Sam took the jug from Jim’s unresisting hand. “Right, cappuccino for Patsy. What for you?”
“Oh, can I get cappuccino too?”
Sam took two jumbo-sized cappuccino cups from the cupboard and dialled up two measures of espresso for each cup before adding the hot frothy milk. He fetched a smallish tray and put a plate of assorted biscuits and the two cappuccinos on it.
“There you go, mate. Sustenance for Patsy.”
“Yeah, and she’ll scarcely be out of the shower, so my stock will be so high.”
He went off, and Sam found himself chuckling at Jim whistling a merry tune. He grabbed a big umbrella from the boot room and dashed outside to check the postbox. It seemed to be bulging and he grabbed the contents before running back indoors. As usual, it was mostly circulars, with a sprinkling of business stuff, and by the time he had binned the circulars and shoved the business mail in the office for Anna to deal with he was left with four letters: one typewritten envelope and one handwritten for him and two handwritten for Anna. He got himself a coffee and sat at the table. The typewritten envelope turned out to be bumf from a holiday company, which he lobbed into the bin. The handwritten envelope was much more interesting, being from a young anaesthetist he had befriended several years before who was now working with Medicins sans Frontiers, and who had heard of Sam’s marriage. The young woman wrote her congratulations, and sent a picture of herself with a man on whose leg Sam had operated when he was working at the very same hospital. The man was now a husband and father, but he had never forgotten Sam and sent his blessings. Sam smiled. It felt good to have helped somebody. He was just finishing the letter when Anna came in.
“Sit. Have another coffee. Read your mail” he said. “I have a feeling our guests may be busy for a while.”
She grinned, and sat. Sam went to make her second cappuccino of the morning.
“Oh. That’s nice,” Anna said. “It’s from Bonnie’s breeder. She writes about twice a year. This time she has sent a picture of Bonnie’s sister and a litter of puppies.”
“Oh my aren’t they just cute. Did you see Bon Bon when she was that small.”
“No. She was a present from Patsy, and I didn’t meet her till she was sixteen weeks, by which time Pats had house and lead trained her. You were grinning at your post too.”
Sam handed it over and Anna read it quickly.
“Oh Sam,” she said. “What a nice thing to know. You changed that man’s life.”
“Maybe. But it does feel good.”
“I’ll bet. I don’t recognise this handwriting… Oh. It’s from Tariq. Oh my goodness. This is a bit odd.”
“He says he didn’t call because he isn’t sure how secure his phone is. But there’s a Russian gent – name unpronounceable – frequents the S&M clubs who is asking around for info about Jim and his family. Also says the Russian has an unhealthy interest in underage boys. That’s too close to home, that is!”
“It is. And. Coincidence? No. I don’t believe in coincidences. Give Jim the info. It’s somewhere to start looking.”
“You’re right, love. It bears checking. And Jim has the tools and the friends to check it out thoroughly. Now. Do you think our guests will have finished whatever it is they have been doing? If they have, I reckon breakfast omelettes.”
“Good thinking wife. I’ll be a brave man and go find out…”
While Sam made his ostentatiously loud way upstairs, Anna assembled ingredients for four breakfast omelettes. Sam came back, gave her thumbs up and started to lay the table. She smiled at him and they worked in happy harmony until Jim and Patsy appeared. Patsy was carrying the coffee tray and her cheeks were flushed a delicate shade of pink.
Anna laughed out loud before giving her friend a big hug. “Silly moo. Be proud. Your man loves you, and you love him. As to owt else, Sam’s heard sex noises before and he’s even been known to make one or two.”
“Oh I missed you when we weren’t talking. Nobody else quite understands like you.”
“Probably because nobody has known us as long as we’ve known us. Now. Sit. Omelette?”
Sam brought toast to the table. “Coffee? Tea?”
“Cappuccino please,” Patsy said.
“Tea for me if it ain’t too much trouble,” Jim rumbled.