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A CRACKED IMAGINATION

The right of Penny Richards to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright Penny Richards 2014 A CRACKED IMAGINATION FIRST EDITION - 2014 Published by Jelly Bean Books an imprint of Candy Jar Books 113-116 Bute Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5EQ www.candyjarbooks.co.uk A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library Cover illustration: Copyright Steve Upham 2013 Edited by Hayley Cox, Sophie Chamberlain & Shaun Russell Printed and bound in the UK by Berforts, Stevenage, SG1 2BH All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted at any time or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the copyright holder. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise be circulated without the publishers prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published.

CONTENTS

Your Destiny Needs Incorporated


The Pretty Predator Inside A Cracked Imagination A Colder Place To Survive No Escape Through Dacoits Field Isabellas Memoirs All It Takes Is Luck Words, Deeds And Actions The Mirror Image Pyramid House Publishers

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Your Destiny Needs Incorporated

t last after several false starts, their elaborate plan was set in motion and rolling towards the finish line. It had been a little shaky to begin with as both were unsure of Dereks reactions. Eventually theyd brushed aside those niggling doubts under the large discreet Incorporated carpet and unanimously declared: the deal was on! It wouldnt matter either if, or when, Derek remembered Deborah from twelve years earlier; it wasnt exactly an eternity was it? Besides, what other outcome could anyone expect? They were like two peas in a pod matching perfectly. In fact, Gabriel had constantly boasted that they had probably been cut from the same cloth. She didnt look too different, did she? Certainly not, Gabriel had added, especially with that shock of unruly copper-red hair framing her expressionless face. As their mischievous plan disentangled itself from any remaining doubts, Gabriel and Sam congratulated themselves every day. They firmly believed they had given enough meticulous care and attention to the transaction already. Furthermore, there had never been one single case of failure to date had there? Although Sam did point out just one small flaw: the vacant-looking blue eyes and purplish mouth Deborah now displayed. It was true, Deborahs hollowed-out look was a trifle too pronounced but she
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hadnt seemed to mind, so what the devil? As for poor Derek, Sam and Gabriel knew his eager curiosity would make him an easy participant. When the time came, hed remain the acceptable sort of chap he always was. He might even assume, as they had, that her look was the fault of putting extra lashings of black and mauve eye shadow on her pale face and carelessly dabbing too much of it around her translucent eyes. Either way it was game-on for Gabriel and Sam, and the plan began to take shape. Bright and early the next morning they waited and werent disappointed. Good morning, they heard Dereks greetings ring out. Hed sat behind his desk having painstakingly watched the familiar looking girl dither for several long minutes across the other side of the road. She had paced up and down the elite Grand Avenue for an age and as she got closer she did look vaguely familiar dithering at the main doorway. Certain she was heading for his office, he waited patiently, wondering was it really her after all this time. If it was, would she still possess that annoying high-pitched throaty, shrilly whisper? Can I be of assistance? hed asked the instant shed stepped inside his domain. Her gaunt, sophisticated slim frame moved towards him without hesitation. Yes please, shed said. Im here to see Sam, Sam Mortimer. Ive got an appointment card somewhere. The names Deborah Grimshaw, shed purred in a sultry, tantalising voice.
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For several moments her name reverberated in Dereks mind, forcing him to smile quickly and swallow even harder. It was her. Sams called me in today at nine-thirty to be exact. I know Im a little early, but what the devil? she smiled, dropping her black expensive Gucci clutch bag onto Dereks tidy desk. Again, Derek responded with a nervous smile and she smiled back quickly, waiting for his stunned expression to light his face. Sure enough, within seconds it blazoned its way across his still handsome face and his heart fluttered a little. Deborah smiled, glad that shed attended elocution lessons. It didnt matter that they had been painfully expensive. For now they were paying her liberally and sending shocking delicious little thrills down her back. Taking the amber-coloured appointment card from her long red, painted fingernails, Derek lowered his gaze. What if she did have a new glossed-over voice? Shed never fool him with her whispers of love ever again. Twelve years was a long time ago, he thought, when hed loved the sound of her voice. But shed been a bitch then with a capital B. What on earth could she possess now that was so different? She couldnt have altered much from that wicked person whod happily turned his life upside down, then spun it around on its head just for the fun of it, could she? Back then he was a nave, gullible kid who wore his heart on his sleeve. Mr Mortimers got someone with him at the moment, so Ill give him a buzz and tell him youre here, Derek said. That would be so nice of you, she said, turning on scarlet red high-heeled shoes and swaying her rear end
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towards the huge soft lemon leather sofa. As she sank into its comfort she grinned teasingly. Thats fine with me, Derek mused to himself, you can smile all you like. Why not rest your weary bones on something as soft as I once was, he thought smugly. Samuel Quincy Mortimer and Gabriel Angelo, both Chief Executives of Your Destiny Needs Incorporated, ran the company with military-style precision. Derek ran the front office in the same style. Although he did possess a few minor flaws, he reminded himself repeatedly that nobody was perfect. Repeating that chant quietly, and at the right time, made sense. At least it did now with Ms Grimshaw waiting with those entwined long legs of hers. Take yesterday, he pondered over again. The day had been muggy and hot, and no breeze filtered the humidity of his office. Humidity always caused Derek to become fidgety and bored, and hed begun wandering around the office searching for some sort of relief. Stopping at Sams grand walnut desk he toyed with the large black ledger. He plonked himself down into the hard leather chair and played at being boss. He was meant to be finishing a checklist that Sam had given him earlier, but his curiosity simply strummed and he couldnt resist allowing his large brown-eyes to meander over several highly-confidential papers. It was only a tiny flaw in Dereks behaviour, which he knew annoyed Sam. The papers did look deliciously tempting. Yesterday, hed noticed his name written in Sams handwriting on one file marked private and confidential. Amid the heat and boredom of the office, a fresh rush of cool curiosity flooded his mind. It encouraged his tapping fingers to trail the cover-page and turn it, ignoring the pangs
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of guilt pinching him cruelly. Eventually opening the file, Derek read Sams intriguing words This individual is now ready to move on They had been the only words hed managed to read before having to abort the dangerous mission as Sam rushed back into the office unexpectedly and scooped up the file without saying a word. Would you care for a coffee Ms Gramshaw? Derek asked suddenly, acknowledging her as being another niggling lost challenge. Its Grimshaw, Deborah corrected him. My name is Miss Deborah Angelina Grimshaw. Oh, Im sorry, Miss Grimshaw, Derek apologised, noting just how seductive her unruly copper-red hair looked as it tumbled about her face. He was forced into remembering how hed always loved her hair. Its OK, I forgive you, she smiled cheekily. Out in the tiny kitchenette adjoining the main offices, Derek stood mesmerised by the new glass kettle boiling away ferociously. Distant memories of Deborah simmered inside his head. Startled at the unexpected ease on such infiltration, other rogue memories surfaced in his mind. They reminded him curtly that once upon a time hed actually been in love with her. Now being dragged along kicking and screaming, Derek questioned how their once-upon-a-time romance hadnt got off the ground and how hed been left floundering amongst the debris. He was a foolish fresh-faced kid of eighteenyears, suddenly nose-diving into total obscurity with a
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fractured heart that nobody could ever mend. How did she turn from a fun-loving, young girl into a monstrous shrew in a matter of weeks? It seemed obvious satisfaction wasnt enough when she took to ruling the male shower rooms, the Main Hall plus the 24-hour Lounge Bar and leisure facilities at the university. She became like someone possessed. Deborah Grimshaw, the love of his life, had left him obliterated. And she was now sat in the main office, waiting. When the kettle clicked Derek filled the small coffeepot with boiling water, casually dropping in three laxative tablets for good measure. He watched them fizz before disappearing into a similar obscurity and grinned brutally: a little present for you Deborah, he thought. The triumphant feel of spite was replaced by the aromas of fresh coffee which towed him back to a different question; why exactly was she sat in the main office? What was she doing in the offices of Your Destiny Needs Incorporated mucking up his life again? Placing the floral tray down on a low table in front of her, Derek watched her long fingers grasp the coffee cup, instantly recalling the day shed stolen and burnt his English papers; the following day hed ended up with a formal warning. Shed stood before the whole assembly fluttering those mascara-caked eyes at the tutor, and shrugging her bony shoulders as he praised her A+ grades. Or the meanest stalking of him ever in the shower rooms, armed with that wretched all-singing alldancing camera. Taking a few seconds to concentrate on breathing normally, Derek finally calmed down and felt a real longawaited rush of gratitude wash over him. He had
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successfully escaped her mad dominance whilst she sat unknowingly sipping spiked coffee. With that tiny pleasure flooding him, his fingers flicked the covering page belonging to none other than Ms Grimshaws Confidential Private Requests. Indulging his insatiable curiosity, his eyes skimmed her elaborate requests and discovered that Deborah had ticked the usual boxes: breast augmentation. tummy tuck, nose realigned, Botox injections, liposuction. And with it all being carried out in the Caribbean! Each client had choices built into their Your Destiny Needs Incorporated contract that allowed them to choose a location whilst undergoing surgeries. Deborah had obviously chosen the most expensive. In Dereks estimation, after scanning the findings, Ms Deborah Angelina Grimshaw would always remain a five-foot-nine, copper-red haired, blueeyed, boring, beige person she always had been. The fact she was about to invest a staggering twenty-five thousand pounds didnt matter; cosmetic surgery would only alter her visual facade. Deborah would remain the same inside and that fact had been clearly spelt out for him on the last day at university. He hated recalling that insidious but beautiful September morning, when everyone except Deborah had smiles on their faces. He remembered her sallowness was even more evident than at the start of the term. He also remembered the tiny pang of pity hed felt for her as hed raced after the poor thing. That recollection had engraved itself into his memory forever. All he had wanted from her were the naked photographs shed taken of him inside the male shower rooms. Shed threatened several times to
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plaster them on the canteen walls and on the universitys website. With her manipulation of his failing grades, his parents had threatened to disown him and hed panicked and chased after her. Having acquired no qualifications whatsoever, he had no bright future career to look forward to either. His excuse of falling in love sounded lame, fruitless and, as his parents had said, wrong, wrong, wrong! Chasing her down the long corridors of the university out onto the wide meandering drive that met the main road, shed stopped at the gates and waved the incriminating large brown envelope at him. She looked hell-bent on making a spectacular spectacle of him and as he reached the busy road sweating profusely and panting for breath, Derek saw her calmly jump into her fathers waiting Daimler motor car. Every weekend shed be transported home in that glossy, beautiful motor car, and with just seconds to spare before it roared off, Deborah had thrown the envelope out of the window. It glided across the road, as Derek lost his footing and hurtled headfirst into the gravel, the envelope clenched tight in his hand. He could still hear her laughter ringing in his ears, and fearful in opening the envelope, hed left it lying on his kitchen table for several hours. The build-up of hurt and embarrassment of what he might find inside burned his cheeks, so instead he had begun packing all his gear ready to return home to London. He knew hed failed as a university graduate, and hadnt relished the fact his parents were waiting to tear into his hide. Besides all of that, he now had a red-raw grazed face and his left eye was swollen as if hed been fighting. The fact remained that Ms Deborah Grimshaw had been a spiteful bitch back then and probably was still a spiteful bitch now, except maybe with a lot more
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money. Will Sam be much longer? Deborahs voice suddenly boomed, and dragged Dereks faltering concentration back to the here and now. Ill check, Derek answered. Glancing at his wristwatch which read ten-fifteen, the laxative tablets were probably swirling around inside her stomach, making her feel queasy. A smug smile rippled across his mouth deliciously. He should make her wait another forty minutes, as the instruction leaflet clearly stated, but instead he changed his mind, padding across the thick carpeted foyer and along the narrow corridor leading directly to Sam Mortimers office. Dropping his wicked smile, he gently pressed his ear to the door. Normally, buzzing from the front desk would alert Sam to the next patients arrival and they would be ushered along. Maybe Derek incorrectly assumed the buzzer was faulty, so with his insatiable curiosity fermenting hed wickedly glued his ear to Sams door. He couldnt believe what he was hearing. Sam was talking with Gabriel. He hadnt even seen Gabriel enter the building. I dont know how Derek will react to it all. Ive gone out of my way giving him chances to snoop. Ive even left her Private Confidential File hanging around expecting him to ask something? But nothing Dereks heart thumped hard hearing Sams strange words. I know. I know, but youve been very good to them both. Things like this are always difficult to accept at first. But what I find more worrying for us now is that Deborah Grimshaw woman drives one hell of a mean bargain. Shes
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as sharp as a razor, Sam, and bright as the proverbial. Derek instantly recognised Gabriel Browns crystal-clear chuckle. If only he could have curbed his silly crush, Sam added. Or better still, if he hadnt read what shed put in that stupid envelope all those years ago. This wouldnt be happening now, would it? I know. I know, Gabriel commiserated, but her letter led him on with the suggestion that they meet and shed return the negatives. What was the poor boy to do, ignore her, simply return to London with nothing more than a suitcase full of humiliation? Lets face it Sam, he was in love with her and hoped he could salvage something. Youre right of course Gabriel, I understand all that. But she had no right doing what she did. They certainly had no right ending up in the murky depths of that lake, did they? Sams voice had now lowered to a hushed-whisper. Things could have worked out for them. At least theyd still be A.L.I.V.E... Derek heard Gabriel Browns crystal-clear voice again, spelling out the mind-blowing word. Affirmative, old man, Sam lamented. So how do we explain it all to Derek? Explain? Gabriel spluttered. Is that what you suggest we do? You want to explain to Derek that if Deborah Grimshaw hadnt stolen her fathers shiny black Daimler motor car, picked him up and driven too fast over Watchers Bridge before hurtling through those railings, she wouldnt have ended both their lives by drowning? Is that really what Your Destiny Needs Incorporated wants explained?
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It was then Derek heard familiar sounds of laughter and whisky glasses clink together as his legs trembled then buckled beneath him. Ah, a toast! Now thats a splendid idea, Sam, Gabriel said. Lets toast Derek and Deborah, and the help we need in clarifying the finer points in the art of explanations! This destiny lark is definitely no joking matter is it? said Sam. Hearing glasses clink noisily together and the word cheers bouncing around, Dereks knees gave up. He slumped to the floor. It was just too, too much to take in for Derek as he lay panting for breath. Then from the doorway came the sounds of a womans footsteps. Not any womans footsteps, but the footsteps of Deborah Angelina Grimshaws high-heeled, classy shoes. They clicked and clattered down the highly polished floor to where Dereks slumped body lay, forcing his eyes to open. He stared up in amazement. I take it youve heard, theyve told you? You know? she sobbed, struggling to cradle his head in her long warm slim arms. I can tell youve heard, Derek as youve gone quite pale. Can you ever forgive me? Will you forgive me? Deborah Grimshaw sobbed quietly, whilst smoothing his hair away from his eyes. For several insane moments whilst staring up into her face, Derek yearned badly for a little extra strength to be able to reach up, place both hands around her scrawny neck and strangle the life out of her, but remained limp and pliable. What was the point? He asked himself, when they were both already dead? Ill make it up to you, Dessie darling, youll see.
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Deborah whispered, Ive arranged us such a magnificent deal, honest I have. Ive given Gabriel and Sam hell since Ive known. What do you mean a deal? Derek hissed, Youve blown out our existence, you stupid woman! You threw our lives away! You, you, actually killed me! he stuttered. No. No. I know all of that. Listen, you still dont understand. I did care for you; I do care for you so very much. This episode is not the end of us, its a new beginning. She sniffed then laughed a little hysterically Derek thought. Weve been allowed to swap our previous lives, and that my darling means we never existed in the first place. Dont you understand what Im saying? Swap lives? Derek heard himself repeat her crazy words. Yes. Sam and Gabriel will arrange everything. Theyve done it before. I promise they have. Theyve promised us the gilt-edged appointment! she said gleefully. Your Destiny Needs Incorporated is only a small company within several huge global enterprises. Some people do this swap lives thing for a living? The only stipulation Gabriel and Sam made is that we have to stay together always and forever. Gabriel even joked we could haggle over this all the way to heaven! Dereks mouth opened. He wanted to repeat her words but Deborah silenced him with her fingers and kissed his mouth tenderly with the sweetest kiss ever. I promise you, my darling, everything is going to be fabulously fantastic But I gave you laxatives Deb, Derek confessed, fighting for just one more fleeting moment of smugness.
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I know, sweetie, she said, smiling down into his surprised, velvet-brown eyes, but I gave you such a miserable end, didnt I? Pulling his defeated yet willing body closer, she covered his mouth again with a sticky honey-sweet kiss. Maybe, he thought, it could be the taste of the sweet elixir of their future life together? Either way, Derek had his Deborah and Deborah had her Derek.

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The Pretty Predator

hen the ordinary looking letter skimmed the uncluttered desk, his idle life began to change almost at once. Although not personally addressed to Chief Inspector Roland Latimer, it was certainly meant for him. Hed brutally ignored a murdered girls cries for help for eight long days and nights. She now lay on a cold marble slab in an even colder morgue waiting for him to respond, but instead Latimer had heaped the work upon his colleague; a keen and diligent detective named Joshua Smith. Latimer was void of any compassion for his fellow man or woman. Before the poor girl sank further into a timeless purgatory shed begged the forces for another helper, and Rosa Leigh Lawrie proved to be the perfect assistant. They would be suitably rewarded when the perpetrator was caught. Nevertheless, Rosa had found the ordeal horrific and was understandably even more terrified when the girl suggested she write the letter to the chief of police promising that all of Rosas fears and isolations would cease to exist. With her killer apprehended, neither Rosa nor Josh would remember what had actually happened. As soon as Latimer tore open the letter, his superiors would realise that he was surplus to the force. Thus earn his lucrative retirementbundle in a proper fashion. Latimers young handsome eager colleague, Smith, had
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painstakingly scrutinised her case from every angle but came up empty-handed. However, whilst the contents of the letter burned Latimers soul, he strummed his fingers impatient for Smiths return to the office he had sent him out on a meagre trip to fetch his breakfast. Smith returned, placing Latimers pre-ordered bacon rolls on his desk and was in the process of sitting down when Latimer threw the letter at him. What the hells going on in this department? he complained bitterly, and who the devil is this Rosa Leigh Lawrie creature? Immune to his governors hissy-fits detective Smith began reading. There was an uncomfortable silence as he perused the papers. Smith looked up, This is fantastic Governor. Its exactly what Ive been praying for! Rosa Lawrie has covered everything down to the girls description, the date, and the day we discovered her body. She has even tried describing the basement flat. What a little darling! Damn it Smith, Latimer spat, dont you ever check anything? Theyve given me smoked bacon. You know how much I hate smoked bacon! Smith was oblivious to Latimers moans. Hed already begun preliminary information searches on Miss Rosa Leigh Lawrie. Seven minutes later, with nothing flashing against her name apart from verification that she did in fact did live at 32 Dunstan Avenue, he was grabbing his overcoat and heading for the door with Latimer dawdling behind him. Outside, the sky was darkening with storm clouds racing across the bleak-looking horizon. Finally, the long-awaited pursuit of Rosa Leigh Lawrie had begun.
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Dunstan Avenue was a quiet, tidy secluded road containing a dozen or so cottages. Each cottage looked quaint, painted in bright lemon, blue and pink against the colourless sky. Smith could hardly wait for the car to stop outside number 32. Knocking in his customary loud manner, Smith was soon questioning the young, dark-haired, blue-eyed, attractive girl whod answered the door. Are you Miss Rosa Leigh Lawrie, the author of this letter? he asked, waving the crumpled letter at her. I most certainly am, Rosa said, looking relieved. At last, two police officers from Fishers Hallow who didnt think she was mad. Im so glad you havent wasted time getting here. I havent slept properly in ages. Shes terrified me for a whole week. If you could please accompany us Ms Lawrie, we will try and sort this out quickly for you. So, she was a real person? I mean, she did exist? Not just in my nightmares? Rosa whispered. Detective Smith nodded. Oh, my god, I really thought I was going mad. In your letter you mention a location. We need you to help us find it. The driver will follow your directions. Rosa nodded. Pulling her treasured Camel coat around her chilled shoulders, Rosa was escorted to an unmarked police car. For a long while the silence inside the car was unbearable. Nobody spoke a word until they were miles from the bustling town. Then detective Smith started the conversation again.
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I have to advise you Ms Lawrie, the contents of your letter have unearthed some significant facts concerning the recent murder of a young girl, as well as outlining similar crimes committed outside of this area completely. Do you understand the implications of what Ive said? Im not entirely sure what you mean, Rosa replied, What I do know is I want my life back. You know the boring, run-of-the-mill stuff. Detective Smith smiled, Im sure we can work through this together. Ive no doubts when her killers caught well all sleep more soundly. With the cars speed gently hugging the wide, natural curve of the road, Rosa felt alarmed as it started to snake around the concealed bend. Concentrating more, she caught sight of the familiar dishevelled high privet hedge looking wild and out of shape. This hideous, familiar sight forced Rosa to gasp. She pointed towards an unmade dirt track. Were near! she gasped, I feel sick. Latimer waved the driver to carry on but to not stop directly outside the house. He needed to be certain Rosa knew where she was and that she was genuine. There, that one! Thats it! Rosa shouted, jabbing at a large, neglected three story end-of-row Victorian house. Thats where she lived, down in the basement apartment. Oh I dont like this. Rosa moaned. Shes dragged me here so many times. Its where she was found, wasnt it? I can tell by the look on your faces. Staring at Smith in astonishment, Latimer nodded to the driver to kill the engine and roll the car closer. He couldnt afford to have neighbours gawp. Youre doing fine Rosa, Smith whispered. Just stay
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calm and yes; it is the exact place she was found. But nothings going to hurt you. Remember Im here, he reassured her. After taking several moments to catch her breath, Rosa and the policemen left the car and ventured into the night one by one trampling across mounds of wet leaves littering the narrow path. Rosa was sure-footed but frightened. Shed walked down this route many times, yet felt a lot safer and protected now. Suddenly, a blast of ice-cold wind blew the mounds of wet leaves high into the air where they swirled above their heads. Rosa stopped in her tracks with her heart pounding frantically. She watched the debris pirouette and twist in the evening sky before swooping down resembling several long fingers which jabbed at four, cracked stone steps leading to the gloomy entrance. Youre OK. Youre doing fine Rosa. Im right here alongside you, Smith whispered before they stepped inside. With the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end, Latimer nodded at Smith to cautiously open the door. Rosa wanted to run back to the police car and away from this hideous place. She was already familiar with its wickedness. Smith pushed the door gently. It creaked loudly and a rancid stench engulfed them. As her legs buckled, Smith caught her slim body in his strong arms, holding her tight. Momentarily they looked into each others eyes, caught in the moment. It must be really dreadful for you Rosa, said Smith, releasing her from his grip, but youre doing splendidly. We wouldnt have brought you here if we didnt desperately need your help. Maybe, maybe youll remember something? he stuttered. Or be able to give more details
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regarding that dreadful noise you heard? But Rosa was somewhere else, recalling the girls implication from the night before. Youll meet a young handsome man, she had said. And fall madly in love the moment he holds you in his arms and the rest is up to Kismet. The girl had then whispered, You wont be able to fight against it. Neither will you want to. Youll marry him within eighteen months. Rosa was aware of detective Josh Smith saying something to her, but her thoughts were somewhere else. She could see his lips, but not hear the words. Smiths face did match the girls description. He had gorgeous smouldering chocolate-brown eyes, and a melting smile and Rosa did find him irresistibly attractive. Told you youd be happy I chose you to help, didnt I? the girl whispered in Rosas ear, Hell love you till the end of your days and hes just the type I would have wished for, had I not been murdered she added before fading. Come, come Miss Lawrie. No need to hesitate. You are sandwiched between two strong police officers. Latimer muttered, breaking the spell. We need to get a move on before the weather breaks. Plus it is way past five-thirty already. Latimers bleary-eyes filled Rosas vision before rolling skywards. She felt compelled in agreeing with the dead girls description, The older officer will be full of self-importance and still marginally drunk from having consumed countless snifters of whisky last night. Rosa did notice that his breath reeked of peppermint mouth-spray and his hands shook. All of which amounted to bad signs of the occasional drinker.
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Ive told him, Latimer said, nodding at Smith, cold blooded killers dont hang around waiting to be caught... and not to my knowledge have any ever appeared in daydreams either. Inspector Latimer they are not daydreams. More like horrific nightmares. I will overlook your silly remark if you ease up on the amount of crystallised ginger you consume. Your liver will always react badly. Besides its the prime cause of your continuing belly-ache. Whaa-What? Latimer gulped, cheeks instantly flushed by Rosas remarks. I just want you to catch him Chief Inspector. Lock him up forever Rosa said, to distract him. Alright, Latimer smiled in a vain attempt to smooth Rosas ruffled feathers, Ill see what transpires before making my judgements, he said, fixing her with a pinched grin. Loosening the collar to her treasured camel coat, Rosa remained silent. But I do wonder Miss Lawrie, Latimer went on, just how far your perception stretches? Now I see it is quite astute. Whatever makes you say that, Chief Inspector? Well, he answered, absentmindedly rubbing his stomach, I fear you might be taking full advantage of the fact that Commander Milesford is on holiday somewhere in the Lake District and couldnt be located even if we needed him. He would never have agreed to this hocuspocus. Stan Milesford does things by the book. The very mention of the name Stan Milesford sent ice-cold shivers cascading down Rosas spine and the girl pinching her arm
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demanded she stay silent for now. Rosa you only use my words from the grave, nothing more and nothing less, the girl warned, but youll have your turn. Dont worry. This is where she first fell, said Latimer, pointing to blood-soaked floorboards. It looks as though she fought long and hard in almost every room before dying. See? Finger marks trail down the walls here and here and here then there. Turning away from the awful sights, Rosa noted how empty Latimers eyes looked. They bore a passing resemblance to her Uncle Jacks eyes. To the left of the damaged fireplace, Latimer resumed his explanations, this time tapping his large foot on whitechalked lines depicting an outline of a sprawled body, is where the young girl was found. Dodging the chalk marks, Rosa was conscious that Latimer was really impatient for her to get a move on. Either that or he was waiting for her to fall apart, but why? Had he still no sympathy or compassion for what shed been forced to write in the letter by a dead girl? Right here, Miss Lawrie, you implied the room was lit somehow. Yet you must agree now that is quite impossible? Correct? No Inspector. I wrote a light shone from somewhere, Rosa corrected him quickly, fearing if she opened her mouth too wide shed be violently sick. For now, Latimer did indeed have unmistakeable traits of how Uncle Jack made her feel. So the light would come from where? There are no streetlights in the vicinity, as you must have noticed, and
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there was no full moon either on the 28th, the date we found her body. Im puzzled to understand how you could possibly have seen the murderers face. Now, how did you describe him? Ah yes, he paused nibbling on his index finger. You wrote he was a robust, balding man of sixtyishyears-old. That he had a large tanned head and wore coloured contact lenses. Oh, and was surrounded by a clicking noise. Is that right, Miss Lawrie? Rosa nodded in agreement. Maybe you elaborated too much in your intriguing letter? I would appreciate some sort of comment, if possible today? Latimer quipped, impatiently. Im trying my best chief inspector, Rosa suddenly retaliated, but she keeps interrupting you. I cant listen to two people talking at the same time. Latimer puffed and glared at detective Smith. Come, come, young woman youll need a more plausible explanation than that. Do I have to remind you we are all stood contaminating a bloody murder scene? I, for one, had expected a lot more from her, Smith! he snapped. OK! I know. I know, Rosa hissed loudly, but the Inspector wants you to explain where the light came from thats all. Is she here with us, Rosa? Detective Smith interrupted, touching Rosas arm gently but Rosa didnt respond. Miss Lawrie? Rosa? Can you hear me? Smith gulped, seeing the glazed look in Rosas eyes. Shes not responding Gov, what should we do? Why the devil am I stood here watching some sort of melodrama play out? What is she on about now? Latimer
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snapped loudly. Then, seconds later, Rosas hands shot out in front of her and began waving about. Shes demanding one of you take hold of my hand, my right hand. She says the vibrations are weak because the killer is known to the both of you? There is also somebody else whos with him but is in grave danger. You must think and act quicker. This is a farce, surely! Latimer said in a cautioning, angry tone, or are we listening in on a black comedy? First we read some cockamamie letter which, as yet, Ive failed to fully comprehend, that has you, Smith, jumping around like a kid on Christmas Eve. And now, suddenly, she expects one of us to take hold of her hand? Latimer sucked on his back teeth and glared at them both. Is she for real? he asked. Whats next Miss Lawrie? Your rendition on a new slant to Hansel and Gretel? Please dont mock me, Inspector, Rosa whispered with tears sparkling in her eyes. Im not making up the rules; Im simply following what the girl is saying. Dont you want to catch the killer by putting the pieces together and, therefore, retire on a high-note? Dont say anymore Rosa, the girl shouted in Rosas ear, dont you dare bargain with him because the moment you do, my killer will murder his wife and get away with that too. Hes not going to stop which will force me to haunt you until they find him. Gov. Ive read things like this, Smith tried explaining, it sometimes occurs when the spirit of the dead person is unable to move on after traumatic event. We must work with Rosa, its the only way. Besides, what have we got to lose?
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Korret or Katry or whatever name she was known by is alarmed by your attitude Chief Inspector, and to answer your unspoken question, no I am certainly not crazy, just as petrified as you are. But youve upset her deeply and Im not sure what to do next. Smith and Latimer glared at each other in utter amazement. Neither one of them had mentioned the dead girls name. Certainly not whilst driving to this terrible place, and there had been no names mentioned in Rosa Lawries short letter either. Pennys finally dropped now Gov. has it? Smith snapped angrily reaching out to catch Rosas tiny waving hands. Rosa, listen to me, Smith said, Our dead girls name was Kareem Kareem Khan. Not Korret or Katry. Our victim had two sisters, one named Korret and the other Katry; will you please ask your girl to verify if she was Kareem Khan? No sooner were the words out, Rosas head was nodding as tears rolled down her beautiful cheeks. Kareem is saying yes. She is Kareem Khan who still has two sisters. One two years younger named Korret-Shar Khan, and the other Katry Khan-Shar is her twin. Shes also thanking you Detective Joshua Smith from the bottom of her broken heart. Latimer fell back against the wall panting, his ruddy-face now ashen. For a long while working under Chief Latimers sparse guidance, detective Joshua Alexander Smith thought perhaps hed chosen the wrong career. Nevertheless, today was proving more educational than ever, and he would find
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extra patience and overlook Latimers faults. He was now sure with Rosas help, hed nail Kareems killer sooner rather than later. She, she must have heard the girls names somewhere? Latimer was mumbling to himself, unable to understand what had happened, while Smith still held tightly onto Rosas outstretched hands. Oh my God, Rosa whispered, I can see the brute blowing out two huge cathedral candles Kareem had lit in the hallway. She said he made her do this each time he visited which answers your question, chief inspector Latimer. That is how I was able to see his face so clearly. Kareem says it wasnt enough. He also bullied her, it was just another fetish, Rosa gulped pointing back at the floor underneath the small viewless window. This is the precise spot where he raped and stabbed her three times in the neck. As for DNA, she says; scan the place a second time. She says he is an arrogant bully to the young kids from the nearby council estates. He goads them, knowing full well theyll be too frightened to open their mouths. Besides, who would believe them? He says the majority of Fishers Hallow police officers are more than deaf, dumb and blind theyre stupid too. Latimer coughed quietly. Maybe she did have an uncanny ability to rake over fresh clues relating to two Pembrokeshire murders eight years earlier. Or maybe hed let the job get to him. Either way, his regard of Rosa was warming. Feel free to move about the room Miss Lawrie. You now have my undivided attention. Just remember not to touch anything or detective Smith here will suffer a relapse,
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wont you? Latimer tried apologising awkwardly. The room measures fifteen by ten-feet exactly. Yet we fear the place has been wiped clean. Nothing of any significance was found anywhere. We dont know for sure if her killer was male or Oh Chief Inspector, definitely an obnoxious male, Rosa interrupted. I wrote those details in my letter although Kareem now excuses you, saying the information might still take a while to sink in. Swiftly the cold room filled with a pungent aroma of pipe tobacco and Smith coughed softly. You smell it too? Rosa commented but Smith didnt answer. We believe the murder weapon was a slim bladed knife, much like... Wrong again, Chief Inspector Rosa smirked. He used a tiny four inch blade that severed the main artery in her throat, after hed knocked her unconscious. It was a terrible cold-blooded murder and he left her to bleed to death. He still carries it in his breast-pocket and uses it to clean out the pipe he smokes. Furthermore, Kareem says that he is plotting another hideous crime aboard his fancy boat. His desire for more money had become his god. That, plus the fact he kills with a perverse excitement and gets away with it. Latimer was now sucking more nervously on his back teeth while Rosas words pounded his mind with strange uncertainties. Smith wasnt saying anything. He was stood with a distant odd look in his eyes. Kareems explaining the knife is a cheap bone handled letter-opener from his collection. She says he often boasted
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he had over one hundred of them, each with pretty coloured maps of the resorts he and his wife visited printed on the handles. Detective Smith said nothing, as now Rosas grip had become more vice-like and the blood in his fingers had started throbbing painfully. Unable to stand the tightening grip of Rosa, he glanced down expecting her to whisper an apology. Instead he saw she was stood at the window on the opposite side of the room with Latimer. Smith! Latimer barked. For Gods sake man listen to me when Im trying to tell you who murdered Kareem Khan. It all makes perfect sense now and, like Rosa says, weve got to move fast, so come on! Latimer shrieked. Some one-hundred-and-seventy miles away, on a deserted cold lake, Helen Milesford was shouting at her husband that the boat they were aboard was sinking. Im not joking Stan! she bawled frantically down to her husband who, once again, had descended into the noisy, smoky reverberating engine room empty handed. I tell you this boat feels lop-sided, sinking perhaps? So be quick! Where did you put my life jacket? Poor Helen Milesford had had umpteen years of complaining about her husband, Stan, but adrift in the middle of a choppy lake, under the quickly developing winter storm was not the best place to argue. When her husband had suggested the quick trip across the lake, the weather had seemed fine. Now the engines were failing to fire and water was slopping in and around her ankles, multiplying her fear and panic. The lake was eerily deserted and the dark waters churned choppily and splashed in the
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wind. When Helen Milesford first noticed the storm clouds drift across the sky, shed tried warning her husband that they should head back inland. She hadnt seen another craft all day and being on a rickety boat in the middle of a lake was not the ideal place to patch-up their marriage. Shed even hinted shed have preferred staying longer in the quaint cottage hed rented for them. Ooh youre such a drama queen, Helen! Stan Milesford barked at his almost hysterical wife. There is nothing wrong. Were not sinking and besides, its only a small amount of water anyway. But wheres my brand new life jacket? And what the devil were you banging on in the engine room anyway? You might think that its OK being adrift in the middle of a lake, ignoring the worsening weather, but what if we capsize? You can swim but I cant! You said youd checked the boat yesterday while I was shopping at the market and that everything was in order, including my life jacket. All I need to feel a little more secure is my jacket, is that too much to ask? Im frightened Stan. You wouldnt be able to save us both, not with your ticker trouble. Helen Milesford was referring to the heart attack hed had eight years earlier and on the pacemaker he had fitted which was fast becoming faulty. Her husbands eyes narrowed into murderous squints and he gave his chest a resounding thump. There, is that better? he shouted at his wife. There is nothing wrong with the old ticker now. Its as good as new. You, my complaining harlot, really should have had swimming lessons when offered. I dont like the water, Stan, you know that. Im here to
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fix our marriage and I thought you were too. Then an enormous heavy deluge of rain began lashing at the boat and mingling with Helen Milesfords tears. She noticed a further two or three inches of salt water slop back and forth the deck and feared shed done the wrong thing in staying with him all these miserable years, but just like a lot of other people, shed prayed things would get better and spent the last ten-years patching and mending their crumbling marriage, whilst Stan became even more difficult to live with. She should have listened to her mother whod informed her right from the start that Stanley Ivor Milesford would always remain the same selfish, cruel brute hed always been. Sadly, for Helen, shed failed to accept that awful truth and continued excusing his lies. Stan Milesford had lied about most things even after having his life-saving pacemaker fitted. You told me youd bought me a life jacket and that it was down here yesterday! Helen tried yelling above the wind. You even pushed me out of the way when I ventured down there to look for it. I banged my head when you pushed me out of your way, saying not to worry, youd fetch it for me, remember? Oh Stan, why do we always end up having holidays in the middle of winter aboard a dodgy, old boat? Helen finally broke down sobbing. We could afford a Caribbean cruise every six months on your pay. We could relax around a safe pool with strong lifeguards aboard. But no, you wouldnt entertain that idea, would you? Stan glared at her as the boat suddenly shuddered and rocked violently. Losing his footing, Stan was thrown
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against the narrow rails. He reached out and grabbed Helens shoulders to steady himself before snarling. Since when has one been able to drive to the Caribbean? he sarcastically spat. You know perfectly well they wont let me fly with this old pacemaker, and before you comment upon that. No Im not having a new one fitted. So maybe you should have stayed home with lazy Roland Latimer. You never know, he might have whisked you and your damn mother off to the blessed Caribbean! Dont be facetious, Helen hissed, what a horrible thing to say about Rolly. He means nothing to me. In fact, he helped you when your pacemaker first went faulty remember? I cant understand why a brand new one doesnt appeal to you, especially as yours makes that click click noise every time you get angry. She began to cry, I dont know you anymore Stan. Why dont we call it a day and go back to the cottage? However Stan Milesford had become bereft of any emotions and tugged Helens waterproof life jacket up over his own, zipping it tightly under his chin. He then gave his troublesome chest another resounding thump silencing the pacemakers incessant clicking-racket. He grinned menacingly at his wife who struggled to understand why he was putting on her jacket. Stan, thats my jacket. Why have you put it on over yours? Take it off at once and stop playing about. Give it to me, please. I need it. Im freezing cold and frightened and the winds are stinging my face. Look, Im soaked too! Ignoring his wifes pleas, he grabbed the wheel. She was becoming as unpredictable as police life and he was tired of covering his tracks. Kareems murder had toppled him over
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the edge, and as for shredding files from Pembrokeshire, it left him exhausted. Police life had become more exasperating with the fresh-faced, cocky, detective Josh Smith on board, without having a nagging shrew at home. Whats more, he had seen Rolly Latimer smile at his wife as if she were a helpless lost puppy. Battling against the bitterly cold westerly wind under a darkening sky, Stan Milesford retreated back down into the bowels of the engine room, leaving his wife to cling onto the rails. In all probability, everyone would assume it had been too cold for both of them to make it back to shore. That was, of course, if poor Helen had been able to swim, but with icy waters he knew she would drown quite quickly, leaving him to collect the insurance and make his escape to another country. Placing his favourite pipe under his tongue, he sucked greedily at it allowing his twisted thoughts to plunge deeper into murky waters. In doing so, hed failed to see Helen reach inside the pocket of her jeans and pull out her buzzing mobile phone. Help was heading straight towards them. It was a much bigger boat. She could just about hear, via the loudspeaker on her phone, that they wished to be allowed to board the sinking vessel. Stan, the coastguard launch is here! Helen shouted above the winds. No, Im wrong, wait a minute. Its not just the Coastguards, its the police too? Stan? Stan? Why is there a police launch? Helen had called out, and why have you switched off the radio? she screamed. Ive one more thing to say to you before were rescued. Im leaving you today! Helen Milesford shouted through the open hatch down into the engine room. Were not lost.
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Im not lost anymore and I dont care if the damn boat sinks. Ive had enough of you. During the following months Helen Milesford was told the horrendous truth about her husband Stan. She quickly sold up the house which was heart-wrenching and moved in with her mother. Now they sit for long hours trying to pick the Island in the Pacific theyd like to visit next. As for Rosa and Joshua, love really did bloom giddily and they married within eighteen months. They expect their first baby in July. Rosa thinks itll be a girl, but hasnt told Josh who told her. It is one little secret Rosa will keep quiet about until after the big day. Kareem Khan never visits anymore but they visit her at her graveside each month and lay the prettiest flowers at her headstone.

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