“Hey, mum. It’s Kate. How are you?” Kate asked into her phone.
“Oh, Katie. Where are you and when are you back? I need to let D.I Thompson know. Your very annoying friend Ellie went to the police and now they want to know that you are safe. I don’t know why they don’t listen to me, after all.” Lady Stane said almost in one breath.
“Yes, I’m fine.” Kate said looking at Ryder, who was stroking her hand.
“Good, good. So when are you coming home?”
“Umm, still not sure on that one, but I’ll call Ellie in a minute, ok.”
“Good. Well make sure you tell her that everything is ok?” Lady Stane demanded. “And tell her to take down those posters she’s put up around Camden. I am sick of the locals asking me if everything is alright.”
“Yes, of course I will mum.” Kate sighed. “Mum,” Kate continued.
“Ummm,” Kate winced as Ryder pulled her little finger back, cracking the knuckles, “thanks for talking to me.”
“Well I’d rather talk to you in person. The police are not going to be happy that I haven’t seen you.”
Kate looked at Ryder, “Ok, well I should have a better idea next week.” Ryder nodded and released the pressure on her finger.
“Well, bye mum.”
“Good bye Kate.”
The sound of the dial tone reverberated around the basement room as Kate pressed the red button to hang up.
“Good work. Now to call that Ellie. Make it short, ok?” Ryder said.
+ + +
“Hey, Ellie, it’s Kate.” Kate said into her mobile, she looked nervously at Ryder.
“Kate, how are you? I have been so worried about you. Where are you, when are you back?” Ellie asked breathlessly.
“I’m fine. I’ve been staying at a friend’s house, you know things between Troy and I were really difficult, I needed a break. Sorry for standing you up at yoga.”
Ryder nodded at Kate as he stroked her hand.
“Why did you go so suddenly? I put some flyers out and a neighbour said they saw you walking down the street with your mat and then you just disappeared.”
“Oh, I had a change a of heart and went back indoors and grabbed my overnight bag instead. Sorry.” Kate said, apologising again.
“Look no that’s fine, just as long as you’re safe and good.”
Ryder wrapped his fingers around Kate’s little finger.
“Yeah, yes of course. Look I have to go but I will call again, ok?” Kate said quickly, her eyes on Ryder’s.
“Ok, well it’d be great to talk a little longer.”
“I know but I’ve got to go, sorry.”
“Ok, well, thanks for calling and letting me know everything is fine.” Ellie said slowly, trying to drag the conversation out a little longer.
“No worries, you know I’ll call you back. I really appreciate that you have been worried, I’m so sorry,” Kate said, “bye then.”
“Good girl, you did very well.” Ryder said, releasing her pinky.
Kate breathed out and waited for Ryder to tell her what they were going to do next.
+ + +
“Wow, that was weird.” Ellie said as she put the phone down. She looked at Mike who was drying the dishes from their cooked breakfast.
“How is she?” Mike asked.
“It didn’t sound like her.”
“Was it Kate?”
“Yes, but she didn’t sound her usual self. She kept saying sorry and I’ve never heard Kate say sorry before.” Ellie said a concerned look on her face.
“When is she calling back?” Mike asked.
“She didn’t say. I’m really concerned about her, where is she? She doesn’t know when she’ll be back. It’s just wrong.”
“Look at least you heard from her. As everyone seems to be saying this is typical for her, just relax now, ok?”
“Mmm, but Kate never says sorry!”
Mike looked at Ellie, “lets get these plates cleaned up, then head out. That’ll take your mind off things here.”
Ellie nodded, deep in thought.
+ + +
Ellie returned from their walk around Camden Markets alone. Mike was on night shifts all week, so had left to get ready.
As she slipped off her shoes her phone rang.
“Hi Emma, how are you?”
“Hey Ellie, good. Just reminding you that the dinner party tonight starts at 6pm. Are you still okay to come?”
Ellie pulled a face, she had forgotten that Emma had asked them to dinner last weekend.
“Um, yeah of course, but Mike’s working nights this week, so it’ll just be me.”
“Oh, well good but I need to let you know that Rob’s invited Sergio.”
“Oh, great. Why?”
“Well, he’s been working with Sergio on the customs stuff for his imports from Italy and he forgot that you two weren’t together anymore.” Emma said. “I’ll make sure you’re seated at opposite ends of the table.”
“Okay, well I’ll see you at six then. What shall I bring?”
“Just yourself.” Emma said, “see you then.”
Ellie hung up and contemplated what she would wear, an evening with her ex was not her idea of fun, but she wanted to talk to Emma about the call from Kate.
+ + +
Ellie knocked on the heavy wooden door of Emma’s imposing house. She loved coming to Emma’s house it was so welcoming and if she had the money she would have something similar herself.
As she waited she straightened the slim fitting dress she had picked to wear. It was made from silk in navy blue and with a suitably low neck line to show some cleavage.
She recalled the last time she was here when D.I Thompson had interviewed them about Kate’s stabbing, that seemed like a life time ago but was only last month.
“Hey, Ellie. It’s good to see you,” Robert said finally answering the door. He gave her a hug and before stepping aside to let her in, “I suppose you know about my guffaw? Inviting Sergio. Sorry.”
“Oh, that’s okay. It’s always good to see you and Emma and Sergio always got on so well with you both.” Ellie smiled allowing Robert to take her light jacket and hang it on the coat rack.
Ellie walked into the kitchen where Emma was working on a dish for their meal.
Susie was sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar, “Hey Ellie, how are you?” she asked as she hugged Ellie.
“Good, how are you? You look amazing.” Ellie said looking at Susie’s tiny frame and the perfectly fitting jeans and sequin tank.
“Hey Emma, how are you?” Ellie said, giving her a hug and kiss, avoiding the goop on Emma’s fingers.
“Hi Ellie, just finishing off the starter.”
Ellie sat at the breakfast bar next to Susie while Emma to wash her hands. She poured another glass of wine and handed it to Ellie.
“So how have you been?” Emma asked Ellie.
“Good, Mike and I are going along okay. He’s lovely and putting up with my obsession over Kate’s disappearance.”
“Oh, yeah. Have you heard from her?”
“Yeah actually she called this morning.” Ellie pulled a concerned face.
“That’s good news?” Emma said noticing Ellie’s expression.
“Yeah, well as Mike said at least she’s not dying in the gutter somewhere. But it didn’t sound like Kate.”
“Are you saying someone was impersonating her?” Emma asked, incredulous.
“No, it was Kate but she didn’t sound right. She kept saying sorry and she sounded really down.”
“Yeah, not like Kate to apologise. Do you think she’s in rehab and doesn’t want to tell you? She is very private.” Susie said, looking serious.
“Mmm, possibly. Her mum said she sounded unwell the first time she spoke to her.” Ellie shared.
“What does her mum say?” Emma asked, taking a sip of her wine.
“She just wants it to go away. She doesn’t want me interfering as she puts it.” Ellie replied.
“You know how Kate can be. She can be so callous at times, but she’s not one to share her misfortune with others. Come on Ellie you need to move on with you’re own life.” Emma offered.
“Don’t forget she slept with Sergio, when you two were still going out.” Susie added.
Ellie looked at Emma, her eyes narrowing. “I’m sorry Ellie, I may have shared it with Susie, I didn’t think you’d mind.” Emma said, apologetically. “Don’t let her destroy this new relationship.” Emma said, touching Ellie’s arm. “Are you ready for dinner? Sergio’s in the dining room.”
Ellie nodded, taking a gulp of her wine as she got up.
+ + +
Emma had really outdone herself with the meal. Each course perfectly complemented the other and by desert everyone was fully satisfied.
Susie’s boyfriend, Adam, was talking intently with Sergio but Sergio turned and nodded at Ellie as she sat at the other end of the table.
Ellie felt the group was not complete without Kate and Rhys and tears began to well in her eyes, her two close friends, one dead and the other missing.
The talk around the table was comfortable despite Sergio’s presence.
“Okay, before we have desert I wanted to share our good news with my closest friends,” Emma said tapping the side of her glass, “Robert and I are having another baby.” Emma smiled broadly reaching for Robert’s hand across the table.
“Wow, that’s excellent news.” Sergio said.
“Congratulations,” Ellie said, reaching over to Emma, “you are both such good parents.”
“I am so excited but this is definitely the last one.” Emma said squeezing Robert’s hand.
Robert nodded at Emma, “she’s such a good mum I want another four,” he said, affection obvious in his eyes, “but I know our family is perfect as it is and this new life will make it complete.” He squeezed Emma’s hand back.
Ellie’s eyes began fill again as she watched the mutual affection obviously being shared between Emma and Robert.
Sergio turned to Ellie, “how is Kate now?”
“Um, I’m not sure. Kate has gone missing, well, missing from us. She’s been in touch but she doesn’t sound great.” Ellie said to Sergio.
“Good God, she’s had a bad time of this. Do you think she’s been kidnapped and held captive?” Sergio asked.
Ellie nodded, “but that sounds too melodramatic, and she’s been in touch with her mother and me.”
Sergio nodded, “I can see you are very worried about her.” He smiled at her.
Ellie felt that familiar pull in the pit of her stomach. What was wrong with her, crying at the drop of a hat and reminiscing for an ex.
Ellie looked away before Sergio read her face.
“Look, I’m in town for the next week, perhaps we can catch up?” Sergio said, obviously reading Ellie’s look.
“I’m sorry, Sergio , I have a lot on this week, work you know. And Mike and I have plans for later in the week.” Ellie said trying to cover all bases.
“Oh, Mike. I was looking forward to meeting him tonight. Where is he?”
“Um he’s on nights so not able to come.” Ellie said, feeling like she shouldn’t have to tell him anything.
“Oh, well maybe next time then, for both?”
Ellie smiled as Emma dropped the deserts in front of them.