Read A Sweet Murder Online

Authors: Gillian Larkin

Tags: #cozy mystery, #ghost story, #haunted, #women sleuth, #cozy murder mystery, #british murder mystery

A Sweet Murder (8 page)

BOOK: A Sweet Murder
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Chapter 16

 


Murder!” Frankie said. “What do you mean? Have you found any
dead bodies in a unit? What did they look like? Did they
stink?”

Bill moved back
and folded his arms. “I’ve never found a dead body, although there
could be one locked up in the units now, slowly decomposing. Some
people have been renting the same units for years.”

Frankie raised a
hand. “But if they were decomposing you’d smell something, even
through a metal door. Perhaps the body is in a vat of acid? That
would work.”

Bill nodded.
“That’s a good idea. A fella in the next town found a skull in a
locker. The police had to come in and take it away. They took all
the contents of the locker too.”

Frankie nodded
and folded his arms. Grace looked at the two men, they looked like
two old women discussing the weather.

Frankie said,
“Sylvester told me that if you find certain things in a locker then
the police have to be called in.”

Bill smiled.
“Sylvester’s a great guy.”


He
is,” Frankie agreed.

Grace butted in.
“We’ve never had to call the police out to a locker. What do we
need to look out for?”


A
dead body,” Frankie began. “It would be awesome to find a dead
body.”

Bill added, “Any
sort of weapon, like a gun or a big sword. Knives with blood on
them would have to be investigated.”


And
drugs,” Frankie concluded. “That’d be a good way to be a drugs
dealer, wouldn’t it? Hide your stash in the unit, take your supply
out when you need it, and then lock your unit up again.”

Bill chuckled.
“And if anyone gets in your way you can stick them in a tub of acid
right inside the unit!”

Grace looked
from one man to the other. Did they have any idea how they sounded?
What would they say if she told them she was looking into a murder?
How would they react if she informed them that the units were full
of ghosts?

Grace stood up,
she wasn’t going to get any more information here. “Thanks Bill,
it’s been interesting. Frankie, I’m going home, I’ll get the
bus.”


Are
you sure? I don’t mind getting the bus, you can take the
van.”

Grace stared at
him. He’d never offered to do that before.

Frankie laughed
suddenly. “As if! I haven’t been on the bus for years, I don’t even
know where the bus stop is. See you later.”

That was more
like Frankie. Grace walked past the vending machine. Oo! Liquorice
twists, she hadn’t had them in years. Hadn’t Frankie said something
about them earlier?

Grace popped her
money in the machine and watched with joy as the packet fell down
to the container below. Her mouth watered as if she was already
tasting the black sweets. She reached in for the packet and almost
jumped out of her skin as Bill yelled, “No!”

Grace pulled her
hand back and looked over her shoulder. All the happiness had
drained out of Bill’s face. He strode over to the machine and
banged his hand on it. “It’s been filled up! When did that happen?
Who gave them permission?”

Grace said
quietly, “Erm, they came when you were out. Sorry, we assumed it
was okay to fill it up. Is there a problem?”

Bill sighed.
“It’s not your fault. It’s typical of Flamingo Sweets. I cancelled
the contract last month, I spoke to someone in sales. They assured
me no one would come round to fill it up. I’ve been expecting
someone to take it away.”


Why
do you want to cancel the contract?” Grace asked.


Their prices, and their so called customer service. The
prices have gone sky high over the last year, I’m hardly making any
profit. And when I’ve tried to complain they’ve fobbed me off. I’ve
spoken to their sales rep many a time, I think she’s called
Lucinda, but she doesn’t seem to care about my concerns, only about
making money off me. It’s not just me either, I’ve heard that other
people are fed up with how they’ve been treated by Flamingo Sweets.
The used to have a great reputation but it’s rapidly going
downhill. Makes me wonder how much longer they’ll last.”

Grace nodded,
she had no idea that things were bad. She looked wistfully towards
the liquorice twists. It seemed rude to take them now that she knew
how Bill felt. But she had paid for them.

Bill smiled at
her. “Go on, you may as well take them. You can have the lot as far
as I’m concerned, I won’t be paying their invoice.”

Frankie called
over, “Don’t give her any more! She’ll be the size of a house soon.
Bill, what does this mean?”

Bill winked at
Grace and walked back to Frankie, he sat down in the chair that
Grace had recently vacated. Grace said bye but the men were already
engrossed in something on the computer screen.

Grace left the
office and walked to the bus stop. She didn’t mind getting the bus
but it would be more convenient if she had a car. She opened the
sweets and put a twist inside her mouth. Yum.

Was she ready to
drive a car? She’d been driving the van for a while and was okay
with it now. But having her own car might remind her of the night
that her parents died. Dad had been driving her car on the night of
their accident.

Grace chewed on
the sweet. It hadn’t been the car’s fault that Dad had crashed.
Perhaps she should start looking at cars. Her stomach gave a lurch.
She could do it, it was time.

The bus arrived.
Grace found a seat and tucked into another sweet. She thought about
what Bill had said. Was Lucinda responsible for the rising prices?
Was she running some sort of scam with Jamie? Had Connie found out
about it?

 

Chapter 17

 

Grace would have
liked to have gone back to the shop to see if Connie or Pearl had
reappeared but she couldn’t think of a suitable reason as to why
she was there should Frankie return. Besides, she wanted to have a
good look on the Internet.

She made herself
a large mug of hot chocolate and sat down on her sofa, her laptop
open on the table in front.

There was a lot
of information on Flamingo Sweets. There was some history about how
Alfred had come over to Leeds around 1900. There was a black and
white photograph of him standing next to a market stall. Grace
presumed that was the original stall in Leeds Market. She could
just about see the chair behind him. There was a lot of detail
about how the company grew over the years, how they adapted to the
times. They made a special kind of liquorice sweet at the end of
World War Two, it was in the shape of a dove to symbolise
peace.

Grace noted the
link to the main website. She took out the card that Lucinda had
given her, it was the same website address. Grace decided she would
look at that later. She typed in Connie’s name and
‘death’.

Grace’s breath
caught as a colour picture of Connie appeared on the screen. She
guessed that Connie must be about thirty. She was wearing a bright
green dress that had little prints of bananas on it. Connie was
beaming into the camera. The article explained how Connie had
started work in the original shop that Alfred had bought all those
years ago. She had also worked in the factory with the factory
workers. She even went on deliveries to all the shops that sold
Flamingo Sweets. The article explained that Connie was a hands-on
sort of person and wanted to understand the jobs of everyone who
worked for Flamingo Sweets. It also mentioned how she raised her
three children all by herself after her husband passed away. The
children were named and mention was made of how Connie’s children
were devoted to their careers at Flamingo Sweets.

Grace thought of
Lucinda’s face earlier, the only devotion she showed was to Jamie
and their plans to get out of the business.

Grace scrolled down until she got to the bit that she was
looking for. There it was. Her eyebrows rose as she read how Connie
had died: ‘Connie Flamingo died accidentally at home on the evening
of Tuesday 16
th
July. Her family were devastated by the untimely
death of their loving mother.’

Grace sighed
with frustration. She addressed her laptop, “That doesn’t tell me
anything at all!”

She read a bit
further, read the comments from her ‘devastated’ children. She
remembered how each one of them had talked about how to murder
their mother. She’d already spoken to Lucinda and knew she was
hiding something, she needed to talk to Vincent and Della
too.

Grace was about
to log off when she saw another photograph. It showed Connie’s
family and, presumably, some of her employees, lined up outside the
original shop. They all looked suitably sad so it must have been
taken after Connie’s death. Grace made the image larger. There was
Vincent with a well dressed woman at his side. Could that be his
wife? Her sad face didn’t look quite genuine, she was turning to
one side as if posing for the camera. A couple of employees stood
to his other side including the young woman who Grace had seen in
her vision, the one in which her family had come into the shop. The
woman had the same pulled back hair and she seemed to be wearing
the same kind of glasses. She must have worked for the family for a
long time. She’d have a thing or two to say about the family,
unless loyalty got in the way. Grace made a note on a piece of
paper to talk to her.

Behind Vincent
was Lucinda. To her side stood Jamie wearing a Flamingo Sweets
T-shirt. Was he an official employee? He stood a bit away from
Lucinda but the camera caught him turning his head towards her, a
smile on his lips. Did the family know about their relationship?
Did Connie approve?

Della was on the
other side of Lucinda, her face pale and drawn. Grace shivered as
she remembered that Della had shown the most enthusiasm when
discussing their mother’s murder. Was she putting on an act? If so,
she was very good at it.

Grace made a
note to talk to Vincent and Della, she wasn’t sure of the excuse
that she was going to use to talk to them, she’d think of something
later. She’d also speak to any employees that she came into contact
with, like that woman in the shop. Would she get chance to talk to
Jamie too?

Grace yawned and
closed the laptop down. She really wanted to discuss the details
with Pearl. She’d go to the shop tomorrow and try to speak to her,
if she appeared that is. She also needed to talk to Connie about
how she’d died, if she could remember. When Grace had helped ghosts
before they seemed to block out details about their deaths. It was
probably a good idea for some of them.

Grace got ready
for bed. She didn’t want another night of sleepeating so she
decided to hide her stash of sweets. She looked in her bag, she
couldn’t find any.

Even her new
packet of liquorice twists was empty.

She couldn’t
have eaten them all? Surely not. She’d bought loads of sweets
recently, no one could eat that many in such a short
time.

Shaking her
head, Grace got into bed. What was wrong with her pyjamas? They’d
shrunk. It must be that new washing powder that she’d started to
use.

Grace didn’t
dream about her family that night, she dreamt about sheep jumping
over fences, they were made out of pink and white marshmallows with
chocolate faces.

Grace noted with
a smile that her pillow was still there in the morning.

She was going to
speak to Vincent today, but first, she was going to talk to the
ghosts.

 

Chapter 18

 

Frankie was in
bed again when Grace turned up at the shop the next morning. She
was glad to see Pearl standing at the foot of his bed.

Pearl’s arms
were folded and she looked with distaste at the snoring
Frankie.


Three o’clock in the morning! That’s what time this young
whippersnapper came in! Drunk he was too, staggering all over the
place. I thought he was going to throw up at one point. Serve him
right if he did! It’s disgusting. He’s far too old to be staying
out late.”


He’s got a young girlfriend, I think they go out clubbing,
he’s trying to impress her with his stamina,” Grace
explained.


Pah! Idiot!” Pearl turned towards Grace. “What the hell has
happened to you?”

Grace’s hands
flew to her face, she’d put her make-up on this morning, had it
smudged? “What do you mean? Have I got something in my teeth? My
hair?”

Pearl unfolded
her arms and waved them up and down in front of Grace. “What have
you been eating? You’ve really piled the pounds on.”

Grace shrugged.
“I’ve had a few sweets, that’s all.”


A
few sweet shops by the look of it. Crikey, Grace, have you seen the
size of your chest, you’re practically bursting out of that blouse.
Is this something to do with that Connie woman? Or are you using it
as an excuse to stuff your face?”


I’m
not sure, I just feel like eating sweets all the time. I haven’t
had any this morning though.”

Pearl narrowed
her eyes. “Is that because you’ve run out?”

BOOK: A Sweet Murder
2.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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