He straightens, wipes his brow. ‘I found this.’ He lifts the teal blue handbag.
‘You did? Oh, you’re a darling!’ She claps her hands together, takes it from him and smoothes it lovingly. ‘I was so afraid I’d left it somewhere. I’m such a clutterbrain. Thank you. Thank you so much. Heaven knows how you found it in all this chaos.’
‘I found something else too.’
Her gaze slides upwards.
‘You mind if I borrow these?’ He holds up the satchel with the journals in it.
‘Is that what I think it is? What do they say?’
‘They say …’ he takes a breath, exhales ‘… that the painting was indeed gifted to your mother.’
‘I told you all!’ Marianne Andrews exclaims. ‘I told you my mother wasn’t a thief! I told you all along.’
There is a long silence.
‘And you’re going to give them to Mrs Halston,’ she says slowly.
‘I’m not sure that would be wise. This journal will effectively lose us our case.’
Her expression clouds. ‘What are you saying? That you’re not going to give them to her?’
‘That’s exactly what I’m saying.’
He reaches into his pocket for a pen. ‘But if I leave them here, there’s nothing to stop you giving them to her, right?’ He scribbles a number and hands it to her. ‘That’s her cell.’
They gaze at each other for a minute. She beams, as if something has been reasserted. ‘I’ll do that, Mr McCafferty.’
‘Marianne. For goodness’ sakes.’
‘Marianne. Best keep this to ourselves. I don’t think it would go down well in certain quarters.’
She nods firmly. ‘You were never here, young man.’ She’s seemingly struck by a thought. ‘You don’t even want me to tell Mrs Halston? That it was you who …’
He shakes his head, pops his pen back in his pocket. ‘I think that ship may have sailed. Seeing her win will be enough.’ He stoops and kisses her cheek. ‘The important one is April 1945. The journal with the bent corner.’
He feels almost dizzy with the enormity of what he has done. TARP, the Lefèvres, will now lose the case. They have to, based on what he has seen. Is it still a betrayal if you’re doing it for the right reasons? He needs a drink. He needs some air. Something. Have I gone crazy here? All he can see is Liv’s face, her relief. He wants to see that smile breaking out again, slow and wide, as if surprised by its own arrival.
He picks up his jacket to leave, holds out the cupboard keys. Marianne touches his elbow, halting him. ‘You know, I’ll tell you something about being married five times. Or married five times and still friends with my surviving ex-husbands.’ She counts them on gnarled fingers. ‘That would be three.’
‘It teaches you damn all about love.’
Paul begins to smile, but she hasn’t finished. Her grip on his arm is surprisingly strong. ‘What it does teach you, Mr McCafferty, is that there’s a whole lot more to life than winning.’
Henry meets her at the rear gate of the courts. He is speaking through a cloud of pain au chocolat crumbs. His face is pink, and he is almost incomprehensible. ‘She won’t give it to anyone else.’
‘What? Who won’t?’
‘She’s at the front entrance. Come. Come.’
Before she can ask any more, Henry is propelling her through the back of the courts, through a network of corridors and flights of stone stairs, out to the security area at the top of the main entrance. Marianne Andrews is waiting by the barriers, dressed in a purple coat and a wide tartan hairband. She sees Liv and lets out a theatrical sigh of relief. ‘Lord, you’re a hard woman to get hold of,’ she scolds, as she holds out a musty-smelling satchel. ‘I’ve been calling and calling you.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Liv says, blinking. ‘I don’t answer my phone any more.’
‘It’s in there.’ Marianne points to the journal. ‘Everything you need. April 1945.’
Liv stares at the old books in her hand. And looks up in disbelief. ‘Everything I need?’
‘The painting,’ the older woman says, exasperated. ‘For goodness’ sakes, child. It’s not a recipe for prawn gumbo.’
Events move at some speed. Henry runs to the judge’s chambers and requests a brief adjournment. The journals are photocopied, highlighted, their contents sent to the Lefèvres’ lawyers under the rule of disclosure. Liv and Henry sit in a corner of the office, scanning the bookmarked pages, while Marianne talks non-stop with some pride of how she had always known her mom was not a thief and how that darned Mr Jenks could go boil his head.
A junior lawyer brings coffee and sandwiches. Liv’s stomach is too taut to eat. They sit untouched in their cardboard packet. She keeps staring at the journal, unable to believe that this dog-eared book might hold the answer to her problems.
‘What do you think?’ she says, when Angela Silver and Henry have finished talking.
‘I think it could be good news,’ he says. His smile belies his cautious words.
‘It seems fairly straightforward,’ Angela says. ‘If we can prove that the last two exchanges were innocent, and there is inconclusive evidence for the first exchange, then we are, as they say, back in the game.’
‘Thank you so much,’ Liv says, not daring to believe this turn of events. ‘Thank you, Ms Andrews.’
‘Oh, I could not be more delighted,’ Marianne says, waving a cigarette in the air. Nobody has bothered to tell her not to smoke. She leans forward, places a bony hand on Liv’s knee. ‘And he found my favourite handbag.’
The old woman’s smile falters. She busies herself with refixing a brooch. ‘Oh, nothing. Take no notice of me.’
Liv keeps staring at her, as the faint flush of colour dies down. ‘Don’t you want these sandwiches?’ Marianne says briskly.
The phone rings. ‘Right,’ says Henry, when he puts down the receiver. ‘Is everyone okay? Ms Andrews – are you ready to read some of this evidence to the court?’
‘I have my best reading glasses in my bag.’
‘Right.’ Henry takes a deep breath. ‘Then it’s time to go in.’
30 April 1945
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