11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 10

The receptionist in the law firm where Ruth worked as a solicitor smiled as he entered.

“She’s expecting you. Just go through. Do you know which is her office?” the girl asked.

Of course he knew the way. Ruth was his best client by far. In fact, at present, she was pretty well his only client, Harrison reflected ruefully as Ruth came hurrying out to meet him.

As always, she briefly took his hand. And, as always, he was struck by the strength of her grip, given her slender frame and delicate facial features.

Her hair, though! Thick, wild and curling, it escaped from whatever efforts she made to try to keep it tidily out of her face. Within her, too, Harrison knew that Ruth retained the considerable reserves of strength and stamina that in her youth, before her injury, had nearly led her to achieve top athlete status.

“This work we’d like you to do,” she began as she ushered him into her office, “is a little bit different from the usual that I pass on. My client wants to meet you himself, but he’s just phoned to say he’s going to be a little late. Can I get you some coffee?”

“Thank you, but don’t let me keep you from what you were doing.” Harrison indicated her busy-looking desk. “I’ll just read a paper while I wait.”

He didn’t, though. The pair of them chatted until the client finally turned up.

As the man greeted Ruth, blaming his lateness on a diversion, Harrison did his customary assessment.

Male; about the same age as himself and Ruth; successful, from his groomed appearance and authoritative manner.

“You said a diversion. Roadworks?” Ruth asked.

“No. I was worried I might be being followed,” the client replied.

Harrison was intrigued. As the three of them went to the conference table by the large corner window of the office, the man introduced himself to Harrison as Peter. Just Peter.

“Ruth has told me about you and I trust her judgement.” Peter gave Ruth a big smile as he said this.

Harrison remembered Mel saying earlier how nice Ruth was. He suspected Peter held the same view. And that was his own opinion, as well.

Ruth had been involved in the case that had brought about the voluntary end of Harrison’s career in the police force. It had been a promising career, and many people had tried to talk him out of it, but she’d been the only one he’d really listened to, even if in the end she hadn’t succeeded in changing his mind.

Yes, Harrison thought, Ruth was very nice, a terrific woman. But she deserved someone who could offer a lot more than he could. Maybe someone like this fellow Peter, who, having pulled out her chair for her, was now unpacking some files from a huge briefcase.

Not relishing the idea, Harrison turned his attention to the files now spread out in front of them. Then Peter suddenly stood up and went to the window.

“Would you mind if I closed the blinds? What with the long-range cameras they have these days . . .”

What was it Ruth had said about this job? “A bit different from the usual.” It certainly was looking as though it was going to be!

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.