder. She turned on the gas on the hob before dragging her bare feet to the cupboard. She smiled as she felt Hathaway wrap his arms around her body.
“Morning,” she said.
“Good morning.” He kissed her on the cheek.
“Thank you for dinner,” she said with a grin.
“Pleasure was all mine.” They looked at each other remembering the night before and laughed.
“Oh, your phone rang a couple of times.” She kissed him before walking back to the sink. Hathaway picked up his handset and grew concerned. He dialled a number and sat down. He heard Hazel’s message greeting kick in and waited.
“Hi, Stephen, it’s James. I just got your messages. Give me a call back as soon as you can.”
“Everything okay?” Caroline asked. Hathaway turned his head briefly. He smiled and stood up to give her a hand. Just as they settled down to eat, a text message tone went off and both Hathaway and Caroline picked up their phones to look. Caroline put hers down and Hathaway read what was on the screen.
“Have you been back to Cambridge?” she asked him.
“No,” Hathaway replied. He placed his phone back down on the table and took a sip of his coffee.
“Did you ever want to?” Caroline caught the expression on Hathaway’s face and let the subject rest. She bit into her apricot jam covered bread slice and turned the page of The Oxford Mail she was reading in front of her.
“Remember that country path by that field we used to go to when we skived off?” he asked.
“The one at the back of the sports field by the rowing club? Yeah, what about it?”
“Remember when I got you on that bike?” He laughed as he saw the look on her face. “You were so scared.”
“That path was so steep, and it seemed to dip so far downhill!” Caroline just seemed to give Hathaway more ammunition. “Oh, come on!” Hathaway laughed harder.
“I can still hear your screams,” he said. Caroline flipped him the bird and he nearly choked.
“Serves you right,” Caroline said smugly standing up to get another slice from the sink top.
“To answer your question: I am curious sometimes.”
“So why have you never been back?” Caroline sucked some jam off her thumb as she walked back to her chair.
“I don’t know,” Hathaway replied.
“Was the police force all you wanted to do?”
“Kinda, yes.” Caroline nodded and drank a bit of her coffee. “I know you said you left permanently, but do you think you would one day go back?” Hathaway asked.
“Only to see Mum.”
“Is she buried in Cambridge?”
“Only place she ever wanted to be laid to rest in.” She turned the page of the newspaper.
“When was the last time you saw her?”
“Too long.” Hathaway nodded and watched as she turned another page.
“Okay, how about we go on one condition.”
Caroline looked up.
“Yes…?” she said suspiciously.
“We hire a bike and go down that path again.” He grinned as he heard her protests. He laughed as a piece of bread was thrown in his direction. “Deal?”
Caroline gave him a mock glare. “No!” she replied.
“Oh, well. Don’t say I didn’t want to.” He winked and got up with his empty plate and mug. He drank down the last remnants of his coffee before putting both in the sink.
“This body you found. The one you mentioned.”
“What about it?”
“Were you involved?”
“What do you mean?” He turned to look at Caroline who was showing him a page from the newspaper. Hathaway jogged over and took it from her. He read the report quickly and swore under his breath. He grabbed his phone and walked into the corridor. “Stephen? Yeah, I’ve seen it…” His voice trailed off as he walked into the living room. Caroline picked up her mug and followed him in. She heard the last sentence of the conversation before Hathaway sat down on the sofa, his head in his hands. She placed the mug on top of a cabinet and sat down next to him. She gently rubbed his back and bent forwards to look at him.
“What happened, James?” she asked gently, but Hathaway didn’t answer. “You can tell me.”
“I can’t.” He sat up and looked at her. “It is better you don’t know.”
“Why? What have you done, James?”
“Nothing! That is the whole point.” He regretted raising his voice to her. Caroline held his hand.
“James, it’s me. Whatever it is you have done, I’ll be here for you. Just tell me what happened?”
Hathaway looked into her eyes and to Caroline’s surprise she saw he was slightly scared. He reached over and caressed her cheek.
“Caroline,” he said. “You were always so innocent.” He kissed her meaningfully and stood up. “I have to go,” he said. Caroline turned her head as he walked out and followed him.
“Go? Go where?” She followed him up the stairs and into the spare bedroom. She was devastated as he began packing. “Where… Where are you going?” Her life began crashing down around her – not for the first time. She ran forward and grabbed his bag from the bed.
“What are you doing, Caroline?” he asked rather wearily.
“No! You are not going anywhere, James Hathaway!”
“Give me the bag, Caroline.” He wasn’t in any mood for this. Caroline shook her head stubbornly.
“Not until you tell me what is going on!” She backed up against the wall as Hathaway walked towards her.
“I don’t want to use force, Caroline. Just give me the bag.” Caroline looked into his eyes.
“Why are you doing this?” she asked in a whisper. Hathaway took his holdall back and resumed packing. He left to grab his clothes from her room. “So, what about last night? Didn’t that mean anything?” To her dismay, he didn’t answer. “Go then!” Her voice cracked. “Go! You got what you wanted. Just make sure you don’t come back!” Hathaway zipped up the bag and placed a jumper over his head. He grabbed his hoodie and walked past her. Caroline wiped the tears away with her hand and followed him down. Hathaway dropped the spare key into the tray by the mirror and walked into the living room to collect his guitar. “Why, James?” Caroline was now in tears. She sat down on the bottom stair, her head down. Hathaway stopped what he was doing and sighed heavily. He dropped his belongings and walked over crouching down in front of her.
“Because…” He stopped himself short again. “Because I have to.”
Caroline looked up at him and saw the look on Hathaway’s face. He reached over and wiped her tears away with his fingers.
“Will I see you again?”
Hathaway took her in his arms and held her. Tears fell from his eyes and he kissed her tenderly on her head. He stood up and walked to the door taking his bag. He turned and saw Caroline looking at him.
“I’ll see you, Caroline.” He left closing the door. He knew he was doing the right thing… wasn’t he? It was too late now. He got inside his car knowing he hurt her again in the worst way he could, and he didn’t doubt she would ever want to lay eyes on him ever again. He sighed heavily and shoved the gear into first, driving out on to the main road.
Hathaway walked into the station much later and walked down the corridor to Bright’s office. He was dressed in a suit and meant business. Whatever verdict was going to befall on him, he would be prepared for it. He reached the door, took a deep breath and knocked. Once prompted, he walked in. Bright was standing in front of her desk with DS Hazel and DCI Frost. Hathaway viewed this with some suspicion as he closed the door.
“Ma’am…” he acknowledged Bright as he walked towards them. “Stephen tells me you wanted a word?”
“Yes. Yes, I did. You saw The Mail this morning I take it?”
“Yes, ma’am. I did.”
“How is leave treating you, James?”
“With all due respect, ma’am. What is this about?” Bright picked up a folder. Hathaway noticed the black marker scribble and didn’t say anything.
“This case regarding the body at the Cherwell. The victim involved. You had some prior dealings with him, didn’t you?”
“Ma’am?” Hathaway questioned the query. Bright stared long and hard at Hathaway.
“You know exactly what I mean.” She stood up. “I don’t take too highly of your methods, DI Hathaway! You get the job done, but sometimes I do wonder whether the way you go about it is… legit.”
“All my results have been obtained in the best possible way!” Hathaway couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Yes… And that bothers me.” Her expression changed, and Hathaway could not help but take a step back. “This is not the 1970s, James!” Her voice rose considerably. “You know how long it took this force to shake off its reputation?! This station was slap bang in the middle of dodgy practices! I will not have this place going down that route ever again!”
“I have not done anything illegal, ma’am!” Hathaway raised his voice to her level. He was absolutely incensed! Behind him, both Frost and Hazel were looking at him, the latter feeling guilty and the previous displaying a very nasty smirk. It only grew worse for Hathaway as the folder was chucked at him across the desk the right way up. He refused to look at it knowing this was all bullshit.
“Don’t you want to read it?” Bright asked but Hathaway refused again. Bright sighed heavily. “This decision was not easy, James…” But Hathaway chucked his warrant card on the desk.
“Save it!” he said as he walked out slamming the door. Insulted, he took off his suit jacket and loosened his tie. He stormed down the corridor and pushed the doors open hard causing an almighty bang against the walls as he walked through.
Caroline began tidying up the house, hoping to be rid of every little bit of Hathaway she could find. She tore the bed sheets from the bed they shared the night before and stripped the duvet. She bundled these and the pillowcases into the laundry basket and walked out of her room nearly stumbling over her red dress that Hathaway so erotically removed from her body. She settled the basket down and picked it up. She looked at it and closed her eyes remembering what happened. But just as quickly, the events of the morning came back to her and she threw the dress angrily across the room.
“You bastard, James Hathaway!” she said angrily between her teeth. She picked up the laundry basket and walked down the stairs to the kitchen.
As she put the bed linen inside the machine with the rest of her laundry, she saw her phone on top of the kitchen table. She turned the machine on and walked over to the table and picked it up. The photo of her and Hathaway as students appeared and tears came over her eyes. She accessed her contact list and scrolled down coming to an entry entitled ‘Blue Eyes’ – her nickname for Hathaway. Her finger hovered over ‘delete’ but found herself not having the courage to do it. She still loved him and still hoped he would come back. They shared a bed together, why wouldn’t he? She was different after all, that was what he said. Caroline sighed heavily and wondered what happened to make him scarper so quickly and urgently.
A text message suddenly appeared, and she quickly accessed it hoping it would be from him. But her face fell when she saw it was from Andrew.
Hello again. I can’t stop thinking about you. I still want to take you to dinner but will respect your wishes if I do not hear back. Please call me.
Caroline stared at the screen. What was she doing? Her heart belonged to Hathaway. Always had and always will. She was nuts to go and have coffee with him let alone giving him her number. She decided against replying and hoped this would be the last time she would hear from him. She left her phone on the table as she got up and left the kitchen.
Hathaway was determined to get to the bottom of this conspiracy against him. He was determined to clear his name at all costs. But where would he start? He began looking at some old case notes in the archive room right from the beginning when he and Lizzie first came across Landsfield. He looked at all the reports, the newspaper clippings. Landsfield started off as a petty criminal with nothing more than a few thefts to his name when he suddenly turned to violence. He went over each arrest in his head, the evidence collated, the arrest, the conviction. But no matter how much he did, he still found he did nothing wrong, so why the suspension from service? What did Frost have that he didn’t know about? He knew Hazel had his hands tied, probably wishful thinking, but joking aside Hathaway knew he would be kept updated. He was loyal, that as much he knew. Hathaway knew looking through these files was a lost cause; that he wasn’t going to get very far on these, so he packed them back in their box and placed it back on the shelf before walking out.
“Jim!” He turned on hearing Hazel’s voice. The young sergeant ran up to him. “Are you all right? I am really sorry this is happening to you.”
“I’ll live,” Hathaway replied. “What did Liz say to Frost?”
“I don’t know, sir. I was told to wait in the car.”
“Fantastic!” Hathaway wasn’t happy with the reply, but he wasn’t surprised either.
“She is very domineering is Frost,” Hazel said. Hathaway looked at him.
“I thought that would be right up your street, Stephen,” he said.
“Yeah, I thought so too.”
Hathaway clicked his fingers suddenly. “Stephen, Frost came from the City of London Police. See what you can find out about her. It’s strange that she suddenly turns up here after Landsfield’s body was found. Keep low. Call me when you find out anything.”
“Yes, sir.” Hazel watched as Hathaway disappeared out the door and turned walking back from where he came from.
Caroline hung the last of the sheets on the line in the garden. The wind began blowing them dry and she chucked the bag of pegs into the laundry basket and brought them inside. She closed the back door and left the basket on the floor in front of the machine, sitting down on the chair with a long sigh. Her thoughts turned to Hathaway and she picked up her phone, swiping to access the home screen. Once again, that all familiar picture greeted her, and she smiled, her mind travelling back to their first holiday together on some random beach during the summer break. She swiped again and placed the handset against her ear.
“James, it’s Caroline. I…I just wanted to see how you were.”
“I can’t talk now, Caroline. I’m a bit busy at the minute.” Those words and the tone hurt Caroline so much, tears fell from her eyes.
“Sorry… Sorry to have bothered you.” She hung up and wiped the tears away. That was it! She had enough. She swiped the screen again accessing another number and waited for the person to pick up. “Andrew? Hey, it’s Caroline. I’m good, how are you? Good. Listen, I was wondering if that offer of dinner is still available? Yes, tonight will be fine. Seven will be good. No, I’ll meet you in town. The coffee shop? Sure thing, I’ll be there. See you tonight.” She placed the handset on the table and sighed. Well, if Hathaway didn’t give a shit any longer why should she? She stood up and left the kitchen running up the stairs to her bedroom.
Hathaway stared at his home screen of Caroline and him taken during his graduation ball and sighed. He had no right to brush her off the way he did. All she did was ask after him. This was a huge mess, one he claimed all responsibility for. He did miss her. He left for her safety, for his. But no manner of justification could make up for how much he hurt her. He realised that she was right: that he once again made a promise he couldn’t keep, and he wondered if he would ever keep his word to someone who meant so much. He placed his bottle of beer on the coffee table in front of him and reached over to go through the letters that came from him a few days before. As usual, it was just bills and more bills. Once again, Hathaway threw them to one side and sat back on the sofa looking to the ceiling wondering if his life would ever be the same again.
Caroline waited nervously for Andrew outside the coffee shop near where they met. Oxford was bustling that evening with people mingling about on the streets. Traffic as usual was busy. Caroline found herself tapping her foot to the ground. Would he show? She heard the university clock chime in the distance and looked at her watch. He was already running late. ‘I’ll give it another 10 minutes before leaving’, Caroline thought. Those 10 minutes flew by and Caroline made her move. Just as she was about to head for the bus station, the call of her name stopped her, and she turned. She smiled as Andrew ran towards her, a little out of breath.
“I am so sorry, Caroline!” he said. “I got caught up at the office. Some exaggerated minor disaster!”
“No worries. You are here now.” She caught sight of a bag in his hand. Andrew glanced downwards and handed it over.
“A present for you.” He smiled as she gasped. She placed the bag between her legs and lifted the dress out to take a look. It was the same dress she was looking at in the shop window before she collided with him.
“I took a gamble with your size. I hope it fits. If not, we can go back and exchange it.”
“This is… This is…” She was overcome with emotion. “Thank you so much!” She threw her arms around his neck.
“My pleasure, Caroline.” Andrew hugged her gently. They looked at other. Caroline blushed as she stepped back. She placed the dress carefully back in the bag and smiled. “Shall we?” Andrew offered his arm. Caroline was only too happy to link it.
“Where will you be taking me?” she asked as they walked.
“You will see,” Andrew replied. “I’ve booked us somewhere special.”
“Can’t wait!” She looked up at Andrew with a grin. Andrew returned the look with affectionate smile.
Caroline laughed and giggled at what Andrew had to say. They were seated at a very busy upmarket restaurant. She was supping water and he a glass of red. Their half-eaten plates were in front of them. Caroline scooped up some more of her pasta with her spoon and ate. She was hungrier than she realised. Andrew watched smiling, pleased she was having a good time. He also continued to eat.
“So, tell me more about yourself?”
“Well…I have been in Oxford for a couple of years now. You know I am a Cambridge graduate.”
“How could I forget!” Andrew exclaimed to giggles. “What was your major?”
“English,” Caroline replied. “A 2:1. I could have got a First, but… you know… things happen.”
“Would you like to talk about it?”
“Not really.” She realised the tone of her voice. “Sorry. I didn’t mean the way it came out.”
“It’s okay. A 2:1 is pretty good.”
“Are you a graduate?”
“Who me? Oh, God no! I didn’t apply myself at school. It was amazing I passed my GCSEs! How I got to where I am is nothing short of a miracle!”
“What is it you do?” Caroline took another sip of her water.
“I run my own business. Not far from here actually.”
“Well, that’s cool! Sometimes degrees are overrated. Unless you want to be a doctor or solicitor.”
“True. Very true.” He ate another piece of his food. “So, what do you do?”
“This and that.” The answer was a hint for Andrew to veer off the subject.
“Is there a Mr Caroline?” Caroline stopped eating for a bit but didn’t reply. Andrew knew he stumbled on something he wasn’t meant to.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“No.” Caroline smiled. “No, it’s fine. The only answer to that is it’s complicated.”
“So, that is a no?”
Caroline thought about Hathaway and wondered if he was okay. It should really be him taking her out. She sighed heavily. “Can we talk about something else?”
“Of course.” Andrew tried not to let her reply dissuade him. He really liked her and would not let her go quite that easily. “I take it you’re enjoying that?”
“Oh, hell yeah! This is so lush!” Caroline grinned and continued to eat. Andrew smiled. “Is there a Mrs Andrew?”
“No. Not for a while now.”
“I see.” Caroline drank some more water. Andrew refilled her glass.
“There was one, but we parted about a year ago now.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“No, don’t be.” He took a thoughtful sip of his glass of red. He noticed her empty plate. “Wow! You polished that off in record time!” Caroline nodded keenly. “Would you like dessert? They have cake.”
Caroline smiled remembering their phone conversation recently. “Yes, please. That would be great!”
“No problem.” He called a waiter over. Caroline watched as Andrew took care of things. Deep down, she was having a good time and would not let Hathaway spoil it for her.
The streets of Oxford were slightly empty by the time Andrew and Caroline left the restaurant. They were back to laughing and giggling, Caroline linking Andrew’s arm as they walked down the street. They came to the bus station and waited by her stop.
“Thank you for a lovely evening, Andrew,” she said to him. “I really had a wonderful time.”
“It was my pleasure,” Andrew replied. “I had a good time, too.” The bus suddenly approached them. Caroline gave Andrew a hug but stopped him from kissing her. He accepted it rather reluctantly as she boarded, showing her pass to the driver. She sat down and waved as the bus departed settling down to look inside the bag again at the dress he bought for her. Reality hit Caroline once again and she felt guilty and sick accepting something Hathaway should really have given her. She made up her mind to go back to the shop soon to exchange it for something else.
Hathaway opened his eyes and groaned. The bright colour of the ceiling was the first thing he saw, and he realised the rather uncomfortable position he fell asleep in the night before. His neck ached as did the rest of him. He carefully stood up and did some neck exercises to get the blood flow back again before staggering to the kitchen, picking up his half empty bottle of beer on the way.
“You’re getting too old for this, Hathaway,” he told himself as he poured the alcohol down the sink and chucked the bottle into the recycling crate by the wall. He opened the half empty fridge only to shut it again. If he had stayed where he was at Caroline’s, he would have had a proper breakfast, a proper bed with her in it, a proper life…
Hathaway remembered what Lewis said to him years ago after the case at the Botanical Gardens. He can still hear his voice telling him to find someone. Someone to be with. Hathaway sighed heavily. He then looked at the clock on the wall and thought of something. He walked back into the living room where his laptop was on top of the study. He brought it to the coffee table and switched it on accessing Skype. He clicked on a name and waited.
Robert Lewis wasn’t happy his evening was interrupted. The waves of the sea by his beach house crashed into the sand and the rocks in the distance. He looked at Hathaway from his laptop screen, the expression on his face heavy and tiresome. Lewis took a sip from his glass and shook his head slowly.
“This better be good,” he told him straight. “Do you know what time it is here?”
“Yes, sir,” Hathaway replied. “Sorry, sir.”
Lewis looked at his former sergeant and relented. He couldn’t stay mad at him for very long.
“All right. What can I do for you?”
“I just wanted to see how you were, sir. It’s been a while.”
“I’m fine, Jim; and it’s Robbie, remember?”
“Yes…sorry.” Lewis studied Hathaway’s features and could tell he was troubled.
“Are you all right? Is everything good down at the station?”
“No, sir.” Hathaway still could not address his former inspector by his first name. “It’s all changed. Lizzie has gone back to Manchester. She’s got a position in narcotics…”
“Narcotics, hey? She will do well with that.”
“She is an acting inspector now.”
“Well, good for her! She had talent I give you that!” Lewis smiled somewhat proudly as he took a sip from his glass.
“We have a new super. Name of Bright.”
“Bright…” Lewis thought about it and remembered he had heard that name many moons before. “How is he or she?”
“She, sir; and she isn’t someone you can bend, if you get what I mean.”
“One of those, huh?” Lewis was glad he was retired. “I’ve had experience with these people before, I can tell you!”
Hathaway smiled. “I have a new sergeant.”
“Oh, aye? Any good?”
“Yes, sir. I think so.”
“Not irritating him with your Shakespeare and the like?”
“No, sir.” Hathaway started to laugh. He missed Lewis and wished he wasn’t so far away. “Sir…I mean, Robbie. There is a reason why I called you at this hour.”
Lewis took note and sat up properly. “Is everything all right?”
“Do you remember Michael Landsfield?”
“Michael Landsfield?” Lewis thought about things for a minute. “That felon who nearly held up that bank? The one with the sawn off shotgun?”
“That’s the one.”
“What about him?”
“He’s dead, sir.”
“Dead?” Lewis was struck dumb for a split second. “When?”
“A week ago, sir. He was found by the banks of the Cherwell with a stab wound to the neck.”
“The Cherwell – where all known criminals of Oxford meet their doom.” His tone was ironic, slightly sarcastic as if it was no surprise. “Are you on the case? Do you need help?”
“No, sir…” Hathaway paused. “Sir, I think I am in trouble.”
“Trouble? How?” Now Lewis was very much concerned. He listened as Hathaway told him everything and his eyes widened in shock and surprise. He saw his former protégé on the screen look more and more troubled. “What did Lizzie say?”
“That’s it, sir. I don’t know. This DCI Frost conducted the interview, but asked Hazel to stay outside in the car. I tried calling Lizzie, but her phone is constantly switched off.”
“Lizzie wouldn’t do that to you, Jim.”
“I know she wouldn’t.” Hathaway lit up a cigarette and took a long drag before exhaling. “But whatever Frost found out has caused my suspension. I have done nothing wrong, sir! Everything was above board the last time I arrested Landsfield.”
“So, why do you think you are in trouble?” Lewis caught sight of a slight flinch. “Hathaway?”
“You’re not telling me everything again, are you?”
“I am, sir.” Hathaway looked straight at him, but Lewis knew from experience not to take that at face value. Morse would kill him if he did! Morse Law 101 – ‘nobody is what they seem’.
“Come on, Jim! We are not at the station hiding things from Jean Innocent like two naughty school boys from their mother! Tell me. What happened?”
Hathaway sighed and butted out his cigarette in a nearby ashtray. He exhaled the last remnants of smoke before replying.
“The last arrest, the one you signed off giving permission to go in on that bust in that warehouse… I did something beforehand.”
Lewis groaned. “Like what, Jim!”
“I planted something. Not what you think. It was a bug of some sort. I had been tailing Landsfield for two weeks previously. It was how I knew where he would be. I also made sure he confessed to be the ringleader of the raid…”
“You idiot, Jim!” Lewis’ tone reached high heaven. “You knew that would have been inadmissible in court, let alone illegal!” He backtracked on what he just heard. “Confessed? How?”
“Nothing heavy, sir. I just told him it would be in his best interests if he admitted it.”
“Ah, man!” Lewis was now completely unimpressed. “Did Liz know about this?”
“No, sir…Well, not about the plant but she was there when I arrested Landsfield. Look, sir! We got what we wanted. That arsenal we found could have taken half of Oxford with it if we hadn’t caught them!”
“But not in the way you did it, Jim! Didn’t what you learned from me teach you anything?!” Lewis sighed. “So, this DCI Frost? Do you think she knows all of it?”
“I have no idea, sir. All I know is the report I wrote; the report Lizzie wrote and what you wrote are the only ones available. Everything else was above board.”
“Yeah, except it isn’t really is it? Now you are running with your tail between your legs with more than a suspension hanging above your head!” He drowned the rest of his drink in one go.
“Easy, sir,” Hathaway said in concern. “I know it is evening over there, but no need to drown yourself so quickly!”
“Hey!” Lewis pointed his glass to the screen. “You’re a fine one to talk; and leave me alone, you hear? When you retire, then you can tell me what to do. Until then…” He stopped as he saw the cheeky look on Hathaway’s face and smiled in amusement.
“Frost will probably get in contact with you,” Hathaway told him. “Just be honest.”
“I wouldn’t be anything other than that!” Lewis shook his head slowly. “I leave you for five minutes…”
“Three years, sir.” He grinned as he saw the irritated look on Lewis’ face.
“Three years and look what happens? You made Inspector as well!” Hathaway laughed. Lewis smiled.
“So, did you listen to me? Found anyone yet?”
Hathaway shuffled uncomfortably. “Yes, sir. I have.”
“Oh, aye? Where is she, then?”
“Sir, it is nearly nine o’clock in the morning…”
“I mean a picture, man! Come on!”
Hathaway picked up his phone and showed him his home screen. Lewis tried not to snigger.
“Is that you when you were younger?”
“Yes, sir. We were at Cambridge together.”
“Wow! The 1990s, eh?”
“Better than the 1970s, sir. I can just imagine you in flares, an open neck shirt, eating prawn cocktail…”
“Enough of that prawn cocktail business!” Hathaway tried not to laugh. He swiped his screen and found a lovely one of Caroline taken in her kitchen. He showed Lewis and got a look of approval in return.
“Looks like a canny lass, she does. What is her name?”
“Caroline,” Hathaway replied.
“And you met at Cambridge?”
“Yes, sir. I was a year above her. She was studying English.” Lewis noticed the far away look on Hathaway’s face and knew he had a domestic.
“You haven’t told her, have you?”
“No, sir.” Hathaway put down his phone and lit another cigarette. “I was only doing it to protect her. Landsfield has powerful friends and enemies. If they knew I was implicated, they would go after her.”
“She means a lot to you, doesn’t she?”
“More than anything, sir.” He took a drag and exhaled.
“Tell her, Jim! Tell her exactly what happened. She looks the type that would understand…”
“No, sir. With all due respect, I can’t. Not until this is over.” He looked at Lewis. “Thank you for the chat, sir. I really appreciate it.”
“Anytime. You know I am here for you.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“And thank you for the head’s up. At least I know to expect a call regarding this mess. Jeez, Hathaway! You do get into some scrapes.”
“Of course, sir. It wouldn’t be me otherwise.”
“Hmm…don’t I know it!” He paused. “‘It is when he thinks he’s past love, it is then he meets his last love’.”
“Sir?” Hathaway wondered why he was quoting stuff.
“‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’, Lewis replied. “It was something someone said to me a long time ago.”
“Morse?” Hathaway asked. Lewis nodded.
“Be good to think about that one, mind.”
“About Morse, sir?”
“No! I meant the quote!” He shook his head in amusement and stretched. “Right, time for me to shoot off. The lovely Laura will be back soon.”
“How is Doctor Hobson, sir?”
“You mean Doctor Lewis? Yeah, she is fine.”
Hathaway’s eyes widened. “You got married?”
“Aye, we did! Hush-hush, mind. We didn’t tell anyone, not even our Lyn.”
“Congratulations, sir.” Hathaway felt a bit sick and slightly offended he wasn’t told.
“Thank you, Jim. I’d better go, but a word of advice – talk to her, hey? Your Caroline.”
“Yes, sir.” Hathaway closed the lid of the laptop as the call ended and thought about things for a minute. He butted out his cigarette and got up heading for the bathroom.
Caroline walked out of the shop with her tote bag on her shoulder. She had exchanged the dress Andrew bought for her, but not for a different size. She felt good about herself as she walked down the busy street turning a corner. The Bridge of Sighs was in the distance to her left as she passed the Sheldonian. She walked past the many students and dodged a few on their bikes only to stop and watch as they sped by. Caroline started to laugh to herself remembering Cambridge and that ended her joy. She stood against the railings near the Radcliffe Camera and sighed heavily wondering where Hathaway now lived and if it was a good idea to go visit him. But, deep down she knew it would be wrong, so she had no choice but to go on her way and she became lost among the crowds of students, locals and tourists.
Stephen Hazel was at his desk at the station looking at various things online. He was still in the middle of trying to solve Landsfield’s murder, but also trying to do some detective work of his own. He looked up at what was Hathaway’s desk and thought about things for a minute. Frost was arriving late, so it provided a perfect opportunity to find out more about her. Hazel, despite having a crush on Frost in the beginning, now also found her to be more suspicious. It seemed there was a vendetta against Hathaway. Hazel figured out more or less that she was out for her own means, but was she meant to return to London or to stay in Oxford? He sat up properly and decided to find out more about her, as per Hathaway’s request. He started off with an online search for her and found many an entry. Frost definitely was good at her job, with the many reports of her many arrests followed by her promotions. She went up the career ladder quite quickly and was in charge of about 15 detectives. So, why take up this case in particular? Hazel decided to stop the search for now and typed in Landsfield’s name. As he scrolled down via the mouse, his eyes clapped on a result from The Oxford Times. He clicked on it and read it quietly. Hazel’s eyes widened slightly, and he picked up his desk phone dialling a number.
“Hello, yes. My name is Stephen Hazel. I work for a periodical here in Oxford. I was wondering if you can help? I am working on an article in relation to the death of Michael Landsfield, the guy who was found on the banks of the Cherwell… Yes, that is the one. I noticed that one of your guys interviewed him a while back? Yes, that is correct. Could you tell me more about it?” Hazel paused whilst he listened to the voice speaking to him at the other end. “Uh-huh. Sure! How about the university café by the Radcliffe Camera? Okay, sure! About…say…. Three o’clock? Fantastic! Thank you so much!” He placed the receiver back down and picked up his mobile.
“Sir, it’s Stephen. I have some news.”
“What news?” Hathaway asked as he met Hazel in front of the Bridge of Sighs. Hazel was a bit surprised to see his superior dressed casually. The sun was shining, and it was quite warm. Hathaway had shades over his eyes, which kind of amused Hazel. The young sergeant squinted slightly as the sun hit his eyes and shielded them with his hand.
“I did an online search for Frost,” he replied as they walked down the path. “I didn’t find anything much. Just a bunch of media reports of her many arrests and her climb up the career ladder.”
“That figures.” Hathaway wasn’t surprised.
“So, I decided to do a search on Landsfield instead and I found a result. He was interviewed a while ago regarding his last arrest. I am due to meet with someone from the Times later on today.”
“Interview? What interview?” Hathaway turned to face Hazel. He took his shades off so he could look at him straight. Hazel noticed the look on his face.
“An interview with The Oxford Times.” Hathaway tried not to panic. “Sir, is everything all right?” But Hathaway didn’t answer. He looked at Hazel.
“Hazel, you are going to hear things you probably have never heard before. Keep an open mind. Go see this person and report back to me whatever it is you hear.” He looked ahead of him. “Just be careful, Hazel.” He jogged off ahead. Hazel was perplexed at what just happened but just shrugged his shoulders and walked off.
Caroline walked back towards Broad Street with her head down. She had been aimlessly walking around doing very little. She had a lot on her mind and wasn’t very happy. She didn’t hear a voice call her over the sounds around her. Only when that person stopped in front of her, slightly out of breath, did she look up.
“Oh, it’s you,” she said before noticing something on his person. “Those shades!”
“Yeah, I kept them.” Hathaway smiled.
“I’m surprised. Didn’t they break when you dropped them that time when we went to Mum’s? You tripped over the rockery…” She bit her lip trying to curb her laughter. Hathaway chuckled.
“You won’t let that one go, will you?” Caroline shook her head. She laughed out loud suddenly and covered her mouth. Hathaway took off his shades and Caroline looked at him, the mirth disappearing from her features.
“I shouldn’t be talking to you, you know.” She started walking.
“Why not?” Hathaway asked, keeping stride beside her.
“You left. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“Caroline…” He touched her arm to stop her. He saw her turn to face him and remembered what Lewis advised him to do. “I think I need to explain things.”
“I think you should.” Hathaway saw the look on her face and realised she still cared for him. This made him feel guiltier.
“Back to mine?” he offered. Caroline thought about it for a while and eventually nodded.
“I’ve never been to yours before,” she said.
“I’ll give you the guided tour.” Hathaway smiled and gazed into Caroline’s eyes. He placed a protective hand on her back and the two of them walked in the opposite direction.
“Caroline!” Hathaway felt her tense up at the sound of the voice. She looked up at him.
“Let’s go,” she said. She grabbed his hand and they both ran off down the street, under the Bridge of Sighs and round the corner. As they disappeared amongst the crowd, Andrew stopped running. He tried to spot Caroline but couldn’t. He sighed heavily and looked at his watch. He swore under his breath and ran off.
Hathaway pulled Caroline back slightly to stop her. He wanted to know what was going on. He gently pulled her to the pavement to avoid being knocked over by a student on her cycle and pulled her tote bag properly over her shoulder. He cleared her hair from her face and gently placed his hands on her arms.
“Caroline,” he said. “What was all that about?”
“Nothing,” Caroline replied refusing to look at him.
“Caroline!” Hathaway refused to accept that answer. “Look at me!” She reluctantly did as was asked. “What’s the matter? Who were you running away from?”
“No one,” Caroline replied. But Hathaway spotted the opposite from the look on her face. “Besides, this isn’t about me! You were about to explain why you left?”
“Is everything all right, Caroline?” Hathaway now was more worried and concerned rather than offering her any explanation.
“Yes, James. Everything is all right.” She looked straight at him. “Are we going back to yours or not?” There was something in her eyes that told Hathaway something different. He gently caressed her cheek.
“I miss you,” he said.
“Do you?” Caroline asked. “I am finding anything you say hard to believe right now.” Hathaway sighed and glanced at the ground.
“I need to explain.”
“Shall we then?” Caroline walked a few strides ahead. Hathaway jogged over to catch up.
“Caroline.” Once more he persuaded her to face him. He gazed into her eyes and touched her cheek leaning down to kiss her. Caroline accepted it, a tear falling and landing on Hathaway’s hand. They looked at each other and for the first time, Caroline saw the emotion on Hathaway’s face that she hardly ever saw. She reached up to stroke his face.
“Whatever you have done,” she told him. “If you are in trouble, I am here for you. Just please… Don’t push me away. I love you.”
Hathaway said nothing but brought her close, wrapping his arms around her tightly. He planted a kiss on top of her head. Caroline held him in return, not wanting to let go. She looked up at him. Hathaway caught her gaze and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.
Hazel took up his cup of coffee and took a sip. He looked at the person in front of him and waited for him to speak. They were both seated at a table outside the university church coffee shop, the green domed building of the university history library not far away in front of them. He watched the person carefully as was previously taught to him by Hathaway. He settled the cup back on the saucer.
“Michael Landsfield was a very angry man,” the person eventually spoke. “He was adamant he was coerced into a confession and that he had nothing to do with the crime he served time for.”
“But, he was arrested and charged, wasn’t he?”
“He was, but he maintained he was forced into a confession.”
“But surely the arsenal that was found kind of proved he was involved.”
“Stephen, is it? You are asking too many questions. Are you sure you are a reporter?”
“I am, yes.”
“Can I see some ID?”
“Sure.” Hazel reached into his pocket and took out a small wallet. He placed it on the table. He watched as the person picked it up to take a look.
“There were firearms found. But again, he swears he had nothing to do with it.”
Hazel took his ID back and placed it back in his pocket. “So, whose idea was it?”
“That’s it. No one knows. Detective Inspector James Hathaway was the one who arrested him. Landsfield seemed to think he had something against him, like the evidence against him was flawed in court.”
Hazel heard Hathaway’s warning ringing in his ears and he proceeded with caution.
“In what way flawed?” He looked at the person and couldn’t believe the look he was given.
Hathaway pushed open the front door of his place and Caroline walked inside. She looked around before coming to a stop. Hathaway closed the door and took off his jacket.
“This is nice,” Caroline commented, visibly impressed. “You said this belonged to your old boss?”
“Yes,” Hathaway replied. “He left it to me when he moved away.”
“Where did you say he moved to again?”
“New Zealand.” He walked past her inside the living room. “Come in.” Caroline stepped inside and was even more impressed by what she saw. She sat down on the sofa and watched as Hathaway turned on the music system. He smiled at Caroline and sat down beside her.
Caroline settled down her tote bag by her feet. Hathaway took out his phone from his back pocket and placed it on the coffee table in front of them. He looked at Caroline, who was looking elsewhere.
“The body that was found.” Caroline looked at him. “He was a felon I had previous dealings with. I arrested him 18 months or so before. He and his merry band of individuals were due to hold up a few places around the city. There were enough firearms in that warehouse to take out half of Oxford. Landsfield was the ringleader. He confessed and was charged.”
“But if that is the case, why are you running scared?” Caroline turned her position to face Hathaway. He sighed heavily. He felt Caroline’s touch as she placed her arm around his shoulders.
“Landsfield over time acquired powerful friends and equally powerful enemies, Caroline. I left because I didn’t want to put you in any danger. If they come after me, then for sure they will come after you and I cannot let that happen, Caroline! No way.”
Caroline held Hathaway’s hand. “Look at me, James. I will tell you this again – I am here for you. Whatever it is that you have done. Whoever this Landsfield is or was. I am not going anywhere. I am with you no matter what. I love you. We are one of the same.” She reached into her shirt and took out a charm that she had round her neck dangling from a gold chain. “Remember this?’ she asked. “I have kept this since the day you gave this to me…” She stopped as Hathaway stood up and disappeared. She turned her head as he ran up the stairs and decided to follow him.
Hathaway was in his room looking through the wardrobe. He took a small box out and placed it on the bed. Caroline stood in the doorway watching as he sifted through the contents. She walked inside and sat down at the edge of the bed. Hathaway took out a gold curb chain inside a velvet pouch.
“I’ve kept this too,” he told her.
“I gave you that for your graduation.”
“Yes. I wore it for a long time afterwards.” He looked at her as he put the chain around his neck. Caroline glanced downwards as Hathaway held her hands in his. He was now sitting beside her. “I didn’t want to leave you. I just wanted to protect you.” He hesitated. “I love you too, Caroline.”
Caroline looked at him and knew how difficult it was for him to say those words. She also knew that once he said them, he meant it.
“Wow! You finally said it. Only took you… twenty-odd years!” Hathaway laughed softly. He gazed into her eyes. “Come back to mine?” she asked. Hathaway didn’t reply. Instead he held her stroking her hair. He then reached over and pushed the box on the floor. Caroline looked into his eyes and knew what he wanted. She nodded and let it happen.
Stephen Hazel walked into the station car park in a daze. He just could not believe what was told to him. Could it honestly be true? He knew Hathaway forewarned him he may hear things, but he wasn’t expecting that! Such as his head was in the clouds, he didn’t hear his name being called.
“DS Hazel!” the voice called again. “Stephen!” This time, he turned. He saw Doctor Aurora running towards him.
“I am so sorry, Doctor Aurora.” Hazel was embarrassed.
“No need. Are you all right?”
“Yes.” Hazel smiled. “Yes, I am good. How can I help you?”
Aurora was impressed by the politeness of the young sergeant. “I just thought to let you know that all tests on Landsfield’s body and possessions have been completed. I will be releasing his body to the family tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Doctor Aurora. I will let DCI Frost know. Did you or SOCO find any other information?”
“I’m afraid not,” Aurora replied. “Just what I told you and DI Hathaway in the first instance. The only fingerprints found on the wallet were his. I am sorry there isn’t much to go on.”
“No, that’s fine. Thank you.” Hazel walked up the steps to the main entrance.
“Keep the faith, detective sergeant!” Aurora called out to him. “He will be back!” Hazel turned. He nodded once gratefully and walked inside. Aurora watched as he disappeared and felt sorry for him. She picked up her bag and walked to her car.
Hazel walked down the corridor towards the incident room. He still couldn’t get the words out of his mind. This can’t be right! Hathaway was not what was told to him. He was as genuine as they came…wasn’t he? He then remembered he was currently suspended but he wasn’t given the reasons why. As he stared at the white board in front of him, Hazel began to think, and he thought hard. His eyes scanned all the evidence he and Frost had thus far: pictures of Landsfield’s body, an old mug shot of him, his wallet, his driver’s licence and his last arrest which had Hathaway’s name next to it as the arresting officer. It puzzled Hazel completely and now he also wondered what Frost had that he wasn’t aware of. Could it be the same info that was given to him or something else?
“Welcome back, Stephen.” Hazel turned and saw Frost standing by the doorway.
“Care to explain your absence?” She walked in. Hazel stood up properly.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I was out chasing a lead.”
“Well, in future if you are, I would like to be kept informed. It doesn’t look good if my sergeant goes off on a lone crusade without my prior acknowledgement.” Hazel said nothing. Frost stood beside him. “Care to share?” she asked.
Hazel cleared his throat. “Dead end, ma’am.”
“Hmm… All right. We need to focus on the murder weapon.”
“SOCO found nothing, ma’am. Doctor Aurora informed me as I was coming in.”
“That doesn’t help. She said it could be a serrated edge, is that right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Hazel had his back up. He was beginning to dislike her.
“So, we need to find out Landsfield’s last whereabouts. Start with after he left prison. Find out his known haunts, his allies. Also family. See if you can trace them…”
“Oh, Doctor Aurora also informed me that she will be releasing the body tomorrow.”
“Even better! The funeral should take place very soon. Do a canvas. Funerals normally bring out all and sundry.” She noticed the faraway look on his face. “Everything all right, Stephen?”
“Right. Well, get a move on then.” She watched as Hazel left and took out her phone. She saw there was a message for her and followed Hazel out, but instead she walked the opposite way.
Caroline opened the door to her place and walked inside switching on the light. Hathaway followed her in with two bags and his guitar case. He settled them down by the foot of the stairs as Caroline took off her jacket. They smiled at each other and Hathaway held her again. They walked to the kitchen.
“Hold on a minute, Caroline.”
“Sure.” She turned and noticed that he was standing in the doorway. “What’s the matter?” she asked worriedly. She walked towards him. “Blue Eyes?”
Hathaway blushed upon hearing those words. “I haven’t heard that since Cambridge.”
“It’s nothing, Caroline.” Hathaway smiled again. Caroline nodded and walked back to the sink.
“You can take your stuff up to the bedroom,” he heard Caroline say. “But keep that damn guitar of yours down here!”
Hathaway looked at Caroline and grinned. He saw the look of amusement on her face and walked towards her. He wrapped his arms around her waist before singing the chorus of Sweet Caroline and scarpered before she could react.
“You’re in the spare room tonight!” she called out to him.
“Sorry. Can’t hear you!” she heard him call back from upstairs. Caroline laughed to herself quietly. She was happy he was back in her life again.
Mourners gathered outside a church. There were quite a few of them all dressed in black clustered in discussion. The opened hearse was outside, Landsfield’s coffin inside the church waiting to be carried out. On the opposite side of the road, in good distance but enough to go unnoticed, Hathaway and Hazel were watching them crouched behind a very low wall. They were both in plain clothes. The younger was watching via a pair of binoculars.
“Do you see anyone you recognise?” Hazel asked.
“Not as far as I can see,” Hathaway replied.
“Maybe you need these, sir.” Hathaway looked at the binoculars Hazel had in his hand but gave him a look. Hazel bit his lip in amusement and carried on looking.
“Frost doesn’t know you are with me, does she?”
“No, sir. She told me to keep watch, so really I am doing as she asked.”
“Good. Less she knows the better.” He noticed three mourners heading out from the church and picked up a camera he had settled beside him. The shutters began to go off as he started taking pictures. The coffin followed a minute later, and the mourners gathered round to pay their respects. Hazel meanwhile noticed one of the mourners and jolted. “See someone you recognise, Hazel?”
“No, sir.” He lied. “My legs are cramping.” Hathaway continued taking pictures. “Sir… Can I ask you something?”
“Would you tell me if you did something…you know…unconventional?”
Hathaway took one last picture and placed the camera down. “I have not done one thing unconventional in my career, Hazel.” He crouched up as the hearse made its move followed by the cortege behind it. “They’re heading for the cemetery. Let’s go.” They waited until the vehicles had gone down the street before heading for their car. As Hazel opened the driver’s door, he noticed a very familiar figure leave the church followed by a male companion. His eyes widened.
“Sir?” he said. “DI Hathaway?”
“What is it, Hazel?”
“Look who’s left the church.”
Hathaway got out of the car and looked across the road. He took the binoculars from Hazel and swore. Hazel quickly grabbed the camera and began taking pictures.
“Get in!” Hazel quickly did as instructed, and they kept low as the car the couple got into passed by. They looked at each other before strapping themselves in.
“Unbelievable!” Hazel commented.
“Drive,” Hathaway told him. “But keep your distance.”
“Yes, sir.” As Hazel turned the key in the ignition and began to reverse, Hathaway soaked in the details from the past five minutes. He knew he was getting there, but he was also far from getting his job back.
Caroline walked down the stairs and down a narrow corridor. She walked into the living room and smiled as she saw a familiar blonde figure looking out of the window with a mug of tea in her hand. She turned and smiled back at Caroline.
“Hey,” she said.
“Glad to see you are looking so much better, Nell.”
“I feel it.” Caroline sat down at a small round table nearby. “How’s James?”
“He’s all right,” Caroline replied. “He’s gone out. As usual, he is very coy as to where.”
“Yeah, that is James. He’s always one to keep things to himself.” Nell walked the short distance to sit down opposite her. She placed her mug on the table. “So… How was the reunion?”
“Had its ups and downs,” Caroline answered. “He’s moved in with me for a while.”
“That is fantastic, Caroline!” Nell beamed. “I am so happy. I thought it would all go wrong. I know you both haven’t seen eye to eye in recent years.”
“Isn’t that the truth!”
“He was really into you, Caroline. I had never seen him so happy. No matter what father threw at him, he just had this huge grin on his face. You were the only thing that kept him going.”
Caroline nodded. “I was into him too, Nell. He was the only one that gave me the confidence to continue with my degree, considering what had been happening.”
“You haven’t told him, have you?”
Caroline bowed her head briefly. “No. No, I haven’t.” Nell nodded and left it at that. “It must have been hard both of you growing up in that big house.”
“Yeah… It wasn’t easy. Crevecouer Hall wasn’t exactly the most open of places. It wasn’t ‘kid-friendly’.”
“James only told me a little about it. I knew it bothered him, so didn’t pry.”
“It affected James more than anyone,” Nell said taking up her mug and drinking a bit. “He hated it. So, when he decided to become a priest it took us all by surprise.”
“I nearly laughed when he told me. I mean… James Hathaway – a priest?!”
“I know. I was amused by it as well.” Nell smiled. “But, he was serious. I think he wanted to please father. Either that or he was taking the piss.”
“More like the latter! Anyway, I’m glad he didn’t go through with it. I honestly cannot see him taking confession and giving Communion each Sunday.” The two women looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“Seriously, Caroline. I think you’d better tell him. It may explain a few things.” The mirth disappeared off Caroline’s face. She knew she was right.
“I don’t know what he will think though, Nell! It’s not the easiest thing to admit or disclose.”
“Try, Caroline!” Nell voice was desperate almost begging. “He loves you. Always has. He cares so deeply about you. For you. I think you will be surprised.” Caroline nodded slowly. Nell reached over and held her hand tightly. “Do this for me, Caroline. Please!”
“All right,” Caroline replied after a short pause. “I’ll tell him.”
“Thank you.” Nell smiled again in relief. Caroline held her hand and smiled, but deep down she was petrified.
Landsfield’s coffin was finally laid to rest six feet under. His family walked a couple of steps forward to drop some earth. Hathaway and Hazel were a short distance away out of sight. They kept watch looking for anything that could help Hathaway’s case. Once again, Hathaway had the camera and Hazel the binoculars. The younger was still shocked at who he witnessed earlier.
“Do you think we should tell Bright, sir?”
“No. Not yet. There is a time and a place.” He took a couple more pictures. “David Hemsworth.” He spied a tall guy wearing a long black coat going over to a female mourner to pass his condolences. “The amount of times I have tried to arrest him!” He nudged Hazel suddenly. “Let’s go. I’ve seen enough.” He made his move. Hazel took one more look at the funeral party before leaving, following Hathaway.
Caroline walked back from Nell’s to her own house in a daze. How would she tell him? How would he react? Would he treat her any differently? She knew he didn’t notice much during their Cambridge days, but she disguised it so well. Her mother knew – and related – but her father was too busy not to care, if he did indeed notice himself. Caroline was stuck between a rock and a hard place. She remembered Hathaway asking after her degree classification and she recalled herself not lying, but not being completely honest at the same time. She did get a 2:1 but was well on course in getting a First. Hathaway was so proud of her! He couldn’t wait to tell his father so just to prove he had someone with intelligence. Caroline turned the key in the lock and walked inside. She was about to close the door when a foot in the doorway prevented her from doing so.
“Caroline,” said the voice.
Caroline froze. She tried to push the door shut but only succeeded in causing pain to the person on the other side.
“For God’s sake, Caroline…!” She let go and the figure opened the door. She backed away as she saw the figure walk inside.
“How did you know where I live?” she asked.
“I know everything, Caroline. I know who you are, what you are and who you are sleeping with. But, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.”
Caroline made a run up the stairs but wasn’t followed. Instead, the figure just stayed by the doorway, watching her.
“Come down, Caroline.” The tone of the voice was soft. “I won’t hurt you.”
“Who are you?” Caroline called from upstairs. “Who are you really?”
“Now, you know I cannot tell you that. Where would that get us?” The footsteps walked two paces ahead. “I know your secret, Caroline. I know what happened. What would your beloved say if he found out? You kept it from him all these years. Does he even know your family history, Caroline? Have you been totally truthful to him?”
“Go away!” Caroline’s voice now was cracking. “I’ll call him!”
The figure laughed. “Oh, come now, Caroline! You honestly think I am scared? He has no authority to arrest anyone. You forget I know more than you think.”
Caroline appeared at the top of the stairs. She stared at the figure below.
“Now, look at that,” the figure said. “A vision of beauty. A broken beauty, but these things can be fixed.” A couple more steps forward. “Do you think he would really love you, Caroline, if you told him? Deep down? Is he that a huge a support as you think he is? After all, he ran out on you… Three times! What makes you think there won’t be a fourth, fifth or sixth? You think he is staying faithful to you when he is out?”
“Don’t you dare…” Caroline whispered, the tears falling from her face. “He loves me.”
“Oh, really now, Caroline! I know you were a naïve child back at Cambridge, but you are older. If he loved you, why did he leave you again recently? Do you honestly think you are the only woman in his life?”
“What do you mean?” Caroline asked.
“He has been cheating on you all this time, Caroline. He doesn’t love you. He is only using you; and you let him.”
This was enough for Caroline. She stepped over the edge and fell, her head hitting the bottom stair. The figure stepped a few more paces forward and stopped by her head. A trickle of blood ran from the corner of Caroline’s mouth, her eyes wide open; a tear coming from her left eye.
Hathaway burst into intensive care at the Radcliffe and ran down the corridor. He saw a sobbing Nell and ran towards her, taking her in her arms and holding her tightly. He looked through a window of a private room and saw Caroline, tubes and all manner attached to her. The monitor keeping record of her heart rate and pulse. He tried not to show emotion but found himself to be failing. He looked at Nell and asked what had happened.
“She fell down the stairs,” she replied. “She hit her head badly. She is unconscious, James. The doctors are looking in on her every hour. They have to release the pressure on her brain, but she is a too bad a state for them to do it. She might die…”
“She won’t, Nell.” Hathaway said adamantly as he held his sister tighter. He then caught sight of an unfamiliar reflection behind them and turned. “Who are you?” he asked, but the person didn’t budge. Hathaway’s anger got the better of him and he broke free from Nell and pushed the person into the wall, his arm against their throat. “I said…”
“James!” Nell shouted. “He found Caroline. Please, let him go!”
“What were you doing at the house?” Hathaway asked ignoring his sister. But he didn’t receive an answer. Instead, he got a smirk. This caused Hathaway to apply more pressure and Nell ran forward trying to pull her brother away.
“Let him go, James!” she shouted. “This isn’t doing Caroline any favours. Please!” Hathaway glanced at his sister and eventually let go. The stranger coughed a few times and straightened himself up before leaving. Hathaway glared at him as he disappeared. His attentions then turned to Caroline and he walked to the window. The tears fell from his face and for the first time in a long time, he began to pray…
Hathaway kept vigil. All day every day. The only time he took a break was to go home to change or when Nell forced him to. This just put things into perspective for him; that perhaps his crusade wasn’t all that important after all. The doctors examined her more than once each day, the nurses monitoring her in between. But she was still far too ill to be operated on. The swelling hadn’t worsened, that was the main thing. He held her hand, he spoke to her. He read her passages from one of her favourite novels he remembered off the top of his head that he downloaded to his phone. He played her favourite tunes, he even strummed a few on his guitar. It was only when he started playing the song he wrote about her, for her, that it became all too much. He bowed his head, his body shaking as he wept.
Nell walked in and noticed her brother. She approached him and gently eased the instrument from his hands. Hathaway looked up at his sister, an absolute wreck, which took Nell aback as it was rare to see her brother the way he was. She placed the guitar against a nearby wall and held him, resting her head on his. Hathaway clutched his sister like a little boy to his mother. He just wanted Caroline to wake up, to speak to him, to smile at him. He thought of his sister and her own illness and hoped that she wouldn’t have a relapse. But Nell was a pillar of strength that even put him to shame. Unfortunately, their upbringing forced them to be cold; that they lacked affection and love from their father. It was something Hathaway detested, that deep down he really wasn’t like that. His mother thankfully taught him how to love; and he loved Caroline. More than anyone could ever understand.
A knock on the window made them look up and Hathaway saw Hazel outside. He stood up, but not before he leaned over to kiss Caroline delicately on the forehead. He squeezed Nell’s hand briefly before walking out closing the door gently behind him. Hazel met him at the opposite end of the corridor.
“I’m sorry to intrude on your privacy, sir,” he said.
“Don’t apologise,” Hathaway replied. Hazel noticed how he was looking.
“How is she, sir?”
“No change, Stephen.” Hathaway glanced at the floor. “Is everything okay?”
“I just got the photographs developed and back from the lab, sir. You’re not a bad photographer.”
Hathaway just looked at Hazel. He was trying to cheer him up, but he was well beyond that. He took the envelope from Hazel but didn’t open it.
“A few shots. Bright would definitely be interested.” Hathaway walked to a corner and took the photographs out. He went through them quite quickly. Hazel watched him and knew he wasn’t concentrating. He felt guilty. However, he stopped as Hathaway came across one and shone it up to the window. He then placed it on a small table in front of him.
“David Hemsworth…” he uttered again. “Stephen, go back to the station and run a check on him. I want to know if his paws have been clean recently.”
“Anything else, sir?”
“Keep the search up on Frost. Those two are related to each other, but I need to know how.”
“Shall I call you instead once I find out?” Hathaway looked at his junior officer gratefully. Hazel nodded and gathered up the pictures. “She will be all right, sir,” he said.
Hathaway said nothing but pat him on the shoulder before walking back to Caroline’s room. Hazel watched as he left and became concerned for him. He resealed the envelope.
“Excuse me? Detective Sergeant Hazel, is it?”
“Yes, it is, miss. How can I help?” Nell looked at him.
“James really appreciates what you are doing for him. He may not show or say it, but he does. If you can help get his job back, he would be indebted to you.”
“He doesn’t need to be, but I’ll do my best, miss,” Hazel told her kindly. He smiled at her. “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” Nell smiled back in relief.
“I could murder one!” she replied. “It has to be here I’m afraid. Just in case James calls.”
“No worries, miss.”
“Please – call me Nell.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Nell. Call me Stephen.” They walked down the corridor together. “So, what can you tell me about Inspector Hathaway?”
“What would you like to know?” Hazel chuckled and held open the door for Nell as they walked through.
Hathaway meanwhile took back up his guitar again and started strumming. He played to keep his mind off things, to hopefully rouse Caroline from her sleep. He played a delicate tune, a soft tune. Something gentle. He stopped to look at Caroline, her whole body still and peaceful. He settled the guitar behind his chair by the wall and took up her hand. He held it tightly looking at her, praying once again to God to help her gather enough strength to open her eyes. He wondered who this person earlier was and why he was at the house. But, as Nell told him, he found her so at least that was something. He imagined if no one was around, how long she would be lying there until he got back. That thought shuddered him. His mind suddenly went back to the video chat he had with Lewis and finally realised the meaning of the quote he gave him. Hathaway held Caroline’s hand tighter.
“Come on, Caroline,” he told her softly. “You can fight this. Open your eyes.” Suddenly, he felt a slight grip and his face lit up. He opened the door and called for someone. A staff nurse ran to his aid and straight to Caroline. She checked her obs and ran back out again calling for the doctor. Hathaway could only watch as the smartly dressed doctor quickly shone his torch pen in her eyes and took a look at the equipment. He turned to look at Hathaway and shook his head. Hathaway’s face fell. The doctor approached him and they stepped outside.
“Mr Hathaway, my name is Mr Cartwright. I am the senior consultant here. Your girlfriend I’m afraid is still no change. Sometimes, you will feel a jerk reaction similar to when you sleep. I have just checked her vitals and things are still the same as an hour ago. We will have to make the decision whether to go ahead with the operation or not. We cannot let this swelling continue. Does she have a next of kin?”
“Next of kin…?”
“Just routine questioning.”
“No,” Hathaway replied. “Her mother has passed on and she is estranged from her father. I can be her next of kin.”
“All right. We will just need you to sign a few documents, just consent forms. I will check up on her again in an hour and make the decision then.” Hathaway nodded and followed the doctor to the nurses’ station. His worry and concern worsened and he wondered where Nell had disappeared to.
Nell grinned and chuckled as she finished off the last bit of her tea. Sitting opposite her, Stephen Hazel was laughing shaking his head slowly. He had just heard another story of when Hathaway was a youngster. The ammunition he had received was a ridiculously evil amount! He tried to speak, but couldn’t as he burst out laughing again. Nell couldn’t help but follow suit.
“He was such an idiot,” she continued. “Father nearly went spare! Even back then, James showed early signs of being a rebel. He hated authority. If it wasn’t for mother intervening, I think he would have been strung alive!”
“Was he always a rebel?”
“Oh, yes! He did it deliberately. Where we were brought up wasn’t the best place for a growing child to thrive. It was a huge house. I suppose the only thing that went for it was its huge grounds and the stables. But even then, once we all got out to play, all we could think of was running away.”
“Did Inspector Hathaway thought of actually going through with it?”
“All the time; and I wanted to go with him. James wouldn’t leave me on my own. The only thing that kept him back was our mother. He knew it would break her heart if we did it.”
“Was it only the two of you?”
“No. There were a few other children. But, even as we got older, you could tell they were completely sucked in. They were always going to stay there. James saw Cambridge as an escape. He made sure he made the most of it.”
“What about you?”
“I left as soon as I could, when I was old enough to. I haven’t looked back since.”
Hazel nodded in understanding. He was finding their upbringing fascinating. It was much different to his own. He felt lucky to have what was known as a ‘normal’ upbringing: a mother and father and a sister in a decent sized house in the middle of rural Oxfordshire. Nell’s phone vibrated suddenly and she took a look at what came for her. She immediately told Hazel her brother needed her and they stood up. Nell gave him a hug in thanks and ran off. Hazel finished off his cup of coffee and picked up the photograph envelope. He really hoped things will be better for the Hathaways as he left some loose change for the coffee shop staff and walked the short distance to the exit leaving through the automatic doors.
Caroline went under the knife later that afternoon. Nell was doing her best to keep her brother occupied, but they were both sick with worry. The seconds and minutes passed and they both knew it would be a long time yet before any news was given to them. Back at the station, Hazel was doing his best to research everything what Hathaway asked him to. He stayed well into the evening, the light from his desk lamp lighting up the office. In the distance, the muffled noise of the cleaner’s vacuum was heard. Hazel looked through every file he had, both online and on paper. He was still not getting anywhere. David Hemsworth came up as a blank so that didn’t help matters. Perhaps he went under another name? Hazel grabbed the photographs and took another look. Then something clicked. He stared long and hard at one particular one and thought he recognised the person. He quickly went into his coat pocket and took out a business card. Hazel typed the name on the card into the database furiously and tapped his fingers on his desk impatiently waiting for the results to come up. He thumped his fist victorious when the name showed up. Hazel jotted down the name on his phone and stood up, grabbing his coat on the way out. Carelessly, he left the monitor on without logging off. A minute or two later, someone sat in his seat and tapped on his keyboard. Within two seconds, the record was deleted…
Hazel knew he was going against what he told Hathaway, but this could not wait. Two attempts at calling him went unanswered. He rushed inside the hospital and made his way up to intensive care. He saw Nell and approached her. The pretty blonde stood up to greet him. Hazel stopped in front of her breathing a little heavily. Nell gestured the seat next to her and he sat down.
“Hello, Nell. Is James around?” He looked up and noticed Caroline’s empty bed. “What happened?”
“She went into theatre three hours ago,” Nell replied. “They made the decision to relieve the pressure on her brain. It couldn’t wait much longer.”
“How is he?”
“In bits. He’s gone outside for a smoke. I’ll told him I’ll call if the doctor comes out to see us.” She looked at Hazel. “Is everything all right?”
“Yes. I just need to see him for a minute or two.”
“Well, he is outside. Didn’t you see him?”
“No, I didn’t.” Hazel once again felt he was intruding. Hathaway walked towards them and Hazel stood up. He bowed his head a tad guiltily, but Hathaway dismissed it kindly. “Sir,” he said in greeting.
“Any news?” Hathaway asked and Nell shook her head. She watched as the two detectives walked away. Nell sat back down and stared inside the empty room.
Hathaway and Hazel sat down on a window ledge in the corridor. The younger gave his superior his phone to have a look at what he found. Hathaway just stared and angrily thumped his fist against the window.
“I thought to come over right away, sir,” Hazel told him. “I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to figure out where I had seen him before.”
“No, that is fine.” Hathaway gave Hazel back his phone. “You are quite sure that is him?”
“Yes, sir. Apparently, the name you knew him by was just a pseudonym of sorts. I will try and see if he had it officially changed.”
Hathaway stood up and began pacing up and down. “What about Frost? Any leads on her?”
“Nothing that could incriminate her, but…” He tailed off as he saw the sheer exhaustion on Hathaway’s being. “Sir, I can come back tomorrow…”
“Don’t worry, Stephen.” Hathaway stopped and turned to look at him. “If Hemsworth is not his real name, than neither is Frost’s.” He walked over and took out his phone to begin scrolling down his contacts. “Take down this number.” He showed Hazel. “She is an old acquaintance of mine. As far as I know, she is still at the Met. Tell her I referred you to her. Explain briefly about Frost without going into too much detail. She should be able to help you.”
Hazel tapped the number in his phone and saved it. He noticed the look on Hathaway’s face and felt sorry for him. “She will pull through, sir,” he said encouragingly.
“I hope so, Stephen.” He turned to look at the evening sky from the window. “You have done well. Go home.”
“Yes, sir.” Hazel turned and walked down the corridor. He turned back when he heard his name.
Hazel smiled and nodded. He watched as Hathaway walked back to the ward and sighed. He picked up his phone to call home, in particular to speak to his sister.
The sun rose and Oxford was once again bustling with people and traffic. Stephen Hazel was in pathology with DCI Frost. Doctor Aurora greeted them holding an evidence bag with the weapon inside. Frost took it from her to take a look.
“Good morning!” Aurora said in mock retaliation for Frost’s rudeness. She looked amusingly at Hazel who turned his head to suppress his mirth. “That is your murder weapon it looks like.”
Frost studied the serrated edge for a moment before giving the bag back. “Let me know of your findings,” she told her. “Hopefully we will get some fingerprints and nab the bastard!”
“Of course.” Aurora rolled her eyes and Hazel grinned. Once Frost walked away to answer her phone, Hazel took a couple of steps towards the pathologist. They both stood to watch the tall detective. “She is a piece of work.”
“I know,” Hazel replied. “And I am stuck with her. Looks can be deceiving.”
“Any news on Hathaway’s girlfriend?”
“None. I was there briefly yesterday evening. She had been in theatre for three hours. I didn’t want to intrude further.”
“If she is anything like Hathaway she will pull through.” She glanced at Hazel. “You have been good to him, Stephen. You will go far.”
“Ah, that isn’t my main concern.” Hazel blushed slightly. “I am only doing my job.”
“And very well, Stephen. I have seen many detective sergeants in my time, but you are the most loyal and hard-working one. Believe me, it hasn’t gone unnoticed. I expect you to be taking your Inspector’s assessment soon.”
“Thanks, Doctor Aurora.” Hazel looked at her with a smile.
“I say what I mean. You will go far.” They tried to look busy as Frost walked back towards them. “I’ll get the results to you both as soon as possible,” she told them. Frost looked at Aurora.
“Sooner rather than later, please.” She made her move to leave. Hazel shrugged at Aurora. The pathologist watched as he followed Frost and shook her head slowly. She may only have known Hathaway briefly, but the sooner he is back in charge, the better!
Nell Hathaway broke off a small piece of chocolate and placed it in her mouth. She offered the bar to her brother, but he declined. He was staring long and hard at the window to Caroline’s room, his mind and sanity slowly breaking. He stayed up all night with her. The surgeon reported that the surgery was a complete success, but she still would have be under an induced coma for now. This devastated Hathaway as he was hoping she would open her eyes, but he also knew that this would be taken a step at a time. He hung his head. Nell placed her arm around his shoulders and rubbed his arm supportively. Hathaway looked up once again and the tears stung his eyes. He sat up and turned to look at his sister. He leaned over to whisper something in her ear and gave her a kiss on the cheek before standing up. Nell held his hand tightly. She watched as he walked down the corridor to leave and smiled. She took a look at the time and for the first time felt hopeful for the future.
The knife was confirmed as the murder weapon so the team were now focused on the killer. They just needed decent enough prints to come back from the lab. Stephen Hazel was at his desk playing with a ballpoint pen. He was thinking about the assignments Hathaway had given him, but also about Caroline. There was no news as yet from Nell. Frost had once again gone on her travels, so this gave him the perfect opportunity to carry on. Finishing his lunch quickly, he pushed the plate aside and got to work. He straight away looked more at Hemsworth, or who he knew him to be, but as he typed his name up on the database all he got in return was an error message. Hazel was a bit perplexed and tried typing his name in again only for the same message to appear. This concerned Hazel so he picked up the phone and dialled an extension.
“Hey, strawberry, it’s me. Listen, has there been an update on the main records program at all? It’s just I keep receiving an error message. Sure, the name is Hemsworth. That’s Hotel-Echo-Mike-Sierra-Whisky-Oscar-Romeo-Tango-Hotel, first name David.” He paused for a while. “Deleted? Since when?!” Hazel now sat up straight and winced as he remembered he left his monitor on that evening. “Can you get it back? I really need it urgently.” He paused again and his eyes shot to the ceiling. “Okay, thanks.” He slammed the received down and groaned. He was in deep trouble. There goes my Inspector’s assessment… Hazel took a deep breath and stood up. He knew Bright was in residence. He picked up his suit jacket and his phone, pausing to lock his computer before walking down the corridor.
Hazel heard Bright’s voice from inside her office and took a deep breath before knocking. He heard the prompt and walked inside. Bright finished her telephone conversation and smiled.
“DS Hazel, what do I owe this visit?”
“Good afternoon, ma’am.” Hazel closed the door behind him nervously. He had never requested an audience with the big cheese on his own before. Bright waved at him to come in further and gathered the courage to do so. “I have an issue I’d like to discuss.”
“An issue? Sounds serious. Are you all right, Stephen?” Her voice was full of concern and this freaked him out even more. “Take a seat. Contrary to what you have heard, I do not bite.” Hazel nodded and obliged. He watched as Bright sat down gracefully on her chair in front of him.
“Ma’am… I have something to tell you.” He took a deep breath, but his nerves was too overpowering. Bright looked at him almost kindly.
“Yes, detective sergeant?”
Hazel now had to make the decision whether to betray Hathaway’s confidence. “Ma’am, I’ve been doing a bit of moonlighting recently.”
“Moonlighting?” Bright now looked at Hazel as if he was horsing around. “You’re a good looking lad, Stephen. You shouldn’t have to resort to drastic measures…”
Hazel blushed. “No, ma’am. Nothing like that. I made a mistake and I want to own up.” He watched as Bright’s amused expression vanished. She sat back in her chair.
“What kind of mistake, Stephen?”
“I was doing research a few evenings ago. I left my monitor on without logging off or locking it. I just recently went back to the records and the particular one I was looking for… Has been deleted…” He waited for the verbal punishment, but to his surprise…
“Did you ask IT for help in this matter?”
“Yes, ma’am. I asked strawberry… I mean, Fraise for help but it seems he doesn’t know who deleted the file or whether he could get it back. I am really sorry, ma’am.”
“This research…” Bright asked. “It isn’t for one Detective Inspector James Hathaway, is it?” Hazel didn’t answer, but the look on his face gave it away. Bright shook her head slowly. “I knew he was a sly one. Stubborn, but clever.” She leaned forwards and smiled kindly again at Hazel. “Stephen, one thing I have noticed about you is that you are loyal. I know you and James have bonded very quickly and have become quite a team. I was reluctant to pair you up with someone else and also to suspend him. Unfortunately, I have to follow rules.” She paused and took out a folder from her drawer. “This was what I wanted to show him, but his stubbornness just ruined things.” Hazel took up the folder and opened it. “I have been on the case too about Frost. I don’t like her, but my spies at the Met and City of London have been in touch constantly. One of them used to work here. I think she mentioned you spoke to her recently.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Hazel was completely surprised. There in front of him was a dossier on all Frost’s movements and her record to date. Hathaway was right to be suspicious about her. “What about David Hemsworth?”
“Yes. His name has been mentioned. As you know, that isn’t his name. I do know James has been trying to nab him for nigh on a century.” She took a sip of her glass of water in front of her. “Is he back in Oxford?”
“Yes, ma’am. Hathaway is determined to get him this time.”
“He may just have his chance. Stephen, I need your assistance.”
“Ma’am?” Hazel closed the folder and looked at Bright. He listened to what she told him and nodded, agreeing to help.
Hathaway walked back into the hospital all fresh with a complete change of clothes. He made his way to intensive care hopefully to hear news about Caroline. He also had some news to break to her. He walked inside, smiling his greeting to the staff at the nurses’ station before walking down the corridor. He saw Nell who had a look of joy on her face. Hathaway’s face lit up and ran over to her. Nell told him what happened and he looked inside Caroline’s room from the window. He saw the medical personnel tending to Caroline and finally he saw her half awake. She raised her hand slowly to wave and Hathaway wiped the tears of relief fell from his eyes. He and Nell held each other tightly and the doctor came out to finally give them the news they had been waiting for. Hathaway shook the doctor’s hand and thanked him before walking inside.
Caroline smiled and held her hand out. Hathaway walked over to her bedside and held it tightly, kissing the palm. He waited until the nurses left before kissing her lips gently. They gazed lovingly at each other as Caroline gently stroked Hathaway’s face. He sat down on the chair nearby and kissed her fingers.
“Don’t do this to me ever again, Caroline,” he told her near enough tearfully. “Don’t ever…”
“I’m so sorry, James. I didn’t mean to…” But he hushed her by leaning over to kiss her again.
“I am just glad you are okay. I don’t care about anything else. You mean so much to me.” Caroline smiled.
“I’ll probably need headache tablets until I retire,” she remarked, and Hathaway laughed. He bowed his head briefly.
“Caroline…” He stopped. “I need to tell you something. I don’t know what you will think.” He hesitated. Caroline looked at him adoringly and Hathaway bowed his head blushing. He loved it when she did that.
“What is it, Blue Eyes?” she asked him. “What is it you want to tell me?”
Hathaway raised his head back up to look at her. He gazed at her, her dark features and smiled blushing again. He gently stroked her cheek and kissed her on the forehead before planting his lips on hers. Caroline smiled groggily and watched as he sat back down by her bedside and waited patiently. Hathaway took a deep breath and spoke…
Outside, Nell watched as her brother chatted to Caroline and smiled at both their reactions. She reached into her pocket and brought out her phone, scrolling for Hazel’s number. As she waited for him to pick up, she took one more look inside the room and saw both Caroline and Hathaway holding each other. She decided to give them privacy and walked away, leaving a voicemail for Hazel as she did so.
Stephen Hazel smiled as he listened to Nell’s message and was pleased and relieved that Caroline had pulled through and she was awake. He saved the voicemail and walked back into his and Frost’s office. Again, she was absent, and this gave him the perfect opportunity to put the plan into action. He sat down at his desk, placing his phone on top before picking up his desk phone and dialling. He didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
“Hi there, I am Stephen Hazel. I believe I may have information that will definitely interest you.” He listened to the voice at the other end smiling. He nodded and started jotting down some notes. “Okay, see you then.” He hung up before dialling an internal extension. “It’s all good to go,” he said. “Yes, I will let them know in advance. Thank you.” He placed the receiver back in its cradle and turned his attentions to his computer typing in Hemsworth’s alias. To his surprise, it came back up in its full unabridged glory. Hazel smiled knowing Bright was responsible for this and started resuming his investigative search. He was getting close with the result Hathaway’s reinstatement.
A few days passed. Nell put the key into the lock and opened the front door. She stepped aside, and Caroline walked in, Hathaway guiding her. They all looked at the staircase in front of them and decided to head to the back garden instead. It was a lovely day and the sun streamed in through the back entrance. Hathaway pulled back a chair and gently settled Caroline into it, giving her his shades to wear. He sat down next to her and pulled the hood of his hoodie down. Caroline laughed at the sight of him and Hathaway grinned. Nell came out with a tray of lemonade and the three of them started chatting lively as they drank.
“I am over the moon!” she told them. “You two were always meant to be together.” Caroline and Hathaway looked at each other and held hands. “Mother would be so happy. She really liked you, Caroline.”
“I liked her too, Nell. She reminded me of my own Mum in so many ways.”
“Does it fit okay?”
“It suits her perfectly.” Hathaway replied. He kissed Caroline on the forehead. Nell beamed.
“Well, mother always wanted it to go to someone special. I think she knew it would be you somehow.”
Caroline smiled. “It feels strange. I honestly cannot believe it. Mrs James Hathaway!”
“Get used to it,” Hathaway told her gently. They kissed each other.
“At least I can die happy now the two of you are finally together.” Both Caroline and Hathaway looked straight at her. “Just joking,” Nell reassured them. “What about your father, Caroline?”
“I have no need to tell him,” Caroline replied. “Even if I knew where he was, it would be none of his business.”
“I’m sorry, Caroline…”
“No, don’t be, Nell. I know you meant well. I guess I must go and see Mum to break the news to her. I bet if she was still around, she would be throwing a party for all of us.”
“You mother was amazing,” Hathaway told her. “She made me feel welcome.”
Nell and Caroline looked at each other, knowing full well that Hathaway still didn’t know everything. Nell suddenly stood up and told them she remembered she had to make a telephone call. As she walked away, Caroline looked to the side. Hathaway wondered what was wrong and gently turned her head so she could look at him.
“Are you okay?” he asked. Caroline nodded, but her expression told him so much more.
“Blue Eyes…” she began. “There is something I have to tell you. Something I should have done all those years ago.”
Hathaway looked worryingly at her. “What’s the matter?” Caroline sighed before wincing in pain slightly. She turned herself to face him and held both his hands.
“Blue Eyes… You know when we started dating back at Cambridge and we spent our first night together and I was reluctant to… you know. Well…”
Hathaway listened and held Caroline as she broke down. He turned his head and saw Nell standing inside by the kitchen window nodding her head slowly. Hathaway looked back at Caroline and she looked up at him. He cleared the tears away and took up her left hand holding it. The look on his face said it all and Caroline smiled in relief. She said nothing more and they kissed each other, the love they shared and felt strong enough to overcome anything.
Broad Street in the middle of Oxford City Centre was busy enough at the best of times. It was filled with locals, students, tourists and the usual influx of traffic. Stephen Hazel was keeping watch not far away. He hoped and prayed that this will all come to fruition. He watched as some of his plain clothed colleagues were milling about outside shops. Some were from uniform. Hazel took a deep breath. This was his big moment, he thought. Lick this and he would definitely make Inspector. He took a quick glance at his phone and saw a message from Nell. His eyes widened as he read the message which was followed by a huge grin. He had to get back to the task in hand however and deferred replying until it was all over.
Suddenly, a familiar figure approached the book shop by crossing the road and Hazel quickly signalled to a nearby colleague who nodded. He carefully made his move and once the figure stood outside the shop to wait did he disembark his vehicle.
Hazel straightened his suit jacket and walked over. The figure turned and acknowledged him with a nod of the head. Hazel put out his hand and the figure shook it.
“Good morning,” Hazel said brightly. “Thank you for coming to see me.”
“Not at all,” the figure replied. “I understand you have more information for me.”
“Kind of yes. Shall we go inside?” Hazel indicated the pub next door. “They do really nice breakfasts in there.”
“Why not? I haven’t been to an old fashioned pub in a long time.” The figure walked off ahead. Hazel nodded to a few colleagues across the road and they waited until Hazel walked inside before crossing. The others nearby were now inside pretending to be punters.
James Hathaway meanwhile walked into Broad Street from the other end, his stride brisk and very confident. He was in a good mood. His girlfriend was now his fiancée and she told him everything that needed to be told. Hathaway knew this was a new chapter for them – no more secrets – and this called for a little surprise present: one for her and one for his sister, who had been more than a rock in recent times. As he walked further down Broad Street, he became aware of some movements happening nearby and knew something was taking place. He lowered his shades slowly to take a more careful look and noticed some of his colleagues from the station milling about outside Blackwell’s, the pub next door and the various shops either across the road or nearby. Hathaway knew to keep discreet, so he walked inside a nearby building and waited by the gates.
Stephen Hazel took a seat in a booth by the window and a member of the bar staff took their order. The figure in question looked around and marvelled at how classic looking it all was. Their cups of coffee was placed in front of them and he waited until she walked off before speaking.
“This is nice,” he told him. “You know, I have been here in Oxford for a long while and have yet to notice this place.”
“It is one of Oxford’s popular watering holes,” Hazel informed him. He reached into his pocket and took out an envelope. “This is what I have found out.” He slid it over. “I thought you ought to know.”
The figure took one look at the envelope but didn’t make a move to take it. “Where did you get this information from, Mr Hazel?”
“I have sources,” Hazel replied. “As you can appreciate, I cannot disclose. You know how it is being a reporter like your good self.”
The figure chuckled in agreement and drank a bit of his coffee. He settled the cup down on the saucer. “You know… I decided to do some research of my own. As you know, we are both in the same industry. So, I did some digging and couldn’t find anything about you. It makes me wonder whether you are really who you say you are.”
Hazel didn’t flinch. “I can assure you I am who I say I am. I showed you my ID the first time we met. Did you research the periodical I work for?”
“I did, yes. A very interesting one.” The figure seemed happy with the answers Hazel gave him, but still did not make any attempt to look at the contents the envelope had. Their breakfasts arrived and both said their thanks before tucking in. Hazel kept his gaze on the figure in front of him. It wasn’t going to be very long now.
Hathaway looked at his watch. He knew something was definitely going down, but what? He decided to make a move and approached one of plain clothes officers he recognised. The lad turned and his eyes widened in surprise. Hathaway put his finger to his lips and asked in a hushed voice what was happening. He nodded as he listened. He then told the officer and a colleague what he was going to do and turned his head. He waved over two fellow officers and they both ran across the road. They listened to Hathaway and nodded before leaving for their vehicle, which was parked not far away. Hathaway looked at the first two officers.
“Now, are you sure this is the case?” he asked them.
“Yes, sir,” they replied. “Orders of Superintendent Bright and DS Hazel.”
“All right. Both of you, accompany me. Be ready. Okay?” The two officers nodded.
Hazel finished off his breakfast and wiped his mouth clean with the serviette. He took up his cup of coffee to drink. The figure opposite also finished off his food and drank the rest of his coffee. A couple more punters walked in and glanced over before taking their seats at the other end of the establishment. Their plates and cups and saucers were collected. Hazel still kept his eyes on the figure in front of him. Finally, he glanced at the envelope. Hazel was patient enough. The figure tapped his fingers on the table, still not making any effort to pick it up. Now the nerves was starting to get to Hazel. The figure suddenly make a move only to change his mind.
“Stephen Hazel…” he mused. “Hazel… I have heard that name somewhere before, but I cannot figure out where.”
“You still do not believe me, do you?” Hazel asked in a very calm voice. The figure looked straight at him.
“No, I do not.” The tension rose suddenly and some of Hazel’s colleagues caught wind of it but had to ignore it. “Stephen Hazel…” He stopped suddenly, a look of recognition coming over his face. Hazel now backed away, knowing he was about to be rumbled.
Just at that moment, Hathaway burst in with the two officers he met outside. The figure turned and tried to make a run for it, but Hathaway caught him and shoved him head first on to the table as the other officers inside surrounded them.
“Nice to see you again, Mr David Hemsworth!” He pulled him up only to push him back on the table. “This is for being such a thorn up my backside!” He looked at Hazel and handed him over.
“David Hemsworth, I am arresting you for the murder of Michael Landsfield…” As Hazel finished reading him his rights and shoved him out the door, the other officers following them, Hathaway straightened himself up. He looked at the two female bar staff in a corner and nodded with a smile.
“Ladies,” he greeted. “Thank you for your hospitality.” He placed a twenty-pound note on the bar ledge. “Send the bill to Chief Superintendent Bright. Keep the change.” He placed his shades back over his eyes and departed. The sun was shining royally as the officers bundled Hemsworth into the back of their vehicle whilst the others acknowledged Hathaway before leaving. The busy street returned to normal and Hathaway nodded to the manager of the book store giving him the all clear to open up again. He crossed the road feeling more than good about himself. As he stepped on to the pavement, his phone went off, and he was only too happy to answer. “Chief Superintendent Bright!” he greeted pleasantly. “To what do I owe this expected pleasure?”
“I want you back here, right now, DI Hathaway!” he heard her say with a look of amusement across his face. “Don’t keep me waiting!”
“Oh, like I would ever do that, ma’am.”
“Now, James. I am not going to ask you twice!” Hathaway stared at his now new home screen wallpaper of he and Caroline in Nell’s back garden and started to laugh. He placed his phone in his pocket and went on his way, his stride becoming more and more confident and slightly arrogant.
DCI Debbie Frost was stopped and arrested as she drove erratically down the M40. She knew her time was up and didn’t put up any resistance. She was handed over to Hathaway’s old colleague and the now disgraced detective was in the hands of the Met. Hazel smiled at Hathaway’s friend and she nodded her appreciation before getting into her car. As the convoy drove away, the young detective sergeant turned to look at his colleagues and was surprised to see looks of approval on their faces. He sighed in relief and they all got into their vehicles, driving off. The plan was a success and hopefully now Hathaway would be reinstated back where he belongs.
When Hathaway finally walked into the station, it was a good few hours later. As he walked down the corridors, he was greeted by handshakes and pats on the back. Hathaway, two small gift bags in one hand, could not help but lap it up as he pushed open a double set of doors and walked down a very familiar corridor. He stopped by his office and peeked in. His old desk was just as he left it, Hazel’s by the door unoccupied. Hathaway grinned before going back on his way. He reached Bright’s office and straightened himself up. He cleared his throat and feigned a look of seriousness before knocking. Once prompted, he opened the door.
“And what time do you call this?” Bright greeted him. Hathaway said nothing as he walked in, the fairly amused look of Hazel’s face nearly making him laugh. Bright took one look at the two bags in Hathaway’s hand. “Been shopping have we?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Hathaway made no excuse. Hazel looked to the floor trying to curb his laughter. Bright tutted. She sat down in her chair.
“So… David Hemsworth and Deborah Frost have been arrested with the charges against them in due process” she began. “You were supposed to be on suspension, James! This was Stephen’s collar!”
“And it was. I just thought to give him a hand, ma’am,” Hathaway replied, still full of arrogance. He didn’t realise he still had his shades over his eyes. Hazel discreetly threw a small item from his pocket which hit the side of his knee. Hathaway winced a bit at looked at him. Hazel gave him a signal by scratching the corner of his right eye. Hathaway quickly took his shades off and Hazel looked away now failing miserably to control his amusement.
“You had no right to, James Hathaway… But, well done. I know how much you wanted him.”
Hathaway immediately looked straight at Bright. “Ma’am?” He was even more surprised to find her smiling. His eyes fell to her desk as the same folder that was thrown at him before his suspension was given was passed again to him.
“Pick it up this time, James, and read it.”
Hathaway slowly took it up and opened it. He displayed no reaction as he sifted through the documents and the photographs.
“If you were just not so stubborn, you would have known why I had to do what I did.” Bright stood up. “James Hathaway, you are probably one of the most pig-headed, conceited, pain in the arses I have ever met!” Hathaway looked at her. “But, you are also one of the most intelligent officers I know.” She opened her drawer and took out his warrant card. Hathaway cracked a smile as he took it back from her.
“When were you going to tell me this, ma’am?”
“When the time was right. I just wanted both Frost and Hemsworth to dig their own graves, so to speak. The knife that was used to kill Landsfield was traced back to both of them. You were both right – Frost and Hemsworth were not their real names. Frost was Landsfield’s wife and Hemsworth her lover. They knew you were still hanging around so decided to use his bitter vendetta against you to their advantage. Once he got out, they both knew their affair would be rumbled, so they got shot of him before he found out. Frost wanted to make you pay for sending her husband to jail, but I got there first before she could inflict real damage.”
Hathaway said nothing. Hazel bowed his head knowing what was coming next.
“This Andrew person,” Bright continued. “The one who came into contact with your girlfriend…”
“Fiancée,” Hathaway corrected. “What about him?”
“He was Landsfield’s brother. You wouldn’t have recognised him, James. He was meant to get close to Caroline in order to get to you. Because of Stephen’s keen eye, he managed to meet up with this Andrew. We arrested him this morning as an accessory.” Hathaway sat down suddenly. Bright walked over and parked herself on the corner of her desk not far in front him. “This has probably been the worst few months for you, James, but I assure you I had no choice. It was part of the plan. I knew the real reasons why Frost came back to Oxford. But, also well done for getting involved. I was kind of hoping you would.”
Hathaway again said nothing and closed the folder placing it to rest on the desk. He took a deep breath and stood up. “Ma’am,” he said. “Can I take an extra week off? There is something I need to do.”
“Make sure we get an invitation!”
“No, not yet.” Hathaway forced himself to smile. “There is something I need to do. A promise to keep.”
Bright glanced at Hazel and stood up. “A week it is. I’m sure Hazel here can hold the fort.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Hathaway stood up.
“Welcome back, Detective Inspector Hathaway.” Bright put out her hand. Hathaway stared at it for a while before shaking it.
“Ma’am.” He placed his shades back on and walked to leave, but not before turning. “Well done, Hazel.”
“Sir.” Hazel grinned as Hathaway left. He smiled cheekily as he walked down the corridor and back through the double doors. As he stepped onto the bright and sunny concourse he spotted Aurora standing not far away in the distance looking at him. Her face broke into a smile and she placed her hands together in silent applause. Hathaway raised his hand in acknowledgement and thanks before walking out, a look of euphoric pleasure coming across his face.
The water splashed on the banks as a team of rowers practised their skills, calling out to each other with every stroke. The rowing club was quite busy as was the banks nearby as various rowers in colours and others walked down the pathway. Caroline and Hathaway joined them, hand in hand, taking it all in. The sun reflected off her engagement ring and a beautiful tennis bracelet on her wrist. Hathaway’s chain around his neck gleamed. They both stopped as the team of rowers passed by and Caroline looked up at Hathaway with a grin.
“I remember when you used to row,” she told him. “I fancied you even more in that kit you used to wear.”
Hathaway looked at her. “Seriously?”
“Yeah! I used to watch you when the weather was good. I always thought you would make the Varsity team.”
“Not for me,” Hathaway told her. He placed his arm around her shoulders and kissed her on the forehead. They continued to walk.
“I even went to Goldie,” Caroline continued. “I asked who you were.” Hathaway stopped walking, knowing what was coming. “‘Attaway Hathaway’.” She burst out laughing. Hathaway’s raised his head to the sky and groaned.
“I hated that name!” he said almost bitterly.
“I thought it was cute.” She backed away jokingly as she saw the look on Hathaway’s face. He brought her back to him and they kissed each other.
“Find it strange to be back?” he asked.
“Not really… Well… Kinda.” She looked into his eyes. “You really have the most gorgeous blue eyes.” Hathaway said nothing and just gazed lovingly at her.
“Come on!” he suddenly said, taking her hand and guiding her away up a path.
“Oh, no!” Caroline wailed. “You didn’t!”
“Sure did!” He grinned mischievously as they reached the top where a bike was propped up against a wall. Caroline just stood still as she watched Hathaway wheel the bike towards her. “Let’s go, Mrs Hathaway!”
“Don’t want to!” Caroline was rather stubborn. Hathaway took her hand and she reluctantly got on behind him. “Don’t you dare go down too fast!”
“Would I?” Hathaway started to laugh and Caroline knew she was in for it. “You ready?”
“No!” But it was too late as Hathaway pedalled slowly towards the top of the path. As they sped downwards, a girl with a short bobbed haircut held her velvet floppy blossom hat with her left hand as she wrapped her right arm around her boyfriend, her dress flapping in the breeze and her bare legs outstretched, her ankle boots in full view. In front a young blond lad started to laugh as the bike gathered speed. The wind caught their screams as it echoed throughout the university fields and the rowing club nearby…