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 nine, part two.
I certainly slept better that night – once I’d got past the cloying scent of the lavender, that is. When I awoke, I heard hushed voices – Max and Kanene were in what sounded like an urgent half-whispered conversation.
“It’s okay, I’m awake,” I called out. The door to my sleeping compartment opened and two heads appeared around the corner.
“Morning, Hannice,” Max said, “did you sleep well?”
“Best I’ve had for a long time. Did I oversleep? You’re both dressed. What time is it?”
“What? Why didn’t you wake me earlier? That’s terrible. Half the day’s gone already. We’ve got things to do here.”
“We didn’t wake you because you need the sleep,” Kanene said, “left to itself, your body will wake you when it knows you’ve had enough sleep. What do you think woke you?”
“I could hear you talking, but I had to listen hard, so that couldn’t have woken me. It’s quite dark in here, so it wasn’t the light.”
“Listen to the shaman,” Max said with a grin, “you slept naturally and you awoke naturally. That means you’ve had enough sleep. And as for the things we have to do, when we were planning the details of the trip, Kanene and I had three jobs we wanted to do. We gave ourselves two days for each one and we’ve already done two of them.”
“And they were?”
“One: visit the orphanage—”
“Which we haven’t done,” I pointed out.
“No, but we’ve seen the hospital and agreed that a visit to the orphanage would probably be counter-productive. On that basis, job one is declared done.”
“To have you sufficiently relaxed to sleep properly and to open up about your feelings. We’ve done half of that. That just leaves the third objective, that of visiting the villages. We reckoned on it taking two days and we have five left. We’re not planning on going there today – we need an earlier start.”
“So what’s your plan for today?”
“How does chilling on the beach sound? We could even try talking about your poor Sophie, like Kanene said yesterday. I’ll fix us some lunch – well, brunch in your case – and we can sit around inside the camper or on the beach, and just relax and talk. If you find it too painful, we’ll do something else, or maybe Kanene and I can start talking and you join in when you feel up to it.”
“That’s probably worth a go. I’ll see if I can join in.”
“I have some rooibos in my bag,” Kanene said, “I’ll make us some. That’s quite relaxing.”
“Rooibos. Isn’t that some sort of weird tea?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “it means ‘red bush’. It’s totally caffeine-free and has good calming properties.”
“Not a drug, is it?” I asked, “I don’t want to use any drugs.”
“No,” she laughed, “it won’t knock you out or do anything mind-altering. It’s just good for you and has some mild relaxant properties.”
“And it tastes good,” Max added.
“Sold!” I said with a slight grin.
We had lunch outside. Between them, Max and Kanene had prepared the one thing I’d never have expected to be eating while sitting on a beach in East Africa in temperatures in the high twenties – a full English breakfast. Needless to say, I stayed outside whilst the two ladies were doing their thing in the kitchen area.
“I thought I smelt something delicious,” I said as they brought the trays of food and hot beverages out.
“We decided to surprise you. Is that okay?” Maw said.
“I’ll say. I was just saying that the one thing I’d never have expected to be eating while sitting on a beach in East Africa in temperatures in the high twenties is a full English breakfast.”
“Who were you saying it to?”
“No-one,” I said, blushing slightly.
“Mr Knight, I believe you were saying it to Sophie,” Kanene suggested.
“Silly, isn’t it? I talk to her a lot – inside my head. Don’t know why, she can never answer; doesn’t even hear it, truth be told. Am I beginning to lose it?”
“Hannice,” Max said, “remember when you had the dogs in Nocturne?”
“Rex and Prince? Of course.”
“Did you ever talk to them? I don’t mean calling them or giving them orders, but talking to them. Telling them things that you knew they’d never understand but telling them anyway, because it helped you get those things clear in your mind. Did you?”
“Of course, everyone does.”
“Even though they had no idea what you were saying and were physiologically and mentally incapable of replying?”
“Yes. It helped me.”
“So what’s the difference between telling things to your pets, even though they couldn’t understand or reply, and telling things to your late wife?”
“I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
“There is one major difference, Max,” Kanene said, “Mr Knight knew that his dogs couldn’t understand or respond to what he was saying. However, depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, Sophie is still there, watching over him and aware of everything he says and does. And even if you don’t have that belief, Sophie is still alive to Mr Knight – at a deep, psychological level below consciousness but above dream-state. And that isn’t mad, it’s perfectly normal and healthy. And I would very disappointed if Mr Knight didn’t feel that way.”
“And I will be very disappointed, Kanene, if you don’t stop calling me Mr Knight and start calling me Hannice.”
“I don’t know if I can do that, Mr Knight.”
“Then I don’t know if I can join in with you and Max in your chat this afternoon.”
“Just do it,” Max said, “otherwise all that effort will be in vain.”
“Okay, Max. Enjoy your breakfast, Mr er, I mean Hannice.”
“There. Wasn’t so hard, was it? Now, Kanene. I know this was your doing, but what is that?” I asked, pointing to an item that didn’t seem to fit in with a full English.
“Oh that. Fried plantain.”
“Not exactly, but something like.”
“Just try it, Hannice,” Max said.
It was delicious.
“That’s something else new I’ve tried,” I said, “aren’t you proud of me, Max?”
“Always, Hannice. Now, let’s talk.”
“I’d love to, but I must help with the dishes.”
“Didn’t you notice?”
“The food was served on banana leaves. No dishes.”
“Oh. Perhaps a cup of that tea stuff first, then?”
“Rooibos coming up,” Kanene said, “make yourselves comfortable; the tea will be here in a moment.”
I can’t recall ever being so nervous. I remembered how long it had taken me before I let Sophie past my wall. That was difficult, and I loved the woman and was committed to spending my life with her, or at least as much as I’d be allowed to. But the prospect of opening up terrified me. Max and Kanene were far from being strangers; they were both close friends, but they weren’t people I was close to the way I was, and if I’m honest with myself, still am with Sophie.
Kanene arrived with the drinks, put them on the table in front of us and took up her position.