Novel Name : Masters & Lovers Box Set Three

Chapter 38

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Twenty-Six Years Ago

The phone rings and he picks it up… “Hello?” … then jolts as he hears the voice.

“Davey? Is that you?”

“Shelley? Yes, it’s me.” He pauses, looks over his shoulder then around the doorway into the lounge.
“Shelley, Stephen’s not here right now, but I’ll have to talk quietly. How are you? Why are you calling?
After all this time, why are you calling now?”

“Davey…” Her voice trembles. “I was wondering if… Would it be possible for me to come home?”

“Home?” He holds the receiver as though accusing it of lying. “You want to come home? Shelley, has
something happened? Are you alright?”

“Yes, something’s happened, and… no, I’m not alright. Do you think I could come? Would that be...

“Permanently you mean? To leave the City?”

Clumping sounds in the background; Stephen coming down the stairs. “Who is it?”

“Ah… no-one.”

Stephen looks at him askance. “No-one? What’s that supposed to mean?”

David takes a breath. “It’s Shelley.”

“Shelley?” Stephen looks upstairs. “And what does she want?”

David covers the receiver with a hand. “She wants to come home. I think there’s something wrong.”

“Is that right? Well, there was a lot wrong when she took off the way she did. I thought it would kill Dad.
She’s not coming back now.”


“Give me that phone.” Stephen snatches it from his brother’s hand. “Shelley. You’re not coming back
here. Don’t ring again. You’re not welcome.” He starts to slam the receiver down, but David grabs it
before it clicks down.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to our sister.”

“She’s no sister of mine. And she’s not coming back.”

The voice babbles out of the ear-piece. “Davey, I’m scared. Something has happened and… Oh, God,
please Davey, I’m so frightened.”

“I’ll see what I can do Shelley, but I can’t make any promises. Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Stephen snatches back the receiver from his brother, slams it down on the cradle. “So she’s in trouble.
You know how she was earning a living. Probably just got herself pregnant by some stranger and now
she wants to bring her bastard back here.”

“For Christ’s sake, Steve, show a little charity.”

“Charity begins at home and she’s not coming back.”


The Present - James

I knock on the door: Foreman’s Office.

A grunt; “Door’s open.”

As I enter, Sam Callaghan stands at a table, resting on both palms as he stoops over site schematics
spread flat, pinned at the corners with ashtrays, a spanner and a wilting pot plant. “Got five minutes?”

“Course I have, James.” He jerks his chin to a stack of mugs. “Coffee?”

“Thanks, yes.”

Hands grey with ground-in dirt tip instant coffee into mugs. “What can I do for you?” His voice is a growl
brought on by years of shouting outdoor instructions up gantries and scaffolding, and across acres. He
pours from the kettle and passes me the cup. I eye the chipped and stained enamel for signs of life…

Thank God for boiling water…

… then tip back a scalding mouthful.

“Sam, that youngster I asked you to try out a couple of weeks ago; Benny. How’s he doing?”

Sam sniffs, scratches his chin with a sound like sandpaper. “Well, the lad told it to you right. He’s good
with his hands. I moved him around a bit, tried him out in different areas. He worked hard… did his
best… everywhere I put him. But he came into his own with Maintenance.”

I suck up more of the horrible brew…

Wonder if any part of it ever grew on a coffee tree?

“In what way?”

He waves over at one of the earthmovers. “Big Betty over there was giving us a lot of trouble…”

“What was the fault?”

“Slow… Erratic… odd pump noises, spongy responses. The mechanics had cleaned the filters,
changed the filters, changed the fluid. Nothing helped. I thought I was going to have to send her in for a
complete refit.” He gives me a long look. “You know what that does to the budget… Then Benny got to
playing around with it. Spotted a loose clamp on the pump suction hose that was letting air into the
system. He had her going again and working in under an hour.”


“Possible future as a maintenance engineer then?”

“I’d say the lad’s a natural.”

“Thank you, Sam.”


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