Martha was glad to see him in a good mood. Chatting confidently to his boss, and his wife. Convinced that her guest was looking at her strangely she had a strong suspicion that they had met somewhere before.
‘This is my boss Simon,’ Thomas then turned to the woman with him, ‘and his wife Susan.’
They seemed a pleasant enough couple, both as strong as each other. Martha reviewed her face for a second longer, but nothing came.
‘It’s nice to meet you both,’ Martha gave a friendly smile. ‘I’ve heard so much about you.’
‘Your home is lovely,’ Susan said admiringly. ‘I’m so jealous. I have a cleaner to do mine and it doesn’t look this good.’
‘Thank you.’ Martha showed them into the front room, where the dining room table was laid out in all its finery.
During the meal, Martha concentrated on their neighbourhood watch meetings. About the streetlights, the bus service. Thomas’s good work at their church. When all of her usual comments were starved, she focussed on her guest’s work. ‘Do you work at the same place as your husband?’ Martha asked.
‘I’m not very good in an office setting. I find it a bit boring don’t I Simon.’ Susan said.
Simon readily nodded in agreement. ‘There are days when I feel the same, I’m sure you would agree Thomas. Constant board meetings and telephone conversations can be quite boring at times.’
‘I like routine, hard work, always have. ‘A tentative scratch at his neck, Thomas gulped down another mouthful of wine, he continued his conversation with Simon. With no mention of the promotion, he flattered his manager’s choice of suppliers.
‘Do you stay at home then?’ Martha said.
‘No, I work in the art gallery on the high street in Windsor. Basically I sell and buy paintings. Can you tell me, who painted the one of your husband?’
‘Isn’t it marvellous Simon, better than some I’ve sold.’
‘It’s brilliant Martha. Why didn’t you take it up professionally?’
‘My wife’s a talented painter, but gave it up when we got married and started a family.’
With a pinch on her own thigh, Martha stopped herself from mentioning Laura. ‘Do you enjoy working there?’