Friday 5th January
At last some news of Phil, the police sergeant told June he thought he knew where Phil was and they would fetch him tomorrow, but as she was seeing him out of the front door, and the girls were making tea in the kitchen the sergeant spoke quietly to her.
‘You do realise Mrs. Wilkinson that your husband will almost certainly be arrested and detained in Police custody tomorrow. There is very little chance he will be returning here. Not for a while anyway. I just wanted to warn you in private. I didn’t want to say anything in front of your daughters, you’ve all been through enough already I should think.’
‘Thankyou for letting me know. To be honest I hadn’t thought about what might happen next. I am just relieved he is okay.’ June replied.
She closed the front door and re-joined the girls. She wouldn’t let them know what the policeman had said, it was enough for them to know their father was okay.
It was almost from that moment on that she detected a change in Harriet. She had really been pleasant for a couple of days, while Phil was still missing, but almost from the moment they knew he was safe and would be returning she seemed to slip back into her sarcastic mode. As if she had been good enough to June while her father was still missing, but now she could start hurting her mother again. It wasn’t completely obvious at first, just a slipped out barb, a half-spoken ‘put-me-down’. June was so relieved to know that Phil was safe and would be returning that she almost ignored her. Harriet was the least of her worries now. She just wanted this business with Phil to be sorted out, surely they wouldn’t stop Phil from coming home, would they? Probably they just meant for a day or two, just until they had time to question him.
* * *
\the net was closing in on Jane’s father. He had been quite close all along, in Lowestoft, on the East coast. He had booked himself into a small hotel overlooking the sea, and simply sat in his room every day looking out over the ocean. The Bentley was parked in the car park at the back of the hotel, but the Hotel said he never went out, not even for a walk. The police sent a detective inspector and two constables to arrest him; Jane expected that he was quite relieved when they arrived.
* * *
“Oh there you are. I was wondering when you would find me. Yes, I’ll just collect my things from the bathroom. I won’t be a minute.”
* * *
It was now a week since this whole nightmare had started. Harriet’s stupid mother screwing her Uncle Ted, her discovering them, her return to Leeds and the rotten journey back home. And now to cap it all her Dad had been detained for stealing money from his clients – of all the stupid things in the world to do. Harriet had no idea, she just sort of assumed he had pots of money. He was always generous with Jane and her. She just never guessed for a moment he was stealing money. The day they caught him, and it all started to come out, the Police were quite sarky really, a sort of sneer in their voices. Harriet was too shell-shocked to think straight. She hadn’t been capable of thinking straight ever since she caught her mother at it with Uncle Ted. But that night, it suddenly dawned on her, the enormity of what her Dad had done. He might even go to prison, they might lose the house and might have absolutely no money at all.
Shit. Her savings book. Harriet sat bolt upright in bed. ‘Oh no, surely he hadn’t, had he?’ She tore downstairs and into his study, and couldn’t give a fuck if her mother heard her, she started rummaging. His desk, it had to be in his desk. The Police hadn’t bothered to look in his desk, the key was still there in the lock – it hadn’t even been locked. There in the top drawer underneath a few receipts were two neat little blue books. One for Jane and one for Harriet, they had been shown them occasionally when they were both little. Harriet was almost too scared to open them; unopened they still had the money in them, the money she needed to start a new life in London. Fuck it, she would just go tomorrow morning, no point in hanging around here anymore. There was nothing for her here, or up in Leeds. London was her only hope, her only salvation.
She tentatively opened Jane’s book first. The columns ruled and added up, each entry in neat blue ink handwriting with the amounts carried forward to each new page.
Of course, she should have known. Over a year ago he had taken out her meagre total of eight hundred pounds. No need to open her own then was there? But she did anyway, just in case he had left Harriet till later and hadn’t gotten round to screwing his oldest daughter quite yet. But nothing – just a few odd pounds and pennies. Fuck, she slung the books back in the drawer. What would she do now, that had been her last hope. Oh shit, how could he have done that? Stolen from his own daughter’s savings. Dad? What a shit.