Sophie James Novels

urns and statues from her house in London, several iron wrought benches, gravel paths, a sundial. It was like an urban sanctuary. She had even tried to grow a box hedge.

‘Aha!’ Her husband was out of his bath and broke the spell, smelling of English aftershave and for a moment the incense had competition. He was very handsome without being attractive. She knew she should not feel that about her own husband but she did.

‘I’ve ordered another chair,’ Agatha smiled.

‘Good, excellent.’ He finished lighting a cigarette without offering her one and glanced over her dress thinking how young and sensual she looked. She wore a lot of white and red, always looked fresh, her dark hair bobbed and glossy - made her look intelligent.

‘Something new at least…’ he said.

‘It’s an old chair darling,’ she said.

‘Ah my darling...’ he laughed at her but not because he had got her joke. She wondered if he ever thought she was stupid. ‘I mean our guest of course. He is


something new in any case, our brand new guest. New to these parts... The only reason we are having him for drinks is that he was recommended. He was a professor, did I mention, a South African university.’

‘I thought he was supposed to be a spy…’

‘Now darling,’ her husband said, ‘That’s just a silly rumour…’

She pulled a face. ‘Aunty says he came disguised as a monk from Burma…’

He laughed indulgently. ‘He’s a teacher. Though apparently he doesn’t teach anymore, and this is where it gets interesting. No teaching position at all, he seems to have given it all up.’

‘Perhaps he got bored. I always hated school,’ she said.

‘Strikes me as a bit of a floater.’ He finished pouring a whisky.