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Jamie Stanley moves to the middle of the British countryside to take over the role of Detective Inspector. Excited and nervous for her first day at work, she walks into the station to be greeted by less than eager colleagues. Will the murder of a local business woman bring the team closer together?
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Marion’s pale skin was
almost the same colour as the clothes she was wearing.
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Text copyright © 2014 Katie L Thompson
All Rights Reserved
All characters are fictitious and bear no resemblance to actual persons, alive or dead.
© 2014 Cover design and tree image by Katie L Thompson
‘Blood on White Wall’ image courtesy of: mack2happy/freedigitalphotos.net
She flinched the minute she heard the song erupting from her mobile, on the coffee table beside her. Although she was expecting the call the noise still made her nervous.
“Greg,” she answered.
It was no hidden fact that they didn’t get on.
“Let’s get this over with quickly. On your doorstep in fifteen minutes.”
He’d hung up before she had a chance to reply.
She dreaded his phone calls, they made her feel guilty. She knew what she was doing was wrong, but it had been so long that she didn’t know a way out of it anymore. There was no way out.
Sara hovered around the house, moving things from one place to another – convincing herself that she was tidying up although the house was already in tip-top condition – anything to keep herself busy.
Although the ringing had stopped, the song still remained in her ears. The ringtone dedicated to Greg was different from everyone else. She’d changed it so that without looking at the caller ID, she’d know who it was. Not that he was saved in her phone as ‘Greg’. She’d hidden his number under the name ‘Rubbish Chinese Takeaway’.
Sara shivered. Greg always called when he was fifteen minutes away. They were the longest fifteen minutes of her life.
She checked she had money in her purse although she’d already checked at least five times that day. A wad of twenty pound notes, fresh out of the cash machine the day before, filled the back section. Even without looking inside, she knew the money was there from the bulge it created. She was prepared, or as prepared as she ever could be.
The doorbell rang. Sara took in a large breath, letting it out as she reached the front door. The metal of the door handle was cold against her sweaty palm. Her heart beat quickened. She took in one more breath and let it go.
Jamie pulled her straight copper hair into a high ponytail. Looking at her reflection in a window pane, she tugged the hair band out again. She shook her head and ran her fingers through her hair to neaten it up.
“That’s not right,” Jamie said, taking the hair band back off her wrist. She was about to attempt another ponytail but had a sudden change of mind and shoved the band into her bag. Next she tried sweeping her hair all onto one side but that didn’t work either.
“Just stop it,” she said to her reflection. She shook her head so that her hair fell back into its natural position. “It’ll be fine.”
Today was Jamie’s first day at her new job. She’d flown to
leaving her family back in Canada,
to take over the role of Detective Inspector at a small police station in the
middle of the British countryside.
“Open the door,” she instructed herself. She obeyed. “Good, good. Oh … hello.”
Two men stared at her from the far side of the room. Neither of them spoke as they took in her appearance.
She brushed her hands on her thighs, feeling self-conscious – maybe it wasn’t her best idea to wear bright purple skinny jeans when she was trying to blend into the background. Fed up with the scrutiny, she folded her arms across her chest.
“Can we help you?” the older man asked. He had shaggy brown hair and sat with his glasses perched on top of his head.
“I’m Detective Inspector Jamie Stanley,” she said, sounding as though she was unsure of what she was saying. She offered her hand to the man who stared at it as if he’d never seen someone’s hand before.
“Detective Sergeant Daniel Brookes,” he said eventually, taking her hand. “And he’s PC Carlton Green,” he added as an afterthought.
Until that point Jamie had been focusing all of her attention on Danny. Now she turned to face Carl.
“We were expecting a dude,” Carl said. Carl also had brown hair. It was darker than Danny’s and it was cropped close to his head – much smarter.
“Oh, alright.” Jamie was lost for words, what was she supposed to say to that? ‘Sorry I’m not a ‘dude’, I’m a female?’
“Give her a chance, Carl,” Danny said. He took his glasses off his head and ran his fingers through his hair – it definitely needed cutting.
Before any of them could say anything else the phone rang, and Danny stretched to answer it.
“Alright miss, please calm down … Uh … Yes, ok … I see … We’ll be right there.”
Danny hung up the phone and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair. “There’s been a murder on the street next to the new housing estate.” He spoke as they headed for the car.
Jamie felt excitement shoot through her. This was her first case as Detective Inspector at her new job. For the first time that day, she felt confident.
Carl climbed into the driver’s seat and climbed over the handbrake.
“What are you doing?” Jamie asked, hesitating as Danny hurried her into the car.
“The only way to fit into the space is to park right up against the wall,” Danny explained.
“Is this the only place you can park?” Jamie’s eyebrows knitted together.
“Yes, unless you want a half mile trek to the station.” Danny climbed into the driver’s seat, ending the conversation.
Jamie sat in the back, staring at the rear of Danny’s seat. What had she let herself in for? A place so small they couldn’t allow the police station to have a decent car parking space, let alone a whole car park.
“What do we know so far?” Carl asked as the car lurched forward.
“Not a lot. Just that a cleaner let herself into her client’s house and found her employer lying dead on the floor.”
Carl nodded and scribbled in his notebook.
“Apparently the husband’s been on a business trip all weekend, so she could have been there for a couple of days, since the cleaner only works on weekdays.”
“So, I’m assuming the cleaner has her own key.” Carl turned to his notebook again. “Does anyone have a pencil sharpener or a spare pencil?”
Danny rolled his eyes.
“Here,” Jamie produced a pencil from the little pocket at the front of her shirt.
Danny pulled the car up in front of a two story, white brick house. The street of almost identical houses had been the most expensive place to live in the area until they’d built the new estate behind it. Although the houses were near enough identical, this one stood out from the others – and not in a good way. The front garden looked as though it had been used as a rubbish heap, and in the spaces around the rubbish the grass was at least a foot high. All of the other houses had neatly mown gardens with flower beds bordering their perimeters – most of the occupants hired a full time professional gardener.
A lady dressed in white was standing beside the front door, she walked towards them as they got out of the car. She had greying hair and must have been in her late fifties/early sixties. Jamie assumed that this was the lady Danny had spoken to on the phone.
“I got here at half past eight. I knew something wasn’t right because the car was in the drive, and she’s usually at work by the time I get here.”
“And, what were you doing at the house?” Danny asked.
“I work here. I clean on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while the Longacres are at work. The wife used to do the cleaning, but she recently got promoted and so doesn’t have as much spare time as she used to, that’s why they hired me.”
“And what’s the wife’s name?”
“Sara Longacre.” Her feet were constantly moving while she spoke, and her eyes flickered between them and the house.
“Is that her full name?”
“I don’t know.” She bit her lip.
“How old is she?”
“I don’t know. Oh, I’m really not any help at all, am I?” Her bottom lip quivered.
“Carl, take a full statement from Miss … um.”
“Dewater, but call me Marion.”
Marion. Jamie, stay with
“And, see if you can get a number for the husband, we need to inform him as soon as possible,” Jamie added before following Danny.
“She’s behind the door,” she called after them as they went into the house. She turned to face Carl. “As I said the husband’s been away all weekend, so I don’t know how long she’s been lying there. I barely know the couple. I’ve only been working for them for a couple of months. The husband’s started spending more time away from home on business and with the wife’s promotion they needed someone to help out around the house. From what I could see they seemed like a happy couple, been married about a year.”
Carl jotted some bits down in his notebook, although she really wasn’t telling them anything that they didn’t already know.
“I’ve never seen a dead body before.” She looked as though she was about to cry.
“Not many people have. It must have been a shock.” Carl tried to put on a soothing voice, but it was hard. He never knew how to react in front of emotional people. He was more interested in finding out information that could help them solve the case. Danny was better at dealing with people – living people anyway.
Jamie looked at the body that was lying face up on the floor. The lady’s lips were white and swollen, tinged with blue. All signs pointed towards poisoning. “So the murderer must have known she’d be alone all weekend and let themselves into the house, that or she let them in. Then, when she had her back turned, they slipped something into her drink.” Jamie looked uncertain.
“And, I’m assuming this is the glass they put it in.” Danny pulled a pair of gloves over his hands and plopped an empty glass into a plastic zip-up bag.
“So let’s see what we’ve got.”
“A lady, home alone all weekend, most likely to have been poisoned. We know that the husband has been away on a business trip all weekend, the backdoor is bolted from the inside, so there doesn’t seem to be any way into the house other than the front door, which means that either the murderer had a key, or Sara let them in.” He handed the bag to Jamie.
Jamie flipped the glass in the bag over in her hands. There was a small amount of orange fluid in the bottom of it – most likely orange squash. She said nothing.
Danny walked over to the coffee table and, using a different pair of gloves, picked up a mobile and dropped it into another zip-up bag.
“Is that her phone?” Jamie stopped what she was doing to look at Danny.
“I’m assuming so.”
“Check it and see.”
“Can’t that wait till we get back to the station?”
“No. Check it now.”
Danny sighed. This new woman was going to be a lot of work. He missed DI Bode and his laid back nature.
“The background’s of a man at the beach. The same man that’s in all of the photographs in this room. I assume it’s the husband, so I assume this must be Sara’s phone.”
“I don’t like how many times you used the word assume in those sentences. This is a murder investigation, we can’t assume anything.”
Danny rolled his eyes at the wall.
“Continue photographing the scene,” Jamie instructed. She turned her back on Danny to assess the rest of the room. Before he’d picked up the mobile she’d noticed that it had been placed exactly square to the edge of the table. Now she looked around it seemed that most things were in the same kind of order. All the books on the bookshelf had been brought forward so that they were in a line, about a centimetre away from the front of the shelf. Did the people in this family have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or was there another reason?
“What are you looking at?” Danny had the camera strap around his neck.
“These books. Why are they all in a straight line?”
“Because the people who live here like everything to be neat and tidy. Look at the cushions on the sofa.”
Jamie looked at the sofa. There were four cushions spread equal distances apart, each of them had been plumped up and placed diagonally, so they looked like diamonds. “It doesn’t look like anyone lives here.”
Danny turned his attention back to the camera. “What does it matter anyway?”
She shrugged. It probably didn’t mean anything, but it bothered her. “I’m going to go outside, see if Carl’s got any more information.”
“I’ll just finish up in here, then I’ll join you.” Danny started taking more shots of the body, some of his previous shots weren’t as clear as he wanted them to be.
Outside Carl leaned against a wall listening to the lady repeat herself time and time again. “Is there anything else we should know?”
“Not that I can think of. As I said, I didn’t really know them. I just come here to clean three times a week. Everything seemed fine when I left on Friday.”
“Well, if you think of anything else give me a call.” Carl handed her a card.
He was relieved to see Jamie. Hopefully they would be leaving soon.
Danny came outside a few minutes after Jamie. “There’s been a burglary at the McDougal’s. The guys from the morgue will be here to take the body away in a few minutes, but we better go.” He turned to
“We’ll let you know as soon as we know anything. Don’t worry, everything will