Today's Reading

There was simply no one else available so, dreary though it was, the Morrison's job was down to Agatha and Toni. And it was going to be a long, hard slog if Toni's mood failed to improve.

What Agatha did not know was that Toni had been dating a young medical student for some time. He had recently qualified as a doctor and was eager to get married. Toni was not in love with him, but she dearly wanted to have a stable home life. She longed to settle down and, eventually, have children. She knew Agatha would be dead set against any plan she might have that included marital bliss and a family on the horizon. She was bound to start interfering the moment she found out.

Toni knew very little about Agatha's upbringing, but she often suspected that it was not unlike her own—alcoholic parents bumbling through life in a haze of booze, barely acknowledging that they had a child, let alone caring for her. She frequently found herself looking upon Agatha as a mother figure. In turn, Agatha regularly rained on Toni's parade just like a real mother.

If Agatha found out about her young doctor, Toni was in no doubt that she would forecast that a marriage that did not start off with the newlyweds totally in love was doomed. Even those newlyweds who were utterly bursting with love didn't stand much of a chance in the long run. Suddenly everything about her boss irritated Toni, from her smoking to her whistling when she wasn't smoking. And every time they drove past thick undergrowth at the side of the road, did she always have to say "Nice place to dump a body"?

It was not as if Agatha herself set a particularly good example in the marriage stakes. Hadn't she become engaged to a man she barely knew and had met at Heathrow? And hadn't she cancelled the engagement a week later? Toni was convinced that her boss was actually in love with Sir Charles Fraith, her close friend and sometime lover. It was obvious that they were made for each other. Obvious to everyone, thought Toni, except Agatha and Sir Charles.

I'll keep my love life quiet, she vowed. But why does that decision make me feel guilty? Oh, here we go. She's looking at all that thick undergrowth on the left. The sun's just disappeared again. How can she hope to see anything in there in this gloom? Just for once, don't let her say it.

But she did.

"Nice place to dump a body."

"You always say that," snapped Toni, easing the car round a bend.

"STOP!" yelled Agatha.

Toni stamped on the brakes and the car screeched to a halt, pebbles spitting out from beneath the tyres.

"Back up," said Agatha.

Toni reversed and pulled into the side of the road. Agatha scrambled out of the car and began peering into the undergrowth. Toni was quickly by her side, squinting into the shadows.

"I don't see anything," she complained.

"There! Look there!"

She stared in the direction of Agatha's pointing finger. A thin shaft of light illuminated a foot in a sensible brogue.

"Maybe it's someone who fancied a kip," she said.

"In the middle of a thorny bush?" sneered Agatha. "I'd better look."

As Agatha moved towards the undergrowth, Toni turned her back, slipping her mobile phone out of her pocket. There was now every chance that she would be late for her date with her young doctor, and she needed to let him know.

"Aren't you coming?" demanded Agatha's voice at her elbow, making her jump. A faint flush of guilt coloured her cheeks as she crammed the phone back into her pocket.

"Lead on," she said.

"Who was that you were phoning?"

"A friend."

"Which one?"

"Mind your own business, Agatha. Let's see if someone needs help in there."

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