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"What is it?" I asked, "the other attractive young blonde?"
"Yes, indeed. Your intuition has been very sharp lately," said my friend. "This telegram was from Sian Lloyd-Jones, asking whether she can call on us this evening."
"I'd be delighted to meet her," I said.
"I'm sure you would," replied the detective.
Sian Lloyd-Jones arrived shortly before seven o'clock, moving quickly and appearing somewhat flustered. "What is the trouble, Ms. Lloyd-Jones?" asked Holmes, as we helped her to a comfortable armchair.
"It's nothing, sir," she answered slowly and with evident difficulty. "I'm sure my affliction will be temporary. I've been scrambling to get here as quickly as possible, and I think I simply ran out of breath."
"You are under considerable stress," Holmes observed. "Please take your time."
After several deep breaths and a few sips of water, she spoke again. "Yes, sir, we are all under considerable stress," she said in a much clearer voice. "It's been a horrible six weeks for all the family, and all the friends."
"And you are?" asked Holmes.
"I'm a friend, sir," replied Ms. Lloyd-Jones. "A longtime friend of both Gareth and Ceri. I met them twenty-five years ago, so of course I know their parents, and many of their other relatives, sir."
"You met as children?" Holmes asked.
"Yes, sir," she answered. "We met at Ysgol Gynradd Morswyn primary school. Gareth was two years younger, but he was moved up two years because he was so clever. He used to read encyclopedias at six. Even in primary school, he was doing his GCSEs during lunchtime.
"We were childhood sweethearts at school. Then when we went to Bodedern, our secondary school, he moved on leaps and bounds with his intellect. He really was a genius. I would say a date, say May 15, 1974, and he would count back and then say, 'Yes, it was a Wednesday.' He could work it out. But if he was here today, he'd hang out and enjoy a chat and a catch up. He was so approachable.
"I was quite naughty at school. I used to sell his homework. He used to have a big list. People used to come, all those who couldn't do their maths, and he would do it for them. We only sold it for school dinner money, 70p a time or something like that, and I used to buy magazines. He got nothing, to be honest. He didn't want anything. That's how he was, how we were as friends."
Holmes gave me half a wink, which I took as meaning, "Whew! Did you catch all that?"
I nodded and smiled. Sian Lloyd-Jones took a long drink of water, and the interview proceeded.
"How and how much did you keep in touch with Gareth over the years?" asked Holmes.
"After school, we went our separate ways," replied Lloyd-Jones. "But four years ago, our paths crossed again in Manchester.
"It was surreal at first. I was coming down the escalators at Selfridges and I spotted him coming up. We took off again. We went out for a drink and chatted. To be honest with you, I think we were both slightly in awe of each other. We were both excited by what the other was doing and amused too. He told me he was working for GCHQ.
"We talked for a couple of hours and made a pact we would always stay in touch, and we did. We called each other every week from then on. And he would come up roughly once a month. He was hugely into music, from classical to rap. Music was his life. He'd always tie up his visits with a gig at the MEN Arena or the Apollo. I never went with him, I'd meet him afterwards or the next day. He'd often help me with the shopping for my shoots."
"Shoots?" asked Holmes.
"Yes, sir," replied our guest. "I'm a fashion stylist, and I'm always looking for sharp new items that fit my needs. Gareth had a good eye for fashion. He was fun to take shopping."
"He came to Manchester from Cheltenham to see you?" asked Holmes.
"Yes, that's right," she answered. "I saw him roughly once a month until I moved to London two years ago. Then he was too far away for regular visits."
"Until he was seconded to MI6 and moved to London himself?" suggested Holmes.
"Exactly, sir," she replied. "Then our friendship deepened. We didn't have many friends around us -- he'd moved from Cheltenham, I'd moved from Manchester -- and so we stuck closely together. We'd grown up together and enjoyed each other's company.
"We used to go to Nobu Berkeley Square in Mayfair. He always treated me. We just used to hang out.
"Sometimes we'd go to the Fifth Floor bar at Harvey Nichols and drink cocktails. It would be apple sours for me. He would have a non-alcoholic cocktail. He used to join in with whatever was there, white wine or champagne if there was a group, but he wasn't a drinker. If it was just me and him he wouldn't have anything at all.
"He used to just turn up at any time. He was always welcome. I might have spoken to him and told him I was finishing late and he would pop round. Sometimes he would stay over on the sofa. He would always bring me a bottle of rosé and often some cigarettes. He was a true old-school gentleman.
"He loved candles. He used to love burning my expensive candles and then we'd have a catch-up and a gossip. There was no one like him, I had such an in-depth relationship with him. He was so knowledgeable about everything from restaurants to cars to maths to politics."
"I'm pleased to see you've recovered your breath so completely," said my friend with another quick glance in my direction. "But it's easy to see you are still under considerable stress. Can we offer you something stronger to drink?"
"Yes, sir, that would be lovely," she replied.
Next: Lloyd-Jones Continues