Rich held up a hand to stem the flow of information. “All right, I get it, you’re pretty good at your job. Despite the name.” He fell silent as a waiter came over, balancing three plates. In front of Jonathan was placed a large dish of lasagne, perfectly formed with none of the ‘splodge-like quality’ that Rich remembered of his mother’s food, however nice it tasted. Linda had a roast meal, chicken and potatoes with roasted vegetables and Yorkshire puddings. Davide was served what looked like a pizza with salad in the middle. Rich and Matthew had a little longer to wait, their mouths watering and stomachs grumbling at the sight of such delicious meals.
“Please excuse us if we start,” said Jonathan politely. “I have no doubt that yours with arrive soon. In the meantime, think over what you would like to ask, and Matthew, you can be deciding if there’s anything you would like to add to my explanations so far.”
“I doubt it,” said Matthew quietly. “You have been relatively detailed.”
Davide chuckled gently. “Brother, you’re extraordinarily subdued today. You’re normally quiet, but today more so. What’s wrong?” His voice was casual, informal, and Rich couldn’t help feeling that he was butting in on something personal, something family-related.
“I am just lost in thought,” said Matthew. “You’re being unusually paranoid, even for you.” His counter-remark was well placed, dissolving the tension immediately. Linda was the first to laugh but soon they joined in, relieved to be friendly once more. The waiter returned with Matthew’s ravioli and Rich’s large, thin-based margherita pizza.
“Thank you,” said Rich, taking the plate and smiling genteelly at the waiter, who promptly fled back to the kitchens. “Quiet folk round here, aren’t they?” he remarked to Jonathan, who smiled.
“They know who we are. They never speak to us. I think they’re almost afraid, though they shouldn’t be: we’d never hurt anyone if there was any way to avoid it.”
He continued to eat and, following his example without needing any encouragement, Rich dug in. “So, tell me more about this organisation of yours,” he said, between mouthfuls. “What’s your aim? You don’t want to hurt people and you seem to be trying to be beneficial to the world, to England in particular, although how saving the lives of politicians is going to help anyone I don’t know.”
“It helps the politicians,” interjected Linda.
“What do you want with me? What are your aims? Why are you plying me with fine food and a posh car: you must want something from me, right? I don’t know what I can offer. I’m only nineteen and I haven’t got any skills to speak of...” He trailed off. “Please, tell me everything about you, and then perhaps I’ll understand.”