Epilogue

Luke settled back into his seat. He always enjoyed the sensation of the plane taking off, but the fully reclining bed seats and free drinks added to his enjoyment. He murmured to himself, “How things change in a couple of years.”

He remembered the police interview, “Did she seem depressed?”

“No”

“Did she have a history of depression?”

“Yes. She slashed her wrists after her fiancé’s funeral and was in hospital for a while, but we all thought she was better,” he covered his face and his shoulders shook with grief. “She said it all in the note. She has gone to be with him, Jason.” The explanation seemed to satisfy them, even though they never found her body. But they all knew it was unlikely. The cliff was high and so was the tide.

He shuddered at the memory of Cass’ mother’s scream at the coroner’s verdict of death by suicide, “She isn’t dead! She isn’t bloody dead!” She had to be removed from the court.

Shaheen, Luke, Alec and Sam had all helped to clear Cass’ flat. It was nice to be close to her again. It was all there including her will on the kitchen table. She had thought of it all. Cass had left him the choice of renting her flat at mates’ rates. He would have preferred a less tragic solution to his housing problems but he was helping Cass’ family by looking after it. Pen popped over every couple of weeks to make sure he was okay. She stopped asking after a teddy bear after a couple of months.

After the initial sadness and then annoyance of the scandal, the publicity seemed only to help Ulric and Sabina’s business, but after that night, Luke’s heart was not in it anymore.

Then the headhunters started calling him. He was surprised because he had not been any recruitment sites for ages. He kept telling the recruiters he was fine and he would keep them updated. He was not looking to change career at the moment. It was beginning to look up. He was in the clerks’ good books and had been receiving a few more briefs. He was just about managing.

Then there was the call from the CEO. He was not sure you were supposed to call your new boss “fucking mad” and hang up, but he got the job anyway.

Narodniki Ltd needed a solicitor/advocate and he was the one everyone wanted. Who could blame them? He assisted the CEO with daily running and any litigation arising from being a property company.

This company was different. It made sure that the rents were manageable and the property was good. This combined with their strict tenant vetting, meant people wanted to be on the list. The cheaper rent meant tenants could save a house deposit. Their stock was good and tenants wanted to buy their flats.   The company started making money, bought more buildings and did the same thing. They were small but they reputation was excellent and growing.

Alec over pillow talk kept trying to persuade him the company would be better as a charity, but the less scrutiny the better.

In the beginning, he was not too sure about the PR assistant, Rebecca, but she was learning quickly and was very good at organizing work dos and client parties. Dolores, the tax adviser and accountant, was an experience but she was good at her job and there was no point arguing with the CEO. He was slightly pissed off at the thank you card from Semyon on Dolores’ desk.

The debtors suddenly turned into investors when they could see that the returns, which were slower but safer. New investors liked the company name. It made them nostalgic.

Alec broke Luke out of his reverie, with a hand squeeze and a kiss on the cheek, “We are landing soon. I still can’t believe Jens is getting married.”

Behind them, Sam was wrestling with her one year old, who was trying to lick an unsuspecting steward’s back, “I know, she seems nice.” Sam worried whether her mad juice diet was enough to make Jens feel just a little bit sad on his wedding day. Shaheen was not helping by trying to push more flight drinks at her.

Stepping out of the airport was like walking into a wall of fragrant warm cotton wool. Jens was there to greet them with a tall and beautiful fiancée, Jamie. Sam really wanted to like her but she was too brown, too natural, too fucking perfect. Sam busied herself with the baby to hide her irritation, when Jamie made everyone else laugh.

The coast road to their accommodation snaked around the island. The visitors were enjoying the sea view when Jens unexpectedly took the 4×4 up a dirt track into the forest. The bone shacking journey only ended when they reached a small village at the top of the hill on the other side of the forest. Goats, chickens, bright bungalows and wood panel buildings were the only signs of civilization.

Jens pulled up next to overgrown bushes of lilac. They were hiding wonky battered gate and poorly painted sign, which read “Glided.”

They hauled their luggage up gravel path. More goats and chickens greeted them, either catching some shade under the large Holywood or scratching around the verdant red-earthed vegetable patch. The scent of hibiscus and lilac filled the garden. In the center of the garden sat a tired light blue wood paneled bungalow with a yellow and pink veranda, which they would be calling home for a week or so.

Pen appeared through the front screen on the veranda, waving a greeting as they approached. Suddenly a small boy, pushed past her. He shouted “Uncle Jens” and charged full force towards the group.

Jens picked up the boy and threw him high in the air, the sun reflecting off his mane of red curls. Jens caught the child easily, who squealed with joy and hugged him. Jens held the boy proudly in his arms and introduced the child to his old friends, “Everyone, meet Jason.”