The pub was crowded, as Jon knew it would be. Beer in hand, he looked round the room. Empty seats were few. The tables were close together but he finally made it to the chair near the window. To the table where a thin dark-haired guy gazed down into his beer.
“Anyone’s seat?” he asked, putting his tankard on the table and sitting down.
The guy didn’t answer, but briefly glanced up, then went back to communing with his beer.
Not happy thoughts, in Jon’s opinion. The guy looked haunted. Good.
Through the window, Jon watched a white double-decker bus pull up at the nearby stop. A petite blonde got off, with a phone to her ear and a large bag hugged to her chest. Red to match her high-heeled shoes. Her short skirt displayed slim, shapely legs. Good, Jon thought again.
His mobile rang. The guy across the table looked up sharply—a look of shock on his gaunt face. His hand unconsciously groped on the table for a mobile that wasn’t there…
“Haunting tune, don’t you think?” Jon said, getting his from his pocket, his eyes straying to the girl in the short skirt outside. “You got it on yours? I’ll always be right there for you …”
The guy’s eyes automatically followed his, as Jon knew they would. His face paled.
“Mia?” he whispered, staring at the girl in disbelief. “Mia?”
“Doing good,” Jon said into his phone.
Slack-jawed, the guy lowered his head and swivelled his eyes upwards, as if looking through the window at a different angle would alter what he saw…He half-rose from his seat, not noticing that two men at the next table made the same move. He shook his head, sank back on his chair and dropped his face in his hands. Jon almost felt sorry for him.
“Something wrong?” he asked.
“Outside. That girl. Can you see her?”
“You mean the one with the dog?”
“Dog,” he repeated, as if the word was new to him. “No. Big red bag. Red shoes…” He slowly slid his hands down his face and risked another look over the tips of his fingers. “She’s still out there. Tell me…tell me you can see her—the blonde —”
The girl smiled. Slightly tilted her head.
“No! No! No!” he moaned, rocking back and forth. “Go away! Stop following me!”
“Going well,” Jon murmured into his phone, his eyes on the guy, as the girl stepped slowly towards the window, still smiling.
The guy went to pieces.
“Leave me alone,” he shrieked, springing to his feet to pound on the window. “Go away!”
Customers at the adjoining tables drew back, shocked. The packed room fell silent.
The girl moved relentlessly towards him, swinging her bag.
“Isn’t it enough that you haunt my dreams?” the guy yelled. “Leave me alone, Mia, keep away, or—or I swear to God, I’ll—I’ll kill you all over gain…”
Jon rose as two men gripped the guy’s arms. His head jerked round in surprise.
“I’m Detective Inspector Jon Rowan,” he said. “Gilbert Johnson, I’m arresting you for the murder of your wife, Mia. Anything you say…”
“Mia?” the guy interrupted, as the blonde entered the bar. “Mia?”
“Detective Constable June West, I’m afraid, sir. Mia is dead.”
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