In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.
On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.
As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.
This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.
But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…
Beginning on 14 January 2018, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one part each Sunday.
A Bump in the Knight. Chapter four, part four
Not unexpectedly, Eddie and Martha jumped at the chance of spending some time with us. I sent Bly to pick them up from their home in Devon. When they arrived back, Sophie settled them into the apartment that she had used for so long. We told them that although the apartment is fully self-contained, they would be welcome to eat with us and spend as much time with us as they chose.
Over the following days, Sophie became ever larger, ever more tired, and she was grateful to have her mother with her. Eddie and I took some walks around the grounds, which he seemed to appreciate, though not as much as he enjoyed the tour of my study, office and conference room. I hadn’t been aware that Eddie was a technophile, but he certainly was. He insisted that I go into minute detail when describing the way the communications inside the house worked, and I have to confess that some of his questions went right over my head. Later, at dinner, I mentioned it to Martha.
“Eddie’s been fascinated by that sort of thing for a very long time. He reads all the magazines and everything, watches all the technology programmes on the telly, but we could never afford any of that stuff for him. If you really want to make him happy, let him use one of your machines to go on the internet.”
I looked at Sophie and mouthed, “Buy him one.” She nodded and smiled. I turned back to Martha and said, “Of course. There are a few scattered around the house that he can use. I’ll have one set up in your apartment, too. Do you have mobile phones?”
“Goodness, no,” she replied.
“We couldn’t afford to buy one,” Eddie said, “and if we did, I don’t know how we’d pay the bills.”
“That’s something I can take care of for you,” I said. “I’ll buy you an iPhone each, and add the contracts to ours. Won’t cost you anything.”
“I don’t want to sound ungrateful, Hannice,” Eddie said, “but I’d prefer an Android phone. All the stuff I’ve read has left me not too keen on Apple stuff.”
“Of course, Eddie. You choose whichever phone you think will serve you best. I take it you’d prefer a PC in your apartment, rather than an iMac.”
“I would if that’s okay. Trouble is, I don’t know if I’d prefer Windows or Linux.”
“Why don’t I get one of my IT people to come and talk to you. They’re a knowledgeable bunch, and I’m sure that they’d be able to help you reach a decision.”
“Hannice, you don’t have to go to all that trouble for us, you know,” Martha said.
“These days, you’re the nearest thing to parents I have,” I said, “Why shouldn’t I spoil you a bit. Besides which, you’re doing me a great favour, coming here to look after Sophie when I’m in India.”
The next morning, Eddie and I spent some time looking at mobile phones and tablets online. After a couple of hours, he had settled on the latest, top-of-the-range Sony for himself, and a Samsung for Martha. I placed an order for express delivery, along with a couple of high-end tablets with detachable keyboards. I also ordered two new 4G+ contracts. Everything was due to be delivered within 24 hours. During the afternoon, Sarah from IT came around. I had asked that she bring two laptops: one running the latest version of Windows, the other with a Linux OS installed. We met up in the conference room.
After spending some time with her, Eddie was still undecided.
“The trouble is,” he said, “Linux is faster and possibly safer, but Windows has better application support.”
“What applications do you need?” I asked.
Eddie laughed. “I’ve never had a computer before, Hannice. I can’t honestly say I need any applications.”
“Okay. What applications would you like?”
“Office, Photoshop – in case I get a digital camera to replace my box Brownie; don’t know, really, but there seem to be more well-known applications for Windows than for Linux.”
Sarah, who was still with us, looked at me and said, “Dual boot?”
“English?” I joked.
“We can set it up so that when you start it, you get to choose whether it runs Windows or Linux.”
“Is that safe?” Eddie asked.
“Absolutely,” Sarah replied.
“Do it,” I said.
“Done. You didn’t notice, Eddie, that I actually showed you Windows and Linux on the same laptop.”
“I thought you’d changed machine while I went to the loo.”
“Nope. Same machine, dual boot.”
“How does that work?” I asked.
“Let me show you.” She pulled the laptop out of her bag, opened the lid and pressed the power button. After a few seconds’ whirring and crunching, the screen came to life. The text at the top of the screen said ‘choose an operating system’ and below it were two icons, one labelled ‘Windows 10’, the other ‘Ubuntu’. “Just click on the one you want.”
“Is that it?” Eddie asked.
“That’s what I want, then,” he said.
“Then that’s what you shall have, Eddie. Sarah, can you make it happen, please?”
“Done. Here you are, Eddie; your new laptop. The box in the corner of the room is your printer/scanner/fax machine.”
“Sarah, I’m impressed,” I said. “You’ve thought of everything.”
“When I told my manager what you had asked for, she told me to take enough so we could do the whole job in one visit.”
“How did you know that Mr Beard would go for dual-boot?”
“It’s the only logical choice, given his profile.”
“Well,” Eddie said, “I, for one, am impressed, and most grateful. I didn’t come here expecting any of this. I was happy just playing with Mr Knight’s kit, but to be given my own… Wow!”
Eddie and Sarah went through to the apartment to set up the laptop and printer. While they were gone, I used the iMac in the conference room to order a digital camera for Eddie, one of those with incredible zoom built in. Well, he did hint at it.
To describe Eddie as animated at dinner would be to do him a great disservice. His own wife said she’d never seen him so talkative, so excited. What impressed me was the amount of information he’d retained from the day.
When her parents returned to their apartment for the night, I explained to Sophie what I had arranged for them.
“You really are spoiling them,” she said, “phones, tablets, cameras, computers, what’s next?”
“Nothing else planned, but don’t hold your breath.”
The following morning, the phones, tablets and camera arrived, as well as the SIM cards for the phones. Sophie’s parents and I filed through into the conference room, where Sarah was waiting for us, ready to set up the phones and tablets and make sure that Eddie and Martha were comfortable with their use. Sophie remained in our room, chatting with Kanene about her ideas for the nursery. I left them together, knowing that Sarah would keep them busy and amused for an hour or two, and went back to join Sophie and Kanene. Sophie had gone into the bathroom, leaving Kanene temporarily alone.
“Have you had a chance to chat with Max yet?” I asked.
“About your design work.”
“She started, but was interrupted, and I haven’t seen her again.”
“Let me explain what we have in mind,” I said and launched into what I believed was a reasonable summary of the talks I’d had with Max and Lindy. Once I’d finished, I asked her what she thought of the idea.
“I enjoy this work, Bwana Knight, but I don’t know if I am good enough to do it for other people.”
“Everyone who has seen what you did at Nocturne and here thinks you are. We think you are, too. We wouldn’t have asked you to do the nursery otherwise, would we?”
Sophie came back at that point, and added, “He’s right. You are good enough.”
“Should I have more training?”
“I don’t think so,” Sophie said. “You have natural ability. A school would replace what you have with their own ideas, their own way of doing things.”
“So you want to pay me whether I work or not?”
“No, Kanene,” I said, “we will pay you a small amount each month; a retainer.”
“I don’t understand retainer.”
“It is a payment to retain your services. You agree that you won’t do this work for anyone else, and in exchange for you agreeing to that, we make a small, regular payment. When you do design work, we will pay you the going rate for your work. We will look at it after six months, and either adjust the retainer or you will be free to cancel the arrangement at that time if you wish.”
“I trust you to do the best for me, Bwana Knight. But who will look after Mama Max?”
“When you have no design work to do, you will continue as you are now. When you are working, you can arrange for someone to take your place, and pay them yourself from your earnings.”
“Your friend from the village?”
“Zinga, yes. Would she be permitted to bring her children with her? Habibu, her son, is nine and her daughter Zahara is six.”
“You’d need to talk to Max about that.”
“Mama Max knows Habibu and Zahara. I believe she will be happy for them to come. They are well-behaved, quiet children.”
“Okay, Kanene. I’ll let Max know that you are happy to make this arrangement for a trial period. She will talk to you about it some more when you are both back in Dar-es-Salaam.”
Sophie chose that point to yell out in pain.