Aerial Photo of a Coast

 

An excerpt from Arcadia: A Case of Willows and Lane, Book 3

 

There was something about her manner they didn’t like, and this was the most cheerful Lane had felt since arriving on Ynys Gwyrdd. She said, ‘None of this would have happened if you hadn’t confiscated Annie’s mobile. I’d like mine back, by the way.’

Emma said, ‘I bet you would!’

Lane made a point then of examining the woman carefully: she was short and stocky, probably strong and almost certainly not afraid to hurt someone she disliked.

 

Graham said, ‘You need to come with us.’

 

‘I don’t think I do. Let me fetch my bag, give me my phone and I’ll be on my way.’

 

Emma walked on towards the laundry and began a conversation with Rhona – Lane kept her focus on the two men. Graham was nodding a little, and smiling a little, but ruefully. He said, ‘You had me fooled.’

 

There was no point in opening a dialogue, in asking why only certain people were allowed phones, in asking why the dormitories were locked at night, in asking why some middle-aged men were setting up a community that consisted mainly of attractive young women. At the back of her mind, Lane was aware that there was only one way off the island – she wondered whether, if it became necessary, she could steer the bloody thing – but she wasn’t prepared to negotiate.

 

She said, ‘My bag, my phone and I’ll be gone.’

 

He said, ‘You need to speak to Theo first. Come with us to the Centre.’

 

As Graham said that, she saw Sorenson appear on the path, coming towards them. She said slowly and in a different tone, ‘My bag and my phone. It’s the best way, believe me.’

 

Emma had moved quietly. Lane felt her left wrist seized, a hand at the crook of her elbow and then her arm had been pushed up behind her back until it hurt. A voice said, ‘You’ll do as you’re told.’

 

It’s impossible to say whether either of the men in front of Lane saw the change in the eyes. Graham could have told the woman to let go but he did not. When Sorenson reached them, he looked disappointed, and said, ‘Is that necessary?’ but the question was directed at Lane and he too did not tell Emma to release her grip.

 

‘She needs to let go.’

 

Their eyes met, Theo’s handsome blue ones and Lane’s – eyes so dark that it was sometimes difficult to tell the iris from the pupil, as if the latter had been dilated in response to arousal or fear or something unknown but implacable between the two. Neither is it possible to say whether Sorenson saw any of this – did he notice the high cheekbones, the set chin, the tiny gold rings, three or four in each ear. He said, ‘Come and talk to me,’ in a kindly way, as if that would solve the world’s problems.

 

Lane said, ‘Tell her to let go.’

 

And he didn’t. He raised his open palms as if to say, but you’ve brought this upon yourself. Lane felt her arm pushed up another millimetre or two.

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