Gerard grinned and managed to look even more like a pirate: he just needed a rope in one hand and a sword in the other, Timonthy thought.
At least he had recovered his composure.
“I suppose we had better go downstairs then,” Gerard suggested.
“Gerard,” Timonthy held out his hand to stop him leaving. “I don’t want you to think I’m going to try and die every time you leave me. I won’t do that.”
“What do you mean?” Gerard shook his head.
“It’s just that we’ve only known each other for a couple of days. Not sure why you’d want to stay with me at all, but I’ve begun to hope that you will. All I ask is, if you decide you want to leave just tell me first. That’s all I need. Give me the truth and I can live with that.”
“I’ll always tell you the truth,” Gerard said solemnly. “But I don’t want to go anywhere else at the moment and I just wish that you could trust me enough not to think I’m always trying to run away.”
“I do trust you, but will be a happier man when we finally arrive at Peter’s place and see Stolid in person.”
“Just after lunch Peter says,” Gerard said frowning.
They made their way down to the breakfast room. There were two other full tables in a room of thirty or so tables. Will and Peter were already there.
Will had changed his clothes as well and looked like a different man, more intelligent. Timonthy knew that this meant he was shallow but he couldn’t help judging people by what they looked like. He had nothing else to go on until he got to know people after all.
Lizzie and Paris came into the room then. Lizzie looked beautiful again, Timonthy considered. He had wondered whether she would make a special effort or choose to sacrifice her appearance for the common good.
She came and stood close to him, her back to Gerard. “Was it your heart?” she asked quietly.
“I don’t think so,” Timonthy answered. “I feel better now than I’ve felt for ages. That wouldn’t happen if my heart had given up, would it?”
“Thank God you’re alright. What would I do without you and Johnathon?”
“Yes, thank-you for your concern,” Timonthy said with amusement.
“I would have come to see you earlier,” she whispered, “but Paris said you were busy.”
“Yes I was,” he agreed with relief. He thought Paris had noticed and gone away to give him space. “Thank-you for your consideration.”
“Lucky bastard!” she muttered into his ear, as she pecked his cheek with real emotion this time. Then she deliberately sat next to Peter and flirted with him until the waiter came.
Timonthy mindful of his heart, chose to eat a dish containing plums and strawberries in a sweet syrup. It was surprisingly appetising but after watching everyone eating their full english breakfast he gave in and had poached eggs and bacon.
Everyone avoided talking about plans for the day while they were eating, as if waiting out of delicacy for Timonthy to raise the subject.
After he finished his cooked food, he poured out another cup of tea, buttered another piece of toast with a sense of abandon.
“I want to carry on to Scotland today,” he announced. “If someone else wants to drive I don’t mind. Perhaps that would be for the best, anyway.”
He expected some dissension but Paris just looked down at her plate with an unhappy face and Lizzie looked passive.
“Paris and I will take it in turns,” Lizzie announced.
Timonthy thought that would work out well. It would keep her mind occupied: either on the driving, or pointing out the many perceived flaws of Paris’s driving.
Half an hour later they met at the reception desk where Timonthy made a spirited attempt to share the bill. He was rebuffed and Peter waited until they had gone out to the cars before he turned back to the desk.
“Are you coming with us or going in the car, Gerard?” Will asked. Gerard looked the question at Timonthy who said, “Yes, travel with us unless you’d prefer the lorry.”
Will nodded and carried on around the side of the house. After loading their luggage in the boot Lizzie got in the driving seat and Paris got in beside her.
Paris looked really miserable now, Timonthy thought. Was it the original worry or was she concerned for his health, disapproving of his new love?
Peter walked out of the portico. He gave them a cheerful wave and walked in the same direction Will had gone.
Lizzie started the engine and adjusted the mirror and the seat. Eventually the lorry pulled around the corner and they followed it down the driveway.
“This is annoying!” Lizzie said. “You can’t see a thing in front of you.”
“I know,” Timonthy agreed with feeling.
They travelled the little roads again and eventually made their way back to the motorway. Conversation was stilted on this journey but Timonthy didn’t mind.
He had felt full of energy in the hotel but now with the endless subtle jolting of the road, the steady temperature in the car and probably his generous breakfast his head was dropping again.
He woke briefly to see Paris driving and the signs announcing they were in Scotland but even this couldn’t stop him sleeping.
Every so often he felt a sharp poke in his ribs which woke him and when he looked around, both Gerard and Paris or Lizzie were looking at him with innocent faces.
“Are you two checking I’m alive?” he said suspiciously after the third time this happened. They said nothing but he knew it was true. He tried to make an effort to stay awake after this.
“How come you’re dressed differently today, Gerard?” Paris asked, from the passenger seat this time. They must have stopped at services he realised but he hadn’t noticed.
“Peter said we should try and look more normal,” Gerard grinned as if looking normal was his last ambition.
“I know our working clothes, although comfortable, look strange to you. So he brought us a change of clothes. We weren’t expecting to stay so long when we packed.”
“How much longer is it, Gerard?” Lizzie called back.
“I don’t really know,” he shrugged. “I’m usually asleep by now. Peter said four or five hours didn’t he? How long have we been travelling for?”
“About three and three quarter hours,” Paris said considering.
“Have you had a coffee or anything yet?” Timonthy asked. “I could do with one.”