Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 9.6

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…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter nine, part six

I didn’t have to wait long. My phone rang. I looked at the screen and saw it was Max, calling me from her office in Tanzania.

“I’m worried about you, Boss,” she said, “I’ve only just heard about your problem. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Max; I don’t have a drinking problem, or any other problem, for that matter.”

“But Stephen Parker has contacted the whole Board and told us that, because of your problem, which he said you had all but admitted to him, you would be taking a bit of a back seat for a while. He said that he felt honoured that you had asked him to look after some aspects of your work. That’s why we’ve all supported him.”

“I hate to have to tell you this, Max, but you’re supporting a lie. I do not have a drinking problem.”

“I know it’s a difficult thing to admit to, Hannice, but you can’t hope to deal with it until you do.”

“Do you want to talk to Sophie? She’ll tell you I don’t have a problem.”

“But she’ll support you anyway, won’t she?”

“Ask David.”

“He’s your son. He’s not likely to say anything against you.”

“Have you ever met a teenaged boy who would turn up a chance of bad-mouthing his parents?”

“Not in this way, though.”

“Okay; call Dr Lockhart.”

“Hannice; I want to believe you, I really do. I don’t like Parker, and I’d like nothing more than to knock him down, but I need some evidence.”

“Come over and stay with me for a week – or longer, if you choose. Bring Lindy, too. I want to talk to the two of you together anyway, to see how he’s settling into his new role.”

“That could work. I’ll talk to Lindy and get back to you.”

“Thanks. See if you can drag Kanene along, too. I’d like to see how she’s getting on, and I know Sophie would love to see her.”

After Max had signed off, I decided to call Henk, to get his view on this nonsense, too.

“Henk,” I said, “I assume you’ve heard these stories about my having a drinking problem.”

“I have, Boss,” he replied, “and I’ve know you long enough, and worked with you closely enough, to know that if you had been developing a problem, I would probably know about it. These things don’t happen overnight, and there are signs that can be picked up by people who are both close enough and objective enough to see them. As you know, Hannice, my father was an alcoholic. I know the signs. I made a study of it because I needed to know as early as possible if there was any chance that I had a genetic predisposition to addictive behaviour.”

“Listen, I’ve got Max coming across soon with Lindy. I don’t have dates yet, but if you wanted to pop across with Tanja whilst they’re here, we might be able to wipe out an entire flock of birds with a very few stones.”

“I’d love to. Presumably, Max feels the same as I do?”

“I wish. She’s in the ‘no smoke without fire’ camp; that’s why I invited her across. Hopefully, she’ll stay long enough to see for herself that this whole alcoholism story is pure fabrication; a pack of lies with no foundation, designed to discredit me and usurp my position.”

“You surprise me, Hannice. Max has known you even longer than I have; surely she would have noticed?”

“We’ll see, Henk.”

“Let me know dates, Boss. We’ll be there.”

Sophie raised the subject with Dr Lockhart the following day. He laughed. Unfortunately, those on the Board who supported Parker’s lie would never believe my own GP or anyone connected with the firm’s clinic. They would believe that anyone linked with the firm was on my payroll, hence incapable of objectivity.

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