usually. We broker
information, set up deals. Do investigative work.’
‘You are … detectives?’
‘No, we’re not. Although one of us used to be with the police.’
Katya frowned. ‘Which one?’
‘Your partner in the house. Peta.’
Katya’s eyes widened. ‘Really? But she was … going with punters.’
Donovan gave a small laugh. ‘She may have let them into her room. But she certainly wouldn’t have done anything with them.’
Katya looked confused.
‘Let’s just say she can still act and sound like police when she wants to.’
A tiny smile appeared on Katya’s face. ‘I see.’ She picked up another biscuit.
Katya paused, biscuit on the way to her lips. Her eyes took on a fearful aspect. She put the biscuit back on the plate.
‘No, it’s OK, keep eating. That’s what they’re there for. I’ll make something more substantial if you like.’
She looked at him warily. Donovan scratched his head.
‘Look, Katya, there’s absolutely no reason why you should trust me, I know, but I’m not going to hurt you or force you to
do anything against your will. Like I said, you’re not a prisoner here. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re thirsty, drink. If
you want to go out, go out. You won’t be punished for it.’
She looked into his eyes, checking for lies, wanting to believe him. Donovan didn’t move while she did so. Eventually she
‘Thank you,’ said Donovan. ‘Now help yourself to biscuits and I’ll make a proper breakfast. How does bacon and eggs sound?’
He saw the expression on her face, stood up, smiled. ‘Bacon and eggs it is.’
Donovan went into the kitchen. Katya watched him go, a small smile playing on the corners of her lips.
They breakfasted at the dining table by the window with its view down past the dunes to the beach and beyond, the North Sea.
Jamal came down to join them, the smell of bacon cooking too much of a lure. He wore his hip-hop T-shirt and baggy jeans and
was on his best behaviour before Katya. She seemed to take to him, thought Donovan, smiling when the boy spoke.
Once the meal was under way, Katya had more questions for Donovan.
‘When can I see Dario? When can I see my brother?’
‘Soon,’ said Donovan, forking egg into his mouth. ‘Like it said in his letter I gave you last night, I think it might be best
if you stay here for a while. If Kovacs finds out about the whole thing it might get very nasty.’
Katya sighed. ‘Kovacs. Always Kovacs.’
‘Hopefully it won’t be too long, though.’
The meal over, Jamal surprised Donovan by volunteering to clear away.
‘You feeling all right?’ asked Donovan.
Jamal looked at him as if he had sprouted another head. ‘Whassamatter wit’ you, man? Makin’ out like I never do nothin’.’
He went into the kitchen, plates balanced on his hands.
‘He is a good boy,’ Katya said to Donovan. ‘Is he your son?’
Donovan laughed. ‘No,’ he said, feeling his cheeks beginning to redden. ‘Just another stray that I picked up.’
‘An’ you be glad you did,’ Jamal shouted from the kitchen. ‘Katya, you shoulda seen this place when I moved in. It was mingin’,
man. Like a buildin’ site. Not fit for human habitation.’ Jamal came to the kitchen entrance, stood in the doorway. He counted
his next words out on his fingers. ‘I had to plaster, paint, put proper floors down, choose furniture, get the heatin’ fixed,
plant the garden …’ He gave an elaborate sigh. ‘Tell you, man, if I hadn’ta moved in, old Joe here would still be livin’ in
the Stone Age.’
Donovan made more coffee. Katya was beginning to relax.
‘So what happens now?’ she asked.
‘Well, I’ve got to go into Newcastle today, sort some stuffout with the solicitors, let them know you’re safe and sound. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Jamal.’
Jamal nodded, gave a small wave. ‘My mate Jake’s comin’ round later. We