“Yes and no,” Cassie told him. “I thought it was terrific and I was wondering if you’d be kind enough to sign the book for me.”
“Of course I will. My pleasure.”
He turned to Andrew.
“I think I said to you once, Doctor Shelley, that as far as I’m concerned, crime does pay. Truth to tell, it’s paying tremendously well.”
He drank a little whisky then glanced over his shoulder as if to check no-one was eavesdropping.
“I want to tell you this in confidence, if I may. You’ll see why later.”
Cassie thought this was like one of Philip Latimer’s own plots – just a clue or two, then the revelation.
“The thing is, an American film company has bought the rights to one of my books: ‘The Rattle Of Bones’.”
He looked questioningly at Cassie.
“Do you know that one?”
“Oh, gosh, yes. That was a real chiller!” Cassie shivered theatrically.
“Thank you, Mrs Shelley.”
Stephanie Latimer laughed and shook her head.
“How such a gentle, kind man as my husband can enjoy frightening people is beyond me. But he does put bread and butter on the table.”
“And now jam,” her husband added. “Although the Americans call it jelly.”
They both laughed. Philip waved his glass at Andrew.
“The point is, Doctor Shelley, that Stephanie and I have more money than we need. I was going to say more money than we know what to do with, but that would be false. We know exactly what we want to do with it, don’t we, dear?”
“Yes,” Mrs Latimer said firmly. “You told me once, Doctor, that the medical facilities on Skerrabost were insufficient. What is it that’s needed?”
Andrew placed his glass on a blue ceramic coaster on a coffee table.
“What’s needed most, Mrs Latimer, is another doctor on Skerrabost. With only me and the nurse here, things will happen that we won’t be able to cope with. Accidents and illnesses do not come in an orderly queue.”
Andrew looked from Philip Latimer to his wife. His heart was beating a little faster. He mustn’t get his hopes up.
He could feel Cassie’s eyes on him.
Philip Latimer took another thoughtful sip of his malt. Outside, only the tops of the hills were now touched by the last rays of sunset.
“I know, Doctor Shelley, that you and Cassie and your little girl decided, for whatever reason, to settle on Skerrabost. But what chance would there be, do you think, of persuading someone else to come to this little rock in the ocean?”
Andrew frowned and then his face cleared.
“I believe I can find the right person.”
“That’s a good start. What else would it need?” Latimer prompted.
“Money,” Andrew replied instantly.
Philip and Stephanie looked at each other.
“We can provide that, can’t we, Steph?”
“Of course we can,” his wife agreed heartily.
Then she looked at Andrew.
“Do you really think you can find someone?”