Chapter 17 The day after the day after....

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Chapter 17 The day after the day after....

'Toast again?' said Christopher as she brought it in. By chance she had used his father's favourite plate, a white one with a pattern of red cherries and gold flourishes.

'Of course,' she said, putting it down on the coffee table. 'Are you sure you don't want a drink?'

'Maybe later,' he said, crunching. She had waited exactly the right length of time to butter the toast, so that it was just melting in places but not dripping off the edges all down his chin. She really was too perfect to be true. Who was she anyway?

'Who are you anyway?' he mumbled through the toast.

Amaryllis sat down opposite him, on the settee where Big Dave and Mrs Stevenson had slept. Christopher no longer had a problem with that - all things considered, it was about the least weird thing that had happened lately.

'Where do you want me to start?' she asked.

'Well, for a start, how did you know where I was? Nobody saw me drive off from the hospital with the two bad guys. How did you know to come to the moor?'

'You're forgetting something, aren't you?'

'What? Did somebody call you from the hospital? The police?'

'The parcel of money,' she explained patiently. 'Remember when I got you to put the microdots in it?'

'Microdots....' He thought back to when they had been preparing the parcel, right back in the morning when they had planned to use it against the baddies in some way. Yes! Amaryllis had said she could track whoever had the parcel... so she had been able to use it to track Christopher! That part of it was suddenly crystal clear.

And as it became clear, the feelings he had became clear as well, and it all flooded into him at once - the fear and the panic and that sense of having been deserted by everyone. Christopher started to shiver again.

'It's all right,' said Amaryllis. 'Just wait a minute, don't think about it, and it'll be fine. Remember you're safe now.'

He took a deep breath, and found himself asking, 'So what was all this about the parcel of money anyway? What was it for? Why did the American push it through the letter-box disguised as a fish supper?'

'The fish supper was a red herring,' said Amaryllis, and burst out laughing. 'It was dirty money - it had been used for drug trafficking. The Americans got it from the Iranians - your brother-in-law in fact, or his henchmen. They tricked the Americans into being postmen for them. Told them you were a terrorist and you'd try and use the money for explosives to blow up a plane, but they were setting a trap for you to walk into - the payoff for the Americans was going to be your head on a platter.'

Christopher shuddered. Amaryllis continued.

'Your brother-in-law's friends were waiting for the parcel to get to you, then they planned to tip off the police and they would find it and arrest you... they'd be able to take the children without you getting in the way. The American bugged it so that if by some mischance the police didn't find it, you would do something silly with it, and he'd be able to keep tabs on you. Until he got the chance to - well - you know the rest.'

'Take the children? My brother-in-law's friends? It doesn't make sense - does it?' He remembered the flash of insight he had experienced on the way to Auchterderran. He didn't really want to believe that Caroline's husband - Faisal and Marina's father - was a crook, but...

Amaryllis hesitated.

'I'll be fine,' he said. 'What has this to do with the children?'

'Everything,' said Amaryllis simply. 'Simon and his sidekick were working for the children's father, in Iran.'

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