9th May 2023

The image that greeted Annette and Claudine as they entered the Basheer family private quarters was simultaneously heartwarming and disturbing. Akeena and her two daughters were sitting around a low table in the company of Zara Amin, the ladies enjoying a cup of fresh brewed delicious, sweet coffee, the girls a glass of refreshing and invigorating squeezed orange juice. All four were deep in convivial conservation, alternating in their own local tongue and English. Quite as much English as the detectives had heard Akeema and daughters broach in all the multifarious interviews they had previously witnessed. The expanded use of English by the Basheers was a very good sign, their obvious comfort with and trust in with Zara, a known Foreign Office operative, far less welcome.

Zara Amin saw the two detectives approach and with a pleasant enough smile extended her had in greeting. Annette took the offered hand first and gave a most warm shake and full palm squeeze. Claudine immediately followed suit, managing to positively catch Zaras glinting eyes as he did. Something in the greeting alerted Claudine to a presently wholly hidden inference, a feeling that resulted in an unexpected emotional response.

“Zara Amin, specialist Libyan translator to the Foreign Secretary. I hope you will excuse me taking breakfast with this charming trio of ladies.”

All three charming ladies blushed at the compliment. Annette could hardly miss the very obvious affinity already manifesting between Zara and the Basheers. A connection that could well prove a two-edged sword.  

“It is very agreeable to be able to talk in my own native voice at last.  I do truly thank you for providing me with such a freeing opportunity.”

This was the first time that Akeena had offered a snippet of conversation to Annette and Claudine without prompting.

“We a hoping that our communications continue to broaden and clarify.”

Annette was trying very had to be quite as convivial as was possible in their situation.

My dear friend Akeena, with you permission I must take a moment to converse with my two colleagues before we continue.”

“Of course, do proceed as you must. My daughters have yet to complete their morning toilet, so do take your time.”

Akeena and her two daughters, who seemed to have adapted to the changed circumstances since the unfortunate death of the head of their household most accomplishedly, withdrew in a huddle too the back rooms, that included the sleeping quarters and washrooms. The remaining trio of Annette, Claudine and Zara sat comfortably enough, but not necessarily in a relaxed frame of mind, on three upright chairs they hastily organized in a very obvious neutral triangle for the purpose.

“I do hope that we will be able to complete our designated tasks in a professional and pleasant atmosphere.”

‘Zara Amins pronouncement was as always exactly precise and grammatically correct. She had the manner of talking like a public information announcement off perfectly.

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