Victor wasn’t sad that his mother had died. A good innings, she’d said it herself. His eyelids drooped, bored by the monotonous tone of the solicitor’s voice. He didn’t need to hear that his mother left

him everything. There was no-one else in her life. Not for the last 30 years since his father passed away and left him to cope with the barbed tongue and the acid temper which drove every last friend and relative away. He hadn’t minded. Not really. She was his mother, after all. She’d tried her best.

‘Posture, Victor.’ His eyes flew open, and he straightened his back. She would never leave, not really. Not in his head. But all that was going to change.

The solicitor removed his gold-rimmed glasses. ‘Your mother left suggestions about what you might do with your inheritance, Mr Valentine.’

I bet she did, but what can she do about it now? Victor smiled back at the banal round face across the desk. He had plans. And that involved Valerie. His heart warmed, a soft flush at his cheeks. It took all his strength not to grin like a Cheshire Cat. Valerie was his secret and now he was free, he and Valerie could go anywhere they wanted. Well, within reason. His mother’s money meant he would never need to work again. Which meant more time with Valerie. How he’d dreamed of this day.

‘Watch the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, Victor.’ His mother’s knife edge voice filtered through his plans. He clenched his fists. As soon as he and Valerie were on their way, his mother and her infernal demands would be left behind. For good.

‘Fresh flowers every Sunday would be nice, Victor.’ The bus home took him past the cemetery where she lay at eternal, quiet rest. The plastic bunch he’d bought from the Pound shop would have to suffice. And she wouldn’t know any different, would she?

Once home, Victor signed the contract with the Estate Agents, packed one small suitcase and took one last glance around. The dust had gathered. ‘A clean house is a happy house, Victor.’ He laughed aloud. He’d be happier with Valerie.

Victor practically skipped out of the front door and down the path to the single garage at the end of the drive. His heart beat like a drum. Valerie awaited. He yanked the door up and over and dropped the suitcase at his feet.

A pillar-box red VW camper gleamed back at him and he stroked her lights with his hands, ran his fingers over her silver chrome grill.

‘It’s time, Valerie. We’re free to go.’

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