Danger In Havana – Episode 10

THE silence hung in the air like a fruit waiting to be picked. Bryony had an inkling of what Paul wanted to say. She had a feeling he’d been on the verge of trying to turn their relationship into more than just a bereaved sister-in-law and caring brother-in-law for some time.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like him, she did. A lot. But she wasn’t ready for another relationship, she wasn’t sure if she ever would be.

Besides, how weird would it seem to the family, and to Anna in particular, to find out that her mother had started a relationship with her uncle? Bryony couldn’t go there. Her life needed fewer complications, not more.

As she spoke, she toyed with Anna’s necklace which had been lying on the bedside cupboard between their beds. Warren had given it to Anna on her eighteenth birthday.

On the chain was a small silver globe with the continents engraved upon it. He’d urged his daughter to travel. She nearly always wore it, but she’d gone out without it the day she’d disappeared.

Was Anna maybe subconsciously trying to forget him?

Bryony closed her eyes and tried to remember Warren’s face. But the image was cloudy after all this time, the edges fuzzy. She couldn’t quite remember the angle of his nose, the tone of his skin.

At this point, she’d usually take out the photo of Warren she kept in her purse, his smiling happy face held next to hers, his hand stroking her cheek.

But she resisted. She mustn’t keep looking back, and she mustn’t keep resuscitating the memory of Warren to help her get through things.

“I’m fine, Paul. Besides, there is someone out here who’s helping me. He’s a policeman, on holiday. His other half couldn’t make it, so he has time on his hands and he’s offered to help investigate where Anna’s got to. He speaks Spanish as well. I’m sorry, but I have to get ready. We’re going off to the restaurant to quiz the people there. It’s good, isn’t it, that I’ve got someone to help me?”

There was silence at the other end of the phone, and a long pause before Paul spoke.

“Yes, of course. What’s his name?”

“Mark, Mark Greenstreet. Let me know once you’ve had a look at Anna’s Facebook and Twitter stuff, won’t you?”

Bryony felt bad as she put the phone down. She knew Paul had reached the point in his life where he wanted a relationship.

He’d always envied Warren that and although when he was younger, the business had been enough for him, now he was successful, he had no-one to share his success with.

While Bryony was getting ready, she received a call from Mark.

“Do you have any photos handy of Anna?”

“Loads, only they’re just on my phone.”

“That’s good enough. I’ve spoken to the woman in the business centre here. I explained Anna’s disappearance and she’s happy to help by downloading her photo and printing a poster.

“She’s going to write it in Spanish and put on both our mobile numbers in case people see her. She has a daughter the same age, and she remembered how pretty and how polite Anna was when she bought a phone card from her earlier in the week.

“We can fix the posters to trees round the hotel and ask the restaurant and bar owners to put them up in their cafés. There might be some youth hostels and there’s a university near there, too, where we can display it. If Anna’s gone off, it’s most likely with a group of young people.”

Bryony was only too pleased to be doing something practical.


*   *   *   *


The posters, when they were done, were brilliant, with a clear photo of Anna which would surely jog people’s memories.

Bryony met Mark outside the hotel, clutching the set of posters in her handbag. He was already in earnest conversation with Norelvis.

The taxi bike was a bit too small for a man of Mark’s height and he was apologising to the young lad that, today, they were going to take a taxi car.

Norelvis offered to take some of the posters and distribute them among all the local drivers. They saw everything that happened in Havana, they were like a bush telegraph.

“Which of the taxis has the best driver?” Mark asked Norelvis.

“This one, of course.”

The boy waved his hand and one of the old Fifties Oldsmobiles which the Cubans still used as taxis pulled up.

“Alfonso is my brother. He will take you wherever you need to go, and he knows everyone it is useful to know.”

The huge car was turquoise, with cherry-coloured leather seats. Alfonso dropped them off as near as he could to Calle Mercaderes, the cobbled pedestrianised street leading to the square where Anna had disappeared.

For Mark, all this activity was like a shot of adrenaline straight into the heart. He felt energised for the first time in ages.

His boss had sent him away to get his head together but all that the enforced rest of a holiday had done was to frustrate him. He had found it turned him in on himself and all that had gone wrong with Pippa and their relationship.

Mark had done his best to make that right, to turn it around, to try again, but she’d found someone else and told him her future no longer lay with him.

The desolation of losing everything he’d worked for, the thought of starting up again as a single man had threatened to destroy him.

These last few weeks, he’d even wondered how he would be able to concentrate on work. It was as though his whole life was crumbling around him.

But now, instead of all that stuff he couldn’t do anything about, he had been thinking about Bryony Kemp, how strong she was and how unfair life was to throw her yet another difficulty.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!