He’d expected when he got on the plane that he’d soon forget about Sarajevo and think happily of getting back to Shropshire. But all through the flight his mind was back there and Esma and Arif were more real to him than the Wilsons down the lane.
And Kate. He turned, pressing against the heat, to look towards the sitting room, trying to imagine her there, wanting to want her there. But somehow he couldn’t bring up her image. He moved from the kitchen to switch on the heating and bring some comfort to the place. He ought to ring her, tell her he was back but something made him hesitate. The place felt lonely and he wished Bobbie was there but the spaniel was still at the kennels and it was too late in the evening to collect him. He’d go in the morning.
He thought about food and decided he wasn't hungry, the sandwich he’d eaten while driving was enough. But he poured a tot of whisky and swallowed it straight down. He took another and picked up the phone. As expected Pat answered, sounding happy to hear him.
"I'll get Kate,” she said. “She’ll be thrilled.”
But Kate didn't sound thrilled, just anxious, asking at once “Where are you?”
He let out a long breath before answering. “I’m here, at home. Got back a while ago.”
“Oh.” He detected a mixture of surprise and resentment in the single word and the unspoken question which he answered.
“I was tired. I didn't want to cope with all the Wilsons. It's been a long day.”
"I'll come over then, right away.”
"If you like. But it's getting late and it's cold outside. You needn't turn out tonight, tomorrow will do.” He winced at himself, knowing it was the wrong thing to say.
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