Spencer decided he would do it personally. He should be the one to tell Laura and Stacey about Ray. It seemed the right thing to do. He drove towards Gidea Park, a very up market and affluent area of Romford. He stopped outside a very large detached house. There was a brand new Mercedes on the drive along with a two year old Range Rover.
He walked up the long impressive pathway towards the big old oak front door. There was a sign on the brickwork beside the door. The house had a name. LASTRA.
He was guessing that it stood for LAura, STacey, RAy. He wondered how her new husband must feel, always being compared to the wonderful Ray Samuels.
The door opened and there stood Laura Samuels, he was struck straightaway by her beauty. She was obviously in her early fifties, but could have passed for ten years younger. Shoulder length brown hair, clear skin, bright brown eyes and a figure that could have belonged to a woman half her age. He smiled.
She looked confused.
“Yes, but it’s been a long time since anyone called me that, how can I help you?”
“I’m sorry to trouble you Laura. My name is DCI Spencer from Romford, we spoke earlier on the telephone. Can I come in?”
Laura led him along a dark wooden hall way and into a large well-furnished sitting room. She turned to face him. He could see she had tears in her eyes.
“It’s about Ray isn’t it, have you found him, please tell me you’ve found him. I don’t care if it’s good or bad news, I just need to know.”
Laura’s voice was trembling as she spoke.
“It’s okay Laura, yes we’ve found him. He’s alive and well.”
Laura Samuels wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. A wave of mixed emotion filled he mind.
“Oh my god, after all these years, where has he been, what happened to him?”
Spencer spoke quietly. He was trying to calm her down.
“We don’t know for sure yet Laura, all I can say is that I need you to come with me and see him.”
Laura looked surprised.
“Now? Why is he here, close by?”
“He’s just a couple of miles up the road Laura, we need to take Stacey with us as well. Can you call her and tell her we’ll pick her up on our way?”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying to me, Ray’s alive and well and he’s just a few minutes away and now me and Stacey have to come with you and see him? What’s going on?”
Laura sat down and put her head in her hands. Spencer put his arm around her.
“Laura, listen to me, Ray came back two days ago. He was found wandering around the streets of Buxton in Derbyshire. He didn’t know where or who he was at first. Then he remembered his name was Ray Samuels from Romford. We had to be sure it was really him. That’s why I couldn’t tell you earlier. So over the past twenty four hours we’ve done all the tests, and now, we can confirm that it really is your Ray.”
Laura turned and looked at Spencer.
“Be honest with me. Is he really okay? I mean… mentally?”
“Yes, he’s fine. But I need you and Stacey to come and see him now. Tomorrow we’ll announce to the press that he’s back, remember it was a big story twenty two years ago and we need to let everyone know that he’s back. That’s why we need you and Stacey to come and see him. Okay?”
Laura went and put on her coat, she picked up the phone.
“Stacey, its Mum, I’m coming over, something’s happened, your Dad’s back.”
Spencer could see Laura was trying to explain to Stacey what was going on, but in the end she just told Stacey to be ready; she would be with her in fifteen minutes.
The journey to Brentwood took just over ten minutes, Laura asked questions all the way, Spencer deflected as many as he could, just reiterating what he had said before, he never mentioned once about Rays condition or the fact that he still looked twenty eight. When they arrived at Stacey’s flat Spencer stayed in the car while Laura went and fetched her daughter, they then continued on to the Travel lodge. Stacey and Laura were silent for most of the way, every now and again looking at each other and grinning.
When they arrived Spencer went to main reception, the Polish girl gave him 3 more sets of keys for 3 more rooms. He led Laura and Stacey into room 42.
“Stay here, I’ll go and get Ray. But I need to tell you something first, before you see him. He still looks quite young, like he did when he left, we don’t know why yet, but prepare yourself. It will be a shock.”
Laura and Stacey sat on the bed, holding hands, neither really knowing what to expect.
Spencer opened the door of room 37. Ray and Eddie were talking but stopped abruptly when they saw Spencer. Tom Lucas was still in the bar.
“How you doing Ray?”
“Good thanks, this is my Dad Eddie.”
“Hello Eddie must be good to have him back?”
“Like you’ll never know, praise the Lord.”
“Can I borrow Ray for a short while Eddie, I need him to meet a couple of people, I’ll bring him back soon, promise.”
Eddie smiled, guessing who the people might be.
Ray went with Spencer and they stood outside room 42.
“Ray, in this room are Laura and Stacey, now this will be a big shock for them, even more than it is to you, remember you haven’t changed, but they have. Be prepared. Good Luck.”
Ray turned the key and opened the door.
Sitting on the bed was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She reminded him of Laura yet he knew it wasn’t her, Stacey? Sitting next to her was an older woman, stunning for her age. He knew it was his Laura.
The two women stood up, Laura was the first to speak.
“Ray, it is you, my darling Ray, where have you been, you look like…..YOU!”
They hugged each other and Laura couldn’t keep it in any longer. Tears began to flow, years of pain, anger, disappointment and sorrow finally surfaced. She cried until there were no more tears left. Finally, Ray sat her back on the bed and kissed her on the forehead.
Stacey had said nothing all this time. She had seen photographs of her Dad, she had vague memories of him, but here he was, REAL. He was a handsome man, possible the most handsome she’d ever seen.
She stood up to give Ray a hug.
“Dad, what’s going on, how, why, where… nothing makes sense”
Ray held her close.
“I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either at the moment but I’m sure it will soon, the main thing is that I am back, I know it’s hard to come to terms with and things have changed, I realise all that, but I’m back, let’s take it one step at a time.”
Ray smiled at these two beautiful women then took their hands and led them back to room 37. He opened the door.
When Eddie saw the three of them standing there before him, he fell to his knees and shouted out.
“He was lost, but now he’s found!”