Landor was still sober when Nicholas entered the hotel. He had only arrived moments before and was buying his first drink for the night. Nicholas saw the man redden as he approached and realised that he had embarrassed him by unexpectedly coming into his personal haven. Nicholas knew he would need to handle this tactfully.
‘Hello, Landor, I need to talk to you for a moment if I may—about Linus. Can you spare the time?’
‘Of course, sir … Mr Galanos, sir … sit down.’
Nicholas sat down alongside Landor, trying to choose his words, but Landor spoke first.
‘What about Linus? He’s not in trouble is he? Has he been behaving himself at your place?’
‘Certainly. He’s a pleasure to have around, Landor. It’s just that he’s visiting a lot lately—since his mother died.’
Landor fidgeted nervously and Nicholas wondered whether this had been such a good idea.
‘If you don’t want him coming over, you just need to say so, and I’ll stop him,’ Landor said huffily.
‘No, Landor, please don’t think that. We love having him. We’re just thinking of your feelings. How do you feel about him spending so much time with us?’
Landor picked up his full glass and took his first sips. Nicholas knew now why Linus liked coming to tea with them on Friday nights, and guessed that Landor would be very drunk before finishing the evening.
‘Please, sir… no … honestly … I don’t mind. He misses his Mum, and … I’m not great company for him…’
Landor’s voice trailed away, and Nicholas knew that he was longing for the next mouthful. He decided to take a risk and be bold. He didn’t want to go to the authorities and accuse Landor of beating his son. Linus might be taken from his father, and Nicholas didn’t want to be responsible for that so soon after the loss of his mother. But he thought it might do the man some good to know that someone knew what was going on, and it might protect Linus from more beatings.
‘Landor—I need to say this. I’m concerned for you and your son. I … I’ve reason to believe you’ve been beating the boy.’
Landor’s knuckles whitened, and he picked up his glass, pretending not to hear Nicholas.
‘I’m happy for your son to spend as much time at my home as he likes, but if I have reason to believe you’re beating him, I’ll dismiss you from my employ and report you to the authorities. Do you understand? You need a job to support him, so think about it.’
Nicholas didn’t wait for a reply. He stood up, turned his back on Landor and left the bar.