Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 9.7

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 seven

Max arrived a couple of weeks later with Lindy and, I was happy to see, Kanene in tow. Within a few hours of arriving, and having spoken at length with Sophie and David, Max was becoming convinced that Parker’s story was without foundation. When Henk arrived with Tanja a while later, her conviction was secured. At last, I had two directors on my side. Including the regions, that left us outnumbered eight to three. We three, together with Sophie, Lindy and Tanja, sat down to discuss the situation. David went off with Kanene; he had recently shown an interest in learning some Swahili and relished the thought of a native speaker, who was also fluent in English, to help him.

“Our situation,” I started, “is that we have one recently appointed director, Stephen Parker, who has convinced everyone – without, I may add, any evidence whatever – that I am a raging alcoholic. The question is, what can we do about it.”

Lindy chipped in first. “Surely, Boss, if you turn up at a meeting they’ll see you’re sober and that’ll put an end to it.”

“I wish it were that easy,” I said, “When I told Emily I was not even a heavy drinker, she said I was in denial. When I offered to submit to a medical assessment, she accused me of bargaining, a common tactic. Then, when I told her what I thought of the idea, she said that unreasonable anger was also symptomatic of the problem. That man has the entire Board so convinced, that whatever we say or do will be interpreted according to his tinpot theory.”

“Trouble is,” Henk added, “whatever you say or do, he will twist to suit his agenda. He’s a dangerous man.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “My natural reaction would be to involve my solicitor and threaten to sue him for libel, based on the email you all apparently received. He, though, or more probably his wife, who I know is behind all this, would probably write that off as the actions of a desperate man, clutching at any available straw.”

“Leave it with me for a while, Hannice,” Max said. “I have an idea what might just take the wind out of his sails.”

“What’s your plan?” I asked.

“Well. No-one is whiter than white. Let me nose around in his publicly available financial information—”

“I can help,” Tanja offered with a knowing smile, “that way we won’t need to restrict ourselves to what’s publicly available.”

“Thanks, Tanja,” Max said, “but I don’t think we should be involved in anything illegal.”

“Not illegal as such. Morally questionable, perhaps.”

“We’ll talk about that later, Tanja, okay?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks. So we find what we can. The smallest under-declaration, the slightest hint of anything untoward, and we threaten to expose him unless he publishes a complete retraction and makes a public apology.”

“And when he does,” I added, “we strip him of his directorship and throw him off the Board.”

“At least,” Henk said, “Given my way, we’d get him out of the firm.”

I considered carefully my next move. “As you probably know, well some of you do, a number of years ago Parker, at his wife’s behest, came to me claiming to be my ‘brother by another mother’, that my father had sired him before he married my mother. His mother never married and died without receiving any money or acknowledgement from the father of her child. This could, of course, have been because she never sought it. However, he chose, in effect, to contest Papa’s will. Too late, as it had been properly dealt with and executed. Our response to this claim was to undergo a DNA analysis, which concluded ‘analysis of the DNA samples provided by Mr Hannice Knight (subject A) and Mr Stephen Parker (subject B) does not exclude the likelihood that the two subjects have the same biological father’. On the basis of that likelihood, we considered it prudent to give him an amount of money and, as he had recently been declared redundant and was without work, we arranged for him to be interviewed for the vacant position of Head of Logistics, a role that he secured and has carried out more than adequately since. My proposal now is that we have these DNA samples looked at again. The science has moved on since the original analysis, and it may be possible to have something more definitive than ‘does not exclude the likelihood’.”

“And if the result proves that he is your half-sibling?” Hank asked.

“Then we continue with Max’s plan.”

“And if it goes the other way?”

“Then, Max, we destroy him.”

The gasps from around the table hinted strongly that they considered my suggestion to be excessive. I didn’t.

“Before you judge me, based on what I just said, ask yourselves what he is trying to do to me. If we don’t stop this nonsense quick and hard, it’ll be haunting me for the rest of my days, and I’m not having that.”