By the time Sam had made the tea and coffee, Anna was sliding the first two omelettes onto warm plates. Sam took them to the table while Anna started the second round. When everyone was served there was silence for a while: breakfast omelettes will do that if properly made and served hot.
Sam recovered first.
“More toast anyone?”
Three heads nodded, and he got up to put slices of brown bread in the toaster before returning to his own plate.
When the omelettes had been consumed and everyone was on toast and marmalade, Sam made sure all the cups were full before putting Tariq’s letter on the table in front of Jim, who raised his eyebrows before reading swiftly.
“Maybe something in it. Maybe not,” Sam said. “But I gave up believing in coincidences a lot of years ago.”
“Me too. And it’s a direction to look in.”
Patsy picked up the letter and read it too.
“Well, well. Talk about casting your bread on the waters. Do we trust him?”
“Mostly,” Anna said. “He knows he owes us.”
“Good enough for me. I guess we investigate the Russian with the unpronounceable name.”
“We do,” Anna agreed, “and I have a couple of pals in the area. I’ll ask what they know. One is a spook, so she’s almost bound to know about him if he’s a big enough bad lot.”
“Spook?” Sam exclaimed. “How the fuck…”
“Computer is a universal language. I happened upon some money that had been going missing in regular dollops. She got big props for stopping the leak. I got a friend in a very strange place. I’ll contact her and see what she knows.”
“You be careful,” Jim said, “I don’t trust your Russian chums. They ain’t always on your side.”
“True. But they won’t lie to me. So I’ll ask.”
“It won’t hurt to ask, Jim,” Sam said decisively.
“You sure about this, Sam? It might not be such a good idea to keep us close. We might not be healthy.”
“Oh sod that for a game of soldiers,” Sam said wearily. “Look at it like this, if it wasn’t for Patsy I wouldn’t have Anna. Without Anna I don’t have a life. So let’s have no more about keeping away from you. I won’t. Friends are friends, and in my book you don’t turn your back on friends because of a little local difficulty.”
“Little local difficulty? I like that. It has style. And I also get the sentiment. Leave him be, Jimbo. He’s chosen.”
“Yes,” Anna agreed. “He has. We have. So let’s have no more about ducking out on you two. Not going to happen. Now. Do you have to go home, or do you want to have the boys come here for the rest of the weekend?”
“Yes. Numptie. Come here. I’d love to see them and so would Sam.”
“I would. So. Can they come here for the weekend?”
“I reckon they could,” Jim said thoughtfully. “One of the boys could drive them to Cheltenham and we could pick them up there. What do you say Pats?”
“Well. It’s either bring them here or take me home to them. I need to cuddle them, and yell at them, and clip them round the ears for being cheeky, and reassure myself they’re OK. So. If Sam and Anna don’t mind…”
“Wouldn’t have suggested it if we minded,” Anna laughed.
“On your heads be it. Get on the blower Jim. I’ll be wanting a word with your Mam when you get her. I need stuff.”
“I’ll just bet you do.” Jim ducked swiftly, but not fast enough to avoid a smart clip over the ear from his grinning wife.
“Touché,” she said. “Now behave yourself. We don’t want Sam finding out what a prat you are.”
Jim grinned and got out his phone. He talked for a while in Rom, then handed the phone to Patsy.
“Rod is home. He has just volunteered to bring the boys here. But. He wants to come too.'”
“He’s always welcome, ain’t he Sam?”
Jim gave Patsy a big thumbs-up. She grinned.
“Okay” she said, and a faint cheer could be heard from the other end of the conversation. Patsy ended the call and gave her husband his phone back.
“They’ll be here this afternoon. Mam’ll give them a bread and cheese lunch, and they’ll leave straight after. I’ve told the boys they can have Monday off school, so we’ll leave you after breakfast Monday morning if that’s OK. In the meantime Jim’s dad will be visiting school and reviewing security. And putting the fear of God. Again. It seems that a very helpful playground assistant actually pointed the twins out to the blokes who tried to snatch them. Pops wants words. I don’t want to be there when he has them, and neither will the kids.”
“Me neither, but he’ll sort them. Jim. Can you help Sam sort out the rooms? Pats. You and me need to go be nice to my butcher, then raid Waitrose.”
“Waitrose? You getting middle class on me?”
“Nah. Nearest. You coming, or sitting on your fat ass displaying your inverted snobbery?”
“Score one for me. I got a rise out of Anna. I actually like Waitrose, though I wouldn’t dare tell my Mum or Jim’s Mam.”
“No. But I might tell them if I get much more lip. Sam I need the Range Rover. This’ll be a big shop.”
“Okay. Keys are in the office.”
“Thanks love. Come on fatso…”