When someone mentions the City of Cambridge you probably think of an iconic building, its four corners stretching out of the once medieval mud and into the arms of everlasting heaven, its white limestone yearning into eternity… and without even knowing exactly what ephemeral joys or permanent wonders the vision brings to mind, it’s a safe bet that the one thought which does not occur to you is that the Chapel might not be there by Christmas.
Theo (Theophilus Ambrose Fitzwilliam Wedderburn to his friends) is a Junior Research Fellow in Number Theory. Prompted by a supervisee to demonstrate how to trace the provenance of bitcoins, Theo happens across a shocking revelation, with embarrassing ramifications for the whole University. Meanwhile he is being stalked unseen by someone from his childhood. To his annoyance, Theo falls for a cheap con… and discovers a horror set not only to rock the very seat of power itself but to change the face of Cambridge and its beautifully iconic image for ever.
It was after four when Mark came to bed. She heard drawers opening and shutting, the wardrobe door complaining, shoes hitting the floor. The springs moaned as he sank heavily in the bed without touching her. Within minutes she felt his low snoring growl.
The darkness was diluting into grey. A lone bird attempted something. Now she’d been woken, she wouldn’t sleep again.
What had he been doing? Working? Emailing? He used the room he called his library. She preferred the comfort of reading in bed, though once Mark was there she had to turn the light off.
She was not entirely pleased with what she had worn last night. It was a calf-length dark red velvet dress, an unusual choice for midsummer, especially one as balmy as this, and one of their guests had commented on it.
The conversation had crossed back and forth about the table, as it should, until Shirley said, “You know all about this, don’t you Liz? Aren’t you on the Museum Committee?”
That was the moment at which Mark finished saying something to Tom’s partner Rachel at the other end of the table, and addressed her. “Would you get the coffee now?”
“I’ll get it in a minute. Yes,” she turned back to Shirley. “It’s a complex issue. He told us his terms upfront. He was very courteous, and quite happy to take his money elsewhere. His ideas are extremely well researched.” She was about to explain his vision for the modern collection.
“It’s been a minute,” Mark said from the other end of the table. The conversation stalled and faces turned to him. His iPhone was in his left hand, timing her.
Silence. The room waited.
About the Author
Anne Atkins is a well-known English broadcaster and journalist, and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. She took an involuntary, and long, break from writing fiction when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, their daughter repeatedly hospitalized with a severe illness, and finally the family was made homeless.. Thankfully those dark days are now behind her and she and her husband Shaun along with some of her children now live happily in Bedford, England.