The man seated at the desk was short, round and bald. He looked up with weak, pale eyes, over the half-moon spectacles.
More like a solicitor, David thought, than a qualified child-snatcher. But in two days he had tracked down Sarah.
David was impressed. He wanted to know what happened next.
The child-snatcher pointed out that David had no court order giving him custody of the baby, not did his name appear
on the birth certificate. "That makes it more of a kidnapping, Mr Hunter. Not tug-of-love recovery.
A criminal-type kidnapping."
David said he would chance that. The little man said he would not.
As David hurried into the rain-muddled street, his brain was afire with a frenzy of ideas, plots, plans, possibilities.
My baby. My son. MY baby...
He walked a long way. His hair got soaked, his trouser legs drenched to the knees, his shoes spattered with the
sludge of the city pavements. And then, suddenly calmer, he checked his watch. He froze. Two hours ago,
he should have been with Barbara. They had a flat to inspect, and Barbara had already accused him of dragging his feet
about house-hunting in London.
Dear, lovely, loving Barbara. How much can she, will she, put up with from me, after all I've made her go through?
When he got to their hotel room there was an envelope for him. In it, the stark message: I have gone
"Gosh, Barbara!" Darryll leaped from his dressing-room seat as if his favourite football coach had just walked
in. "They said you never, ever received visitors before a performance," Barbara said. "I hope I haven't brought
you bad luck, or anything."
Smiling, he swooped on her, seized her by the shoulders and kissed her enthusiastically on each cheek. She sensed
that he was about to give her a different kind of kiss. She placed a gentle, forbidding finger on his lips. "You
were talking about dinner."
"I'll just go and find my seat now. And see you after the performance."
"Barbara darling, I'm so desperately sorry."
"Don't mention it, David. Just don't mention it."
"I just totally lost track of time."
She was silent. Her face a cold, blank mask. She carried on doing her nails.
"I just wouldn't want you to think ... I went to see someone. A man." Still Barbara did not speak.
But she was listening, closely.
"He refused to help."
"Help with what?"
"Getting the baby."
"You mean ... kidnapping the baby."
"That's what he tried to call it."
"David, that's what it is!"
"Barbara, my darling ... I've never even seen him. Don't you realise? We're talking about my baby.
My own son. And I've never laid eyes on him!"