Segments - 14 - Making Progress

01 - Meeting Her

02 - The Services

03 - Exeter Hotel

04 - Christmas

05 - New Year

06 - The Old Man

07 - Why He Started

08 - Cambridge

09 - Norwich

10 - The Party

11 - Millau

12 - Heading East

13 - Nice in Nice

14 - Making Progress

15 - Revelations

16 - Doubts

17 - The Connection

18 - Levelling

19 - Space

20 - Finale

The morning brings more sunshine, and her on the phone. He's no idea who she's talking to but it seems she's not making progress on whatever it is the other person wants. She's sat at the dresser arguing that she cannot discuss this now and that she'll meet whoever when she's back in the UK. She hangs up and slams the mobile down on the dresser, this is a side of her Clem's not really seen.

She dresses quickly while Clem lies in bed, pretending to be asleep. He hears the phone being swiped off the dresser again and as she walks out the room he can hear beeps, she's dialling someone and he's not to hear the conversation. As the door closes he waits a moment then gets up with a big stretch. He remembers last night and smiles.

Her handbag is open, the temptation to look comes over Clem. He delicately pokes around trying not to disturb anything and give himself away. Passport. Hot damn! This is a big, BIG mistake on her part surely. Surely. He fishes it out much like a crime scene investigator trying not to disturb evidence. His heart races as he opens it.

It's hers, that image is of her. She is called - remember this Clem - Joanna Ruth Kemmet. Wow. Born in Cambridge, that makes sense. She's 2 years older than him, born in '68. Joanna Ruth Kemmet. Remember that Clem, remember - Joanna Ruth Kemmet.

He places the passport back into her bag. He feels sick with fear and excitement. That was a big big mistake. She would of course need ID to fly to France, to hire the car. She's been flustered by this phone call and forgotten to hide the bag or take it with her. She's made a mistake and given Clem the big clue that he needs. What should he do now? Confront her? He knows nothing yet. Run away? She's definitely lying but then after last night why would he leave? No, no the logical thing to do is carry on as before. Enjoy her company and her luxury and keep on learning about her.

She returns and looks surprised to see he's up and dressed. He sees her eyes glance to the bag then back to Clem, he carries on as though nothing is amiss. He sees her distinctive shoulder drop movement, it's likely she suspects nothing.

They dine in the hotel restaurant. While Clem is a fan of the Full English Breakfast he does rather enjoy the continental buffet on offer. He stuffs his face with croissants covered in butter, toast, a yoghurt and then takes an apple for later. After her angry call for a while she's distracted yet by the time breakfast is complete she's back to her usual lively self. She's still much warmer to him, closer, tender.

She explains that she will need to return back to the UK later in the day and asks if he wishes to do the same. He considers, he wonders. On the one hand this is his time to see more of France, hell he's not even far from Italy and The Alps. On the other hand if he gets back to the UK it will be easier to research her, Tabitha, Joanna. What is most important? He wants both.

He ponders. Ah, the weather in the Alps will be cold and the area will be filled with snow and skiers at this time of year. Camping and getting around will be difficult. He could make his own way through France? Maybe take in Spain, it'll be warmer there too. Damn though, he wants to get back to the UK, to find out who she is. He's got the internet? Sometimes, occasionally. She's asking again. Sod it, lets go back to the UK.

She leaves the hire car at a depot in Nice, they get a taxi to Nice airport and soon they're back in Stanstead airport. This could be interesting. Where's she going? Home to the north west or home to Cambridge? He wonders what she'll say as they wait for their luggage.

"I'm off to London, where are you going?"
"I...I don't know."
"Where do you want to go?"
"You know what. Think I might go and spend some more time in Cambridge." He says this deliberately, to see her reaction. There's a flash of concern in her face then she hides it with a big smile, the smile lacks that warmth.
"Oh, why?"
"It's a nice city from what I've seen." He searches his mind for a more legitimate reason, this comes to mind. "There's an old man I met, I've promised to get in touch." True, sort of, but the old man lives in Derbyshire. She seems to have swallowed it, he sees that shoulder drop again. It's so subtle. He's never been a body language reader, this is the first person he's noticed with this "tell" as a gambler might say.

She drives him to Cambridge. As she drives through the town she gives something else away, she knows the area. She's already slowed down well before a speed camera and the Sat-Nav is turned off. Does she know she's making these mistakes or has this all been overlooked?

"Clem, I've got to go to London, but I don't want to leave you." She sounds sad. This has never been a problem, she's just disappeared, parted with a curt wave or dismissed him.
"Well no doubt you'll track me down soon enough."
"Keep the tablet on so I can find you."
"You know...you could always call me on this new phone."
"Hehe!" She giggles like a girl. "Yes, but I do like to surprise you."
"I know." He places his hand on her thigh, she responds and leans into him. "I've got your number too now. Maybe I'll come and find you."
"Maybe" she looks a tiny nervous about that idea "I'd prefer to find you though."
"I reckon so." Yeah of course she would, she likes to be in control. "I reckons so."
"I'll not leave it so long. I've really enjoyed these last few days." She's smiling, she is so pretty when she smiles.
"Me too." They kiss, gently, sensually then deeper. He feels different about her. He likes her. He is also starting to think that no matter how much she's lying and playing him that somehow she's getting rather fond of him. Either that or she's an excellent actress. Damn

As soon as she drives off his first thought is to find somewhere warm and start looking online. There's a mall and he takes up residence out of the cold on an impractical bench.

"Joanna Ruth Kemmet". Google has no problem at all finding that name. Her unusual surname, much like his first name, makes finding her easy. Joanna Ruth Kemmet is a novelist, a writer. She has a string of books published, mostly in the romantic mystery genre. She seems to write tales about people's lives, relationships and characters who have been involved with a murder or robbery or crime caper. She's popular and judging by sales figures, quite successful.

So what on earth is this all about? She's not an agent, she's an author. She's not a psychotic killer, an author. So why him? Why Clem? There's a million men out there who'd take on a lady like her. Most of them will be wealthier, smarter, cleaner, more intelligent and altogether better, surely?

It all rolls around in his head. Chance? Luck? Fate? Somehow, no, it doesn't feel like it. He still feels like he was targeted. There is no reason why him. He's nothing special. The blog? Maybe, but it's hardly like he's an inspirational high quality scribe. Maybe she saw something in him in his blog. Nah, that's too vain even for Clem. How could she know him? What's the connection, if he can work out the connection then he'll probably work out the reason. It is bugging him now and the shopping mall is getting empty, he's been here quite some time.

He's got the money in the bank and the temptation to book another hotel room on this cold night is strong. But, £500 will only last a few days, there's many many things that money could be put to better use for. Out of the mall, in the cold bitter night the stars are clear which means the temperature will plummet even more. He's starting to wish he'd stayed back in the Med. His room for the night is the doorway to a factory. They'll be open early but he doubts he'll sleep much anyhow.

Shivering, struggling to get his fingers to function he emails the old man with his findings. He tries to snuggle deep into the sleeping bag and get warm, it's just not going to happen tonight. He is slightly worried about hypothermia if not at least getting run down with the cold. It will be a long long night.

It is a long night filled with thoughts of her, Joanna, between shivers, fears and strange noises. What little sleep he gets is filled with surreal dreams of her acting strange and him trying to speak French to people who just don't understand. It is a long long night. He gives up at 0530 and starts to walk, nowhere.

He walks to get warm. He walks to try and clear his mind. He walks and he's hungry yet still he walks. He finally purchases a sandwich and a drink from a shop then continues to walk. All the while the tablet is off, he doesn't want to be found yet. It doesn't make sense, none of it makes sense. He's been walking all day, his feet are sore and these boots are not standing up too well to the cold. He walks till late into the evening, far too late to pitch the tent.

He senses he's not right. Tonight as he tries to settle in for the night in another bus shelter he can feel himself almost outside himself, telling him to stop, think and collect himself up, this is not healthy. At least the night is cloudy and the temperature is a little higher. He's tired, as he drifts off he wonders if he'll wake or if he'll die of hypothermia. Too late, he's asleep.

He's woken by a smartly dressed city type politely poking him with his newspaper. At least he's awake and alive, he ignores the bloke's demand for an explanation and starts to walk again. He's hungry but still he walks. Mandy, Mandy, why? Why? His emotions are for Mandy and what they had, but he keeps on seeing Tabs, Joanna. It's like his dream, Joanna is replacing Mandy and that seems wrong. Mandy and Tabs, Mandy and Joanna. Sadness, smiles, happiness, longing, tears, sex, excitement, lust, passion. Passion. The fire in the belly, the lust in the eye, the zest for life. They both have it. Passion. He feels it, he knows it's coming. There is nothing he can or wants to do about it.

He feels himself falling. He feels the dull pain as his shoulder hits the ground. It matters not. He doesn't care. He is in his true state of peacefulness, painlessness, comfort, peace and joy. He stops thinking. His mind is vacant. He is aware and yet he is not. He could die here and it will have been a perfect end to an interesting life. He is happy. He is merely existing, nothing more.