Authors: Gillian Larkin
Tags: #cozy mystery, #ghost story, #haunted, #women sleuth, #cozy murder mystery, #british murder mystery
that these were Connie’s children.
The man cried
out, “For God’s sake, Lucinda, will you stop pacing up and down!
We’ll sort something out. We’ll tell Mum what’s happened, she’ll
her hands as she walked the length of the shop. “She won’t
understand! You haven’t seen the side of her that I have. She won’t
take this well at all.”
The man closed
the till. What was his name? Vincent?
woman spoke. “She’s right you know, what you two have done is
unforgivable. She’ll probably cut you out of her will.”
Nonsense! She’d never do that! You don’t know what you’re
talking about, Della,” Vincent said.
Della pulled a
packet of sweets out of her pocket and opened them up. As she
considered the contents she said in a level voice, “All I have to
do is let Mum know what you two have been up to, I’m sure I can
convince her to change her will. I’d quite like getting her fortune
all to myself.”
“You can’t do that! Mum wouldn’t change her will.”
Della picked out
a black sweet and smiled. “She might, she listens to me. You could
lose everything. Vincent, how would Mirabelle cope with that?
Losing that big house of yours? She’d divorce you in a second and
she’d take the boys. You know she’s only with you for your
wouldn’t do that,” Vincent said quietly, his voice
Della held the
black sweet up to the light, she gave it a nod of satisfaction.
What she said next made Grace’s blood run cold.
The three people
continued with their gruesome talk. On and on they went. Grace
wanted to cover her ears but she knew that she couldn’t, she had to
listen to everything.
A few minutes
later they left the shop, Vincent locking the door behind him.
Grace heard a sound to her left. It sounded like a sigh. The vision
began to fade but not before Grace saw the door behind the counter
close. Someone had been listening to the terrible
suddenly back in Frankie’s room. Connie was sitting up in his bed,
her face a normal colour, as normal as a ghost could expect to be.
Pearl sat at her side. They both looked towards Grace as she
wondered where you’d gone,” Pearl said. “Another
her face. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Another nod but
Grace wasn’t prepared to mention that she’d seen her family, not in
front of Connie. It was a private matter, one that she’d share with
Grace took a
hesitant step forward, her mouth felt wobbly as she tried to smile
Connie sat up
straighter, her chin jutted out. In a firm voice she said, “You
don’t need to tell me, I think I can guess what you just saw. You
saw my loving children plotting to murder me, didn’t
Yes,” Grace looked down at the floor unable to bear the hurt
expression on Connie’s face.
Connie said, “I
knew about that conversation. It broke my heart to think they could
talk about me like that.”
Talking and doing are two separate things,” Pearl pointed
out. “We all feel like throttling someone sometimes. Grace, did
they give you a reason as to why they wanted to top her
Did Pearl have to be so abrasive? She said, “I got the impression
that Lucinda and Vincent had done something that you wouldn’t have
approved of. I don’t know whether it was something they had done
together, or something they had done separately.”
Pearl tapped her
chin in thought. “Did they say how they were going to get rid of
her? Were they going to do it themselves or use someone
“Della mentioned that she had contacts but then Lucinda burst into
tears. I can’t honestly say if it was a serious conversation or
just one of those heat of the moment talks that you later regret. I
can’t imagine anything being so bad that they couldn’t talk to
Pearl said, “I
agree but Connie, no offence, is a control freak and a bully. I can
imagine her children being afraid of her. People don’t need much of
a reason to murder someone.”
in. “I do take offence at that! My children knew they could talk to
me about anything.”
you change your will so that you left nothing to Vincent and
Lucinda? Della mentioned that in the vision,” Grace
narrowed. “Did I change my will? Sorry, I can’t quite remember. Do
you think I was in the process of making a second will and then
someone killed me?”
It’s possible. Are you sure you can’t remember?” Grace
over at Grace. “I don’t think you’re going to get much more out of
her at the moment. If she remembers anything else that’s upsetting
she’s liable to turn grey again. Leave it for now, I’ll stay with
her. You go home and get some rest, I’ll walk you
back onto the bed and closed her eyes. Grace left the room and
walked downstairs, Pearl at her side.
When they got
into the kitchen Pearl said softly, “Now, love, what else did you
see? I can see the sadness in your face and it’s got nothing to do
Grace told Pearl
all about the family vision. When she’d finished Pearl said, “Treat
that vision as a gift, a lost memory that’s been given back to you.
A lot of people will never get that.”
Pearl gave Grace
a kiss on her cheek. It felt warm. Pearl was the only ghost who
felt warm against Grace. Whenever another ghost had connected with
her physically she had felt a coldness.
touched by Pearl’s kindness. But not for long.
yourself home and get some beauty sleep,” Pearl ordered. “You’d
give Frankenstein’s monster a run for his money with that face of
yours at the moment.”
Pearl winked at
her and disappeared. Grace shook her head, Pearl was beginning to
sound like Frankie.
Grace caught the
bus home and was soon walking though her front door. After
something to eat and an episode of ‘Murder, She Wrote’ she was
ready for bed.
She was almost
asleep when her phone rang. She glanced at her bedside clock – 11
p.m. Who was ringing at this time? Grace steeled herself for bad
It was Frankie,
he sounded impossibly loud and happy. “I’ve remembered where I’ve
seen that chair before! It was in a sweet shop, about twenty miles
from here. Mum and Dad took us once, I got some banana fizzles and
you got some chocolate buttons! Ha! I knew I’d remember. See you
could ask him if he was drunk he’d rung off. She’d nag him tomorrow
about being in the sweet shop with her family. When she woke up her
heart felt warm from the memory but her pillow was damp.
She swung her
feet onto the floor. Something crackled. Grace frowned when she saw
two empty sweet packets next to her bed. What was that ache in her
jaw? Had she been grinding her teeth in the night?
She looked at
the empty packets again. She hadn’t eaten any sweets before bed.
Where had the packets come from?
her lips together. Don’t say she’d been sleepwalking, and then
sleepeating. She shook her head. It seemed that Connie was having a
strong effect on her, she’d have to find out who her murderer was
soon otherwise her teeth would fall out. Having the odd sweet now
and again was fine but stuffing her face in her sleep was another
Grace stood up
and straightened her pillow and bed cover. She suddenly laughed as
she remembered a joke Dad used to tell her – ‘I had a dream last
night that I was eating a giant marshmallow. When I woke up my
pillow was gone’.
Grace patted the
pillow, glad it was still there.
snoring his head off when Grace arrived at the shop. She closed the
door to his bedroom/stockroom and then opened the shop for the day.
Despite calling out for them neither Pearl nor Connie
The shop was
pleasantly busy and Grace made many sales. There was a lull in
customers when Frankie finally ventured into the shop at 11
He yawned and
scratched his side as he walked over to Grace.
her nose. “Your breath stinks! What were you drinking last night?
And what time did you come home?”
against an antique table and rubbed his bristly chin, his eyes
looked bloodshot. “Some time in the morning, we went to a
Yeah, me and the woman. Put the kettle on, I’m
the kettle on yourself. Don’t you think you’re too old to be going
eyes twinkled. “You’re only as old as the woman you feel. Pop some
bread in the toaster whilst you’re in the kitchen.”
it yourself, and don’t be disgusting. How old is your lady
couple of years older than you. Do you have to nag?”
Yes. Will there be many more late nights?”
onto the table. “I hope not. I know I look young but I can’t do
that every night. Those people in the club never stopped dancing. I
think it must be the sugar.”
What sugar?” Grace asked.
Some of them were eating sweets on the dance floor, must have
needed them to boost their energy. I still had some of those banana
fizzles you gave me earlier but they didn’t do much for my energy
levels. Have we got any bacon?”
What did the sweets look like?” Grace asked. Something wasn’t
and yawned again, treating Grace to a full view of his tonsils. He
smacked his lips together and said, “I don’t know, they were black
nagging in Grace’s brain but she couldn’t catch the
I’ll make my own breakfast then,” Frankie said. He heaved
himself off the table and slouched towards the kitchen.
have time to think about the black sweets as a group of elderly
people entered the shop.
It wasn’t until
4 p.m. that Frankie returned to the shop. He looked brighter and
cleaner. Grace had a surreptitious sniff, he smelt better
You’ll be all right on your own, won’t you?” Frankie said. He
headed towards the shop door.
I’ve been on my own all day. Where are you going? On another
I have to limit my dates, it’s not fair for my women to have so
much of me all at once. I thought I told you about my meeting with
didn’t. Where is your meeting?”
the storage auction site we went to yesterday, the one where we got
the chair. Sylvester’s agreed it with the office manager for me to
have a look there, to get a feel for how the storage business
works. I’m going to do a blog about it.”
excitement out of her voice Grace said, “Can I come with you? I’ve
been stuck in here all day, we haven’t had a customer for the last
She held her
breath as Frankie considered her request. It would be wonderful if
she could find out who had rented Connie’s storage unit. And why
they had stopped paying for it.
Okay, you can come along but don’t get in the way. And leave
the vending machine alone this time, I think you’ve had enough. How
many sweets have you got through today? There’s rubbish all over
down in surprise. She’d been aware of enjoying one or two sweets
but there were about forty wrappers on the floor. Her cheeks felt
warm as she picked the wrappers up and put them in the
“Honestly Grace, you should look after yourself better.”
Grace kept a
tight hold on her willpower and her handbag as they drove to the
storage unit. She could almost hear the sweets inside her bag
singing enticingly to her.
The manager was
sitting behind the desk as they entered the office that they had
been in the previous day. He gave them a cheerful smile. “Sylvester
told me you’d be stopping by today. He’s a great guy, isn’t he? We
always have a bigger crowd when he’s the auctioneer. I’ve got some
paperwork out for you to look at, it shows the forms that people
have to fill in. People can do it online too, I’ve left the screen
on the computer open at that page.”
Thanks so much, I appreciate it,” Frankie said.
manager stood up. “I’ll leave you alone for a while, I always make
a check of the units at this time, make sure they’re all secure.
Will you be all right on your own? There’s some fresh coffee over
there. I won’t be long.”