I went back to work today. I hated to leave Granny on her own, but when I got up this morning she was bustling about the kitchen, singing away to herself. She’d made me a cooked breakfast, and as I sat down at the table I opened my mouth to say I don’t even know what, but she put her hand over mine and shushed me. She told me not to worry. She told me she kent fine how mad the whole thing was, but she didn’t care. He was her Nate, and she was going to get to talk to him, get to show him pictures of Mairi and tell him all about her, going to watch as he got to know me. That was all that mattered to her.

In the cold light of day, all I could think was but what if he’s a conman.

A rubbish, albeit wildly imaginative conman. Granny and I have always mucked along together fine, but it would take a decent criminal about seven minutes to blow our combined life savings. And what else could he want? Solveig once told me that the issue of motive is more complex than most crime dramas give it credit for. Legally, it’s not as essential as you’d think: if the prosecution can provide evidence someone did something, a jury is unlikely not to find them guilty just because no one can fathom why. But on the other hand, nobody ever does anything without a motive. However wild, irrational, twisted or weak the motive is… it’s always there.

I really need to talk to Solveig about all this. I need her cool blue eyes that are somehow the colour of ice, whatever the colour of ice is, watching me intently as her brain clicks over all of this, assessing, analysing, evaluating. I used to think of myself as the calm, wise one in our group. I was the one with the steady life, the solid job and relationship while they danced through boy drama and uni drama and restaurant business drama, but now that I’m adrift I’m realising that Solveig has always been more in control than I gave her credit for. She dances through dramas for the fun of it, not because she’s powerless agains them. She is going to be such a great mum.

My head is all over the place today.

Just as I was worrying about Nate’s motives and how to protect Granny, she told me she wasn’t going to see him today anyway because her friend Isobel was holding a Stitch ‘n Bitch morning. Granny couldn’t let them down because she was in charge of bringing chocolate biscuits, and she couldn’t expect them to knit and gossip without a decent selection of KitKats. She promised that she wouldn’t see Nate again until I came back after work and we talked some more.

After all that, I was running late for work, so went flying into the first Power Core class I’ve taught in over a year, breathless, sweaty and with a stitch from having wolfed down a cooked breakfast. I caught Roddy rolling his eyes from his office as I sprinted past. He was in there chatting with someone, a new client presumably, who didn’t look round as I passed.

Given the state of me, it’s a wonder no one walked right out the class when I rocked up – at least my bruises and stuff are not quite as horror movie as they were a few days ago.

Moments into the warm up though, I started getting that high I always get from exercise. As the pounding bass from the music ricocheted off the walls and people laughed and groaned and jokingly begged for mercy, I got the most welcome rush of feeling that all was right in my world. For the next 43 minutes, anyway.

Its a fairly advanced class, filled mostly with regulars who know what they’re doing, so I was able to get into the zone and let my mind wander a bit.

There was no storm as such, the night that Nate took off from Kennacraig in search of Granny, just the regular grouchy choppiness of where the Firth of Clyde meets the Irish Sea. But Nate was an inexperienced sailor and, as Granny affectionately concluded, didn’t have a hope in hell of making it to Islay. He couldn’t say for sure if he was blown off course, because he was far from certain he’d been on much of a course in the first place, but, just as it started to get dark and the total stupidity of racing hairbrained in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean was occurring to him, he spotted land.

“Isle of Sanda,” said Granny. “You were going the wrong way, you numpty.”

Nate chuckled then and I had a mad urge to snap at them to get a room, but thankfully he picked up his story. He managed to dock the boat at a large rock, then dozed on it on and off throughout the night. In the morning, he’d just set off again when the Coast Guard picked him up.

“I was explaining my story and hope they could get me to where I could find Elsie, when one of them picked up a strange flat thing and talked into it,” he said, shaking his head with wonder. “Never saw anything like it. They towed the boat I borrowed back to the mainland, but nobody in the dock had ever heard of the fellow that loaned it to me.”

Everything was different, he said. The buildings, the boats, the people. “But I only set sail the night before.”

Now where have I heard that before?

 

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