Chapter 1

Louisa came home after her routine check up with little Peter. Martin was supposed to come with her. After his confessions in the pub he had followed her to the hospital. When the first excitement was over Louisa had asked him where he was going to stay, now that he had decided not to go to London. He had looked quietly at her and shrugged his shoulders.

Louisa had felt obliged to offer for him to stay at her place. After all, he had abandoned his high class job for her, to stay in Cornwall with no job and no home and all his belongings on their way to London. The least she could do was to offer him a roof over his head. So Martin had moved in.

He had insisted on staying in the spare room, which was fine with Louisa. It was strange enough after the difficult time they had lately that he was sharing her house, but sharing her bed would feel odd at the moment.

Nevertheless, Martin tried really hard to pay her back for the accommodation in taking over many of the duties around the house and he had proven to be very helpful, even if he wasn't completely at ease with Peter yet.

This morning they were meant to go to Truro hospital for a general check up. They were all ready to leave, when Martin's mobile had rung.

"Yes…WHAT?...What happened?...Where?...Damn!...I'll be right there."

"Martin, anything serious?" Louisa had asked as he had sounded very upset and all the colour had left his face.

"Sorry, can you go down to Truro on your own? I have to dash off."

"Well, if you have to?"

"Yes."

Then Martin was off.

Now Louisa was back at her cottage. She looked around downstairs and then shouted upstairs, but Martin didn't seem to be back yet. Louisa started to prepare the meal. She hadn't done so since the birth as Martin had always cooked their meal.

While she was busy in the kitchen, Martin came in and without a word stormed upstairs.

"And good afternoon to you, too." Louisa grumbled. Then she heard the door to his room slam. That was indeed unusual for Martin. Louisa thought maybe he needed some time to himself and didn't want to be disturbed, that's why she continued with the cooking. Then she had a look at Peter who was still sleeping peacefully after their little journey. She took him upstairs, then placed him into her room where the cot was. Still no sign of Martin.

She went down the hall way and knocked on the door to Martin's room. No answer. She knocked again. When again there came no reply, she peeked in.

"Is everything alright?"

"Fine."

"You don't look fine."

"I'm OK."

"You're also acting strangely."

"No."

"Tea's ready."

"I'm not hungry."

"You must eat."

"No."

"Do you mind if I come in?"

"Yes."

"Thanks very much." Louisa mocked and came in.

"I said that I do mind. Can't I have any privacy at all?"

"Just tell me what's wrong. Maybe I can help?"

"You can't."

"Thanks very much. Sorry for being concerned about you."

"I told you, I'm fine."

"You sure don't look fine. A bit shattered, if you ask me. Your eyes even look as…have you been crying?"

"That's enough! Out!"

"That's a thought! Throwing me out of my own house!"

"Not out of your house, but I thought this is my room!"

"Your room in my house."

"Right, then I'd better go." Martin stormed towards the door, but Louisa blocked the way out by standing in front of it.

"Not until I know what's got into you. Must be connected with the phone call you received."

"None of your business. Let me out."

He tried to pass her, but she moved around to be in the way. He tried to grab the door knob to open it, but then Louisa locked the door and let the key slide into her blouse.

"So, what are you going to do now!" she triumphantly said. Martin and she hadn't been intimate since they had called off the wedding, so she assumed correctly that he would never have the nerve to reach into her blouse.

"Great, now I'm a prisoner in my own room." Martin sighed and slumped onto his bed.

"Just tell me what's worrying you. Is it too much to ask?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"It can't be so bad…" Just right now Martin's mobile was ringing.

"You mind if I answer it?" he sneered.

"Don't mind me."

"But I do mind. So if you please would…" He gestured towards the door.

"I'm staying." Louisa declared firmly, crossing her arms in front of her. The mobile kept ringing. Martin looked desperately from the door to Louisa then back to the mobile he held in his hand. Finally he sighed and answered it, trying to ignore Louisa.

"ELLINGHAM…Ah, Mr. Shawcross, I hardly dared to hope that you would call back….I'm sure you've been. Shall I come over to discuss things?...Right.." Martin looked at his watch "…in 40 minutes then."

"Louisa, open the door. I have to go."

"Shawcross? Like Mary's partner?" Mary was Louisa's new midwife. She and her partner William had recently moved down from London as their older children were studying or working all over the UK by now and they wanted their little son Thomas to grow up in the country. They had decided that looking for jobs shouldn't be too difficult, as she was a midwife and he was an undertaker, and people are being born and dying all over the world.

Louisa thought Mary was very nice. She had a warm and compassionate nature and really was a big help with getting used to the baby routine. Louisa had heard only the best about her partner, too, as William seemed to be a very compassionate, sweet man who was perfectly suited to aid people in their darkest hour. He didn't just bury the dead, but was a true counsellor to the bereaved.

"The same."

"But he's an undertaker. What do you want to see an undertaker for?" Louisa was puzzled.

"I won't see him at all if you don't open that stupid door!"

"Not until you tell me. Who has died?"

Martin gulped and looked away. Louisa could swear she could see tears welling up in his eyes.

"Must be someone close.…Don't tell me….It's not…tell me it's not Joan!" Louisa exclaimed.

Martin was furious now. "I do have an appointment. Let me out!"

"Martin, that's awful! You must feel horrible. Shall I come with you?"

"Out! Now!" Martin shouted nervously. "Oh, never mind. I'm really sorry Louisa, but I have to get out of here!" He lifted her up with comparative ease and placed her back on the floor beside the door. Then he started trying to smash the door with his shoulder.

"STOP! Martin, you win!" He stopped immediately, before he had damaged the door. Louisa got the key out and unlocked the door. Martin wanted to dash off immediately.

Louisa stopped him once again. "Just how did it happen?"

"Do you remember when Aunty Joan said I'd have to run her over with a lorry to keep her away from Peter?"

"Yes?"

"Someone did."

"What? What do you mean?"

"Run her over."

"Oh Martin! That's horrible!"

Before she could say another word, he went off.

To be continued…