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Evil Games
  • Текст добавлен: 4 октября 2016, 23:14

Текст книги "Evil Games"


Автор книги: Angela Marsons






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Текущая страница: 13 (всего у книги 23 страниц)

FORTY-TWO

Kim unclipped the collar. Barney went to his water dish and slurped twice.

It was well after midnight and they had just returned from their long walk. Kim varied the exercise; some nights they walked the streets, other times she took him to the park and let him off the lead.

The nightly solitude soothed her. She had learned early on that Barney didn’t much like games. She’d thrown a tennis ball for him and he’d looked at her as if to say ‘well, what was the point of that?’ She’d retrieved the ball herself and tried a couple more times. It had turned into a great form of exercise for her, not so much for the dog. Eventually she had worked out that Barney was a follower. If she walked, he walked. If she ran, he ran.

This evening they had walked for almost an hour and half. She felt he must be hungry by now.

‘Come on boy, try one, just one?’

She held out one of the mini quiches she’d baked earlier. The dog backed away and jumped onto the sofa, resting his head on the cushion.

‘Go on, try just a little bit.’

He burrowed his head down into the sofa.

She sighed. ‘You know, Barney, you’re about the only male in my life who doesn’t do what I say. And for that I respect you.’

The quiches landed in the bin with a thud.

‘Alright, have one of these.’

All fear forgotten, he jumped down and took the crunchy apple from her hand.

It was disturbing just how easily he had fit in to her lifestyle. Probably more disconcerting was the amount of time she spent talking to him.

That first night had taken her to a place she rarely visited. The feel of his small, warm body nestled against her had brought back emotions that engulfed her; the guilt at not having died along with her brother, the anger at her inability to prevent his death and the rage at her mother for having done that to them.

Momentarily she had been transported back to that flat and the memory of her brother’s last breath, but she had pulled herself back from the edge. The past was a place she could visit only briefly to remember Mikey’s open, trusting face. She tried to recall only his smile or the feel of his small hand in hers but inevitably her mind pushed the fast forward button to those last few days.

She had never talked about it and she never would. Kim’s whole world depended on it.

She took a coffee into the garage and sat amongst the scattered debris of her new project.

The flutes of Beethoven’s Second Symphony sounded in the background.

She’d given herself the deadline of tonight to make a decision on whether to pursue the doctor any further.

Kim had the notion that their meeting at the cemetery had been engineered, but for what purpose? And how would she have known that Kim would be there? Unless she’d been followed.

Jesus, she reprimanded herself. If this continued much longer she’d be framing Alexandra Thorne for the Kennedy assassination.

She smiled to herself as her phone vibrated along the worktop. It was almost one in the morning.

The phone had lit up with a text from Stacey. She read the words with interest.

If you’re up ring me.

Kim was immediately concerned. Stacey would never contact her at this time if it wasn’t urgent.

She immediately hit the dial button. Stacey answered on the second ring.

‘You okay, Stace?’

‘Fine, boss. Listen, this doctor thing yer asked me to look at. I’ve been doin’ it from home. Yer know, just in case …’

‘Cheers, Stace.’ At the station there were I.T. watchdogs everywhere.

‘The doctor’s sister, Sarah. I found a birth certificate but no death certificate.’

‘But she exists?’

Kim was mildly surprised at the fact.

‘Oh yeah, she exists all right, she’s alive and well and living in Wales.’

Kim steadied herself against the workbench. ‘You sure?’

‘Oh yeah, married with one child. A daughter. Moves around more than a bloody army wife. Took some bloody tracking.’

‘Stace, you’re an angel. I appreciate it.’ Kim checked her watch. ‘Now get some sleep.’

‘Will do, boss,’ Stacey said, before ending the call.

Kim stood for a few moments, turning the phone around in her hand.

Being beautiful and clever was not breaking any law and Kim realised that she would need to think carefully about her next move. Her own façade had been carefully and diligently constructed, course by course, over many years, but she’d never met anyone like Alexandra Thorne.

The phone dropped from her grip.

Ultimately it came down to a single question. Was she prepared to enter this arena and risk her own fragile psyche to uncover the total truth?

On balance, was there even really a choice?

FORTY-THREE

Kim switched off the engine and removed her helmet. The house was unremarkable in its row of terraced properties. The only thing that distinguished it was the ‘For Sale’ sign that protruded from the wall halfway up the property.

More remarkable was where it was placed. Llangollen was located along the A5, just over halfway between the Black Country and Snowdonia. The small town nestled at the foot of Llantysilio Mountain. From where she now stood there were stunning views of the Dee Valley, the Clwydian mountain range and the Berwyns in the distance.

Kim enjoyed the view for a whole thirty seconds before she turned and knocked on the door.

Her eye was drawn to the left as two fingers appeared to separate the venetian blind.

The door opened part way. ‘Yes?’

‘Sarah Lewis?’ Kim asked, trying to peer around the two inch opening.

‘You are?’

Jesus, she was talking to a front door. ‘Detective Inspector Kim …’

The door was pulled open and Kim almost stepped back with surprise. Before her was a woman that bore a striking similarity to Alexandra Thorne. It wasn’t a vague family resemblance. Kim would have picked her out in a line up.

Kim held up her hands to still the panic that had tensed her mouth. ‘There’s nothing wrong. I’m not local, I’m from the Midlands, an area called …’

‘How did you find me?’ she asked.

‘Umm … does it matter?’

The woman’s shoulders dropped slightly. ‘Not anymore. How can I help you?’

‘It’s about your sister.’

‘Of course it is,’ she said, without emotion.

Kim looked around. ‘May I come in?’

‘Do you need to?’

‘I think so,’ Kim answered honestly.

Sarah Lewis stepped back and allowed her in. She waited for the woman to close the door and then followed her. The house had once been a two up, two down cottage but as Kim followed she saw that a full kitchen had been added, extending the property into the sizeable back garden.

‘Sit down, if you must,’ Sarah said, leaning against the work surface.

A glass dining table looked out onto a space that held a slide, a swing set and a patio area with a barbecue. A couple of doll parts had been tossed in the grass. Those discarded limbs gave Kim the comparison her mind had been seeking.

Sarah was about two inches shorter and a few pounds heavier than her sister. And as curt as she was now, real emotion registered on those striking features. If they were toys, Alex would be the doll made of plastic perfection with a box for protection. Sarah would be the teddy bear in the spotted dungarees getting the love and the cuddles.

Kim felt her fascination grow. She couldn’t help wondering just how long it had been evident that the sisters were polar opposites.

‘I suppose it’s too much to hope that she’s dead?’

Kim was prevented from responding as a little girl gambolled into the room. Dark curly hair poked out from beneath a woollen hat and tiger earmuffs. A hand-knitted scarf was draped haphazardly around her neck and mittens dangled from the sleeves of her coat.

The girl stopped dead and looked to her mother. Kim was surprised to see a look of panic in the eyes of the child.

Sarah’s features softened at the sight of her daughter. Everything else was forgotten.

‘Good girl,’ Sarah said, double wrapping the scarf around the child’s neck. ‘You’re wrapped up lovely.’

Sarah took the girl’s face in her hands and smothered it with kisses.

‘How about me, am I wrapped up lovely?’

A man appeared behind the child. Kim saw the woollen hat and polka dot ear muffs before he saw her.

When he did he frowned and looked to Sarah.

Sarah gave a slight shake of the head and bundled them towards the door. ‘Have a nice walk and don’t forget the beef oggies.’

Kim had no idea what an oggie was but she could hear a whispered exchange at the front door.

Sarah’s face was once again set but Kim had caught a snapshot of this family picture. The surprise in the eyes of the child. The concern that shaped the mouth of the husband.

They had stood in the middle of the lounge for no longer than ten seconds and Kim could tell they were a unit, a team, and that they were happy.

But there was an element of fear at the core of this family.

‘So … is she dead?’ Sarah returned to her original question.

Kim shook her head.

‘Then how can I help?’

‘I need to learn more about her.’

‘What does that have to do with me?’ Sarah asked, biting her lip.

‘You’re her sister. Surely you know her better than anyone?’

Sarah smiled. ‘I have not seen my sister since she emptied her room and went to university. None of us did. My dearest wish is to never see her again.’

‘You have no contact at all?’

Sarah dropped her arms but her hands immediately found a place in the front pockets of her jeans.

‘We’re not close.’

‘But surely you …’

‘Look, I don’t know why you’re here but I really can’t help you. I think you should …’

‘What are you all frightened of?’ Kim asked, not moving an inch.

‘Excuse me …’

She hadn’t meant the question to sound so direct, but now it was out she had to stick with it.

‘Your daughter is not used to visitors, is she?’

Sarah couldn’t quite meet her gaze.

‘We’re just private, that’s all. Now, if you don’t mind …’

Kim pushed the chair out and looked around. She assessed the collection of photographs. The three of them stood on the bridge she’d rode across where it straddled the river Dee. The child in a horse-drawn barge. The child and her father on the steam railway that ran alongside the river.

Kim decided on a different approach. ‘Yeah, can’t wait to leave. Bloody horrible place to …’

‘It’s a beautiful … ’

‘So, why are you moving, Mrs Lewis?’

Sarah’s hands balled into fists in her pockets.

‘It’s Nick’s job, he’s a …’

Kim waited for a response but it was clear that Sarah had realised her blunder. She hadn’t thought quickly enough of a profession so was left sounding like a woman who didn’t know what her husband did for a living.

‘Mrs Lewis … Sarah, one of my team commented that army wives don’t move around as much as you. What are you running from?’

Sarah moved towards the front door but her step was far from steady.

‘I’d really like you to leave now. I have no information that can help you.’

Kim followed her through the lounge.

‘I don’t believe you. You’re terrified and your whole family is fearful of something. Your first question was to ask me if she was dead. I saw your anxiety when I confirmed she was not. Why won’t you tell me …?’

‘Please, just leave.’

The woman’s hand trembled on the door.

‘Sarah, what are you afraid of?’

‘Just go.’

‘Why won’t you just talk to …’

‘Because if I speak to you about her, she’ll know.’

Silence fell between them.

Kim realised this was not the same Sarah who had opened the door. That woman had been hostile, then hopeful to anxious but conversation regarding her sister had reduced her to a battle-weary shell.

‘Sarah … ’

‘I can’t,’ she said, staring at the ground. ‘You don’t understand.’

‘You’re right. But I’d like to. I want to get inside your sister’s head.’

Sarah shook her head. ‘No, you really don’t. It’s not a nice place to be.’

‘I don’t know what power she has over you but is this really what you want? Do you want to teach your daughter to run?’

Sarah met her gaze, her eyes blazing at the mention of her child.

‘She doesn’t even have friends, does she? You don’t stay anywhere long enough for her to bond. How old is she … six … seven?’

‘Six.’

‘She needs to settle, so why can’t you stay?’

‘Because she found us.’

‘Sarah, I want to help you but you’ve got to give me something.’

Sarah smiled. ‘No one can help me. I’ve never spoken to anyone who …’

‘You’ve never spoken to me,’ Kim said, stepping away from the door. ‘I have suspicions about her behaviour and if I’m right I won’t rest until she’s caught.’

Sarah eyed her with interest. ‘What’s going on with the two of you?’

Kim smiled. ‘Hey, I asked first.’

Sarah considered for a long moment. She took a deep breath and closed the door.

‘If I show you something, will you leave me in peace?’

Kim nodded and followed her back to the kitchen. Sarah nodded for Kim to sit back down.

Sarah reached into the cutlery drawer and retrieved an envelope. ‘This is why.’

She handed the letter to Kim. ‘Read it.’

Kim unfolded the single sheet of paper, read it and then read it again, before shrugging her shoulders. If this was the best she could get on Alexandra Thorne she was well and truly stuffed.

‘It seems like a perfectly natural letter from an older sister.’

‘I’ve lived here with my husband and daughter for nine months. That’s how long it took her to find me this time.’

‘This time?’

‘I’ve moved my family five times in seven years to hide my child from this woman and every time she finds me. Read the letter again. Note how she mentions exactly where the house is, the location of Maddie’s school and even my daughter’s new haircut. She’s taunting me. Playing on my fears – because she knows exactly what I’ll do next.’

Kim read the letter for a third time, putting the Alex she suspected behind the words. There was menace in every sentence.

‘But why do you run?’ Kim asked.

‘You don’t know her as well as I’d hoped.’

Sarah took back the letter and sighed heavily.

‘My sister is a sociopath. You already know that she is a very attractive, enigmatic person. She’s intelligent and charming. She is also ruthless and completely without conscience. She is a dangerous person, who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.’

Sarah folded the letter and then stared at it. ‘Quite simply, she has no ability to feel any connection with another living thing.’

‘What makes you think your sister is a sociopath?’

‘Because she has never had an emotional attachment to anything or anyone in her life.’

‘What about her husband and two boys?’ Kim asked.

Sarah frowned. ‘She’s never been married and certainly has no children. Sociopaths do marry and have children as trophies and a cover but there’s no emotional connection.’

Kim raised an eyebrow.

Sarah smiled. ‘You see? You can’t believe that someone might treat children as a status symbol like a new car or a bigger house, and that is what the sociopath relies on. People like us can’t understand their motives and so make excuses for them. It’s how they stay hidden.’

Sarah shook her head sadly. ‘And that is why she will never be stopped.’

‘She told me you were dead,’ Kim offered.

Sarah showed no surprise. ‘I wish to her I was. Perhaps then she would leave me alone.’

The woman offered Kim a look that was filled with sad resignation. This was her life and no one could change it. She’d spent years trying to outrun her sister and that was the way it would stay.

Sarah glanced towards the front door. She had shared the letters and now it was time for Kim to leave.

‘Sarah, I think she’s using her patients for experimental purposes,’ Kim blurted out. ‘And I’d like to stop her. I’d like to put your sister behind bars.’

Sarah tipped her head to the side and Kim detected a glimmer of interest.

‘Come on, Sarah,’ Kim pleaded. ‘Help me give you back your life.’

Kim watched her struggle with the indecision of actually placing that trust with someone she didn’t even know.

She hoped she had said enough.

Sarah offered her a watery smile. ‘Detective Inspector, I think we need coffee.’

FORTY-FOUR

Two cups of steaming coffee sat on the table between them.

‘You have to understand this isn’t easy for me,’ Sarah said, resting her elbows on the table. ‘I’ve known my whole life that there’s something missing from my sister but no one ever believed me.’ She shrugged. ‘It’s why I run.’

Kim got it. Her own suspicions were being disregarded by her colleagues and boss.

‘You’re the first person that doesn’t think I’m completely insane,’ Kim observed.

‘Ditto,’ Sarah added, wryly.

‘So, do you think it’s possible … what I said?’

‘No, I think it’s probable.’ Sarah cupped her hands around the coffee mug and shuddered. ‘I remember when I had just turned five and I noticed Alex was spending a lot of time in her bedroom, only leaving for meals and school. One night, Alex woke me excitedly clapping her hands. She dragged me from my bed to her room, sat me on the edge of her bed and removed a tall encyclopaedia from in front of the hamster cage.

‘The hamster was trapped between the vertical bars of the cage, dead. Beside the cage, outside the animal’s reach but within its view, was food and water. It had died a painful death in an effort to stop itself from starving.’

‘Jesus,’ Kim said, horrified.

‘I didn’t really understand at first. I thought she was playing some kind of game but then she started explaining the hamster’s progress, once she had prized the bars slightly wider. She’d done charts and everything.’

Kim said nothing.

‘She’d watched it for days, growing weaker and hungrier before spotting the widened gap.’

‘But why?’ Kim asked.

‘To see how far it would go to get what it wants,’ Sarah answered, closing her eyes. ‘I cried so hard. The desperate, tortured face of the hamster gave me nightmares for months.’

Kim was disgusted by the memory that Sarah had shared but there was something else she now wanted to know.

‘Was she close to either of your parents?’

Sarah shook her head. ‘My mother didn't touch Alex very much. There was a politeness, a cordiality that existed between them, as though their relationship was two steps removed from mother and daughter. I've since thought my mother knew before anyone else exactly what kind of person Alex would become.

‘I remember once when Mum was tickling me and blowing raspberries on my stomach. We were laughing so hard we were crying and then I saw Alex standing in the doorway. I swear I saw tears in her eyes but she turned and left the room before my mum even saw her. She couldn't have been older than six or seven but I never saw that look again.’

‘But what does she want from you?’ Kim asked.

‘To torment me. She understands my fear of her and it offers her amusement to toy with me. All I know is that so far she’s been satisfied by pulling on my fear like a puppet. Her warning notes have always been enough.’

‘Do you think she would go further?’

‘I don’t know but I don’t want to put it to the test. She hates me and enjoys chasing me around the country and that’s fine because while we’re moving around, we’re safe.’

Sarah met her gaze. A joyless smile shaped her mouth. ‘Pathetic, eh?’

Kim shook her head. ‘I think you’re stronger than you realise. You do everything you can to keep your family safe. In spite of your sister you have a lovely home, a husband and a child. She may be winning small battles but you are winning the war.’

The first genuine smile she’d seen lifted Sarah’s lips properly. ‘Thank you. I appreciate it.’

‘Just one last question. Sarah, why does she hate you so much?’ Kim asked, drinking the last of her coffee.

‘Because she wanted me on board. She wanted me to be like her. Quite simply, I think she wanted a friend.’

FORTY-FIVE

‘Okay people, quick recap on the Dunn case before we all get back to it.’

She turned to Dawson. ‘Anything from the neighbours?’

He shook his head, ‘Not a thing. The whole bloody street is suffocating under net curtains and I’m sick of drinking tea.’

He sounded like a six year old who’d been told to tidy away his Lego but for once she had to agree. There were few jobs where one could get paid to drink tea for hours but there weren’t many detectives that would sign up for it.

‘The Dunn property. Did we discover anything other than the fibre and the fluid?’

‘Yeah, I found out that Kev’s still an arsehole.’

No one in the room spoke.

Dawson looked at both her and Bryant. ‘Oh come on, one of you could disagree.’

Kim stifled her smile. She wondered if the two of them had any idea what a good team they actually made.

‘Still nothing from the lab, Guv,’ Stacey offered.

Kim wasn’t surprised. She’d give anything for whatever technology they used on the television where hairs, fibres and fluid could be matched in hours, even minutes for the convenience of a forty-four minute show.

‘What do we know about this book club, Stace?’

‘It’s run by a shop owner in Rowley Regis; Charles Cook. They meet first Tuesday of every month at Druckers in Merry Hill. There’s a sad attempt at a Facebook page that has three likes, two posts to the page but nothing in the last four months. I’ve messaged the two that posted.’

‘Any reply?’

Stacey nodded. ‘One guy went to one meeting but then changed job so couldn’t goo again. The other one was a bit more interesting. Said there was something not right about this Cook bloke. Didn’t like it so stopped gooin after three meetings.’

Kim opened her mouth but Stacey continued. ‘I’ve already messaged him again to dig a bit deeper. He read me message two hours agoo but nothing back since.

‘Spoke to Cook and found out the group has less than a dozen members. And I cor join ’cos I’m a woman.’

‘Aww, Stace,’ Dawson offered. ‘You shoulda told him it’s not really noticeable.’

Stacey glowered in his direction as he smirked at his own joke.

‘And if the talking scrotum would shut it, I’d just add that their book of choice this month is The Longest Road.’

Kim frowned. The title was familiar to her but she couldn’t place why.

‘Popular book, Stace?’ she asked.

‘Yep, been in the Amazon top ten for seven months.’

That was it, then. She’d probably seen it on a billboard or something.

‘Jenks and Whiley didn’t give us a lot. We know the teacher took the girls home the day of the domestic and that Wendy’s brother picked the girls up often from school.’

Dawson raised an eyebrow. Every male the girls had come into contact with was a potential suspect.

‘Get his home and work address,’ she said to Stacey.

‘Dawson, go through the old files again. Look for anything at all that we might have missed. And Bryant …’ Kim hesitated. What to do with Bryant, when he was normally with her. But not this time. ‘Help Dawson. I’ve got a dentist appointment.’

She headed to The Bowl for her jacket before her face could give her away.

This particular meeting Kim would be doing on her own.


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