A coal in the fire fell. The keening of the wind grew louder in the chimney, a mournful wail. The lovers sat looking at each other. They both realised they were talking about murder. In the darkness, a noose could be dangling above their heads. Shadows danced on the wall as the fire flared.
Olivia went on speaking quietly, steadily, their heads almost touching.
“On the top floor of the house there is a room with a balcony. It’s high.” She paused. He nodded. “There’s a very good view, especially at sunset on a fine evening. You can see the sea. Andrew is very proud of it. He often takes business associates up there so that he can show them his kingdom.”
“Well, the stonework is old. There’s a balustrade. Over the past few weeks I’ve loosened it more. One good push, David. Just one good push.”
He nodded. He remembered that David slew Goliath with a stone. He held up his hand, the palm towards her as if to stop her, to slow things down.
“Now, we have to be sure about certain things. Do you know if Drake has made a will? It’s important.”
She shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“Because if he’s made a will he could have disposed of his estate to anyone. Not you. If he hasn’t, and he dies intestate, you, as his wife, will get everything. Has he made a will, Olivia?”
She shook her head.
“No. No, I’m sure he hasn’t. He often says, if Mrs Norris does a particularly nice meal, ‘When I make my will, Mrs Norris, I will not forget you.’”
“Good. Good. Let’s hope you’re right. Now what we have to do is get him and me on that balcony. Me sober and him half cut. You mustn’t be there.”
They were silent, both breathing heavily. Her face was in shadow.
“You’ll do this for me, David?”
He took her hand and kissed the palm.
“I love you, Olivia, and I promise you that one day we will be together for ever, my darling.”
* * * *
For early June the weather was awful chilly, wet and dull. Each day David Gilmore sat at his desk and looked at the grey skies, damp pavements and people scurrying by huddled under black shiny umbrellas.
He sometimes wondered what secrets might lurk under those umbrellas, what guilty thoughts and desires.
At Holly Mount, Olivia Drake looked out at the dripping trees, at the holly bushes dark and dank, and at the shadowed gravel in the sodden drive. She took to listening to the weather forecast on the wireless.
Andrew Drake went about his business unaware that his life lay in the hands of the gods of the weather, the winds of fate. And eventually the winds changed and brought warmth and brightness with a clear sky and crystal air.
David Gilmore’s telephone rang.
“Mrs Drake on the line for you.”
“Thank you, Miss Halliwell.” The next moment he heard Olivia’s voice.
“Mr Gilmore, I was just wondering if you had heard anything further about the accident claim?”
“Yes, Mrs Drake, I have. I heard from the insurers today with proposals of an offer of settlement.”
The papers had been on his desk for nearly a week.
“Oh, good. My husband, of course, will want to see them. I wonder if perhaps you can call this evening for a drink before dinner?”