Sophie's jaw dropped. She opened her mouth for a moment to say something, but then refrained. Robert put an arm around her, his head also spinning.
"She said she knew of my work in symbology, and wanted me to help," he told her.
Sophie looked up. "But… how would she know about me?" she questioned, confused.
"I'm not exactly famous for being a cryptologist!" she finished, attempting a smile.
Robert bit his lip. "She didn't at first," he said, smiling slightly. "It wasn't until I asked her if I could take you along that she knew about your work with codes,"
He laughed and ran a hand through her soft hair. "She actually seemed quite jealous when I mentioned if I could bring my fiancé!"
Sophie giggled nervously. A thought flickered into her mind. "Robert?" she called to Robert, who was now pacing the room. "Yes?" he said, looking up momentarily.
"Why did she sound so… cheery on the phone if her husband has just been kidnapped?" she asked. Robert thought about it. He had to admit, that had irked him too. She sounded so dramatic on the phone… almost too dramatic, Robert thought for a second. Don't be stupid, Robert, he thought. It was a little bit farfetched that she would lie about something like this. Robert shook his head.
"I really don't know, Sophie," he answered. "But we're going to find out soon," he finished, heading towards his suitcase at the other end of the room.
Sophie looked up, surprised. "We're going now?" she asked, a little bit disappointed that she was not able to spend a bit more time with her grandmere.
"Well, yes," Robert chimed in from across the room. Sophie looked at him, incredulous. "To America??" she asked in disbelief. Ms. Jones' accent had mad her inclined to think that she was in America. Robert laughed.
"No!!" he chuckled. "She's actually in a nearby town right here in Scotland!"
he said, his voice rising excitedly. He was obviously excited about being called in to solve a kidnapping. "What a coincidence!" he added.
Sophie frowned. It all seemed to be too much of a coincidence to her. It really reminded her of how her grandfather died- codes scrawled on walls, kidnappings. Don't be stupid, Sophie, she thought. She seemed very…nice on the phone.
"Right!" Sophie said enthusiastically. She had to admit that the whole thing was intriguing. "So are we still going to be staying here?"
They had been planning on staying at Marie's for a week, and she was sure that Marie would be upset if they decided to go then. Robert was silent. Sophie began to get impatient. "Robert!!" she shouted. He looked up abruptly.
"Oh sorry," he said apologetically. "Yes, if Marie doesn't mind, we will be staying here," he said, and then seemed to get lost in his thoughts again. Sophie was slightly annoyed now. She gave up trying to talk, knowing by now that when Robert got wind of a new symbology mystery that he didn't know of, it was a waste of time trying to communicate with him!
Robert glanced over at Sophie for a minute. She seemed a bit upset. Slowly, he came
over and sat next to Sophie on the bed. She seemed a bit upset. He knew
he had got a bit carried away with the news. "I'm sorry," he said tenderly.
She smiled at him teasingly. "You know I'm used to it now," she joked.
"Well, I'm sorry to hear about that," he chuckled. "Maybe I should make it up to you…" he said and he began kissing her passionately on the lips.
She kissed him back, and it might have gone on quite a bit longer, but then they were broken off by Marie bursting into the room. Marie's cheeks coloured and they sprung apart. Marie laughed and said something in French. Sophie turned to same colour as the scarlet curtains and muttered back under her breath. Robert smiled, hoping he wasn't bright red too. A silence passed, before Marie broke the silence (not unusual).
"Are you two coming down for some breakfast?" Marie asked enthusiastically.
"I've made bacon," she said as an afterthought.
"Erm… no, Marie, something really important's come up," Robert quickly outlined what had happened. Marie's jaw also dropped.
"Oh my," she said and fell silent for a moment. "I'm not sure I want you going into something dangerous like this again!" she cried after some thought, flinging her arms in the air. (Robert noticed that both grandmother and granddaughter did this a lot.) Sophie put an arm around her grandmother and gave her a reassuring smile.
"Grandmere, if Robert and I hadn't embarked on something dangerous like that on the night grandpere died, Robert would still be in a French prison somewhere, we wouldn't be getting married and I would never have met you," she said.
Marie fell silent once again. Sophie had an annoying knack of always proving her wrong. "Okay…" she agreed slowly. "But you promise you have to be careful!! If you realise you're in over your heads, you leave and come back here, okay?" She smiled and kissed Sophie on the head and left the room. Robert turned to Sophie and laughed. "Now where were we?"
"Come on!" she shoved him off the bed. "You're the one who's desperate to get to the 'scene of the crime!'"
"I might just stay," Robert joked, heading down the stairs. They headed outside to see Sophie's smart car standing proudly in the drive. Robert shook his head and squeezed inside the tiny car. As Sophie revved up the ignition and reversed out of the iron gates, Robert was suddenly reminded of their hectic journey to the embassy on the night Sophie's grandfather had been murdered. The small car had been surprisingly efficient; the only remnant of its ordeal was a crack in the wing-mirror (which Sophie had never got round to replacing).
Within 10 minutes they were at the mansion. They could see the church next door, teetering precariously on the edge of rocky cliffs. Sophie suddenly found herself regretting the high heeled shoe choice she'd made for the day, as she wobbled up the rocky path. Robert, hesitating slightly, reached for the huge brass knocker on the oak door. Before he could knock, the door creaked open, and the couple found themselves staring at Valerie Jones.
"Well hello," she greeted them, ushering them in. "Thank goodness you could come," She was covered from head to toe in designer gear, with a sweet smile plastered on her face, which in return was coated with a rather thick layer of foundation.
Robert smiled confidently and shook her hand. Valerie gave him a penetrating stare and lingered slightly longer holding his hand than he held hers. Robert smiled back at her and gently pushed Sophie forward, obviously thinking she was a little shy.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs Jones," Robert said politely. "This is my fiancée, Sophie Neveu, as you know we met in Paris last year," Valerie's face creased up for a second as he said that, as if she didn't like what he had said.
Sophie forced a smile and took Valerie's hand. "I hope we can help you find your husband," she said. There was something rather fake about Mrs Jones that she couldn't quite place, but there was no need to be rude before she'd even got to know the woman.
"So, I guess I better fill you in on what's happened," Valerie's voice echoed across the silent foyer of the mansion, her high heels clacking on the marble floor. Sophie and Robert followed her through the house until they reached a large room. At the end of the room there was a large window. The room was sparsely decorated, the only furniture being a two piece suite and an armchair.
"Sit down, by all means," Valerie called to Robert. Robert sat down on the sofa, and smiled once again at their hostess. Sophie, getting increasingly unsure of the situation, made to go sit next to him, but quick as a flash Valerie sat on the sofa. Sophie stopped in her tracks, confused.
"You-will-have-to-go-sit-down-in-the-arm-chair," Valerie told her, saying all the words slowly and robotically, as if Sophie did not know proper English. Sophie gave a taut smile and stomped over to the arm chair, resisting the urge to slap this woman or, better still, throw her out of the window. Just because I'm French doesn't mean I'm stupid!! she felt like screaming.
"Now…" Valerie began, her voice wavering. "I will tell you everything,"