Timonthy was thinking the same way. Imagining a life in which, after a suitable holiday just to make sure that he wasn’t being premature, he took Gerard home. He would probably marry him if he agreed, just to avoid the endless questions and confusion.
It made him happy imagining introducing him in that way. It wouldn’t even matter to him if the marriage lasted, although he hoped it would. Just the act of marriage would break the chains that had always held him.
That and the chance of happiness made it such a risk worth taking he was excited by the prospect.
Would it affect the business, he wondered idly. In a way he didn’t care. His business was sitting on an asset so valuable it had recently made any effort or passion that he put in irrelevant. If a few customers decided they didn’t like the new him he could survive without them.
To be honest if he wasn’t alone he would probably sell his house in that genteel and elegant city with its view over all the other houses nestling in their green valley – and move to London.
What better place to live could he find than the top floor of the business with just a little conversion? His office was there already with a sofa bed for emergencies and…
God, sometimes he wished he could stop his mind! It was like a badly designed tap which was always left on.
Timonthy also wished that Johnathon was still alive. He could imagine no better fate than to travel the world with Stolid and him now that he had Gerard by his side.
He finished thinking when he realised everyone was looking at him with expectation.
“I’m sorry,” he shrugged. “Did I miss something?”
“I just said that Peter mentioned your indisposition this morning,” Koa asked him with amusement. “So I was asking how you were feeling.”
“Oh, I feel fine,” Timonthy replied surprised. He had almost forgotten that incident. It seemed so far away and irrelevant to his dreams of the future.
“Well if you think it would help at all, I’m happy to check you over,” Koa offered. Timonthy restrained himself from asking the question he was dying to ask. ‘Are you a real doctor?’ as it seemed too rude.
He knew he had developed a dislike for this man which was not Koa’s fault, unless you could blame him for the fact he had allowed Stolid to fall in love with him so he muttered something indecisive in return and carried on eating.
“I think you should,” Paris whispered to him.
“Well I’ll consider it tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep,” Timonthy whispered back.
The day was catching up with him now: the scare, the travelling, the walk, the sex – and the gentle murmur of voices filling the large hall, bouncing off the wooden beams and pitted soft-stone floor, all filling his mind and making him feel drowsy.
He finished his food and pushed the plate away into the centre of the table. Gerard had finished his a few moments before and he got up quickly to take both plates to a serving hatch.
“They don’t like it if you don’t get a move on this time in the evening,” he explained as he sat back down again.
Timonthy wondered who was hiding behind the hatch: another war refugee grateful for any work that kept them away from bullets and bombs perhaps.
He was anxious that his irregular habits were keeping them away from their bed or the companionship of their friends
“Where’s Peter?” he asked Stolid: just for something to say more than any overwhelming desire to know the answer.
“I don’t know,” Stolid confessed. “Presumably he’s still working. He hurried off quite soon after lunch perhaps feeling guilty about spending all that time driving back from England.”
Stolid wasn’t feeling guilty about wasting his employer’s time it was evident from his insouciance.
“I’m feeling absolutely shattered,” Paris said in a tone of voice that proved her point. “I’ve got to go to bed now although I don’t want to seem rude as you’ve just turned up, Timonthy. What about you, mother?”
“I’m not really tired as I had a good sleep earlier but I’m happy to come back with you. I can read or something,” Lizzie answered.
“I’ll show you the way and make sure you don’t get lost,” Stolid said.
“It’s like a warren around here, until you get used to it,” Koa said as he watched them leave dispassionately.
There was a moment’s awkward silence until Timonthy asked,
“Where are you in the warren?”
“In the tower at the moment,” Koa nodded casually. “Gerard and I share a room on the wall, at different times. When he’s finished in there it will be mine again.”
Timonthy looked at Gerard as if to check he understood this right.
“We don’t share it together,” Gerard said hastily. “It’s just that when I got here Koa wasn’t using the room and vice versa. We both think of it as ours.”
Timonthy said, realising that he was speaking out of turn, like a desperate man, a drowning man, “I suppose Koa could have it now. You can share with me while we are here. Stolid said you might be considering moving into his house for a while. If you are planning on leaving here, you won’t need the room again.”
Gerard looked nonplussed and Koa commented. “There’s no rush. I was just mentioning it as a point of interest, not a cry for possession. There’s no shortage of space here at all.”
“There is some difficulty with me leaving here,” Gerard said slowly. “Stolid explained it to me, though I don’t quite understand. He says, as I have forgotten who I am, although I am fairly sure I am English no-one will believe that. I’m a person with no country to call my own. He has to find out who I am before I can live there permanently.”
“I don’t understand how you got in the country to begin with, if you mean you have no passport or other proof of identity,” Timonthy shook his head.
“Best not to ask,” Koa said. “Peter has ways. It’s not illegal, he assures me, but it’s complicated. Anyway, to change the subject who wants some beer?”