Shadow on the Sun Ch.10: Into the Blue by Nils Durban

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SUMMARY: In which Sleet confronts his destiny...... Interlude I follows this chapter

"Some unknown factor has precipitated this, Rolf."

"Sorry, Rector? I don't follow you."

"This is the second time that your men have followed Mr. Perry to a meeting with Sleet James. The first occasion we put down to youthful exuberance, an eagerness to impress. And it suited my purposes at the time. This second rendezvous, however, was pre-arranged. The two of them are in contact."

"Then he has betrayed our trust - told James about our operation."

"Doubtful, Rolf. He's young and rash, but he's seen how we run things. If he felt that he could have compromised himself he'd be about a thousand miles away by now and not sat in a room just down the hall. Something else is going on here - something that we are unaware of."

"Something to do with the creatures?"

"Tell me again, Rolf. How was Perry when he emerged from the cell? Did he appear changed in any way?"

"I don't know about changed. He was certainly a bit shaken, but who wouldn't be?"

"Mmmm, who wouldn't be. Do you like jigsaws, Rolf?."

"Jigsaws? I've...ah...never..."

"I enjoy a good jigsaw. What I find most interesting about them, however, is something that most people find particularly frustrating. It is the fact that you do not necessarily require all the pieces in order to visualise the complete picture. And those missing pieces, Rolf - by understanding exactly where and how they fit, you can know them intimately."

"There's nothing you can do here, Helen," Sleet had told her. "Just go where you are needed. And please, don't worry about me, okay? I'm sure everything will work out fine."

Helen had received the call from the hospital just after midday. Her Aunt, Kevin O'Mara's sister, had apparently suffered some kind of a fall - the details were unclear - and had been collected from her home, where she resided alone, by ambulance. Kevin himself was away, on the annual O'Mara's excursion to the Cheltenham Festival, where he, and the other regulars, would be settling into a three day long existence that consisted of propping up the bar in the Guinness tent, interspersed with forays to the bookies or the tote and, every once in a while, a glimpse of an actual horse.

Propping up their own bar, Sleet had convinced her that it was pointless ringing her father. It would worry him unnecessarily and there was absolutely nothing at all he could do from the other side of the country, especially considering the state that he was probably in. It would be far better if she went to the hospital herself to assess the situation and to ensure that all that could be done for her Aunt, was being done.

She had reluctantly agreed and had called a taxi for herself, but only after remonstrating with him, insistent that he not put himself in harm's way during his upcoming encounter.

"Just don't do anything stupid, okay? Or anything dangerous, 'else you'll be answering to me!"

"Yes, boss!"

And then, after a close embrace and a lingering kiss, she was gone.

The previous afternoon and evening had been spent in the unusually quiet bar.

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