Three days later, David had an unexpected visitor. He had cleared his desk. Miss Halliwell had put the cover over her typewriter and was about to put on her coat when Andrew Drake walked into the office and asked to see Mr Gilmore.
“Thank you, Miss Halliwell. You get off now.” David waved Andrew Drake to a chair. “What can I do for you?”
Drake reached into his inside jacket pocket and produced a slim gold cigarette case and selected a small black cheroot. The blue smoke drifted across David Gilmore’s desk, catching the back of his throat.
“What would you say, Mr Gilmore, if I said that I know that my wife is having an affair?”
Gilmore looked into the older man’s pale eyes. He shrugged his shoulders slightly. He must keep calm, keep his voice steady, bluff it out.
“How do you know?”
Drake inhaled on the cheroot.
“Oh, I can tell. I can tell. You see, I’ve been here before. That surprises you, eh? I can see it in your face. Oh, yes, my good wife isn’t the innocent little waif that she appears. Oh, no.”
He leaned forward across the desk.
“Twelve months ago she got involved with a chap. A policeman, he was. Well, he isn’t now. I saw to that. And all the signs are there again. The way she . . . I don’t know, just the way she behaves. Something’s going on.”
David spoke quietly.
“Do you know who?”
“No, but . . .” he wagged a finger at David “. . . I’ll find out. You can be sure of that.” He took a puff on the cheroot to calm himself down.
“But it brings me to why I’m here. You see, after the business with that damn balcony I thought, I don’t want to leave a rich widow. A rich, unfaithful widow, spending my money with her fancy man. I want to make a will.”
David was relieved, but dismayed. The money didn’t matter to him, but he knew that it did to Olivia.
“Of course, Mr Drake, but why not divorce your wife? If you had definite proof, you could . . .”
“No. She’s my wife and she’ll stay my wife. I see marriage as a contract and I don’t let people break contracts. Besides, she’s good for business. If we entertain folk, businessmen, they’re beguiled by her.”
“Very well.” David took his fountain pen and put a sheet of paper before him. “What have you in mind?”
“Right. But remember, Gilmore, you are acting for me now. This is confidential.”
“Right. It’s simple. I’ll have you as sole executor. I want you to sell everything. The house, contents, the car, my stocks, shares, convert everything to cash.”
“Yes.” David was writing. “And?” He looked through the thin blue smoke.
Drake smiled, showing small, brown-stained teeth.
“I leave everything, every last penny, to that Battersea Dogs’ Home.”
David Gilmore just stared at him for a moment.
“You like dogs?” It was all he could think of saying.
Drake shook his head.
“Can’t stand ’em. But, you see, Olivia knows that.” He gave a little chuckle.
When he’d gone David sat and gazed at the closed door for a few minutes. The stale odour of Drake’s cheroot lingered in the air.
* * * *
The will changed everything. If it were to be done it would have to be done quickly. But how? He would have to convince Olivia, make her see that an ocean of money was not worth the hangman’s drop.
But, of course, if he drew up the will and Drake signed it, perhaps he could persuade Olivia to leave him. She would have nothing to lose. But he couldn’t deceive her. He would have to tell her what Drake was about to do.
They arranged to meet in a small tea shop in a town thirty miles away, a place they’d been to before.
The traffic was surprisingly light and he arrived and parked his car about thirty minutes early. He might as well go to the tea shop and wait for Olivia there. He’d order some angel cake. She liked that.
He turned the corner into the street he wanted and saw a figure he knew walking towards him. David immediately turned round and crossed the road. He mustn’t be seen. Especially not by Jack Rees.
Jack Rees was not a man easily missed. He was about six-feet two, broad and athletic. He was a private investigator David had employed a few months ago in a divorce case. What was he doing here? Had he been employed by Andrew Drake?
David glanced back. No sign of Rees. He retraced his steps and stepped into the tea shop. To his surprise, Olivia was already there.
She was surprised to see him.
“I know. Look, have you noticed anyone following you? He’s easy to see. A big man. In his thirties, grey suit and trilby?”
She looked round, confused.
“No. Why? Who is he?”
“His name is Jack Rees. He’s a private detective. Andrew may have put him on to you because he suspects that you are having an affair. And that’s not the worst of it.” He told her about Andrew’s visit and the proposed will.
She was stunned.
“A dogs’ home? A dogs’ home?”
“Yes. I’m sorry.”
She stared ahead and shook her head slowly. There were tears in her eyes.
“How he must despise me.”
“Leave him!” David said vehemently.
“How long can you stall him?”
“It’s a simple will. Not more than a week.”
“Right.” There was a fierce determination in her face. “I’ll see you at the cottage on Saturday. I have an idea.” Those beautiful bewitching eyes were looking into his. “David, you do love me, don’t you?”
“I love you more than life,” he said, and he meant it. His own, or anyone else’s.