"I'm delighted to hear that," said Ms. Bennett. "Might the Probation Service be able to assist you with these problems?"



"It's kind of you to ask, Ms. Bennett, but I don't think so. However, I do have an appointment with my counsel tomorrow morning, and I'm rather hoping that he will be able to help me move things along."



"I see," said Ms. Bennett returning to her questions. "Does your partner have a full-time job?"



"Yes, she does," said Danny. "She is the PA to the chairman of a City insurance company."



"So once you find a job, you'll be a two-income family."



"Yes, but for the foreseeable future, my salary will be considerably less than hers."



"Why? What job are you hoping to take up?"



"I'm expecting to be offered a position as the librarian in a large institution," said Danny.



"I can't think of anything more worthwhile," said Ms. Bennett, ticking another box and moving on to the next question. "Are you thinking of traveling abroad in the near future?"



"I have no plans to do so," said Danny.



"And finally," said Ms. Bennett, "are you worried that at some time in the future you might commit another crime?"



"I've made a decision that will render that option impossible for the foreseeable future," he assured her.



"I'm delighted to hear that," said Ms. Bennett as she ticked the final box. "That completes my questions. Thank you, Nicholas."



"Thank you, Ms. Bennett."



"I do hope," said Ms. Bennett as she rose from behind her desk, "that your lawyer will be able to get to grips with these problems that are troubling you."



"That's kind of you, Ms. Bennett," said Danny as they shook hands. "Let's hope so."



"And should you ever feel in need of any help or assistance, don't forget that I am only a phone call away."



"I think it's quite possible that someone will be in touch with you in the near future," said Danny.



"I look forward to hearing from them," said Ms. Bennett, "and I hope everything works out well for you and Beth."



"Thank you," said Danny.



"Goodbye, Nicholas."



"Goodbye, Ms. Bennett."



Nicholas Moncrieff opened the door and walked out onto the street a free man. Tomorrow he would be Danny Cartwright.



***



"Are you awake?"



"Yes," said Beth.



"Are you still hoping I'll change my mind?"



"Yes, but I know it's pointless to try and persuade you, Danny. You've always been as stubborn as a mule. I only hope you realize that if it turns out to be the wrong decision, this could be our last night together."



"But if I'm right," said Danny, "we'll have ten thousand nights like this."



"But we could have a lifetime of nights like this without you having to take such a risk."



"I've been taking that risk every day since I left prison. You have no idea, Beth, what it's like to be continually looking over your shoulder, waiting for someone to say, 'The game's up, Danny boy, you're going back to jail for the rest of your life.' At least this way, someone might be willing to listen to my side of the story."



"But what convinced you that this was the only way to prove your innocence?"



"You did," said Danny. "When I saw you standing in the doorway-'I'm sorry to disturb you, Sir Nicholas,'-he mimicked-"I realized that I no longer wanted to be Sir Nicholas Moncrieff. I'm Danny Cartwright, and I'm in love with Beth Bacon of Wilson Road."



Beth laughed. "I can't remember when you last called me that."



"When you were a grotty little eleven-year-old in pigtails."



Beth fell back on the pillow and didn't speak for some time. Danny wondered if she'd fallen asleep, until she gripped his hand and said, "But it's just as likely that you'll end up spending the rest of your life in jail."



"I've had more than enough time to think about that," said Danny, "and I'm convinced that if I walk into a police station with Alex Redmayne and give myself up-along with this house, all my assets and, most important of all, you, don't you think it might cross somebody's mind that I could be innocent?"



"Most people wouldn't be willing to take that risk," said Beth. "They'd be quite happy to spend the rest of their lives as Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, with everything that goes with it."



"But that's the point, Beth. I'm not Sir Nicholas Moncrieff. I'm Danny Cartwright."



"And I'm not Beth Moncrieff, but I'd rather be that than spending the next twenty years visiting you in Belmarsh on the first Sunday of every month."



"But not a day would go by when you weren't looking over your shoulder, misunderstanding the slightest innuendo, and having to avoid anyone who just might have known Danny or even Nick. And who could you share your secret with? Your mother? My mother? Your friends? The answer is, nobody. And what do we tell Christy when she's old enough to understand? Should we expect her to go on living a life of deceit, never knowing who her parents really are? No, if that's the alternative, I'd prefer to take the risk. After all, if three Law Lords believe my case is strong enough to consider a royal pardon, perhaps they'll feel that I have an even stronger case if I'm willing to give up so much to prove my innocence."



"I know you're right, Danny, but the last few days have been the happiest of my life."



"Mine, too, Beth, but they'll be happier still when I'm a free man. I have enough faith in human nature to believe that Alex Redmayne, Fraser Munro and even Sarah Davenport will not rest until they see that justice is done."



"You rather fancy Sarah Davenport, don't you," said Beth, running her fingers through his hair.



Danny smiled at her. "I must admit that Sir Nicholas Moncrieff did, but Danny Cartwright? Never."



"Why don't we spend one more day together," she said, "and make it something we'll never forget. And as it could be your last day of freedom, I'll let you do anything you desire."



"Let's stay in bed," said Danny, "and make love all day."



"Men," sighed Beth with a smile.



"We could take Christy to the zoo in the morning, and then have lunch at Ramsey's fish and chip shop."



"Then what?" asked Beth.



"I'll go to Upton Park and watch the Hammers, while you take Christy back to your mother's."



"And in the evening?"



"You can choose whichever film you like... as long as it's the new James Bond."



"And after that?"



"Same as every night this week," he said taking her in his arms.



"In which case I think we'd better stick to plan A," said Beth, "and make sure you're on time for the appointment with Alex Redmayne tomorrow morning."



"I can't wait to see his face," said Danny. "He thinks he has an appointment with Sir Nicholas Moncrieff to discuss the diaries and the possibility that he might get him to change his mind and agree to appear as a witness, while in fact he'll come face to face with Danny Cartwright, who wants to give himself up."