‘Roger Holden. I’m the diocese’s press secretary. I’d be happy to help you with any questions you may have.’
(Det Insp Jack) Carrigan stood up and shook his hand, flinching slightly at the unexpected pressure on his fingers and the way Holden looked directly into his eyes as he did this. The man was in his early forties, an expensive haircut framing a bland square face, teeth gleaming white behind fleshy gums. He wore a pink pinstripe shirt that looked as if it had been squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste and he smelled faintly of soap and mint.
‘Our appointment was supposed to be with the bishop.’
Holden smiled apologetically as they entered the office, the corners of his eyes crinkling. He wore a silver ring inset with a small ruby on his little finger and he kept worrying it with his other hand. ‘Unfortunately, the bishop is indisposed right now, but I’ll be happy to provide you with whatever information you may need.’ Holden took his seat behind a large, neatly ordered table, the papers and stationery all squared and aligned.
‘A drink?’ They both nodded and Holden cautiously poured some water from a silver jug, careful not to let a single drop land on the table. He took a small white handkerchief out of his pocket and used it to dry the lip of the jug before placing it back on the tray.
‘So, you’re in charge of investigating the fire?’ Carrigan nodded. Holden turned and stared at Geneva as if surprised to find her there. Carrigan had noticed how he’d studiously been avoiding her until now. Holden took a sip of water, his lips barely touching the glass.
‘You seem very well informed.’
‘It’s my job,’ she replied, bristling against the smooth purr of his voice.
‘That bastard Holden never mentioned any priest,’ Carrigan said, not knowing if Holden had been evasive because he had something to hide or because it was his default position.
All she knew for certain was that Holden had lied. He’d told her the dispute between the convent and diocese was nothing important and yet Spaulding had said that the nuns were on the verge of being excommunicated.
‘Are you telling me he’s in rehab, not on retreat? That he just decided to check in the day after the fire?’
‘I’m not saying anything, Miss Miller, I’m just explaining the situation...’
From Eleven Days, by Stav Sherez