Sally carefully pours me another glass of wine.
"But you say he hasn't done anything," she says.
We are sitting on her balcony in the evening sun. She has planted flowers and herbs in cobalt-blue pots. Bees drone around the lavender bush next to me.
My shoulders ache from my session with my punch bag last night. I never bothered getting past the basic moves. Never saw the point. I learned the basics, and then concentrated on getting them perfect. If you're not facing a martial artist, they're enough. If they're perfect.
Jab, cross, uppercut. Front kick, roundhouse, side kick, back kick. Elbow smash. Inside block, outside block. Upper block, lower block.
I made up my mind when I was old enough that I would never be defenceless again. What's the point? Someone attacks you, why make it easy? Sometimes I'm afraid, sometimes I'm angry. Anger is easier to use as a driving force.
Here's how to break someone's grip on your wrist. The weak point is the gap between thumb and finger. Twist your arm so your wrist is sideways on to this gap, and then pull it sharply towards the weak point so your wrist hits it hard.
I look at Sally. I see worry in her eyes...but no belief. I'm listening to myself telling this story about Derek and it even sounds mad to me. Like the fault lines in my personality have finally cracked, and I'm having a full-on breakdown.
"The thing is," Sally says "there's no reason he shouldn't have been there. Maybe it was just a coincidence, Alice."
I turn the heavy crystal goblet in my hands, watching the sun shine through it. The wine swirls slowly. It is the colour of venous blood. Outside, on the lawn, a single small child - maybe five or six - is under the tree doing not much, and for a second I want to go down and ask where its parents are and why it is alone. To warn it not to listen to charming strangers who say I know where your mother is and she's worried, or come with me and I'll show you something amazing, or aren't you pretty?
"I know you've - I know you've been through a lot in your life. Enough to make anyone scared. But to be honest I think you're overreacting."