Author: dancesabove PM
It took a serious accident to make two colleagues admit their feelings for each other - and to realize what a marvelous team they made.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 15 - Words: 50,721 - Reviews: 75 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 06-24-11 - id: 7114731
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Milner smiled at Sam in his reassuring way, trying to hide his amusement at the fact that Mr Foyle was reddening slightly, too. So it probably was as he suspected; his colleagues had been together that morning. The sergeant felt fairly confident that the two could continue to work together without letting their feelings disrupt things, but he did wonder how the Commissioner was going to take it if he found out. And consequently, just how quiet Sam and Foyle, and the rest of the station's denizens, would need to keep things.
"Good, Sam. Have a seat." Foyle gestured to the free chair in the room and Milner watched them avoid each other's eyes. "We'll go out to the Julians' presently, but I wanted you to hear what Sergeant Milner has learned about Rhys Melcent and the lot he used to hang about with."
On the drive to St Leonards, Christopher said, "We should go visit your parents, Sam. Explain to them what we've—explain to them that we wish to become engaged." (Pause.) "I want to speak to your father properly; to ask for your hand."
Sam suppressed a half-amused, half-affectionate smile at his old-fashionedness. "I hope they will understand. I shall phone them this evening to tell them we'll call on them Saturday."
"Barring any urgent case."
Foyle thought Milner had the Melcent case well in hand, but should things still be unresolved by Wednesday, he thought he might ask the younger detective if he felt more of Foyle's participation were warranted. Paul Milner had been working so well on his own over the course of these eventful few weeks that Foyle wanted to encourage his continued autonomy and help him feel more confident.
Both Christopher and Sam were quiet on the return drive, though without any sense of isolation or awkwardness. He could not resist keeping up a light contact with her, his fingers near her arm or shoulder again. Once, when he caught her eyes and was sure he would not be startling her, his hand lightly brushed her thigh and then rested there. Sam kept her eyes on the road, but a wide smile was her love's reward.
Despite his lack of sleep he kept wondering how she would react if he were to invite her to spend that night with him; the thought of her in his arms while they slept more comfortably in his wider bed gave him a little thrill, and there was one more night for which she might be away without worrying Meri. They had spoken this morning of marrying at the earliest available opportunity, but there were the Stewarts' feelings on the matter to consider. Much depended upon their reaction to the news and to the preferences of Sam's mother in regard to the ceremony and reception. Were it up to Sam, she'd assured him, she would marry him that very day if the license could be obtained.
Now Christopher cleared his throat. "My love." Her expression of melting happiness gave him a lift in his chest, and he returned it; she thought how unusual it was to see his fine straight teeth and the upward-turned version of his grin. She felt an absurd desire to kiss his smile.
I've seen him smile more in the last week than in all the months before. How beautiful it makes him!
The young woman struggled to return to the proper level of concentration on her driving, but his next words made her decide to pull over and stop behind the next available hedge.
"Won't you come home with me tonight?" he whispered. "If you're as tired as I am, we'd best just sleep, but I keep hoping you'll say yes anyway. It's so hard to know when we'll be free to be as open about all this as we'd like to be, but last night was just... just..." he couldn't think of the most apposite word.
Sam laid her hand softly alongside his face. "I'd miss you so much more than ever tonight," she told him. "Of course I shall. I want to kiss you as we stand beside the bed, just as we did the first time… only this time we can stay in that room and go on and on if we want to."
He shut his eyes in ecstasy at the thought. A good 10 minutes had passed before Sam neatened her hair and started the engine once again.
At the sharp rap on his office door a few hours later, Christopher, not taking his eyes from the file he was perusing, called, "Come in."
He glanced up to find the Reverend Iain Stewart standing in his doorway, his kindly face beaming at he prospect of surprising his daughter with a visit. Just in front of him was a lady that Foyle would guess to be only a few years older than himself. Her expression reminded him very much of one he often saw in Samantha's face, though the eyes were decidedly melancholy.
"Good afternoon, Mr Foyle," Reverend Stewart greeted him warmly, peering over his perfectly round spectacles, "I hope you are well? Good. Allow me to introduce you to Mrs Stewart—my wife, Gillian."
Foyle tried to keep down a mounting sensation of unease. He had stood as soon as he saw Sam's parents; now he even stumbled slightly as he moved forward around his desk to greet them.
Mrs Stewart seemed rather shy and not inclined to meet his eyes, but he could tell as soon as he shifted his gaze back to Sam's father that she was carefully scrutinizing his face.
"Forgive us for arriving without notice," said the soft-spoken vicar," but we learned rather suddenly of the death of the son of a former parishioner who lives here in Hastings. I felt it best that we visit her as soon as possible, so we decided to look in on Samantha. And Mrs Stewart has been interested in meeting you since last we spoke."
How well Foyle remembered. The way his heart had stirred with hope when Sam's father told him how much she enjoyed working with him. How carefully he had to compose his thoughts in the interest of keeping her there without revealing how much he cared for his young driver even then. When he and Sam had arrived later that day at the station to find that Reverend Stewart was there to collect his daughter, Foyle could not bear to have her leave that suddenly. Possibly he could have got one of the constables or sergeants to drive him to Graeme's, but instead he had recklessly told Sam's father that he "couldn't have her yet," and off they went.
It meant a great deal to Sam that Christopher had emphatically told her father she was important; that she was needed. She'd tried to hold back tears of pride as she haltingly told her boss this, fearing they might become tears of sadness any moment. Later she revealed to him that her father's own experience of helping Milner identify the Berot piece changed his mind about allowing her to stay. He had seen firsthand that it was a more important job than he had imagined, and it was probably plain to him as well that she would be deeply unhappy to leave it. Reverend Stewart also opined to Sam that both the men with whom she worked most closely were trustworthy and seemed protective of her; he was "sure she was in safe hands."
A vivid image of his young lover in his hands flitted across Foyle's mind now, and he had to dispel it rapidly as he tried surreptitiously to gulp.
Sam had to remind herself to close her mouth when she finished reading the letter she had found upon stopping by Meri's house to pick up a few items for the night.
Dear Miss Stewart,
Thank you for attending my gala on Saturday; what a great pleasure it was to meet you. I just want to say again how glad it has made me to know that Christopher has you in his life; he is so deserving of happiness, and it is clear that you are making him very happy.
Would you be free to join me for tea in Hastings on 8 March? I am working on a new book—a detective novel, actually!—and one of the characters is a young woman in a wartime job, getting used to the world of work and the experiences of a south coast town. I have not quite worked out whether she assists a detective, or even whether the town will be named as Hastings (though I do have another dear friend who lives here, and I visit often), but I wondered if you would mind very much my interviewing you about your job so that I might base the character in part upon you.
I do hope your stay in London continued to be peaceful and pleasant. I have enclosed my card in case you would care to confirm by telephone.
Very truly yours,
She was so excited and honoured at this prospect that she could scarcely wait to tell Christopher. Gathering a nightgown and change of clothes for the following day, and glancing with a delicious shiver at the bed where she had not got enough sleep the night before, Sam clambered down the stairs.
It was dark by the time she arrived back at the station to collect Christopher, and as she hurried in to tell him her news, she thought about the morning she had been a bit late to work after her date with Tony. Where she had expected Mr Foyle to be sternly disapproving, she found he merely asked if she'd had a good time. She smiled as she remembered: then he'd given her the most sweetly conspiratorial look after asking her if she wanted a cup of tea, when she really should have been the one to bring him the one he was sipping.
There was no one about; the corridor was dimly lit, but Christopher's door stood ajar and Sam sprang cheerfully into the golden light of his office, exclaiming, "Darling! Just wait until you hear—"
Samantha halted with a sharp intake of breath. Oh, no…
Her father and mother were standing aghast, looking from their daughter to her boss and then back again. Of all her self-conscious blushes today, this was by far the most scarlet; she could feel the heat radiating from her cheeks. For a moment Foyle was as wide-eyed as a small boy. Then he recovered sufficiently to open his mouth to request that everyone remain calm, but he didn't get the chance.
The shocked Reverend Stewart, staring at him in disbelief, spoke first.
"Mr Foyle, when I decided that Samantha could stay here working with you…" He trailed off with uncharacteristic bluster, as his wife dabbed her eyes with a lace handkerchief (a trifle dramatically, Foyle thought).
To his surprise, it was Gillian Stewart who next spoke in a quavering voice. "This is the height of irresponsible behaviour! You as her superior have authority over an impressionable young girl… power! She will of course do anything you wish!"
Sam was struggling not to tremble or let the tears in her eyes reinforce her mother's apparent opinion that she was a child. Foyle was evolving from embarrassment to annoyance. The new couple could understand that this was far from the best way to reveal to her parents that they were stepping out, but for the Stewarts to assume that he was coercing her, and that there was anything clandestine or illicit about their relationship…
He glanced down at the file on his desk and shifted it, his glowering making his eyes more steely than blue. Sam stood tentatively where she had stopped, just at his right.
Reverend Stewart fixed her with a disapproving look before looking at Foyle's stormy face. "Well? Have you any doubt that I am not leaving here without my daughter? It is clear that I cannot have her working with a man who would—"
Just at that moment Paul Milner pushed open Foyle's door and with a furrowed brow, said to his boss, "Sir. Forgive me… I came back to get my key and I… I couldn't help overhearing." He turned to Reverend Stewart, who had so impressed him with his knowledge of art and his help in solving the art theft at the Whittington Gallery in London.
Milner could see both sides of this; if Foyle and Sam had not yet told the Stewarts what had so recently transpired between them, and Sam's parents thought the relationship clandestine for some dishonourable reason, then he sympathized with that concern. But he also knew how mistaken they were.
As Milner had made his way down the station corridor toward his office and accidentally eavesdropped on the heated discussion, he decided to do something he normally would not, and interfere in something not truly his business. Mr Foyle and Sam might be a little embarrassed, but it hardly could be worse than the unjust censure they now were experiencing.
"Reverend Stewart," Paul said crisply to the older man without preamble, his eyebrow arching, "As an impartial party, allow me to explain something, if you will. Mr Foyle and Samantha have only just come to an understanding. It isn't as if their courtship has been kept a secret—"
"Then why didn't Samantha deign to inform her own parents about it?" Reverend Stewart nearly bellowed.
Christopher had had enough. He slapped the papers on his desk abruptly and fixed such a stare on Sam's father that the good vicar could scarcely see his pupils.
"I want something understood," he said quietly, but in the tone that often chilled the criminals he interrogated. "Today I asked Sam to marry me, and she accepted. I had hoped to ask you for her hand this very weekend, but the last two weeks have been exceedingly hectic ones. There is nothing dishonourable—nor has there ever been—in my attention to your daughter, and I bitterly resent your implication that Sam hasn't the good sense to make a reasoned judgement about this matter for herself."
Mrs Stewart was staring at him, shaking her head slowly as her eyes held his. "You don't understand! She has always been impulsive. You can't know her if you think she—"
"Can't know her!"
Sam, Paul, and the Stewarts nearly jumped at the sudden volume of DCS Foyle's incredulous voice.
"She has driven me everywhere I have had to go for months now, she has saved me no end of trouble by being at the ready, she has made helpful observations about important cases, and she has kept me sane while I've worried myself sick about my son. We talk every day during these drives. I know what music and books she most enjoys, her favourite foods, what she'd like to wear when the clothing ration ends…" He shut his eyes.
"I know she is impulsive, but I trust her to be honest when she says that she… that she loves me…" His voice broke and his eyes moved to Sam's. The look they exchanged was almost too intimate for the others to witness; all three of them cast down their gaze.
"…And that she wants to spend the rest of her life with me."
"The rest of your life, you mean," Mrs Stewart retorted.