Thursday, 13 March 2008
Wiping her hands on the tea towel in the kitchen, Sophie turned to answer the phone.
‘I hope you don’t mind me ringing, but I was wondering if you had any news from the hospital’
‘Mrs Hale, yes its good news, the doctors have told Mum that they expect Dad to make a full recovery. It does mean though that he will have to cut back on his work commitments and take better care of himself. But they did say that if you hadn’t acted so quickly things could have been so much worse. I know that Mum will want to see you herself as soon as she can but from all of us I’d like to say a very big thank you’
‘That’s very kind of you to say, but it was nothing, I’m just glad that Martin is going to be fine’
All morning Sophie had been answering calls from Martin’s friends. It came as shock to realise quite how popular her parents were out here in Spain. After living in the same house in London since marrying Alistair, Sophie was embarrassed to admit that she didn’t know the names of her neighbours never mind being on speaking terms with them.
Cassy Stratton had even called earlier and offered to take the girls back to the farmhouse with her for the day. Olivia and Grace were thrilled at the prospect of spending time playing with baby Abi and helping Cassy pick fruit and look after the hens. Sophie was touched by her offer of help and knowing that Fliss wouldn’t be in a fit state to deal with anything other than visiting Martin, she reluctantly agreed that the girls would be better spending time on the farm rather than being cooped up indoors at the villa with her all day.
The only way that Sophie knew to be useful was to be practical and, after phoning Alistair to tell him about Martin’s heart attack, she decided that the best way she could help would be to make sure that Martin’s business was taken care of. Even if she only managed to reassure his clients and try to answer any outstanding emails she knew that it would help take some of the pressure off her Mum.
As she waited for Martin’s laptop to fire up, Sophie empty the bag that Fliss had brought home from the hospital. In the pocket of the trousers that Martin had been wearing at the party was his mobile phone. Putting the phone on charge to deal with later she pulled up Martin’s contacts list on hotmail.
She found it hard to write an email that would both advise and reassure all of Martin’s clients. The tone has to be just right, she thought, the last thing Dad needs is to loose his business. After sending a note advising them of the situation and details of her email address and telephone number for urgent enquiries she switched to Martin’s inbox to check his emails.
Sophie couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw that Martin had been corresponding with Tony Eagleton. It was the worst kept secret in the square mile that Tony’s business activities were suspect to say the least. Surely her Dad couldn’t be doing business with him?
Her incredulity turned to horror when she followed the email trail back to the start. How her Dad could ever have gotten himself into this situation was beyond her. Defaulting on a £250,000 loan with the villa as security, it could mean the end of everything that he had worked so hard far. Poor Dad must have been out of mind with worry, she thought, it’s no wonder that he is ill, that kind of stress could have killed him. Sophie knew that she had to do something at once if she was to salvage anything from this terrible mess.
Why didn’t Dad go to his bank for a loan? She wondered, or failing that, why didn’t he come to me? I am sure that I could have arranged something for him with Crabtree and Wright. Sophie couldn’t understand what Martin had been thinking about. He must have known that it would have made far more sense for him to borrow short term from Crabtree’s rather than Eagleton. Was he trying to spare Mum from the worry, or is there something more behind all this, she wondered, after all the easiest and simplest way to get the money would have been from his own bank.
Anxious now to see if there were any more surprises in store Sophie switched on Martin’s mobile phone.
Looking through all the recent text messages that Martin hadn’t had a chance to read yet from Laura, Sophie felt that her world had turned upside down. This was her Dad, she thought, having an affair with a woman in London.
Going back through the old messages she realised with horror that their grubby little liaison had been going on for months. How could he cheat and lie for so long? Did his family mean so little to him that he was prepared to give it all up for this Laura woman? How could he do this to Mum after nearly thirty years of marriage?
For once in her life Sophie felt helpless and alone, she decided that Fliss couldn’t know about Martin’s double life, not when she went to so much trouble arrange the party for him. Sophie felt out of her depth emotionally. She couldn’t imagine breaking this kind of news to her Mum or even her sister Ella. She knew that she needed support, she needed her husband. Picking up the phone she dialled Alistair’s office number.
‘Darling, it’s me, I’m sorry, I know you are busy but could you come over here please, I really need you right now’
‘Sophie what’s the matter, is Martin worse?’
No darling he’s going to be fine. It’s his business, Oh Alistair everything is such a mess. I really need you here.’
‘I was just tidying up a few things in the office before I left for the airport. I booked a flight as soon as I put the phone down to you earlier’ said Alistair
‘I wasn’t going to let you face this on your own.’
‘Oh Al, what would I do without you’ sobbed Sophie as she looked again at Laura name against all the text messages on her Dad’s phone.