To Find Him and Love Him Again
Tyack & Frayne Book 10 (2)
This book is the second in the To Find Him trilogy. Volume Three is a work-in-progress, estimated release date March 2021.
The reading order for the Tyack & Frayne series is as follows.
1 Once Upon a Haunted Moor
2 Tinsel Fish
3 Don't Let Go
5 Guardians of the Haunted Moor
6 Third Solstice
7 Preacher, Prophet, Beast
9 Once Upon a Western Shore
10 To Find Him and Love Him Again, books 1, 2 and 3
To Find Him and Love Him Again, Book 2
Things have gone wrong in the world. Lee Tyack can’t quite remember how it all began, how his solitary life diverged from a dream he sometimes has of perfect happiness with a perfect man. In the city, prey to terrifying visions, constantly on the run, he’s desolately alone.
London is broken, racked with race riots and food shortages as political tensions rise. One man trying hopelessly to stem the tide of violence is a copper called Gideon Frayne, reluctant recruit to the Met after a shattering career failure in his Cornish homeland.
When Lee is arrested for a murder he knows too much about, Sergeant Frayne is amongst the unbelievers. But there’s something about this fierce, fragile detainee that tugs at Frayne’s memories, as if he too once dreamed of better days.
Strange allies and old enemies emerge from the walls of this uneasy city as Gideon investigates the murder and then Lee Tyack’s sudden disappearance from the scene. With no-one else to care about a tormented clairvoyant on the run, Lee’s chances aren’t good – unless, by some miracle of faith and loving memory, Gideon can find him and love him again.
Not a werewolf mask at all. Lee had never seen this kind of monster before: not a full transformation, as if, like Lee, this creature too could be caught halfway, trapped in a nightmare vision of a well-known world. A city of dark fairytales, a story-town... Sleek fine sable fur, upswept ears. Intelligent, pain-filled brown eyes.
He couldn’t be real. Lee looked from one side of the beast’s face to the other, trying to see round the back and find the join, the zip, the seam. The werewolf tracked his movements, recoiling when Lee stepped forward, maintaining the distance between them as if the two of them had once learned to dance together. But all the wolf’s moves were defensive. Trained, Lee realised, and the penny dropped. “You’re police.”
A strange expression gathered on the wolf’s face: pity and amusement, profound irritation. “Well, Spargo did say you’re meant to be some sort of psychic.”
Lee’s ears popped. His vision jumped like playback on a spliced reel of film. The jackal and the snake, the horse-skull and the angel exploded in shimmering particles, burst bags of sugar or flour. In front of him, hands on hips, brow rucking, stood a fully and obviously uniformed cop.
The same one from the canalside siege. The same one, if Lee thought about it, behind a rainy windshield in Kilburn. The strobes tore at his attention like somebody tugging at his sleeve: he wanted to swing round and punch the light. The alcohol in his blood met his exhaustion, and he let the words in his head, the third connection, fall right out of his mouth. “I bought you in a fucking Bodmin auction. You’re my picture.”
“Is your name Lee Tyack?”
“Yes. Yours is Frayne.”
“Mr Tyack, I’m arresting you in connection with the murder of five unidentified homeless persons at the property known as the Island house, Kilburn.”
Frayne was pitching his voice just right to carry to Lee through the bass and no further. Clearly he’d collared a lot of people in pubs. His expression was blank and detached for a copper who’d just run down a suspected murderer, and Lee couldn’t quite take the bust seriously either. Getting pulled in for crimes he’d helped solve was an occupational hazard. So far it had only been burglaries and missing persons. No fingerprints, no proof, and the waifs and strays had exonerated him by rolling back home from their benders and love-nests in due time. “Bollocks,” he said. “I forgot to set up an alibi.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Before seeing Rachel. The woman at the Island house.”
“Look, mate, I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. You told Rachel Jones there were bodies in her house, and we went in and found ’em. Maybe there’s good reason why you knew they were there, and that’s what you’re going to explain to us. Down at Brighouse Lane.”
Lee knew Brighouse. Knew most of the stations around his workplace and his home, these being the areas where suspicion normally fell on him in the form of a copper’s heavy hand. His shoulder felt permanently marked. He wondered how this great beast’s paw would feel landing there, although now the wolf had dissolved, nothing could have been more human than Frayne, who hadn’t—now Lee came to think about it—attempted to touch him at all. “Fine. I’ll come quietly, if you do your job first and nick that bastard over there. The one who just spiked that kid’s drink, and... and had a horse-skull head when you arrived.”
“This gentleman over here?”
Lee turned. His head was spinning. Huddled together, deprived of their table, a perfectly normal-looking middle-aged guy and a young one were sitting, clutching the edges of their chairs. The boy, although handsome, was no cherub. He had a crew-cut and a painful-looking acne rash. “Christ almighty,” he said, staring up at Lee and Frayne. “Do something about him, officer! He’s either pissed or he’s high. I’m out with my dad for my birthday, that’s all. I’m taking liquid vitamins for my skin, and Dad poured one into my drink for a laugh, and this guy just went mental.”
Frayne barely flickered him a glance. His attention remained fixed on Lee. “We try not to say mental these days, sir. Constable Spargo mentioned learning issues, Mr Tyack. If you’re not drunk or high, and there’s anything of that nature, tell me now. I can get you proper support and representation.”
“Support and...” The air left Lee’s lungs. “Jesus Christ. I’m telling you, whatever that guy looks like now, the second you’re out of here he’ll change back. Put on his head again and... No, I’m not bloody high. I wish. Are you gonna stop him or not, you stupid great plod?”
“All right. That’s more than enough out of you.” Now one large hand did come out, handcuffs gleaming in the strobes. And Lee, who for years had been coming quietly, helping police with their enquiries, trotting obediently to cop shops when told and stolidly proving his alibis, snapped like a dry twig at last.
He lashed out and up, catching Frayne hard on the jaw. Frayne’s reflexes were fast, but still the punch went home, as if out of everything he might have expected Lee to do, a blow had never been part of it.
He’d only make that kind of error once. Not a man to give chances, though that trait was new with him, Lee understood in the grip of this flaring and merciless bond. He’d used to have the patience of a fucking saint. Now he blocked Lee’s next move without effort, spun him round and hoisted his arm up his back. The cuffs latched neatly into place. “I told you,” Frayne said grimly, warmly, impossibly enjoyably against Lee’s ear. “Enough.”
“You know,” Constable Spargo offered, wrestling him into the back of the van, “you’re really not bloody helping.”
Lee did know. From some distant reach of the universe, he was dismayed at himself. Otherwise, up close and personal, he didn’t care. Whatever he’d been lacking since he’d left Rachel’s house had robbed him of the ability to give a flying crap that he was fighting a police officer. A second one, and a woman, at that. Not that her gender made any difference to her gift for bundling him wholesale into the van’s neon-lit interior and dumping him into a seat, but Cadan would’ve killed him. Outside on the kerb, Jack and Anna were bobbing about nervously in the midst of the crowd that had gathered to enjoy this performance. He picked out their voices like the cries of lonely seagulls. Don’t hurt him. He’s not normally like this. He’s a really lovely guy.
“Yes, Prince fucking Charming, I’m sure,” said Spargo through gritted teeth. “Mate, will you sit still?”
“I can’t. There’s a monster inside there, spiking kids’ drinks, and your...” He tried to push up against her restraining grasp, the cuffs behind his back keeping him off-balance. “Your chump of a colleague won’t arrest him.”
“Look, if it’s any consolation, we know about these date-rape jobs, okay? The ones in the clubs around here. That’s why me and the chump were here in the first place, doing a uniformed sweep to see who got scared and ran away. You messed that up for us, didn’t you? Just you.”
Lee thudded down onto the seat. He let go a long breath and tried to curl up, but the cuffs wouldn’t allow for that either. “God’s sake. I had him. I told Gideon.”
“What? Do you know him?”
“Sergeant Frayne. Are you his friend?”
The werewolf, the impossible face from Lee’s portrait, had disappeared. Another officer was slamming the doors, cutting off Lee’s view of the friends he did have, the ones who cared enough to trot out onto the pavement and try to save him from himself. Probably Frayne rode up front with the driver, safe behind a wired-glass screen. Probably the constable, little sparrow-Spargo with her air of perfect cool readiness and her grip of steel, got dirty jobs like him, the drunk in the back of the van.
This image of himself quenched his rage. “No,” he said. “I never saw him in my life until the other day by the canal.” Except once, behind a rainy windshield, inexplicable future reflection glancing off glass. “I’m sorry for being a dick. Did I hurt you?”
Her mouth quirked. The van jolted down off the kerb, and she grabbed his arm to steady him. “Your mates did seem to think it was out of character. No, I’m all right. You work in that dive, don’t you—the Nostalgie de la... What is it?”
“De la Boue. It’s a quote from a French play. Like when people have been as good as they can for a while, and they start to miss the mud and the barnyard and wallowing round with the pigs.”
“A bit like you tonight, then.”
Lee pulled a face. “I suppose so.”
“And are you still wallowing, or can I take those cuffs off? It’s not far to the station, but you’ll have a more comfortable ride without them.”
Lee wasn’t sure. In the circumstances, given the weariness in her gaze and her resignation to the chaos around her, honesty seemed the only decent course. “I’m drunk. There’s something else the matter with me too. I’m having a lot of visions, and I don’t feel as if I care about things anymore. People, either. So I don’t have my handcuffs on inside. You might want to leave these ones where they are.”
She considered this. The van accelerated, and she grabbed him again. “I’ll take my chances. Don’t be a dick anymore, or the custody sergeant will have my hide. I’m always letting people go too soon.”
She leaned over him. The cuffs clicked, and their cold pressure vanished from around Lee’s wrists. He sat up, rubbing them in relief. “That’s really disempowering. Not having use of your arms, I mean.”
“It’s kind of the idea.” Spargo thumped down into a seat opposite him. “Never been cuffed before?”
“Never normally put up a fight. Why wouldn’t Gideon arrest that guy in the pub?”
“It’s Sergeant Frayne. I don’t think he even let his mum call him Gideon. Remember that in the interview room, and you’ll get on a lot better.” She blew out her cheeks in a sigh. “Listen, Mr Tyack. I looked you up online after those bodies were found in the Island house. I know you’re a psychic, or you think you are. That guy in the pub showed ID, and so did the kid. They’re father and son, out for his eighteenth birthday. All their family and mates came back from the bar and confirmed it. Can you stop freaking out about him now?”
“Yeah. I... I’m sorry. I don’t normally get things that wrong.”
“No, I know. You don’t exactly toot your own flute on your website, but your satisfied customers do. I checked your record, too. You’ve been arrested several times, because...”
“Because even when I’m trying to help, you lot can’t work out how I know where the bodies are. So I must have killed whatever poor bastard it was. I was pulled in last year for a murder committed before I was bloody well born. Even I can’t arrange for an alibi that good.”
Again, that quirk of the mouth. “Excuse me, officer. I was only a twinkle in my dad’s eye at the time.”
“Yeah.” Had Cadan’s eyes twinkled, Lee wondered, when he and Loveday had lain down on the crest of Chapel Carn Brea to create him? They’d certainly shone on him at every opportunity since.
He shook his head. He didn’t want to feel camaraderie, a sense of shared troubles, with this woman. The flickering light of his gift might have shown him her name, as it had the sergeant’s—Gideon, Gideon, oh Gid, Gid—but that was not the same as friendship. Not the same as knowing her for years, on a casual, laid-back basis that left no room for doubt of her worth. “Look,” he said, raising his voice above the engine as the van picked up speed on the main road. “I owe you one for throwing my weight around, so let me tell you how this goes. I can’t prove an alibi for any one of the Island house murders. Depending on who interviews me, what they believe, I’ll either be let go because I’m a nutcase who made a lucky guess, or I might even be charged. I’ll sit in a jail cell for a week while your DNA teams go through the house and fail to find a scrap of evidence that I was ever there.” He grinned, once more touched by the years they’d never shared. “Come on, Jenny. Say the van went over a speed bump too hard and the doors flew open. Let me go.”
She watched him in silence for long seconds. “I’m tempted,” she said. “Who told you my name was Jenny?”
“Nobody. I just know things.”
“Well, your eyes go silver while you’re knowing them. You give me the creeps. Don’t worry about the charge for the Island deaths—if Sergeant Frayne wants to keep you, he’s got assaulting an officer to add to your sheet. And resisting arrest down at the canal. What the hell were you doing there?”
“Looking for a policeman. What were you doing? Why are the same two coppers on an armed siege in Queen’s Park one night and trawling the South Bank pubs the next? Is the Met that short-staffed these days?”
She leaned forward. Lee guessed that there was a radio link between the back of the van and the cabin. Probably it was open. Spargo had gone pale. And surely Lee had known her, surely seen this nice, firm-jawed face across from him at a table in some other life. Spargo was a Kernowek name, as surely as Tyack and Frayne. “Can you switch yourself off for a minute,” she whispered, “or whatever it is that you do? We are fucking well short-staffed, yeah. You live here. You’ve seen what this city’s become. There’s no good coppers anymore, Mr Tyack. The good ones have all gone home, gone mad or strung themselves up by their uniform belts and gone out that way.”
“Quiet. You need to know this. The only ones left are the survivors. They go where they’re told, and they do anything they have to to get the job done. And I mean anything.” She jerked her head towards the glass screen, where the street lamps were strafing two heads, two uniform caps, two sets of broad and sternly set shoulders. “Not just me and Sergeant Frayne. Lawrence too.”
Clouds cleared from Lee’s memories of the canalside siege. “Lawrence. You stopped her from shooting me.”
“By the skin of your teeth, Mr Tyack. By the skin of your fucking teeth. So do yourself a huge favour when we get to Brighouse Lane. Keep your head low, don’t make any prophecies, and for the love of Christ almighty, don’t start any more fights.”