This is the seventh book in the Tamara's Tales (formerly Tommy & Tamara) series. For the whole saga visit Tamara's Tales
Thursday 7th January 2016 (Continued)
Tammy stared at her phone, there was nothing she could have done. Hopelessness was her second feeling, following sorrow and despair. Her sobs didn't take long but she didn't want to upset anyone else in the cabin. Fortunately she was sat in the front row.
It didn't take long, however, for the first officer, Pauline, to notice something was amiss.
"What's wrong, is there anything I can do?"
"I've had some bad news."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"I really need to make a call, how much further?"
"We've just passed Glasgow, so another hour or so?"
"Damn, I must have got a signal over Glasgow?"
"Sorry but we can't fly lower, and there's not much in the way of civilisation for a while. We have satellite phone, however, and wifi."
Tammy was given the wifi access but didn't want to try a satellite call, unlike her phone it wouldn't be secure. She emailed her PA, Pru, asking for an update. It took a few minutes to get a reply for each message.
We have Police outside here and at Elsie's. Had DI Edmunds on the phone telling us to stay here and not to speak to callers.
We've heard nothing more, your father is with Elsie. Have you tried calling?
Can't! No signal!
Tammy was concerned, something was happening in Thurso but Pru couldn't, or wouldn't, give any more details. She surfed the press websites for any news but according to the newspapers and TV outlets nothing was happening in the Highlands.
What could she say to Kevin? Tammy turned her phone over in her hands, she needed answers but didn't know what questions to ask.
Joan was the first of the passengers to query why Tammy was upset, although how had she detected this from 2 rows back? Joan swapped seats with WPC Gilly Harris so she was adjacent to Tammy.
"I'm just tired mum, tired and worn out."
"You need a break."
"We tried, that lasted three days!"
"No, from all this work, you must have a complete break."
"I suppose so."
"Good, what's really troubling you?"
"I received a message, but I don't know how to handle it."
"What's the message?"
"Sorry, but I don't want to burden you with it. Once we land I can find out exactly what's happened."
"You shouldn't carry all this by yourself."
"I know, but it's dangerous for others to be involved in my work, or even to just have some idea what's going on."
"Don't be so melodramatic, Tammy."
"It's true, though, people get hurt because of me."
"Did you direct the Gores?"
"No, of course not."
"Did you stalk Angela?"
"Don't be silly."
"What about Yvonne Stewart, did you inspire her to be like that?"
"No. I see what you're saying but things happen around me."
"Would they have happened anyway?"
"So you carry guilt for things you couldn't affect."
"But I could try to stop things, like this." Tammy looked around to check on Daisy and Florence, both were seemingly asleep. "Sometimes there's knock-on effects, unfortunately."
"And that's part of the problem."
"But then I wouldn't be protecting you all."
"So there's the guilt, who is it this time?"
Tammy whispered, "Sandy."
"Sandy Smith?" Joan glanced at Tanya, who had also dozed off.
"No, Ben's wife."
"So, what happened?"
"She disappeared this morning but Kevin Edmunds says she's dead."
"Oh, the poor woman, if it's true."
"Quite, and probably the end of Ben's career as well."
"I don't know, I only had a one word message from Kevin and I haven't heard anything since, not that I really know what to ask?"
"So you feel responsible?"
"Of course I do."
"So, once again, you blame yourself?"
"Well I did ....."
"No you didn't, I don't know what trouble Sandy was dragged into, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't your fault."
Tammy refreshed the screen of her phone, which was on the BBC Scotland page. A new news story was at the top of the page.
Woman found dead in Thurso
Reports have come in that a woman has been found dead near Thurso Harbour. The area has been screened off and Police Scotland will only say that their enquiries are continuing.
Joan read the short article. "It doesn't say much at all."
"Well, it's obviously Sandy."
"Is it? I thought you were working in London as an analyst? That article has more holes in it than my lettuce washer."
Tammy re-read it. "Yeah, it doesn't say a thing."
"So, keep an open mind."
"Has someone abducted my mother and replaced her with a replicant? You certainly don't sound like her right now!"
"Tammy, unless I have proof then I'm certainly not going to panic. I get told a load of rumours every day and most are hogwash or at least a re-interpretation of the truth."
"So, wait until you have more information." Joan moved back to her seat, a minute later Tammy could hear movement behind them, Florence was stretching. "Where are we?"
Tammy didn't know, she pressed the call button on her seat's armrest and waited for the first officer to return.
"Not for me, how far out are we?"
"We've picked up a bit of time, just under half an hour to go."
Florence moved forward. "What's happened?"
"I heard you talking to Mrs Smart."
"I'm not sure, there's not much verifiable information right now."
"We don't know, and it's wrong to speculate."
Tammy knew there was a three year gap between herself and this precocious teenager but that didn't seem to make much of a difference right now. Florence, or at least Finlay, was the product of a good education and that created difficulties at times.
"I was thinking out loud, exploring possibilities."
"Now, it's entirely likely that nothing I said is correct."
"So you want me to forget I ever heard it?"
"I didn't say that."
"Just keep it to yourself, we don't need to alarm anyone, right?"
Florence went back to her seat and Tammy tried to relax. She had her Kindle with her but couldn't concentrate enough to read. Tammy checked the BBC website again but there was no further update, none of the other media sites had any Thurso news at all.
She started wandering around the BBC site and found a story that Birmingham airport had been closed due to a security alert, with flights diverted to Manchester and Coventry. Tammy was still short on solid information and didn't know if their flight would be affected. A minute later, a change in engine tone was heard, followed by a chime. Then the seat belt sign was lit.
"Please make sure you are in a seat and your seat belt is fastened. We are being diverted and have to drop to a lower altitude."
They passed through a cloud layer and Tammy could see the English countryside below, postage stamp sized. She wasn't expecting the military jet to come alongside.
"We are being escorted into RAF Cosford, I'm afraid that's all we know at present."
Tammy's phone now pinged, but behind her everyone was now aware and anxious.
Have diverted your flight, will explain later
What about Sandy?
Explain later. Sorting transport
Tammy sighed, she hated being out of the loop.
"What's up Tammy?"
"DI Edmunds arranged for us to be diverted, but that's all I know, Alison."
The engine tone changed again and they were losing altitude. The military aircraft stayed with them, Tammy tried to bring up a map on her phone but the wifi was off and her phone connection wasn't stable enough.
It was another ten minutes before there was any more news.
"We're on final approach."
Tammy wondered if the flight crew had every flown into a military airport before, wasn't there a museum here? Their escort had now disappeared, they were losing altitude fast, but controlled.
They touched down with a slight bump on the asphalt surface. Tammy look out of the window but couldn't see much.
"We're following a vehicle to the terminal but we have no further information I'm afraid."
Tammy couldn't turn around, but Gilly Harris was now sat back in her original seat. Tammy guessed that Gilly knew even less than herself.
"Is it always like this with you, Miss Smart?"
"Please, call me Tammy, and no, sometimes it's more intense."
Tammy could now see buildings so guessed they were approaching their destination, albeit at five miles an hour. A minute or two later the brakes engaged.
"The control tower has instructed us to wait here. You are not to use any mobile phones and the wifi has been disabled. Sorry, but those are the instructions we received."
Five minutes later a set of steps was wheeled to the plane, the first officer unlocked the port side door. An officer boarded.
"Could I see your firearm?"
Tammy reached into her bag and retrieved it, having failed to inform the crew she was carrying it - Pauline was not happy.
"Could you remove the magazine, then pass it to me?"
Tammy did as asked and handed it over.
"I'd like your licence as well."
She dived back into her bag and found the Met Police licence, as well as her Get Out Of Jail Free letter on parliamentary paper. These were handed back.
"Thank you, if you could all please follow me?"
Having handed over her weapon, Tammy was going to follow even without an invite. A bus had pulled up and slowly they all made it down the steps, carrying their luggage. A short journey took them to the terminal building, although the only facility was a NAAFI shop - albeit closed.
Tammy had clearly been identified as group leader, or perhaps the greatest risk taker, but when she went to find out what was happening, no-one knew.
"Sorry Miss, we've not been told."
The officer who had her weapon was nowhere to be seen.
Daisy was clearly uncomfortable and Florence was doing her best, along with Alison. John was looking like he needed the loo again, whilst Tanya wasn't seemingly bothered. Joan and Gilly were talking, leaving Tammy on her own.
Tammy spun around.
"I've just arrived. I have something for you." He handed her Glock, she dropped it in her bag; the officer didn't look happy.
"DI Edmunds has assured me that you are properly qualified and certified. Where was your last certification?"
"Err, Royal Navy Plymouth and Hythe Ranges, both last year."
"Both military locations?" He said unnecessarily.
"Yes." Tammy felt like being facetious but held back. "Can we go?"
An airman escorted the group outside where a coach was waiting.
"We'll pick up a police escort at the gate."
"Okay Kevin, when can you brief me?"
Kevin joined them on the coach and they set off. Two vehicles were waiting at the gate, neither were marked as police vehicles but Tammy didn't think that two black BMWs, either end of a coach would go unnoticed.
It was nearly an hour later when they pulled up outside the Crown Inn, just to the South of Stourbridge. Tammy's stomach rumbled, it was approaching two thirty and they hadn't had any lunch.
"Kev, what's the plan?"
"Your PA booked all of this."
"Oh, what name did she use?"
Tammy checked the envelope her father had given her, they were the Smith family.
"Hello, we're the Smiths."
The girl on reception looked up from her magazine. "Okay."
"We have rooms booked, my PA called?"
"Yeah, she was a bit vague on numbers."
"Well, there's nine of us right now."
"There's a family room and four double rooms."
Tammy did the room juggling in her head. "Fine."
She signed the booking sheet and received a selection of keys. "Up those stairs," the girl pointed.
"Is the kitchen still open?"
"Just closed, opens again at six."
"Can you tell the manager that nine of us would like to eat now?"
"'E's not 'ere."
Kevin moved forward. "Who's in charge right now?"
Kevin went into the dining room, leaving the rest standing. Tammy suggested they went in search of their rooms to freshen up.
"Err, Tammy, what about me?"
John wasn't looking happy.
"Have lunch then the pair of you could go shopping?"
He shrugged, Tanya almost dragged him up the stairs, Kevin followed the group. "Chef would like our orders in the next ten minutes!"
With lunch out of the way, John and Tanya went into the town, accompanied by Gilly Harris. Tammy and Kevin took seats in the lounge, away from everyone else but within sight of the main entrance.
"What the hell happened this morning, Kevin?"
"Sandy Franklin was followed and apprehended by Penny Lavoska. Sandy was attacked when she didn't know the travel plans, beyond Ben being needed from Friday."
"You said deceased?"
"Sorry that message was meant to go to someone else. We decided to suggest that she'd died during the assault but she's in the Raigmore recovering."
"So why the media report?"
"We needed Penny Lavoska to believe that her attack was fatal so she won't go back to finish Sandy off. We'll find Penny, I'm certain."
"Okay, but this puts Ben in a difficult position?"
"He's burned, sorry, this was a major security blunder and we can't risk that with Caithness Marine."
"Okay, now what happened at Birmingham Airport?"
"A bomb hoax, it's being investigated."
"Any sign of Martin or Martina Gore?"
"Is this all going to be worth it, in the end?"
"Maybe we'll solve two murders and confirm what the O'Shaughnessys were investigating when they were killed. I'd say that's worth it."
"I hope so."
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