Soon after nine o’clock the following morning, Berry arrived with three workmen and a lorry load of timber.

I kept clear of him as I was in a poisonous mood, still
furious with Bill and irritated almost to exasperation by Ann’s
worried quietness.

I knew the main reason for my mood was because I
hadn’t seen Gloria since the party. I expected her to come in for her car, and every time anyone did come into the garage, I dived out of the office, hoping it would be her, until I was ready to walk up a wall.

I was also worried that Bill had seen through me so
easily. If I were as transparent as all that it wouldn’t be long before Ann ceased to be taken in by my lies, and then I didn’t like to think what would happen.

The noise of hammering didn’t help my nerves, and the
racket the three workmen made was really something to hear.
But it was surprising the progress they made during the day.

By evening all the uprights were in position and a work bench had been assembled.

They knocked off work around six o’clock, and after they
had gone, I went down to have a word with Berry.
“You certainly kept them at it. They’ve made a pretty
good start, haven’t they?”
He gave me a long stare, then nodded.

“It’s got to be ready by Friday. When Ed wants a thing,
he gets it.”
“Looks as if it will be ready by Friday.”

He grunted. I could see he didn’t particularly want to talk to me.

“I never asked him: what’s the name of your outfit?”
His eyes shifted.
“Then you’d better ask him. I’m just a stooge around
here.” He pushed his hat to the back of his head and
grimaced. “Well, I guess I’ll be shoving along.”
“Come across the road and have a quick one before you
He shook his head.

“No, thanks. I’ve got a date.
He began dusting himself down as he moved towards
the Humber he had parked near Gloria’s Jaguar.
“Seen Gloria lately?”
He shot me a blank stare.
I felt my face go hot.
“Gloria Selby.”
“Saw her last Saturday, same as you. Why?”
“Just wondered. She doesn’t use her car much, does
“Worry you?”
I forced a laugh.
“No: just seems a waste of a nice bus.”

“That’s her business, isn’t it? Well, I’ll be shoving. So
He got into the Humber, backed it out and drove away,
leaving me feeling foolish and angry.

That had been a mistake, I told myself, as I walked back
to the office. I shouldn’t have mentioned Gloria to him.

I sat down, lit a cigarette and stared at the top of the
desk. I tat like that for several minutes, then my hand went out and I picked up the telephone book. I thumbed through it.

Selby. A Selby, George. Selby, Gloria. I repeated her number
half aloud, then I got up, went to the door leading to the stairs, opened it a few inches and listened.

I could hear Ann moving about in the sitting-room. I listened for several minutes, then closed the door again, and returned to the desk. My heart began to bang against my ribs as I dialled Gloria’s number.

I sat listening to the burr-burr-burr on the line. Then I heard another sound: footsteps on the stairs, and in a panic, I dropped the receiver back on its cradle.

The office door opened and Ann came in.
“I’ll take the ledger upstairs. I can start it while I’m waiting for the potatoes to boil.”
“It’s over there.”
I felt her eyes on me although I didn’t look up.
“Is anything the matter, Harry?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sorry, there’s no need to shout, darling. I thought you
looked . . .”
“I wasn’t shouting.” I got up. “May as well close for the

Still without looking at her, I walked out of the office. I
hadn’t taken more than four steps when the telephone rang.

I turned quickly, then stopped myself from making a mad rush
to the desk.
Ann picked up the receiver.
“Harry Collins: can I help you?”
I stood watching her, my mouth suddenly dry. I saw her frown.

“Hello? Hello?” She looked up and met my eyes and
shrugged. “Hello?” She waited a few seconds, then replaced
the receiver. “Must have been cut off. There’s no one there.”

Had Gloria tried to get through? Had she hung up when
she had heard Ann’s voice? Why couldn’t Ann keep out of the
office? Why the h*ell had she come in at this moment?

I walked down the garage. She followed me. I didn’t look
round. As I began to pull the double doors shut, I saw she was looking at the work that had been done during the day.

“They have got on well, haven’t they?”
“I suppose they have.”
I had shut the doors now, and we stood side by side in,
the gloomy barn-like garage, looking at the white, new-timber and the work bench.

“Harry, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. What do you mean?”
She looked at me, smiling uneasily.

“But, darling, there must be something wrong. You’ve
been so strange: not a bit your usual self. I know I annoyed
you yesterday: I’m sorry about that. Don’t let’s go on like this any more.”

“There’s nothing wrong. For goodness’ sake, don’t fuss.
Hadn’t you better get cracking on that ledger? It’s nearly
twenty to seven.”

“All right.” I knew she was looking at me, but I wouldn’t
meet her eyes. I was still wondering if it had been Gloria who had rung, and if she would ring again. “Harry, darling . . .”

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