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Black Ice: Chapter 8

...I heard the ping of the lift. I wasn't ready to do any entertaining. I nipped to the window and when I saw what was standing outside I experienced a small but unpleasant heart-leap.

One white Volvo. One Harley Davidson motor-bike. Even when they choose vehicles for their police force, the Icelanders try to show no favouritism between their American and their Scandinavian friends...

Journalist Sam Craven, a reluctant spy, wakes up in the flat of his former Icelandic girl to discover that Solrun has fled the nest. And now he has visitors of the official kind.

To read earlier chapters of Colin Dunne’s witty novel please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/black_ice/

When I got back upstairs, I tried to search my misty thoughts for any reason why she'd taken off like that. I'm sure I'm lousy in bed but it doesn't usually drive people to move house.

I lifted one of the blinds to let in a little light. The living room had somehow lost its mysterious hot-eyed intimacy of the night before. The coffee cups were still on the table where we'd left them when she took my hand. I looked at my watch. Five minutes past four. In the morning.

Remember, remember, remember. There were the things she'd said about the two men. There was the nonsense about them killing her that I'd taken for wild talk. After all, she was a hell of a drama queen, was Solrun.

So. So let's have a look round.

For some reason I could no longer remember, my clothes were all over the bedroom floor. I opened the wardrobe and immediately regretted it. Anyone who believes that women belong to the same species as men should look inside a woman's wardrobe. You could've taken away six train-loads of clothes without making any impression on it. I was just going to close the door again when I saw the photograph albums. There were a stack of them, and I took them all through to the half-light of the living-room.

I was going to flick through the last one first — the theory being that recent history was more likely to help me — when the book automatically fell open at the last page. It fell open because jammed between the pages was a metal badge. I took it out and looked at it. It was gold-coloured metal, about an
inch and a half across; in the centre was a circle bearing the initials AC, with eagle wings on either side. It had been pinned through the page, but had ripped loose.

Immediately above it was a photograph of Solrun playing at proper grown-up ladies. She was wearing an off-the-shoulder number, which, together with the glitter at her throat and ears, made it something of a special night.

The bloke next to her certainly thought so. Cats which had got the cream would've looked suicidal alongside him. If his smile had got any wider, it would've met around the back of his neck.

And why not? He had his right hand, in light but unmistakeably proprietorial fashion, resting on Solrun's bare shoulder. And if he lost her he could always spend the evening looking in the mirror: he was quite something.

He was cowboy-shaped: wide-shouldered and narrow-waisted, in that way that few men ever achieve outside Hollywood. He had a carefully coiffed collection of black curls and an open confident smile that stopped just, but only just, this side of vanity. With the sweet cut of his dinner-jacket, and the general air of a man who'd be handier with a cocktail-shaker than a pick, he looked more Italian than anything else. Only an Italian can carry that much style without going bow-legged.

He was wearing evening dress. An official function maybe? Not necessarily. He looked as though he'd wear a dinner-jacket to bring the coal in.

It was a head-and-shoulders picture so there wasn't much background to go on. All you could see was a display cabinet immediately behind them. As far as I could see, it contained the usual collection of silverware that you find in low-class golf clubs and pretentious suburban homes.

Then I saw the horse-chestnut on top of the cabinet. Only it wasn't a horse-chestnut. It was round, with spikes sticking out, but the spikes were much longer than a chestnut. And it was set up on a small stand — the whole thing looked like plastic — as though it was flying through space.

I knew what it was. I'd seen photographs of it before. I knew exactly what it was, but I couldn't remember. Not just then,
anyway.

Any chance there was of remembering then vanished when I heard the ping of the lift. I wasn't ready to do any entertaining. I nipped to the window and when I saw what was standing outside I experienced a small but unpleasant heart-leap.

One white Volvo. One Harley Davidson motor-bike. Even when they choose vehicles for their police force, the Icelanders try to show no favouritism between their American and their Scandinavian friends.

I heard footsteps and voices. With the sort of cool reflexes that we spies develop after years of training, I went into a blind panic and jammed the album down the back of the nearest radiator.

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