The embassy lawyer looked at Philip. He just sat there dumbstruck. Finally “It was that bitch Penelope, she’s in on this!” he burst out.
The senior of the SSA replied “Miss C was questioned this morning. Would you like to see the recording?”
Philip nodded. It took a few minutes to set up the viewing, and there was Penelope looking scared, answering the questions.
She had dropped Philip off at the airport (on the day he claimed to have been kidnapped).
She had spoken to him on the phone a few times while he was away.
No, he hadn’t told her where he was, just that it was sandy.
Yes he had phoned her of his own free will.
He had organised with her to collect him when he returned.
Then he hadn’t been on the plane as expected.
Her struggle to get the details from the airline. Their description of his being drunk and rather disorderly on the flight from Tripoli to Frankfurt. His tripping and hitting his head. The description from the doctor on the phone, that he seemed a little confused but knew who he was and where he was going.
Finally meeting him, the ardour of the reunion.
Sleeping late the next morning, and his rushing off because he was late for the Embassy breakfast.
No she still had no idea of where he had been, obviously somewhere sunny as he had quite a tan on his arms, face and neck. The somewhat dirty state of his suitcase on the outside.
No he hadn’t mentioned being kidnapped. He had seemed a bit dazed on the drive back to the city, but then having been drunk and knocking himself out in that fall could account for that.
No he didn’t tell her everything in his life.
Yes he had asked her about some contacts in the city. She heard he had been asking for information about the King and the woman now the Queen.
No, she had no idea why he wanted the information.
The set up for the smear campaign, no, she didn’t know the photographic editor he had used. Never heard of him. Were they sure it was Philip?
By then she was in tears, she sobbed that this was all stuff she didn’t know. She loved Philip and couldn’t believe anything bad about him.
Philip sat and stared. This was unbelievable. Penelope knew he had not returned from going out early that morning. How could she lie?
The lawyer asked for some time together, privately.
He told Philip, that unless he could account for why he had not reported the kidnapping, there was going to be a problem with his claiming it.
Eventually he was released. With the warning not to try to leave the city. They informed him that the TNS from his own country were holding his passport, so that no diplomatic breaches could be claimed.
They thanked him for his co-operation, and informed him that they may need to talk to him again.
They sent him home with a driver who did not speak all the way, except to confirm the address.
When he got home, it was obvious the place had been searched. His suitcase and laptop were missing.
He poured himself a drink. Then another. If this was how a real spy should feel, then all the stories were wrong.
The phone rang. The ambassador. He told him he really could not talk now, but would be in first thing in the morning.
Penelope phoned, in tears, she was afraid. What was going on? Philip decided to confront her and drove to her apartment.
She greeted him with an embrace, and again he felt overwhelming desire for her. Sometime later, with Philip feeling somewhat better for the release, they decided to go out for dinner.
On the way, Penelope told Philip of the royal wedding, and the scene with people delaying Anthea. How beautiful she had been as a bride. Then she described the broadcast ‘queening’ ceremony, and stated that she thought Anthea would make a wonderful queen for their country. Philip began to feel very annoyed again. He had not told Penelope of his engagement to Anthea.
Over dinner Penelope eventually asked Philip what was going on. His confusion and rage rose again. He stood up and hit her, again and again. The restaurant staff pulled him away.
A policewoman arrived. She warned Philip about such behaviour, and escorted Penelope out to go home, warning Philip not to follow her.
The next morning Philip woke with a hangover and the vague feeling he had just alienated his only witness.