This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 805 words.
After closing the door behind them, Amanda slid two large bolts across it before double locking the expensive Banham latch. Marian looked at her sister, and Ros raised her eyebrows. This was a woman who took her home security seriously. When they were shown through into the large living room, that was further confirmed by the image on the huge TV screen. It was divided into squares, each one representing a CCTV camera. Amanda had twelve to choose from, covering everything from the approach to her front door, to the view over the back fence of the large garden.
She noticed them looking.
“There are also internal cameras. When I go to bed at night I can check every room from my bedroom computer, just in case”. Marian nodded, realising just how damaged this poor woman was. After asking them to sit down, Amanda excused herself, reappearing wearing a thick dressing gown and some matching slippers. “I don’t usually bother to get dressed after my shower. When you are not going anywhere, there seems to be no point. Now, let me offer you some tea”.
When she returned with a fancy teapot and some matching cups on a nice tray, she chatted to them as she began to pour. “You must be aware that there is little I can do to help you physically. But one of you is welcome to stay here while you go ahead with your plan. I cannot allow both of you to stay though, sorry. I don’t really enjoy being around other people any longer, even women. So just one of you, I don’t mind which one”. Marian jumped in before Ros could speak.
“That will be me then, Amanda. I promise not to make a nuisance of myself. I can eat out, and keep to my room, if that suits you. It just makes life easier for me not to have to drive back and forth from Hackney, and it should only be for a few days”.
Amanda looked at Ros, and the bruising on her face.
“It was you then, the one Lee attacked? I can tell from your face. I still have two small scars on the back of my head from when he slammed it in my car door, so I know what he is capable of. The strange thing is that I really liked him. If he hadn’t been drunk that night, I would have happily stayed with him. I bought him a beautiful watch, and we had a fabulous weekend away in the Cotswolds. I thought he was the one, and I expected it to last. He wouldn’t even wear the watch, and called it shitty”.
Ros could tell the events were imprinted on her mind, and as she spoke, it was obvious she was reliving them. She tried to reassure her.
“The reason he wouldn’t wear the watch is because he was still married then. His wife Denise would have asked where it had come from, knowing he couldn’t afford it. The bastard probably sold it, and spent the money on the next girl he picked up”. That failed to comfort Amanda, and tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I feel so stupid. I was actually in love with him, can you believe that? Not long after I sold my flat and moved here. I spent a lot of money on making it as secure as I could. I have everything delivered, the gardener is only allowed through the side gate, and I pay him by direct debit, same with the window cleaner. I have only ever spoken to him through an intercom, and he must be at least sixty-five. I sold my car too, no need to have a car when you have no intention of going out. My life now is cleaning the house and watching SKY TV. I have the full package, every channel available”.
She stopped to get a tissue to wipe her eyes.
“When the man came to install the satellite TV system and the CCTV cameras, I locked myself in one of the bathrooms while he worked. He must have thought I was barking mad. Regaining her composure, she sat forward on the armchair and spoke directly to Marian.
“I don’t want to know what you do, but I will help you do it. I will burn the letter as you asked, and you can stay here for as long as it takes. But you have to promise not to touch me, to hug me, or anything like that. And you cannot have any keys. You won’t need them anyway, as I am always home. If that is acceptable then you can come back alone tomorrow, in the afternoon. Don’t worry about eating out, I have enough food for both of us”.
Marian looked her in the eye. “Agreed”.