The Return

Dolores greeted Cass coldly on her return.

“Rebecca is waiting for you in Julian’s office,” Dolores instructed her.   Cass noticed Dolores normal sulk had returned.

“Why?” Cass had only met Rebecca once before in unfortunate circumstances.

“She has locked up Julian.”

“What?”

“She has forced him into rehab. Like the other ones worked before,” muttered Dolores. “You should have looked after him.”

“I did. He was lucky he was not arrested. Last time I heard, rehab is a lot nicer than Russian Remand,” Cass barked sarcastically. Cass stomped down the corridor, ruminating on how unfair Dolores was being. She would not have dealt with the Julian situation half as well. Cass wondered whether she knew about the missing money. Is that why she was so desperate to take care of him? Was she benefiting?

Cass knocked on the large oak door of Julian’s room. A tired feminine voice, summoned her into the room.

Rebecca was in one of the armchairs, looking at her portrait behind her desk, tears in her eyes, “ Time is cruel. He is killing himself, Cass. I had not choice.”

Cass was not prepared for the rehearsed melodrama but worked with it, “He is in the best place. Moscow is not a good place for him.”

“Julian insisted that I give you this,” she passed Cass a moleskin notebook and a key.

“What is it?”

“I think he will be ringing you in the next day or two to explain. I know the key is to his desk. I don’t understand the notebook. He just said to get it to you, as you can handle things while he is away. He says that he trusts you to get things done.”

Rebecca read Cass’ wince as embarrassment rather than shame. Cass did not know why he trusted her. She had planned to go back to Zubov and say that she did not know anything and could not find out. She liked Julian. She knew from flicking through the notebook that these were internet banking codes, with IBANS and SWIFT codes for international payments. There were passwords next to various different bank names, some of which she had never heard.   There were company names linked to the bank accounts.   Julian had just handed her the information she needed.

“How long is he going to be at the clinic,” Cass asked with as much tact as possible.

“He is being treated for four weeks, initially, if he shows improvement then he will be allowed to return home under supervision,” Rebecca finally lost all composure. “I just want him back. You did not know him before. He was kind and sweet. Booze has ruined him.”

“How do you cope?” Cass asked. She was quite in awe of Rebecca. How calm she remained and why she stayed with Julian.

“Why haven’t I left him, you mean?”

“Well, yes.”

“I don’t know. I am hoping to get him back. I can’t give up on him. All these people you work with, he could have given up on them. He could have given up on me, but he didn’t. “

“What do you mean “Given up on””

“You must have noticed?” Rebecca said. “You are in a room with Dolores for goodness sake.”

Cass nodded. Everyone in this department was a little eccentric, a little quirky, a little damaged,   “He likes to mend broken toys?”

“Something like that. He likes to care for people. Give them second, sometimes third chances. Why do you think Usman is still here?”

Cass thought darkly, vanity, he has created a monster in his own image. Cass said, “Julian is a kind man.”

“I have to go now, I have an appointment with a Reiki practitioner,” Rebecca got up, hugged Cass goodbye. “Thank you for helping.”

Cass called Semyon in her lunch break, “I miss you.”

“Already?” he laughed, “I will see you this weekend.”

“No, I have something to do.”

“What is more important than seeing me.”

“Don’t push it.”

“Next weekend,” he said firmly. “I am sure we will have a great time together.”

She used his perverse code sign to call off, “I love you.”

“I love you too. I can’t wait to see you.”

She got back to the office feeling like a prized shit to be confronted by Caroline, sitting in Julian’s office.

“I don’t know why he has let you have access to all this?” Caroline sneered. “You must provide extra special services.”

“I really don’t know what you are talking about,” Cass purposefully ignored her as she settled down into Julian’s chair.

“I used to be like you, don’t kid a kidder Cassandra.” Caroline’s venom was building. “But I never got the confidence of his wife. What are you up to?”

“I am trying to do some work,” Cass turned on Julian’s computer. “ I need to call him, so if you don’t mind.”

“I can’t believe that stupid bitch put him in there again. She has never understood him. She is such a greedy cow. And so stupid. She can’t see she is part of the problem. “

Cass could not stand this woman, and for the first time she just could not be bothered to hold back, “That greedy cow would be a lot better off if she had divorced him years ago. She is with him because she loves him. A sensation you have only ever had for your fucking dog, and that is because he can’t answer you back. I don’t have time for this and I certainly don’t have time for you , so please can you just leave. ”

Caroline looked like she had been mauled by a rabid rabbit. Her mouth made fishy motions, and tears welled up in her eyes. Cass went in for the knock out punch, “Why don’t you go and sack some one prettier and younger than you, it always makes you feel better.”

Cass felt weird satisfaction as Caroline ran out of the door in tears. She should be more cautious, but she knew she would not be around for much longer.

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