TG Universes & Series:
Book 12: Deja Flew
Note: This is a work of fiction but a number of real people, places, and institutions are mentioned in fictitious circumstances. In short it's a story!
Wednesday 3rd January 2018
It was bitterly cold outside but the girls were padding around in onesies, with no intention of going anywhere. It was approaching midday and they'd almost caught up with their laundry. Thirteen days away had generated a large pile of used clothing but little had been laundered as, frankly speaking, Tammy hadn't trusted Angela to look after the washing machine.
Several dress bags needed to go to the dry cleaners but that could wait for a day or two, it was unlikely that they'd get an invite to a formal event before the weekend.
"Hmm, yes, Tammy."
"Good, I need to make a couple of calls, can you bring my mug up to me please?"
Tammy made a quick exit from the kitchen but wasn't fast enough as Maisie managed a swipe at the disappearing backside. Upstairs she first called the offices of Doherty & Hughes, asking to be put through to one of the partners.
"Good morning Miss Smart, how can I help you?"
"I understand you handled the probate for Kirk McDuff?"
"He died under suspicious circumstances in 1987."
"Ah, the goldsmith?"
"I see, but I may not be able to assist?"
"Oh, that would be a shame. I'll give my usual solicitor, Jeremiah Smith, a call and ask the Sheriff's Court to sort this out?"
"I didn't say that I couldn't help you, Miss Smart, only that I may not."
"Semantics, Mr Hughes, nearly cost you a great deal of money and had the potential for your professional standing to diminish?"
"My apologies, Miss Smart, for any misunderstanding. Perhaps we could meet to discuss this further. It would require some time to retrieve Mr McDuff's file from the archive."
"I have some documents which are pertinent, could we meet at my home, which was Mr McDuff's business premises and home? How does next Monday afternoon sound?"
"I'd prefer to meet here?"
"I believe you'll be well compensated for your time and the location is relevant."
"Understood, shall we say two thirty next Monday?"
Her next call was to her own solicitor, Jeremiah Smith.
"Happy Hogmanay Miss Smart."
"And to you, I wonder if you're free for a meeting next Monday afternoon?"
"I believe that's possible, perhaps you can give me some background? I'm not aware of any ongoing issues?"
"Of course, I'll put an email together for you."
Tammy wanted one more person to attend but that couldn't be done straight away, the timing of that call was very important.
She opened up the email she'd already written that morning and checked it before sending it to Jeremiah, being careful not to give too much away. The last thing she needed was for her solicitor to insist on a referral to the courts, although Mr Hughes' attitude could have forced that route being taken.
Her coffee mug was soon empty so she wandered back down to empty the washing machine, tranferring most of that load into the dryer. Tammy was very aware that their electricity bill would be bad all year around as they didn't have anywhere outside they could dry the laundry. She'd considered building a drying room but that wasn't a definite plan for the time being. The best they could do was to place an airer on the step outside the rear entrance, that was usually reserved for easily creased items such as bedding. With the ice outside, that was simply not an option today.
Tammy took a walk down to the basement to check all was well. The beach scene that Kate had lovingly painted now just reminded her of the time she'd been on Ram's Rock Island, where her swim suit had dried in minutes. Was the offer of Easter in the Tropics just a throwaway suggestion or had the Scottish Colonel been honest with her?
She had, perhaps, two months to get the tan sorted, plus she could lose that recently gained inch around her midrift? Maybe her priorities needed adjusting? The protection of her uniform meant nothing if it couldn't be worn, now she had extra incentive to get her weight back under control.
Tammy now had an exercise bike in the office and was using it, but that had limited benefits. They hadn't swum since mid December, for one reason or another, and had not kept to any sort of diet plan. In short, she was not anywhere close to peak fitness. She walked up two floors to the bathroom and stepped onto the scales.
Maisie put her head around the corner. "Ready for a refill? What's up?"
"I'm out of shape, and that won't do."
The pair hit the stairs, heading for the kitchen.
"No, a lack of control over Christmas. We have two months to get fit and beach ready."
"Beach? Are you booking our wedding?"
"I was talking about work, we'll be part of the security detail on this Royal jaunt to an island near Florida."
"I'll be judged unfit for duty unless I fix myself. You had a time going up that rope, as did I, so you'd best be ready."
"Well, yes. It was cold, I had a bundle of stuff on me and I'm still afraid of heights."
Tammy shook her head. "I had more on me than you and had to work to get up there."
"By the way, the postman arrived whilst I was downstairs. One for me - I'm registered!"
"Oh, personal trainer?"
"Yes! That means I can push you around."
"No you can't!"
"I'm the one who's qualified and you, Miss Smart, are not. You will follow my regime to get back to fitness!"
Tammy kissed her. "Fair enough."
"Anyway, going back to this trip, we haven't been given any instructions yet, have we?"
"Not as such, Maisie, but keep April clear, all of it, heck, the back end of March and the first week of May too! That gives us six clear weeks starting today to get in shape. My guess is that our speed and stamina will be tested before we go out there and immediately on arrival."
"So, I suggest we make time for the pool?"
"Yes, as many days as we can, plus a strict diet. We have until tonight to edit that grocery order, right?"
"Yes, I guess you want to change it?"
"Okay, I'll grab your diet sheet and go through the order. Meanwhile, how about hitting the water this afternoon?"
"No, Miss Smart, you are not busy!"
"Okay, but I flew back yesterday and it was late before we got home, especially as we had to drop my lil' sis off."
"And why didn't we fly back on New years Day?"
"You know damn well; we got drunk!"
"Yeah, shame we didn't get a ticket for the main event on the river?"
"It was a good crowd in the Speakeasy bar and only a ten minute walk back to the house."
"I didn't know Angela could drink?"
"She can, but not often, but at least she managed to walk unaided."
"I thought several times she was going to drop us, Suzie too, in the shit? Forgive me, but Angela is a security risk."
"I know, but she's my sister, which is why we tell her as little as possible. She knew we were involved, but not what we did. Have you spoken to your father recently?"
"Just now, we need to see him?"
"He can come up here?"
"Really, Tammy? Not until the Spring, he couldn't cope with the snow."
"Okay, how about a weekend away next month, and he joins us? Somewhere South of here?"
"He'll expect us to book everything."
"He's pretty awful at things like that, which is why Army life suits him."
Upstairs they could hear a phone ringing, Maisie set off as did Tammy. It was Tammy's cellphone, the encrypted section.
Tammy unlocked the subscreen and hit speaker. "Hello?"
"Afternoon, Tammy." A female voice greeted.
"That's the woman we heard over the radios?" Maisie whispered to Tammy.
Tammy frowned at Maisie, but answered. "Morning to you, Ma'am."
"It's been confirmed that you and your fiancée will be included with the entourage." Kimberly stated.
Tammy understood she was referring to the Royal holiday. "Yes."
"Your schedule is being adjusted. The two of you will travel on your own via commercial transport and precede the Guests by a week."
"Understood. Are we part of an advance team and do we have an official purpose?"
"Somewhat and yes. The reason you will be on site is business. KT Flight is one of the sponsors for the TT racing team, Butterfly Racing Innovations. BRI will be participating on Isle of Man in the Experimental Class. You'll receive tickets and passes to attend that as well."
Tammy smiled. "That should be fun."
"A racing sponsor? Isn't that very expensive?" Maisie asked.
"I believe that's already been settled, yes?" Tammy hedged.
Kimberly replied. "Yes. Administrative details remain."
"How long will we be occupied?" Tammy asked.
Kimberly answered. "Seventeen days. The schedule for the Guests is eight days. Entourage is scheduled for twenty days. More details will be provided closer to departure."
"Yes Ma'am. Anything else?"
"Thought I heard a bathroom scale scream recently." Kimberly asked.
Tammy winced. "The holidays weren't kind. I'm already dealing with the matter."
"I hope that includes listening to your personal fitness advisor. You have a regimen, get on it."
"That is all." The call disconnected.
"What about this racing thing?"
"I met the owners of a racing team. It isn't a real racing team, they just do it for fun. I own a company so I can be on their sponsor list. I get free advertising, so there's a legitimate business connection. More important, it'll be fun." Tammy said.
Maisie seemed to digest that, but went back to the other topic. "What about this holiday thing?"
"Okay. Royals go on holiday, you know that. Sometimes they go out of the country, you know that too. So when they go, they have protection go with them. That's the Entourage, you and I are being included so we get a 'working holiday' in the tropics. The excuse we give people is that I have to finish the process of becoming a sponsor for a racing team. It's that simple." Tammy explained.
Maisie shook her head. "Nothing is ever 'that simple' with you."
"The joy of the self-employed." Tammy smirked.
An hour later they were at the fitness centre. Tammy managed three miles on a running machine and almost a mile in the pool, but not comfortably. The look of self-disgust was evident in the mirror as she dried her hair to leave. Their bikes were outside, she added three miles to the day's tally before she was satisfied with the punishment.
Monday 8th January 2018
"What time is your Dad coming here, Tammy?"
"Anytime soon, he was told to be here well before two."
"Didn't he have a meeting at the school this morning?"
"Finance committee, but they're done by lunchtime. So long as he's home by four he won't be missed."
"Oh, doesn't she know he's coming here?"
"No, especially as Joan's still not speaking to me."
"I guess she'll be busy as it's the first day of lessons?"
"That's the plan." Tammy sighed, at least she didn't have to live in the same house as Joan any more, heck she wasn't even calling her 'mum'. Angela's decision to fly back with Tammy and Maisie hadn't gone down well either, but Angela was now on a residential placement in Berwick so well out of harm's way.
"I've prepared lunch."
"Let me guess, salad?"
"Yes. You won't want anything heavy, we're in the pool later."
"Okay, let's eat then get everything ready."
Richard arrived several minutes late.
"Your mum decided she needed to see me at two, concerning a student."
"At least you're here. Did you bring everything?"
"Yes, plus copies for the briefs. Are you certain this is the best way to do it, Tammy? You could have just let Jeremiah handle it?"
"I know but I have a feeling that the money, minuses everyone's expenses, would be transferred to the Crown the same way this building was."
"At least the other property was protected."
"Let's head downstairs, there's a coffee pot down there."
Jeremiah Smith was the next to arrive and Maisie escorted him to the basement.
"I don't believe you let me know that you've moved, Miss Smart?"
"Ah, my apologies, but you always write to me at the office?"
"Indeed, but this was a business purchase, and wasn't specified as residential?"
"I changed my mind and kept it, but the shop is still available for commercial use."
Angus Hughes arrived just after two fifteen, having first gone to the shop door in Princes Street, but by twenty past they were all sat around the table. Maisie wasn't at the table but was within listening range, aided by some technology..
Tammy opened, after introducing everyone around the table. "Firstly, thank you all for coming here. My aim is to uncover some truths surrounding Kirk McDuff's death, albeit thirty years later."
"Miss Smart, surely this is a matter for the Procurator Fiscal, if you have new information?"
"Indeed, Mr Hughes, but would the court appreciate a few random papers relating to a closed case or perhaps a researched and legally assured file?"
"Point received, Miss Smart."
"Perhaps," Jeremiah Smith offered, "it may have been pertinent of me to brief you on Miss Smart's approach to legal matters, although I doubt she would have appreciated that?"
"Indeed Jeremiah. Now, Mr Hughes, did you bring the will?"
"I did, and I have made a few copies."
The Last Will & Testament of Kirk James McDuff wasn't very long and was typical of the kind of will a person in their twenties or thirties would make, being clearly low on details. Tammy made a mental note to update her own once this meeting was out of the way.
The will had been made shortly after Kirk had lost his parents, replacing an earlier version, and included the salon his mother had owned and managed. A codicil on the salon had stated that it should be left in the control of the current manager, so long as the business was a going concern. In that respect, although ownership had passed to Kirk, he let the business run itself. Upon his passing the codicil had applied and the building ownership had also been transferred to the manager.
The jewellery shop and residence was another matter. These had been included in an Annex that had been attached to the will but not witnessed or certified.
"Why wasn't that attended to Mr Hughes?"
"A regrettable oversight."
"You didn't answer the question, who handled it?"
"I don't believe I should answer that?"
Tammy looked at Jeremiah but continued by herself. "That, Mr Hughes, would make me imagine that there was something potentially fraudulent going on? Or perhaps you have a perfectly sensible answer you can share."
"I hope, Miss Smart, you're not accusing me of something?"
"Not directly, and not yet, Mr Hughes. I should point out that my assistant is recording this meeting so we all have a clear record of what was discussed. I believe total transparency is needed in order to avoid any future questions. Right now it's an historical question that could have a great bearing on matters."
Hughes took a look at Jeremiah Smith but all he caught was a half smile.
"Are you a law student, Miss Smart?"
"No, I'm a student of criminality plus I've worked in several criminal investigations with the Metropolitan and Scottish Police. I'm also not afraid to use the courts to ensure rogues are removed from society and the innocents of this world are fairly treated. Would that be a fair assessment, Jeremiah?"
"Indeed, Miss Smart, albeit edited somewhat?"
"You noticed? I wouldn't wish to scare anyone."
They both turned to look at Mr Hughes.
"I see. Hmmm, the error with Mr McDuff's will was attributed to George Smith when he was employed as a clerk."
"The same George Smith who was captain of the shinty team locally?"
"I believe so."
"When was the error noticed?"
"After Mr McDuff's death. Mr Smith no longer worked with us and denied it was his error."
"What were the consequences of the error?"
"Mr McDuff's fiancée would have inherited this property."
"Was this brought to the attention of the Procurator Fiscal?"
"Was the fiancée informed?"
"So your firm's error cost her this property and the contents?"
"Yes, although the Inland Revenue, as HMRC used to be called, took a percentage of the assets to cover an outstanding tax liability."
"Jeremiah, was that legal?"
"Yes, but only because of the circumstances surrounding this case, where the Crown would receive the assets."
"Okay, Mr Hughes, who was the executor of the will?"
"Jeremiah, is there a statute that allows fraud to be prosecuted after thirty years?"
"No, Miss Smart, there's no statute of limitations in the UK and that includes Scottish Law, however you would still need to convince a Sheriff that there is a case to answer. I believe it is possible to create such a case based on the information available today."
"Thank you. Now, Mr Hughes, we could have a problem?"
"In relation to?"
"The funds that were found in an account under Mr McDuff's name."
"Funds? But a search was made?"
"I'm sure it was, but I guess his fiancée wasn't asked? No, of course not?"
The solicitor shook his head.
"So we have a problem, I would like this money to go to the fiancée, as Kirk would have intended, but the court direction is that it should go to the Crown. That issue is one of your own making, is it not?"
"I dispute the inference. I'd be happy to handle any funds, of course?"
"With respect, no. Until I'm satisfied that it can be disposed of appropriately, no-one has access to those funds. That, for information, includes myself."
"You haven't obtained the money?"
"No, it remains in an account that I discovered. Dad?"
Richard hadn't, at this point, said anything other than introduce himself as a retired banker and a governor of St Andrews School.
"Tammy asked me to speak to Credit Suisse on her behalf, having identified the account as belonging to that bank."
"They have an office in London?"
"They do, but I am familiar with the senior staff in Zurich and Geneva, and since I was spending Christmas in Lausanne, this was easy for me."
"How would you know their people, and wouldn't this be a breach of banking code?"
"I was the International Director for a major UK bank, under those circumstances I can ask some questions, but there's limits."
"In this case I could establish firstly that the account existed and secondly who had access. I could not ascertain how much was in the account or details of any transactions. I have only been told that the account is not empty."
Tammy thanked her father and continued. "You see, Mr Hughes, we have not broken the law or misled anyone. We do not know how much is there, indeed the amount is irrelevant."
"Please don't attempt to sway me on that point, Mr Hughes, the issue here is one of rights, obligations and inheritance. The sum matters not one iota."
"I see. Mr Smart, you said you checked who had access?"
"I did, I'm informed that apart from Mr McDuff one other person was allowed access."
"Who would that be?"
Tammy took over. "Indeed, if the annex to the will been shown to the court then this would be a very simple matter of having the lady present her papers to the bank. As it stands, the court would seize the account."
"In which case, the law prevails."
"Really, Mr Hughes? I hope you know that I own a commercial property agency? I took the liberty of checking the sale of this property in late 1987 and compared that to the sum deposited with the court. There was a discrepancy of fifteen thousand pounds."
"Are you certain?"
"I'm afraid I didn't bring that information with me to check."
"It matters not. Let me be clear, I would like for the lady to fully inherit that which is hers, and to do so without the fear of the court challenging her rights. To that end you will make amends with the court. To assist those ends I will ask Jeremiah to lodge this account information with the Procurator Fiscal. I suggest, Mr Hughes, that you work fast as I would like to finalise this in two weeks."
"Two weeks? That's impossible."
"Perhaps you should hire a decent solicitor then?"
The meeting broke up soon after and Tammy had Maisie stop the recording. "Save that and email it to Jeremiah please."
Tammy suggested Richard followed her up to the office once the visitors were off the premises.
"Is she still moaning, Dad?"
"No, but you upset her."
"Sorry Dad, but she tried to set Suzie and Angela on me. I know Christmas didn't go as intended but there's no way we could have predicted what happened?"
"Your mother seems to think that you could have stayed with Angela and declined to take part."
"I was told on that first day that they would have found me and insisted I took part, better to do it willingly perhaps? I don't think Suzie complained about being in Cornwall, and Angela helped her clean the house when she got back."
"I hear you, but I still don't think she understands. How come you were in Paris when the air traffic control centres were still officially down?"
"I had special permission, in fact it was a request from someone very, very, senior."
"The Prime Minister?"
"According to what I was told, yes."
"I worry about you, Tammy."
"I know, Dad, but I can cope. Oh, don't make any plans for Easter as Maisie and I will be away."
"Knowing my luck, no!"
"Okay, but best keep out of her way for another week or so."
"Will do, dad."
Tuesday 9th January 2018
Tammy had spent an hour of the previous day in the university but hadn't actually achieved anything as none of the lecturing staff had been available.
She went for a coffee as usual and found Ben Franklin waiting for her.
"Eventful, family problems."
"Oh, didn't you say you were going to London?"
"Yeah, we saw some of the trouble but kept away from it."
"Good, I had visions of you getting involved?"
"I learned a while back, Ben, when to step back and let others handle it."
"That wasn't the case when I first knew you?"
"Maybe, but I'm older, wiser and engaged to be married. My outlook has changed."
"I hope you're still planning to finish this course?"
"Of course, I mean yes."
They'd walked towards the room they were using but stopped talking as others were nearby. Before she went into the room Tammy spotted her would-be bike thief. He was talking with a pair of boys and didn't see Tammy take a picture. She quickly posted it on Facebook with the text "Bike thief!" then turned her phone onto silent mode.
"Good morning everyone and happy new year. This semester we're looking at how courts and the justice system work. I hope everyone submitted their homework on time? I haven't checked it yet so there's a deadline of five o'clock this afternoon for those who have been otherwise occupied."
Tammy couldn't see many faces from her back row seat but guessed more than one hadn't bothered, these were probably the same students who had barely made it into the second year of their degree course.
"Part of this term's work will involve attending courts for hearings, not just criminal cases. You will be needed to write a summary of the hearing, but bear in mind some of the information you hear will be sub judice or privileged. There is also the issue of how to behave in a court room, I will prepare a handout for you and allocate hearings to each of you. Be advised that if you are ejected from a court, I will know. Similarly if you decide to skip a hearing and copy from a newspaper article, then I will know."
A question and answer session followed and Tammy rapidly lost interest in the juvenile issues being raised. Tammy did hear that she'd receive her hearings list the following day, and wondered how many she would be disbarred from? She racked her brain for current court cases that affected her and, as it stood, couldn't think of any. It was way too early for the Gainsborough or Lavoska cases to get to trial, and she wondered whether Christianne Armaud would be offered a deal? Tammy could, in theory, be called to give evidence in each of those cases.
"How many of you have been inside a court room for a trial or a hearing?"
Tammy raised her hand.
"If you were a witness or in the public gallery put your hands down."
Tammy realised what Ben was doing but clearly the others were slow on the uptake. Three of the students had been in the dock.
"Okay, so about half of you have relevant experience. Let's take a look at the type of courts that you might encounter in Scotland, and the types of cases that are held there."
Tammy refilled her coffee requirement at break and walked outside with the pot to check the bike racks. At Maisie's insistence she'd biked to the university that morning, keeping to the cleared paths. She had a better chain with a good padlock now, having decided that a combination lock was a bad idea.
She checked her phone and was mildly surprised by the response to her posting. So far she had ten comments, although two were promising violence for making a false allegation. She propped herself against a wall, out of the way, and waited. Her prey came out and squatted down beside a couple of bikes. Tammy started to video it and moved closer, stopping the recording as she walked past. She quickly uploaded it as a comment to her own posting, without adding any words.
Inside she found one of the site security guards and pointed out of the windows, then showed him the video. The guard used his radio to give a description.
"I didn't want to confront him myself, in case he turned violent."
"Don't worry Miss, we have enough, there's been a spate of bike thefts from the campus since the autumn. Can I take your name?"
Tammy handed him one of her business cards. "All my details are there."
"We'll ask you to send that video to us, with a statement."
She finished her coffee and tossed it into a bin before returned to the classroom for the second session of the morning. She also deleted her posting from social media, job done.
There appeared to be some confusion amongst the students sat across the room from Tammy, with one or more glance in her direction. Ben waited for things to settle down, but eventually had to take control.
"Whatever it is, it can wait."
The session continued, but at times Ben was struggling. Tammy was pleased he called an end to it at midday, she quickly sent Maisie a message.
"A word please, Miss Smart?"
"I kept hearing your name from the group to my left?"
"I apprehended a bike thief during the morning break. My guess is he's an acquaintance?"
"How would you know he was a bike thief?"
"I caught him trying to take my bike from outside the printers just before Christmas. I gave chase to make sure I had a good view of his face. At break I found him outside messing with some of the bikes. I took a video and showed it to campus security."
"I was upset that he had a go at my bike, but I wasn't going to let him take someone else's."
"I thought you said you didn't become involved any more?"
"No, I said I knew when to step back, this wasn't such a time. Regardless, it's out of my hands now."
"Have you supplied your details?"
"Yes. If you don't mind, Ben, I have a hospital appointment."
She found Maisie outside, plus a police car. Tammy located her bike then put it into the back of their van.
It was a two hour run to the Raigmore in Inverness but they had a 3pm appointment. Tammy hadn't driven to the hospital herself so couldn't give Maisie directions, although she didn't have any trouble finding it.
Their appointment was in the out-patients clinic and, as usual, it was running late.
"Ah, please take a seat Mss Smart, it's been a while?"
"Nearly three years, Dr Wright. This is my fiancée Maisie Staines."
"I see, when is the wedding?"
"Possibly not until next year, it's still on the to-be-decided list."
"Okay, now your question caused a flurry of activity and not all of it was supportive."
"I hope that the Hippocratic Oath applies?"
"To us doctors and consultants, yes, but not so the technicians and managers. To be frank, the issue was with the managers."
"Yes, one manager instructed that your testes be destroyed."
"Sorry, no, especially as she was unable to achieve her wish."
"Okay, but the original question was whether or not my testes existed and if so, whether it would be possible to extract sperm?"
"Indeed. One was taken to a lab for slicing, checking for cancer under the microscope. The other was immediately frozen in case it was needed for lab work later."
Tammy breathed a sigh. "So one exists, frozen?"
"Yes, it was transferred to Glasgow Royal Infirmary on the request of a Professor Roberts."
"Indeed, I take that you know him?"
"I met him for the first time in Thurso back in 2014, we flew him from Glasgow for the evening. I saw him at his offices several times after that."
"Good. I suggest you speak to him regarding the next step?"
"I will. If you come across that manager, by the way, let them know that my solicitors are Smith, Smith and Smith, and I will happily see her in court."
"I doubt you'll come across them, Miss Smart."
"I hope you're right, Doctor."
As they walked back to the van, Maisie was back into her questions.
"Does this mean I can become pregnant?"
"Not yet. First I need to call or write to Professor Roberts and ask him if he'll release the tissue. They it needs to be thawed to see if there's any living sperm. As of this moment, I'd say there's less than a twenty five percent chance of viability."
"So what can I do?"
"Remind me, when we get home, to contact Professor Roberts!"
Wednesday 10th January 2018
Tammy's morning at the University went, mostly, without incident. Ben handed out the court assignments and explained;
"Each of you has a list of six to do. Some of those are known cases on known days, others are just a court and a time, you get pot luck. I've given you six court appointments each, I want reports from four of those appointments."
Tammy could hear moans from the far side of the room but ignored them as she looked at her own offers. One stood out, a High Court case in Glasgow a couple of weeks into the future. There were scant details on the sheet in front of her. Another one was in Inverness and the remaining four were at Wick Sheriffs Court. Clearly Ben was setting up several of the students to fail, assuming they had a similar mix of venues.
She looked again at the Glasgow hearing and searched the courts website for the court listings for the relevant day:
An appeal against an extradition order was slated for 23rd January at eleven o'clock. The case was R v Gurolski.
She decided that would do, the Inverness case was a week later but that could wait. The main thing was she only had to attend Wick Sheriff's court twice. One of the cases listed there was a Fatal Accident Inquiry, but she favoured a couple of pick & mix days.
Ben caught her as she walked to the bike rack.
"I hear there's increased car park and bike rack security?"
"And the police found six bikes being stripped down at his house."
"Figures, although I had never seen him riding a bike."
"Indeed. Are you going to take the Glasgow case?"
"The case is largely irrelevant, but I might be able to tie that into an appointment. I have little wish to bump into the others more often that I have to. Did they all get Glasgow dates as well?"
"No, a few had Aberdeen but each had at least one Inverness date. I figured you might fancy a trip South."
"I hope it isn't seen as favouritism?"
"I'll publish the list and let them swap, but I doubt you'll get any offers for a two hundred and seventy mile trip and an overnight hotel stay?"
"No, but I have a few bus permits for Wick for those with restricted finances."
Tammy unchained her bike and cycled home, the long way. Maisie was out so Tammy switched the kettle on but didn't wait for it to boil before hitting the stairs up to the office. She called Professor Robert's number at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, reaching his secretary.
"I'd like an appointment with the Professor?"
"Private or NHS?"
"There are some free appointments next month, would you like the dates?"
"No, I'll be in Glasgow on the twenty third of this month and can see him that morning or the previous afternoon? I'll be travelling from Thurso and I don't make the trek very often."
"I see, I recall the Professor once did a consultation in Thurso by helicopter?"
"That was me, just over three years ago, my father arranged the flight."
"Ah, let me speak to the Professor. Sorry, what's your name?"
A minute later a different voice came on the line.
"Miss Smart, how is womanhood treating you?"
"Pretty good, Professor."
"You would like to see me? I wouldn't have thought you needed my services any longer?"
"It's my understanding that you put one of my testes into safe storage after my sudden orchidectomy?"
"I did, that was a few years ago."
"I'm wondering whether the tissue would be viable for IVF?"
"That's outside my area of expertise but I can see why you came to me."
"Indeed. If not you, then who?"
"Leave that with me, Miss Smart. One question though, who is the intended recipient?"
"I'd suggest she be made available. I'll be in touch with you."
"Thank you, Julian."
"No trouble, Tamara."
She heard a noise downstairs and caught sight on a monitor of Maisie in the kitchen. It wasn't long before the girl arrived in the office carrying two coffees. Maisie was wearing sportswear bearing a new logo.
"When did it arrive?"
"Yesterday, but I wanted to surprise you."
"How was your client?"
"Not difficult, a new mother who wants to get back into shape and has issues with male trainers."
"Is your website up"
"Yes, I enabled msfitness.uk yesterday."
"Good, your ongoing task is to make sure I get fit enough to pass a few tests!"
Friday 19th January 2018
Tammy found herself at Wick Sheriffs Court for a pick and mix day, although none of the cases had been listed when she'd checked the previous lunchtime. She'd arrived for the afternoon session and spotted one of the other students scurrying away. The first case up was her bike thief.
She was ready to give the day a miss but the accused wasn't in court, there was an application to transfer the case to a different court in Inverness, this was approved without any issues.
Next up was one of the students she'd seen with her bike thief. She didn't catch his first name, only that he was a MacDonald. He had the misfortune of visiting the bike thief with a supply of narcotic substances whilst the police were conducting their search.
As this was a second offence for the same crime, his case was also transferred. He was, however, bailed pending that hearing. Tammy's connection to the first case was tangible but thankfully her presence hadn't contaminated the hearing. So far as the second case was concerned, she had supplied the original photo of her thief, one that included MacDonald, to security and guessed that had also been passed onto the police - but did that make her a part of the prosecution case?
The third case was an application for probate to be re-opened, and as the persons involved entered the court room she knew this was an opportunity for her to cross the line, whether or not she wanted to. She decided to stay.
"Is Miss Smart in the Court?"
Reluctantly she looked over the rail of the witness gallery. "Yes, your Honour."
"Please approach the bench."
She exited into the lobby then re-entered the court.
"I take it you weren't called to be here?"
"No, your Honour. I'm here to observe cases as part of my undergraduate course."
"Will you be willing to answer a few questions to expedite matters?"
"Of course, although I haven't prepared and I'm not represented."
"In which case I can not insist on you taking the stand, but you are free to leave or to refuse to answer and I suggest we restrict this to fact finding?"
"Good, could you take the stand?"
"Am I under oath?"
"No, this is fact finding, Miss Smart."
The procurator fiscal chose his words carefully.
"How did you come across the information that a Swiss bank account existed?"
"I bought Kirk McDuff's former house last year and it was in dire need of renovation. As a part of that I did a top to bottom search of the house for anything that wasn't already known. That's when I found a safe behind a panel. When the safe was opened I found an envelope, this contained a reference number which I recognised as a Swiss Bank account number, one with Credit Suisse to be exact."
"How would you know this?"
"My father was the International Director for a High Street bank until three years ago, I used to spend the summers travelling with him as a personal assistant."
"I see. How were you able to confirm your hypothesis?"
"My father had already decided to spend Christmas in Lausanne, on the banks of lake Geneva, so offered to confirm with the bank that the account did exist and that it was in the name of Mr McDuff. This much was supplied to Mr Hughes just over a week ago."
"There was a second name on the account?"
"Miss Sandra Reagan."
"Are you familiar with this lady?"
"I am, she's my hairdresser."
"Under that name?"
"No, Sandy Smith."
"Will you benefit from this account?"
"No, not at all."
"Do you know how much is in the account?"
"Err, yes, but is that relevant?"
Tammy earned a glare for her comment. She quickly continued.
"Let me put it another way. If I announce in this court what the value of the account is, then the account holder will be inundated with demands for money. It matters not whether it's three hundred, or thirty thousand pounds, she will suffer if the value of the account is recorded in open court."
The Sheriff responded. "Indeed, Miss Smart. On the grounds that you were able to obtain that information about the account, could you have used back channels to empty the account?"
"With a full audit trail, yes."
"Then why didn't you?"
"Because, without the agreement of the court, that could be the Crown's money. It would put myself and, more importantly, Mrs Smith, in a very difficult position."
"Very astute, Miss Smart. Could you, for my purposes, write down the account value?"
Tammy did as asked and passed it back.
"Ah, I see."
"That was over three weeks ago, it will have gone up since then."
"Indeed. Prior to buying the house were you aware of Mr McDuff?"
"Do you intend to submit any finders fee?"
"Do you expect to earn anything from this endeavour?"
"No, in fact I expect to be out of pocket."
"So you have no pecuniary interest?"
"Not in the standard sense, no."
"So, again, why did you insist on this coming to the court?"
"Because a mistake, an expensive mistake, was made on Mr McDuffs probate in 1987. I do not believe that this error should be allowed to continue even if thirty years has passed."
"So you are seeking natural justice?"
"Are you seeking to overturn anything that had already passed probate?"
"No, I feel that should be left as it is."
"Indeed. You may step down."
Tammy took a seat in one of the witness seats whilst Mr Hughes now took the stand, to explain his own involvement. The Procurator Fiscal wasn't impressed.
"At best, Mr Hughes, you failed to supervise a clerk and failed to check the papers before submitting them? At worst it was a deliberate oversight, verging on fraud?"
"At the time I was quite distracted."
"You can recall that from thirty years ago? At which point did you realise what had happened?"
"About a month after probate was lodged, when I re-opened the file during the sale of the main property and the transfer of the salon to Miss Reagan."
"Why not issue a correction?"
"HMRC were involved."
"Did you have any tax issues at the time, Mr Hughes?"
"Yes, I didn't want HMRC to investigate."
"So you failed to supervise, failed to check and after the error was found you decided that you should protect yourself?"
"And in the process Miss Reagan lost a property that would have been hers?"
"How much did the property sell for?"
"What could it have done for?"
"Up to thirty five thousand, no more."
"And your fee?"
"That was rather steep, especially for 1987?"
"Did you settle your tax affairs after that?"
"Oh dear. I believe you have incriminated yourself."
Monday 22nd January 2018
Tammy and Maisie flew into Glasgow late morning and rode the airport bus into Buchanan Bus Station before lodging their bags at the Millenium Hotel. There was no time for lunch before they continued their journey to the Royal Infirmary.
They followed the signs to the Fertility Clinic and checked in with the reception. There had been a discussion the previous evening about what to wear. Tammy was very aware that her image, Maisie's image, could make a lasting impression before they'd even explained what they were after.
The freezing weather in the Highlands meant they had both gone for a jumper over trousers and sensible boots, common sense having outweighed any other reasoning.
It was about ten minutes before they were called into a room for their consultation.
"Hello, I'm Doctor Angela Hyde."
The girls introduced themselves.
"Can you explain in your own words what it is you would like?"
"I, we, would like you to extract sperm from my frozen testicle and then implant it into Maisie so we can have a child."
"That concurs with the information I have. I must say from the outset, your case is not unique, but is certainly rare. Professor Roberts included a useful summary for me, Miss Smart."
"Julian is a dear friend, Dr Hyde."
"I don't know him personally, but in this case he had managed to paint a very positive light."
"I see, does that imply that someone else has tried to stop us from having a child of our own?"
"Not as such."
"Please, Dr Hyde, I would like to know if there is anyone who wishes us to fail in our endeavour?"
"It isn't appropriate for me to name anyone. Let me just reassure you that I don't believe there is an ethical bar to your treatment."
"That is helpful, but I sense a caveat?"
"Correct, there is no guarantee that any sperm survived or that the process will result in pregnancy."
"What would you say the chances are?"
"I don't believe putting a percentage on it. Firstly we have to see whether the sperm is viable."
"Indeed, and you require my authority?"
"We do. You must also accept that there are absolutely no guarantees here."
Tammy turned to Maisie before answering. "Of course we do."
"Miss Staines, how do you feel?"
"I would like to carry Tammy's baby, our baby. More than one if possible?"
The Doctor reiterated the process then produced prepared paperwork and explained it before asking both to sign. "There's nothing in this agreement that I haven't told you, but without it we can't proceed."
"When will we hear if my sperm is okay?"
"It could be a few weeks before one of our technicians checks to see whether there are viable sperm in the frozen tissue. We'll let you know and arrange an appointment."
"How will you proceed?"
"In this case I believe a form of IVF will be best, in which case we'll want to extract some eggs from you, Miss Staines. Are you taking the contraceptive pill at the moment?"
"I was on the injection until November but haven't used anything since. I've had one normal period and I'm due another any day now."
"Good. We'll need to inject you with a fertility drug and then wait thirty six hours before collecting the eggs. We would then introduce a single sperm to each egg using Intracytoplasmic sperm injection. We'll implant one or two that are viable."
"And if that doesn't work?"
"We repeat. Bear in mind that the fee covers one cycle of treatment only."
Tammy answered. "Fortunately that isn't a problem."
"The next question is when did you want to proceed?"
"We're both away at Easter for work, so it's probably best to wait until we're back?"
"Indeed, going anywhere nice?"
Tammy answered. "We're waiting to hear, it's either the Isle of Man, Florida or the Carribean."
"Oh, if you don't mind me asking, what's the business?"
"I'm sponsoring a team in next year's TT races, but they're based in America. Right now we don't know which of us is going to fly over to sign the contract?"
"Well, that sounds exciting, can you say which team it is?"
"Sorry, but that's a commercial secret. I'm just hoping we'll have an incident free race!"
"Well, good luck with the racing. As for the IVF, we'll be in touch soon."
Tammy and Maisie stopped at the reception where they settled the invoice for the first round. Holding hands they skipped out of the door. Maisie stopped in the carpet and pulled Tammy close to her for a kiss.
"Thank you, Tammy."
Lunch had been skipped but it was mid-afternoon when they walked into the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre. Maisie gravitated towards a children's clothes display in one of the store windows.
"Later! My stomach is moaning."
"It's not a cheat day."
"Maybe not, but ......"
"How about just a coffee or a hot chocolate and a bun? Then we'll eat properly tonight?"
A couple of minutes later, via more window shopping, they were in Caffé Nero. Talk was limited as there were other customers adjacent to the pair.
"Are we doing the right thing, Tammy?"
"I think so, It's just that you will be the one that gets the treatments, the discomfort, carrying it ...?"
"I want a girl."
Wednesday 24th January 2018
"How many of you have attended a court hearing yet?"
Ben searched the room for the ones who didn't have their hands up.
"Julie, why not?"
"I didn't feel well, I was sick."
"How many more court dates do you have?"
"Okay, try to do four of those. Ivan, what about you?"
"I couldn't, I was in court."
"Driving without insurance."
Ben turned to those who had put their hands up and asked a few before reaching Tammy.
"I've done two so far, yesterday I was at the High Court in Glasgow for an appeal against an extradition order. Last Friday I was in Wick all afternoon and ended up in the witness box."
"Were you called?"
"No, and I didn't know what the cases were, it just happened that the Sheriff asked if I was in the court. It only took a couple of minutes."
"Can you say what it was about?"
"It was about probate, beyond that I shouldn't say as the Sheriff ordered part of the case transferred."
At the coffee bar Ben caught up with Tammy. "Probate?"
"Yes, it's an old case concerning my house that was never resolved properly. I had my solicitor make some enquiries."
"But you were in the court?"
"By chance, yes, purely by chance."
"How did yesterday go?"
"Pretty boring, the applicant wasn't in court as he's in detention pending his flight tomorrow. It was mostly just legal argument over a very minor point of law that I doubt he had any chance of winning. It was a tiny court, I was in the same one three years ago."
"I suggested you wouldn't waste the trip to Glasgow, did you find something else to do?"
"Yeah, a consultation for IVF at the Royal Infirmary."
"By the way, I suspect Julie's pregnant."
Tammy was home after the morning session finished. Outside wasn't pleasant so she set out to do an hour on the bike in the office.
This was followed by the nearly-forgotten relationship report that had been requested, or even demanded and was now overdue. It was pretty standard practice for security-cleared personnel starting, or ending, a relationship but for Tammy this was new.
Where to start?
She decided to open with how a simple military arrangement had turned to friendship, and then mutual reliance. Tammy first wrote that she was new to this, so hadn't been watching for any signs. She quickly removed that last section and started again, it wasn't clever to show any signs of weakness when dealing with matters of national security.
It was the act of saving Maisie that initiated the relationship, she wrote, but that hadn't been the intention. The investigating officers had seemingly put the final nail in the coffin of Maisie's traditional army career and that had, hopefully, been to the benefit of the Security Service.
She finished the report and decided she'd left enough that Maisie would remain her assistant, or a fully fledged intelligence agent in her own right. Tammy re-read it, fixed a typo then sent it.
Whilst that dealt with the domestic tasking, where would that leave Maisie when Tammy was working with her cousins? They knew her, could trust her but equally knew Tammy's foibles. Maisie was almost a complete unknown, the most they had were remote observations and a copy of Maisie's military record. Tammy wondered one last negative thought before she shut down the computer, what if Maisie didn't meet Dannigan's, or Lyssa's, requirements?
The other question caught her as she shutdown the laptop, how would Dannigan, and MacTaggart, cope with the news that Maisie was going to be carrying a child? Of course, nothing they said indoors, except the bedroom, was private so maybe one of her masters already knew? Even if they did, was it their concern, yet? This was a life decision with consequences far beyond the walls of their home.
One other thing, however, was still bugging Tammy. She really didn't have the time but picked up the secure phone to call Suzie at her desk.
"Hi Sis, how's things now?"
"Fairly peaceful, Tammy, I guess you're after something?"
"Am I that obvious?"
"Your first call since you arrived back home?"
"Oops, my bad! By the way, Joan's still not talking to me."
"I had mum on the phone a few nights back, she didn't mention you or Maisie once."
"Fair enough. Hmm, have you heard anything about a guy being detained in the UK following Lavoska's arrest?"
"That's a bit vague? I know of several people being rounded up."
Tammy couldn't say any more without breaching mission protocol, even with her sister.
"Never mind, thanks Suzie."
Tammy put the phone down and wondered what she should do next. Her mobile chirped; she unlocked it to read the message:
Make no further enquiries
She picked up her overnight bag and headed for the door.
Thursday 25th January 2018
Sandy had shut the salon at lunchtime on Wednesday as usual but the lights weren't going off.
"I expect to find this place sparkling when I get back!"
She'd allowed them Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning to conclude the annual deep cleaning, but wasn't going to help this year.
Tammy had collected Sandy at two, along with Sandy's overnight bag, for a ride over to Wick Airport. That had been followed by an uneventful flight into Zurich.
"Okay, you still haven't told me why we're here, Tammy?"
They were taking breakfast in the Novotel, just the two of them. At Tammy's suggestion, both were in frocks for the day.
"I asked you to trust me, right?"
"Yes, but now I'm nervous."
"Okay, as I said to you, we have an appointment in half an hour at a building about one kilometre away. Please bring your papers with you."
"This is ruddy cloak and dagger stuff! Is it legal, Tammy?"
"Does this have anything to do with that letter I had from the Sheriff's Court about Kirk?"
"In a small way, yes."
"You know I didn't like that solicitor but I didn't have enough money to get one of my own, it was enough that I took over his mum's salon, she took me on as an apprentice when I sixteen years of age."
"When did he propose?"
"Christmas eve 1986, I had just turned eighteen."
"Oh, so you lost him the next year?"
"My world fell apart. It was five years before I had another relationship."
"Let's see if we can't fix some of that? Come with me, in an hour we can fly back if you want?"
"We've come this far, even if you haven't told me why?"
Tammy hailed a cab outside the hotel for the short ride around to Credit Suisse Tower. Their appointment was on the eighth floor with the dormant account section.
"Miss Smart and Mrs Smith to see Herr Bernoulli."
"Ja, bitte eine Minute, Fraulien."
Tammy wasn't disappointed by the short delay as a man approached the pair not long after they'd taken a seat.
"Fraulien Smart? Welcome to Credit Suisse, and you must be Frau Smith? Please, please, come with me."
Tammy had been forewarned by her father they would be seeing the manager, Herr Bernoulli was in charge of the section. They took seats in his office, around a low table, then waited whilst coffee was poured.
"My father sends his greetings Herr Bernoulli."
"Danke. I met him just after Christmas, ja, he looked very well. Are you following him into banking?"
"No, property and law."
"Good trades, but you'll need a good bank?"
"Indeed, but we're here to discuss a different matter?"
"Ah, ja, the account you queried. We sent several letters but nothing was returned."
"Unfortunately, there was some bad legal advice plus no-one knew of this account."
"How did you become involved?"
"I bought the property and found the account number in a safe, which hadn't been opened for thirty or so years."
"And you recognised it?"
"Yes. That's when I started to research Mr McDuff."
"Ah, Das gut, do you have the papers?"
Tammy had a copy of Kirk McDuff's death certificate, and the newly re-certified will. Separately Sandy produced her passport and her marriage certificate.
"So you were Sandra Reagan?"
"I was, many years ago."
"In which case I'm satisfied all is in order and that you may now have sole control of this account."
"How much is there?"
"In round numbers, more than three hundred thousand pounds sterling."
"Three ... hundred ... thousand?"
Tammy and her father had fibbed to the solicitor two weeks earlier, Richard had been told the value of the account but that wasn't to be disclosed. Tammy, at least, was prepared for the account value. The account was gaining interest daily and had added a thousand or so since Richard's visit, when it stood at £315,081.46.
"Three ... hundred ... thousand. Tammy, is this real?"
"What do I do with it?"
"I suggest you transfer some to your personal account and leave the rest here. You'll need to update your name and address details but I'm sure Herr Bernoulli has a team member who can help?"
"Nein, come over to my desk and we'll do it now."
They left the building twenty minutes later and Sandy had gained ten thousand pounds in her personal account.
"What am I going to do with it?"
"That's entirely up to you, Sandy."
"I might have the salon refurbished? Maybe a holiday?"
"I haven't been to Glasgow for a while."
"Why not somewhere warm?"
"I'm not sure. Look, Tammy, I don't want to be ungrateful, but how the hell did you pull this off without anyone gossiping?"
"Bankers don't gossip."
"Okay, but the other question is, is it legal?"
"Yes, one hundred percent legal."
"Is it too early for alcohol?"
"Definitely, for me, I'm flying later today. Remember?"
Sandy laughed. "You did look great in that white suit! Really professional."
Tammy winked as they entered a café. Tammy ordered a coffee while Sandy indulged a glass of wine to celebrate. On the flight home, Tammy began thinking about the gold bar sitting in the safe. Perhaps it might be a good idea to exchange it for legitimate bullion of an ingot or coinage. The outstanding question was how to exchange it, safely and legally?
Tammy dropped Sandy back at the salon so she could see how the cleaning had gone on, they'd gained an hour on the way back so it was just gone one thirty in the afternoon. The salon was dark and clearly deserted so Sandy went in search of her employees.
"I hope they didn't find the tip jar and decide to drink it?"
Tammy parked the car and walked towards the Castletown Hotel, finding Debbie in the bar.
"Yes, I'm back. Now, I thought you'd be working?"
"We finished half an hour ago. I treated everyone to a drink as a thank you."
"Well done, I'll make sure you all get paid, of course. Now, Debbie, I need a makeover."
"A glass of wine first?"
"I suppose so. Tammy, will you stay for a drink?"
"Yes, but not wine!"
She also resisted the temptation to compare the coffees she'd had in Zurich that morning with the drink delivered by the Thurso barman. It probably wasn't a fair comparison, but at least the espresso machine was working properly; maybe Tammy could suggest a change of the beans used?
"So where did you go?"
"Tammy took me to have a look at something, it was an interesting hotel break."
"That's not important."
Tammy disappeared to the loo briefly and found Sandy deep in conversation with an old friend when she returned to the bar, so she took the opportunity to slip out and drive home. She found Maisie in the basement lounge.
"Yes. How did it go?"
"Successful, I'll have to update Jeremiah."
Tammy flopped onto a bean bag.
"Don't get comfortable, we have a dinner invite."
"Yes, Cathy expects us at half past five."
"Damn, what's the time?"
"Just gone three fifteen."
"You should have let me know!"
"About the invite? Could you have got back here quicker?"
"Er, no, maybe."
"So, Tammy, we have two hours to get ready."
"Was there a dress code?"
"It's Burns Night."
"Oh shit. Oh, my parents will be there!"
Tammy made visual threats of violence against Maisie but dashed upstairs to find a suitable frock, before diving into the shower.
She found Maisie in the bathroom.
"What are you wearing?"
"I have an outfit, it's a surprise."
"Okay, but when did the invite arrive?"
"Your father told me last week, so I had a chance to do something about it."
"Damn you, Maisie Staines!"
A taxi delivered them to the large house.
The girls' coats were taken by Thomas, Tammy was in a white frock with a tartan sash whereas Maisie was in a genuine Black Watch dress uniform complete with a sgian-dubh.
"The Mistress is in the lounge, Miss Smart, Miss Staines."
"Thank you Thomas."
Maisie took Tammy's arm and escorted her into the lounge. They found Cathy, plus the family.
"Good evening Tammy, Maisie."
"Hi." Tammy acknowledged everyone in the room then the girls took a seat.
"Do I get the feeling I've been stitched up, Cathy?"
"Just like a traditional haggis, Tammy."
"Damn, and my fiancée was involved too?"
"She was instrumental!"
"I guess my parents are expected?"
"Indeed, but we tried to make certain you were here first."
"Your mother would be proud of your manipulative skills, Cathy."
"Indeed, I would like you to propose a toast in her memory tonight?"
"I'd be honoured. Tell me, did Harriet need that boarding room?"
"No, I'm told Harry and Harriet live at home still."
There was a noise behind her, Tammy rose to greet her father, followed by Joan. Richard shepherded them into the dining room.
"I'm sorry, mum, I guess I wasn't the best daughter I could have been?"
"No, Tammy, it was my fault. I forgot that you, Angela and Suzie are all independent young ladies and have your own way of doing things. Your father had to explain that to me. I understand you flew back from Zurich this afternoon?"
"Yes, I was righting a wrong."
"I had a very happy Sandy on the phone telling me that, but she wouldn't tell me why? Your father also knew, but wouldn't tell me?"
"Sorry, but you won't get anything from me either. The matter is confidential, although it required some input from Dad for which I'm grateful, otherwise no-one else is involved. What I've done is sorted out a miscarriage from three decades ago that I couldn't just ignore. It would do no good to publicise that."
"You feel strongly about that, righting a wrong?"
"I do, I use the same approach when my country asks me to help."
"Your name wasn't in any of the news reports?"
"It shouldn't be."
"That would prevent me from working with them again. My service, my abilities, depend on me keeping in the background."
"Does that mean you stay safe?"
"Yes, in principle." Tammy guessed that the full reply wouldn't help.
"But sometimes you're in danger?"
"There's a greater risk of being in a road accident or tripping in the street."
"I suppose so."
"What matters is not going into a situation without training, that's the difference between walking away and being carried away."
"How does Maisie fit into that?"
"She had a fiery baptism over Christmas but she coped well and is now out of basic training. Most of the time in the future she'll be watching my back."
"Won't that affect your relationship?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Are you going to put yourselves in danger again soon?"
"No, there's nothing planned. Has Dad told you we'll be out of the country at Easter?"
"Yes, but he wouldn't say why?"
"Because I didn't tell him. All you need to know is that it's a babysitting job and I know the place well."
"That reminds me, you said there's a way you and Maisie could have a child?"
"Yes, but we're waiting for the consultant to get back to us. It might not happen in the end, although we're not in a hurry."
A gong sounded, Tammy hugged Joan then took her hand. "Let's rejoin the others, Mum."
Tammy started the meal with a tribute to Elsie as the soup was being put on the table.
"It hasn't been said often enough or loud enough that Elsie MacPherson shaped all of us in a way that we can't always see. How often do you ask yourself the question 'what would Elsie say'? How often do you wish she was here, available for you?
"I've had good cause to ask myself that very question several times recently and I suspect I'm not alone.
Tammy looked around the table then looked directly at Cathy.
"Elsie's impact was different for all of us, but together we have a memory of a remarkable woman, one who still shapes our lives - perhaps without us even realising. Please, raise a glass to Elsie."
Tammy sat, a tear was in her eye. The only person at the table who hadn't known Elsie was her fiancée, that needed to be resolved somehow.
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