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The promise of you,
it sleeps in the air
the air that i breathe, and i know that its true
dont have to convince myself to believe.
what secrets sleep in the heart of a man
so much love wasted, slips right through my hands
see it in the eyes of the lonely
as they make their weary way
shimmer in the eyes of the longing.
Edwin McCain's "Promise of you"
The Promise of You
by ozfanfreak or lalioz
summer of 1943.....
Somewhere in a distance a train screamed through the night just as a young woman fell into the black waters of the river Stour.
Seconds later she came up gasping for breath, grabbing hold of some rope dangling from a wooden pole of the pier. Her eyes widened in terror as her killer draw nearer, slowly leaning over; his glowed hand keeping her under; his hard stare the last thing she saw.
They found her in the morning; her body cold and still among the waterlilies; loose strands of her black hair caressing her pale lips.
.......three years later.........
"Mr Poirot!" a dainty southern belle rushed through the lobby of the Regent hotel, keeping her golden silk straw hat from falling with her hand, light muslin of her pink dress playing around her anckles.
"My dear Miss Bellinger!" a short man in an expensive linen suite and a dandy looking hat quirked his painstakingly silly mustache in a warm smile."It's so nice to see you."
"Oh, it's Clutier now." She smiled, kissing him on the cheek. Flicking her fingers happily she showed him her wedding ring. "Mrs Jeremiah Clutier." Her smile was radient, her head cocked flirtingly.
"And this is my Jeremiah..." she said as a tall bearded young man joined them.
"Mr Poirot, this is Reverend Jeremiah Clutier..." she snaked her hand through the young man's, gazing into his eyes dreamily, "...my husband. Darling , this is wonderful Mr Poirot who came to my rescue in Calais."
"Congratulations my dear lady." Hercule Poirot touched the rim of his hat with a gloved hand. "Monsieur."
"Pleasure to meet you, Mr Poirot." Rev. Clutier extended his hand in greeting. "I've heard so much about you."
Poirot gave one of his little smiles at that.
"Uhm-hm." A tall birdlike man standing patiently behind Poirot during all this tried to get their attention; obviously successful for Poirot, looking a tad embarrassed burst in a flury of exclamations both in French and in English.
"Oh, mon dieu, my manners, pardon mon amie. Je suis tres impoli. Madam Clutier, Monsieur..." he turned to the young obviously amused couple . "This is my friend and associate Captain Hastings. Hastings. Reverend and Mrs Clutier."
"How do you do?"
"How do you do?"
"Would you join us for tea?" Young Mrs Clutier offered.
"Mais oui, absolutemant."
The Regent had one of the best tea houses on the coast. Their chocolate eclairs were Poirot's passion. Along with the strawbery tarts. And raspberry cake, as Miss Lemon so often noticed. Mr Poirot did not find that particularly amusing. Needless to say, Cpt. Hastings did.
Waddling between the tables in his jolly company Hercule Poirot noticed the two well dressed ladies, obviously American, pretty and pretty loud.
"Let me talk to him, I could at least..." The older one started.
"No, Peter Marie, it's useless, he will never leave me alone..." The younger one interrupted her, desperation thick in her voice.
Falling silent they both sat there, sipping tea and staring through the window blankly.
"Is that...?" Shirley leaned in, whispering, "Oh, my...it is..." She glanced at the two American ladies over her cup of tea surreptitiously. "It's Gloria Nathan."
"Pardon?" Poirot quirked his eyebrows at her.
"Gloria Nathan, that famous American singer." She said putting down her cup. "Oh,my God..... Gloria Nathan." Turning to her husband she said keeping her voice low. "Remember, we saw her in Paris."
Cpt. Hastings joined in, leaning over to her,conspiratorially . "She's married to that famous surgeon, what's his name?"
Shirley threw him a smile and a name. "Preston Nathan."
"Yes, Preston Nathan..." he reached for the teapot, "...and what a voice." He sighed closing his eyes dreamily, pausing with a teapot in mid air. "She sings like an angel."
"Uhm-hum, Hastings?" Poirot interupted , looking straight at him, holding out his cup. "Tea." He eyed the teapot in dismay.
"Oh, uh,yes, tea."
two months later
"Hastings, that American singer you've been telling me about...." Hercule Poirot sat behind his desk going through the morning newspapers.
"Hmmmm..." Cpt. Hastings sat in his armchair, ruffling throug his.
"Remember that time we met lovely Mrs Clutier in Brighton..." He smiled fondly at the memory.
"Oh, yes..." Cpt.Hastings raised his head to look at him, "Gloria Nathan. What about her?"
"Here says her husband was found dead yesterday at their London mansion."
"You don't say..." Cpt. Hastings got up from his armchair to join him at the desk, peering over his shoulder at the papers.
"Apparently he hanged himself." Poirot kept reading.
"Dreadful thing, old chump, dreadful thing." Cpt. Hastings sighed. "Poor girl."
"Yes, mon amie, poor girl." Poirot sighed going back to his newspapers.
Couple of minutes later Miss Lemon entered the room hurriedly. "Mr Poirot, Captain...Your taxi is here. You should get going, you'll be late."
Miss Lemon handed him his hat, gloves and his cane, Hastings trotting along after them, donning his sports jacket in a hury and grabbing his hat from the rack.
"See you soon, Miss Lemon." He yelled getting into the elevator. "Give my regards to your sister."
Minutes later he was standing on a curb with his and Poirot's heavy bags in his hands, Poirot giving directions to the cabbie in his sing-song voice. "Victoria Station please."
"All aboard!" The strong voice mixed with the scream of the siren, London mist giving the experience almost an eerie overtone.Autmn in London.
Sitting in his compartment, Hastings chatting up a lovely young lady, Poirot noticed the two tall, dark and handsome American soldiers standing in the hallway, and discussing something, rather animated, their voices raising occassionally.
"The press would have a field day..." said the taller one. "Trust me. " he grabbed his friend by the nape of his neck, shaking him a little, his eyes searching his.
"Ok." Said his friend.
"I said Ok, geez K-boy, you're pain in the ass sometimes, ya know ."
The taller one gave a dazling smile at that. "C'mon." He drawled throwing a hand over his friend's shoulder. "I need a drink."
Poirot watched the little scene, his little grey cells working overtime.
Emerald Hall was a lovely Victorian building surrounded with majestic oaks.
Heavy iron-wrought gates opened quietly, welcoming the black 1937 Phantom III to the grounds.
The gamekeeper nodded his head in greeting, raining his dogs in.
Sun shone from the bright September sky, and Victoria Beecher's auburn hair gleamed in the sunshine in lovely contrast with the silver gray and green of the ivy hugging the limestone walls of the manor.
"My dear Mr Poirot!" She greeted them with a smile. "Harrison will be so pleased to see you."
"My dear Mrs Beecher." Hercule Poirot smiled his most pleasant smile at her. His smile grew even wider as he noticed the tall grey haired man coming down the front steps to meet them.
"Darling, look who's finally here." Mrs Beecher smiled to her husband.
"My dear Hercule, how long has it been?" Harrison Beecher shook his friend's hand earnestly.
"Oh, " Poirot smiled,his mustache twitched.
"Let me see...ten years...Is it my darling?" Harrison said turning to his wife.
"Well, my, I believe it is. " Victoria smiled wounding her arm through her husband's. "Last time you were here was.....well just before our Toby got married."
"Oh, mais oui, how's young Tobias?" Poirot asked.
"I'm afraid not so young anymore Monsieur Poirot." came the answer as a tall blonde in a dark grey sweater, jodhspurs, and high riding boots joined them.
"Oh, my dear young man, how are you?" Poirot extended his hand to him.
And who is this lovely young lady?" He continued noticing the blonde little girl hiding behind her father.
"This is Holly, my daughter." Toby's blue eyes glinted with pride and love. "Holly, say hallo to MrPoirot."
"How do you do?" She whispered shyly, accepting MrPoirot's hand in greeting but keeping close to her father's side.
"Au chante, madmoiselle." Poirot said with a smile and a curteous bow of his head.
"What a charming family." Cpt Hastings said, standing by the window of the lovely and comfortable guest room. "They seem so happy."
"Mon ami..." Poirot paused by the door connecting their rooms. "What is it that Tolstoy said about families?"
"You mean...." Hastings turned from the window giving him a sad worried look.
"I'm afraid so." Poirot nodded waddling along to finish unpacking; a task he would trust to no one.
"Guenevere, young Toby's wife, she was found dead, three years ago."
"Dear Lord." Cpt. Hastings gasped.
"They say she killed herself." Poirot paused placing his shaving kit carefully on the dresser.
"Tragic." Hastings shook his head.
"Yes, mon ami, most tragic."
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