In Knight & Deigh, 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.
As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.
A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.
Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.
Knight after Knight. Chapter six, part one.
That all worked out rather well. Max retired and was replaced as CFO by Caspar Jakobsson, her long-time head of Finance. Henk retired, too. His post was taken by Felix Holst, who was appointed the head of logistics after Stephen Parker’s departure. Another thing I was happy to hear is that Alexandra Duncan, for years head of marketing and PR, was appointed Sales and Marketing Director.
Sophie and I moved into the rooms that had been occupied by David and Jess all those years ago. I had wanted us to use Sophie’s parents’ flat, they both having passed away a few years previously – Martha only carried on for eight months after losing Eddie – but Sophie wasn’t having any of it. She took their loss incredibly hard and, in fact, I would question whether she had truly dealt with it. David and Jess had some remodelling done in the main house before selling their own home and moving in.
We started spending more time in our villa in Cyprus. It was far away from Knight Towers and much easier for Sophie to deal with. Or so I had thought. Despite my best efforts, she became moodier as time went by. It was the mood swings that I had the most trouble with – at one moment she could be bright and sunny, radiating joy and light, the next quietly sombre, the next angry and spiteful. Yet, through all that, I couldn’t not love her; as a mother loves her child even during its tantrums, I still loved Sophie even through her darkest periods, periods when, had she the courage, it seemed to me she may well have chosen to end her very existence.
The hardest part for me was when she railed at me, accusing me of neither understanding how she felt or even caring. She couldn’t have been farther from the truth, but there was no way I could get through to her. Finally, after months of cajoling, she finally agreed to talk to a professional, someone who understood what she was going through and was able to help her to deal with it, to come to terms with the loss of her parents.
There was no-one on the island she was happy to talk to. She spoke to Jess and asked her to recommend a counsellor. The sessions took place in our rooms in Knight Towers and went on for some time. After the first couple of months, she seemed to me to be improving. The counsellor had helped her to discover that at the root of her problems were a raft of unresolved issues – she had never really dealt with losing Dave, her first husband, and had even papered over some of the problems she carried forward from her peri-menopause. Under the surface, it seemed, there were resentments boiling away, some of them even against me! Working on the basis that ‘if you can name it, you can tame it’, I was hoping that this represented the first steps towards making her better – for her sake, not for mine. She was doing so well that, after about five months’ therapy, she felt able to come back to Cyprus again. This time, at her suggestion, we invited Max to come to stay with us for a while. I have to confess, that I was more than happy with that idea. I remembered how well Sophie and Max got on, and I was hoping that the presence of her old friend would help her with her recovery.
That went reasonably well, until a call came through from David, saying there was a financial issue that needed resolving at Board level. My reaction was simply for him and the Board to deal with it, but it seems it needed a forensic accountant to unravel it and Caspar wanted to call on Max’s offer of consultancy. David felt I should be there in my capacity as Chairman.
“Bloody typical!” Sophie said when I told her about it, “As soon as I need you, the damned company whistles and you go running.”
“I’m going nowhere,” I said, “they can teleconference me in. I’m not flying across Europe for an hour’s meeting.”
“You might as well go. You know you really want to. I should have known it wasn’t for my benefit that you brought your girlfriend here.”
“WHAT?” Max and I shouted in unison.
“You heard. I’m on to your little game. You think I’m blind? You two have been carrying on behind my back for years. Oh, I know about the cosy Skype sessions while she was in Africa. You thought I didn’t, but I did, Mister. Go on. Bugger off back to your precious office.”
“I think I ought to go,” Max said.
“That’s right, go,” Sophie yelled, her face approaching the shade of a ripe aubergine, “I notice you’re not denying anything. And to think I thought you were my friend, an ally. How could I have been so stupid?”
“I am a friend, Sophie. I have been since you worked with me in the cottage.”
“I know what that was about, too. You just wanted to lull me into a false sense of security so you could be with him.”
“I don’t want to argue with you,” Max replied, “but think on this. You weren’t aware of Hannice’s existence until I told you I’d be staying with him whilst I was in Dar-es-Salaam doing that job for Della Jont. You didn’t meet him until after his accident. You didn’t enter into a relationship with him until well after you stopped working for me. How can you possibly think I was plotting against you before you’d even heard his name? And if I wanted to be with him, why would I have let you become attached to him?”
“That’s right. Do your usual.”
“You’re a clever woman, Max. I’ve always known that. Clever and devious. I’m not. Clever that is. Or devious. I don’t know how you did what you did, but it’s obvious why. Get out of my house. And don’t come back.”
I looked at Max and nodded.
“I’ll book into a hotel until I can get a flight,” she said, “I’m sorry you feel this way, Sophie, but know this. I have admired and respected you for as long as I’ve known you, and I wouldn’t do anything, ever, to hurt you. I’m going now, and you won’t see me again unless you want to. But please, Sophie, get some help. You’re not yourself. I’ll see myself out, Hannice.”
Half an hour later, a taxi pulled up at the door, Max got in and left us.
“She’s gone,” I said, “do you want to go back home and restart your sessions?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “I have a headache. I’m going back to bed. Alone.”
“I’ll come and look in on you in a while, to make sure you’re okay.”
“Sophie, love. You’re not well. Whether you want me to or not, I’m going to pop in and check on you. You don’t have to speak or even acknowledge me, but if you think I’m about to give up on you, then you don’t know me anything like as well as you think you do.”
She stormed out of the room and up the stairs to our bedroom, shouting behind her as she went, “You can sleep on the bloody sofa.”