DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
FEEDBACK: If you enjoy the story please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to the readers who have stuck with this story from start to finish and for all the feedback I have received along the way.
A special thanks to Jan, for her wonderful job as my beta reader and to Trish for the constant support and encouragement.
Anna stood at the bottom of her stairwell looking out at what she had come to think of in her mind as ‘The spot'. She wanted to take her time and not rush out, like she had been. Running from the problem she was facing. ‘I can do this, no one is going to leap out and hit me.'
Anna almost jumped out of her skin. “Jesus, you nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“Sorry.” Anna's neighbour held out his hand. “I'm Gordon, Gordon Galloway. I was the one who found you.”
Anna shook his hand. “Pleased to meet you and thanks.”
“Still a bit jumpy, I'm not surprised. It was quite a blow you took.”
Anna subconsciously rubbed the back of her head. “Yeah.” She shrugged, “I guess it will take a little time to get over it.”
Gordon smiled, “I shouldn't imagine too much longer.”
“You're a doctor, right?”
Gordon nodded, “Accident and Emergency.”
“Wasn't that handy?”
Gordon shrugged, “I got a lift to work out of it.”
“So you were with me all the way?”
“You're not going to tell me how lucky I am?”
“We all have our near misses. I just happened to be around to help with yours. I'm guessing you have helped with others?”
“True.” They shared a smile. “Can I give you a lift somewhere?”
“I'm on my way to work, I was planning to walk.”
“It's pouring with rain, I could drop you off?”
Anna pointed her keys at her car and pressed for the locks to open. They both ran over to the Audi and got in.
“I didn't realise the rain was so heavy.” Gordon brushed the raindrops from his short dark hair.
Anna looked at the sky, seeing nothing but dark grey. “I don't think it's going to let up any time soon.” She started the engine and began the short trip to the hospital.
“I'm sorry I wasn't able to be of more help identifying your attacker.”
“Not to worry, they identified him from CCTV. He was someone I had a run in with years ago, seems he held a grudge for a long time.”
“And you're okay, no headaches or dizzy spells?”
Anna smiled at Gordon, “Honestly, I'm fine.”
“Good, that's good.”
Anna pulled up in front of the Accident and Emergency department. “Here we are.”
“It's Anna, and thank you for all you did for me.”
Gordon nodded and unclipped his seatbelt, hesitating. “Would you like to grab a coffee sometime?”
Anna thought for a moment, she always found these situations a little awkward. “If I told you I have a girlfriend, would you still want to go for coffee?”
“Ah, that does change things a little.” Gordon looked chagrined.
Anna smiled, “I'll see you around, Gordon.”
He opened the car door and got out. “Thanks, Anna, take care.”
Anna sat at her desk in Strathclyde CID headquarters. It was a little after eight in the morning and the place was quiet. She sipped her coffee as she looked around the space, smiling as she thought about Doctor Gordon Galloway asking her out. She doubted he would have many women turn him down, he was handsome, just not her type, she was sure the nurses were all in love with him at the hospital.
“Anna, good to see you back.”
She looked up and saw her boss walk past her. “Morning, Sir.”
“My office in five minutes.”
He wasn't hanging about, she thought to herself. She watched as he hung up his raincoat and started his coffee machine. She thought about Gordon Galloway's question. ‘Any headaches or dizzy spells?' She hadn't been completely honest, she was still suffering headaches, but they were lessening in severity as the days passed. She felt as though her head was still jumbled up inside from the blow, leaving everything feeling slightly off-kilter. Her hand again went to the back of her head where she rubbed her scar, feeling the soft bristle of the new grown hair that was now covering it. She glanced back into Davidson's office, only to find him scrutinising her with a keen eye. He motioned for her to come in.
“Close the door, Anna and take a seat.”
She did as he requested.
“Are you sure you're well enough for work?”
“Yes, Boss. I'll take it easy for a few days.”
He nodded, playing with the pen in his hand, twisting it as he contemplated her. He signed a form in front of him, and then handed it to her.
“Just go. You turn up and that's all I need to know.”
Anna looked at the form; it was a referral for counselling services.
“It's mandatory after what happened.”
He sat back in his chair and Anna assumed he was finished. She stood from her chair to leave.
“Eh, not so fast.” He waited until she sat back down. “Heather Keith, tell me what happened there.”
Anna sighed, “As you know I befriended her to find out more about her fiancé. We became good friends, but I remained professional, nothing happened whilst Greg Moir was a suspect, I swear. Actually, Boss, nothing happened between us until three weeks ago when…”
“Right, Lynch. I'm not asking for the details of your love life!”
Davidson shook his head. “I never expected this from you.”
Anna looked contrite and held her tongue.
“She's a nice lassie, I'll say that much. Better for you than that daughter of mine.”
Anna looked surprised.
“What? You think I don't know anything? I didn't make DCI by keeping my eyes shut.”
“I know, Sir, sorry.”
Davidson shook his head, “Go on, get out of here.”
He watched her leave before picking up his pen to sign more forms.
Pete looked over at Anna, as she walked straight back to her desk after leaving Davidson's office.
“Alright, Anna, how are you feeling?”
“I'm okay, Pete, thanks.”
“How did it go with Davidson?”
“Not bad all things considered. I'll tell you this though, not much gets past him.”
“Yeah I know, I've already had the dressing down about departmental romances.”
Anna rolled her eyes, “What are you working on?”
“I'm co-ordinating Operation Cannonball. It's one of those high visibility procedures. We make a big song and dance about arresting a few small time dealers. The media will be invited along to film and take pictures. It makes the evening news and everyone thinks we are winning the battle for a little while. Good public relations, but really a waste of our time.”
“I hate that stuff.”
Pete rubbed the back of his neck. “You don't want in on it do you?”
“You have got to be kidding.”
“Och, come on, Anna, you don't have anything else happening at the moment.”
“Will it involve any weekend work?”
Pete frowned, “I wouldn't think so.”
“Okay I'm in, unless something else comes up.”
Lunchtime found Anna driving up St Vincent Street looking for the tobacconist Pete had recommended. Spotting it she pulled into the side of the road, much to the annoyance of the driver of the car behind her who beeped loudly. Ignoring him, she parked and got out of her car making her way quickly into the shop.
There was a smartly dressed elderly man behind the counter. “May I help?”
Anna removed the empty packet of tobacco from her pocket and put it on the counter top. “Do you sell this brand?”
“Oh yes, it's very popular. Now we have the Mac Baren Gold Blend in the packet or a tin. Do you have a preference?”
Anna considered the question. “What keeps best?”
“Ahh, now, there is a question. The reality is, it all depends on the smoker. Some like their tobacco dry, whilst others prefer it moist.”
“I'll stick with the pouch then, as I have no idea.”
“A wise choice. Is it just the one?”
“No, I'll take three pouches, thanks.”
The elderly tobacconist put three pouches of pipe tobacco into a brown paper bag. “That will be £29.91 please?”
Anna gave him thirty pounds and waited on her change. He handed it to her along with the bag full of tobacco.
“That's nine pence change.”
“Come again now.”
Anna returned to the station just after lunch feeling only a little bit better than she had earlier that morning. Her mood was flat and she couldn't quite shake the blackness that seemed to be hovering over her.
“Where have you been?” Pete leaned back in his chair, stretching.
“Shopping. I went to the tobacconist you recommended.”
“What is with that any way? Is it for the doctor who helped you?”
Anna laughed, “No, but I did give him a lift into the Royal Infirmary this morning.”
“He asked me out on a date.”
Pete laughed. “I wish I had been there.”
“I handled it well I thought.”
“Yeah right, did you stare at him until he squirmed?”
“No, I told him I had a girlfriend. I was nice.”
Pete looked disbelievingly at her.
“Sure you were, so who is the tobacco for?”
Anna laughed, “It's really getting to you isn't it, not knowing?”
Pete rolled his eyes, “Yes, I admit it, now tell me.”
“It's for Finlay, the old guy who helped me find my way out of the woods. The one who helped save your life?”
“Oh yeah, the mysterious Finlay. The boss thinks he was an apparition.”
“So does Lesley, but he is real and I'm going to find him.”
“If you do, tell him I will be forever grateful.”
“Anna, maybe I could meet him sometime?”
“Sure, I'll mention it to him.”
Pete drummed his fingers on his desk. “You really think you can find him?”
“I'm going in the daytime. Should be easier to spot his place.”
“Take a compass.” Pete suggested.
Anna's voice trailed off as she caught sight of her boss through the open blinds of his office. Pete turned to look at what had grabbed her attention.
“He looks like he's about to have a heart attack.”
“Something is up.” Anna felt this was bad. She watched as Davidson took his phone and slammed it against the wall. “Shit, I wonder what's happened.” She looked at Pete who shrugged.
Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Davidson sat dejectedly in his chair and stared out the window. He didn't move.
“Go see what's happened?”
“You go, you're the one that always has to know everything.”
“You're the DI, it should be you, next in the chain of command and all that.”
Anna had a bad feeling about this. “Maybe we should just wait, I don't want to get hit with a flying phone.”
At that point Davidson turned and looked straight at her. Anna held eye contact with him, then started to walk towards his office.
“Everything okay, Sir?”
“No. Jim Wallace is missing.”
Davidson raised his voice. “As in, vanished from the safe house he has been living in.”
“Without him we have nothing.”
“Don't I bloody know it! Our entire case was pinned on his testimony against Lachlan Brown.”
Anna sat in the chair opposite her boss. “Foul play?”
Davidson was staring at a blank spot on the wall. “I'm never going to get that bastard.” He fumed through gritted teeth.
Anna asked again, “Do you suspect foul play?”
“Doesn't look like it, but I'll bet that bastard was behind it.”
This really was bad news, “What now?”
“I don't know, our main witness is missing and he could be anywhere.”
“We could try talking to Mark McLaren, see if he will turn state's witness?”
“We could,” Davidson agreed, “but with his son involved, I don't see him giving up Brown.”
“On the other hand, he could be out sooner if he does give him up.”
Davidson sighed. “It's worth a try I suppose.”
“Why would Wallace disappear now? It doesn't make sense.”
“I don't know. We have been running around in circles from the start on this case.” Davidson held up his index finger to press home his point. “Lachlan Brown has always been one step ahead of us.”
“It still doesn't make sense, Wallace disappearing now.”
“We're going to end up with nothing from this.”
“Well we do have the heroin we seized and a dirty cop. If McLaren had remained in the department who knows what else he could have done.” Anna tried to rationalise the situation.
“Aye, that's true.” Davidson had a faraway look in his eye. “All we can do is hope that Wallace turns up.”
“Where was he?”
“A safe house in Edinburgh .”
“Any bodies turn up there today?”
“I'm waiting to hear back.”
Anna removed her mobile phone from her pocket and looked up her contacts. She pressed the number she wanted and waited for an answer.
“ Anderson ?”
“This is Detective Inspector Lynch from Strathclyde. Have you got any unidentified bodies there today? Specifically a white male early fifties?”
“Business I see, someone with you?”
“There was a jumper early this morning who fits your description. No suspicious circumstances.”
“There could be if he turns out to be our main witness in an up and coming drugs' trial.”
“You want to come and have a look at him?”
“Give me a call when you get near Edinburgh , I'll meet you at the morgue. If it is your witness, I'll need details to investigate further.”
“Okay, I'll be leaving in the next few minutes, see you soon.”
Anna ended the call and turned to her expectant boss. “An, as yet, unidentified jumper in Edinburgh who could fit Wallace's description.”
“Let's go then.”
Anna was doing eighty miles an hour east bound along the M8 towards Edinburgh .
“Who will we be meeting?”
“Detective Inspector Maddie Anderson.”
“You make one call and here we are chasing our strongest lead whilst those bastards I spoke to still haven't got back to me. Bloody useless idiots.”
“It's just luck that I happen to know a detective in the Lothian and Borders murder squad who makes it her business to know everything going on in the city, and the prospect of a murder case will always get her interested.”
When Anna made the call s they approached Edinburgh, Maddie arranged to meet her at the entrance to the morgue in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. She was already there when Anna and Davidson arrived.
“Detective Inspector Maddie Anderson, this is Chief Inspector Bruce Davidson.”
The pair shook hands and Maddie led them into the morgue, giving details as they walked. “He was found this morning, at about six-thirty, by a woman walking her dog at the foot of Salisbury Crags. It's a popular spot for dog walkers…and jumpers.”
The mortician had the body ready for Anna and Bruce Davidson to view; as the tray was pulled open they waited with baited breath until the face came into view.
“That's him. Bloody hell!” Davidson cursed.
Anna was more philosophical. “Well at least we know what's happened to him.” She turned to Maddie, “When's the post-mortem?”
“I'll ask for it to be done as soon as possible. Now that we know there are suspicious circumstances we will want to determine the exact cause of death as soon as we can.”
“I'm betting he was dead before he hit the ground.” Davidson declared.
“He could have been pushed off the cliff, whilst still alive.” Anna speculated.
“Or it could be a suicide. The post-mortem will tell us.” Maddie stated coolly. “Tell me what you know about him?”
Anna began to fill Maddie in on some of the details whilst Davidson took another look at the body. Whatever the cause of death, their case was all but over.
“I'll get back to you as soon as I have the results of the post-mortem. If there is any hint of foul play, we may be looking at a joint investigation. I know that your witness turning up dead may well end your case, but if this becomes a murder enquiry, you may still get some kind of result.”
“Lachlan Brown would never dirty his own hands, but we will give you everything you need to assist your investigation.”
“Thank you, Anderson ”
“I'll call you with the results, Sir.”
Davidson was already walking from the morgue; no longer interested in anything it held.
Maddie turned her full attention on Anna. “Congratulations on the promotion.”
“Thanks, Maddie. How are you keeping?”
“I'm well, and you, have you sorted out your previous problem, or are you looking for some more assistance?”
Anna smiled, “I ah, I'm getting all the help I need with that.”
Maddie raised an elegant eyebrow. “Really?”
“Ah, yeah, seems she feels the same way.”
“Lucky you or, should I say, lucky her.”
“I'm the lucky one.”
“Thanks for your help today, Maddie.”
“There are a couple of nice ones on the market, I can get you a good price. One in particular you might be interested in. Just a couple of years younger than Bessie.”
George Robertson looked embarrassed and Anna couldn't believe it. Standing there in his oil stained overalls with an oily rag in his hand.
“Ah, well you see, I'm very fond of her. I named her Bessie a few years back. I don't know why, the name just seemed to fit.” He ran his hand over the bonnet of the Land Rover, and then gave it a solid pat.
“You know, George, I think I am in the market for one.”
“Oh, you won't regret it, Anna.”
“Can I leave you to pick one up for me?”
“Absolutely, would be my pleasure. I'll make sure you get the best deal and of course, I will check it over myself, it will be running good as new.”
“What kind of price are we talking?”
“With all the bodywork done and a fresh paint job?”
“Will cost you less then three thousand.”
“Does that include your bill?”
George smiled. “I'll work with the budget of three thousand, that should cover my time as well.”
“You will be sure to let me know if it comes to more?” Anna wanted to be certain that George would be fair to himself.
“I will, but it won't.” He stated confidently.
“Thanks, George. Is early Monday morning okay to return, ah, Bessie?”
“Perfect, Anna, you have a great weekend.”
Anna was taking the day off work, not that her boss minded, the week had turned into a nightmare for them. Jim Wallace's death appeared to be suicide. DI Anderson said she would make enquiries, but Anna wasn't holding out much hope for any more information. Jim Wallace was dead and so was their case. There wasn't much going on at the moment so making an early start to the weekend made sense and Davidson had readily agreed, telling her he was fed up looking at her miserable face. She had to laugh; the man didn't pull any punches. He was right though, she had been miserable all week and, as she began her journey North, it was no surprise to her that she felt her mood lift with each passing mile.
Anna parked on the grass verge at the side of the A92. She was sure this was the spot where Finlay had asked the Montrose police to stop the car; he had then disappeared into the woodland. There was a gap in the trees on the other side of the road and Anna contemplated driving through it. Now that she was here her plan seemed crazy, but she just knew Finlay was in there, despite the peculiarity of the situation. She grabbed her binoculars and compass from her rucksack and stood on the bonnet of the Land Rover. Peering through the trees and over some of the treetops seemed fruitless, she couldn't see any kind of building, but something else caught her eye. She looked more closely and was sure she saw smoke. Anna pointed the compass in that direction and took a reading. She intended to take the Land Rover off road and drive straight to the source of the fire. It seemed as good a plan as any.
After a ten-minute drive, Anna came across a stone building in a clearing and she instinctively knew this was Finlay's home. Exiting the vehicle, she walked towards the house. She heard a dog barking then saw a Border collie come into view, just before Finlay himself opened the door. ‘ I bloody well knew he was real' , she reassured herself, but a small part of her was relieved to know she hadn't been losing her mind.
Anna waved. “How are you, Finlay?”
He scrutinised her for a moment as she continued to walk towards him. “Ah, Detective Anna. Come away in. Don't mind, Gus, he has a mind o' his own.”
“He wasn't with you the last time we met.”
“He usually stays around the house, Like a' said, he has a mind o' his own. Pleases himself. Always lets me know when a'body is approachin' though.”
Anna followed Finlay inside the house while Gus remained outside. There was a roaring fire in the hearth, with a pile of cut wood waiting to be added.
“Please, Finlay, if it's not too much trouble.”
“Nae trouble at aw'.”
Finlay lifted a kettle that was sitting by the fire keeping warm. “So to whit dae I owe the pleasure?”
Anna smiled at Finlay. “Maybe I just had to make sure you were real.”
He let out a hearty laugh. “It wouldnae' be the first time.”
“Also, I brought you a little something.”
Finlay frowned. “Oh, an' whit would that be?”
Anna removed the pouches of tobacco from her rucksack and handed them to him.
He opened the bag with a curious look, before eyeing Anna suspiciously. “An' how did ye ken whit to be getting' me?”
“Nothing too mysterious, Finlay. There was an empty pouch of that brand lying in the Land Rover, I guessed it was yours.”
“Much appreciated. Thank you, Anna. And how is t'other one? An dare a' ask, the shooter?”
“Pete has made a really good recovery, he is back on full duty. The shooter was found dead at the bottom of a cliff on Monday. An apparent suicide.”
“You dinnae think so?”
“Can't be sure, Finlay, but he was a vital witness to us.”
“A pity then.”
“You could say.” Anna sipped her tea and grimaced; it was like tar.
“Puts hairs on yer chest.”
“No disrespect, Finlay, but I'm not looking for any. How on earth do you drink that?”
“So long as it's hot an' sweet, it's guid enough.”
Anna could tell Finlay was a proud and independent man, but there was no denying he was getting on in years. She had questions, but knew she would have to tread carefully.
“You manage fine out here on your own?”
“I do, an I'm no' lookin' fur any change.”
“I understand. Do you get many visitors?”
Finlay nodded, “Aye, two or three a week.”
“Could you stand another?”
“Aye, if she is a non interfering one.” He warned.
Anna smiled, Finlay was quite the character. “She will be.”
“Giud, cause I'll no have a'body meddling in ma' business.”
“Understood. Oh, Pete would like to meet you sometime, I don't think he believes you exist.”
“Bring him by. No much fun being shot, fresh air will dae him good.”
Anna watched as Finlay's steady, but gnarled hand raised a chipped, white enamel cup to his lips.
“Did you never marry, Finlay?”
Finlay got a far away look in is eye, the ghost of a smile crossing his lips. “I wis engaged tae be married when I left for the front. A lovely lassie she was.”
“I didn't come back the man I was when I left.”
“The war affect you badly?”
Finlay looked at Anna for a full minute, but she kept eye contact with him, despite finding his scrutiny a little uncomfortable.
“I saw many things in the war. I also killed because it was a case of kill or be killed. The smell o' rotting flesh, the noise, the filth an' squalor, I saw it all. War is a nasty business, but a necessary one. Killing a man, taking the life o' anith'r human being, it was almost ma' undoing, but I coped, after a' fashion. That wisnae whit did fur me tho', Anna. I was captured, became a' prisoner o' war. I tried tae escape and was punished. When a' got back home, I was of nae use tae her as a man. She wanted to go ahead wi' the wedding, but a' couldn't. She married somebody else.”
Anna was struggling to get her head around what Finlay had told her. Castration, it was just so bloody awful. She had heard of this, but to see a man sitting in front of her, who had actually gone through such a thing, Anna could understand why he would remove himself from society.
“I'm so very sorry, Finlay.”
He shook his head, “Was a long time ago.”
Anna couldn't say exactly why, but she found herself opening up to Finlay, most likely because he had been so honest with her. “I know what it's like to kill a man.”
“When a' looked at ye, I could see it in yer eyes. The sorrow an' regret.”
Anna nodded, “It changes something fundamental inside you.”
“That it does, lass.”
“I was acquitted of any wrong doing, it was ruled accidental, but I never told anyone, I wanted to kill him. I was in such a blind rage, I can never be sure what really happened.”
“We are capable o' things we could never imagine, but in a certain set o' circumstances, things change.”
Anna nodded; she knew exactly what Finlay was taking about.
“Do ye have a man in yer life, Anna?”
“No, Finlay, I have a woman.”
He looked at her as he thought about her answer. “Oh, now there's a thing.” Finlay nodded to himself. “Makes sense, yer too much fur any man tae handle, yer a free spirit, Detective Anna, an a' reckon a woman will gie ye the freedom ye need.”
“I think you could be right, Finlay.”
Anna left Finlay's house and drove the short distance back to the main road; she was very much looking forward to reaching her final destination.
As the last few miles passed by, Anna felt her anticipation heighten and, when at last she saw the sign for Havensburgh, she couldn't keep the smile from her face. Taking a right turn, she drove down into the village and headed straight for Heather's cottage. It was almost winter now and, with no passing tourist trade now that summer was over, the village was visibly quieter.
Anna parked in front of the cottage. She knew Greg wasn't around, so that was no longer a concern. Heather had told her he had made arrangements to move out. Anna hadn't asked for any more details, but she was admittedly happy that Heather and Greg were finalising the last remaining facets of their relationship.
Anna knocked on the front door and waited. She had arrived earlier than arranged, hoping to surprise Heather. She looked at her watch; she had said she would drive up after work, which meant Heather wouldn't be expecting her until almost nine p.m. It was now just after one. She knocked again and waited, but it seemed Heather wasn't home. Anna sighed, lamenting the loss of her surprise. She unlocked the keypad on her mobile phone and called Heather on hers.
Heather sounded happy to hear from her, Anna smiled, “Where are you?”
“At work, sorting out the upcoming month's activities.”
“Are you alone?”
“Ahh, yes. I'm alone. Why?”
“No reason. Do you plan to be at work much longer?”
Anna waited; Heather was obviously wondering where this conversation was leading.
“I was planning to work for another hour or so, why?”
Anna could hear the smile in Heather's voice despite the blonde's suspicions.” No reason, I'll see you later then?”
“Looking forward to it.”
Heather stared at her phone wondering about the strange call she had just received. Shaking her head she continued with her work on the up and coming calendar of events.
Anna got back into the Land Rover and drove the short distance to the local grocer's shop. She chose a bunch of the flowers that were on display outside and entered the shop.
Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey eyed her cautiously from behind the counter. In her excitement Anna had all but forgotten that she was persona non grata in the village. Taking a deep breath she steeled herself and walked confidently to the counter.
“Will that be all?” Mr. Ramsey obviously wasn't in the mood for small talk.
“Yes, just the flowers.”
“Four pounds ninety-nine pence, please.”
Anna handed him ten pounds and waited for her change. He gave her the money without further comment.
“Thank you.” Despite the obvious hostility towards her, Anna remained courteous.
Anna entered the community centre, pleased to be back. She peeked in at Heather, who had her back to her, working at the computer.
“Be with you in just a moment,” Heather called out, before finishing off whatever it was she was working on. She swivelled round in her work chair to greet her visitor, a smile already on her face, which quickly turned into a look of genuine surprise. “Anna!”
Heather jumped straight out of her chair and ran across to Anna. They hugged tightly, both delighted to see each other again.
“I missed you,” Anna said as she inhaled the scent of Heather's perfume. She then took the blonde's lips in a long passionate kiss that left them both a little breathless.
“I, ah, got you some flowers.” Anna handed the slightly crushed bouquet to Heather, who just beamed her delight. She wouldn't have cared if they had been weeds.
Anna was stunned when her lips were taken in a hard kiss.
“Wow, do you have to stay and work?”
“No, let me shut the computer down and lock up.”
“You have the Land Rover?”
“Yeah, it belongs to a friend of my boss. He loaned it to me for the weekend. I had to make a stop on the way up here. It meant going off road, so I needed this.” Anna thought for a moment. “Have you heard of an old guy called Finlay? He lives in a wooded area about ten miles from here.”
“Yes, but I've never met him.”
“That's who I went to see. The night when everything happened and Pete ended up getting shot, I was frantically trying to find my way out of the woods to get him to a hospital. It was Finlay who came to my rescue. He is a remarkable person.”
“Well that puts paid to the rumour that he passed away.”
“He is very much alive, trust me. I feel like it's a privilege that he has granted me permission to drop in on him now and again. He made it clear that it was only on the condition that I didn't meddle in any of his business. The feisty old codger.”
“My dad knows Finlay, but he never tells my mum anything about him despite her questions. He is the stuff of rumour and legend around here.”
Anna smiled, “I can see why after meeting him. Words of warning though, if you ever get the opportunity, say no to the tea. It's ghastly.”
Heather laughed, “I'll keep that in mind.”
Anna parked in front of Heather's cottage. She took her rucksack and the pair went inside. Heather immediately went for a vase to put her flowers in, while Anna looked around the cottage. Everything was as it had been before, with the exception of a couple of photographs that had shown Heather and Greg in each other's arms, smiling. Heather returned to the sitting room and put the vase of flowers in the window.
“They are beautiful, thank you.”
Anna looked at Heather, they had so much to talk about, but all she really wanted to do in that moment was make love to her. Anna didn't know if Heather read the look on her face, or if she simply wanted the exact same thing, but she found herself being manoeuvred down onto the sofa with Heather following her. With urgent hands, they divested each other of all clothing, desperate to reconnect after a week apart. As they lay in each others arms, sweating and breathing heavily, Anna knew she wanted Heather in her life completely, she doubted she could ever get enough of her.
Heather laughed as she looked at the clothes strewn around the floor. She made a half-hearted attempt to pick them up, but Anna had other ideas and pulled her back onto the sofa.
“Don't waste your time doing that,” she declared as she captured Heather in yet another passionate kiss, which led to them making out on the sofa again.
“Wait, I have a better idea.”
“You do?” Anna's raised eyebrow suggested she was more than intrigued.
Heather took her hand and the pair walked naked to the bedroom, which was lit by a solitary lamp. Anna closed the door behind them before wrestling Heather to the bed, while declaring that she was about to ravage her, much to the blonde's delight.
“God, I love you.” Anna took Heather's lips in a hard fast kiss before moving to her breasts. She sucked them fervently, the nipples hardening in her mouth. She kissed Heather again, and then sucked the pulse point on her neck before returning to her breasts. Heather was being driven insane and desperately wanted to touch Anna, but she remained elusive, constantly removing Heather's hands from her body or squirming out of reach. Anna began to make her way down Heather's body, trailing a path of kisses as she went, licking and sucking the inside of Heather's thighs until the blonde was dizzy with need. Anna pinned Heather's hands to the mattress with her own as she took her clit into her mouth, using her tongue to circle and lick it. Heather screamed her pleasure and begged Anna to stop when she could take no more. Anna released her hands and moved back up to look at Heather, hovering above her and smiling down at the spent woman.
Anna lazily trailed her fingers over Heather's stomach. They had been making love for most of the afternoon and it was now past dinnertime. Heather turned and smiled at Anna, momentarily taking her breath away. She continued to smile at Heather.
“I'm just happy to be here with you.”
“I'm delighted you're here.”
Anna kissed Heather on the lips. “Not everyone is so happy about that.”
Heather frowned, “What do you mean?”
“I had quite a frosty reception from Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey in the shop today. I suppose that is something I will have to get used to if I'm going to be spending time here.”
“They will come round, just like the kids did.”
“What about your mum?”
Heather thought back to Wednesday evening when she had gone to her parents for dinner as usual. Initially the evening had gone well. Agnes Keith had been in a good mood, delighted after looking at pictures of her granddaughter Lilly, that Glen had given to Heather. The mood turned sour when Agnes Keith had asked her daughter when she would next be seeing Anna. When Heather had told her about the planned visit she vowed not to come near the cottage all weekend upon hearing Anna would be there. Her father had said he hoped she had a lovely time and to tell Anna he was relieved to hear she was doing well after her attack. It was such a contrast between the two. She knew her mother was going to need a lot more time to come to terms with all the changes that had occurred in such a short period of time. Her father seemed to be taking things in stride, as was his way.
Heather sighed, “My mum is struggling at the moment, Anna. Hopefully that will change over time. She liked you before, I think she can again.”
“I hope so.” Anna held Heather's hand and rubbed her thumb over the back of it. “What about your brother? How is she taking that news?”
“I honestly don't know, she didn't even mention Glen when I spoke to her on Wednesday, she only talked about Lilly.”
“It is a lot for her to take in.”
“Yeah it is.”
Heather's stomach rumbled loudly at that moment causing them both to laugh.
“I suppose it has been a while since we have eaten.”
“You stay there and I'll make us something to eat.”
Anna was about to protest, but Heather stalled her. “I'll just be five minutes, I'll make some sandwiches.”
Anna lay in bed thinking about how her presence in Heather's life had affected her relationship with her mum. She really did hope that the woman came around; otherwise she would feel responsible for causing pain to Heather.
Heather returned with a plate full of sandwiches, which the pair tucked into.
“How was your week at work?”
“It was, ah,” Anna paused, searching for a word that would best describe how her week had gone. “It was disappointing.”
“Did you not feel up to it?”
“No, it wasn't that. I actually feel quite good. It was disappointing because our case is falling apart.”
“Heather, Jim Wallace is dead.”
“As in jumped off a cliff dead.”
“He committed suicide?”
“It looks that way. He was put in a safe house after he had turned state's witness in the case I was investigating. But then, on Monday morning, he was found dead at the bottom of some cliffs. An apparent suicide however, because he was the main witness, we suspect he may have been pushed. But there are no signs of foul play.”
“That's awful, Anna.”
“I know, we bloody needed him alive.”
Heather looked horrified, “I meant it's awful that Jim Wallace is dead.”
“Well, yeah, that is tragic but, Heather, he was in this up to his neck and only giving evidence to save his own skin.”
“Well, I suppose.”
“Anyway, with Wallace dead, we have no case.”
“All that work for nothing.”
“I wouldn't say that. It brought us together.” Anna smiled.
Heather was touched by Anna's heartfelt words. “Well there is that.”
“You don't have any regrets?”
Heather gave Anna her full attention. “Why would you ask that?”
“Your relationship with your mum has suffered. What if she doesn't accept us?”
Heather took Anna's hand. “Obviously, I want to have a good relationship with my mother, but the truth is, Anna, we haven't had that, well, since Glen left all those years ago. If she chooses not to accept our relationship, I won't allow her disapproval to affect what I have with you. I allowed her to take too much control with regards to my relationship with Greg, especially the wedding arrangements. That was a mistake, and it was also very unfair of me.”
“Why was it unfair.”
“I allowed her to go on thinking I was going to marry Greg long after I knew it wasn't going to happen. I shouldn't have done that, but it was the easiest thing to do at the time. The truth is, Anna, my mum can be overbearing, but part of the blame lies with me, because I allowed it.”
Anna pulled Heather to her and they lay naked in each other's arms. “You didn't want to hurt her, Heather, you shouldn't blame yourself.”
Heather was silent for so long Anna thought she had fallen asleep, until she spoke against Anna's chest. “Who knows, maybe by Christmas we could all be sitting around the same table.”
Anna dearly hoped that Heather got her wish.
Anna walked into work on Monday morning, her mood vastly improved after the weekend she had spent with Heather.
“Morning, Pete,” Anna greeted him with more cheer than usual.
Pete raised an eyebrow. “Looks like someone got laid.”
Anna didn't take the bait and instead she simply smiled.
Pete shook his head, “Nice one, Anna.”
Anna had arranged to meet Lesley for lunch; they had a lot to catch up on and Anna decided to make the most of her lighter work schedule.
“You're looking well, certainly a lot better than the last time I saw you.” Lesley observed as she took a bite of her hamburger.
“Thanks, Lesley, I feel pretty good. How have you been?”
“Oh, you know, the usual. Busy with work and family.”
“And how are the family?”
“The kids are doing well, as is Gordon. He was asking after you.”
“Did you tell him the bad news, that I have made a full recovery?” Anna punctuated her words with a smile.
Lesley playfully swatted her arm. “Stop that, he was glad to hear you were going to be okay. You had us really worried, you know?”
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
“You know something, you don't just look well, you look…radiant. What gives?”
“I'm in love.”
“I've known that for a while.” Lesley waved her finger. “But something has changed.”
Anna knew Lesley had a keen eye; she read people well and was rarely wrong. “I just spent a fantastic weekend with Heather.”
“Well that is different, you actually spending an entire weekend with the same woman.”
Anna laughed, “I suppose.” There was a silence between them for a moment and Anna picked up the saltshaker and pretended to examine it whilst she considered how best to continue.
Anna had her friend's full attention.
“I want to be with her.”
“That's fantastic, Anna. It's about time you had a girlfriend.”
“No, I mean I want to be with her, as in everyday.”
“Oh, wow.” Lesley was genuinely shocked by her friend's words.
“It just feels so right, you know?”
Lesley nodded, “It's a shame you both live so far away from each other and, in your job, even weekends aren't always your own.”
“That's why I have decided to put in a request for a transfer.”
Lesley sat there, completely stunned at the thought of Anna actually leaving Glasgow … and for a woman. “You're kidding?”
“No, I'm absolutely serious. I won't ask Heather to move here, not after everything that happened and what I put her and the kids at the community centre through. That just wouldn't be fair. I'm going to transfer up to Aberdeen or Montrose and move up there.”
“Will you move in with Heather?”
“Truthfully, if she asked me, I would, but if it's too soon for her, I will find a place close by.”
Lesley became emotional. “Anna, I'm just so happy for you. I will miss you when you go, but I'm delighted that you have finally found someone.”
“Thanks, Lesley. I'll be back in Glasgow frequently. I plan to keep my flat and I imagine that Heather will want to visit her brother regularly.”
“You have really given this a lot of thought.”
“It just all became so clear to me as I was driving home from Havensburgh last night. I'm absolutely certain that it's what I want and the right thing to do.”
Lesley stood up. “I'm so pleased for you, give me a hug?” She pulled Anna out of her chair and hugged her tightly in the middle of the canteen, planting a kiss on her cheek. They sat back down and Anna distractedly picked up one of her now cold chips and dipped it in the mayonnaise.
“When will you tell Davidson?”
“I was thinking this afternoon.” Anna popped the chip in her mouth and grimaced. “Yuck.”
Lesley laughed; Anna's head was clearly elsewhere.
The knock on his open door made Bruce Davidson look up from his paperwork.
“Sir, a word?”
“Come in, Anna.”
She entered and closed the door behind her. Taking a seat opposite Davidson, she fidgeted under his scrutiny.
Davidson frowned. “You're acting like a school kid who has been sent to the headmaster for smoking in the toilets. Come on, out with it.”
Anna cleared her throat, “Sir, I want to request a transfer.”
Davidson stared at her, clearly dumbfounded. “A transfer? Out of drugs?”
“No, Sir, out of Glasgow .”
He frowned, “Is it because of the bloody attack because, I tell you this, transfer isn't the answer. You need to confront your fears.”
“I'm aware of that, Sir, it's nothing to do with the attack.”
“Then what the bloody hell for?”
Anna swallowed nervously; this was a lot tougher than she had imagined. “I want to transfer to Aberdeen or Montrose.”
She watched as the expression on Davidson's face turned from one of confusion to realisation.
“You want to be nearer to that wee lassie, Heather?”
“And you're absolutely sure about this?”
“Yes, I have no doubts, Sir.”
He sat back in his chair and stared at her. “Well I never saw this coming.” He rubbed his chin, “Have you told anyone else?”
“Just Lesley Hamilton.”
Davidson nodded, “Well, I never thought I would be saying this, but McGinty is going to be really cut up when he hears.” Davidson sighed as he played with the pen in his hands. “Okay, Anna, I'll approve the transfer but I'll be sorry to see you go, you're a damn good detective.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Anna got up to leave the office.
“Are you going to tell McGinty now?”
“I thought I might as well, would you prefer that I wait?”
“Oh no, no time like the present.” He motioned with his head, “Go on.”
Anna frowned, “Yes, Sir.”
Pete watched Anna walk towards him after leaving Davidson's office. “Everything okay?”
“Oh yes, Pete, fine.”
He flicked his eyes towards Davidson who was standing at his office door. “What's up with the boss then?”
Anna looked behind her; she couldn't believe he was watching. “Oh, nothing, I was just in having a chat with him.”
She took a seat opposite Pete at his desk. “I, ah, put in a transfer request.”
“A transfer? To where?”
She bit her lip, “To Aberdeen or Montrose.”
Pete stared wide-eyed at her, and she waited until he found his voice. “Jesus. I never considered that you would move up there…Jesus.” Pete looked like someone had run over his dog.
Anna tried ineffectually to lift the mood. “I'm not going yet, I've only just made the transfer request.” She rambled on, “I'm keeping my flat in Glasgow , I mean, after all, I have friends here and Heather's brother is here. We can meet up for a drink whenever I come down.” She waited for Pete to talk.
“Would you excuse me for a minute, Anna?”
“Sure.” Anna watched Pete leave the department. She turned helplessly and looked to Davidson for some assistance. The man never cracked a smile, but she knew he was laughing inside, she could see the merriment in his eyes.
She wanted to go and find Pete, but had no idea as to what she would say to him, if she did. Deciding it was best to give him his space, she returned to her desk, and pretended to work, but she was really watching the door and waiting for Pete to come back. When he finally returned he didn't even look her way. Just took a seat at his desk and ignored her.
John Hutton entered the department some time later, greeting Pete as he passed his desk. Getting no response, he walked towards Anna. “What's up with McGinty he looks like his best pal just died?”
“Shut up, Hutton.” Anna glared at him.
Hutton stood in the middle of the room and looked from Pete to Anna, then back again. He shook his head, “Jesus, the two of you should have shagged months ago,” he declared loudly.
Both Anna and Pete stared at him, then at each other.
“Eww that would be like incest!” Anna declared.
They both laughed, the ice between them finally broken.
“Would be like kissing my sister.” Pete added.
Hutton shook his head at the pair of them and walked on.
They shared a smile; everything was going to be okay.
Anna took a walk outside the building; she wanted some fresh air and privacy. Dialling the now familiar number, she waited on an answer.
“Hi, Anna, how is your day going?”
Anna smiled upon hearing her lover's voice. “It's a lot better now.”
“Such a charmer.”
Anna cleared her throat; “I was wondering if you would be able to come to Glasgow this weekend?”
“I would love to, I miss you already.”
Anna kicked a pebble that was at her foot, “I miss you too. I love you.”
“I love you too, very much.”
“I'll see you Friday?”
“I'll drive down on Friday afternoon and leave on Sunday.”
“I might pop over to see Glen on Saturday, would you like to come?”
“Do you think he will do lunch?” She could hear Heather's laughter down the phone.
“I'll go regardless.”
“I'll see you Friday. I plan to leave work early but, if I'm held up for any reason, I'll give you a call.”
“Thanks, Anna, till Friday, then.”
“Till Friday. Bye, Heather.”
“Bye, Anna, I love you.”
Anna doubted she would ever tire of hearing those words. “I love you too.”
Putting the phone back into her pocket Anna tilted her head back and looked up into the sky. The sounds of a busy, bustling city filled her senses and the first spots of yet another shower began to land on her face. Anna produced a full-blown smile, knowing she was making all the right decisions. As the rain got heavier she spread her arms and enjoyed the sensation, only to be brought back down to earth with the sound of a familiar voice from her left.
“Jesus, Lynch, get a grip. That bump must have affected you worse than they said.”
Anna turned to look at a bewildered Bruce Davidson and burst out laughing as he shook his head, before turning quickly to walk towards his car, muttering about people around him losing their minds.
He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at the now soaked with rain Anna Lynch, who was grinning at him like an idiot.
“Give me a smile?”
“Away with you, ya bloody eejit!”
“Come on, just one smile?” she encouraged.
He grinned and shook his head, then outright laughed at her antics, before giving hell to a passing uniformed police officer who was staring at them, open-mouthed. Anna laughed harder. Life was good.
“Well that was interesting.” Anna declared, as she removed her jacket. “I have to say, I was impressed with your mum. Despite all her earlier complaining, she made a big effort to accommodate everyone with the menu and I thought she was very tolerant of String Bean.”
Heather looked indulgently at Anna, “You could take a leaf out of her book.”
“What can I say, the woman rubs me up the wrong way.” Anna took a seat on the sofa and waited for Heather to join her. She removed her boots, wriggling her toes, relieved to be free of the restricting footwear.
“You looked lovely tonight, Anna, I like it when you dress up, it's a rare treat.” Heather took a seat next to her, folding her stocking clad legs up onto the cushions.
Anna looked down at herself. In a change from her usual casual style, she was wearing a damson coloured fitted shirt and black dress trousers. In truth, she was desperate to get into something more comfortable but she loved seeing Heather in her dress and was keeping her own clothes on for a little longer so that she could continue to enjoy the sight before her.
“It was wonderful to see a smile on my mother's face again.”
“Little Lilly adores her, she brings out a side of your mother I have never seen before.”
Heather smiled at the memory herself. There had been quite a few changes in the Keith family of late, including Anna turning up regularly for Wednesday night dinners at her parent's house. “She's also warming to you.”
Anna gave that some thought, “Hmm, I suppose my slice of nut roast was delivered to my plate with a little less venom than usual. You could be right.”
The pair shared a laugh. Anna leaned her head back on the sofa and fell silent. Heather observed her partner who was staring at the ceiling, deep in thought.
“A penny for them?
Anna turned to look at Heather. “I was thinking about when we first met. I never imagined that I would be living here in Havensburgh, almost a year later, with the woman of my dreams.”
Heather instantly moved into Anna's waiting arms. “I can't believe you are here either, sharing my home, my life. I'm still overwhelmed at the fact that you actually transferred your job just to be with me.”
“It was an easy decision.”
Heather kissed Anna on the lips, moved by her words. “When were you first attracted to me?”
“Truthfully? The first time I ever laid eyes on you. I turned up at church and saw you a few seats ahead, you caught my eye straight away.”
Heather looked surprised. “That was before we were introduced?”
Anna nodded, “It just grew from there. I found myself falling more and more for you with each passing day. When we were finally introduced, later that very Sunday, I couldn't help but notice the cute way your nose crinkled when you smiled.”
The pair fell silent, content to be in each other's arms.
“Do you remember the time we went to the ‘Spice of Life' restaurant?”
“Yes, it felt like a date.” Heather pulled Anna closer with the memory.
“That it did, and I wanted it to be. Do you recall you asked me how I knew Pete was the one?”
Heather frowned, wondering where Anna was going with this. “I do.”
“The answer I gave was true but I was actually describing you.”
Heather leaned back to look into Anna's eyes, searching.
“Almost from the moment we met, I have been drawn to you. Your zest for life and natural enthusiasm, it is infectious and it has rubbed off on me. You care about people and you want to make a difference. Not forgetting that you're beautiful, inside and out, it's all of those things and more.”
Anna watched as tears welled up in Heather's eyes. “You told me I was very lucky, but I felt like a fraud, and far from the happy person you perceived me to be. But, since the day you came back into my life, I feel like I'm the luckiest woman alive.”
Heather had no words, Anna had rendered her speechless, and instead she took her lover in a passionate kiss.
“I love you so very much, Anna.”
“I love you too.”
Heather kissed Anna once more. “I'm going to have an early night, will you join me?”
“Like I could refuse.”
Heather smiled and got up from the sofa. She held out her hand for Anna, but her lover didn't move.
“I'll follow you through in a few minutes.”
Heather knew Anna sometimes liked a little solitude and was happy to give it to her. “Don't be long.”
Anna watched Heather leave the room, a lazy smile on her face. She looked around the cottage that she and Heather had shared for the past three months and felt a warm glow inside at the realisation that she had finally found her ‘home'. Something she had been craving for so long without even realising it. Anna stood up from the sofa and stretched out the kinks from her body. She looked at the pictures around the room and smiled as she saw her family looking back at her alongside pictures of Heather's family. Pride of place on the mantelpiece was a shot of herself and Heather both smiling happily for the camera. It had been taken on a night out in Glasgow with Pete and Mary. Anna shook her head as she walked towards the bedroom. What a difference a year made. She had set out to catch a drug smuggler and ended up with so much more. Standing at the bedroom door, she watched Heather slide naked under the sheets. She smiled…so very much more.
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