Nancy stepped carefully over the mole hills in the small garden before reaching the porch. It was one of those wide narrow ones, with two easy chairs to one side and lanterns hanging from the eaves.
She imagined Crispin reclining in the rocking chair, coffee in hand and gazing across the quarry in early morning light. That stillness reminded her of him; how he could look at you, piercing every wall you’d built up.
The front door slammed open. Joe’s eyes were searching, frantic, until they found Crispin. Crispin ran the last few steps up to the porch and embraced Joe quickly before quickly disappearing into the house.
Nancy, awkward, followed the two men in before closing the door behind her.
Crispin’s voice was going a mile a minute and Nancy could hardly follow the conversation. She wasn’t part of it. As far as they were both concerned, she wasn’t even there, hovering at the threshold of the lounge.
She caught strains – “how much do they know?” and “do they know what you look like?” and the whole time, Nancy felt guilty. The moment her lips had touched Crispin’s, her fingers finding the smooth skin of his hip under his t-shirt, she had put him at risk, even if she didn’t know it at the time.
Larry, although almost never present, was fierce when given a task. He was a pitbull when temptation crossed his path. And that heavy envelope was just the thing that would catch his attention.
Both men suddenly turned to Nancy. She looked back, trying to remain strong, nonchalant, an innocent bystander. Her lips began moving, trying to form words that may help or soothe, but she just became a miming idiot under their attention.
Crispin saw her struggling, and his eyes softened. She had her lip between her teeth and he couldn’t help remembering the moments they spent together lying in cheap hotel room beds, strips of light coming through the blinds both illuminating and hiding their bodies from each others’ slow scrutiny.
He moved. His steps were jerky at first but finally, he reached her. “It’s okay,” he tried to say, but Joe had cut him short.
“You put yourself at risk because of her?” Outrage. It bit and snapped at Crispin.
“I thought it was worth it…” And Nancy finally let out that sob out she’d been holding in the whole car journey.