“I DON’T know what you’re talking about,” Mrs Salter said.
Kit slid the photograph from Joseph Duchesne’s album across the table.
“We don’t think it’s worth your while lying any more, Mrs Salter,” Kit said. “And if you do lie, we cannot promise to do our very best for the three sons you involved in this particular scheme.”
She looked down at the photo.
“I knew Joe at school. He held a candle for me.” Mrs Salter placed a hand on her tightly permed hair.
“He was a weak man, and for years – decades – he refused to believe I wouldn’t have him. We were engaged for a little while; I think we were both eighteen. He can’t have expected I’d stick to him, not with Jim Salter sniffing about me.” A faint smile disturbed her features. “So, yes, I used him. I paid a nice visit, and we had a gin. Then my boys went back that evening, and he was very obliging about helping out. He needed some money, because art is not the earner it once was, but mainly he did it all for love of me.”
“The boys said he made an unholy fuss about his blessed furniture.” She looked up. “He’s no professional. It was a mistake bringing him in. I should have known he wouldn’t keep the faith, that he’d lose his nerve. But we needed fast cash, to get Derek out, as you know. Poor Derek. Joe was upset when the painting got sold on for a fraction of its value. He was always an idiot.”
“Who was the girl we saw at the gallery when we went to talk to Joseph?” Gaby asked.
“Skinny thing with the sharp bob? My niece, Karen, a sweet girl. Karen went back to warn him not to talk, when he was so jumpy.”
“So,” Gaby said, leaning towards Mrs Salter across the empty table, “when Mr Duchesne seemed stressed, it wasn’t about insurance. He was jumpy in case we worked out what he’d done. And you knew he was a danger, and so you made sure he couldn’t give anything away, ever again.”
“I haven’t got a lawyer yet. When does my lawyer turn up? I shouldn’t be talking to you at all.”
“Who killed Joseph Duchesne?” Gaby asked in almost a hiss. “Was it poor Derek, or Wayne, or Phil, or one of the other lovely boys?”
Mo Salter was suddenly pale.
“I told them what to do – all of it. And I didn’t tell them to do anything like that. I’m the only one who will take the rap for the canal.”
The case wrapped up, Gaby took a few days’ leave and Kit did as the doctor told him and gave his gunshot injury time to heal fully. They had Maureen Salter’s confession, but would probably never know who actually committed the murder.
Kit called round to Gaby’s flat a few days later. She felt her heart thump when she saw him on the doorstep.
“You left your swing coat drying on a peg in the office,” he said.
“It’s warm out,” she replied. “It could have waited.”
“Well, I know you love to be fashionable.”
“Oh, yes,” she said faintly.
There was a pause.
“Well, I’d better be off,” Kit said.
She watched as he turned to go.
“I’ve got some tickets,” Gaby said quickly.
He turned back.
Gaby reached back to a narrow ledge in her hallway, and held up two tickets.
“‘Hello, Dolly’,” she said. “Drury Lane. I thought I’d give you a try. Give it a try. Go to a show, I mean.”
A grin spread across his face, and Gaby gave in: that grin made her legs feel funny and her heart beat even harder – there was no getting away from it.
“Give me a try,” he said quickly, and before Gaby knew what was happening she was in his arms and being backed down her own corridor as he kissed her. Against the banister post, she kissed him back.
“I was just thinking of going to a musical,” she said finally.
“I was thinking of more,” he said.
“You’re really annoying,” she said.
“You, too,” he said, and kissed her again.