Disclaimer: I do not own Foyle’s War, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story. Foyle’s War and all the characters therein are owned by Anthony Horowitz and subject to copyright. No infringement is intended. All original characters and story belong to hazeleyes57.
“Go on, admit it, we’re lost.”
“Not lost, exactly. Just sort of…misplaced, slightly.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle cast a weary look of mild disbelief at his driver. She was peering out of the rain-lashed windscreen of the police Wolseley, and, on the surface at least, appeared not to have noticed his attention.
Her gloved hands in the correct ‘ten to two’ position on the wheel, Samantha Stewart was concentrating hard on her task: staying on the road. It was almost eleven at night and as the car’s headlights were shielded to only allow minimal light to escape, seeing where the road began and ended was exceptionally difficult. There were no markings on the narrow ‘B’ road, and the last four sign posts had their names removed to foil any invading German’s attempt to travel. It was also foiling theirs.
The weather was filthy and periodically there had been signs of sleet among the big fat droplets of water hitting the car. Sam was praying that the predicted snow held off until they reached their destination. Beside her, the Boss stirred again.
“How are we doing for petrol?”
Sam glanced automatically at the gauge and tried not to wince.
“Oh, not too bad, but a top up would be good, soon.”
Foyle leaned over slightly and looked for himself.
“It looks worse than it is. There’s always a little bit extra in the tank.”
As if to call her a liar, the engine coughed and stuttered, but then smoothed over again. Sam’s look to Foyle was a little less confident.
“A very little bit.”
Foyle folded the useless map back into its packet. Until they had a known point of reference, it was not going to be of any help. He hid it, and the torch he had been using to read it, under the seat, away from any cursory glance into the car.
“Well, the next village we come to, we’ll stop and ask for directions at the police station, failing that, the pub. If we can’t convince them that we aren’t German spies, this country will be safe for ever. After that, we shall enquire about fuel.”
“Just so, Sir. I’ve brought the petrol coupons and the authorisation chit. If there is any fuel, we should be able to get it.”
Foyle nodded once, but not with his customary vigour.
Sam glanced at him.
“Are you all right?”
It was difficult to tell in the darkness about his appearance, but he didn’t sound his usual self to Sam. Out of the corner of her eye saw him wave a hand to dismiss her concerns.
“Yes…no, it’s nothing; I’m probably just a little queasy from trying to read a map by torchlight. It’s all right.”
Sam was not convinced, but she let the subject drop, as she had another distraction.
It was beginning to snow.
Foyle felt mildly nauseated and rather shivery. There had been several staff unwell with bad colds recently, and he hoped that he wasn’t about to join their number.
Several minutes later, just as he had started to drift off to sleep, he started with concern as he felt the back end of the car start to slide. The car straightened almost immediately. Sam’s apology followed just as quickly.
“Sorry Sir, patch of slushy ice I should think. You’d better hang onto the handle for a while, just in case.”
Taking hold of the door handle as a precaution was an irritating if sensible intrusion into Foyle’s slumber, but he trusted Sam’s judgement on all manner of car related things.
“How are you holding up, Sam?”
He saw the brief glint of a smile reflected from the dash lights.
“Oh, tickety-boo, thank you. Not tired at all.”
“Good, hopefully we won’t -”
Sam’s cry was accompanied by a swerve to the left. On a sunny dry day it would have meant a bumpy ride on the grass verge for a minute, but in the increasingly icy conditions the heavy Wolseley slid off the road completely and rumbled over the rough grass, heading for the trees that were set back from the road. Foyle could tell that Sam was braking hard, but the car was not slowing quickly enough on the downward incline – if anything, they were gathering speed as they skidded on the wet grass.
Sam’s good advice was redundant, as Foyle was already hanging on like grim death with his left hand and had both feet braced in the leg well. He put his right arm out in an instinctive gesture to try to prevent Sam from injury. As the trees loomed very close he shut his eyes and tucked his head down.
A fraction of a second later, despite Sam’s best efforts, the car hit one of the trees. Both driver and passenger ricocheted forward; Sam hit Foyle’s arm and the steering wheel with her chest and face, and Foyle butted his head on the dashboard. He saw stars for several moments but didn’t think that he had actually lost consciousness. His first coherent thought was for Sam.
“Sam? Sam! Talk to me!”
Sam sat up groggily, her face and chest making her painfully aware that they had not liked that little detour.
“Umm, yes, I’m here, I’m okay.”
“Thank the good Heavens.”
Sam rallied quickly and despite their situation, Foyle was amused at her indignation.
“Honestly, this is just too bad. I think someone should find a way to put a flight harness in cars, so people don’t get banged about like this!”
Foyle’s tone was droll.
“That’s a very good idea; I’ll suggest it as soon as we get home. May I have my arm back?”
Sam gave him a baffled look until he briefly moved his arm. Her gaze shot to her front, which currently cradled his hand, pinning it to the steering wheel. She hadn’t noticed that he had tried to brace her before the accident.
Sam froze like a rabbit caught in the headlights, fascinated by the picture of his hand nestled between her breasts. She felt the colour run up her face and knew that he would think that she was embarrassed. She hoped that that was all he would think. She managed to lean back and release him.
“Oh, gosh, sorry. Are you okay?”
Foyle rubbed his hand, which in truth had not been any more than lightly bruised, obviously having been protected by its location between…umm…
“Fine, yes, I’m fine. Small headache, bruising. Fine.”
“But you’re bleeding… your forehead.”
Sam took out her handkerchief and handed it to Foyle. He dabbed at his wound and inspected the square of white cotton for an indication of the degree of damage. He thought from the evidence that the wound was probably not mortal.
“I’ll live. Are you injured?”
He peered at Sam as he held the handkerchief to his head a little longer.
“Jolly sore face, I think I’ll get a bruise on my jaw, but I don’t think anything is broken.”
Foyle had noticed her high colour even in the near darkness as the car’s headlights were still on and the light from one was reflecting back from a pale tree trunk. He ignored the flush for her sake, assuming that she was just flustered. He found it quite endearing. He looked out of the window instead and noted that the snow was half rain again.
“Good, couldn’t go anywhere without you. Will the car start? Can we try to reverse out of here?”
Sam looked out of the windscreen at the bonnet of the car. From where she was seated the damage didn’t look too extensive, but that didn’t mean anything. She turned the key in the ignition and surreptitiously crossed her fingers as the engine tried to turn over. Eventually she had to give up.
“It’s not catching. It could be that we are simply so low on petrol that the angle of the car has moved the fuel to the ‘wrong’ end of the tank.”
Foyle looked at Sam with an expression that perfectly conveyed his feelings about why the car wouldn’t start, plus his request for suggestions as to what she thought they should be doing next.
Sam had no trouble interpreting this expression; three years of working with the enigmatic policeman had given her a greater than average insight to the workings of his fine mind. She soldiered on.
“Right. Car won’t start. We try to find somewhere to get petrol and preferably a tow to help us out of here, or we spend the night in a cold car and look for a tow and fuel in the morning.”
Foyle looked out of the car window and might have sighed. He reached behind him for his overcoat and pulled it into the front.
“Stay here, I’ll get the cases from the boot. You have your coat?”
Sam nodded, but stopped quickly when she realised that it hurt.
“It’s also in the boot. Do you think we should take the suitcases? I know we only brought enough for the overnight stop, but it might be heavy going with two cases in this weather.”
Foyle paused. He did not want to leave the cases in the car overnight.
“We’ll take them anyway. We might need them.”
Foyle got out of the car and put his coat and hat on as quickly as possible. He didn’t have much trouble in getting behind the Wolseley as the grass was thick and not too muddy. In short order he handed Sam’s coat to her and went back for the two medium sized suitcases. It was raining more than it was snowing now, but it was a moot point about which was worse. They were going to get soaked either way, and he was already concerned about how unwell he felt.
Just as they were about to leave Sam turned back to the car and lifted the bonnet. She fiddled about underneath for a moment, closed the cover and then joined Foyle. She showed him what she had in her hand.
“Just immobilising the car, just in case Jerry turns up with a jerry can.”
Her tone was quite jaunty at her witticism, and Foyle summoned the energy to play the game.
“That was appalling. I may have to dock your wages.”
“You leave my wages alone and I’ll carry my own case.”
“You can carry your own case anyway. What have you got in here? Encyclopedia Britannica?”
“Just a few feminine essentials, you said to pack light for one night.”
“Just one night in a small country hotel, not somewhere that requires you to bring your own sink.”
Sam took her case from him and started off up the incline. Her shoes did slip periodically, but in general progress was made and within a few minutes both she and the Chief were standing on the road, slightly out of breath. Sam looked around, clearly searching for something.
Foyle followed her look.
“What is it?”
“Well, I did wonder if the chap on the bicycle would have at least stopped to check that we were all right before clearing off. He was jolly lucky that I missed him in the middle of the road like that.”
Foyle’s face cleared.
“Ah, I did wonder. Not like you to react to nothing.”
“I’d far rather be driving than walking in this weather, but, there it is.”
Sam hefted her case and pulled her coat lapels up around her neck. She waited for Foyle to decide which way to go. He looked up and down the road, then he turned to face the way they had been going before their impromptu departure from the road.
Sam fell in beside him, automatically taking the side to the left of Foyle and nearest the grass verge.
Foyle could almost hear the cogs working in his driver’s brain and he waited to see how long it would take her to say something. In the mean time, he wondered, realistically, how much further he was capable of going in his present condition. He really did not feel very well.
A minute or so later, Foyle’s patience paid off.
“Assuming that we are going this way because we already know there was no village for at least four or five miles behind us, I think it’s fair to say that the cyclist must have come from somewhere close by, relatively speaking, so we can’t be far from civilisation of some sort.”
Sam turned to look at Foyle, who, like her, was leaning into the rain to try to shield his head and neck from the worst of it.
“Well, from the brief glimpse I got of him, the chap on the bicycle was relatively dry. I’d say that we’re closer to salvation than we think.”
Foyle agreed with her assessment. A gust of wind blew droplets of water into the back of his neck and he felt them slide under his shirt collar. It was not pleasant.
“That is a comforting thought.” Foyle looked at his watch, only just able to make out the time. “Our cyclist was probably on his way home from the pub, and if he’d had a skinfull, that might explain why he didn’t stop – he may not have even realised that we’d gone off the road. He can’t have come very far either - it’s certainly not taking us long to get wet.”
“No, it’s not.” Sam smiled. “Look on the bright side, Sir. You’re not wearing a skirt.”
Sam saw Foyle smile with sympathy as he glanced at her wet legs; it was all right for him, he couldn’t feel the stockings absorbing the rain and transferring down into her shoes. Her feet were squelching unpleasantly with every step she took.
“Just as well. You look a lot better in one than I would.”
“I should hope so, Sir.”
Privately Sam felt a stir of alarm. He would not have made a comment like that if he were feeling one hundred percent. He might have thought it, he might even have conveyed that thought with an expressive look, but he wouldn’t have spoken so frankly if he were well.
“How is your head?”
“Aches. But I’m not seeing double. I don’t think I’m too seriously damaged.”
Sam swapped her case to the opposite hand and flexed her fingers to restore the circulation in the newly freed fingers. Maybe he had a point about her packing, but one never knew what one might need for an overnight stop.
“Good. I’d hate to have to go back to the MTC.”
Foyle didn’t say anything, but he filed the information away, as was his habit. He recalled the occasion when he was suspended from his post during an investigation and Sam had been sent back to the MTC by his stand-in; it had given him great personal satisfaction to go and get her back. He hadn’t looked too closely into his motives at that time. Perhaps it was not a good time to look too closely into them now.
Belatedly he wondered about the wisdom of coming all the way out here to East Anglia by car to follow a lead when by rights he should have come alone on a train. He shouldn’t have put Sam in this situation, but they were so short of staff that he’d had no real choice.
“I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have brought you with me.”
It was selfish of me.
Sam looked up quickly, getting a splat of water in an eye.
Where did that come from?
She was not referring to the raindrop.
Did he regret bringing her?
“Why? Because I ran the car off the road?”
Foyle turned to her in surprise.
“Good Heavens no, you did your best in a difficult situation – it’s down to you that our mystery cyclist survived. No, no. I meant that it was selfish of me to come by car instead of train.”
Sam frowned as she tried to recall their conversation about travel verbatim.
“You said yourself that the train would have to be met because the village was too far away from the station to easily walk it, and the local police couldn’t guarantee that you would be met at the other end.”
Foyle let the matter drop. He was too close to revealing the fact that he enjoyed her company and would have missed travelling with her had he gone by train. What on earth was the matter with him?
Sam swung her suitcase in front of her body and clasped the handle with both hands to try to give her fingers a rest by sharing the load. It didn’t work, and she managed to bash her knees as she took each step. She transferred the case back to one hand.
They walked in silence for a while, but it was the companionable silence of friends, where neither of them felt the need to speak for the sake of it. Foyle was privately amused by the quiet – he didn’t know Sam was capable of it.
After about half an hour, both of them were physically miserable. They were cold, wet and tired, and sick to death of the sleety rain stinging their faces. They were both wondering just how much further shelter was likely to be.
Sam suddenly stopped dead, her head cocked to one side. When Foyle went to speak, she urgently shushed him.
He raised one eyebrow, but remained silent, and tried to hear what she could hear.
After a minute or so, the sound came again, from ahead of them, and this time Foyle heard it too. The sound was familiar, but out of context. He frowned as he tried to recreate the sound in his mind and remember where he had heard it before.
They started walking again, more quickly now that they had a direction. Sam whispered, just in case they heard it again.
“It sounded like glass bottles; a sort of dull clinking - not against other glass bottles.”
Foyle cursed his befuddled mind; he knew that the sound was one he had heard before. He kept thinking of the local pub in Hastings; its roaring fire in particular, but that was probably because he was so cold.
“Yes, glass and…wood…yes, glass and wood. Wooden crates! It’s the empty beer bottles in crates – we must be near a public house.”
Sam was gleeful.
“Terrific! It can’t be all that far. Come on, Sir, best foot forward!”
Foyle smiled at her enthusiasm, wishing that he had half her energy. He wasn’t sure that either of his feet were his ‘best’ at the moment.
They hurried as quickly as they could carrying two suitcases, and within a minute they could see the dark silhouette of a thatched roof against the cloudy night sky.
“I can smell wood smoke. They have a fire, oh simple bliss.”
Foyle seconded Sam’s thoughts as they approached the path to the porch with a small but solid looking wooden door at the front of the public house. The barely discernable lettering on the wall declared this to be The Crown Inn. No lights were visible anywhere; their blackout was complete.
Sam was in front and it was she who knocked and then tentatively tried the big ring handle. The door opened on well-oiled hinges to more darkness. The porch was draped with extra blackout curtains, creating a divide between the outside and the inside – so even with the door open no light should escape. They both stepped inside, cases too, grateful to be out of the rain, and once the outer door was shut, Foyle pulled aside the curtain and stepped into warmth and the brightness of unaccustomed light. Sam followed him and they both stood, blinking, waiting for their eyes to adjust.
“Goodness, who do we have here? Come in, come in.”
The matronly voice was locally accented, soft and welcoming.
Foyle’s eyes had finally got used to the light and the first thing he saw was the woman coming around the bar towards them. He glanced around and noticed that there were no customers left in the pub – it was past closing time, after all. He removed his hat and reached for his identity card.
“Good evening, I apologise for our appearance, but our car skidded off the road about three miles back and we -”
He got no further. The woman only glanced at the outside of the ID before waving it aside. Her instincts about customers were probably well honed.
“Dear me, no–one hurt, I hope?”
“N…no, we are just a little shaken. I -”
“But your poor head!”
The woman saw Sam behind Foyle and tutted.
“You look done in, dear. Put those cases down, my goodness you two are a sorry sight.”
All the while she was speaking she was ushering both Sam and Foyle towards the fire, and helping both of them off with their overcoats.
Sam was amused to see her boss managed so effectively, and before very long they were seated in front of the large inglenook fireplace with a hot mug of tea in their hands.
The publican’s wife left them to drink their tea, saying that she was going to fix something to eat for them. A short while later a tall, well-built middle aged man entered the bar and came over to them.
“My wife tells me your car went off the road away back. If you give me the keys I’ll get out to it and bring it back here.”
He was looking askance at Foyle, who was nearly half asleep.
Sam answered for him and stood up. She fumbled in her uniform pocket for the distributor rotor that she had taken to immobilise the car.
“You’ll need this, and a can of petrol. We were getting rather low just before we went off the road.”
“Oh, aye. Good thinking, stopping the car. I’ll take a can with me, you can pay me later for the petrol, I have to account for it all, what with the war.”
“Absolutely. We have the paperwork.”
The publican nodded once and left them alone again.
Foyle stirred when Sam lifted the mug out of his clasp. He ran a hand over his face.
“We’d better see about rooms for the night, everything else can wait until the morning.”
Sam looked closely at him.
“You look all in. Why don’t you let me sort them out; you sit here by the fire, and I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
Foyle nodded wearily, and Sam went to find their hostess to enquire about two rooms for the night.
She found her in the spacious kitchen behind the bar. The woman looked up and smiled when she saw Sam.
“You didn’t have to bring the mugs; I’d have collected them later, but thank you, dear.”
She picked up a tray with two plates of thickly cut sandwiches and two fresh cups of tea. Sam followed her out of the kitchen and into one end of the bar, where their host kept her guest register.
“Now, I expected that you would be needing a room for the night at least, so I had Len move your cases upstairs; it’s a lovely quiet room at the far end of the house. You were lucky we have one to spare. There’s a large ‘do’ on tomorrow, we’re almost fully booked.”
She had placed the tray on the counter, opened the register at the correct page and was poised with a pen. She looked up at Sam, who was still reeling from the unexpected knowledge that there was only one room available.
“Mr and Mrs…?”
Sam thought fast. There was only one room and no car available. What should she do?
Her mind suddenly cast back to Mr Foyle standing in the doorway of her jail cell, where she had been forced to sleep after having been bombed out of her accommodation. His slightly embarrassed tone remarking that if she wasn’t bothered by it, neither was he, and that she could come and stay at his house until she found somewhere else.
Just as they had been adult and civilized about it at the time, then so could they now. It was late and the Chief wasn’t very well.
And the publican’s wife was still waiting.
Sam spoke quickly before her courage failed her.
Then, more firmly.
“Mr and Mrs Christopher Foyle.”
Sam gulped and waited for the lightning bolt to strike her down.
“Thank you, dear. Will you sign for you both, save Mr Foyle getting up again?”
Sam nodded, not trusting her voice.
A very subdued and damp Sam followed Mrs Flack back to the seats beside the fireplace. The latter was carrying a tray of sandwiches and fresh tea for Sam and...her husband.
'Oh dear' was a bit of an understatement. Sam had got them into this pickle, but it was up to her to keep the pickle straight. She was sure that she had done the right thing, they did need somewhere to stay for the night and it wasn't her fault that there was only one room at the inn. Sam was relieved to see that the boss was still more than three-quarters asleep; hopefully he would remain so until Mrs Flack had left and she would have a chance to explain the situation to him.
Mrs Flack deposited the tray on the low bar table and stood up. She looked at Foyle, then at Sam.
“I'll just go and see to the room, then I'll bring you the key. Normally I don't allow guests to take plates from the bar upstairs, but you both look exhausted, so I’ll make an exception for tonight. I won't be long.”
Sam nodded gratefully, tucking a strand of hair that had come loose back behind an ear. She couldn’t wait to get out of her wet shoes and dry off.
With that, the publican’s wife turned and left. As soon as she had gone, Sam shook Foyle's arm gently.
“Mr Foyle? Are you awake? I have something that I need to tell you.”
Foyle opened weary eyes and sat up straighter in his chair. He looked a little dazed, his eyes glassy.
''Sorry, I must have dozed off. Everything okay? Got the rooms sorted?”
Sam looked awkward as she seated herself beside him.
''Well, yes and no. What I mean is...''
Distracted, she handed Foyle his tea and a sandwich. He took them without thought, his mind more caught up in the fact that his driver was looking decidedly shifty about something.
''Spit it out, Sam, what's the problem?''
Sam looked in her cup of tea, then at the plate of food, then at the floor, then, finally, at Foyle.
''Umm, there is only...'' Sam faltered, then began again, ''...I couldn't very well let you...I mean, it's not as if...but if you minded, I'll understand, but I had no choice, you see, when she asked me under what name, I just -''
Mrs Flack chose that moment to return from upstairs and Sam abruptly clammed up. Despite feeling distinctly under par, Foyle looked from Sam to the landlord's wife and back with interest. He fixed his driver with his best interrogation stare.
''You were saying, Sam?''
Mindful that they were no longer alone, she tried to drop him a hint.
Foyle froze in the act of taking a sip of his tea. He looked at Sam over the rim of his cup and raised an eyebrow. She gave him a wide-eyed and somewhat shaky smile. To give himself time to work out what was going on, he took a drink of his tea, then a bite out of his sandwich. He chewed slowly, watching the colour come and go on his driver’s face.
“Ah, Mr Foyle, I’m pleased to see you both looking a little warmer now. I’m Mrs Flack, my husband and I run the inn.” She smiled and carried on. “As I was just saying to your wife, you were lucky we had the one room left -”
Foyle coughed as his tea went down the wrong way. Eyes watering, he put his tea back on the tray, and reached for a handkerchief. Alarmed, Mrs Flack attempted to fuss around him to make sure he was all right, but Foyle recovered quickly. Getting to his feet and hiding a momentary unsteadiness, he reassured her.
“Really, I’m fine, thank you, Mrs Flack. If we could just have our room key, I think we’d better go...umm...upstairs, I’m assuming?”
Their landlady nodded and reached in her pocket for the key.
“Yes, of course. Last room at the end of the landing, you can’t miss it. I have laid the fire for the morning, and breakfast is at eight.”
Sam got to her feet, eager to get away from the coming conversation with her boss, but before she could move, Foyle turned to her and nodded to the tray on the table.
“I’ll bring the cases, if you would like to bring the tray...um...sweetheart?”
There was no mistaking the amused glint in Foyle’s eye as he dared Sam to say anything. She was bright red in the face now, but she gamely picked up the tray. Mrs Flack gave her a curious look, before turning back to Foyle and handing him the room key.
“My husband has already taken your suitcases up to your room, Mr Foyle, while you were catching your breath. May I suggest that you leave your coats in the kitchen overnight? They’ll dry better in the warmth from the range.”
Foyle nodded in agreement. He and Sam said goodnight, took their leave and headed for the stairs.
Sam was very conscious of him right behind her every step of the way up to their room. The door was already ajar and the bedside lamp was on as she scurried in and put the tray down on the small table under the window. She barely noticed the lovely room with its whitewashed walls and black beamed sloping roof.
Foyle entered the room after her and gently closed the door. It had barely shut before Sam burst into speech.
“I’m really sorry, but I had no choice, there was only one room, and I think that I just...well, panicked, I wasn’t quick enough to think what -.”
Foyle held up a hand as if to stave off the words.
Sam halted in the middle of another apology and looked at her boss with an anxious but ‘waiting for judgement’ expression. Foyle was tempted to string out her suffering a little longer just because it was amusing, but decided to take pity on her.
“Sam, it’s all right. We may have to share, but at least we have a roof over our heads and we are dry. Or will be. We couldn’t have shared the room without putting an appropriate cover over the whole business, so we’ll just have to make the best of it...”
Foyle took in their surroundings as he reassured Sam.
Sam began to relax as he spoke to her, and her shoulders slumped when she realised that he wasn’t furious with her. She, too, looked around the room and saw him looking at the large wrought iron double bed that dominated the room. It was the picture of comfort; large fluffy pillows, crisp linen sheets and a big fat pink silk eiderdown.
Foyle turned back to face her, his expression innocent.
“So, which side of the bed do you want...um…sweetheart?”
Oh dear oh dear.
X x X x X x X x X x X
Downstairs in the kitchen, Mrs Flack straightened up the overcoats and hats belonging to their two latest guests. They would be nicely dry by the morning, hanging near the warm range as they were.
Mr Flack was seated at the big kitchen table, finishing off the last of his malted drink and having a look through the local parish pamphlet about forthcoming events, for the want of something to read.
“Something funny about those two upstairs, Len. She’s awful young to be in uniform and driving round the countryside.”
“John was fifteen when he joined up, Lily. She’s older’n that.”
At the mention of their eldest son, Lily went and sat down beside her husband. He took her hand in his and kissed what was left exposed of the back. His wife smiled at the familier gesture.
“I know, ‘it’s the war’, it’s what everyone says. But she was bright red when that Mr Foyle called her ‘sweetheart’, Len. She wasn’t comfortable with it. Not like a wife would be.”
Mrs Flack looked disturbed, wondering if everything was all right upstairs.
Her husband smiled gently and lowered his voice.
“I seem to recall a fresh faced lass who blushed every time I called her sweetheart.”
Mrs Flack waved her hand in a gesture usually interpreted as ‘Oh, you, go on!’
“Yes, but that was when we were first married, it didn’t last much longer than – oh!”
She looked at her husband, her mouth round with surprise. He smiled and nodded, his point made.
X x X x X x X x X x
Back upstairs, Foyle was waiting for Sam’s response. His head had begun to throb and he ached like the devil. Suddenly the whole thing didn’t seem so funny any more. He was tired and just wanted to get some rest.
“Look, Sam, I was -”
“The right side. As one looks at it.”
They had both spoken at once, their voices overlapping. They looked at each other. Foyle sighed.
“Please, Sam, sit down.”
Sam seated herself beside the tea tray and automatically picked up a sandwich. Feeling awkward, she took a bigger bite than average and found herself with too much bread in her mouth. She tried to chew discreetly but quickly. It was not really her day.
“Sam, look at me.”
She looked up, still chewing.
“I was teasing about the bed. It was insensitive, and I apologise. You can have the whole thing, I’ll kip in the armchair. It will be perfectly acceptable with a couple of the pillows and the eiderdown.”
Sam chewed even more rapidly. In the end, she grabbed a mouthful of tea so that she could speak.
“No, that wouldn’t be right. I’ll take the chair, I’m smaller than you, and at least I’m feeling okay. You don’t look at all well.”
While privately he agreed with her, there was no situation he could think of that would make him take the bed instead of her.
“Then please don’t argue with a sick man. You can get ready first while I use the bathroom or vice versa, I don’t mind, but let’s get some sleep soon, please?”
Sam nodded. She quickly finished her tea and sandwich, and then hung up her damp uniform jacket. She opened her case and took the necessary toiletries out before going to the bathroom. She wasn’t very long and when she came back Foyle was in his shirtsleeves, minus his tie and holding his overnight wash bag and nightwear. He left the room with a polite nod.
Sam quickly changed into her nightgown. She wished now that she had gone for sensible pyjamas, but in her excitement about being away overnight with the boss – though it was for a case – she had allowed her heart instead of practicality to govern her choice. Even though at the time she thought that he would not see it, there was always the fantasy that he might.
The gown was cream silk, a gift to herself when she turned twenty one. It was full length, generously cut, and with slim straps over her shoulders. If the voluminous style gave it a tendency to tangle her legs, and the straps kept falling off a shoulder whilst she slept, it didn’t matter. The material made it feel and move like a ball gown, and she loved it.
Sam brushed her hair and hopped into bed. Used to a single, she moved to the right side of the bed simply because she slept on her left side and liked to be close to the edge of the bed. She lay down and pulled up the crisp linen sheet and the blankets to armpit level.
She was wide awake.
Five minutes later there was a soft knock on the door. At Sam’s whispered ‘come in’ Foyle entered the room wearing pale blue and white striped pyjamas and a grey dressing gown. He hung up his suit and shirt, and one side of his mouth lifted in a small smile at Sam’s presence in the large bed.
“Good, I’m glad you did as I asked.”
“Under protest, Sir.”
One of Foyle’s eyebrows went up.
“Duly noted. Under our current circumstances though, perhaps you had better call me Christopher.”
He removed the thick eiderdown cover from the foot of the bed where Sam had rolled it, and took a couple of the pillows. He made himself as comfortable as he could on the armchair and tried not to shiver.
Foyle nodded, pulling his dressing gown tighter to try to get warm.
“Yep, light out, please.”
Sam twisted to reach the bedside lamp’s switch. She found it just as she answered,
“Okay, Si – Christopher.”
and plunged the room into darkness. Doing so meant that she did not see the smile on Foyle’s face as he heard her refer to him as Christopher.
The blackout curtains were closed, so there was very little light in the room. For several long minutes Sam was painfully aware of Foyle’s restless movements in the armchair. He was obviously having even more trouble than her in getting to sleep.
Her natural sense of fair play made her want to offer the bed to Foyle, but she was snug and warm for the first time in hours. She desperately wanted to suggest that he share it – it was certainly big enough – but she didn’t want him to think it was forward of her to suggest it. She couldn’t stand it if he thought badly of her.
Sam caught her lip with her teeth and frowned. She was aware when one of the Chief Super’s pillows hit the floor with a soft thud and heard him bite back a curse. She could sense when he leaned down to retrieve the pillow and heard the slither of the eiderdown shifting. Another bitten off curse. Sam stifled the urge to giggle nervously.
Just at that moment there came a knock on the door and the muffled sound of Mrs Flack’s voice.
“Mr Foyle? Mrs Foyle? Hello, are you still awake?”
Foyle sat up in alarm. He turned to Sam as she fumbled in the dark for the lamp. His voice was soft.
“Did you lock the door?”
“No, I forgot with all the discussion about the bed.”
Foyle stood up and the eiderdown slipped to the floor. He threw the pillow he still had in his hand on to the bed.
He whispered urgently.
Despite her response, her brain was already issuing instructions to her body and she started to shift across to the other side of the bed.
“If you want this plan to work, move over. Please.”
Foyle lifted the bedding and slid quickly under the covers just as Sam’s hand found the light switch. The abrupt illumination made them both blink in the brightness.
Sam suddenly realised that she could not move over any further as Foyle was now lying on the material of her nightgown. She tugged to no avail – she was pinned like a butterfly. To her further mortification, in her efforts to reach the switch, she had twisted but her nightwear had not.
Forward momentum had carried Foyle into the bed, but for some inexplicable reason Sam had stopped moving across it and he found himself jammed up against her, his face thrust into her neck where she was still reaching up to the lamp. He had a spectacular view of the creamy upper curve of one breast right in front of him.
He moaned under his breath. Never before in his life had he been so tempted to forget all he knew about behaving like a gentleman. He could not even do the decent thing of closing his eyes or looking away. Not even when he felt Sam tremble. Lord, what must she think of him?
Sam was terribly torn. Part of her felt as if her father was going to pop out of the woodwork and condemn her to some sub-section of Hell that dealt with misbehaving virgins, but by far the bigger part of her felt as old as Eve as she saw Christopher’s expression and heard him groan under his breath. She was thrilled to have evoked such a reaction and it made her tremble with excitement.
Foyle found himself floundering in what appeared to be yards of silk; he could not get any purchase on the bed and as soon as he eased (reluctantly) away from Sam, he slid straight back to her side. To cap it all, he had the distinct feeling now that Sam’s trembling was her trying not to laugh at their situation.
Damn the woman, she was still there. He turned his head in time to see the door open and Mrs Flack’s head appeared around the edge. Foyle’s voice was testy.
“I’m terribly sorry to disturb you, but I just needed to mention about the fire -”
She paused briefly when the scene in front of her actually registered.
Mr and Mrs Foyle were entwined, his face buried in her chest, her arms cradling his head. The pillows were scattered about, the eiderdown on the floor and a dressing gown was tossed on the floor as if cast aside at speed. Even with all her years running the Inn, she had never been witness to evidence of such enthusiasm. Any fears she had about Mrs Foyle were laid to rest.
“…um…to mention about the fire. Not to light one, at night, that is, because of the risk to the thatch. Thank you. I’ll leave you to it – to sleep that is. Goodnight.”
Their hostess backed out and the door closed quietly behind her.
If a silence could speak volumes, this one was chatting away nineteen to the dozen.
Sam looked at Foyle and he looked at her. There was a moment where Sam was convinced that he would say something that would change her world forever, but he closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them she could see that the moment was gone.
She knew that he was going to say something about how ‘it’ could never be between them, or some such nonsense, and she didn’t want to hear the words that would dash her hopes forever, so she hurriedly went to cut in with;
“Would you mind moving just enough to allow me to move over?”
Or at least that was what she was planning to say, but what she actually said was something else entirely.
“Look, I know you think that you should sleep in that chair, but please don’t think badly of me for suggesting that - as you are already here - you might as well sleep in the bed -”
Foyle frowned, and tried to say something. Sam blithely carried on.
“I mean, the bed’s much more comfortable, it’s warmer, and it’s big enough for both of us, really.”
Foyle opened his mouth again, but Sam was on a roll.
“It can be another of those things that we don’t need to mention to anyone, like staying at your house when I was unable to get a billet. Least said, soonest mended and all that. What do you say?”
Foyle looked tired and exasperated in equal measure.
“I mean, it’s not as if we…”
“I said ‘okay’, Sam.”
Sam looked down into his eyes, so close to her chest.
Foyle nodded tiredly.
“Yes, really. You win; just get me off this silk, please?”
Sam tried really hard not to grin all over her face. She gave him her efficient, no nonsense ‘driver’ look.
“Absolutely. If you could just lift your…you, up, and I’ll pull at the same time?”
Foyle moved his legs while Sam pulled her nightgown towards her, then he was able to push with his feet to lift his middle. The effort clearly tired him and he lay back down with an involuntary sigh, his eyes closed.
Sam rearranged her pillow and settled down too, until she realised that the light was still on.
There was no response. He was fast asleep, his breathing deep.
Sam didn’t make any further effort to wake him. She lay on her left side, her head resting on her bent arm while she watched him sleep. She had often dared to dream of such a moment as this, though in her dream they were married, of course. She had wondered what this quiet and thoughtful man was like when he wasn’t at work. What face did he show to the world away from the force?
After a few minutes, Sam sat up and leaned over Foyle to get to the lamp. He didn’t stir. Sam settled back down under the covers and wished again that she had brought pyjamas; her gown was twisted around her waist and she took a few moments to straighten it.
It was odd sharing a bed with someone else. The last time she had was when her cousins came to stay at the Vicarage and she had to top/tail with Elaine. They had been six at the time and they had giggled most of the night until her mother had come to tell them to be quiet.
Sam thought that she would never get to sleep, but within twenty minutes she was sound asleep too.
Only to be woken some time much later in the night by the startling fact that she had an arm around her waist, and a warm body against her back.
There was no response to Sam’s tentative whisper. Foyle’s left arm rested around her waist, his hand tucked limply between the bed sheet and her ribs. He was spooned against her back and Sam felt the soft susurration of his breath on her left shoulder.
It was quite extraordinary. Sam thought that she ought to be outraged at the very least, but she felt nothing of the sort. She felt warm, comfortable and oddly cherished.
“Christopher? Are you awake?”
Sam tried to move away a little, just so that he wouldn’t be so upset when he woke up and found them together, but her efforts to distance her body resulted in Foyle pulling her back against him. His arm tightened and his hand moved up and cupped her right breast. Sam sucked in an involuntary breath at the heat of his touch. She turned her head to try to look at him; although it was dark, there was a small amount of light showing under the door from the hallway and her night-adjusted eyes could just make out Foyle’s face. His eyes were shut and he appeared to be asleep, but there was no mistaking his hold on her. Sam looked at her watch and the dimly glowing hands told her that it was after four in the morning.
Foyle moved again and Sam could feel a pyjama clad leg against the back of her bare left leg. Again she felt the heat of his touch all along her body. Never having been in this position before she wasn’t sure if this was normal or not, but she had never realised just how hot it felt to be lying next to someone else.
Sam’s nightgown had done its usual trick of riding up whilst she slept and her efforts to restore order just made Foyle hang on that much harder. She was just debating the wisdom of having left off her knickers when she changed for bed – she had, after all, thought that she would be in the bed alone – when she thought she heard Foyle say something. She turned to face him, as best as she could.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Sam had never heard his voice sound like that, even at his most intense.
“Are you all right?”
There was no answer. Sam wondered what on earth was going on in his head.
She stood before him, both familiar and new. He thought that she was dead, but it must have been a horrible dream, a nightmare that wouldn’t go away. Her glorious red blonde hair was free and moving in the softest of winds. He shivered, so cold, so cold. She could warm him, make him feel alive again. If he could just hold her.
Sam was surprised when Foyle turned her in his arms, pulling her on to her back. He lay back down against her, his left leg nudging its way between her knees, his face resting on the exposed flesh between her jaw and the nightgown that covered her bust. It was then that Sam realised what she should have figured out earlier.
Foyle had a raised temperature. Wherever his body rested against her she could feel the fever heat - he had said himself that he was so cold.
“I’m so sorry; I should have known you were ill, you haven’t been yourself.”
Sam looked down at Foyle’s face. Despite her concern, she couldn’t resist adding a rider.
“I have to say, I rather like the new you, though. A little more carefree.”
Foyle mumbled something in his sleep, but Sam couldn’t make it out.
I’d be lost without you. Don’t leave me. I need you, I want you. Please stay!
Foyle felt disorientated. In his fevered state he kept confusing Sam and Rosalind together; in his deepest self he knew that Rosalind was gone, but part of him hung on to the idea that it was not true. It created conflict in him. Rosalind was the past; they were both so much younger then, they had had their time. He had changed, grown older, while she had not. He was not the man she had married, nor was he the person he was when she died. It saddened him to realise that he was content to leave Rosalind in the past but he also felt guilty to even think of loving someone new.
Foyle shivered as Sam appeared to him again. She was standing on higher ground than him, wearing that silk gown. The wind was colder and stronger now; her hair blew back off her face and the silk outlined her body, clearly delineating her pert nipples, her slim waist, the dip of her navel and the soft mound at the juncture of her legs. She was smiling at him, her arms raised to welcome him into her embrace. He tried to walk towards her but every step was an effort, as if his feet were encased in molasses.
Sam didn’t know what to do for the best. Apart from the occasional murmur, Foyle seemed to be resting adequately well. Although he had a temperature, she didn’t think that he needed a doctor, and her mother always said that sleep was the best medicine.
Foyle’s hold on Sam seemed to calm him, but it had quite the opposite effect on her. Nothing in her father’s lectures – either as her parent or her vicar – had prepared her for this eventuality. Good girls took care of themselves and were entitled to marry in white. Bad girls didn’t. She didn’t consider herself a bad girl, but she wasn’t sure that she had her heart in the right place to be a good girl. No-one had made it clear just how hard it would be to resist the temptation of the flesh.
Foyle might be burning up, but Sam was burning too. She would be deceiving herself if she didn’t admit that she was tempted to move the shortest of distances and find out what it was like to kiss Christopher, or better still, to be kissed by him.
She wasn’t in any pain from the bruising after the accident yet, not even where Foyle’s hand was resting on her breast. Her nipples had tightened instead, aching for his touch, and her world had reduced to the feel of his hand on her body. Sam knew that she should move his hand, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She sighed under her breath, a soft exhalation of pleasure.
“Oh, this is just too nice.”
Foyle stirred at the sound of her voice; he moved slightly and tried to get even closer to her. His leg moved further between her legs and his hip and thigh pushed against her.
Arousal leapt along Sam’s veins like fire. She had never felt anything like it before; desire, yes, soft and romantic longing, but never this burning that threatened her sanity and made her question her own beliefs. What she wanted and what she knew was right were polar opposites. Despite this, she felt her body soften and moisten as nature made her ready for more, whether or not she intended to do anything about it.
Sam risked touching Foyle. She gently stroked her right hand up the back of his left arm, barely disturbing the pyjama sleeve. When disaster did not follow, she felt sufficiently emboldened to try for a one-arm cuddle. She smiled to herself in the darkness, secretly shocked at her own boldness. She breathed in his male scent and nuzzled gently at his head, feeling the heat under her lips.
Sam was torn. She wanted to let Foyle sleep to get better, but she also wanted him to wake up and take notice of her and what she was doing – preferably so that he could take an active role in it, too.
Sam suddenly thought of Joan and Rose, the Land Army girls she had come to know quite well in the course of an investigation. Before they had become friends, she had been at the receiving end of Joan’s vitriol about her driving Foyle around instead of working hard like them. Joan had crudely suggested that the reason she was there was because Foyle was ‘giving her one’, even going so far as to suggest that Sam was his ‘fancy woman’. Sam had been surprised and quite shocked at the idea, but it had opened her eyes and altered her perception of her relationship with Foyle. She had begun to rethink her time with him, and put a different interpretation on some of their interactions. It had been very illuminating.
Now Sam whispered softly into the darkness.
“My dearest sir, if only you were privy to my secret desires.”
Christopher Foyle’s brain registered the soft words and felt a stab of recognition.
Desire, yes, he understood that; he felt it too.
In both his dream and his reality, Sam was in his arms. He could smell her scent; the alluring combination of fragrances that never failed to grab his attention and it did so now, bringing him to shallow wakefulness. In the distant part of his brain that monitored his behaviour, alarm bells were going off, but they were so faint as to be almost inaudible. He was going against his own mores, but he didn’t care. The lure of the promise of her was too strong and her touch destroyed every defence that he had.
Foyle turned his head the slightest amount and his lips touched Sam’s skin for the first time.
Sam almost didn’t believe the softly spoken words, but the shocking touch of Foyle’s lips on her skin branded her as his forever. Scorching heat that had nothing to do with his temperature blazed through her as she realised what was happening. She looked at his face, trying to see if he was aware of what he was doing. His eyes appeared closed, or so closed that she couldn’t tell for certain. Unwilling to say anything that would stop him in his tracks, her voice came out as the softest of whispers.
Another gentle stroke of lips touched her collarbone before they lifted just high enough to murmur;
Sam almost sagged with relief – Foyle was responding to prompts; he must be awake and aware. She asked an utterly stupid question and regretted it immediately.
“What are you – uuaahh – doing?”
Another stroking caress nearly silenced her, but she waited with bated breath to hear his answer.
If there was one.
Foyle’s head lifted just enough for his half-closed eyes to meet Sam’s in the near dark. He sounded conflicted, but the look in his eyes belied this.
“Tell me to stop and I shall.”
He waited, feeling curiously dreamlike and separated from reality. Matters concerning his attraction to Sam that he would normally have avoided or had under strict control seemed unimportant. He could see from her expression that she was torn in two directions, but it didn’t worry him as much as it ought to have done.
He felt rather than saw when Sam made her mind up. Her body seemed to relax against his, and her face cleared of indecision.
“No….I don’t want you to stop.”
Foyle’s conscience jabbed at him, a little too gently and much too late.
“I just don’t want you to regret this later.”
Her answer was gratifyingly prompt.
They looked at each other and the atmosphere suddenly shifted and thickened. The underlying sexual tension that had always existed between them flared up as an erotic frisson pulsed between them; Sam felt her insides swoop with excitement as if she had just driven over the brow of a hill too fast.
Foyle lowered his head; his lips sought out and captured Sam’s mouth. She tasted just as he had expected; hot, sweet, addictive and forbidden. He promised himself that he would stop in a moment, he really would, but each moment led to the next and the next and he didn’t want to stop – ever.
Sam was overwhelmed with sensations. The unfamiliar weight of a man in her arms, the slightly abrasive rub of five o’clock shadow, the firm pressure of his lips on hers – all new and wonderful – but the biggest surprise of all was the response he engendered in her. She wanted him and wanted him now in a way that shook her to the centre of her being.
Eventually Foyle summoned the strength to pull back, and he looked into Sam’s dark eyes. She looked stunned, as if he had shocked her with his ardour. He started to apologise; not for kissing her – which he didn’t regret for a second, but for shocking her.
“I’m sor -”
Recovering from her initial surprise about just how thrilling their kisses were, Sam linked her arms behind Foyle’s neck and pulled him back down to her.
“Please don’t apologise, I couldn’t bear it.”
Her breath was cool on Foyle’s flushed face, then her lips sought his again and he realised that Sam in the flesh was better than any fantasy he could dream of. He knew that he should stop while they still could, but his head was saying one thing while his heart was saying another. He felt the tentative probing of Sam’s tongue along his bottom lip and his resistance crumbled. Heaven help him, he met her kiss and returned it - with interest.
Sam moaned into his mouth and reason vanished. She hadn’t even known that she was capable of sharing such a kiss. Vibrant need pounded through her as she clutched Foyle to her, tightening her thighs around his leg in an effort to get closer to him.
Her touch ignited Foyle and he pulled her body against his, drawing her leg up along his hip. Voluminous yards of nightdress had bunched around Sam’s thighs and he impatiently brushed the silk aside, keen to feel her soft skin beneath his hands. He slid a hand up under the material, smoothing his palm over her ribs until his fingers were halted by the soft under-curve of a breast. He heard and felt Sam gasp against his mouth. A thrill ran though him and suddenly he was consumed with the desire to find out what else she liked, so that he could please her.
Whimpering in the back of her throat, Sam wordlessly encouraged him as she urgently pulled at the buttons of his pyjama top. She felt his lips trail down her throat and heard him murmur.
“You taste like heaven.”
Foyle traced the curve of her collarbone with his lips; one strap had already slipped off Sam’s shoulder and he used his mouth to move the other one. He felt the rapid rise and fall of her breasts under him and he ached to touch her all over. He felt her hands flutter over his arms and shoulders as if she didn’t quite know what to do with them, until one settled in the hair at the back of his neck. Her other hand tugged at his pyjama top, trying to free him from it. Foyle leaned on his right arm without removing his lips from Sam’s shoulder and managed to slip his left sleeve off, shoving it away impatiently. Sam tugged again, this time with her other hand, and he lifted on the opposite elbow so that he was able to shrug out of the top, which landed on the floor, unnoticed.
Foyle’s hand and mouth moved lower, to the skin that he had just exposed.
The warmth of his breath teased the skin between Sam’s breasts and she shivered with delight. Under her hands she could feel the heat of his body and the pent-up tension in his muscles. When one of his hands slipped back under her silk nightie and closed on a breast she couldn’t help arching her back and pushing herself into his grasp. She gave no thought to her lack of experience; his touch left her nothing to worry about except reacting to him. He seemed to know exactly where to kiss or lick or caress her into madness.
Foyle toyed with Sam’s breast, gently smoothing his hand over the delicate skin as he sought out the tightening nipple. His fingers stroked and moulded it until he lowered his head and took the dusky tip into his mouth.
Sam’s eyes flew open with surprise. The heat of his mouth on her was wonderful, but he took it further by teasing her with his tongue and gently nipping with his teeth. Just when she thought she had died and gone to heaven he transferred his attention to her other breast, leaving the first one wet and tingling. She shivered as the cool silk of her nightdress settled back into place. So many sensations to absorb and enjoy whilst storing up the memories for later left Sam breathless. As Foyle took her into his mouth again she clutched at his head and gasped aloud her delight. Her leg tightened over his hip to hold him close.
Foyle was distantly reassured by Sam’s enthusiasm, both from the viewpoint that she was enjoying herself and that she must have had at least a little experience to be so responsive. He reluctantly allowed the tasty morsel in his mouth to slip free, and then kissed his way back up her to Sam’s neck and jaw line. He took her mouth again with hot and hungry kisses that plundered rather than asked, but Sam gave them freely. Foyle buried his hands in her hair and crushed her to him, breathing rapidly as his tongue duelled with hers.
Long moments later an aching shudder passed through his body as he slipped one arm under Sam’s torso, and ran his other hand up the silky skin of her leg before tracing over her knee and up her thigh. Foyle slid his hand from there to her buttock and he was delighted to find that she wore no underwear.
It was his turn to groan.
Sam held her breath as Foyle’s palm ran along her thigh, but relaxed when he veered off from the juncture at the top of her legs, only to have her breath halt in her throat again when she felt him clasp her bottom. She didn’t think it was possible to feel any more excited, but when Foyle pulled her to him her hips pressed against the rigid length of his erection and she felt a fresh flood of moisture between her legs in response. Everything Sam had ever been told about waiting for her wedding night flew out of the window. If her dear sweet Christopher didn’t do something soon she was quite certain that she would explode. She was astonished to realise that she was panting for goodness sake!
Foyle had wanted to take things more slowly, but found himself caught up in the rapidly spiraling desire for release, for both of them. He ached all over, not just in his balls, and he felt dizzy with it. The scent of Sam’s arousal made him even harder and he had to fight the urge to bury his head between her thighs and lap at the fragrant liquid there, but what little rational brain he had left thought that Sam might find that a little too much for her sensibilities just yet. A delicious thought to save for later.
His thoughts were abruptly interrupted when he felt Sam’s hand move between their hips and rub over his cock. With only a thin layer of cotton pyjama material between them, the cool contrast of her hand could easily be felt and his hips jerked against her without conscious thought. It was no better when her tender exploration cupped his balls either. Foyle sucked air into his lungs in a desperate attempt to stave off coming into Sam’s hand. He groaned aloud with the effort.
Foyle’s obvious enjoyment spurred Sam on, and any reserves that she may have had about her impending deflowerment were lost in the ether. She was too hot and felt trapped by her nightdress. With real reluctance she released Foyle; without any preamble she tugged at the offending nightwear until it was up around her waist – she ignored the sound of a seam popping – then pulled it off over her head and threw it aside. There was just sufficient light to see the look on Foyle’s face as he looked upon her body, and Sam was no more disappointed than he was, if his expression was anything to go by. He shoved back the bedclothes, the better to see in the limited light. Sam smiled, and reached up to his face with one hand. He turned his head and kissed the palm before reaching for the cord on his pyjamas.
When Foyle looked very briefly as if he were contemplating whether or not to proceed, Sam grabbed for the cord too, and a moment later he was freed from the confines of his last item of cover, like it or not.
Foyle liked it.
So did Sam.
Foyle shed his pyjamas and lay back down beside Sam, half on, and half off her. His rigid shaft pressed against her leg and he slipped his right hand along her silky thigh until he circled around the top of her legs, so close to her centre, but not directly touching. She squirmed under his light caresses, trying to push him in the right direction, though she wasn’t sure where that was exactly. She had long lost any sense of modesty and didn’t care that she would have to resort to begging if he didn’t touch her soon.
As soon as Foyle saw her look up at him he ran his thumb through the golden curls at the juncture of her legs until he found his target and pressed; he was perfectly poised to see the reaction on Sam’s face as she gasped aloud and shuddered. He couldn’t help smiling as he circled and lightly touched, circled and touched. He felt how wet and open Sam was, but still he tantalised until satisfied that she was as ready as he was. He stroked a finger between her soft folds and then slipped it gently inside her. As he expected, Sam’s hips lifted, trying to force him further inside her, and Foyle’s groin throbbed with anticipation.
Sam didn’t know what to do with herself. Thank Heavens Christopher knew what he was doing; she was just along for the ride. Her thighs clenched his hand, even as her hands grabbed at him, trying to pull him over her and into place. He seemed to know exactly how to please her, how gently, how slowly, how soft and how firmly. It was the sweetest torture. Sam moaned, quite unaware that she had been unable to keep her pleasure contained.
It was a cry that Foyle had heard often in his dreams, and in just that tone. He shifted slightly, using his knee to encourage Sam to open her legs for him. She responded immediately and reached down between them to touch him, but he captured her hand in one of his and shook his head once.
Sam met his eyes and understood that he was not rejecting her at all. She put her hands on his shoulders instead.
Foyle took hold of himself and used the fluid on his fingers to add to the bead of clear liquid at the tip of his cock. The sensation made him shiver and gave him goose pimples, but it was good. He leaned forward and touched the head of his shaft to her other lips, and felt the sweat pop out on his brow at the sensation of being kissed by them. He managed to concentrate sufficiently to stroke her with the tip of him, spreading her lubrication over the two of them, before aligning himself correctly. Before he could move, Sam’s hips came up again and lodged the head of him just right for his entry. Foyle just managed to stop himself from thrusting forward through sheer effort of will. Despite the lubrication, Sam was still tight and he didn’t want to hurt her. He tried to pull back slightly.
Sam could feel Foyle against her, large and new to her very limited experience. She wasn’t afraid, just excited, and wanted him to hurry up. She strained against him, urging him on. She felt him begin to slip just inside, but before she could get used to his intrusion, he started to withdraw.
“No, don’t leave!”
Foyle looked at Sam as he rested on his forearms. Given his position, relaxation was the last thing on his mind, but he wanted to reassure her.
“I’m not going anywhere, trust me.”
Sam smiled as she looked into his dear face.
“I do trust you, but hurry, please?”
Foyle ummd with amusement and nodded once. He leaned down to kiss Sam as he nudged a little further inside, then waited for a few moments, distracting her with more kisses. He eased forward a little more; the effort to remain still required more reserves than he had.
Sam was getting frustrated with Foyle’s overly considerate pace. She wasn’t made of the best bone china, she wasn’t fragile. She wanted him. Now.
Foyle had just realised that he was meeting unexpected resistance when Sam took it into her head to hurry things along. To his dismay his distraction meant that he was unprepared for her sudden upwardly thrust hips combined with her leg hooked behind his thigh. He found himself buried to the hilt before he could react, and by then it was too late.
Sam flinched only briefly at the sudden and complete penetration. Foyle’s consideration beforehand had not been in vain, and now she found herself deliciously filled and eager for the rest. After a brief hesitation, her lover kissed her hard, almost angrily, but then it transformed into something else entirely. Sam gave herself up to the kiss with all of her heart.
When Foyle finally pulled back, Sam wriggled suggestively under him, reminding him of unfinished business. Her unrepentant grin surfaced and he found himself smiling ruefully back. He accepted her gift and gave himself up to her.
For Sam the feel of him inside her, filling her, touching her so intimately was almost more than she could stand. It sent her desire rocketing as she moved with Foyle, and he moved within her, more easily now, chasing the rising pleasure to the end of the line. Her breath came in short gasps and the sounds of his effort were adding to her excitement. It was not genteel, it was urgent and hard and wonderful. Sam moaned deep in her throat, tilting her hips to meet Foyle’s thrusts; she clutched at his shoulders and back, digging her fingers in to hold on for dear life.
A groan ripped from Foyle’s throat as he drove into Sam, harder and faster.
Sam felt a growing tension gather within her body, a delicious ache that thrived on the friction building between them. She pushed back against Foyle, wanting him so deep inside her that he would never leave.
Foyle’s pace became ragged and uneven as his world view narrowed to a very small focus. He rocked into Sam, again and again – teetering on the brink himself - until blessedly, he felt her already snug hold on him tighten further.
Sam’s nerves tingled throughout her body, gathering a pulse of pure energy from where they were joined as one. She strained against Foyle again, desperate to catch the elusive something that was just out of reach. Each of his thrusts brought it closer, higher and brighter until she suddenly cried out and clutched at him, remaining rigid as her insides pulsed in spasms of ecstasy that seemed to go on forever as he continued to thrust into her.
Foyle couldn’t stop if his life depended on it. A shudder ran through him as he felt Sam coming – her intimate stroking pushing him ever closer to the edge. He felt the waves of his own impending climax wash over him until it suddenly overtook him. He cried out as his hips jerked spasmodically; once, twice, as he filled her with his seed until he was drained.
For Sam her enjoyment was complete. Feeling Foyle finish within her, seeing him so driven and carried away and knowing that she had caused him to feel that way made her feel very womanly, older than Eve herself. She regretted nothing, not even in the relaxed aftermath when reason returned. Her breathing slowed and her body cooled as she turned to look up at her lover.
Foyle’s feelings were much more mixed. He remained on his elbows, keeping most of his weight off Sam’s chest, but the rest of him was in a state of collapse. His head lifted once his breathing was more under control and he looked Sam in the eye. He knew it was important to say the right thing to her now, but it was difficult to know where to start. His mind felt befuddled and he had difficulty in focusing his train of thought. One thing was paramount though, he had made a grave error of judgement.
Sam intuitively knew from that single syllable that she wasn’t going to like what came after it, but she refused to jump to conclusions. She felt Foyle shift slightly and was suddenly assailed by an odd sensation as he started to slip out of her. He had reached for his pyjama jacket and now gently used the handkerchief from its breast pocket to help clean up. It was a curiously tender moment that countered what Sam had thought she heard in his voice. She tried to read Foyle’s expression, but his face was now in shadow as he turned to retrieve the rest of his pyjamas.
“Please, say something. Anything.”
Sam’s plea made Foyle wince inside. He was not doing this right. He took a moment to pull up the bedclothes over the both of them, grateful for the darkness in the room.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were a virgin?”
Sam looked astonished. Her voice was a fierce whisper.
“What? I assumed that you knew! What kind of a girl to you think I am? Do you honestly think that I could go from either Joe’s or your own son’s bed to yours?”
It was the second time he had made a misjudgment about Sam and he was sorry beyond belief that he had been so selfish to his own needs and desires. He felt utterly weary.
“I’m sorry, I do know you better than that; it was my fault entirely.”
Sam glared at him.
“I’m not assigning blame here. It was as much my fault for assuming that you wanted what -”
She stopped abruptly, realising what she had been about to give away. If she told him that she loved him now, she would lose him and her job in one fell swoop.
Foyle’s eyes were already closing; he knew that he was missing something important, but he couldn’t seem to keep his lids open. Sam’s voice seemed very far away.
“Nothing. Go to sleep, forget anything ever happened. I shall.”
Foyle protested but nothing was heard except by him.
Sam turned her back to her erstwhile lover, who apparently had no trouble falling asleep in the middle of a conversation. She cried silently for several minutes; not for the loss of her virginity, which she had gladly surrendered, but for the possible loss of her friendship with Foyle. She respected him, admired him and loved him. Nothing here tonight had altered that and regardless of what had transpired afterwards, he had been the most attentive and considerate lover who had made her first time as good as it could have possibly been. Despite what she had said in anger, she would never forget.
X X X X X
Sam surface gradually to an awareness that morning had arrived. She didn’t need her body’s new aches to remind her of last night, and she basked for a while in the good memories before it all went so horribly bad.
Within a few minutes Sam realised that something was wrong. The silence from the other side of the bed was ominous, as was the lack of movement. She turned over to face Foyle.
She put out a tentative hand and shook him gently. There was no response.
Sam tried to quell her rising panic as she shook him harder. She got out of bed and trotted around to his side. Still no response.
Sam ran for the door of the room and only realised that she was naked when she was unlocking it. She grabbed the nearest thing to hand and shot downstairs, running barefoot for the kitchen.
“Mrs Flack! Mrs Flack!”
Sam’s relief was profound when she saw the older woman look up from the range where she was seeing to breakfast. Mrs Flack wiped her hands on a cloth and crossed to a pale Sam who appeared to be wearing a man’s robe and not much else as far as she could see.
“What is it?”
Sam pointed back towards their room as she caught her breath, tight as it was with panic.
“It’s Mr Foyle, Christopher – I can’t wake him up, he needs a doctor as soon as possible. Oh, please hurry!”
It was only much later that Sam was to acknowledge how terrified she had been that morning when she awoke and found that she couldn’t wake Foyle. She also realised that she had to thank Mrs Flack too, for it was she who called the local doctor out.
While waiting for the doctor to get to the pub, Sam hurriedly washed and dressed before returning to sit and wait with Foyle. Now that she had calmed down, she felt very foolish - of course Foyle was still alive, although ill, and she had woefully overreacted. He still had a high temperature, and was difficult to rouse, but she had managed to coax a grunt from him. Sam wiped the perspiration from his forehead with a damp cloth and was dismayed to feel the heat of him through it. He was much hotter than he had been last night.
Where in Heaven was the doctor?
Sam looked at the smattering of hair across Foyle’s chest, visible where the pyjama jacket had come undone. Despite her anxiety, her thoughts took her straight back to last night - to what had happened in this room, and in this bed.
Without her permission, Sam’s mind conjured up exactly what it felt like to run her fingers through those short crisp chest hairs. She supposed that she ought to feel some remorse for the loss of her virginity without benefit of wedlock, but she looked upon it from the viewpoint that she had not thrown it away frivolously, but had given it with love to a man that she admired and who had treated her with respect. Many married women couldn’t necessarily have said the same.
There was a quiet knock on the door and Sam hurried to open it. Mrs Flack stood on the landing with a surprisingly young man for someone who was the village doctor.
“Here you are, my dear. Mrs Foyle, this is Doctor Tamworth.”
The doctor and Sam nodded ‘hello’ in greeting, but didn’t shake hands.
Mrs Flack turned to the doctor.
“Simon, if either of you need anything, please let me know, I’ll be in the kitchen.”
Sam opened the door wider to let the doctor into the room as Mrs Flack quickly disappeared back along the landing. She had a full oven to watch over as well as a full house.
Doctor Tamworth went straight to Foyle, glancing back at the window as he did so. He placed his black bag on the floor beside the bed before looking up at Sam.
“Mrs Foyle, would you be kind enough to open the curtains sufficiently for me to see what’s what?”
Sam hurried to do his bidding – anything to help.
“Sorry, I wasn’t certain if the light was too much for Christopher.”
“No, he should be all right. Very few things have photophobia as a symptom.”
Sam wasn’t sure what the doctor meant by that, so she remained quiet while he examined his patient.
“How long has he had the temperature, and have you noticed any other symptoms?”
Sam came forward to the opposite side of the bed. She felt disadvantaged in her stockinged feet and dearly wished that her shoes were dry enough to wear.
“Christopher was fine yesterday during the day. I first realised about the temperature after we came up to the room and…we were…um…in bed. He did seem a little off – earlier in the day, he said some things that he would never have said if he wasn’t a little under the weather.”
Doctor Tamworth raised an enquiring eyebrow at this, but didn’t comment.
“Aches, pains, chills?”
“Yes, I think so. He did say that he was cold a couple of times. Tired, too. It just came on so suddenly.”
Tamworth hmm’d, looking thoughtful. He listened to his patient’s chest with his stethoscope, moving over the upper torso and checking both lungs. He rolled Foyle over on to his side and listened over his back before laying him back down. He then checked his eyes, which earned him a feeble moan of protest from the patient. Sam was grateful to have heard any response at all. The doctor slipped a thermometer under Foyle’s tongue and held it there.
“What does your husband do, Mrs Foyle?”
“He’s a police officer. Detective Chief Superintendent, actually. We’re here on -”
Sam was about to say ‘on a case’ but suddenly remembered that they were also pretending to be married, and that thought would, she supposed, have been at the forefront of a newly married woman’s mind. She looked at the Doctor, trying not to blush. She finished lamely.
“We’re not local.”
Doctor Tamworth smiled with understanding; he had already been filled in.
“I see. Has anyone back home got influenza?”
Sam looked up in surprise.
“’Flu? I’m not sure, but two of the constables are off sick with very bad colds. We’re quite short on staff.”
The doctor nodded again as he took the thermometer out of his patent’s mouth and peered at the mercury level.
“Well, I’m afraid that you’ll be a even shorter on staff for a while. Mr Foyle has a temperature of a hundred and one, and the ‘flu in my opinion. He’ll be quite poorly for a while yet.”
Sam’s distress was visible. She knew that some people died with influenza.
“Can’t you give him any medicine? Anything to help him at all?”
“There is no point in giving him antibiotics; influenza is not caused by a bacterium. I’ve been reading up about influenza in recently released medical journals, and it’s caused by a virus.”
“Yes, I’ve heard about them. They were talking about it back in the MTC. Something about immunising the troops because they could very easily transmit ‘flu due to the conditions in which they worked.”
The doctor looked at Sam with more respect. He was impressed that she had even heard of a virus. He looked back to his oblivious patient.
“I’m afraid that antibiotics are only of use in cases of opportunistic secondary infections. Hopefully your husband won’t need them, but we’ll keep an eye on him this week.”
He turned back to Sam and looked at her more closely. There was a decent bruise forming on her jaw, presumably from the car accident yesterday. She had obviously dressed in a hurry, and had not stopped to brush her hair or apply make-up. She appeared to be quite unaware of her personal state in her concern for her husband. Some of his patients’ wives were far more concerned about their own appearance in front of him than their husbands’ health.
“Forgive me asking a personal question, Mrs Foyle, but how are you feeling?”
Sam looked startled, and then reflexively put up a hand to smooth her hair. She supposed that she must look an absolute fright.
“Me? Oh, tickety-boo. ‘Very robust’ was our family doctor’s favourite motto about me. I just didn’t get much sleep last night.”
She blushed when she realised how her sentence could be misunderstood, but then her colour deepened when it dawned on her that she would not have been misunderstood at all.
“That is, Christopher was restless during the night. I feel quite well at the moment.”
Hiding his amusement, Doctor Tamworth packed his black bag and closed it.
“That’s good, let’s hope it stays that way.”
He paused, obviously picking his words with care.
“Again, a very personal question, but I have to ask. Is there any chance that you could be expecting?”
Whatever Sam was expecting, it wasn’t this question. She looked completely blank for a moment.
In the absence of any immediate answer, the doctor elaborated. It wouldn’t be the first time he had dealt with an already pregnant bride.
“The only reason that I’m asking is to establish whether or not you should be the one to nurse your husband. If you are pregnant I would have to advise you to keep your distance for the sake of the baby. It would not be good for either of you to risk catching an infection, although to be honest, you’ve probably already been exposed.”
Sam had recovered her composure sufficiently to nod once. The idea of a possible pregnancy never crossed her mind last night.
“Of course, that makes perfect sense. However, I’m not, as far as I know.”
The doctor nodded once, not wishing to say ‘good’ aloud.
For Sam, the words ‘as far as I know’ seemed to linger in the room. Her teeth worried absently at her lower lip while she worked out just how careless she had been. About nine or ten days ago she had ‘finished’ for this month, so that meant…wasn’t it the middle of the month that was dangerous? Or was it the end? No, it was the middle. Probably.
Sam swallowed the lump in her throat with an audible gulp.
Oh dear. Very definitely oh dear.
Sam suddenly registered that the doctor was still looking at her and gave him a reasonably bright smile under the circumstances. She gestured to the window and they both moved away from the bed to avoid disturbing Foyle.
“Well, then. Please tell me what I can do for Christopher; what to expect and what to look out for whilst he is ill.” Her spine stiffened as she summoned her reserves of bravery. “After that, I have a couple of questions of my own.”
“Very well, Mrs Foyle. First, keep him hydrated – plenty of fluids - that’s the most important thing. Let him sleep as much as he wants to, and try to get sleep yourself when you can – much less chance of going down with something if you are well rested yourself. Next…”
Doctor Tamworth went on to explain a few things to look out for, and when he had finished he waited for Sam to ask her questions.
Despite her difficulty in broaching the subject with a man, the need for answers overrode her embarrassment. She really didn’t think that growing up helping out on her uncle’s farm was going to provide adequate information now.
Shortly afterwards, having seen the doctor out, Sam checked that Foyle was okay to leave for a few minutes before she sneaked out along the landing. She needed a short time to compose herself and the bathroom was the only place she could be guaranteed some privacy.
The small shaving mirror on the window sill reflected a pale image of her face. She didn’t look any different to any other morning despite what she considered to be her manifestly different circumstances. Same hair, same eyes, same teeth, same Sam.
But not the same person at all.
She sat down on the edge of the cast iron roll top bath and looked at her stockinged feet. In the cold light of the day all her father’s dire warnings surfaced to nag at her. She recalled the day that he had come to Hastings to tell her he wanted her to come home. When she had joked about the phrase ‘up with the lark and to bed with a WREN’ there had been a distinct cooling of the atmosphere around their table. In a foolish attempt to make light of her father’s comment about girls from the village who had got into ‘difficulties’, she had informed him that there was no chance that she would be PWP – pregnant without permission. The pained expression on his face had left her in no doubt that he felt that her slide into moral decline was already too far advanced. Only Foyle’s intervention later had saved the day, by persuading Sam’s father that she was helping the War Effort.
Sam dreaded the idea of going back home for anything other than a visit. She loved her parents dearly, but her life had been deadly dull. The vicar’s daughter had to behave decorously at all times. Her mother’s long running but vague illness kept Sam busy, but it wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to count for something, to go the extra mile and be…amazing.
Sam rested a hand on her flat stomach. Maybe her chance to be something amazing was unintentionally closer than she thought. She clasped her hands together in the age old gesture of prayer and closed her eyes,
“Dear Lord, I know that you are being kept busy at the moment so I’ll try to be brief. Please keep my family and friends safe as best as you can, and if possible I’d really appreciate you keeping an extra eye out for Christopher; he means so much to me and he’s really not very well. I know that I’m probably not being seen in the best light at the moment, what with not saving myself for my wedding night, but I know you can see into my heart and you know how I feel. If you could see your way clear to helping him get better, I’d be most grateful and I’d try not to ask any more favours. Thank you, Amen.”
Sam opened her eyes and then just as quickly shut them again.
“Oh, just a quick P.S. I do consider children to be a blessing, I really do, but could you see your way clear to not blessing me just yet? Thank you again, Amen.”
Regardless of her situation this minute, Sam could not bring herself to regret a single moment about last night and she wouldn’t change any of it if she could. Christopher had been tender, considerate and loving. He had made her feel wonderful.
Her head came up when she heard a quiet tap on the bathroom door. She crossed the floor, unbolted the door and opened it. Mrs Flack stood outside with a tray braced on her left arm.
“There you are dear. Simon popped his head in before leaving so I’ve brought you and Mr Foyle something to eat. Can’t carry on through the day without a decent meal inside you, now can you?”
Sam’s response was not required, but she shook her head anyway before following her hostess back along the landing.
“I expect in a small village you all know the doctor quite well?”
“Oh, yes. I’ve known Simon since he was born. Lovely baby he was, almost pretty. I was very pleased when Kay, my eldest girl, married him and made him family. That was just before the war started. Kay was in a terrible state when the men started being called up. Simon wanted to go though, he really did. They need doctors.”
Sam held the bedroom door open while Mrs Flack negotiated the tray through the gap.
“But he didn’t go?”
Mrs Flack straightened up from the small table where she had placed the tray. She looked at Foyle, casting a motherly eye over him, and then smiled at Sam.
“No, bless him. Rare blood group, AB negative, they won’t let him go over in case he gets wounded and needs blood. Kay was so relieved. She’ll want to keep him close, especially now that they are having a little one.”
Sam smile was warm and genuine, if a little distracted, as she was keenly eyeing up the cooked breakfast on one of the plates.
“Oh, he never said.”
Mrs Flack smiled.
“They don’t know yet, but I’m right, you’ll see, I always am. Now, is there anything else I can get you? I’ve brought you a hearty breakfast to help keep your strength up; a jug of water and a bowl of broth for your husband - if he can manage it to eat. I’ve also made a note to go and get some of Len’s old night shirts out of hiding. While they are old, they are comfortable and I think you’ll be needing a few changes of clothing for Mr Foyle over the next few days. Oh, and I’ll bring up fresh warm water and a clean cloth for you.”
Sam was slightly taken aback – but impressed - by the breadth and depth of preparation demonstrated here.
“You have been so thorough, I can’t – we can’t thank you enough.”
Although Mrs Flack waved aside her gratitude, Sam could see that she was touched by her thanks.
“None of that now. You just tuck into your breakfast and get your husband well, that will be all the thanks that I need.”
Sam nodded; there wasn’t much else that she could say.
Lily Flack turned back just as she was leaving, her hand on the door.
“As I mentioned yesterday, we are full now, so I’m afraid that I’ll be busy most of the time, but if you need help or a break, please call one of us. Being at this end of the pub, it’s nice and quiet, you shouldn’t be too bothered by anyone else.”
Sam murmured her thanks one last time as her hostess left, closing the door behind her and leaving Sam alone with Foyle. As he appeared to be sleeping for the moment, breakfast called with a stronger voice and Sam tucked in, having worked up quite an appetite.
Fifteen minutes later breakfast was a dirty plate and a happy memory. Sam leaned back in the chair, replete for the moment. As soon as she had finished her cup of tea she took the used things down to the kitchen to save Mrs Flack a trip upstairs.
One worry sorted, Sam was on her way back upstairs when Mr Flack called after her. She stopped on the stair as he informed her that the Wolseley was in the yard behind the pub and in reasonable working order. Or, he added with a small grin, that it would be if it had its rotor arm. He handed the vital piece of the engine back to Sam for safekeeping, and said that the paperwork was ready whenever she had a moment. He also handed her a pile of striped flannel material that he had under his arm and said that it was from the missus. Sam thanked him and said that she would see to the papers and payment as soon as she had checked on her patient. Mr Flack said that there was no hurry and he would see her later.
Happier now that her car was back and working, Sam returned to her room; as she did so, she passed several of the other guests, gently resplendent in their Sunday best. It seemed that Mrs Flack’s ‘do’ was a large wedding party. In her drab uniform skirt and shirt, Sam felt a little like a moth in a crowd of butterflies so she was more than glad to get back upstairs.
To her guilty dismay, she entered the bedroom to see that in her absence Foyle had become agitated, and had obviously tried to throw off his blankets. When she moved closer to the bed, Sam could see the sheen of perspiration on his face and saw that he was intermittently shivering.
As she leaned over to replace the blankets, Sam heard Foyle mutter something, but she couldn’t make it out. She moved closer still to try to hear, then nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand thrust out and clutched at Sam’s arm. It was a lucky shot; he certainly wasn’t looking at her. His eyes were glazed and unfocused and the hand on her shirt sleeve was hot. She gently freed herself and picked up the flannel to wipe his face. Foyle leaned into its damp warmth like a puppy seeking its mother. As she gently dabbed, it occurred to Sam that the flannel probably felt soothingly cool to him, so she wiped his neck and upper chest as well, noting as she did that the pyjama top was damp with perspiration. She could see what Mrs Flack had meant by needing the old nightshirts.
Putting down the flannel cloth and wiping her hands, Sam turned to the pile Mr Flack had handed to her. She shook out the topmost bundle and smiled at the old fashioned nightshirt. It looked like a large striped shirt with buttons up the front. Sam quickly undid the buttons and laid the material on her side of the bed. She then undid the last couple of buttons on Foyle’s pyjama jacket and with much effort managed to get his left arm out of its sleeve. She gently cajoled and persuaded Foyle to turn onto his right side, then grabbed for the dry shirt. She put his left arm in the new nightwear and pushed both the new and old material under Foyle’s right side where he rested on the bed. She then rolled him back over – by which time she was sweating herself – and pulled the damp pj top off his right arm. Thankfully, Mr Flack being a large man, there was plenty of material free to easily get Foyle’s right arm into the right sleeve and then do up the buttons. Sam rested a moment from her labours, shoving a strand of hair back from her forehead, and contemplated her next move.
The pyjama bottoms.
“Right. Cord tie at the top. I remember.”
Notwithstanding the fact that it was less than twenty four hours since they had last been removed and - at least in part - by her, the current circumstances were quite different and gave her cause for pause. Muttering under her breath, she slid her hands under the blankets and felt around Foyle’s waist for the cord tie. She found it almost immediately and gave one end a tug to undo it.
She tugged harder. Still nothing happened. She peeked under the blankets and saw that she had just tightened a knot. She tutted in frustration. She would have to leave the blankets back as she worked on the knot. She glanced at Foyle’s face to see if he had any idea about what she was doing. Thankfully, his eyes were shut.
“Oh, Samantha Jane, this is for his own good and you should stop being so foolish. There is nothing that you haven’t already seen and besides, he’s probably too ill to notice. So stop getting worked up over nothing. More to the point, stop getting worked up. He’s a sick man, for goodness sake.”
Finally, after two fraught minutes, the cord tie was undone; Sam tugged and pulled on the pyjamas until eventually they were on the floor besides her.
Sam looked at Foyle.
“I have to say, dear Sir, that they came off a lot easier last night.”
She covered him back up with the blankets, adjusting the sheet across his chest. She picked up the discarded pyjamas and placed them over the back of the other chair. No point bundling them in the laundry bag until they had dried.
As it was by now after nine in the morning, Sam made her way back downstairs again to look for a telephone. Mr and Mrs Flack were not to be seen, so Sam slipped outside to get her bearings – she had not been able to see much of the village on their arrival – and was pleased to discover that there was a ‘phone box across the green, just outside the Post Office. Five minutes later she was speaking to Milner, and quickly brought him up to speed on most of their situation, missing some of the developments for obvious reasons.
“…so I would appreciate it if you would keep the ‘Mrs Foyle’ thing under wraps…yes, I know, it was all I could think of on the spur of…are you laughing? That’s not fair, Paul, Mr Foyle is very unwell.”
Sam listened for a few moments.
“Yes, I should think so too, you’re being very cheeky. Now, the doctor thinks that Mr Foyle will be at least on the mend in a week to ten days, but probably able to travel by the end of the week, if he pulls through without complications. Yes, I thought that too, but he said something about secondary infections. Yes absolutely, I’ll call if anything changes. What will happen now about the case and our witness?”
Sam’s gaze took on a distant focus as she listened.
“Confessed? So the witness isn’t to be interviewed? Well, I wished he’d done it a day or two earlier. No, I – drat, there’s the pips! I’ll telephone in a few days. Bye, goodbye!”
Sam put down the receiver and left the phone box. She had decided against speaking to her parents just yet; her father in particular had a way of knowing what she didn’t want him to know, and she knew for certain that she wanted to keep this time just between her and Christopher, at least for now. She hurried back to the Crown, pausing downstairs only long enough to pick up a couple of very out of date magazines from the snug so that she had something to read upstairs. She had packed a book, just in case the Boss would have been busy in the evening, but it was a romance novel and its flowery soft focus frippery paled into insignificance when compared to the real thing and she had lost the motivation to read it now.
She trotted upstairs, humming a tune under her breath. Her mind refused to dwell on any possibility other than that of Foyle’s complete recovery. He must get well, because for her there would be no joy in her life without him.
X X X X
Foyle was dreaming. He did not know that he was dreaming, indeed, for him - if he had been consciously aware – it probably would better have been described as a nightmare. A nightmare of fire and ice where he was constantly battered by extremes. At first he was desperately cold, shivering, and unable to find respite from the bone aching chills, then he would fade into a deeper consciousness only to surface later into a raging heat that sapped his strength and soaked his body.
As if this wasn’t enough he was tormented by visions of Rosalind and Sam. Terrible visions of suffering; Rosalind in extremis with typhoid, the illness that was to claim her life and leave him with a ten year old son to raise alone. Sam, so pale and ill, lying in a hospital bed and waiting to die from the anthrax infection.
No! No, she didn’t die! Sam is alive.
Foyle tossed and turned in the bed, clutching at the bedding that held him trapped. He moaned in pain at the ache in his heart as well as his limbs.
Young, she is so young, please don’t let her die!
The ethereal Sam floated up from the hospital bed, her flowing auburn hair stark against her white skin. She retreated from him, backing away until he could no longer reach her. Her look of deep sorrow haunted him. He could have saved her!
Rosalind’s pallid corpse lifted from the bed, her arms outstretched, her fingers claw-like and grasping, wanting to clutch him to her wasted torso, to gather him in death as she had in life.
No! She wasn’t like that! Rosalind loved me! You’re not her! Go away! Dear God, stop this torment!
Just as Foyle thought he would be taken by the vision, his body took him away from the turmoil and shut down to rest; not unconscious, but not consciously aware.
X X X X
Sam walked softly to the big bed, her shoes making no sound on the carpeted floor. She checked that Foyle was comfortable and that his nightshirt was still dry. She placed her fingers on his forehead to check his temperature, then touched the back of her fingers to his cheek in a soft caress.
Foyle turned towards her hand, and Sam was delighted at his response until she realised that he seemed quite unaware of her presence. He was mumbling under his breath, and his agitation increased. He mumbled something she didn’t quite catch.
“Please don’t let her die!”
Sam hardly recognised the agonised voice of her boss, friend and lover.
She paled as she realised that he must be thinking of Rosalind, his late wife. He must have loved her so much to feel the amount of pain she heard in his cry. She put a hand on his shoulder as he clutched at the blankets.
“Christopher? It’s me, Sam. Can you hear me?”
Foyle thrashed his head from side to side as if in denial. Tears slid from his eyes.
“Rosalind loved me – you’re not her, go away, dear God, stop this torment!”
Sam felt the warmth drain from her limbs. She felt sick and faint. She stumbled back from the bed and slid to the floor beside it, her face resting on the edge of the eiderdown.
Dear Heaven what had she done?
Had she completely misread him last night? Was he thinking of Rosalind all along? Had he confused a woman in his bed with the woman he had slept beside for all the years he was married?
It didn’t bear thinking about but she couldn’t stop herself.
One thing was perfectly plain to Sam. Any thought she had about a future with Christopher had just evaporated.
How could she possibly share him with a love that never died?
The funny thing about love is that it doesn’t just stop because you find that the object of your affections does not love you back.
Sam’s body ticked over, doing all the things required of it, but it was running on automatic while her heart patched itself up. She was mechanically going through the motions until she could cope with her new reality.
After his devastating outburst, Foyle had fallen into a deep sleep and Sam was grateful for the respite. She took the armchair on his side of the bed and settled down with one of the magazines, but her attention would not stay on the written words. She flipped through several pages, but didn’t take anything in.
Sam sighed heavily. She had not shed any tears yet, her sorrow too deep to express, but she needed some kind of release. She wanted to scream to let the pain out, but could not; her upbringing would not allow her that luxury.
She dropped the magazine and looked at Foyle instead. His face was no less dear to her than it had been this morning, her anxiety no lower than it had been hours ago.
Christopher had been with her last night. He had been angry that she hadn’t told him that she was a virgin; she had been cross that he could think that she would go from Andrew’s bed to his as if changing shoes or some such thing. No, she was certain that he had known at the time that it was her. He had even called her by name.
The comments that he had made were the result of his delirium; he didn’t know what he had been saying. What he had said, with painful clarity, was ‘Rosalind loved me, you’re not her, go away, dear God stop this torment’.
Rosalind loved me. You’re not her.
Rosalind loved me.
You’re not her!
The pain and anguish in his voice had been unmistakable. Delirium or not, they had been the words wrenched from his heart.
At last Sam’s tears started to fall, and they weren’t just for her.
X X X X
Foyle slept for the rest of the day without waking and Sam was relieved to find that she only need to change the nightshirt once more during the late evening. Between her and Mrs Flack they also changed the sheet on the bed by making one side up with the clean sheet, then rolling Foyle onto the remade side, then making up the other side, and rolling him back. He remained undisturbed by the whole thing, deeply asleep.
When the bed was tidy again, Mrs Flack shooed Sam out and told her to go for a little walk to put the bloom back in her cheeks. Sam’s pale face and red eyes had not gone unnoticed when she had been brought a bite of lunch. Sam had protested that Mrs Flack was far too busy to sit with Foyle, but she would have none of it.
“It’s quite all right, my dear. I’ve brought a cup of tea for me to sit and drink. It’ll be the only break I get until late this afternoon, so I might as well enjoy it.”
Sam found herself outside the bedroom almost before she had figured out what was happening and lifted her hand to knock on the door again, but then let her hand drop. She did think that a little walk would help clear her head, so she took Mrs Flack’s advice. She collected her now dry coat from the kitchen and left the pub.
Her intention to stroll for a few minutes turned into a fifteen minute walk around the village, passing the telephone box that she had used yesterday and, further on, the village pond, which sported a few hardy ducks and an impressive weeping willow. Although the weather was cool, it was still bright out, and Sam’s natural optimism began to reassert itself.
“I don’t mind that he loved her so much, I would have expected him to; he’s that kind of man. But eleven years is a long time to mourn, he needs to remember that only Rosalind died – he is still very much alive. If he can move on, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t love her enough. It’s no disrespect to her memory.”
Sam watched as a couple of the ducks waddled over to see if she had any titbits. She walked a little more quickly to evade them, but looked back to see if they were still following. The next thing she knew, she was on her knees in the dirt. Sam felt decidedly silly when she realised that she had tripped over a protruding tree root. After a few seconds to catch her breath, a brief inspection found new and still white grazes on both knees, which stung like the dickens. Tears gathered but she ruthlessly held them back. If she started to cry now it would be some time before she stopped and she couldn’t afford that.
Getting to her feet and dusting herself down, Sam made her way back to the pub. She didn’t make any mention of her mishap to Mrs Flack, merely waited until she had left before going to the bathroom to clean her grazes. The soap made them sting all over again, but it was for the best.
Once back in the bedroom, Sam managed to get Foyle to take several sips of water, but it was almost an automatic reflex as he swallowed, he certainly didn’t appear to be aware either of her or his surroundings.
The afternoon passed very slowly until finally tea arrived. Sam didn’t have much of an appetite – unusually for her – but, mindful of the doctor’s advice, she forced herself to consider eating something in order to stay well enough to look after Foyle. However, the aroma of the herby dumplings and stew was very tempting and she managed to clear her plate. When she had finished her cup of tea, she took the dishes downstairs as before, but also sought out Mr Flack to complete the petrol paperwork that he had mentioned earlier. As she was downstairs anyway, she detoured outside to check on the Wolseley before going back upstairs.
Sam was aware that she was trying to fill in the hours before she had to go to bed, but she was filled with an exhausting restlessness that meant she felt too tired and anxious to do anything other than sit in the armchair beside Foyle and fret.
At about half past nine in the evening, Sam disappeared off to the bathroom to wash and clean her teeth, but didn’t change for bed until she had returned to the room. She didn’t bother with her own nightdress; as she had discovered last night, it was too voluminous and hot to wear in any practical sense, especially as Foyle still had a temperature. Instead, she shook out another of the spare cotton nightshirts. Once on, it hung almost to the floor, but it was soft and comfortable. Sam hung her clothes up, taking care to straighten her shirt especially, as it was the second of the two that she had brought with her. She would have to see about washing some clothes tomorrow; she had expected to be away only one night and so had not brought an extensive selection with her.
Just before ten, Sam gave Foyle his last drink for the evening. Although he didn’t open his eyes, he seemed to be semi-aware of her intent and managed several mouthfuls of water before he stopped. She placed the half-full glass on his bedside table and turned out the light. She cautiously felt her way around the bed and climbed in her side. At first she lay flat on her back, wide awake and all too aware of her icy feet, but after about ten minutes or so the heat from Foyle’s side had stolen across the small gap between them and Sam was much warmer. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness and she could just make her companion’s profile.
Sam’s feelings were so mixed; she desperately needed Foyle to wake up, not only so that she knew he would recover, but also to find out where she stood in his life. She missed his council as her friend and mentor.
She also needed to get used to the idea that he might decide that the safest thing to do was get her moved on to another posting. If her presence was a constant reminder of what he might think of as his indiscretion he would probably deem that it was best to go their separate ways.
Perversely, while he remained asleep she could let herself believe that everything would work out all right and they would have a future together.
Sam’s natural optimism kept telling her that she had in some way misunderstood what Foyle had been referring to in his feverish mutterings. He had known who he was with last night and there was no chance that he had confused her with Rosalind.
In hindsight, his resistance had been weakened by the ‘flu, and perhaps his judgement impaired, but he had still called Sam by name and asked her if she was sure about what was happening. He had given her more than one chance to call a halt to their lovemaking. He had been considerate and gentle with her, holding back his own passion until hers had risen to meet it. She blushed now to think about how eager she must have appeared to him – no wonder that he had been surprised about her virginity, she must have seemed quite wanton. How could she explain that it had all felt so right to her, like coming home?
Sam gently touched his shirtsleeve, her voice soft.
“My darling Christopher, please, please, get well. Even if you never find out, I need to tell you that I love you, and whatever happens when you wake, it won’t change how I feel about you.”
Foyle didn’t react at all, but Sam felt the better for having told him.
X X X X
It seemed to Sam as though she had only been asleep for a few minutes - though the clock’s luminous hands showed two fifty - when she realised that Foyle was pulling at the bedclothes and trying to sit up. Part of her was overjoyed that he was awake; the rest of her was baffled about where he thought that he was going.
Before Sam could say anything, she heard a groan as Foyle laboriously swung his legs to the floor. She could see him rub at his face with both hands, obviously trying to clear the mental cobwebs. After a moment, he leaned forward, his hand on the arm of the chair, braced to move.
“Christopher? What are you doing?”
Either due to the shock of hearing her voice or weakness from the ‘flu, Foyle’s plans to stand were thwarted halfway through, and he sat back down rather abruptly. He twisted slightly to look in her direction.
Despite their circumstances Sam’s sense of humour reasserted itself at the surprise in his voice. She, too, sat up.
“You were expecting someone else?”
Foyle was obviously struggling to make sense of his situation.
“N…no, I…um, didn’t realise…you were awake. Umm, what’s going on?”
“You’re ill; you have influenza and a high temperature…”
Sam reached out to touch his back with the flat of her hand. She pretended not to notice him flinch at the contact, but it hurt all the same.
“You still feel hotter than normal, but it’s not as bad as it was. You must be feeling quite weak, please get back into bed; I can get whatever it was that you wanted.”
Despite the darkness Sam could make out the humorous tilt of his head.
“I don’t think so…um, I just need my dressing gown; I have to…er, to go.”
Sam frowned, blinking in the sudden brightness as Foyle switched on the bedside light.
“To go? Oh, to go! Right-ho, sit there a jiffy, I’ll help you.”
Sam quickly slid out of the bed and padded around to Foyle’s side, collecting his dressing gown on the way. She didn’t need to see his expression to know he was indignant; she could hear it in his voice.
“You most certainly will not. I can manage perfectly well.”
Sam’s tone was utterly pragmatic.
“I’m sure you can manage to fall flat on your handsome face perfectly well all by yourself, but either I’m helping you to the bathroom, or I shall fetch the chamber pot, it’s your choice.”
Foyle was so distracted by the idea that Sam thought his face was handsome that he almost missed the reference to the chamber pot.
“What? No! Er…um, your assistance to the bathroom door would be appreciated.”
Sam held the dressing gown while Foyle put it on, then he got to his feet with her help. Despite what he had said, he felt rather shaky and was grateful for her assistance, but it was the subtlest of torture to be so close to the provocative scent of her warm body.
They made reasonable progress along the landing and encountered no-one else, but as it was nearly three in the morning, Sam could not honestly say that she was surprised. They halted at the door of the bathroom.
“Don’t bolt the door, just in case you need help. I’ll wait here.”
Foyle blinked slowly, unable to voice just exactly how awkward he felt, so he simply nodded once.
It was only once Foyle had gone that Sam gave any thought to the fact that neither of them had made any mention of last night. Should she bring up the subject? Or wait until he was better? Should she wait for him to mention it? Just what was the good etiquette guide to after-sex conversation?
A few feet away, Foyle made unsteady progress across the bathroom. Given how woozy he felt, he decided that sitting was a safer option than standing.
Not having to concentrate on staying upright, Foyle finally surrendered to the uppermost thought in his mind.
Waking to find himself in bed beside her made him think that he was still asleep and dreaming. It had taken several moments to recall just how they had ended up in bed together. The car going off the road, a long walk in the filthy weather, the warm public house, tea, food, the single room, Sam blushing but delightful. Mrs Flack coming into the room with him tangled in Sam’s nightwear.
Foyle rubbed a hand over his face again. He didn’t remember going back to sleep, but he did recall some terrible nightmares about both Rosalind and Sam dying; so horrible in fact, that he felt himself shiver just at the thought of them. Losing Rosalind was terrible, but losing Sam as well would have destroyed him.
He frowned as his mind moved on to another startlingly vivid dream. This too had involved Sam, but the content had been entirely different. So different in fact, that he was glad that she wasn’t in the room with him now. To wake with her in his arms, to have kissed her like that, to have made love to her…taking what she had so wondrously offered…
He would have lost her forever. Better to have her companionship; her laughter, her wit and her keen enquiring mind, than risk losing it all with a disastrous misstep such as that. He was grateful that she would never know how much he -
A soft tap on the door was heard, followed by Sam’s whisper.
“Christopher? Are you all right?”
Foyle wondered at the frisson of delight that pulsed though him when he heard his name on her lips. The same thing had happened when Sam had touched his back earlier to assess his temperature – he had been shocked at the sensation. This did not bode well. He mentally shook himself.
“Um, yes, fine. I’ll be out in a moment.”
Foyle finished up and washed his hands. He peered into the mirror – much as Sam had earlier – and looked at his unshaven and rather battered appearance. The cut on his forehead was healing well, but the bruise was a beauty, just like the one on Sam’s jaw. He ran his tongue around his teeth and grimaced. He rinsed his mouth out and wished for his toothbrush. He looked back at the mirror and sighed quietly.
He turned off the light.
As soon as Foyle left the bathroom Sam took his arm and spared him the effort of having to decide whether or not to accept her support. They were back in the bedroom within a minute or two; Foyle climbed back into bed without any prompting and suddenly realised how exhausted he was from just that short walk. All his muscles ached as if he had been doing a strenuous task. He closed his eyes and savoured the comfortable mattress and cool sheets.
Foyle felt the other side of the bed dip as Sam slid in beside him. He didn’t want to open his eyes, just in case she saw something of the turmoil in them.
“Try to drink some more water if you can. The doctor said to keep you hydrated.”
Sam kept her voice low and didn’t seem to expect too much of a response from him, but Foyle opened his eyes in surprise.
Sam looked at him with concern, a little perturbed that he didn’t recall the doctor’s visit. She explained, leaving out unnecessary details.
“…and he said that he’d be back to see you again, probably tomorrow, I should think. How do you feel?”
Foyle gave the question more serious consideration after his knee-jerk mental response. He was very concerned about his lack of recall.
“Headache. Drained. Lacking in energy. I just want to sleep for a week.”
“No ‘get up and go’. It’s to be expected. It’s obvious you’re still unwell, especially if you can’t remember the doctor’s visit.”
Foyle nodded tiredly, unable to disagree as his eyes closed again. He shifted his legs slightly and his thoughts digressed further.
“And the nightshirt?”
If his eyes had been open, he would probably have seen Sam’s face go pink, but he would have misunderstood the reason for it.
“Yes. Well. You were very poorly; the temperature made you uncomfortable, so I changed your pyjamas for the shirts when you were soaked.”
A jolt of alarm made Foyle’s eyes fly open; he looked at Sam as she calmly lay beside him.
His voice was faint with disbelief.
Sam nodded, her eyes still on him.
Foyle swallowed, trying to wet a mouth gone dry. His gaze clashed with Sam’s and he couldn’t seem to pull away.
The silence was deafening.
Foyle couldn’t think of a thing to say. He tried anyway.
The moment passed, so Sam spoke instead.
“It was hard…”
Foyle looked startled.
Sam flushed when she realised what he was probably thinking. She hurried on.
“It was difficult changing your…you…um, on my own, but I could hardly ask Mrs Flack to do it instead of me, ‘your wife’, could I?”
Foyle pursed his lips in thought, his heartbeat nowhere near back to normal.
“N…no, I see that.”
And he did, only too well. His brain was giving him picture after picture of what had probably happened.
Sam’s hands on him.
Removing his clothing.
And he’d been oblivious. How could he not have known?
Foyle wasn’t oblivious now and he was only a man. His body was feeding on the imaginative reconstruction and he was not unmoved by it. He was exhausted and had no energy whatsoever, but his manhood was ready for action.
Foyle shifted in the bed, subtlety lifting his right knee to hide any chance discovery of his condition. He was grateful for the thickness of the eiderdown.
“I’m sorry to have caused you so much trouble. It’s not how I imagined this visit would turn out.”
Sam unexpectedly smiled, making Foyle wonder what she was thinking about.
“Me neither, but it’s all right; you’ve been a very good patient.”
Foyle raised one eyebrow.
“I hope I behaved myself?”
He wasn’t altogether joking.
Foyle noted the slightly dreamy quality to Sam’s smile this time.
“Oh, you were perfect.”
The second eyebrow joined the first, making his forehead wrinkle.
Sam shook herself out of her revere. She smiled brightly at Foyle.
“I mean, you were the perfect gentleman and a perfect patient. The best - absolutely.”
Foyle’s tired brain was fairly certain that it had missed something important in the conversation, but for the life of him, he couldn’t see what it was. Foyle promised himself that he would come back to it later, when he felt better, and examine it further.
“That’s good.” He reached for the lamp. “Light out?”
Sam settled down on her pillows, masking her disappointment, and looked at her erstwhile lover. Either he didn’t remember last night, or he didn’t want to remember it. She needed time to think about what to do next – as if she hadn’t spent all day doing just that.
“Yes, thank you.”
The room went dark, and Foyle settled back too.
Oh, to hear that every night!
Sam’s smile was tremulous in the dark, but there was nothing of it in her voice.
Sam lay awake for some considerable time. Somehow in her calculations, she had not allowed for the fact that Foyle would not – or could not - recall their night together.
So where did she go from here? Was he lying about his memory loss? He did seem genuinely surprised that the doctor had been to see him. He certainly appeared to have no memory of her changing his clothes; the expression on his face had been so funny - it was the first time that she had seen him that disconcerted.
If he was lying, then it was either to protect her or to protect him; he wasn’t a cruel man. If he was telling the truth, then she had to decide whether or not to tell him, or to wait until he remembered.
If he ever did.
Perhaps I shouldn’t tell him at all. If he does already know, and I tell him, he’ll have to admit it happened and he’ll probably send me away. He obviously still loves Rosalind; I’ll never forget the despair in his voice when he cried ‘Please don’t let her die!’
Sam finally decided, about five in the morning, that the merry-go-round her thoughts were on had to stop. She was not going to say anything to Foyle; he would remember or he would not, and based on her Father’s principle of ‘least said, soonest mended’ she would wait and see what happened.
Sam turned to face Foyle, slid a hand under her pillow and left the other resting on her stomach. She closed her eyes and let out a small sigh.
Sometimes we choose our destiny; sometimes it chooses us.
Let it come.
“How is yours?”
Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle’s polite enquiry snapped Sam out of her daydream. She looked down at her plate to find half of her meal gone but she had no memory of eating it. She looked across the small dining table and smiled ruefully.
“Very good, like all of their meals have been.”
As this was only Foyle’s second meal downstairs in the dining room since he had woken up from a bout of ‘flu three days earlier, he had not really eaten enough to form an opinion, however, what he had managed to eat had been well cooked and flavoursome. Although his question had been a genuine enquiry, it had also been of use to bring Sam back from wherever she had been mentally languishing for the last ten minutes.
He was concerned about Sam’s state of mind. He was used – now - to her keen enquiring mind and her lively chatter about any subject, so her current reticence was quite out of character. Her lack of involvement in the contents of her plate was unheard of. Sam loved her food.
He waited for further comment, but none was forthcoming. They ate in silence for a few more minutes and Foyle’s concern grew.
“Are you…er…feeling all right?”
Sam looked up from the remains of her meal, and gave a quick nod.
“Yes, thank you.”
Not ‘tickety-boo’ then, umm?
Foyle’s single raised eyebrow questioned the veracity of her comment.
His driver read him well enough – but ignored the signs.
“Did you sleep well?”
Knowing the question was a diversion, Foyle replied anyway.
“Yep, very well, in spite all the sleep I’ve had this week.”
They finished their meal in silence, with Foyle mulling over the possibilities of what was wrong with Sam. He was reluctant to probe too deeply into her affairs, but he was concerned. He wondered if she were coming down with the ‘flu, too.
“If you are feeling up to it, I think that we should be getting back to Hastings.”
Sam looked up quickly this time. Foyle read a mixture of emotions on her face; an odd combination of relief and disappointment, with a touch of weariness thrown in.
Sam looked back down at her plate and straightened the already tidy cutlery.
“If you are feeling well enough to travel, then, yes, we should get back. Absolutely.”
Foyle contemplated the top of Sam’s head for a moment longer, and then looked out of the window of the pub. It was not yet dark and the blackout curtains were still open, but it would be very late before they reached Hastings, even if they left now.
“In that case, we can leave in the morning. I don’t think there is any point to travelling at night unless we have to. I’ll telephone Milner tomorrow and let him know that we’ll be back late afternoon.”
Sam’s fingers stilled on her knife and fork.
“He said yesterday that he’s looking forward to having you back.”
Foyle regarded her.
“You’ll be happy to get back, I expect. Away from shared accommodation and looking after the infirm.”
He was pleased to see the glimmer of a smile surface.
“Oh, it’s not been so bad. At least you don’t snore.”
One side of Foyle’s mouth lifted.
“Glad to hear it.”
After they left the dining room, Sam went up to the room to start packing, and Foyle went to see Mrs Flack about settling the bill.
Despite Foyle’s comment about the weight of her suitcase earlier in the week, Sam knew that it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to pack as neither of them had brought much with them. However, she had only just placed her case on the bed and opened it when Foyle entered the room.
“Gosh, you were quick.”
“Umm. Mrs Flack is making up the bill. She…er…said to remind you that you had something drying in the kitchen?”
Both of Foyle’s eyebrows were up with curiosity, but he wasn’t going to ask the obvious question.
Sam straightened up from her suitcase.
“Oh, I nearly forgot! I’ll go and get it now…won’t be a tick.”
Foyle was left alone. He looked around the now very familiar room with a sense of regret. He had quickly adapted to having someone share a bed with him again after all these years, and he was sorry in many respects that it would end after tonight. He sighed, then moved to pull his case out from under the bed; as he did so he noticed something pale lying beside it. Pulling it out, he recognised the cream coloured garment; Foyle’s stomach did an unexpected flip.
It was Sam’s nightgown.
Why this should cause him concern, he didn’t know, but it did. As he held it in his hands he noticed that it was ripped along one of the side seams. Immediately an image came to mind and it wasn’t pleasant; Sam, wearing the nightdress, and someone removing it hastily, carelessly.
Against her wishes?
Foyle shook his head to dismiss the image; it was just his imagination playing tricks on him. He should stop being a detective every moment of the day. Unless something had happened to Sam while he was unconscious, there would have been no opportunity for anyone to attack her whilst she was wearing her nightclothes. She had been with him the whole time. In fact, now he thought about it, their first night here was the only time he could recall her wearing the silk at all. His mind dutifully supplied the expression on Mrs Flack’s face as she had viewed the two of them floundering – well, to be fair, only he had been floundering, but -
“What are you doing?”
Sam’s quiet question made Foyle look up in surprise; he had been so deep in thought that he hadn’t heard her return. He looked at her, then at the garment that he still held. For some reason he felt guilty.
“I’m sorry; I just found this on the floor, under the bed.”
When he looked up again, Sam was looking at his hands. Her fleeting expression of longing gave him pause, but the look was gone in an instant and Sam was herself again as she hung up her clean shirt.
“I wondered what had happened to it. It was not terribly practical for sleeping in anyway; I daresay I could make two new outfits with all that material.”
The first thought in Foyle’s head was that it would be a shame to cut it up, but he remained silent as Sam took the gown from him and carefully folded it before placing it in her suitcase.
The remainder of the packing was completed in a companionable silence, though Foyle was aware that Sam seemed preoccupied.
Despite the agreement with herself about Foyle, Sam couldn’t help going over The Night again. Seeing him hold the silk reminded her of his sensuous touch; the way his hands had moved over her skin, stirring such feelings in her. The sight of the nightdress had brought back – and now always would – memories of the only time she had worn it. The torn seam and its eventual repair would always make her think of the way that she had stripped it off with such careless abandon. Her body pulsed with pleasure at the memory and she was sure that she must look flushed. As she crossed to the door she uttered the first thing that came into her head.
“Cup of tea? I’m parched.”
Foyle glanced at his watch in surprise; it had only been fifteen minutes since they had eaten.
“Er…not for me, thank you. You go ahead, I’ll see you later.”
The door had closed almost before Foyle had finished speaking, leaving him to wonder what had just happened. Out of habit, he smoothed a hand over his tie and waistcoat as he contemplated Sam’s departure.
Sam didn’t go for a pot of tea. Instead, before it got completely dark she took a quick look at the Wolseley to make sure that it was shipshape for the journey back to Hastings the following day. The chilled atmosphere outside soon took the flush from her cheeks and she was back inside within a few minutes.
Just as she was trying to decide what to do until bedtime, one of the other guests tried to talk her into making up a fourth for bridge. Sam’s face fell; she was not terribly good at the game despite her mother’s persistence, but when she attempted to tell Mrs. Bell this fact, she was overruled.
“Nonsense my dear, I’m sure you’ll be -”
Despite her speedy departure earlier, Foyle’s voice behind her was a welcome interruption for Sam and it showed in her face as she turned to him.
“Christopher, there you are! I was just telling Mrs Bell how terrible I am at bridge, but I’m afraid she doesn’t believe me.”
Foyle correctly read the ‘get me out of this’ expression on her face. He smiled disarmingly at the older woman and her two female companions.
“For the daughter of a vicar, it was a great shock to me when I discovered Sam’s complete inability to concentrate on the cards for more than a few minutes at a time; complete shock. Terrible. All I could think was ‘thank goodness she can cook’.”
Foyle smoothly took Sam by the arm and guided her away from the stunned Mrs Bell. One of her friends pulled at her arm and Foyle was sure that he overheard the word ‘honeymoon’ in whatever was being said. He glanced at Sam, hoping that she hadn’t noticed.
She was smiling.
“You are a rotter you know; she now thinks that I’m hopeless and you’re only interested in my cooking ability.”
Foyle was still holding her arm and Sam showed no inclination to pull away. He wondered if she really had no idea that the three ladies probably thought the last thing he was interested in was her ability to cook. He gave her a sideways glance and his half-smile.
“Good job she doesn’t know that you can only do ‘coq au vin’ then, isn’t it?”
Although pleased to see Sam’s trademark grin at last, Foyle wondered at her pink cheeks.
Sam wasn’t going to tell him anytime soon that ‘all coq and no vin’ had popped straight into her head.
X X X X
In the end they spent a pleasant evening in the snug, sitting near the fire and simply talking. There was no whisky to be had, but Foyle could nurse a pint with the best of them and if Sam’s port and lemon was more lemon than port, well, there was a war on.
They went up to the room well before time was called; Foyle was still fatigued from his illness and Sam was not going to sit downstairs in the bar by herself, even if Foyle would have let her.
The two of them changed for bed, Foyle back in his own freshly laundered pyjamas, but Sam still in the borrowed nightshirt. They talked – consciously or otherwise – about ‘safe’ subjects; the recent penny increase on the price of a pound of sugar, making it fourpence ha’penny was upsetting the desk sergeant back home – not that you could get a pound of sugar anyway, but it was the principal of the matter. The new utility clothing had turned out better than anticipated, mainly because eight of the leading dress designers had contributed ideas to the Board of Trade, including, as Sam pointed out, the Royal Family’s two favourite designers, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies.
Sam rattled on, more like her old self, and although ordinarily Foyle would probably have drifted away mentally, he found himself listening to the comforting ebb and flow of her voice around him as he lay, propped up on a pillow, waiting for her to run out of steam. As if she ever would.
“What’s so funny?”
Foyle looked up, a picture of innocence, as Sam slid into bed beside him.
“Mmmn? Oh, nothing, just…er…waiting for you to get comfortable before I turn out the light.”
Sam looked at him, trying to judge his expression; there was definitely a gleam in his eyes. Something had amused him, but he was obviously not going to spill the beans. She sighed inwardly. This was the most relaxed that she – they – had been since he had woken up in the middle of the night and she really wanted to ask him what was going on between them. Just lying here next to him was causing all sorts of tingly goings-on again. It just wasn’t fair. If only there was a way to communicate with him. She smiled.
“All right then, Christopher. I’m ready when you are.”
Foyle looked at her, wondering at her inflection; he had never heard his Christian name purred quite like that. If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn she was flirting with him. To his ear she had sounded quite, well… suggestive.
He was obviously more sick than he thought.
Sam’s steady gaze remained on him. Foyle had been stared at by the best and worst of any bunch of villains, but none of them had a patch on Sam for getting under his skin. He quickly turned off the light before she could read any of the secrets behind his eyes.
The darkness hid more than Foyle’s discomfort; it hid Sam’s amusement too. She was getting through to him, she knew it.
Foyle worried silently at his lip. He frowned.
What wouldn’t he give to hear her say that every night?
He never felt less like sleep.
X X X X
Midnight came and went with Foyle exhausted but wide awake. His left palm rested on his forehead and he could feel the deep ridges of his furrowed brow.
He had been tossing and turning for an age. He couldn’t seem to switch off, but his thoughts had settled into a peculiar sort of monomania – the same couple of sentences kept repeating through his mind. He was in his office back when Sam had volunteered to go undercover as a tanker driver at a petrol depot; or rather, it had been just before she had put herself forward for the task. He and Milner had been discussing which policeman they could spare to send on the job, and Sam had asked what the problem was.
He had looked up at her.
‘We’re seriously short of men.’
Her prompt response had startled him.
‘Yes, I know what you mean.’
Sam had ended the sentence with a resigned little ‘huff’ of amusement, leaving Foyle and Milner looking at each other in surprise.
Now he couldn’t get the words out of his head. He wondered if his brain was trying to tell him that Sam was worldlier than he gave her credit for.
Foyle turned over onto his right side, but this left him facing the subject of his turmoil. Sam was lying on her left side, facing him. Less than twelve inches separated them, but it might as well have been a mile.
He had accepted some time ago that his affections were engaged with his driver. She was an attractive young woman with an enquiring mind and a sunny disposition. She had an overactive imagination, but that was a charming quirk of her character rather than a fault. It was perfectly logical that he would find her appealing.
That he also desired her was a disadvantage, one that could lead to trouble, but he had used his maturity to keep a check on his behaviour. He was working on the principle of ‘half a loaf’ being better than none. If he kept quiet, he would keep his half loaf – Sam would continue to be his driver. If he declared himself and she turned him down – as, indeed, she had every right to do – then he would have nothing, because she would ask for a transfer.
But the little optimist in the back of his head was muttering again;
‘We’re seriously short of men.’
With Sam’s wonderfully dry response.
‘Yes, I know what you mean.’
Was Sam sufficiently short of eligible men to consider a more mature applicant?
When Foyle finally managed to drift off to sleep, it was in the middle of one of his less than successful approaches.
This made him all the more disconcerted when he woke up to find Sam plastered to his side, her head in the crook of his arm, and her hand on his chest.
In addition to the confusion caused by her proximity, a single word from Sam’s lips stopped the breath in his chest.
What the hell was going on?
Sam’s murmured greeting had no plausible explanation that he could think of. Had she been dreaming? Or was he?
Foyle forced himself to remain silent. The last thing he needed was for her to wake up and notice the state he was in; his mind may not have acknowledged Sam at his side, but his body was more than aware of the whole of hers against him. To speak now and be noticed would be the height of embarrassment for him; God knows what it would do to her.
With no idea what the time was, Foyle thought it felt like early morning rather than the middle of the night. With the blackout still in place it was impossible to tell if it was light yet, and he couldn’t reach his watch without disturbing Sam.
After a few minutes it became obvious that even the threat of humiliation was not diminishing his arousal. He tried to ease away from Sam, but she shifted closer and muttered something, so he stopped moving.
Five minutes crawled past.
Just as Foyle had finally started to relax, the hand on his chest slipped under the edge of his pyjama jacket and started to move down towards his waist.
Discovery be damned; he clamped his left hand down on Sam’s, trapping her firmly.
What was she thinking?
Sam’s foot began to slide up Foyle’s right leg, making her knee…
“Sam? Sam, wake up!”
Sam lifted her head, charmingly bleary eyed.
She blinked once, twice. She looked at her trapped hand, and then at Foyle. She frowned in puzzlement.
“Wuh…why are you holding my hand?”
Foyle’s jaw dropped. He didn’t know whether to be indignant or laugh at the irony.
“Me? Holding your hand? I am not, I’m -”
It belatedly occurred to him that he was in fact holding her hand.
Sam looked innocently perplexed; it was a work of art.
“No? What’s that then? Four fingers, one thumb. Looks like a holding sort of hand to me.”
“But you were…”
Foyle trailed off. There was no way out of this with any dignity. He lifted his hand to release her, but to his surprise Sam didn’t move away. She gave a little smirk instead.
“I didn’t say that I minded. I just didn’t expect it.”
Foyle looked as if he had been hit with a wet fish. Stunned as a mullet.
Sam savoured the rare moment of having one over on the boss. It wasn’t often that she was able to do that, and it gave her time to recover from the pleasant surprise of waking up and finding herself pressed up against him. She had been enjoying a rather wonderful dream too, mores the pity.
While Foyle was still in shock, Sam forced herself to gently disengage from their close embrace. It was the last thing that she wanted to do, but he looked so distressed that she actually felt sorry for him.
Before completely pulling away from him however, she paused. Suddenly serious, she looked at Foyle, searching for some glimmer of emotional recognition. He still appeared distressed, but a new wariness had entered his expression when she stopped moving.
A sudden recklessness seized Sam; a carpe diem sort of moment.
“Aren’t you curious?”
Despite the risk of repeating himself, Foyle did just that.
Gathering all her courage together, Sam strove for nonchalance.
“Well, aren’t you curious at all? I mean, I’m not Rita Hayworth, but I’m not Fatty Arbuckle either. Due to circumstances beyond our control we’ve been sharing this bed for a week; okay, I admit that for half of it you were unconscious, but even so, I don’t know whether to be flattered or upset that you haven’t…that you didn’t want…to…to, well, you’ve been a perfect gentleman. It’s been quite…quite…”
Foyle’s mood had rapidly moved from shock to amusement, skipping briefly through dismay and awkwardness with arousal underlying all else. How could the dear girl possibly think that he wasn’t interested, even if that was exactly the intention he sought to convey?
Sam pulled a face to indicate that Foyle hadn’t made a successful stab at finishing her sentence.
Sam frowned, searching for the exact word she wanted.
Sam waited for his reaction with some trepidation. Having started down this road with her usual impulsive leap, she was now debating the wisdom of the expression ‘look before you leap’.
Foyle rubbed his forehead with his left hand. Sam had seen him do it on other occasions when he needed to think.
“Let me get this straight. Because I have given you the respect that you are due and not made any inappropriate advances, you feel insulted?”
Sam’s expression made Foyle feel like a bright but confused schoolboy.
“Well, try not to feel too insulted by my respect. I’m sure that there will be plenty of young men who would be willing to try to be inappropriate with you in the right circumstances and with your consent.”
“That makes me sound a little fresh, if not ‘fast’. Do you think that I’m that sort of girl, just because I wondered if you were curious?”
Foyle’s face had ‘I can’t win’ written all over it.
“N…no, no, not at all; I’m trying -”
The tart interjection was overridden.
“- trying to say that I think you are…”
Foyle cleared his throat nervously, aware that he was on dangerous ground.
“…a not unattractive young woman, who would have many admirers, if you so chose.”
Sam hid her smile, taking pleasure from teasing Foyle.
“Not unattractive? So you have given it some thought?”
Foyle rubbed his forehead again. How the dickens had he got into this?
“Thinking about me is not the same as curiosity though, is it? I mean, you must think about me because we work together nearly every day, don’t we? But that doesn’t mean that you’re curious about me, does it? After all, I see you all the time and I think about…all sorts of things while I’m driving; I don’t need all my brain to drive -”
“- so it leaves one free to think and to be curious…”
Sam looked at Foyle, her playfulness falling away.
“…and I’m still curious. Aren’t you?”
Foyle was beside himself with curiosity but made no indication of it. This was a bizarre conversation to be having, but this whole situation was bizarre. He pulled a face; the upside down ‘U’ mouth, the raised eyebrows, combined with a slight shrug.
“Well, I’m a policeman. Curiosity is the nature of the beast, without it I wouldn’t be very good at my job, would I?”
Propped up on her left elbow, her head resting on her palm, Sam’s body was still touching Foyle’s leg from the hip down, and his arm was still under her torso. She thought how revealing it was that Christopher hadn’t moved away from her. Everywhere that they were touching tingled and she had to force herself to concentrate.
“That’s inquisitiveness; please answer my question, it’s important.”
Sam’s earnest expression betrayed her youth, as if Foyle needed any reminder. He wanted to answer her question truthfully but knew that he should not encourage her.
“Same thing, different word. No, I can’t answer your question.”
Foyle did not avoid her gaze and she didn’t flinch.
“Can’t? Or won’t?”
The muscles in Foyle’s face shifted minutely.
“Either way, you have your answer.”
Completely distracted, Sam marvelled at the transformation in his demeanour from the man she had woken up with to her superior officer. She felt quite undressed, and not in a good way.
“How can you do that? How can you be my friend Christopher one minute, then turn into my boss? That’s not fair.”
Both of Foyle’s eyebrows shot upwards; he hadn’t expected her to recover and retaliate so quickly. What was that quote about the best defence being an attack through forward enemy lines?
Suddenly straightening her left arm, Sam propped herself up, pulling away from the contact with him. Having achieved what he set out to do, Foyle found himself missing their connection.
Sam glared at him, but with a curiously touching dignity.
“I’m sorry; you’re quite right, I shouldn’t have put you in this position.”
It would have been perfect if Sam had just left it at that, but being her, she just had to gild the lily.
“I’m sorry that sharing a bed with you made me think that I could ask you something personal just because I was curious about it. Of course you couldn’t possibly have thought about kissing me, whether or not you think I’m attractive. You’re a mature, sensible man, a good and proper policeman, and I’m sure it’s never crossed your mind to think how easy it would be just to lean over such a small distance to satisfy a curiosity that you don’t have in the first place.”
By accident or design - he wasn’t sure which - Sam had managed to make Foyle feel like a mean old man totally lacking any interest in sex. In the back of his mind he was aware that this was very possibly a fair assessment, but part of him still felt that his masculinity had been impugned. What did this chit of a girl know about the real him?
Unfortunately, Sam had only paused for breath.
“Of course it means nothing that I was worried sick that you wouldn’t get better, and that made me think of all the things that I hadn’t said that I wished I had, and all the times I said things that I shouldn’t. That made me think of my father and how upset he was with my moral decline since I’d moved to Hastings; how hard I had to persuade him to let me stay with you; I’d told him that you were quite harmless, and that I really felt that I was doing my bit for the War Effort…”
Foyle frowned; he was almost certain that he was being played – this whole encounter had the same feel as one of Sam’s ploys to get a meal invitation out of him, but despite knowing this he was still beginning to feel annoyed.
Harmless? Sam had told her father that he was quite harmless?
Old, mean, lacking masculinity and now harmless. Could it get any worse?
Sam was winding up, thank God.
“…anyway, once you’d convinced him that I was safe in your company he was all right about things. He would be very reassured at just how safe I am with you, Chris-”
Safe. Now he was safe to be around?
Foyle’s primeval brain surfaced as his annoyance level escalated. Still aroused, the transition to anger was easily achieved. He had a good mind to show her just how safe she was around him.
One second Sam was leaning on her left hand and apologising, the next she was flat on her back with Foyle pressing her into the mattress. She only had a moment to register the exasperated expression on his face before his lips claimed hers.
His ability to kiss was every bit as stunning as she remembered. The room retreated as she became caught up in the whirlwind of emotion that she had deliberately brought into being.
Sam didn’t know how much longer she would have been able to keep up the monologue if Foyle hadn’t snapped at last. She had known that it would take quite a lot to provoke him, but she had relied, admittedly unfairly, on the fact that he was still recovering from his illness, coupled with the certainty that he desired her.
What started as a lesson became something else. It was several seconds before Foyle realised that Sam was kissing him back; meeting his anger with her passion and blending it into something more.
As his anger retreated and was replaced by desire, Foyle became far more aware of what was happening. Sam’s lips were soft and yielding, moulded to his as if made just for them alone. His initial grip on her right arm had relaxed enough to feel the soft press of her breast against his wrist. He could feel her hand in the hair at the back of his head and smell the faint trace of perfume on her skin. He moved closer to her, so that his body half-covered Sam; his hips and legs pressed into the blankets bunched between the two of them.
There was an odd sense of familiarity to kissing Sam. She, too, seemed perfectly in tune with him, somehow knowing what he liked.
No longer angry, Foyle knew that despite whatever he felt for Sam, he had to stop right now if he had any chance of living with his conscience later.
Unfortunately he was fighting a losing battle with himself and he allowed himself to savour another deep and satisfying kiss.
Eventually Foyle lifted his head for a moment, the more to savour the vision of Sam with her hair spread across her pillow.
Suddenly he had another picture of Sam in his head, looking very similar to the picture she now presented. Vision Sam was wearing the silk nightdress, one strap down off her shoulder, and her face bore the same expression of longing.
It was a true memory, Foyle was sure of it. He froze, uncertain of what the image meant.
Sam sensed the change in him; she could feel the sudden tension in his muscles under her hands. Her eyes flew to his, saw his shock and confusion and knew what it presaged.
He had remembered, or was very close to doing so.
Sam knew that she was losing him; she could feel his withdrawal both mentally and physically. Without thinking, she pleaded with him.
“No! Please don’t leave!”
It was the worst thing that she could have said.
Grainy pictures like the Pathe News reels flashed jerkily before Foyle’s eyes as he remembered jumbled bits and pieces of what had happened before he had collapsed with the ‘flu.
Kisses that scorched his soul.
Sinking into her arms; taking her!
Foyle was horrified.
Dear God, what had he done?!
Samantha Stewart was concentrating on the road ahead so fiercely that she already had a headache and they were less than halfway home. She tried to ease her shoulders into a more relaxed position, but within minutes she was scrunched up again. She surreptitiously flicked a glance at the rear view mirror to see if her silent passenger had moved at all since they left the Crown Inn early this morning.
He had not.
Sam had always thought the expression ‘deafening silence’ was such an odd expression, but now she knew it for what it was – an accurate description of a silence so profound that it seemed like pressure on the ears. Several times now she had inhaled with the intention of saying something, but then exhaled without a word crossing her lips. It had not helped that Foyle had taken one look at the map she had placed on the front seat and climbed into the back of the car. It made it more difficult to speak to each other and looked, on the surface at least, to be a pointed statement about how ‘things’ were going to be from now on.
Never had Sam required her stiff upper lip so much as she had today. She could hardly credit how quickly a situation could swing from one direction to the exact opposite, leaving her reeling in its wake. Few occasions in her relatively short life had made her as happy as she had been this morning, waking up next to Christopher Foyle with her hand held in his. While in retrospect she did concede that he had only been holding her hand to prevent her further – quite unconscious - exploration of his body, it hadn’t diminished her happiness.
Sam had ended up sharing a bed with Foyle quite by accident, a result of circumstance, but she had shared the bed with him in a biblical sense quite by choice. She had already been caught up in a maelstrom of powerful emotion before she had realised that Foyle was ill and probably not in full command of his faculties. A half-hearted attempt to check that he was aware of what was happening was only a sop to her conscience.
Despite this, Sam had been more than keen to explore uncharted territory with Foyle as her guide, and her judgement had been sound – he had made their time together memorable for all the right reasons. She had been eager for more such experiences, but Foyle had emerged from his sickbed with no memory of what had occurred.
A few days later, when Sam knew that Foyle was on the mend, she had deliberately provoked him into responding to her, and it had all been going so deliciously well until Foyle remembered what had happened before.
To say ‘all hell broke loose’ would create a false impression. Anyone who knew DCS Foyle would know that it was not his style to behave in such a manner, but he was perfectly able to convey his displeasure at his own behaviour. Sam had difficulty in understanding why he was so upset about everything, when they had both enjoyed themselves and they were not hurting anyone.
Needless to say, it brought an abrupt end to proceedings and Sam had been left alone when Foyle grabbed his dressing gown and wash bag before going to the bathroom. Physically and emotionally bereft, Sam had turned her face into his pillow and wrapped an arm around it, holding it close to muffle her distress. It had been of scant comfort, smelling as it did of Foyle.
Although she was thinking about recent events with sharp clarity, Sam was sufficiently in the present to remember to turn onto the main road at the next junction. Just to be on the safe side, she had the map on the seat to her left and had studied it thoroughly before they set out this morning. London was behind now and they were heading south towards the coast and Hastings. Tonbridge would be the next big place to rest up, spend a penny and perhaps get something to eat if possible. If they didn’t stop there, the next option would be Pembury where they would pick up the Hastings Road, but they would need petrol before then. She decided against saying anything about taking a break just yet.
Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle looked out of the side window of the car, absently noting the passing landscape and the weak wintry sun trying to break though the clouds. He silently sighed for the umpteenth time since getting in the Wolseley this morning. He felt awful on a multitude of levels. His behaviour had fallen far short of the standards that he set himself and he was angry that he had let his emotions overrule common sense and decency. He had betrayed the trust of a young woman who had every right to expect to be safe in his company.
The fact that she didn’t seem to view the situation with anything like the same interpretation was irrelevant. It didn’t matter how well Sam had been brought up, she wasn’t sufficiently old or experienced enough to understand how easy it was to get caught up in passion - but he was, and he should have known better. He should have called a halt to everything long before it got out of hand. He had been weak. It must not be allowed to happen again.
As if to undermine him, Foyle’s thoughts turned again to this morning. For as long as he lived he would never forget the feel of Sam’s skin under his hands, the sound of her sighs of pleasure or the touch of her lips.
Why did he torture himself?
He groaned under his breath and pulled his coat over his lap. Not for the first time he was grateful that he was sitting in the back of the car – he was shielded from casual observation, and it would require an active movement to get close enough to touch Sam at all.
Which, of course, he was not going to do.
Foyle sighed for the umpteenth and one time.
Thirty minutes later, they entered the outskirts of Tonbridge. Unbidden, Sam pulled into the petrol station. She turned off the engine and retrieved the petrol authorization form and coupons. The pump attendant came out to meet her and they sorted out the paperwork before the young woman dispensed the fuel whilst admiring the Wolseley.
Sam found the woman’s cut glass accent at odds with her filthy hands, but she obviously knew her stuff about cars. Smiling, she agreed that it was a good car, though a little heavy to steer when driving at slower speeds.
The young woman grinned.
“Isn’t it just! Father always says that’s why I drive them too fast. He hates it that all my brothers joined up before they were called up and he got stuck with the baby at work. He’d far rather I was at home with Mummy, but since I love cars and hate knitting balaclava's, here I am.”
Sam found herself grinning too, sharing the sentiment. Here was a kindred spirit – someone else who viewed the War as a way to get out more.
She was still smiling as she got back in the car and for some reason that made Foyle feel more grumpy. Giving it a moment’s thought he realised that he expected Sam to feel as miserable as he did. He caught her eye in the mirror.
Sam shook her head.
“Not at all, she was just admiring the Wolseley.”
Foyle pulled his ‘ah’ face.
Sam took the opportunity to mention a break.
“Would you mind awfully if we find something to eat before we go on?”
Foyle stirred in his seat, looking up and down the road. There should be somewhere to get a meal in a town this size.
“Yep, I’m getting a bit peckish myself. Let’s see what we can find.”
Sam hid a big grin behind a smaller smile as she started the engine. He had said ‘we’.
There was hope yet.
A few minutes later they found a small restaurant and judging by the number of filled seats, it was managing the rations well. Foyle and Sam were shown to a table in very short order, and Sam was relieved that they wouldn’t have too long to wait as she was famished.
The menu they were each handed was short, but better than many they had seen. Sam eagerly looked at the options available.
“Well, vegetable broth with sausage dumplings sounds nice and filling. Ooh, vegetable pie with cheese and oatmeal crust! Mrs Harrison used to make that.”
Foyle viewed his own menu with slightly less enthusiasm than Sam while he tried to place the name Harrison. Ah, yes, Sam’s landlady whose house had been looted after it was bombed. Foyle was unaware that he was frowning as he remembered how easily it could have been Sam killed instead of the other young woman billeted there.
“It’s not that bad Chr…Sir. There are other choices.”
Sam ignored her slip-up and ploughed on. She felt awkward about calling him ‘Sir’, but was equally uncomfortable about using his Christian name if it reminded him of what he would rather not remember.
“Mmmm, mostly herrings.”
Sam lowered her menu to give Foyle a small grin, trying, on the surface at least, to pretend that everything was back as it used to be.
“Cheap and nutritious, a good source of body-building proteins and vitamins A and D.”
Foyle looked over his menu at her, one eyebrow elevated. Sam shrugged one shoulder.
“Ministry of Food pamphlet. Very exciting.”
Any response Foyle was going to make was lost as the waitress came to take their orders. Sam requested the vegetable pie, and Foyle went for the broth.
Once the waitress had left, a silence descended on the table. Sam casually looked around the large room at the other patrons for something to do instead of Foyle-watching. No-one was looking in their direction, they were all too intent on their plates. It was a good sign, she supposed.
As Foyle appeared to be studying the painting on the wall behind her, and was clearly in no mood for chit chat, Sam remained silent. It was difficult at first as her brain kept attempting to find something to talk about, but then she retreated instead to her own private world.
Recently Sam had taken to using bits and pieces of her experiences when lodging at Steep Lane to make her own daydreams. She and Foyle had eaten together quite often, sharing their rations to make them go further – combined cooking used less fuel and fat. He had done most of the cooking, but Sam had watched and learned, savouring the closeness and the companionship. In the evening they would listen to music, read or attempt to play chess. Chess was difficult to concentrate on if you found yourself looking more at the person you were playing with than the checkered board. Reading was much easier if she stayed up in Andrew’s old room – she wasn’t so easily distracted by the waywardness of the little curls at the nape of a certain someone’s neck, or how much more approachable that same someone looked when not buttoned down in a full suit. Fleeting glimpses of pyjamas and dressing gown had Sam speculating on what they concealed.
Of course, now she knew exactly what they hid and her dreams over the last week had been much more vivid.
Sam felt herself flush and reached for her glass of water. The movement brought Foyle’s attention back to her, and her colour deepened when their eyes met. It was not the first time that she rued her auburn hair and fair skin. She sipped her water before blurting the first impersonal thing that popped into her head.
“We should manage to get home before it gets dark if there are no hold-ups along the way.”
Foyle’s expressive face told Sam that he was aware of her dissembling, but he didn’t call her on it.
“Mmmm, I hope so. I need to see Milner before he goes home if we can manage it. Catch up on the work so far.”
Sam gave a single nod, but was clearly relieved when their meals were brought to the table.
The food was excuse enough not to engage in small talk, but as the time passed Foyle was aware that Sam was increasingly restive. He was suddenly reminded of an occasion when Rosalind told him that the then six year old Andrew wanted to speak with him after they had eaten supper. Even without her amused warning it was clear to her husband that the fidgety child had something he was bursting to tell him.
Foyle had that feeling now about Sam and his heart sank. He had felt a similar thing in the car earlier although he had ignored it in the hope that it would just go away.
She wants to talk about what had happened. Why do they do that? Why couldn’t they just leave well alone and move on?
He kept his eyes down on his soup bowl. This was not the place to get into any discussion that might be overheard. He hoped that Sam would restrain herself for now.
Oh God, not now please!
Foyle couldn’t pretend that he had not heard her; he would know and so would she. He tried to aim for a politely dismissive tone in his enquiry.
“I was wondering…”
Obviously not dismissive enough.
“I thought you might be.”
Sam looked a little surprised at his dry tone, but she leaned forward and lowered her voice.
“Would it be possible to -?”
Frowning, Foyle quietly cut in, unwilling to take the chance of her saying something that might compromise her good name.
“Look, you obviously want to discuss matters, but I don’t think this is the time or the place. Could you at least wait until we are back in the relative privacy of the car?”
Sam’s expression was briefly startled before comprehension took its place. Foyle was surprised to see a spark of humour in the mix.
“Well, it’ll be a little late by then. I was going to ask you if we were going to have pudding. But by all means, let’s forgo the Apple Charlotte or Eve’s pudding for -”
Foyle’s left hand came up to his forehead, half covering his eyes. He felt a complete fool.
“…a private discussion in the car. I can’t wait.”
The same recklessness that had provoked Foyle before surfaced in Sam. Her quiet voice was somewhat tart as she leaned towards her erstwhile lover.
“Actually, I’m lying. I’d rather stay and have pudding. Spotted Dick, I think.”
Foyle’s fingers parted on his left hand and he stared at her in disbelief through the gap.
Sam calmly looked back at him.
“Then we can talk, if you still want to.”
X X X X
Half an hour later they were back on the road. Sam’s calm exterior was a front for the churning stomach and clammy hands. She had eaten her pudding with a desire not to waste the food rather than any real enjoyment.
Foyle had gruffly apologised for his assumptions as they waited for the bill. Sam had accepted them with a small nod, not willing to appear to give in too easily. He had behaved badly for such a gentleman, but she would forgive him eventually, she always did.
To Sam’s pleasant surprise Foyle took his usual place in the front passenger seat after folding away the road map. He appeared to be confident that she knew the rest of the way home from here.
Ten minutes of silence reigned before Sam took the initiative simply because she couldn’t stand to wait for another second.
“If we delay our ‘chat’ much longer we’ll be having it in front of Sergeant Milner.”
Foyle sighed. Life used to be so much simpler.
“Very well. What did you, umm, want to discuss?”
Sam glanced at him quickly.
“Nothing. I thought you did. You have already made your position clear and I have no choice but to adhere to it. Even if it isn’t what I wanted.”
Foyle frowned, trying to ignore the developing headache.
“What, exactly, have I made clear?”
Sam opened her mouth to answer before she had formulated it. Then she realised that he had not exactly made his plans clear.
“Well, you have plainly stated that you are unhappy with your behaviour; you think that you have behaved improperly towards me.”
She turned to him briefly, before looking ahead again.
“I don’t agree, by the way. It was all with my consent.”
“Doesn’t change anything.”
“You said that you were going to get me moved, transferred back to the MTC.”
Foyle shifted uncomfortably. He’d had more time to think after he’d escaped to the bathroom and calmed down.
Sam felt a surge of hope. Perhaps he had reconsidered?
“Would it help if I offered to pretend that nothing happened? What harm would there be if we just go back to the way things were before?”
“We can’t. Things have changed. What if you call me Christopher in front of the others? I don’t want them talking about you in that unsavoury fashion.”
Foyle was thinking of the comment ‘officer’s bed sheets’.
Sam hid her smile. He could be so sweet.
“They wouldn’t talk about me like that; they all know that I’m not that sort of person.”
Foyle gave her a rueful glance.
“They are men, of course they would. There are a lot of men that think women shouldn’t be out at work, let alone in uniform, and they will take any opportunity they can to justify putting them back at the kitchen sink.”
Sam gripped the steering wheel tightly, then made herself relax her fingers.
“Well, I can’t help that. Personally, I think that once this war is over a lot of men will get a shock if they try to get the women to stay at home again.”
Privately, Foyle agreed with her, but they were getting off track.
“Mmmm. Regardless of what you think, I don’t agree that we can just pretend that nothing happened and go back to the way it was.”
Sam’s irrepressible nature was obvious in her voice.
“We can’t simply reset our lives as if nothing has changed.”
At least I can’t.
“What if you’re pregnant?”
Foyle made his voice deliberately blunt in order to shock some sense into her.
Sam subsided momentarily, but then out of the corner of his eye he saw her chin lift.
“Well, if I am, I am. There would be no point in saying I’m ashamed, because I’m not. I don’t regret a moment of it and if there is a baby, I won’t regret that either.”
Foyle stamped down the traitorous flicker of happiness that Sam’s declaration caused. He forced himself to sound gruff.
“What will your parents think?”
“Oh, naturally they’ll be discreetly horrified…”
Sam’s casual tone irked Foyle, but she was probably right.
“…but they’ll rally round the fallen lamb. Father has ministered to the pastoral care of more than a few shocked grandparents-to-be.”
Exasperated, Foyle closed his eyes and ran a hand over his face. Sam’s faith in her parents was good, but he wasn’t quite as sanguine as she. He pictured Reverend Stewart’s face and then swallowed glumly.
There was only one thing for it. It wasn’t what he wanted – at least, not like this and under these circumstances, but it couldn’t be helped. He coughed to clear his throat and ran his hand over the knot of his tie.
“We’ll have to get married.”
The Wolseley swerved slightly but Sam had it back under control after a brief but shocking moment in the middle of the road. She wished that she could have been looking at his face just then.
Sam swallowed hard, her mouth suddenly dry.
Foyle nodded once.
“Yep. Seems the best solution.”
Sam glared out of the windscreen.
Well, really! He might have managed not to make it sound like a trip to the dentist.
Sam was cross.
Only my second proposal and he’s managed to make it sound as exciting as sticking a plaster over a cut. No romance at all, not even a word of love or affection.
Would it be so bad though? Being married to him and having a family with the man I love?
Could I marry him without a word of affection being exchanged? I know he desires me, but is it enough?
Sam remembered with uneasiness Foyle’s desperate cry about Rosalind. He was still in love with his dead wife. She couldn’t compete with that, even if she wanted to.
Sam was near to tears. She wanted to be overjoyed that she was contemplating marriage, not apologetic.
“Thank you, but no.”
“Thank you, but no.”
Sam’s quiet but firm voice seemed larger than life to Foyle as he looked at her, his expression slightly shocked.
She did not look at him, but kept her eyes on the road ahead. Red flags of colour stained her cheeks and Foyle could not tell if it was with anger or distress. Sam had been silent for several moments after his comment about marriage, so he had drifted into preliminary plans for a small private wedding, working on the principle that silence gives assent.
Both Foyle’s eyebrows now rose in surprise, furrowing his brow.
Sam’s voice took on the tone he always thought of as her best ‘make do and mend’ resolute one. Her chin inched upwards.
“I said, ‘Thank you, but no’. It was a jolly kind offer, but you don’t want to marry me and I don’t want to get married with everyone thinking that I was doing it out of shame.”
Foyle was acutely aware that his motivation for marriage was not just to make reparation to Sam for the potential loss of her good name. He wasn’t being forced into marriage exactly, just hurried. Disappointment made his voice gruff.
“Don’t be silly, Sam. Give the idea some thought.”
If anything her jaw jutted even higher.
“I’m sorry, but I’m not being silly. Would you have mentioned marriage just now if there were no possibility that I could be in the family way?”
In a heartbeat, if I were fifteen years younger.
The idea of starting another family now was daunting, but it had never been his idea to have just the one child. Rosalind had been frail for quite a while after Andrew was born, and the doctors had said another child too soon would have been difficult for her. Then it had been too late and she was gone.
Lost in his thoughts, Foyle had hesitated too long. Sam answered her own question.
“You see? You wouldn’t have.”
Foyle’s tone was terse.
“Stop trying to second guess me, you’re rubbish at it. I meant what I said, my offer was genuine.”
Sam slammed on the brakes and the Wolseley stopped in an impressively short distance. Foyle did not and almost banged his head again. His glare was milder than he would have liked.
“Steady on, one concussion is enough, thank you.”
Both gloved hands on the wheel so that she wouldn’t grab him, Sam glared back at Foyle.
“You didn’t offer me marriage; you made a statement about what would be the best solution. Like I was a…a…problem to solve, not someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with.”
Foyle looked taken aback. He frowned as he recalled exactly what he had said.
We’ll have to get married.
Yep, seems the best solution.
Foyle stretched his neck, trying to ease his collar.
Mmmm, maybe she has a point.
“I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention.”
Foyle pursed his lips, his ghost of a smile a touch wry.
“I’m a little out of practice.”
Sam huffed as she looked behind the Wolseley before pulling away. She didn’t manage it as smoothly as usual and Foyle took that as a measure of how deeply she had been affected by his mishandled proposal. He did not make the mistake of asking her again immediately. The vitally alive young woman that had lain in his arms the other night had not done so on a whim or out of curiosity. He hoped that it meant that Sam felt something for him – to find out that it had meant nothing, or God forbid, had been based on pity, would hurt him deeply. No, he would give her time to get used to the idea of marriage and then, sooner rather then later, he would convince her to take the proposal seriously.
He hoped Sam wouldn’t take too long to decide.
Just in case.
* * * * * *
The remainder of the journey back was a subdued affair. Sam had initially appeared reasonably relaxed to Foyle, but the nearer they got to Hastings, the more tense she became. When it was clear that she wasn’t going to start the conversation despite her obvious anxiety, Foyle sighed inwardly.
“What is it Sam?
She glanced at him, half grateful and half something else he couldn’t quite identify, but reminded him of defiance or bravery.
“I know things have changed, between us, I mean, but I still want to be your driver, whatever else happens.”
She hesitated, so Foyle gave her the time to finish what she wanted to say.
“I just need to know how…well, will things be the same at work? Like it used to be?”
Foyle raised one eyebrow, evincing mild surprise.
“Don’t see why not. Nobody else’s business but ours.”
Sam started to relax, but Foyle pursed his lips and tutted quietly.
“Of course, you will have to get used to calling me ‘Sir’ again. You won’t be able to call me ‘Christopher’ at work. I shall still expect my cups of tea as usual.”
Sam did relax then, aware that she could have so easily been on her way back to the dreaded MTC instead of being teased by the boss.
“Absolutely, just as you say.”
Hiding his smile, Foyle was pleased to see more of the familiar happy Sam again. When she turned to look at him, he saw the glint of mischief in her eyes.
“Does that mean when I see you away from work that I can call you ‘Christopher’?”
Foyle gave her a dry ‘so you think we’ll see each other outside of work’ look, but he couldn’t maintain it for long enough and the corner of his mouth twitched upwards.
Sam spotted it instantly and smiled.
Foyle rolled his eyes in mock dismay.
“Just don’t call me Christopher in front of the Commissioner, or heads will roll, and it won’t just be yours, Samantha Stewart.”
“No, I won’t forget.”
Sam had been tempted to add ‘Christopher’, but stopped herself in time. Having turned down his proposal, such as it was, she had been concerned that she would lose every aspect of their ‘new’ relationship, but his gentle teasing had been reassuring.
She hoped that she was doing the right thing by turning him down and leaving him free to find a love of his own once he could move on from Rosalind. It could leave her in a difficult position though, if there was a baby on the way. Contrary to her breezy comment to Foyle about her parents’ attitude, she knew that they would be upset and feel let down by their daughter’s fall from grace.
Sam gnawed gently at her lip, deep in thought.
I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Foyle could almost hear the cogs turning in Sam’s brain. He too was mulling over his thoughts, wondering just how much time to give Sam to think things through. A week? Two weeks? A couple of days? Sometimes having too much time renders a person incapable of making a decision. On the other hand, rushing a decision would be foolhardy, just as pushing Sam for an answer now would be counterproductive. He decided to assess the situation on a day-to-day basis, and see if his way forward would become clear.
Foyle was of the opinion that Sam did not love him, although he did concede that she had some affection for him. However, having an affection for someone, and marrying them were two different kettles of fish. He found himself thinking about Elizabeth and Rosalind. Two quite distinctly different women, both of whom had professed to love him, only one of whom he had believed with the benefit of hindsight. He meant what he had said to Elizabeth, they were not the same people anymore. Thankfully, he certainly was not and that had been Rosalind’s doing; he still missed her. More years than he cared to remember had passed, yet some days it seemed like yesterday.
Looking out of the car, Foyle realised that they were nearing the police station. He had not been aware of how far away his thoughts had taken him. He looked at his watch.
“Well done, Sam. You’ve made good time.”
Sam nodded in acknowledgement, a small smile quirking her lips.
Foyle glanced at her but didn’t say anything else. The last few minutes of the journey passed in silence, the occupants in the car unaware that they were both contemplating how much their lives had changed in just a week.
When Sam pulled to a stop in front of the station to let him out, Foyle turned to her.
“Will you be all right?”
It was a question of more than one level and Sam knew it. She chose to answer it simply.
“Oh, yes, fine thank you. I’ll go and sort the car out, then bring you and Sergeant Milner a cup of tea. I could certainly do with one.”
Foyle looked at her and she looked back at him for the longest moment. He nodded once.
“Thank you…for everything.”
“You’re welcome…” Sam’s voice dropped to a whisper “Sir.”
* * * * *
Foyle walked into the police building, the familiar smells and sounds surrounding him as if in welcome. It was a fanciful thought and quite unlike him; normally he didn’t do anything other than have a quick subconscious scan, just to check that all was well before settling down to work.
He found Milner just coming out of his office. The younger man smiled in greeting.
“Good to see you back safe and sound, Sir. How are you feeling?”
Foyle gave a brief smile as he shrugged out of his overcoat and placed it and his hat on the stand.
“I’ve been worse…”
Milner started to nod and smile in polite sympathy, but Foyle hadn’t finished.
“…and I’ve been a lot better.”
Milner’s smile was genuine this time.
“Sam still driving too fast?”
Foyle gave him a look that needed no translation and Milner suppressed a grin as he picked up the file he had recently placed on Foyle’s desk and handed it over.
As he walked around the desk and took his seat, Foyle flipped open the file and glanced at the first page.
“Right. Back to business, what have we got?”
He nodded at the Sergeant.
“Pull up a chair, looks like we’ll be a while.”
Less than ten minutes later, Sam walked through the open doorway to the office carrying two hot cups of tea. She looked slightly startled to see Milner sitting beside the desk but smiled in greeting.
“Sorry, I didn’t realise you were in here.”
She placed one of the tea cups on the desk in front of Foyle and handed the other one out to Milner.
“Tea with milk all right for you? I’m afraid there’s no sugar.”
“But that’s yours, isn’t it?”
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll get another, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Sam glanced oh-so-casually at Foyle and gave a polite little smile. He looked back, his expression neutral.
“Thank you, Sam. Be finished about five-ish?”
Sam gave a crisp nod, smiled at Milner and left the office.
Milner was intrigued. He was only now remembering that Sam and the DCS had been forced to share a room for several nights. He could not put his finger on the difference, but something had definitely changed between his friend and his colleague. Feeling utterly disloyal to both Sam and Foyle for even thinking it, Milner wondered if there had been two beds, or only one, at the Inn.
Foyle cleared his throat and picked up where he had left off when Sam came in with the tea.
* * * * * *
Sam was waiting for Foyle when he left his office at twenty past five. She looked as fresh as a daisy and Foyle was mildly surprised to find that instead of it making him feel self-conscious about his age, he actually felt refreshed in her company.
She gave him a cheery smile.
Mindful of Sergeant Brooke at the front desk behind Sam, Foyle ‘Hmm’d’ noncommittally as they moved towards the exit together.
Once outside, Foyle turned towards Sam to speak to her, but paused briefly when a dispatch rider went past on a dark green motorbike. The noise was gone in a few moments, but the smell of the two-stroke engine lingered unpleasantly.
Sam waved her hand about.
“Pooh, that’s a bit whiffy.”
Foyle looked in the direction the rider had taken and shook his head.
“Yep, and dangerous to boot. Wouldn’t catch me on one.”
“That would depend on what I was driving.”
She opened the passenger door for Foyle who gave her a droll look before getting in the Wolseley. Sam nipped smartly around the car and got in the driver’s seat.
Foyle looked at her.
“I don’t fancy cooking tonight. We’ve had a long day so what do you say to going out and finding a local restaurant for dinner?”
Sam’s face lit up.
“Gosh, do you mean it? That would be lovely.”
Her enthusiasm made Foyle glad that he’d suggested it.
“Can’t promise a fantastic meal, but…”
Sam grinned as she started the engine.
“I don’t mind, it will still be fun.”
She didn’t add that she didn’t care where they went so long as they could be together for just a little bit longer.
They found a small restaurant slightly out of Hastings, a mile or so along the coast road. It was warm and cosy inside, with only a few other patrons as it was still early.
The waiter pulled out a chair for Sam and Foyle waited until she had been seated before he took his own place. They mulled over the menu options, deciding to have soup to start with fish for the main course. Being a coastal region, fish was one of the few things that were still available.
Mindful of the fact that she still had to drive, Sam only had one glass of wine with her meal, but Foyle had two and was feeling a little mellow by the time he finished the second glass. The conversation flowed easily and he was reminded of the evening that he and Sam had spent in the snug of The Crown Inn.
The warmth of the restaurant – and possibly the wine – had brought a flush to Sam’s cheeks, but it suited her and Foyle found he was enjoying himself just listening to her talk. Unsurprisingly, she was fairly well read and they discussed several books that they liked, and then segued onto music.
“…of course, that was before the Americans arrived. Some of the more modern music is very…er…lively.”
Sam laughed at Foyle’s expression.
“Yes, but fun! Joe taught me a couple of the new dances; they’re really quite easy once you get going.”
Foyle’s face easily conveyed his scepticism.
“Yes, well, speaking of getting going, it’s nearly nine thirty. We ought to get a move on.”
Sam looked at her watch in disbelief.
“Good heavens, I had no idea. Time flies when one is having fun.”
Foyle signalled the waiter over and quietly asked for the bill. When he had left, Foyle looked at Sam. He was sorry that the evening was at an end.
“I have enjoyed the evening, too. Thank you for the entertaining company.”
Sam looked at him, her gaze wistful. She didn’t want to leave him yet.
* * * * *
The journey back into Hastings didn’t take very long, and all too soon they were outside Foyle’s house. Sam left the engine running, having assumed that Foyle would be brisk about getting out so that she would be on her way back to the station garage and her bicycle.
He turned to her as he got out of the vehicle.
“Thank you again for a very pleasant evening. Will you be all right getting back home?”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. I just lock the car up and it only takes me ten minutes to get back to my digs. I have a little house on my own now, quite sweet really. You should see it.”
It was just a sociable throwaway comment, but to Sam’s surprise he nodded.
“I’d like that.”
Sam hoped that she didn’t look as startled as she felt, but she smiled anyway.
“Absolutely. It’s a date.” She looked at Foyle, still standing beside the car. “Well, not a ‘date’ date, just a friendly…sort of…meeting…thing.”
One side of Foyle’s mouth twitched upwards as he watched Sam flounder.
“Don’t worry about it. See you tomorrow morning, sharp at eight.”
Sam grinned, immediately recovered.
“Yes, I’ll be here. Goodnight…Christopher.”
Foyle raised one eyebrow, but didn’t comment on the use of his name.
“’ Night, Sam.”
He closed the car door then watched Sam pull away and drive off. He would have liked to invite her in for a drink, be it tea or cocoa as the whisky was gone now, but it was too soon.
“Maybe next time.”
He turned, took the steps up to his front door and let himself in the house. It was cold as expected, but somehow did not seem quite as lonely as it used to. Foyle made a cup of cocoa to take upstairs to bed with him, thinking that he would read for a while as he felt too awake to sleep just yet. With that in mind, he perused the bookcase for Rosalind’s copy of Sense and Sensibility. She had asked him if he had read the book and he had admitted that he had not, simply because he regarded it as a book that women would more likely be interested in. His wife had challenged him to read it and he had risen to the bait, keen to prove himself flexible and open-minded, if not also right. He found now that his sympathies lay more with Colonel Brandon than they had previously.
He too was in love with a much younger woman.
* * * * *
Both Foyle and Sam settled back into their routine duties with few problems, or at least, no obvious ones to anyone else. Milner kept a watchful eye on both of his friends, simply because he cared enough to do so. He hoped that neither of them had noticed.
As the days passed and nothing awful happened, Milner was distracted by preparations for his wedding to Edie. Edith had been relieved that they would be able to marry in church, but they both felt guilty that it had come at the cost of Jane Milner’s life. He had wanted her out of his life, but not at the expense of hers.
Foyle was acutely aware of each day that passed. Several times he caught himself looking at Sam, trying to ascertain how she felt without actually having to come out with the words. He waited less than patiently for her news, unable to ask her outright as there never seemed to be an opportune moment; either they were not alone, or it wasn’t the right situation. Sam also seemed to have developed the knack of needing to be elsewhere just as he braced himself for their conversation. It wasn’t even as if he would have difficulty discussing the subject, very little shocked or surprised him, but he did not think that Sam would be in the same enviable position.
So in the mean time, he gently courted Sam, taking her out for the occasional meal, and then accepting her offer of a meal at her lodgings, before working his way up to inviting her back to Steep Lane.
The last of which he had not yet completed.
After three weeks of dallying around and avoiding the subject, Foyle finally ‘cracked’ on the way back to the station after visiting a witness out along the coast road.
Although as ‘cracked’ went, it was largely invisible to the majority of people. Sam was unusually quiet and concentrating on her driving when he spoke up.
She glanced at him in the mirror briefly.
Foyle frowned at the ‘Sir’. It seemed to emphasize their difference between them, but he had no right to complain, Sam had stuck to the rules that they had laid down.
“Any…um…news yet? I’m…concerned.”
Sam blushed furiously, her expression chagrined. He’d finally trapped her where she couldn’t escape.
“N…no, not exactly.”
One of Foyle’s eyebrows canted upwards and he pursed his lips.
“‘Not exactly’? What does that mean, exactly?”
Her back ramrod straight in the car seat, Sam avoided looking at Foyle in the mirror.
“Well, it’s a question of…regularity.”
Foyle spared her blushes to some extent by looking out of the car window at the passing scenery. He had been married, he was observant; he probably had a better idea than most men.
When Sam did not continue, Foyle did.
“The last one was…?”
“A couple of weeks before we…before we went away.”
Sam’s voice was small. She was remembering what Simon, the doctor, had said. She had been in the middle of her month, the most dangerous – he had used the word ‘fertile’ – part.
Foyle blinked slowly.
Sam still looked out the front of the car, but she answered as if it had been a question.
“It’s been longer before, I’m…still waiting, as such.”
Both of Foyle’s eyebrows went up this time.
“Really? Right, well, you let me know as soon as you know, would you please?”
Sam nodded, still flushed with colour.
Foyle gave a wry smile.
“Frankly, Sam, that was one time that I expected you’d call me Christopher.”
His gentle blue gaze met Sam’s when she looked in the mirror. Her small smile could have been filed under ‘cheeky’.
“Sorry, force of habit.”
Foyle shook his head.
“What am I going to do with you?”
Sam did not answer him aloud.
Don’t know, but I have several ideas.
Later that day, when Sam took Foyle his afternoon cup of tea, he informed her that he would not be needing the car to take him home as he was dining out.
Sam was disappointed that she wouldn’t be taking him home or seeing him in the evening, but she understood. She seated herself on the visitor’s chair, as per their habit of late.
“That’s okay, Sir. Going anywhere nice?”
Foyle closed the file that he had just finished working on and slipped it into the filing cabinet. He turned back to Sam and noticed that she was looking a little peaky.
“Summoned to the Reid household. Very passable cook is Mrs Reid, shouldn’t suffer too badly. Are you all right? You look pale.”
Sam looked up suddenly at the abrupt change in subject. She looked surprised.
“I’m quite well, thank you, just a little tired. An early night will do me good.”
“You getting enough sleep?”
“Not doing too badly. A lot on my mind.”
Aware that he was probably a significant part of her turmoil, Foyle gestured to her cup.
“In that case, finish your tea and get yourself off home. You work late often enough that I should spare you when I can.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Part of Sam was grateful for the early finish, but part of her was also now even more disappointed that she wouldn’t be seeing him until tomorrow. She tried, with limited success, to keep the conflict of emotions off her face. She quickly finished the last of her tea and stood up.
“Enjoy your meal, and I’ll see you tomorrow, as usual?”
“Yep, thank you, I will. See you at eight.”
Sam turned and left the office, unaware that Foyle’s thoughtful gaze followed her.
He almost called her back. He would rather have spent the evening with her, but Hugh Reid’s dinner invitation had been couched more in the terms of an order than a request, and even though they were of an equivalent rank, it would still have been bad form to refuse.
* * * * *
Sam let herself into her lodgings and closed the front door behind her. Out of habit she ensured that the curtains were closed before she switched on the lights. She bent down and picked up her post from the mat and noted with mixed feelings that there was a letter from her parents.
She brewed a pot of tea before going upstairs to change out of her uniform, then came back down in a warm pair of slacks, a brushed cotton shirt and a jumper. She felt much warmer and far more comfortable by the time she sat down with her mug of tea to read her mail.
But before she had even opened the first letter, her thoughts returned – as they so often did these days – to Foyle. Since their return from East Anglia he had been different. Not in a bad way at all, quite the contrary. Instead of maintaining a distance from each other, Sam felt that they were closer than ever. She was even more unsure now about her future path.
Foyle was a decent man and also an honourable one. Sam was worried that he was ‘doing the right thing’ by her, rather than following his heart. He had obviously taken no serious notice of her rejection of his proposal, and was now attempting to persuade her to see reason by doing all the things she had often imagined them doing together.
It was perfect… and awful.
Sam didn’t want Foyle to marry her out of duty because there might be a baby on the way. She wanted him to marry her because he loved her. She wouldn’t expect a big showy declaration of heartfelt longing, just his usual dry little smirk, a nod, the twinkle in his eyes that said ‘you’re the one for me’. He could say more with the expression on his face than anyone else could with a thousand words.
Sam picked up the mug of tea and took a cautious sip before going back to her post. She started with the letter from her parents and read through it quickly before going back through it more slowly once she had established that they were both well. It contained the usual news, nothing too exciting or unpleasant because her mother didn’t like bad news or shocks and most certainly didn’t send that sort of news to anyone if she could possibly help it.
Oh, heavens, Mum, how do I tell you that you might be a Grandma by the end of the year?
* * * * *
In a house not too distant from that of Christopher Foyle, Inspector Reid, his wife, their guest and family had finished their very pleasant meal by eight in the evening.
Mrs Reid had ushered the two men into the front parlor in order to leave the dining room free to be cleared, but also because she knew Hugh wanted to speak to Christopher privately. The room had been warmed with a fire, and a couple of inches of whisky remained in the last bottle should either of the two men want it.
Hugh Reid saw to his guest’s needs; he offered Foyle a cigarette and a drink. Foyle declined the first and accepted the second. Once they were both holding a glass of amber liquid, Hugh turned to the seated Foyle.
“We’ve been friends for a long time, haven’t we?”
Foyle looked at his friend with wary humour.
“Already I don’t like where this is going.”
“Hear me out. I think I know you as well as anyone can, even though I’m fairly certain I’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Foyle smiled as he swirled the drink in his glass.
“What’s this about?”
Reid rocked back on his feet.
“Funny, I was just going to ask you the same thing.”
Foyle’s eyebrows lifted in mild enquiry, but his instincts were on full alert.
“What is going on between you and Sam?”
Foyle froze, but made every effort to appear not to have done so.
Hugh Reid waved his hand dismissively as if to say ‘don’t bother pretending to be ignorant’.
He settled in the other chair, opposite his friend. He was well aware that he would appear less intimidating if he wasn’t standing over Foyle, and therefore far more likely to get the answers he sought.
“Christopher, you and I are bloody good coppers. Bloody good coppers have bloody good instincts, and mine are screaming. So I ask you again, what is going on between you and Sam?”
Foyle’s hooded gaze centred on the whiskey in his glass as he debated what to say. Hugh was a good friend as well as a longstanding one, but he was also a work colleague, and as such he had another master to obey.
Hugh’s look was one of disbelief.
Foyle nodded, glancing up briefly and catching Reid’s eye.
“Yep. Nothing at all.”
Hugh was silent for several moments. He took a sip of his drink and felt the smooth burn of a fine whisky in his throat.
“So… nothing going on at the moment. Has something gone on in the past or is something likely to go on in the future?”
Foyle played his best poker face, and managed not to smile at his friend’s shrewd guess.
But he didn’t answer.
“As your friend, Christopher, it’s none of my business what you do with your spare time, so long as you don’t break the law. As your colleague, I don’t need to point out that it would be deemed inappropriate for you to conduct an illicit relationship with your driver.”
Foyle took a calming sip of his drink. He savoured the flavour on his tongue for a long moment before swallowing.
“No, you don’t need to point it out. But you would seem to be implying that an open relationship with my driver would be acceptable.”
Reid’s smile was rueful.
“You can marry or not as you choose; just don’t get into… difficulties.”
Foyle didn’t like the direction that the conversation had taken and Hugh was intuitive enough to recognise in his friend’s expression that he had gone as far as he dared with his warning. He tried to change the subject, but didn’t get very far.
“Do you ever think about marrying again? I mean, it’s been ten years now. You must have given it some thought.”
There was a long silence while Foyle decided whether or not to let Reid have the benefit of the doubt.
“Eleven years; nineteen thirty two, and it doesn’t seem that long ago.”
Foyle was clearly uncomfortable, but Reid did not drop the subject.
“But you didn’t answer my question – have you thought, even in the abstract, about marrying again?”
“Yes, it has occasionally crossed my mind. It has been difficult to think that I could move on... when Rosalind could not…”
Foyle looked him with some surprise, but it was only later that Reid realised that he did not look as shocked as he would have expected.
“No, I’ve not lost my mind. Rosalind died, Christopher. Just Rosalind. Not you. Do you honestly think that the delightful young woman that she was would have wanted you to grieve forever?”
He answered his own question.
“No, she wouldn’t.”
Foyle looked pained despite the fact that he was aware that Reid was trying to help.
“For goodness sake, man! If the position was reversed and you had died instead of her, would you have expected her to grieve for more than ten years? Or would you have hoped that she would marry again and be happy?”
“Of course I would have wanted her to be happy. She was only thirty, far too young to spend the rest of her life alone.”
Reid smiled with satisfaction.
Foyle shook his head slowly, inwardly amused at Reid’s supposition that he had altered his opinion on the idea of re-marriage.
He was a few months too late for that.
Reid, however, took Foyle’s response as a denial.
“All I’m saying Christopher, is that you should give it some thought. I know the war has changed the way people behave, good and bad, but there are still decent women out there who will expect marriage.”
Clearly demonstrating the direction of his thoughts, he added, “I certainly don’t think that Sam is one of the fast and loose variety.”
Foyle looked at Reid, allowing his exasperation to show.
“Hugh, that really is enough. Pick another subject or I’ll go home and leave you to explain to Sylvie.”
* * * * * *
Across Hastings, just a short distance from Steep Lane in the big scheme of things, Sam gave up trying to sleep and switched on her beside light. Even its dim and shaded bulb seemed inordinately bright for several moments, but eventually she was able to open her eyes long enough to read the time on her alarm clock.
“Gone two in the morning! Honestly, it’s just so unfair. Why can’t I sleep?”
Because I have a hamster brain; it’s running around all the time, keeping me from sleeping even though I’m exhausted.
Another ten minutes passed while Sam looked at the ceiling and discovered that there were two new cobwebs since she had last dusted. Sleep seemed just as far away, so she threw back the covers and quickly slipped into her dressing gown and slippers. She folded the blankets back on the bed to retain the warmth while she went downstairs to make some hot milk. She would have preferred cocoa, but was nearly out of it and didn’t want to use the last of it tonight.
Ten minutes later Sam was back in bed with the hot milk. She plumped her pillows up behind her and pulled the blankets up almost to her chin, just leaving her arms free. As she was still wearing her dressing gown, she was nice and cosy.
But I can think of a better way to keep warm.
But you’re not here, are you? You’re probably back home by now, tucked up in your big bed, fast asleep. Are you wearing those blue and white stripy pj’s that I like? Or those pale blue ones that I saw when I stayed at your house?
Oh, those days were so wonderful. I used to imagine what it was like to live there all the time, and sleep in that lovely big bed next to you. Sometimes, when you were in the bathroom, and you’d left the bedroom door open, I could see all your bedding messed up, as if you’d been restless – or naughty! I used to try to imagine what it would be like to make love to you and we would leave the bed looking just like that. Sometimes, when you would look at me at breakfast, or in the evening, I’d be embarrassed and panic that you knew what I was thinking.
I even wondered if you’d ever thought about me in that way.
I didn’t think it was possible at the time, but you must have done.
Now I can’t think of anything else. Now I know what it’s like to make love to you, I want to stop wasting time apart, and get back with you. My body pulses when you get close enough to me so that I can smell you. I can’t smell your shaving cologne without wanting to pull your tie off and kiss your neck.
When you walk in front of me I want to reach out and touch the curls at the back of your neck. I remember the feel of them under my fingers that night.
When I can sleep, my dreams are filled with you. Sometimes we are in your bed, and you press me into the mattress, filling me just as you did before, and I fall into ecstasy before I wake up, wet but empty and so alone.
Most of my dreams don’t end in fulfillment. They are full of us trying to make love somewhere – anywhere – but we keep being interrupted; we get started, but never finish.
It doesn’t take an idiot to figure out what it all means, especially as the person that tears us apart is often Rosalind.
Sam frowned as she drained the last of her drink, placed the mug on the floor beside her slippers and put out the light.
She sighed heavily.
“It always comes back to her, doesn’t it?”
* * * * * *
Contrary to Sam’s belief, Christopher Foyle was also awake. He had left Hugh Reid’s house at about ten and walked home. Although it was a cold night, it wasn’t bitter or windy, and he set off with enough of a pace to be quite warm by the time he got home.
He had not bothered with a nightcap; he had had just enough to drink to be feeling pleasantly mellow, so he locked up the house for the night, climbed the stairs and entered his bedroom. He removed his tie first and undid the top button of his shirt, then took off his jacket and waistcoat, hanging them both up before he removed his shirt. He sat down on the side of the bed, undid his shoelaces and pulled his shoes off, placing them together at the end of the bed. The socks came off next, then he stood again and took off his trousers and underwear. Feeling rapidly cooler and more sober by the minute, he hurriedly pulled on his pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers before heading to the bathroom.
Ten minutes later he was back in his bedroom.
Within moments, Foyle had kicked off his slippers, draped his dressing gown across the bottom of the bed, and climbed into bed. The sheets were cool but not icy and he warmed up quickly. He decided not to read tonight as he was tired and thought that he could sleep easily enough. He put out the light and tried to quiet his mind.
It was easier said than done.
Foyle wondered if tomorrow would be the day his luck ran out.
As each day passed and there was no news from Sam, part of him selfishly hoped that she was expecting his baby. It would lend more impetus to his argument that they marry, and as soon as possible. Yet the fairer, mature Foyle wanted Sam to choose to marry him because she wanted to, not because she had to.
Maybe tomorrow he would find out, one way or the other. In the mean time, he really needed some rest.
Within ten minutes Foyle was fast asleep, his breathing deep and even.
He woke from the middle of a dream with a start a few hours later. He looked at his watch and could just make out that it was after half past one. He looked around the darkened bedroom to see if there was any practical reason that had disturbed him, but everything seemed to be in order, so he tried to settle back down.
Annoyingly, he now felt wide awake. He tried a couple of the tricks he learned during the First World War to help him sleep in the trenches, but to no avail.
Twenty minutes crawled past.
Foyle thumped his pillow and turned onto his right side.
He closed his eyes and allowed himself to sink into the memories that he had managed to recover from the time that he had spent with Sam, just before he had succumbed to the ‘flu. He didn’t indulge in these memories very often and he tried only to think of them at home; they still had a very powerful effect on him, and the last thing he needed at work was to be confined behind his desk every time he thought of Sam.
My only defence was that I was ill at the time. My guard was lowered to the point where I no longer had the will to resist what shouldn’t have been offered or accepted at the time.
Sometimes I wonder if what I recall is a dream or the truth or a combination of both.
Her scent is my most vivid memory – even now I can still feel that same jolt when I unexpectedly catch a whiff as she passes me, or leans past me to get something. It was the subtlest of tortures to have my bathroom smell of Sam’s toiletries when she was staying at the house.
Next I think of silk – the silk of her gown, the exquisite silk of her skin under my lips and the silky flow of her hair through my fingers.
Then taste; her hot sweet mouth, so addictive, so forbidden, but so yielding and willing.
God! Please tell me I didn’t imagine that she enjoyed it as much as I did, I could never forgive myself.
Unbidden, another memory surfaced, but it was much clearer than the earlier ones. Sam had deliberately manoeuvred him into kissing her, unwittingly restoring his fragmentary memories. But before he had realised what had previously happened, he and Sam had been kissing for several minutes, tangled up in the blankets and sheets. If he hadn’t remembered, they would have been only moments away from her complete possession.
With her complete agreement.
Foyle restlessly shifted again, this time on to his left side.
Sam hadn’t been afraid of him, or repelled by his tongue demanding her mouth, or his hands sliding down her body to cup her delicious bottom.
Foyle groaned. He was still wide awake and now he was hard too. Without word of a lie, he’d been erect more times in the last six weeks than he had in the previous six months.
He was far too aroused to sleep. He gave in to his desire and slid his hand under the blankets and down his body, imagining that it was Sam’s hand that he felt take hold of him, just as she had before. Sam’s hand that caressed him, held him, stroked him and finally brought him to a shuddering climax that left him drained.
* * * * * *
Mindful of Hugh Reid’s warning, Foyle tried to give no sign of anything out of the ordinary going on with him at work. He had always had the capacity to compartmentalise the separate portions of his life from an early age. It had been Rosalind who had taught him that they need not be mutually exclusive, and that he could safely overlap them from time to time.
This was not one of those times.
The first chance that he had, he vowed to bring Sam in on the advice he had received, but pinning her down had been just as difficult as before. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought that she was avoiding him. That he did know better was a relief – they were still going out for the occasional meal, he had been to her house for tea again and they had attended a piano recital together. He had been a little concerned that it might not have been Sam’s idea of ‘fun’, but she had appeared to enjoy it as much as he had.
Three more days passed and Foyle still hadn’t heard any news. With each passing day his hopes increased, but so did his concern. What on Earth must she be thinking? Was she worried?
They had been quite busy at work, a large fraud case concerning essential supplies at the hospital had come to a head and although it had ended with more than one arrest, there were reports to type and loose ends to tie up. Everyone was quite exhilarated but drained by the end of it.
Sam made herself useful where possible, helping where she could with typing up handwritten notes, and tea for the ‘troops’ - she had even managed to scrounge up some biscuits, which had gone down very well.
It was early evening and already dark when Foyle, Milner and Sam stepped out of the front of the station in to the cool air. Foyle looked at the other two.
“I think we deserve a little reward. What do you two say to a quick drink before we get going? My treat.”
Milner looked genuinely apologetic.
“I’m sorry Sir, I’ve just telephoned Edie to let her know that I was on my way, she’s kept supper back for me.”
Foyle gave him a small smile accompanied by a raised eyebrow, correctly interpreted by Milner as the ‘you are a lucky man’ smirk.
“Sorry, Sir, perhaps another time?”
“Of course. Can we drop you on the way?”
Milner shook his head, the humour confined to his eyes. He had never been fond of gooseberry.
“Thank you, but no, I’m fine. I’ll see you on Monday, unless anything crops up in the weekend.”
“Let’s hope not. Monday it is. Goodnight, and give my regards to your young lady.”
Milner smiled and nodded, already starting to back away.
“I shall. Goodnight, Sir, ‘night Sam.”
Foyle waited until Milner was out of earshot before turning to Sam. She was smiling as they turned and walked towards the Wolseley.
“Well, it’s just you and me. Would you like to go for a drink?”
Sam looked at him, the sparkle still in her eyes. She leaned in a little, but not so much that it would cause comment if witnessed,
“To be honest, I fancy a night in…”
Foyle was disappointed.
“Oh, of course, I’m sorry, it was very selfish of me to keep you waiting all this time; you must be tired after such a long day.”
Sam kept her grin hidden.
“Absolutely. So I thought, as my reward for sterling services in the tea and biscuit department, that you, Christopher, should have me for supper.”
Foyle allowed himself to look startled.
Sam let her smirk escape.
“You know what I mean. It’s your turn to cook for me. Nothing fancy, I’m quite happy to take pot-luck.”
Foyle’s mood lifted instantly, but the only change in his expression was the small lift of one side of his mouth.
“Mmmn. Good, because I think pot-luck is about all I’ve got.”
Keeping her hands clasped behind her back – mainly so that she didn’t grab him here in public, Sam faced Foyle.
“Splendid. My favourite.”
The short drive back to Steep Lane was quiet but filled with electricity. It felt to Foyle as if Sam had come to a decision of some kind and the uncertainty about what she was thinking was both unsettling and enervating.
The practical side of him was grateful that the house was tidy and was already mentally going through his cupboards to think of what to do to eat.
He was actually nervous. Which was quite ridiculous.
Sam was not so much nervous as excited.
Tonight’s opportunity to get Foyle alone and talk to him without fear of interruption or whilst having to concentrate on her driving was heaven sent. She still didn’t know for sure about a baby, but it was looking increasingly likely now, so she really wanted to know where she stood with its father.
Sam still wasn’t going to marry a man who wasn’t in love with her, but she owed it to the baby to at least find out how Foyle felt about her. She knew that he desired her, but was that enough? Could she take the chance that duty and desire might turn into something more?
The front door closed behind Foyle as Sam removed her coat and hung it up on what used to be its usual place when she had lodged there. Foyle hung his coat and hat up too, and then followed Sam as she went through to the kitchen. He was pleased to notice that she seemed to be quite relaxed about being there.
Whilst discussing the day’s events, they gathered the makings for a meal and worked together to get something to eat on the table. Neither noticed how easily they moved around the kitchen in a co-ordinated fashion that demonstrated how well they were matched.
Once the hotpot was in the oven they took a cup of tea through to the living room. Out of habit Foyle headed for his chair as usual, but then hesitated, wondering if he ought to sit next to Sam on the settee.
Sam noticed the hesitation and thought it quite sweet; the thoughtfulness in him that was much less apparent in men of her own age. She placed his cup of tea beside his chair, making the decision for him, and took her place on the nearest end of the settee.
They continued the discussion they had started in the kitchen and talked easily about a variety of things. Sam did not want to discuss anything about their possible relationship until after they had eaten, but her sense of anticipation was almost palpable and both of them were aware that they were skating around the edges.
The hotpot was delicious, hot and filling, but not enough to leave either of them in a state of torpor.
Back in the living room, with another cup of tea, the tension had increased, as if they both had sub-consciously realised that the long awaited moment was at hand.
They had both spoken at exactly the same time. Foyle smiled and Sam laughed. Foyle, ever the gentleman, yielded to Sam. She took a steadying breath.
“I need to ask you something, and I would appreciate an honest answer, because you are an honest man.”
Whatever Foyle was expecting, this was not how he thought it would start.
“Very well, you have my word.”
Foyle’s heart sank as he saw Sam screw up her courage.
“I know I’ve asked you this before, but I have my reasons for asking it again. Would you be suggesting marriage to me now, if we hadn’t…if there was no possibility of…of…”
Sam nodded, suddenly unsure of herself.
Foyle realised that he was in a minefield. One misstep here could be disastrous, but she had asked him to be honest. He spoke cautiously, not wanting Sam to be upset.
“Being completely honest, no, probably not.”
Sam’s hands clasped together, the thumb of one hand nervously rubbing the back of the other.
Foyle leaned forward so that he could place his hand over hers.
“No, Sam, I don’t think that you do. My offer, however clumsily presented, was genuine. I will marry you, and as soon as you wish it.”
Sam’s eyes began to fill. He was being so kind, but if he had no intention of marrying her beforehand, then she didn’t see how he could be offering marriage out of love now.
“Do you like me?”
Foyle was taken aback.
“Yes, of course I do.”
“Am I presentable to look at?”
Foyle was now baffled as well.
“Very easy on the eye. Practically attractive, I would say, if pressed.”
Sam half laughed, almost dislodging her precariously balanced tears.
Foyle was so surprised by the question that he came and sat down next to her, his hand still holding hers.
“What on earth is all this about?”
One tear did escape now, and slid down Sam’s face.
“It’s just that you don’t…. Since we came back, away from work you haven’t…I mean to say, there is ‘respect’ and there is a complete lack of the…wanting.”
Foyle did not make the mistake of laughing, but he was greatly relieved. He moved closer and opened his arms so that Sam could slip naturally into his embrace.
“You’re worried that I don’t want you?”
Sam nodded, her head on his chest, below his chin.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Foyle wanted to tell her how he truly felt about her, but was worried that he was putting too much pressure on her. In turning down his proposal she had shaken him and he was uncertain how to proceed. He needed to let her know that he cared, but not in a way that had her running for the hills. Unfortunately, with the way she felt in his arms it was all he could do not to haul her up and kiss her senseless.
“It’s not that at all. I was trying to give you a choice by waiting until we knew about a baby. I wanted you to have the option of finding out that there wasn’t one, so that you could decide if and where we went from then.”
Sam was considerably cheered by his words. Reluctantly, she pulled away from the comforting smell of Foyle’s shirt but remained in his arms as she looked at his face.
At his lips.
“Really? So you have no actual objection to kis -”
She never got chance to finish the word, let alone the sentence. Foyle’s lips took hers with a surety that was literally breathtaking. Her gasp of surprise granted him access that he exploited to the full and her gasp became a moan of pleasure.
Any thoughts that Foyle had about being the mature adult in charge of the situation flew out of the window within seconds of first contact. Sam’s unguarded response ignited a corresponding charge within him, a sudden conflagration that shocked him with its strength.
With one accord, they parted briefly to stare at each other for a long moment. His eyes were so close to hers that Sam felt as if she were drowning in their pale blue depths – and what’s more, she didn’t mind a bit.
As if compelled by an outside force, they came together again and this kiss proved it was no fluke. Excitement spiralled through them both, each recharging the other until it felt as if something had exploded inside them. Suddenly Sam felt as if she couldn’t get enough of Foyle, but fortunately she sensed the same greedy hunger in him as he pulled her closer.
Foyle held Sam securely in his left arm as his tongue plundered her mouth. His right hand ran along her arm and up to cup her neck, leaving a trail of heat wherever he touched.
Sam clutched at Foyle as if her life depended on it. She wanted to press him to her until there was no space between them, so that no-one could tell where one ended and the other started.
If her mouth had not been too busy Sam would have gasped, but as it was, she moaned into Foyle’s mouth as she felt his hand slide from her neck down the front of her shirt until it reached her breast.
Foyle felt Sam shudder as his hand brushed lightly over the already erect nipple he could just feel through the thick cotton of her shirt. He lovingly cupped the breast with his palm and brushed the firm peak with his thumb; God, but she was so beautiful, he just wanted to –
He froze. Was that…?
Lost in a cloud of desire, adrift with sensations that she barely knew how to describe, Sam was abruptly brought back to earth with a bump. For no apparent reason she felt Foyle freeze and withdraw from her embrace with unflattering speed. She had barely begun to comprehend what had happened before she found herself alone on the settee.
Still shocked, she turned just in time to see Foyle hasten through the open doorway into the hall and pull the door to behind him. She opened her mouth to ask what on earth was going on when she heard what she should have heard earlier.
The unmistakable scratch of a key fumbling for the lock on the front door and then the sound of the door opening.
Sam’s hands flew to her cheeks.
She hurriedly straightened her shirt and tucked it back into her skirt. She smoothed her hair, checked her bun and pushed some of the pins back in.
Voices. Out in the hall. She tip-toed to the door.
“What the devil are you doing here?”
The thump of something heavy hitting the floor. A kitbag, perhaps?
“Gee, pleased to see you too, Dad.”
“Of course I’m pleased to see you, just surprised at the lack of advance warning, and the late hour. You staying?”
“Was planning to, unless you have Sam stashed in my room again. It’s just for a couple of nights I’m afraid, but I didn’t think you’d mind. I take it that it is okay?”
“Yep, fine. You going straight up, or do you want something to eat?”
“I’ve eaten thanks; I’ll go straight up if that’s all right with you. I’ve been up since five this morning and I’m dead on my feet.”
The voices faded as they moved towards the stairs until Sam couldn’t hear anything else. She went back to the settee to wait for Foyle and noticed Rosalind’s photograph for the first time this evening. To Sam’s fevered imagination, the dark-haired woman’s gaze was faintly censorious, as if she was unhappy about the shenanigans going on under her roof.
Entirely unbidden Sam recalled Foyle’s desperate cry for Rosalind during his delirium.
‘Please don’t let her die!’
Sam wanted to scream with the injustice of it all.
What on earth was I thinking? I haven’t proved that Christopher loves me; all I have done is prove that he desires me, and I already knew that.
I can’t do this without his love and respect, or I’ll have no respect for myself. Not once has he mentioned love, not once, yet I’m almost certain that he feels something for me…oh, God, please don’t let it be that he feels paternal…no, don’t be silly Sam, he wouldn’t kiss a daughter like that…good Heavens no.
Too anxious to sit still, but too worried about the noise to pace around until Foyle returned, Sam quietly opened the door to the hall and gathered her jacket, coat and cap from the hall stand before slipping back to the front room. Hopefully Andrew either didn’t see them or didn’t register them as he passed through.
Upstairs, in the back bedroom, Foyle was unaware that he was worrying at his bottom lip until Andrew gave him an odd look.
“You all right, Dad? You look a little pensive.”
“Mmmm? No, I’m fine, just reviewing breakfast options. It’s always nice to see you, Andrew, but a little more notice would be appreciated. Still, good to have you here, even if only for a couple of days. Will you need an early call?”
“It’s Saturday, so thankfully I have until Sunday night to get up to….so that I can report in on Monday morning for duty.”
Foyle Senior gave a wry smile at his son’s near slip up. They both knew that their secrets were safe with the other, but why put the other at risk?
“Good…good. Well, see you in the morning, then. Fancy the river?”
Foyle raised one eyebrow.
“Mmmm. When you were six you complained that ‘we’ll see’ always turned out to mean ‘no’.”
Andrew grinned as he dropped his braces and tugged at his shirt.
His father had already started to turn towards the door, but he glanced back with a smile.
Trying not to make undue haste, Foyle headed for the front room. God only knew what Sam was thinking right this minute, but there was not going to be time to discuss it tonight.
At Foyle’s first glance the room appeared to be empty, but Sam stepped into the light when, presumably, she realised that he wasn’t Andrew. He crossed to her, noting that she was dressed ready to leave. He kept his voice low.
“I’m so sorry to have left you so abruptly, I didn’t want Andrew seeing the light on and interrupting us. Are you all right?”
While Foyle was speaking he was already registering the fact that something had changed dramatically since he had left the room. There was a distance between them that was more than the barrier created by Sam being back in her uniform.
“No, no, I quite understand, can’t be helped.”
Sam looked at Foyle, her dark eyes sad. His stomach turned to ice as he felt her withdrawal. This felt like a lot more than just ‘good night’.
What the devil has she got into her head now?
“Sam? What is it? What’s wrong?”
Foyle could see that she was upset. When he stepped forward, she stepped back, one hand raised as if to hold him off.
“I’m so sorry. I thought that I could do this, but I can’t, not without love. We have desire, please believe me when I say that I have so completely enjoyed what we did, both before and tonight, none of it was put on. I really did – do – want you, but I can’t. Please forgive me.”
Foyle was devastated and looked every inch of it. Sam’s resolve had almost crumbled when he reached out to her, which was why she had had to back away. If he had touched her, she would have been lost, and then she would always wonder if he loved her.
Sam stepped past the immobile Foyle and let herself out of the house, quietly closing the door behind her. By the time she reached the Wolseley she was crying hard, the pain in her chest immense.
Back in the front room of the Steep Lane house, Foyle managed to get to the settee before his legs gave way. The only time in his life that he felt worse than this was the day Rosalind died.
Bloody old fool! Stupid bloody fool, of course she doesn’t love you, what did you expect?!
Every fibre of Sam’s being wanted to go back to Foyle and tell him that she would take him regardless, that half a loaf was better than none, especially if he were the loaf, but she did not.
Sam realised later that she had no memory of the drive back to her little house, but when she woke up in the morning after an appalling night with very little sleep, she knew what she had to do.
Set him free.
When Sam knocked on the front door of the Steep Lane house and braced herself for the first sight of the man she loved beyond reason, she was surprised and considerably deflated to see a dishevelled Andrew appear at the door.
“Sam? Are you here for Dad?”
Taking in his hastily gathered gown and bare feet, Sam realised that she had got Andrew out of bed.
“Yes. I’m terribly sorry to disturb you; I thought Mr Foyle would answer the door first. Is he ready?”
She knew that she was a little early, but she like to be punctual. It had nothing at all to do with the fact that she usually hoped to catch Christopher before he was all buttoned up in his waistcoat and jacket. Or that she liked to torture herself by being in his company even though her heart was breaking.
Andrew frowned, and then opened the door further.
“Come in for a minute. Now I come to think about it, I don’t think he’s here.”
Sam entered the house and stood in the hall while Andrew stuck his head in the front room, then the kitchen. He returned with a small piece of paper.
“Dad’s already gone to work; an early start, apparently.”
Sam couldn’t hide her disappointment. Her flat ‘Oh’ gave away more than she realised.
Andrew frowned again, deep in thought. He looked up from the note to Sam.
“How did you know I was here?”
Sam looked startled.
“You just said ‘I thought Mr Foyle would answer the door first’. How did you know that I was here?”
Andrew watched Sam’s eyes dart around the hall, clearly looking for inspiration.
She pointed to his coat on the hook.
“Your greatcoat. RAF blue. Couldn’t miss it.”
Sam nodded, unable to give voice to the lie.
Andrew looked at her with distinct suspicion.
“And just how did you see it before I opened the door??”
“Peeked through the letterbox.” This lie didn’t count – she had her fingers crossed behind her back. “Terribly sorry, must dash, late for work. Bye!”
Sam fled out of the door and down the steps in a flash, leaving Andrew standing open-mouthed in the hall.
What the hell is going on here?
He suddenly had another thought. He jumped for the door and saw Sam just as she drove away.
* * * * *
Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle was seated at his desk, but faced the large window to his left. He had no idea what the time was and didn’t care. He only knew that he had left early to avoid being collected by Sam.
It was only when he saw Sgt Brooks’ surprise when he walked through the station doors that he realised that it was his Saturday off and he actually had no reason to be at work.
No reason other than I couldn’t face going into the front room and reliving my misery all over again.
Foyle was no coward, but his strongest urge was to flee. Not just his office, but his house, his job and Hastings. Every where he went reminded him of Sam; the only place she had not been was his bed, and that’s where he thought about her most of all.
With effort he loaded a clean sheet of paper into his typewriter.
Time for another letter to AC Summers.
* * * * * *
When Sam also belatedly realised it was Saturday, she returned the Wolseley to the station garage and collected her bicycle without going inside the main building. After nipping home to change into civvies, she rode out to the river where she knew Foyle fished sometimes, but couldn’t see him anywhere. She cycled up and down the marine parade and got a lump in her throat when she saw the tall black net drying sheds.
This can’t wait until Monday, where are you? I can’t get the picture of your face out of my mind.
Sam stopped and hopped off her bicycle. She looked out to sea and breathed deep to calm herself. There was the faintest hint of Spring on the breeze, a subtle reminder of renewal and new life.
New life! Oh God!
Think girl, where would you go if you were him?
Work. That’s what I’d do, that’s why I ended up at Steep Lane this morning.
Sam turned her bike around and got back on, heading for the station.
When she turned up there, pink cheeked with effort, Sgt Brooks got his second surprise of the day.
“Miss Stewart? Is everything all right? First the boss, and now you. I should think you’re both sick of the place.”
Sam tried for a pleasant smile.
“No, Brookie, I’ve just popped in for a moment, shan’t be long. Forgot something yesterday.”
She hurried past the front desk and along the corridor to Foyle’s office. The door was shut, which was unusual. Bracing herself, she knocked. After an agonizingly long couple of seconds, she heard the ‘come in’.
Foyle didn’t look up, intent as he was on his letter. It couldn’t possibly be who he wanted to see anyway.
Foyle’s head came up in shock.
She entered the office and closed the door behind her.
After his first stuttering ‘Sam’, Foyle’s expression had closed. He noted that she didn’t cross to the desk or visitor’s chair.
“Could I have a word?”
No. I’m too busy. Go away.
If you are here to tell me again that you are sorry, I may just break something.
Sam suddenly wished that she was wearing her uniform. Something about the stiff serge material gave her additional backbone in difficult situations. Her hands twisted together.
Foyle waited. He watched the colour come and go in Sam’s face.
Christ, he couldn’t even hate her.
He watched her gaze skid round the room before settling on the typewriter in front of him. She wouldn’t make eye contact.
“I just wanted to let you know that…it’s okay, I’ve had…I’m not…”
Foyle’s expression remained neutral, but it was an effort. He was bitterly disappointed; his last hope had just evaporated.
He leaned with false casualness on his left elbow, and fixed Sam with a firm look.
“And when did you find this out? Last night, by any chance?”
Sam’s genuinely horrified ‘No!’ mollified Foyle somewhat. He closed his eyes briefly, striving to remain calm when he felt anything but.
She took an involuntary step closer, wanting so much to go to him.
“This morning, actually.” Sam hesitated, hating his lack of reaction. “At least you’re off the hook.”
Foyle straightened up and his mild look did not deceive her.
“I never felt that I was on a hook, Sam. I wasn’t the one doing something that I didn’t want to do.”
Sam flinched at the unexpected hit. This wasn’t the reaction that she had envisaged.
“I thought you’d be more…relieved.”
Her voice was uncertain, as if she was processing an unexpected response.
Both of Foyle’s eyebrows went up and his lips pursed briefly.
“Did you? Mmmm. Well, I dare say you are.”
Sam slowly nodded.
“Good.” Foyle’s tone signalled that their meeting was at an end. “See you on Monday, then?”
He peered at the sheet in his typewriter, appearing to have dismissed Sam already.
Foyle heard the door close quietly behind Sam and he dropped his pretence. His head dropped into his hands.
“Oh bloody hell.”
* * * * *
That evening the two Foyle men were seated at the kitchen table having supper. Andrew didn’t question his father’s suggestion that they eat in the kitchen; it was less distance to carry the plates from the oven and to the sink.
It was quiet by comparison to their usual meal time catch-ups.
Andrew had surprised his father by having the meal ready in the oven when he got in, then explained that it was by way of an apology for not being able to be back for his mother’s anniversary the previous month. His father had leaned back in his chair and looked at him.
“You don’t have to apologise to me for not being there. I know that you are busy with your instructor training and it’s not always convenient to get back here. I understand, and so would your mother. I’m still in Hastings, I have the time.”
Foyle picked up his knife and fork again.
“However, you should feel guilty more often; your cooking skills have improved.”
“Yes, well, there are few women on the base – slim pickings for us with so many fly-boys to choose from. So we have to find another outlet for our energy.”
Foyle smiled, the closest thing to a laugh he felt that he could manage.
“One good thing to have come out of all this mess then.”
Andrew looked at him, his expression thoughtful.
“Still no-one special in your life, Dad?”
Foyle’s lips twisted.
“As I said once before, you think I’d tell you?”
Andrew’s grin was half sheepish, half salacious.
“I suppose not. I just wondered if that was why you were a bit out of sorts when I turned up last night. Y’know, if you had got a lady-friend tucked away and were planning a cosy evening together, I would have understood.”
Andrew’s grin was a little too sly for his father’s liking, but it failed to stop the hint of red warming his cheeks at his son’s accurate hit.
“Well, it has been more than ten years, and there is a war on. You could be forgiven for living for the moment.”
Foyle looked exasperated.
“Have you been talking to Hugh Reid?”
Andrew looked surprised.
“So, have you? Been living for the moment?”
Foyle stopped eating again and looked at Andrew.
“You’re very persistent. But, in answer, I don’t see the point. We could all be dead by this time next year, so why risk it?”
Andrew was surprised at his father’s comments.
“I’ve had this discussion with you before about policing in a time of war, and you made a very cogent argument for it, so why the defeatist talk now?”
Foyle shook his head, wishing he’d never started.
“Don’t mind me; I’m in a precious maudlin mood.”
Andrew looked more closely at his father and noted the underlying strain.
They ate in silence for a few more minutes. Jam roly poly was served and almost finished when Andrew posed another question, quite out of the blue.
“If you had known that Mum would die so young, would you still have married her?”
Foyle looked shocked and his spoon clattered against his bowl.
“What kind of a question is that? Of course I would have. Apart from anything else, we wouldn’t have had you.”
Andrew seemed unusually serious.
“So, even knowing that she would die, that you couldn’t have your happy ever after, you would still have married her and lived with the pain of her loss?”
Foyle frowned, uncomfortable with the pain he was feeling for both the present and the past.
“Yes. Yes, even with the pain. She was worth it.”
Andrew seemed satisfied with his father’s answer.
“Yes, she was worth it, even for a short span of time, because she made you happy.”
Foyle nodded, but said nothing.
A silent beat passed. Andrew looked up from his bowl.
* * * * *
Milner sensed the change between them on Monday morning as soon as he saw them arrive. The DCS was ‘flat’ and subdued, while Sam looked…lost. He wondered what on earth could have happened to have snuffed out the glow that both of them had been basking in on Friday evening.
It was the start of a bad couple of weeks.
Foyle was introspective – even more than was usual for him. Sam was obviously making an effort to be her usual self, but by the end of the first week the strain was beginning to show. She looked like she hadn’t been sleeping too well, her already fair skin was pale and there were dark circles under her eyes.
Milner had been in Foyle’s office on Wednesday when Sam brought them both a cup of tea. Milner had smiled up at Sam to thank her, but she was staring miserably at Foyle. He, in turn, gave a polite but distant ‘thank you, Sam’ without looking up at her.
Milner wanted to slap them both.
By Thursday evening of the second week he confessed to Edie that he was worried about Sam. Having met both Sam and Foyle, Edie advised him to watch and wait to see if they could sort things out by themselves. It rarely worked well when outsiders interfered.
Friday morning arrived and so did Sam and Foyle. It was a quiet day to start with, and Sam went to get tea for both Foyle and Milner. The latter followed her to collect the tea to spare her having to go into the DCS’ office.
“End of the week at last, Sam. Got any plans for the weekend?”
Milner could have bitten his tongue out; he had just been trying to make conversation. Sam smiled wanly as she waited for the kettle to boil. She knew he meant well.
“No, not really. I’m a bit tired to be honest. Thought I’d have a lie in.”
She picked up the bottle of milk and lifted the lid. Out of habit she gave it a quick sniff as it had been left out long enough to get warmish. She recoiled and handed the bottle to Milner.
“Is that ‘off’ or is it just me?”
Milner took a cautious sniff and looked mildly surprised.
“It seems fine to me. Couple of years living alone has obviously toughened me up. I say, are you all right? You look a bit green around the gills.”
Sam waved off his concern with another smile as she poured the boiling water on the tea leaves.
“No, I’m fine, thanks Paul.”
She set out two cups on saucers and put a little milk in each.
“How are the wedding plans coming along?
“Not bad at all, pretty much set really. All I have to do now is wait and hope Edie doesn’t change her mind.”
Sam laughed, her first genuine one in a while.
“She’d be absolutely mad, fine catch like you.”
“Thank you for the vote of confidence.”
Milner registered the two cups.
“You’re not joining us?”
* * * * *
Foyle looked up as he registered the sergeant in the doorway of his office. He hoped that he had hidden his disappointment that it wasn’t Sam. Milner made his careful way over to the boss’ desk and handed him one of the cups of tea.
Foyle placed it on his desk and his brow furrowed as he inquired;
“Er, couldn’t Sam find the tray?”
Milner shook his head.
“No, Sir, it wasn’t that. She says that she’s gone off tea a bit, it tasted funny yesterday. She thinks the milk is on the turn.”
Foyle’s disappointment at Sam’s absence turned to curiosity.
“Oh. Is it?”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Really? Mmmm, let’s get to work, shall we?”
* * * * *
Chief Superintendent Reid stuck his head around Foyle’s door about four o’clock.
“Got a minute?”
Foyle looked at the two remaining files that he had been hoping to finish before he went home.
“Just about. Come on in.”
Hugh Reid entered the office and closed the door behind him. Foyle raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Reid took a seat. Cleared his throat.
“How are things going?”
Foyle leaned back in his chair, one elbow propped on the arm of it.
“Um, pretty much as usual. Crime rate is up, staffing levels down. More red tape, less resources to implement it. Usual stuff.”
Reid nodded; this was nothing new to him.
There was a long silence.
Foyle tutted; he hope to God he wasn’t so easy to read – no pun intended.
“Out with it.”
Reid looked awkward, as if he’d rather be somewhere else. After a moment, he sighed.
“Fair enough. I’m not asking any questions, it’s none of my business, but it’s about Sam.”
Foyle casually straightened in his chair, alert.
“What about Sam?”
“Some of the men are expressing a little concern that ‘things’ are getting a bit on top of her. I know more than one of the officers expressed dismay when a woman came to work for you, worried that she wouldn’t pull her weight, but Sam saw all that off. She’s a plucky little thing, has proved herself, and has been taken under the station’s wing. Frankly, the men are worried about her.”
“Yes, I can understand that. What is it that you think I can do?”
Reid paused delicately.
“Well, find out what’s upsetting her. You see her the most, out in the car. See if you can’t get her to confide in you, see what’s what.”
Foyle almost laughed at the irony of it.
Reid looked surprised that he had to ask.
“Well, fix it, of course.”
Happier now that his task had been passed on, Reid got to his feet.
“Good, glad that’s sorted.”
I’ll just bet you are.
Reid turned back at the door.
“See you on Sunday, Sylvie said to remind you.”
Foyle was glad that he had.
Sunday Roast with the Reid family; I’d completely forgotten with all the distractions the last couple of weeks.
“Yep, I’ll be there.”
The door was left open behind Reid, as he had found it, and Foyle had just picked up his pen, when the doorway was filled again. Foyle’s fingers tightened on the pen, so that he didn’t fling it on the desk.
Milner, thank God, a voice of reason.
“Sam thought you might like another tea.”
I’d drink a gallon of the bloody stuff if it meant she’d come and have it with us.
“Very thoughtful. She joining us?”
“Shortly. Just heard that the shop up the road has had a delivery of broken biscuits – she was off like a shot.”
Foyle smiled despite himself, well able to picture Sam’s enthusiasm where food was concerned.
It was the first time that Milner had seen anything like a smile out of the older man in the last two weeks, and he felt relieved. Maybe Edie had been right to advise him to leave well alone.
Foyle stirred, a thought occurring to him.
“By the way, I forgot to say earlier, but thank you for the wedding invitation, I’d be honoured to attend.”
Milner smiled, genuinely pleased.
“Thank you, Sir. Edie will be pleased. Her brother should be home in time for it too, so she’s very happy.”
“Martin Ashford. I gather he left the area after Elsie Jenkins died.”
“Yes, Edie says he took it very hard. He moved up to the Suffolk border; doing more farm work.”
“I think it’s quite ironic that people often think conchies are cowards, yet Martin was prepared to hang for a crime he didn’t commit, just to save Elsie.”
Foyle shifted in his chair to reach out for his tea.
“Yes. Although in the current climate, it takes a brave man to say he won’t fight. An even braver man to have an affair with a serviceman’s wife, no matter how unsavoury the husband turns out to be.”
Milner watched Foyle as the latter looked down at his cup. He took a chance on stepping outside the usual conversational boundaries.
“We can’t always dictate where our heart leads us. Sometimes it also requires a leap of faith.”
Foyle’s eyebrows went up as he glanced at Milner, surprised at his poetic turn of phrase. Being in love with Edith Ashford had gone a long way to healing the damage caused by Jane Milner.
With his thoughts including words like ‘in love’, ‘heart’ and ‘damage’, naturally Foyle’s next thought was of Sam. He tried to make his enquiry offhand and mildly disinterested.
“Has…erm…Sam accepted the invitation?”
Milner hid a grin.
“Oh, yes. She said she was looking forward to being out of uniform during daylight hours.”
Foyle blinked slowly as several images of Sam out of uniform trotted across his mind. He successfully put them to one side.
For about four seconds.
“Do her good to get out a bit.”
Privately, Milner agreed with him. It would also give Edie an opportunity to talk to Sam, woman to woman. He finished his cup of tea and stood up.
“I’ll get back to my office and let you get on with those files.”
The dry look he received made it clear that he wasn’t necessarily doing Foyle a favour.
Walking back towards his office a few minutes later, Milner spied Sam, windblown and sporting a little colour in her cheeks, back from the biscuit hunt.
She held a brown paper bag aloft.
“Rather! They’re a bit bashed, and quite mixed up, but edible. I’ll just put them in the biscuit tin to stop them going soft.”
Milner smiled at her enthusiasm, the most cheerful he had seen her lately. He helped her with the tin’s stiff lid.
“You think that they’ll last long enough to get soft?”
“Honestly? Not a chance!”
They both grinned, but Milner saw Sam’s fade at the same time he heard Foyle’s voice behind him.
“Sergeant Milner? Have you seen the…?”
Foyle took in the scene and seemed to ignore it. He finished his question to Milner about a statement missing from his file, and the sergeant answered promptly about it.
Foyle turned to Sam and nodded to the biscuits that she had started to transfer into the tin.
“Any going spare?”
His request was mild and polite, and so unlike their recent conversations, that Sam was a little thrown by it.
“Of…of course, Sir.”
Already half way through the act of tipping the biscuits out of the bag, her hand jerked and a couple of biscuit pieces flew from the paper bag, bounced off the table and fell to the floor.
Quick as a flash, Sam bent down to pick up the biscuit and straightened equally fast. She wasn’t going to let her spoils escape. But she dropped them again, although this time on the table, as she reached out to hold on to something to steady herself. She felt woozy, and her hearing faded momentarily.
Milner saw the last vestige of colour leave Sam’s face as she swayed, her hand reaching out blindly for support. Both men stepped towards her, but Foyle was the nearest and he brought his arm up under Sam’s hand so that she could hang on to him. He guided her to a chair.
“Sam? Are you all right?”
Both Foyle and Milner were worried about her white face. Her freckles stood out in stark focus against the alabaster flesh.
Sam nodded, but didn’t try to get up.
“Yes, Sir, I’ll be fine in a minute – I just got up too quickly. This used to happen all the time when I was about fifteen – I grew tall quite quickly and my blood supply couldn’t keep up. It’s nothing to worry about; I’m fine now, honestly. Fit as a fiddle.”
Neither man looked convinced, both looked concerned. Foyle looked at his watch.
“Will you be well enough to drive yourself home, or shall I get Sergeant Brooke to take you?”
Sam shook her head, the colour returning in spades as she flushed at being the centre of attention.
“No, please don’t fuss, I’m really all right. I don’t need to go early or anything.”
As she really did seem to be recovered, the two men exchanged a glance over her head and Milner nodded infinitesimally, accepting the handover as if Foyle had spoken aloud.
The DCS straightened up and looked at his watch.
“Well, I do need to go soon, as I have an engagement later this evening. Can you be ready in ten minutes, Sam?”
Leaving her in Milner’s capable and safe hands – he was engaged, after all – Foyle returned to his office. He caught up with some recent memos to use up the ten minutes that he has just given Sam, and then he locked up the last two files, before collecting his hat and coat.
As he walked up the corridor to meet up with Sam, he recalled how easily she had been speaking with Milner earlier. She had been relaxed, and smiling, until she spotted him. She had lost the sparkle in her eyes; not just today, but the last two weeks and he knew that he was responsible, but he didn’t know how to fix it. He loved her, she didn’t love him. He couldn’t make her love him, so what could he do?
Act like a spoilt boy and push her even further away by making her unhappy.
He was very mindful of what Hugh had said about finding out what was upsetting Sam; as he had pointed out, the whole station knew that she was not her usual self. He could hardly go to see Hugh and say ‘well, actually it was me that made her miserable’.
Christ, what a mess.
* * * * *
Later that evening, Foyle sat at the table surrounded by his fly making paraphernalia, hoping that the ritual quietness of constructing a new fly would calm him. He had lied quite easily in order to get Sam to take him home early, so that she too could go early. He had no social engagement and no desire to acquire one.
Unless it was with Sam.
Back at her place, already upstairs in bed, Sam was warm and comfortable, but lonely. The drive home with Foyle had been far too quiet, but even her natural exuberance had deserted her. In the old days she would have wangled out of him what he was doing tonight, but she just couldn’t summon up the energy.
I almost don’t care what he’s doing tonight, because he’s not doing whatever it is with me. Which is childish and immature.
Things can’t go on like this; almost fainting at his feet today was a warning. I have to put myself first, then I can sort out where I go from here.
Having made up her mind, Sam was finally able to get some much needed sleep.
* * * * *
Sunday’s roast with the Reid family was a demonstration of what could be done with a back garden that had exchanged wallflowers for cauliflowers and its petunias for peas and potatoes. There was no doubt that Sylvie Reid was a blessing for Hugh, and thankfully, he seemed to be aware of his good fortune.
Foyle had always been aware of the secure contentment that backed his friend and colleague at work and it was a poignant pleasure to witness it at his home. It was therefore quite obvious to the trained eye that Hugh wanted ‘a word’ with him after the meal, judging by the small nods and shared looks exchanged between husband and wife. Foyle bowed to the inevitable and found himself in the front parlour with Hugh. Foyle again declined a cigarette, but Hugh packed and lit a pipe while speaking.
Contrary to his previous approach, Hugh was more direct.
“Have you found out what’s up with Sam?”
Foyle’s eyebrows went up in surprise.
“What? No lead up? No easing your way into the subject? Less than subtle, Hugh.”
“Subtlety never was my strong point, not when I’m worried about a friend.”
At Hugh’s mild rebuke Foyle was apologetic.
“Sorry, Hugh, I didn’t realise that you were that worried about her.”
“Granted, I am concerned about Sam, but it’s you I’m worried about.”
An eyebrow lifted.
The aromatic smell of tobacco smoke reminded Foyle of his father as Hugh puffed on his pipe.
“Is she making things difficult for you at work?”
Foyle looked surprised.
“What on earth are you on about?”
“Look, I understand your reticence to condemn her, but if she’s becoming a problem, we’ll just get her moved. Nothing bad needs to be said, we’ll just say that her work is exemplary, but she needs to move on. No black marks anywhere, nothing on her records.”
Foyle rubbed at his forehead, trying to ease the building tension.
“Hugh, please make sense, and quickly.”
Hugh pointed the stem of his pipe at Foyle.
“I’ve been keeping my own eyes open in the last few weeks, and it’s obvious what’s going on between you two.”
Foyle froze, wondering what the hell it was that Hugh had picked up on. The meals away from work? The music recitals? Or, God forbid, the night Andrew came home unexpectedly?
He forced his voice to be calm.
Hugh waved a hand, disregarding Foyle’s question.
“I don’t suppose for a minute that you encouraged the girl, but, well, I can see why you would feel that you had to knock her back a little, put her in her place, so to speak.”
Foyle wiped a hand over his face, wondering if he’d fallen asleep after the meal and this was some bizarre dream.
“Wait a minute; you think that I had to put her in her place?”
Hugh got up and walked to the window. He looked out of it for half a minute or so, and then looked down at his pipe. His back still to Foyle, he re-lit his pipe.
“Well, of course. If the stupid tart is going to throw herself at a respected member of the police force, just to sleep her way to the top for reasons of -”
Stupid tart? Sam?
Foyle’s expression became stony. He was getting angry and his tone was terse.
“Hugh, we’ve been friends a long time, so I will forgive you once, but don’t ever refer to Samantha Stewart as a tart, stupid or otherwise, again, or you will regret it.”
Hugh moved the lace window net sufficiently to allow him to see up the road.
“Oh, I see she’s already got her claws into you then. That is distressing news. She’s faster than I thought, even for a gold digger, latching onto a mature man with a reputation worth preserving for a tidy sum, no doubt.”
Foyle stood up, and smoothed a hand over his tie in agitation. He could not believe what had got into Hugh; this attack was most unlike him. Friend or not, he wasn’t going to put up with it.
“That’s enough. If anyone should be accused of inappropriate behaviour it ought to be me. I’m the one who asked her to marry me; she is the one who turned me down. Leave the girl alone. She’s done nothing wrong.”
Foyle paused to gather in his temper.
“Now, you had your last chance and didn’t stop. I’m leaving, and you can explain it to Sylvie.”
Hugh Reid turned from the window, and Foyle was astonished to see a wide smile on the older man’s face.
“God, Christopher, I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever admit it.”
“You and Sam. Like I said, no time for subtlety. Do you love her?”
Foyle belatedly realised that he had been set up; he had practically given Hugh the ammo himself. A simple trick that he would never have fallen for at work, and shouldn’t have here. It ably demonstrated how much he had been affected.
Resigned to discovery, his eyes closed while he took a moment to kick himself. But underneath it all was the relief that came with the knowledge that it was out in the open.
He looked at Hugh.
“Off the record, to go no further?”
“If it restores good order, no more need be said.”
Foyle remained standing, not comfortable enough to sit back down.
“In answer to your question, yes, I do. Never looked for it, never thought it would happen again. Things came to a head, things were said. She turned me down, quite rightly, better off without me, that’s an end to it.”
Hugh looked at Foyle with exasperation.
“Dammit, man, if you love her why the hell – why have you given up?”
Foyle calmly raised both eyebrows in feigned nonchalance.
“Because she doesn’t love me.”
“Poppycock! Girl’s besotted with you, even I can see that.”
Foyle was not feeling quite so calm now.
Besotted. How well I understand that word.
“Then why did she say ‘no’?”
“Damned if I know.”
He eyed Foyle suspiciously.
“How did you ask her?”
Not willing to mention anything about a baby, Foyle repeated the gist of the proposal.
To his annoyance Hugh burst out laughing.
“No wonder! You have no romance in your soul – ‘might as well’ and ‘seems the best solution’? Wait ‘till I tell Sylvie, she’ll hoot.”
Still grinning, Hugh shook his head.
“No, no, it’s not great, but it still could be. Give it some thought – proper consideration – for the rest of today, and see if you can’t do better than that. Ha! Pity we’re out of scotch.”
Hope surfaced in Foyle’s breast for the first time in what seemed like an age.
“You really think it’s worth a shot?”
“If you don’t at least try, you will be making a mistake that will make you very miserable. And miserable coppers are bad news.”
You’re telling me.
* * * * *
Bright and early Monday morning, Sam collected Foyle from Steep Lane. He did invite her in to wait, but she very politely declined and said that she would wait in the car. Foyle was slightly taken aback, but nodded equally politely and said that he would be out shortly.
Sam seemed more like her old self on the drive in, responding well to the occasional conversational gambits thrown out by Foyle, but he felt a reserve between them that hadn’t been there before, not even when they had first met. It was as if she was reminding them both that she was his driver and he was the ‘boss’.
By lunchtime, Foyle was flummoxed. He had offered to stop at a little café on the way back from Bexhill, but Sam said that she was fine and held up a packet of homemade sandwiches. She had never turned down an offer of food before.
Sam sensed his puzzlement, but did nothing to explain her behaviour. He didn’t need to know that cheese sandwiches were the only thing that she felt like eating or that the smell of food cooking made her feel a bit sickly.
Police business picked up, unusual for a Monday, but busy it was. Foyle had no clear and appropriate time to take Sam aside for a proposal, either quick or well thought out. He became increasingly frustrated with his lack of success about finding time alone with Sam, and she assumed that his dismay was with her presence, so she tried to limit the amount of time that he had to spend with her.
Monday came and went. Foyle was withdrawn. Sam was miserable. Milner still wanted to slap them both.
Tuesday arrived. So did Sam. Foyle invited her in to wait, and held his breath when she hesitated. Then, to his surprise, she stepped inside the house and waited in the hall.
Observing her while trying not to be observed doing so was a little problematical, but Foyle was good at his job and highly motivated. She looked pale, but didn’t look quite so much as if she hadn’t slept in a month. She seemed to be studying what she could see of the house, almost as if she were committing it to memory. Foyle picked up his hat and coat, and followed Sam out to the car. Now did not feel like the right time to ask her to be late for work while he asked her to marry him, but he was definitely going to ask her tonight.
“I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that everything is all right between us, and I feel a lot of the responsibility for that by my behaviour. I would very much appreciate it if you would join me for dinner tonight, so that I could apologise properly.”
He saw Sam’s frown in the rear view mirror and forced himself not to panic that she was about to turn down his offer.
“I would like that very much…”
Foyle breathed again.
“…but I’m afraid I must decline. I have another engagement tonight, but it’s quite all right, your apology is accepted. I didn’t want us to not be friends, and I have missed our meals together.”
Foyle couldn’t keep the disappointment out of his voice. Sam caught his eye in the mirror.
“I’m really sorry. I’d love to have had dinner with you.”
He was encouraged by the fact that she did at least sound genuinely regretful.
“It’s quite all right. Another time, when it suits you.”
Sam was very grateful that they arrived at the station before Foyle could suggest an alternative date, and breathed a sigh of relief when he got out of the car and went on his way, inside. She had been terrified that she would have been too weak to resist a second offer of an evening in Foyle’s company. She brought her hand up to the side window so that her fingers appeared to edge the doorway that Foyle had just stepped through.
I’ve made my bed, now I must lie in it.
* * * * *
Having lunch with Sgt Milner was a different experience to one with Sam, but Foyle found him good company. Injury had matured the young man and the shared experiences of two world wars gave them empathy that other less experienced men lacked. It also meant that neither man wished to talk about the war, so it was a pleasant lunch.
But Foyle still couldn’t wait to get back to the station. He felt edgy, as if something was in the wind, and he knew that Sam was the cause of his anxiety. Her regret about dinner tonight was genuine, he was sure of that, but he kept recalling the look she gave his house this morning.
As if she was committing it to memory; almost as if she didn’t expect to see it again…
Sam had been saying goodbye!
Milner didn’t question the punishing pace that Foyle kept up on their return from the pub. His instincts were pretty sound, and if Mr Foyle wanted to hurry back to work, that was fine by him. If truth be told, Milner’s own instincts were letting him know that this was probably a personal matter; not one requiring police attention.
Well, perhaps the attention of one specific policeman…
Still wearing his outdoor coat and carrying his hat, Foyle absently patted his pockets as he passed Sgt Brooke at the front desk for a second time. He had no idea what he had expected to find in his coat pockets, but it was probably just unconsciously searching behaviour. He had stuck his head in his office, checked the staff room and waited a sufficient amount of time for a constipated elephant to have finished its business and emerged from the Ladies.
Where the hell is she?
Foyle returned to the front desk.
“Sergeant, have you seen Miss Stewart?”
Sgt. Brooke looked up in surprise.
“Sam? Not recently, sir. She left after putting that letter on your desk. Nothing wrong is there, sir?”
Letter? What letter?
Foyle hurried back to his office and checked his desk. This time he saw what he had missed when he had only looked in earlier; a sealed envelope with his name on it, in the fine penmanship of his driver.
He tore open the envelope and rapidly read the letter inside. He cursed under his breath, and then re-read the whole thing more slowly. He looked at his watch and cursed again. He quickly walked back to the front desk.
“Sergeant Brooke, I am in need of a driver.”
“I’d be happy to help, but there’s no car – the Commissioner took the Wolseley on official police business, and the other car is out.”
“What?” He rubbed at his forehead. “I’ll never get there in time. Bloody fine mess this is.”
Foyle was rapidly going through his options and dismissing all of them; taxi impossible to find, bus too slow, too far to walk or even run – although he had no intention of running all the way to the station, just to drop dead at Sam’s feet, or even worse, have no breath to speak.
Sergeant Brooke dared to interrupt.
“If you’re desperate, I have transport.”
Foyle rounded on him.
“You have? Where?”
Brooke pointed over his shoulder.
“It’s out the back, in the station yard.”
Foyle spotted Milner coming out of his office as Brooke was speaking.
“Milner, would you mind holding fort at the desk? I need to borrow Sgt Brooke.”
Having been left his own note, Milner kept his smile discreet and managed not to say ‘good luck’. He hadn’t seen Foyle this galvanised in some time.
Brookie disappeared off towards the station yard, with Foyle in tow. Outside, several moments later, the sergeant stopped and smiled with pride.
“There you are, sir; isn’t she a beauty?”
Foyle looked at ‘beauty’. He looked back at Brooke, his face filled with disbelief.
“Please tell me that you are joking.”
Brooke shrugged, not in the least put out and, in Foyle’s opinion, rather too amused.
“Well, I did say ‘if you were desperate’.”
* * * * *
Sam waited at the railway station platform for the next train to Lyminster. Fifty five miles and she would be back in the bosom of her family.
It would be nice to see her parents again, but...
She immediately felt bad that she was so glum about going home, but much as she loved her parents, she found them much more relaxing company at a little distance.
Say, fifty five miles, give or take a yard.
She had not brought her suitcase with her. Although she could probably fit all her possessions in two cases, she had left most of her things at her billet. All she had with her was her handbag and her gas mask. She strongly suspected that she had deliberately left some of her possessions in Hastings to make sure that she had to come back to get them.
After all, who knows who one might bump into in Hastings?
The coat she was wearing was keeping out the March chill, but the wind was whistling across the station and Sam wished that she had worn trousers. But as she was going home and her father thought that young ladies should wear dresses or skirts, she had decided to go with a dress. No point upsetting him before she had to.
I’ll take it as a sign that I have to stay here with Christopher if my train is late or cancelled.
I’ll take it as a sign that I have to stay here with Christopher if two seagulls fly over head in the next two minutes.
She glanced at her watch and then looked up at the sky. The familiar cry of the large seaside scavengers was heard less than a minute later.
That was hardly a fair test. Do more than two seagulls count? Or does it have to be just the two I specified? Let’s face it Sam, old girl, you want to stay anyway, so why look for silly signs?
She sighed heavily.
I love him enough to let him go. I’m pitting my short term happiness against his long term happiness. If I married him, I’d be unhappy that he was miserable, because I’d know if he was putting a brave face on things.
It’s just that I’ll miss him so. I knew that I would, but I didn’t know that it would hurt this much.
Sam’s already red eyes filled again, and her stiff upper lip was no match for the tears that slid down her face.
* * * * *
Foyle went back inside the station and after a quick glance at his watch decided to use the telephone on the front desk. Milner turned the phone towards him before being asked, and then moved a short but discreet distance away.
Within moments Foyle was through to Hastings railway station.
“Yes, hello, DCS Foyle of Hastings police here. We have reason to believe that a person we wish to speak to is trying to leave by train. Yes, that’s right. Young woman, mid twenties, auburn hair, tall. Freckles. Might have a case with her.”
He listened for a moment, focused on the call and not his surroundings.
“The reason? Um, well, theft mostly. I’d appreciate your help, if you could arrange for someone to hold her until I get there. Violent? Nnno, not especially. No rough stuff though, she’s…umm…expecting a baby.”
Foyle saw Milner’s back stiffen in either surprise or shock, but the younger man said nothing.
“Right, I’ll be there shortly. Appreciate it, thank you.”
Foyle hung up and turned to find that Brooke had returned. It was obvious from his expression that he had heard enough, but give the man his due, he too said nothing.
Milner caught his eye.
“Good luck, sir. Bring her back.”
Foyle nodded, knowing that he didn’t need to explain or justify anything.
We can’t always dictate where our heart leads us.
* * * * *
Foyle could hardly hear the question above the noise of the engine, but he nodded anyway.
“Hang on, sir!”
As if I need telling!
Foyle was already hanging on like grim death and his grip tightened when Brooke gunned the engine and with an ear-splitting roar, the two of them shot forward, heading for the yard exit.
Pausing only briefly to check for other traffic, Brooke pulled out onto the main road, heading for the station. Within seconds Foyle decided that he would either have to sacrifice one of his handholds, or his hat.
The hat won.
It was Foyle’s first trip on a motorbike.
He sincerely hoped that it wasn’t his last.
* * * * *
Sam looked again at her watch. Her train was not yet late, but she had only a few more minutes to decide her future.
If this were one of my favourite novels, the hero would come dashing in at the last minute and sweep the damsel off her feet and into his arms. It might even possibly involve fighting off unspeakable beasts who want me for their own nefarious plans.
Which is probably why I left Christopher a letter telling him what time my train was leaving. I suppose I live in hope that he’ll come to his senses and tell me that he loves me, wants me, and to come back home jolly quick.
“Well, he’ll have to be very jolly quick, here’s my train.”
* * * * *
After a ride that he hoped he’d never have to repeat, Foyle climbed stiffly off the pillion seat and nodded his thanks to Sgt. Brooke. Brooke removed his goggles.
“Sorry about your hat, sir.”
“No matter. I’m sure I can bear the cost of another instead of a broken arm or leg.”
“That’s the spirit. I’ll wait, shall I? Just in case you need another lift?”
Against his better judgement, Foyle nodded before turning to walk into Hastings station.
The stationmaster was waiting in the foyer and eyed him up and down as he entered. He appeared to have no trouble identifying a policeman.
“Foyle, is it?”
“Yes, DCS Foyle.”
He got out his warrant card, which was closely scrutinised. He suspected that the stationmaster was a veteran from the Great War judging by his upright bearing and no-nonsense manner.
“Albert Morgan, Stationmaster. Bad news, I’m afraid. There is no-one here that fits the description you gave us. You sure she came this way? Where do you think she was headed?”
Foyle couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“Arundel way, Lyminster possibly? She has family in the region.”
The stationmaster brightened.
“Ah, well, are you sure it was this station she was going from? Westbound trains often stop at West St Leonards. P’raps she was going from there.”
Foyle closed his eyes briefly, inwardly cursing as he mentally re-read Sam’s letter.
“No idea, only mentioned a station. But thank you for your co-operation, much appreciated.”
The two men shook hands as they parted, and Foyle turned to leave, moving briskly. The stationmaster called after him, his curiosity too great.
“What did she steal?”
“Not at liberty to tell you, but you’ve been very helpful.”
Morgan nodded sagely, tapping the side of his nose.
War business, enough said.
Foyle emerged into sunlight and viewed the waiting sergeant with some resignation.
Brooke started the motorbike and pulled up his goggles.
This is a bit more like it, the thrill of the chase. Mind you, the crafty bugger has already caught her at least once by the sound of it. Who’d a thought it, hey? Didn’t think he ‘ad it in ‘im.
Brooke grinned as Foyle climbed on behind him.
He’s ‘ad it in ‘er though. Lucky bastard.
“Hold on tight, sir!”
Despite the warning Foyle was still caught unprepared and jerked backwards as they pulled away, but he managed not to fall off. His hat, long gone, would have protected him to some degree from the wind whipping what hair he had left around his head. He discovered that his eyes watered if he tried to look past Brooke, his coat flapped so badly that the material stung his legs and there was the distinct possibility that he had just swallowed a fly. As he coughed, he sincerely hoped that Sam was at West St Leonards; he didn’t think he could manage a third trip.
He was very grateful when the small station hove into view. His dismount was even shakier than before, but Foyle had enough pride left to attempt to hide his wobbly gait.
“Thank you, sergeant.”
Brooke grinned, a white split in a dusty face.
“Quite all right, sir.”
Foyle entered the station and moved through to the westbound platform, just in time to see a train pull out. His heart sank.
Foyle re-entered the office.
“Was the train that just left the ten past to Lyminster?”
The ticket clerk looked up over his half-moon glasses at him, noted the dusty and windswept appearance without comment and then glanced at the clock on the wall behind Foyle.
“Yes, sir. Next one in two hours.”
Foyle nodded his thanks and stepped back from the window to allow another passenger to buy a ticket.
What the hell am I going to do for two hours?
Sit down and think what an idiot I was for letting her go in the first place?
He sighed and rubbed his forehead, distracted enough not to notice the dust.
She’s so young. I know that I’m not a prime catch for her, but we have our desire for each other in common, and I’m sure that in time she could come to love me. She’s strong and independent, but being an unwed mother is no easy life at all and I don’t want that for her or the baby.
Foyle’s mouth lifted at one side, his pleasure requiring an outlet.
When she first told me that she wasn’t pregnant, I was too dismayed to think clearly, but in hindsight all the clues were there. The ‘off’ milk and funny-tasting tea had also been a problem to Rosalind with Andrew. The tiredness, her fair skin even paler than usual, her uncharacteristic lack of interest in food and the near-faint at my feet, all pointed to the fact that my dear Sam has lied to me.
Foyle began to feel cautiously optimistic. If Sam had lied to him – and he was fairly certain that she had – then it must mean that she cared about him enough to think that she was doing him a favour by leaving. Caring, in his book, was well on the road to love. Maybe there was hope yet.
He returned to Sergeant Brooke and sent him back to the police station; he would make his own transport arrangements to get back to Hastings.
Foyle walked back to the westbound platform, his gait slow and measured. He looked down at his dusty coat and tried to brush off some of the marks. He ran a hand over his hair and felt undressed without his hat. God knows what his face must look like; it felt gritty to the touch.
Looking up the platform, he thought for a moment that he was hallucinating.
The young woman who had just exited the Ladies Waiting Room moved away, obviously unable to hear him at this distance, but he was certain that it was her.
Foyle moved towards her, his stride neither slow nor measured.
The woman turned towards the sound of his voice.
It was her.
The instant flash of joy on her so expressive face was balm to Foyle’s soul.
Sam’s heart leapt into her throat. She felt sick, excited and dizzy all at once and her stomach churned.
She froze to the spot. She thought that if she moved one step he would vanish and her fantasy would be broken.
Foyle hesitated when she went white, but then his stride gained new resolution. He would not take ‘no’ for an answer.
He was so completely in love with her that his whole body ached with it.
“What are you doing here?”
Well, that didn’t come out quite the way he was expecting.
Still pale, Sam smiled.
“I seem to have missed my train.”
Foyle gave a dry look past Sam to the empty platform.
“I can see that, but I meant, what are you doing here?”
Sam’s eyes, the mirrors of her turbulent soul, still sparkled.
He was here, he had come for her!
“Trying to catch a train home. Not too successfully, as you can see.”
Sam gazed hungrily at him, not bothering to hide how she felt.
Foyle felt the heat run up his face at Sam’s expression. He was rock hard in a moment and had difficulty concentrating on what he was attempting to say.
Sam took in his appearance, intrigued by the dishevelled look of a man usually so immaculately turned out.
“Why are you so…” she thought better of what she was going to say, “Well, I hate to say it, but you look unusually…dusty?”
Foyle half grimaced.
“Well, my bloody driver ran off, so I had to get here on a motorbike. Lost my favourite hat.”
After a shocked moment, Sam burst out laughing, holding a hand up to her mouth in a futile attempt to control herself.
Foyle felt a smile pulling at his face at her amusement. It was lovely to hear her laugh again.
Sam continued to laugh, so much so that tears started to run down her cheeks, until suddenly they became real tears and all the pent up tension of the last few weeks flooded out of her.
Foyle took a pristine white handkerchief from an inside pocket and handed it to her before gathering her into his embrace, gently pulling her under his coat. Resting his head against the top of hers, he let her cry it all out until the sobs turned to hiccups.
“Sam, I know that you said you couldn’t be with me without love, but I think what we have is special and worth nurturing.”
He felt her stiffen in his arms and wondered again if he was doing the right thing for her.
“I’m sure in time love could grow given half a chance, and I want to give it all the time it needs.”
Foyle encouraged her to look at him. Even with red eyes and a blotchy face she was achingly beautiful.
“I’m not Clark Gable, but my heart is sincere. I know I made a complete botch of my proposal, but it wasn’t because I didn’t want to marry you, I did…I do…but I just hadn’t intended to mention it until later…much later, possibly years. Once I’d plucked up the courage. Once I’d found out whether or not you could ever love me.”
Sam was held captive in the still blue pools that were her loves eyes. Hope blossomed in her heart just as heat blossomed elsewhere. She was happily aware of the aroused state of him and snuggled closer under the privacy of his coat. She savoured his masculine scent and the warmth and security of his arms.
“I don’t want Clark Gable, I want you. I’ve wanted you for a long time.”
Foyle’s expression was a mixture of amusement and gratitude.
“I want you too, and that’s a start. But I need you to know something, and while I appreciate that this could put a burden on you, I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t become one.”
He looked in Sam’s warm dark eyes and suddenly it seemed so much easier to say it.
“I love you.”
Sam stared at him in amazement.
Foyle looked rueful.
“I know, it came as a shock to me too, but I can’t help how I feel. I’ll still abide by your decision, but I thought that you should have all the facts.”
Sam was still looking at him as if mesmerised. He really wished that she would say something.
“I’d rather I’d spoken to your father first, but I find that I can’t wait. Would you -”
Sam pressed her fingers against his lips, preventing him from completing his sentence. Foyle’s heart sank. He’d blown it; she couldn’t bring herself to take the chance. Well, he couldn’t really blame her.
After a lifetime-sized moment or two, Sam managed to speak.
“I need…before I…”
She swallowed with a gulp, her grip on her emotions fragile.
“I have to know something.”
Foyle gave a single nod.
Sam’s smile was tremulous, but determined.
“When you were ill, you cried out in your sleep; ‘Please don’t let her die!’. The pain in your voice about the loss of Rosalind was so deep, so real and so raw, that I don’t know if I can…share…that with you. I know that you loved her so much and that you still miss her, but I need to know that when you are with me, you don’t feel that you are betraying her.”
Feeling as though he were balanced on a knife edge, with his future dependant on the results, Foyle cast his mind back. What Sam was saying rang a bell with him, but he didn’t recall it the same way. He frowned in concentration.
“It’s difficult to remember much of that time…did I say anything else?”
Sam nodded; she would never forget.
“You cried out ‘Rosalind loved me, you’re not her, go away, dear God stop this torment’.”
Spoken without the passion behind them, just by rote, Foyle realised just how much sorrow the words had brought to Sam, and how often she must have heard them in her head. He held her closer still as he recalled the vivid dream of Rosalind’s corpse clutching at him. It had taken weeks to put the nightmare behind him.
“I did remember something of it when I woke up; fragments only, but I do vividly remember that you dying of the anthrax and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.”
Her eyes filled again when Sam realised what he meant.
“You…you were dreaming about me? Not about Rosalind?”
Foyle nodded, his voice low.
“Losing Rosalind was terrible; it nearly broke me, but losing you...I don’t even want to think of the possibility.”
Sam looked at him, a dawning sense of wonder in her eyes.
“All that pain, all that anguish…that was for me?”
Foyle frowned, aware of the pressure he was unintentionally putting on her.
“I promised that my love won’t be a burden to you, so please don’t feel sorry for me, or God forbid, pity me. I couldn’t bear that.”
Sam hugged him close.
“The only sorrow I feel is for keeping you waiting and the only pity I feel is for the time we’ve lost that we could have spent together.”
Feeling very bold for such a public place, Sam pulled Foyle towards her so that she could reach his lips. With her heart pounding, she kissed him as if her life depended on it.
Which, of course, it did.
As Foyle returned her kiss a shimmering warmth started to unfolded inside him for the first time since Rosalind died and it did not cease when finally they broke apart.
For a long moment, they just simply looked at each other and marvelled.
“Something we should clear up quickly, so we can get back to the kissing thing. Just so you know, when I said that ‘I couldn’t without love’ I was talking about your love, not mine. I already knew that I loved you. Have done for a long time, possibly even before you rescued me at Bexhill. You were the first person I thought of in my hour of need.”
Foyle the detective picked up the most relevant fact. With a dry smirk he leaned in next to her ear.
“You realise that’s the first time you’ve told me that you love me.”
Sam’s eyes danced.
“No, just the first time out loud while you’ve been conscious.”
Foyle’s lips twitched up at one side.
“Riiight. Something else to clear up quickly too, though only for clarification, not expediency.”
Foyle thought about his extensively revised proposal plans but then threw them out of the window.
“Marry me, please?”
Sam’s eyes gleamed happily, but she needed to be certain that he knew what he was getting in to.
“Are you sure you want to take me on? Or are you just doing the right thing?”
Foyle refused to be alarmed.
“Yes, I’m sure I want to take you on, and while I’m absolutely certain it’s the wrong thing for you to do, I hope you’ll do it anyway. Even though you could do so much better than me.”
Sam looked mock exasperated.
“Clark Gable’s busy with Carole Lombard, so you’ll just have to be a man and step up.”
“I’m old enough to be -”
Tugging on his coat lapels, Sam stopped his lips with hers.
“But you’re not. You don’t think of me as a daughter, do you?”
Foyle’s expression moue’d with distaste.
“Christ, Sam, if I thought about my daughter the way I think about you, I’d have to arrest myself.”
“Really? How marvellous!”
As usual Foyle had to bring the subject matter back on track.
“Is that a ‘yes’ then?”
Sam’s conscience smote her and her smile slipped fractionally as she remembered what else she had to clear up.
“One more thing, I have to confess to a fib. And it’s a whopper.”
Not in the least fazed, Foyle’s expression softened and his smile was gentle.
“You’re carrying our child.”
Sam’s initial surprise gave way to sheepishness.
“I should have guessed that you would know. I can’t hide anything from you.”
“You would do well to remember that, Miss Stewart.”
Foyle’s small lop-sided smirk did not reveal the truth.
“Didn’t want to marry you because you might be pregnant; I simply wanted to marry you. What I wanted was for you to have a choice about accepting me. I didn’t want you to feel that you had to marry me.”
Sam’s expression appeared regretful, but she couldn’t hide the gleam in her eyes.
“But I shall have to marry you.”
At Foyle’s raised eyebrow, she elaborated.
“Well, I can’t have you wandering around, and run the risk that someone else will snap you up, can I?”
Appearing to give it some thought, Foyle eventually agreed.
“Umm, no, I could see why we wouldn’t want that. I ought to extend the same courtesy to you, though, especially as I could get injured in the rush to take my place.”
“No, you won’t. No-one else could possibly measure up. There’s only you.”
Foyle pulled back to look in Sam’s eyes.
Sam pinched one of his favourite words.
“Yep.” She grinned cheekily. “Only you.”
Foyle dipped slightly as he nodded once.
“Can I take that as a ‘yes’ then?”
Sam nodded happily.
Foyle finally allowed himself to relax and breathe an inward sigh of relief. Turning towards the exit, and not caring what anyone else on the platform thought, he slipped his left hand into Sam’s right one.
She looked down at their joined hands and then smirked at him.
“Short engagement; I don’t think that I can bear to wait.”
Foyle looked mildly surprised.
“Really? I was thinking Special Licence; I don’t want to wait any longer than I have done already.”
Sam’s warm look combined admiration with speculation.
“Do we have to wait? Until we’re married, I mean.”
Foyle raised an eyebrow as he gave her a sideways glance.
“Yes. I behaved very badly before; I should have had more restraint. I intend to do it properly this time.”
In a prescient moment Foyle had a glimpse of what life with Sam was going to be like. She completely ignored what she did not agree with and leaned in close to him.
“It’s a bit ‘barn door after the horse has bolted’ really, isn’t it? And I do want you so much…”
Foyle was sure that he blushed as the heat ran to his face and places further south.
He coughed to cover his discomfiture – or hide his grin – and straightened his tie with his free hand.
“Where is your modesty, woman? You are quite shameless.”
“I have no modesty or shame in anything to do with you, my dear.”
Such simple words to provoke such a strong reaction. Foyle shook his head, happily resigned to his fate.
The two of them left the station and emerged onto the path outside. Foyle looked around for transport options, and then looked at the weather and the woman beside him.
It was a glorious day.
“Shall we walk? Are you feeling up to it?”
Pleased to have any excuse to have more time in his company despite the fact that she wanted to hurry back to Steep Lane and ravish him, Sam nodded.
“As my parents would say, only a small stretch of the legs; less than a couple of miles!”
That was easy for her to say; she wasn’t sporting an impressive engorgement of blood, but Foyle blessed the roomy nature of his trousers and turned towards Marine Parade.
“Nothing, I just wanted to say it aloud again.”
Foyle’s lips curved upwards as he met her eyes.
“I can see that life is going to be very interesting around you.”
“Absolutely! It will be such fun. You teaching the children how to make fishing lures, me teaching them to -”
“Change tyres and fix engines?”
“Well, I was going to say cook, but with my limited ability, you may have a point. But the girls will be taught to fish and the boys to cook. Actually, I think we should teach them -”
“Them? Just how many children do you envisage in our future?”
Sam blushed delightfully at Foyle’s mildly voiced enquiry.
“Well, given your obvious virility, I confess that I don’t know, but I suspect that there will be more than one…”
She certainly knew how to make a man feel ten feet tall.
Not given to large emotional displays, Foyle contained most of his grin as he looked down at the ground in front of him, happier than he had been in a long time.
“Speaking of which, how are you feeling? Have you been to see your doctor?”
“I’m fine, quite well in between the other bits…and no, not yet.”
“Falling asleep at the drop of a hat, things tasting funny and tingly bre...umm, that’s mostly it at the moment. I haven’t seen the doctor because I was trying to keep things under my hat anyway, but also because I wasn’t sure where I would be seeing the doctor.”
Foyle tutted softly, a quick nip at his lower lip.
“We’ll get you to your doctor as soon as possible; make sure that you are both all right. You should also see him to get a certificate for your green ration book.”
Sam frowned in puzzlement.
“Green? But they’re a buff colour.”
Foyle rubbed at his forehead with his right hand, and then rubbed the fingers and thumb together to get rid of the dust. He’s almost forgotten his bike ride.
“Umm. Expectant women get an extra ration book; more food, fruit juice, milk, vitamins, and an extra seventy blue clothing coupons for baby clothes.”
Fascinated, Sam stopped dead and by dint of their connected hands, Foyle stopped too.
“How do you know all this?”
Foyle had the grace to look a little sheepish.
“I…erm…made a few discreet enquiries. Just in case.”
Sam laughed, delighted. She felt considerably happier about how he felt about the baby, now that he had admitted that.
They resumed walking.
“So what else are you suffering with? You said ‘that’s mostly it at the moment’.”
“I’m not suffering exactly. Well, I suppose one could call it suffering, but only through lack of… Under normal circumstances, one would enjoy it. If one had help with it. So to speak.”
Still working his way through the statement, Foyle frowned.
“Is it anything that I can help you with, or do for you?”
Sam appeared quite resigned and sighed in a suspiciously dramatic fashion.
“Well, you could have, but you said that we had to wait until we were married.”
Foyle’s head came up.
In a manner very reminiscent of Joyce Grenfell, Sam strode forward, swinging their joined hands and pretending that Foyle had not reacted to her comment.
“I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait, in an agony of anticipation, for help with this…little problem.”
Having realised that he was being manipulated again, Foyle hid his smirk and played along.
“Don’t know.” He shrugged casually. “Time of war, limited resources. Busy people, doing worthy things. A Special Licence could take as long as a couple of weeks. More, if their offices get bombed.”
Sam squeaked in protest.
“A couple of weeks? I can’t wait a couple of weeks. It’s not natural. I can’t wait another minute.”
Foyle’s tone was very dry.
“That could prove quite interesting; as would spending the first night of our very short engagement in separate cells at the police station after we’re charged under the public indecency laws.”
“Public indecency, umm? That sounds promising, except I can vouch for the fact that the cell beds are little more than planks really, and not at all comfortable. Especially if you’re not going to be locked up with me.”
Foyle shook his head.
“Not on, really, is it?”
“I’ll say. You’ve really quite corrupted me. I used to be such a good girl.”
Foyle managed not to say anything aloud, but his expression spoke volumes as he looked at Sam. She protested her innocence.
“Well, I was. Now all I want to do is take you home and…do…all these things that I’ve been thinking about. The word ‘ravish’ sounds so delicious, don’t you think?”
Foyle missed his footing and almost stumbled, his concentration diverted.
How the Hell am I supposed to manage to walk the best part of a mile in a state of acutely aroused discomfort with the word ‘ravish’ running around my head?
“One of my favourites.”
Sam sidled closer to him and Foyle had to concentrate hard not to lose himself in the warm press of her breasts against his arm.
Immediately wary at her wheedling tone, Foyle raised a brow in enquiry.
“Do we have to go back to work?”
“But it’s such a nice afternoon…”
While privately Foyle agreed with her, it wouldn’t do to let the side down by taking the day off willy-nilly. Even though they weren’t too busy when he had left the station, he couldn’t just drop everything. It would set all sorts of precedents.
“No, Sam, we can’t.”
Sam’s head dipped slightly, then she flicked her gaze up to meet Foyle’s. The hot gleam in her honey-dark eyes made it difficult for him to concentrate, and the soft waft of her perfume reminded him of stolen pleasures. He watched her lips move and the buzzing in his ears didn’t entirely prevent him from hearing what Sam asked.
Quite unaware that they had stopped walking, Foyle made a huge effort to focus.
* * * * *
It was with some relief that Foyle closed the front door behind him and he resisted the urge to lean back against it.
A pleasant stroll home after a satisfying day at work was one thing, but a brisk walk - while sporting a raging erection - in the company of his newly affianced young lady was quite another.
God knows what the neighbours must be thinking.
“I thought we’d never get here.”
Her amusement was obvious as Sam shrugged out of her coat and hung it up without waiting for it to be taken from her as if she was a guest.
Foyle’s lip curved wryly as he too hung up his coat. He automatically reached for his hat until he remembered what had happened to it.
“We very nearly didn’t. I don’t know what possessed me to bring you here in the middle of the afternoon, without the car or you in uniform; the neighbours will already be speculating about what’s going on.”
Aware that his tongue was firmly in his cheek, Sam was airily dismissive.
“Oh, pooh to them, they’re only jealous. I don’t look that different without my uniform.”
As Foyle was trying hard not to imagine Sam without her uniform or, indeed, any clothing, her statement was not very helpful.
“Rest assured, you do, and while you were my driver and in uniform, certain things were taken for granted; mainly, that the proprieties were observed. Now you’re here without the Wolseley and out of uniform…”
The reality finally hit Foyle and he swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry.
Sam had turned automatically towards the kitchen as she was listening and Foyle deftly but surreptitiously adjusted his trousers for optimum comfort before following her.
Sam filled the kettle and put it on the stove, but didn’t light the gas. Foyle pursed his lips and frowned slightly in puzzlement, which Sam picked up when she turned to him.
“Tea is for later.”
Sam glided around the table and stopped right in front of him.
“Mmmm. Much later.”
If Foyle was surprised at Sam’s boldness he shouldn’t have been. But having the object of his affections so close and so available after many months of self imposed restraint, he was finding it difficult to keep up with the change in the boundaries of their relationship.
A cup of tea would have given him time to adjust. Briefly.
Sam slid her hands under Foyle’s jacket and found the buttons to his waistcoat. She started undoing them, one by one. She appeared quite unaware that the tip of her tongue was peaking out between her lips as she concentrated on her task.
Perspiration popped out on Foyle’s brow.
Tea is overrated.
Foyle brought a hand up to halt Sam’s. She looked at him, suddenly uncertain and worried that she had misjudged the situation.
“Is something wrong? As we’re here, I thought…hoped that you’d changed your mind about us having to wait.”
Foyle closed his eyes very briefly against the vision of loveliness in front of him.
Change his mind? Lord, all I can think about is pushing her back onto the kitchen table, lifting her skirt and…and…
He quickly opened his eyes before he lost himself again.
“Nnno, nothing is wrong, quite the contrary. It’s all…very…good, too good…”
Sam frowned, slightly puzzled.
Brief analogies about the difference between a sprinter and a long distance runner seemed too crass and weighty to mention right this minute, and one about fireworks – whizz, bang, aaah! – seemed a little too close to home for comfort.
Looking into Sam’s eyes made some of his concerns fall away. It wasn’t as if they had never done this before and from what he could remember, he hadn’t made too much of a hash of it last time.
Releasing her hands, Foyle shook his head. In a gesture that made Sam quiver he gently removed the few pins that held her hair back from her face and allowed the red-gold strands their freedom.
After removing his suit jacket, Foyle hung it on the back of a kitchen chair while Sam made short work of the remaining waistcoat buttons. Trying not to fumble in her haste, part of Sam was astonished at her audacity – this was DCS Foyle, her boss – but by far the bigger part of her was happily being swept along on a tide of lust.
Foyle carefully placed the hairpins on the dresser behind him, quietly amused and possibly grateful for Sam’s obvious enthusiasm.
“Would you like to go…umm…sit in the front room…?”
Sam saw it for the delaying tactic that it was. They were both probably a little nervous, but conversation in the front room wouldn’t help.
“What I would like is for you to kiss me. Then I think the rest will probably take care of itself.”
Amused, Foyle gave a small smile as he gently pulled her into his arms and leaned to do her bidding.
“How did you get to be so wise?”
Just before their lips met, Sam murmured.
“I asked a policeman.”
The first kiss was a tender salute, the soft pressure of a loving ‘hello’.
Almost without thought, the next kiss quickly deepened into the recognition of a lover. When Foyle’s tongue stroked Sam’s lower lip seeking entrance, her lips were already parting to welcome him back.
It’s about time too!
Pulling her close, Foyle kissed and caressed her with all the pent up emotion that had been held back for weeks. His initial fear that Sam would feel overwhelmed was very quickly set aside by her ardent response and they didn’t stop until the need for breath was making him dizzy.
When the fog cleared for a moment, Foyle realised that Sam was trembling, but even as the thought formed in his head, she muttered under her breath.
“Heavens, I’m shaking; it’s all just so…so…wonderful.”
Sam looked at Foyle as if she couldn’t quite believe that it was finally happening.
It was all so good – his mouth, his hands and the way their bodies fitted against each other. Sam could feel his attention pressing against the juncture of her thighs and she felt the desire run through her veins like liquid fire.
It was even better than she remembered. She gasped when Foyle’s lips found the sensitive skin below her ear, and her legs shook as she tried and failed to keep herself upright. She clutched at Foyle as she bumped backward against the table and took advantage of its support.
Foyle followed, his thighs nudging hers apart so that he could remain balanced but close. He felt Sam’s hands roam across his back then dip down to clutch at his backside, before flying back up to his shoulders. Briefly letting her go, Foyle shrugged out of his waistcoat and removed his tie, allowing them to fall to the floor unheeded. Then he was kissing her again, holding her close as his tongue slipped into her mouth and one of his hands slid under her cardigan. He heard her moan deep in her throat as he smoothed his palm over a breast. Fearing that he had hurt her, he started to pull back, but relaxed again when he felt her follow him and push herself into his hand.
Eventually a bubble of sanity forced its way to the surface and Foyle reluctantly broke off from yet another scorching kiss.
“Umm, upstairs? Wouldn’t you be more comfortable…?”
Sam’s gaze darted to the table behind her and the man standing between her legs. Even while still clothed, the prominent ridge of his arousal against her most private place made thinking difficult and the idea of walking under her own steam impossible.
The mixture of inexperience and boldness was very appealing to Foyle; he found it very sensual. Her suggestion was so in tune with his thoughts earlier that he had no serious intention of refusing her.
Sam had obviously decided that silence gives assent, and the next thing Foyle felt was her hand at the waist of his trousers. Seconds later he heard an impatient mutter.
“How do I…?”
Foyle gave up trying to be the voice of reason about comfortable beds and instead assisted Sam’s progress with the troublesome buttons.
She seemed grateful.
Sam wanted to touch him all over. Since their abortive encounter the night Andrew had come home and interrupted them, she had felt incomplete; as if she was missing part of herself. Now that shimmering anticipation readied her for him and she didn’t want to wait any longer.
While Sam was occupied Foyle got busy with the small mother of pearl buttons on the front of her dress. They ran from neck to hem and he was relieved to find that they slipped open quite easily, which was fortunate as Sam was making his task far more difficult by distracting him with her questing hands.
When the last couple of buttons yielded to her meddling, Sam was grateful to feel Foyle’s trousers begin to slip down of their own accord just about the same time that she realised that her dress was now open down to her waist, revealing her silk slip.
Smiling, they both took a moment to enjoy their handiwork. Sam leaned back on her hands and her smile widened to a grin as she looked up at Foyle.
Come and get me!
Nothing loath, Foyle slowly leaned forward over her and kissed his way down her neck. He leant on his hands, either side of hers on the table, and touched her only with his lips. He heard her small excited moans as he drew one of her taut, silk-clad nipples into his mouth.
Sam felt a storm of sensation whirl through her as Foyle’s hot, clever mouth teased and tasted her. When he moved to her other breast the contrast between the new heat and the cold wet silk was so much more intense. She whimpered with her need for him and arched up, trying to push against him.
Foyle paid reverence to each breast several times until Sam was convinced that he was trying to drive her mad. When he finally nibbled and licked his way back up to her mouth, she was panting. She slipped a hand between their bodies and was thrilled when she found him hard and straining against his briefs. She ran her hand over the cotton material and his sharp intake of breath let her know that she was on the right track.
When Sam’s hand slipped inside his clothing and grasped him, Foyle lost any sense of the outside world. His universe began and ended here with her. Unable to wait any longer, he slid a hand up one silk clad leg and under the edge of her dress. He heard Sam gasp the moment that his fingers made contact with the bare flesh at the top of her stocking and felt the involuntary contraction of her hand on him.
It was difficult to concentrate, but he forced himself to do so.
A tiny sliver of uncertainty crossed his mind as he searched Sam’s eyes, but what he saw in them allayed all his fears; a maturity beyond her years coupled with the certainty of youth. She was intoxicating.
Foyle didn’t need the urgently whispered reminder. Her rich feminine scent called to him and he felt powerless to resist.
His other hand followed the first under the hem of the dress. His fingers trailed slowly, savouring the journey as if unwrapping a long-awaited gift. Foyle could feel the intermittent tremble of Sam’s thighs, but didn’t mistake it for fear – he was trembling a little himself.
Sam barely heard Foyle’s mutter, sotto voce as it was, but she appreciated it all the same. It wasn’t just the utterance of the word though; it was what he made her feel that brought the flush to her face and chest.
Sam reluctantly let go of Foyle and placed them both hands back on the kitchen table to steady herself before her legs gave way. She fought to keep her eyes open; they kept drifting shut as she felt wave after wave of sensation pulse through her. How could he do this just by the lightest of caresses along her thighs?
Her senses had become heightened to such a degree that her clothing felt rough and she wanted to rip it off just so that he could touch her unimpeded. Sam grabbed a fistful of Foyle’s shirt to pull him closer and into another bone-melting kiss.
Foyle followed her lead, allowing her to set the pace. Each kiss led to the next until they were seamlessly linked, a stage in the dance as old as time. Eventually though, it wasn’t enough. They clutched at each other, trying to get closer still. Foyle pulled his head back so that he could see Sam’s face as he moved his hands under her slip. A moment later he touched the edge of her underwear and saw the leap of arousal in her eyes. Without breaking the eye contact he hooked his fingers in her knickers and purposefully pulled.
Sam’s pupils grew large and breath caught in her throat. She could feel the slither of damp silk against her legs and the cool air moving over her newly exposed skin. It felt very wicked to be standing in Christopher’s kitchen while he helped her step out of her knickers. It was very odd; everything seemed to be happening so slowly, but her heart was racing nineteen to the dozen. She could already feel the pressure beginning to build inside and he’d barely touched her; she didn’t want this to be over, but she thought that she may very possibly die if he didn’t do something very soon.
Foyle was of a similar mind, did he but know it. He wasn’t the hero in a three penny novel, just a real man with a real man’s feelings and desires faced with a beautiful woman who wanted him. He also had a perfectly natural fear that the minute he and Sam were together it would last about four seconds, and he wanted to make sure that she was happy first. The fact that he was achingly aroused almost to the point of pain was irrelevant.
Discarding Sam’s –
Don’t think of her knickers.
- underwear, to fall on his clothing on the floor, he pushed Sam’s dress aside so that he could see her unencumbered.
Foyle’s breathing quickened as he studied her, legs spread, her stockings in dark contrast to the pale flesh of her thighs. The deep-red curls glistened invitingly as Sam leant back on her hands, waiting for him. Ignoring the pulse of arousal that made his whole body throb, Foyle’s hand completed its journey, unerringly touching the part of her that needed him the most.
Sam jerked as if shot and her breath hissed out ‘yessss’. She was aching for him now; needed him inside her because she could feel it building, the spiralling pressure that pushed all else before it. She didn’t want it to happen without him, not now.
Foyle would have explained his concerns, but he was left in no doubt as to Sam’s feelings on the matter; she tugged down the last remaining barrier between them and took hold of him. He gritted his teeth at the new wave of pleasure her touch brought and he shuddered, almost losing control. As tactfully as possible he freed himself to move firmly between her thighs.
There was a split second of thrilling anticipation for Sam as she felt his arousal nudging against her, blindly seeking, but then suddenly he was there.
Instinctively Sam lifted her hips to meet him; Foyle slid into her slowly, captivated by the expression on her face. She felt so good, so right, and as he sank into her, inch by inch, she held him tight, and it felt like coming home. In a moment her possession was complete and they both gasped with the pleasure of it.
Foyle’s thoughts echoed Sam’s sentiments as he buried himself in her, but he had no concentration spare to speak. He held her secure with one arm whilst the other braced them both as he moved in her. Fully sheathed, he didn’t want to hurry but he couldn’t help himself. He was hanging on by the slenderest of threads but mercifully Sam seemed to share his dilemma. Her arms clung around his shoulders as her hips hitched to his, and she whispered frantically.
“Now, it’s now!”
Foyle could feel her straining against him as he plunged into her heated depths, and then, thankfully, he felt the tell-tale ripples of her muscles clenching and releasing; she froze beneath him and her insides stroked him as he continued to thrust into her.
Sam flung her head back, her arms tightly holding Foyle as wave after wave of intense pleasure radiated throughout her body, pushing her higher and higher until it felt as if she was flying.
Someone, somewhere, was shouting ‘oh God’.
Hearing Sam’s cries of ecstasy snapped Foyle’s last vestige of control; his own orgasm exploded on the tail end of hers and he groaned as he shuddered into her, his face buried into her neck as his seed spilled into her.
For several long moments, nothing could be heard except for the harsh rasp of heavy breathing.
It was a moot point who recovered first, but Foyle suspected that it was Sam. By the time he could see straight and had brought his head back enough to focus on her, there was a wide grin splitting her face. He couldn’t resist smiling back as she declared breathlessly.
“That was rather…magnificent!”
Foyle nodded, feeling his heart still thunder in his chest. They were still clinging together; Sam rested against the edge of table with one foot on the floor, her other leg only now sliding to the ground. She released the handfuls of shirt that she hadn’t remembered crushing in her grip and cupped Foyle’s face.
“I see what people mean now when they talk about feeling the earth move!”
His heart tight with strong emotion that he didn’t know how to deal with, Foyle resorted to his dry humour and glanced down behind Sam.
“Well, the table certainly did.”
Sam looked behind her, shocked but unrepentant, and laughed with delight. She understood only too well how difficult he found it to express himself aloud, but they had the rest of their lives to practice. She flung her arms around Foyle and hugged him before pulling back and kissing him soundly.
“I love you so much, and I’ll never tire of telling you, so you better get used to it!”
As the two of them looked at each other the exuberant humour subsided naturally, to be replaced with quiet acceptance. Foyle delicately moved a strand of hair off Sam’s face, trailing his fingers down her cheek.
“You amaze me. You make me believe in miracles, if that makes any sense.”
Sam’s eyes filled as she looked at him.
“You and me is the only thing that does make sense in this crazy world.”
Foyle’s already full heart welled up and overflowed. Whatever life threw at them in the future, they would deal with it together.
“I love you.”
Sam tipped her head to rest against his hand and then kissed his palm. He felt it clear down to his toes and unbelievably he felt himself twitch in response. Sam held his gaze, her eyes mischievous.
She kissed him, soft at first, but then with increasing fervour.
“…and that’s my miracle.”
* * * * *
Much later, when the dark March evening had drawn in, Foyle was aroused from a light doze by Sam easing out of his sleepy embrace. When she realised that she had woken him, she apologised quietly.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes; I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Where are you going?”
As they had fallen asleep before putting the blackout up, the moonlight illuminated Sam’s grin.
“Downstairs. I’m starving.”
Foyle couldn’t help it.