Here we go again. Technically a sequel to "A Time For Everything" but quite self-contained. Updates will probably be slower this time around as real life asks for attention.
Chapter 1: Calm Before The Storm
Jack Robinson awoke at the bottom of the sea. He blinked slowly into the morning light that fell through still closed curtains, dipping his bedroom into a magical aquamarine. The second knock finally found it's way to his conscience. Jack answered with a noise that, with some imagination, could have been interpreted as a "Yes". It was good enough for the man standing in front of his bedroom door, waiting patiently like every morning for the Inspector to arrive in the land of the living.
"Detective-Inspector? It is seven o'clock."
Jack surpressed a yawn.
„Thank you, Mr. Butler."
„Will you be needing any help, sir?"
„I believe I am still capable of getting dressed on my own, thank you all the same."
With a smile the butler pulled the door shut and made his way back downstairs into the kitchen. Behind stayed a blurry eyed Jack, who decided to fall back into the soft cream coloured pillows just that moment longer. While he watched the spots of light dance over the brightly colored walls, his astonishment once again made space to the fact that he was head over heels in love with this room.
The first morning he had awoken here, Miss Fisher draped uncerimoniously across him in her sleep, the sheets half tangled between them, half on the floor, he had realised that for the first time in 15 years he'd felt at home. It had only been two weeks since DI Jack Robinson had followed the invitation of The Honourable Phryne Fisher to join her household as a guest. Admittedly it hadn't been a decision that had come easily to the Inspector. Grown up with the values of the old world he still stumbled over the idea that a woman could not only live without a man, she could also live with one, if she so chose. It wasn't so much his brain, which had long since resigned to the fact that marriage was not all that it was cracked up to be. But deep down in his gut it still seemed an awkward arrangement for a poor sod of a policeman to be the house guest of a high society lady.
Of course, it was not any lady. It was Phryne Fisher. And that in itself was argument enough to take up her invitation. He had insisted however to pay rent and even though they both knew that the few pounds he could afford on his more than modest salary wouldn't cause a stir in Phryne's riches, she had accepted that Jack's pride needed this much redemption to survive.
The Inspector flicked the sheets back and was greeted by a fresh breeze of cool air. His mind duly wondered just where Phryne was this morning. While part of him regret her absence, the rest could not help but be relieved. Maybe, just maybe he could manage a timely arrival at the station for once. Most likely she had collapsed into her own bed after dancing and drinking the night away at her friend Pauline's birthday party. When he had left, she definitely seemed to have been enjoying herself – possibly a bit more than was strictly necessary. Jack slipped into his shirt and tried to shake off the thoughts invading his brain. Miss Fisher was an appearance that caused a stir. And if he himself had sensed it from the day they had met, others would feel it too. Sometimes he wondered how far she was aware of the eyes in the room turning in her direction when she entered. She was like a small, sparkling planet in the middle of a dance floor, people rotating around her like moons drawn in by her gravity. And the Inspector felt like a very tired, old rock right now.
It was a daring venture to tie ones heart on a woman like that and he was sure that many a whisper that had flown between the guests of last nights dance, had discussed just who the poor sod was that was attempting to tame Miss Fisher this time. They might have been interested in his thoughts on it. Then again, probably not. People like them generally didn't care too much about the opinion of human beings who earned less in a year than they would spend on an evening like that.
The Inspector sighed and dropped the razor blade back onto the table to wipe the foam off his face. He had long since stopped to care about other peoples opinions or it would have worried him just what people had concluded when he had married the daughter of a higher officer back in the day. When the same daughter had moved to her sister just a few years after him returning from the war. When Phryne Fisher had started to settle in his life while he was still a married man. Jack Robinson knew very well that some of his fellow officers were none too pleased with the lady sweeping in and out of their police station in her expensive clothes and French perfumes. He knew what it meant if the conversation dropped as soon as they entered a room; could decipher their glances all too well. Some policemen even thought that he had lost his touch, neglected his work to flatter the rich lady detective. They mostly had shut their mouths when Phryne and himself, with the considerable help of Sanderson and Collins, had locked up the biggest gangster family in the city some months ago. There was little arguing with success. However, the rumour he could not deny was that he was warming Phryne's bed. Well, as a matter of fact it was mostly her warming his own. Not only were there no ghosts to defy in the old guest room that had turned into his sanctuary, but also, in contrast to her, he had to actually leave said bed early in the morning which seemed easier accomplished this way. There was also a whole lot of other reasons that the Inspector chose to not further explore. Now he fastened his tie and took the wooden stairs two at a time. The breakfast table was set for only one and once again the Inspector wished he could just take his coffee and toast with everybody else in the kitchen. While he understood there was a certain class difference between Miss Fisher and her staff that she ever so often chose to ignore herself, he could not seem to easily slip through the cracks. The detective decided to play by the rules and sat down. As if by magic Mr. Butler appeared by his side to pour him coffee. Jack fished for the paper. It was astounding just how easily you could adapt to a completely new routine.
"Thank you." He mumbled, half absorbed in an article about a chain of robberies shaking the rich and beautiful of Melbourne. Seconds later he realised that he was still in company. Jack Robinson looked up. Mr. Butler had busied himself at the sideboard, apparently cleaning something up which the Inspector was sure didn't need cleaning just yet.
"Is Miss Fisher going to join me soon?" He heard himself ask, lifting the cup to his lips. The butler turned around, worry edged on his face.
"I'm afraid the lady of the house has not yet returned from her outing."
Jack coughed as the hot coffee threatened to burn it's way into his lungs. A thousand thoughts were spinning through his head. He remembered clear as day his time imprisoned in a basement, shot and ready to die. He had gone dropping off the radar over night and hadn't it been for Phryne coming to look for him, he most probably would have done just that. What if she had gotten herself in danger now? The insane woman seemed to attract trouble like a magnet. He needed to go find her. Right now.
Through his thoughts he heard the butler clear his throat. The detective looked up and noticed to his astonishment that the worry had turned into embarrassment on Mr. Butlers face.
"I'm sorry, Sir."
The Inspector felt as if the servant had emptied a bucket of ice water over his head. He locked eyes with the older man. So he didn't think she had gotten herself kidnapped or was chasing after a murderer right now. He thought she had ended up in someone else's doubtlessly expensive sheets. Jack swallowed hard. He felt his heart clench in his chest. That was of course a possibility he had to consider. And just what that would mean for their relationship...
The ringing of the phone tore him from his thoughts. Just seconds later Dorothy Williams stuck her head through the door.
„Inspector Robinson. It's Miss Fisher on the phone for you."
With wobbly knees Jack got up and answered the phone.
He could hear the ice in his own voice. Miss Fisher however seemed oblivious to it. She sounded distressed and with a pang Jack was back to worrying for her.
"Jack?" He heard her pant. "You have to come. Something has happened."