Where There’s Life

Where There's Life cover

From the back cover

In a crime that shocked South Africa, fifteen year old Reuben Shayne’s life is shattered by the brutal murder of his mother, and his promising career in classical music lies in ruins.

Ten years later, new evidence comes to light, and Reuben is able to start rebuilding his life. Still unable to bring himself to play his violin, he decides to move on and leave his past behind.

Leaving Cape Town, he moves to England where he meets a group of musicians and begins to play again. But playing the local pub scene takes its toll and Reuben begins to spiral out of control.

Can a chance meeting with a conductor’s daughter turn his career around, or will the truth about his past come out and tear his life apart again?

You can read the first two chapters of the book for free below:

Chapter One

Cape Town, South Africa

March 2002

Reuben Shayne pushed his fringe off his forehead, smudging blood across his face and smearing it through his hair. His breath came in short gasps and he pushed his fist into his sternum. Slumping forward, he began to sob.

He had no idea how long he’d been there but, when he tried to move, his numb and stiffened legs refused to respond. He heard the front door come open and, with rising panic, he dragged himself across the kitchen floor. By the time his father reached the room he was cowering in the corner, still clutching the knife.

Martin Shayne felt the strength go out of him. “Oh dear God, what have you done?” He let his briefcase fall to the floor. It burst open spilling papers into the coagulating pool of blood at his feet.

He looked up from the supine body of his wife to his son. Reuben had dragged a trail of blood across the room. He had dropped the knife at his feet and was huddled against the fridge hugging his legs to his chest.

Martin fell to his knees and felt for a pulse in Christa’s neck. He knew from the blood on the floor, and the stab wounds in her chest that he was hoping for a miracle.

Hysterical screaming from the doorway behind him brought him back to his feet. He turned and caught his daughter in his arms.

“Emma, I need you to do something for me.” He took his phone from the breast pocket of his shirt and it handed to her. “Go and call an ambulance and the police, and then call Gran,” he said, guiding her back into the hallway.

He waited until he heard her speak before turning to his son. He sat on the floor and reached out to him. Reuben ignored the gesture and seemed to withdraw even further.

“Talk to me, Ruby. What happened? I need to know before the police get here. The only way I can help you is if you tell me what happened.”

Martin slipped his arm over Reuben’s shoulders and pulled him towards him. He felt him tense. “Tell me what happened, son.”

“She… I…”

“You idiot. You stupid, crazy idiot!” Emma flew at her brother, lashing out and catching him hard on the side of the jaw. He folded his arms across his chest and tucked his hands under his armpits, making no attempt to defend himself. Emma managed a vicious kick to his thigh before Martin got up and stepped between them. He held her firmly by the shoulders and backed her out of the room.

“Dad, stop it. Let me go, you’re hurting me. He’s crazy. You can’t let him get away with this. You can’t…”

“Emma, that’s enough. We have no idea what happened here. I have to talk to him before the police get here.”

Emma screamed and pounded her fists on his chest. “Why? So you can come up with some bullshit story about how sweet and loving he is, and how he could never hurt a fly? He’s evil, and he hated Mom. You know he did, and now he’s done this to her.”

Martin pulled her close and held her tight. He rested his chin on the top of her head. Her hair smelled like her mother’s and emotion threatened to overwhelm him. He pulled away and wiped the tears from her face with his thumb. “Em, just let me talk to him, okay?”

But it was too late. A knock on the door signalled the arrival of the police.

 *

Reuben remained on the floor unable to respond to what was going on around him. A large paramedic squatted in front of him, blocking his view of the one who was examining his mother.

“Are you hurt?” she asked.

Unable to speak, he leaned a little further back as she came in close and shone a light into his eyes. He stared blankly as she forced the torch into a pocket stretched over her ample left breast. She carefully examined his neck and asked again if he was hurt. This time he managed to shake his head. As she stood up he noticed two pairs of black boots to his right. He managed to get as far as the blue clad knees before his body refused to co-operate again, and his chin fell to his chest.

He heard the paramedic say he was okay as she walked away. He wanted to scream after her that he wasn’t okay. That he would never be okay again. His mother was dead on the kitchen floor. How could he possibly be okay? He heard the words in his head but his mouth refused to move.

A sharp pain jarred through his shoulder as two police officers gripped his arms and hauled him to his feet. As he was led out of the kitchen and into the entrance hall he heard one of them speak, but the words made no sense. A small yelp escaped his lips as his hands were pulled behind his back and snapped together in cold steel handcuffs.

The harsh click of metal on metal brought his mind into sharp focus. He pulled away from the officer who still held onto his arm. “What are you doing? You…”

“As I just said, I’m arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Mrs Christa Shayne. Do you underst…”

“No! No, you can’t. You can’t do this. I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t here. I… Dad, help me, please. Don’t let them take me.”

“Reuben, I’m sorry. I can’t stop them, I…”

“Rubbish!” Marjorie Shayne stepped in through the open front door. “Martin, pull yourself together and get Richard Lemmer on the phone. No grandchild of mine is spending a night in police custody.” She turned on the nearest policeman. “And there’s no way you’re taking him anywhere without a responsible adult present. He’s fifteen years old and he’s just lost his mother. How dare you pull him around like that?”

The officer released Reuben’s arm and stepped away a little.

“He’s hardly in a state to escape. Take those handcuffs off him.”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, I can’t do that.”

Marjorie checked Reuben’s wrists. “Well, fasten his hands at the front then. And loosen them at least, they’re far too tight.”

The two officers looked at each other then reluctantly agreed. Reuben didn’t resist as they adjusted his position.

Martin came into the hall. “Mum, will you go with him? Richard will meet you at the police station,” he said to Marjorie. “I’ll be there as soon as these people have finished here.”

“Yes, of course. Take Emma to Louisa on the way. I’ve spoken to her and she’s expecting you.”

Martin nodded. He reached out and placed a hand on Reuben’s shoulder, but said nothing as the two officers flanked him and led him out to the waiting car. Marjorie followed and insisted on riding in the back seat.

“Ma’am, an officer needs to be in the back with him.”

“Fine, you drive and let the skinny one sit back here with us, but I’m not leaving this boy’s side.”

The officer sighed and got into the passenger seat. “Just make sure he stays where he is, or you’ll be arrested too.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, he’s not going anywhere. Look at him, he’s in shock.”

The car pulled out of the driveway and Reuben began to sob. Marjorie pulled him into her arms.

“I didn’t do it, Gran. She was bleeding. I tried to stop it. I didn’t do it.”

“I know you didn’t, honey. My lawyer will soon sort this out.”

 *

Richard was waiting for them when they arrived at the police station.

“We need to get him processed so you’ll have to wait here, Ma’am,” said the taller of the two officers.

Marjorie exploded. “Processed? He’s a human being, not a piece of meat. You’re not taking him anywhere without me. You…”

“Marjorie, you’re not helping. He’s a minor, so I’ll be with him all the time. Now I’ll get someone to bring you a coffee and you can sit and wait for Martin.” Richard turned her towards a row of seats in a waiting area.

“You get him out of here, Richard. He can’t cope with this.”

Richard nodded. “I know, don’t worry. I’ll look after him.”

 *

Marjorie placed the paper cup of cold coffee on the table between her seat and the next. She stood up and paced the room before going outside into the bright sunlight. The thought of Reuben in the cold dark police station, alone and afraid, brought her close to tears. It had been over an hour since they had taken him away.

She rooted in her bag for her cellphone and pressed Louisa’s speed dial. She answered on the first ring.

“Mum, what’s happening? Martin and Em aren’t here yet. Are they with you?”

Marjorie rubbed her eyes and moved the phone to her left ear. “No, love. Martin will drop Emma off with you before he comes here. This is no place for her.”

“How’s Ruby? Do you know what happened?”

“They took him away over an hour ago. He’s never going to cope with this, Lou.” Not knowing what was happening to her only grandson was too much, and Marjorie lost her composure. “We should have gone back to England after your father died. Martin should never have married that bloody woman. She did nothing but push and push. That poor boy has never had a childhood. I wouldn’t blame him if he did snap and stab her. She…”

“Mum! Stop it. Are you saying you think he did it?”

“Good Lord, no, of course not. I’m just saying I wouldn’t blame him if he did.”

“Well, for God’s sake don’t let anyone hear you say that. And don’t say we should have gone back to England. We wouldn’t have Em and Reuben if Martin hadn’t married Christa. I know she was pushy, but she only wanted what was best for him.”

Marjorie sighed. “I know, I’m sorry. I just can’t believe this has happened, that she’s gone. I…”

“Mum, are you okay? Do you want me to come down there?”

“No, Emma needs you more than I do, love. Just tell Martin to come down here as soon as he gets there.”

Marjorie ended the call and turned to go back inside. She started as she almost walked into Richard.

“You made me jump. How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough to know we might have a problem on our hands.”

“What problem? Where’s Reuben? Why have you left him alone?”

“He’s in a holding cell. We’re waiting his lawyer before they can interview him.”

“A cell? How could you leave him in a cell? And you’re supposed to be his lawyer.”

“Marjorie, this is not shoplifting. Reuben has been arrested on suspicion of murder, not some minor offence. I specialise in contract and property law. He needs a good criminal lawyer. I’ve been in touch with the firm and they’re sending Lindiwe Cele. She’s on her way now. Oh, and Marjorie, if he’s charged, you’re going to have to accept that he will probably be remanded in custody until the trial.”

“But he didn’t do anything. They can’t keep him here. It’ll kill him. He can’t even relate to other teens, never mind hardened criminals. He’s home schooled, for heaven’s sake.”

“Are you sure?”

“Oh course I’m sure. His mother insisted he had a tutor and…”

“Marjorie,” Richard held up a hand to stop her, “I know he’s home schooled. I mean are you sure he didn’t do it?”

“How dare you? You need to make up your mind whose side you’re on before we go back in there, or I’ll be getting another law firm.”

Richard looked around and guided Marjorie away from the door. “I’m on Reuben’s side, but I need to know whether we’re going with a not guilty, or a diminished responsibility plea here. And so far it’s not looking promising for a not guilty.”

Marjorie fished a tissue out of her bag and dabbed at her eyes. “Has Ruby said anything?”

Richard ran a hand through his hair. “He’s admitted he was upset because his mother didn’t come to their rehearsal, but he doesn’t respond when I ask him what happened when he got home. He might open up to Lindiwe though. What concerns me right now is what you said on the phone. Do you think Christa could have pushed him too far?”

She shook her head. “Honestly, no, I don’t. There were days when I could have killed her a thousand times over, but Reuben just doesn’t have it in him.”

“Right, well Lindi needs to hear that. Come on, let’s go back inside. The police are going to want a statement from you.”

 *

Reuben stepped into the cell and stood with his back to the door as it banged shut behind him. Fear rooted him to the spot when he heard the bolts slide into place.

There were three other youths in the cell. One appeared to be about his age, the other two a little older. He looked at the floor, avoiding eye contact.

“Well, hello there blondie. What’s your name?” the tallest of the three asked. He got up off the bench, the only piece of furniture in the room. Reuben didn’t respond.

“I’m speaking to you, pretty boy!” He sauntered forwards. “Your Ma didn’t teach you manners, hey? Maybe we need to help you with that.” He turned to the others who had got up and moved a little closer. “Hold him.”

The two of them grabbed him by the arms while the tall one paced the room. “Okay, we’ll start with me. My name is Haai, that’s shark in case you don’t understand Afrikaans.” He pushed his sleeve up and pointed to a crude tattoo of a hammerhead. Even in his terror, Reuben thought the name ironic for someone missing his two front teeth.

“This ou is Monkey,” he pointed to the younger of the other two, “ and the big guy on your left is Jimmy. So, what are we going to call you?”

Reuben still couldn’t respond.

“Rude. Very rude,” said Haai, turning his back and walking away. Without warning he spun round and lunged forward, planting his fist hard into Reuben’s gut. He let out a choking sound and doubled over. Monkey and Jimmy pulled him upright. Haai came in close to his face. “Name?”

Reuben pulled back. The smell of Haai’s breath suggested he was well on the way to losing more teeth. This time he tried to speak but his own breath jammed in his throat and nothing came out.

“Fine, have it your way.” Haai caught his wrist and pulled his arm from Jimmy’s grip. He grabbed his middle finger and shoved the hand into Jimmy’s chest. “Break it,” he said, and stepped back. Jimmy’s face split into a grin as he reached for the digit.

“Noooo!” Reuben yelled loud enough to scare the devil. He curled his fingers in tightly and jerked his hand away. Jimmy snatched at his arm holding him back as he struggled to free himself. Haai moved in, fists held high.

Gripped firmly by both Jimmy and Monkey, Reuben had only one line of defence. Using his captors for support he drew his knees up high and thrust both feet forward, slamming them hard into Haai’s ribcage. Haai went down and stayed there.

The abrupt change in dynamics startled Monkey and he released Reuben’s arm, leaving him free to smash his right elbow into Jimmy’s sternum. The big man hit the floor and, just as he planted his foot into the face of his stricken tormentor, four officers burst into the room.

 *

Marjorie and Richard arrived back inside to find the place in chaos.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m not sure. Wait here a second and I’ll find out.”

Marjorie didn’t wait. She followed Richard to the duty officer’s desk and hung back behind him.

“I’m sorry, Mr Lemmer. There’s been a change of plan. We won’t be able to interview your client until next week.”

Marjorie pushed past him and leaned over the desk. “Then let me take him home. I don’t care how much the bail is, he can’t stay here.”

“Marjorie, please, let me do the talking.” He turned back to the officer. “I need to know why the change, and I’d like to see my client please.”

The officer ignored Richard and addressed Marjorie. “I’m sorry, Mrs Shayne, but that won’t be possible. He will be held in a secure psychiatric unit for assessment and then…”

“That’s ridiculous. He didn’t do anything.”

“Ma’am, he was found covered in blood with a knife in his hand, and he had made no attempt to call for help. You’ll have to forgive us for assuming he may have done something.”

“I know my grandson. He’s a sweet, gentle boy and he would never hurt anyone.”

“And would that be the same sweet, gentle boy who just put two of our remand prisoners in hospital? Perhaps you don’t know your grandson as well as you think you do.”

Richard restrained Marjorie as she lunged forward and hammered her fist on the desk. “I know he didn’t do this and I will fight until I draw my last breath to prove it!”

Four months later Reuben Shayne was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

 

Chapter Two

Cape Town, South Africa

January 2012

Martin Shayne pulled his iPhone from his shirt pocket and frowned as he saw the name on the screen.

“Richard, hello, what can I do for you?”

There was a pause long enough for Martin to remove the phone from his ear to check the connection before the lawyer spoke.

“Hello Martin. Look, I really need to speak to you. Are you at home?”

“I’m at the office, but I’ve got a few minutes. What is it?”

“No, I need to see you. I can’t do this over the phone.”

“Richard, what is it? Is it Reuben? Did something happen?”

“No, don’t worry, Reuben is fine.” There was another long pause before Richard cleared his throat and went on. “Could I come round tonight?”

“Can you make it now? I’ll head straight home if you can.”

“Right, I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes.”

Martin slipped the phone back into his pocket and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair. He was out of the door and half way down the passage when he remembered his briefcase. He was about to turn back but decided there was nothing so important in it that it couldn’t stay the night in the office. He called out to the receptionist on his way past.

“Sue, I’m out for the rest of the day. If there’s anything Jen can’t deal with I’ll be on my cellphone.”

By the time he arrived home Richard’s Kompressor was already parked in his driveway. He pulled up alongside it and headed for the house.

Richard was waiting for him at the front door. He unlocked it and ushered him inside. “You look like you could do with a strong coffee. I’ll put the pot on.”

Richard shook his head. “Not for me, thanks. I’ve been drinking the stuff all morning. Martin, I think you need to have a seat and listen to this.”

He set the jug down with a bump slopping water on the counter top. “I knew it. Something has happened to Reuben.”

Richard sighed and covered his face with his hands. He pushed his fingertips against his eyes then slid them to his temples, cupping his chin. Finally, looking directly at Martin, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded envelope. “Does this mean anything to you?”

Martin took the envelope. It felt heavy. He shook the contents into the palm of his hand and frowned at the diamond and opal bracelet. “Yes,” he said, “this was Christa’s.” He turned it in his hand to be sure. Her name was engraved in the silver backing. “I bought it for her on a trip to Australia just after we got married. Where did you get it?”

“It was found in the house of an armed robbery suspect.”

“But how the hell? I didn’t even know it was missing. Nothing else has been taken and…”

“It’s been missing a long time. Almost ten years.”

“But…”

“Martin, it’s someone you know. He was your gardener for five years and he confessed this morning. He stabbed Christa.”

Martin looked up, stunned. He opened his mouth to speak but his knees gave way and he hit the floor before he could make a sound.

 *

Martin paced the small room. He tugged his collar away from his neck. “Oh, for God’s sake what’s taking so long? We’ve been here hours.”

“We’ve been here twenty minutes,” said Richard. “Why don’t you sit down? There’s paperwork to be done and Reuben will need time to come to terms with this. He wasn’t told until this morning.”

Martin perched on the edge of a chair then leapt up again. “Why the hell not?”

Richard inclined his head. “How well did you sleep last night?”

“I didn’t.”

“I rest my case. Reuben’s going to have enough to deal with without adding sleepless nights.”

Martin began pacing again. “Christ, it’s hot in here. Can we open a window?”

“I doubt it, but you can try.”

He reached through the steel bars to the catch but it was locked. He tugged at his collar again and fanned his face with the ID badge he’d been given when they entered the prison. “I have to get out of here. I’ll be back in a minute.”

He pulled on the door handle but it was locked. “What the hell? This is ridiculous. Why have they locked us in?”

“Martin, relax. This is a high security area of a prison. They lock everything. Please sit down, you’re driving me nuts.”

Martin sat just as a key turned in the lock of a door in the opposite wall. He bounced out of the chair like a jack-in-the-box.

A man in a suit entered followed by another in a pair of jeans and a faded blue t-shirt. The second man was barefoot. Martin frowned and thought it very unprofessional. He made a mental note to point it out to his superiors.

“Mr Shayne, I’m Themba Moyo. I have some papers for you to sign.”

Martin shook Themba’s extended hand then turned to his colleague for an introduction. His mouth came open and he took a half step backwards as he realised he was looking at his own son.

He hadn’t seen Reuben since he was dragged, sobbing, from the courtroom after his sentencing almost ten years earlier. Every month he had applied for a visitor’s pass and every month Reuben had refused to see him. The only person he had ever allowed in was his grandmother, Marjorie, who, true to her word, had fought to prove his innocence until her death two years ago.

Martin swallowed hard at the thought of her never knowing that her dearest wish had come to pass. He blinked and studied his son. Even without shoes Reuben was taller than he was, which he figured would make him a little over six feet. The scruffy clothes swamped his pitifully thin frame. His once neatly cropped blond hair was scraped back and doubled over into a ponytail. A lack of sunlight had darkened the roots. He needed a shave, and there were dark smudges beneath the soft hazel eyes, which refused to meet his.

He stepped forward and embraced him. Reuben tensed but otherwise remained unresponsive. Releasing him, he turned his attention back to Themba and the paperwork.

“Please sign here, and here.” Themba’s stubby finger jabbed the page in two places. “It’s just to say we are releasing the pris…” he cleared his throat, “er, your son into your care.”

Martin scanned the page then signed and handed the clipboard and pen back. Themba flipped two pages over and held the clipboard out to Reuben.

“If you’re happy with this arrangement I need you to sign the bottom of this page.”

Reuben stared at it for a moment then took the pen. He scrawled his name on the paper and handed it back.

Themba beamed and patted him on the shoulder. “Good luck out there, Reuben,” he said.

“Thank you,” Reuben said quietly. The door behind him came open and he stepped aside. A woman popped her head into the room and handed him a plastic Pick ‘n’ Pay packet full of papers. For a short moment Reuben’s drawn appearance was transformed by a smile. He thanked her and hugged the packet to his chest.

No one spoke while they waited for Richard to sign more paperwork. Once he’d done, Themba unlocked the door to the car park and showed them out. Reuben hesitated on the steps then turned back. “Thank you, Mr Moyo,” he said before following Richard and his father to the car.

 *

Reuben slid off the leather seat of Richard’s Mercedes and stood on the driveway clutching his plastic bag. He closed his eyes and tilted his face to the sun. He felt his father’s presence at his side even before he spoke.

“I’m sorry, Ruby, I had to move. I couldn’t stay in that place after…” Martin’s voice tailed off.

Reuben opened his eyes and stared at the house. It was smaller than the one they’d had before, but they had been a family then. Now his father lived alone. At least he assumed he did. He turned and looked at him for the first time. He had aged much more than he should have in ten years. Although he was not yet fifty his hair was almost completely grey, and deep lines creased his forehead. Even his eyes were different. Colder, was the only word he could think of. He wanted to say that it was okay, that he didn’t want to go back there either, but the words wouldn’t come.

He stepped off the driveway and felt the warm, soft grass under his bare feet. Curling his toes into the lawn, he had a strong urge to lie down and breathe in its earthy scent. His chest tightened as a vivid memory of his mother invaded his thoughts. She would not have approved. Rolling around on the grass was not something cultured people did. Reuben didn’t feel very cultured, and he knew he certainly didn’t look the part she would have wanted him to play.

“Shall we go inside?” Martin placed a hand on Reuben’s elbow. He flinched at his father’s touch but stopped short of actually pulling away. Martin withdrew his hand and led the way up the steps to the verandah.

Richard followed them in and almost walked into Reuben as he stopped dead in the entrance. He lifted a foot and examined it before wiping it on the leg of his jeans. He did the same with the other then stepped inside.

“Don’t worry about a bit of dirt. The floors will wash,” said Martin. “Come through to the kitchen.”

Reuben followed with Richard bringing up the rear. Martin put the coffee pot on and took three mugs from the cupboard. “We’ll have to get you some shoes and some clothes that fit. Maybe we can go shopping tomorrow,” he said taking a carton of milk from the fridge and placing it alongside the mugs. “Are you hungry? You look like you could do with a good feed.”

Reuben was suddenly overwhelmed. He hugged his plastic bag to his chest and backed against the counter. “Um, would it be okay if I just have a shower?”

Martin set the sugar bowl down and turned to face him. “Of course it would. Or how about a soak in a nice hot bath?”

Reuben managed a nod.

“Right, I’ll go and get things ready for you.” Martin darted out of the kitchen leaving Reuben alone with Richard. There was an awkward silence and then Richard spoke.

“Do you want to put that bag down somewhere?”

Reuben gripped it a little tighter.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to.” He held both hands up as he stepped a little closer, but stopped when Reuben shrank back. “Reuben, I am so sorry. Your grandmother was right all along. But with so much pointing to you, and with you not telling us what happened, there was just nothing for Lindiwe to base your defence on. I…”

Reuben caught Richard’s look of relief when Martin came back into the room. It was the same one his father had had when he left.

“Reuben, come through and I’ll show you where everything is.”

He turned to Richard and said, “It’s okay, Mr Lemmer. I know it wasn’t her fault,” then followed his father out of the kitchen.

“This will be your room for as long as you want to stay,” said Martin, holding the door open for him to enter. He walked in and looked around. It was at least three times the size of the cell he’d shared with more than ten people. There was a king size bed against one wall and two large windows opposite. The view took in the entire back garden and the swimming pool. A large flat screen television occupied one corner of the room and a door leading to an en suite bathroom was directly opposite where they were standing.

“Your bathroom is through there.” Martin pointed to the door. “I’ve put you some clean clothes out. They’ll be a mile too big, and maybe the pants will be a bit short in the leg, but they have a drawstring so they won’t fall off. It’s the best I can do until we can get to a shop.”

“Thank you.”

“Oh, and I’ve put a toothbrush and toothpaste out for you, and there’s a razor on the basin if you want to use it.”

Reuben felt self-conscious about his appearance again. He ran a hand over his chin and nodded. “Okay, thanks.”

 *

Martin watched him go into the bathroom then retreated and closed the bedroom door. He sighed and made his way back to the kitchen.

Richard had finished making the coffee and was just about to pour himself one. He waved the coffee pot. “Good timing, it’s just run through. You look like you’re ready for one.”

“Three sugars please. I feel like I’ve been hit by a train.” Martin shook his head. “What am I going to do with him, Richard? It’s like having a complete stranger in my house.”

Richard made the coffees and placed them on the kitchen table. “He is a complete stranger. You don’t spend ten years in a place like Pollsmoor prison and come out the same person you were when you went in, especially if you were only a kid at the time.”

“I don’t know if I can cope with this. I don’t know if he can either.” Martin swivelled the hot coffee mug between his finger tips and stared at the steam rising off it.

“Well, at least you can admit that. It’s tempting to think that Reuben’s release is the end of a nightmare, but could well be just the beginning.”

“What do you mean?” Martin looked up from his mug.

“Our firm works with a lot of re offenders. Adjusting to life on the outside is a tough call even for someone who committed the crime. Your son lost his mother, his family, his reputation, and ten years of his life for something he didn’t do. Don’t let him end up back in there for something he did.”

“But what can I do? You’ve seen him. He can hardly even look at me.”

“All you can do right now is give him the time and space he needs. Let him grieve for his mother and Marjorie, and just love him the best way you can. Do you think Emma can help?”

Martin almost knocked his coffee over. “Good God, no. She’s going to have enough of her own demons to deal with. She was convinced from day one that Ruby did it.”

“Ah, right. Better give her some time too then.” Richard downed the last of his coffee and stood up. “Look, I’ve got to go, I’ve got a meeting this afternoon. If you need me you know where I am. Just give me a call.” He took his jacket from the back of the chair and shrugged it on. “Oh, and Martin, don’t let anyone from the press get anywhere near him. I’ll keep a lid on this for as long as I can, but it’s going to get out sometime.”

 ***