Authors: Gillian Larkin
closed the kitchen door. “What’s the problem?”
said, “I went back to Ada’s house last night when I left you. I thought she’d
be asleep but she wasn’t. The poor woman was tossing and turning all night. She
got up at three a.m. and took some tablets. I presume they were sleeping
tablets because she fell asleep soon after.”
brow wrinkled. “She looked cheerful enough to me, not tired.”
not all, she seems to be misplacing more things around the house. She was
nearly in tears at one point because she couldn’t find a pink cardigan in her
nodded. “Poor Ada. But I can’t see how this is a problem for us. Surely these
are things that happen to people as they get older.”
they do. Not for everyone though. As Ada tried to sleep I saw her death line
becoming slightly thicker. And when she was looking for that cardigan it grew
even more. I think someone is deliberately affecting Ada’s health, maybe with a
view to murdering her.”
don’t understand. I thought my job was to save people committing murders on the
spur of the moment. If you think someone is causing these sleeping and memory
problems with Ada, wouldn’t that person be purposely planning on committing
murder rather than it being spur of the moment?”
leant against the oven and folded his arms. “You haven’t ruled out accidental
death. Someone could be playing cruel tricks on Ada, and it goes too far. Or it
could be something more sinister.”
some sort of poisoning. The lack of sleep and memory loss could be symptoms.
You’ll have to keep a close eye on her, see if anyone is putting anything in
Well, I’d better get dressed. Do you want a quick look round Gran’s house?”
shook his head. “It can wait. I’m going back to Ada’s.”
shook her head as he disappeared. He cared about Ada, that was plain to see.
How was Cara going to stop her from being murdered? If someone had been poisoning
her then it must be someone who had easy access to her house. A family member?
got dressed and washed in double quick time. She raced out of the house and
through the gate that had been placed halfway up the adjoining fence. Ada and
Gran had agreed years ago to having the gate put in, they didn’t see the point
of walking all the way round the fence when they needed to visit each other.
Gran had said it wasted valuable nattering time.
mouth watered as soon as Ada opened the kitchen door to her.
said, “Perfect timing! Come in, make yourself at home. I want to hear all about
you, what have you been up to lately? What have you been working on? Your gran
was always talking about you. She was so proud of you for starting your own
sat at the kitchen table and picked up a knife and fork. “This looks delicious,
thank you. I can’t talk when I’m eating! You start, tell me all about yourself
and what you get up to. Where do you go? Who comes to see you? Does anyone make
you food and drink on a regular basis?”
frowned at the last question. She sat opposite Cara and said, “You won’t be
interested in me!”
cut into a sausage and said, “I am interested. Tell me about your son, I
haven’t seen Ben in ages.”
hovered behind Ada and smiled down at her.
rested her hands on the table and smiled. “I could talk for hours about my Ben!
He’s doing so well at that fancy solicitor’s in Leeds. Puts in too many hours
but he tells me it’s worth it. He told me a few days ago that he’s hoping to be
made a partner soon. It’ll mean more work but more money too. How’s your bacon?
Not too crispy I hope.”
prefect. Gran told me that Ben had got married a while back.”
yes. To Maria. She’s wonderful, I couldn’t have hoped for a better daughter-in-law.
She phones me nearly every day and calls round here often.”
she make you cups of tea?” Cara asked.
That’s a funny question. No, she always offers but I insist on making a drink
for her, and any food that she might like. This is my house and that’s how you
treat your guests.”
hadn’t finished with her questions. “Do you go over to Ben’s house often? Maybe
looked at Cara and said, “Don’t ask if he makes her cups of tea! You’re
beginning to scare Ada with your peculiar questions.”
smile faltered. “I haven’t been round in a while. I can’t bear to see the
sadness on Maria’s face when I go there. You see, Maria and Ben have been
trying for a baby for years. Maria was so confident that she’d become pregnant
quickly that she had the smallest bedroom made into a nursery. At her
insistence I even knitted some baby clothes. Maria keeps up the pretence of
being happy when she’s here but when she’s in her house she feels sad knowing
that there’s an empty nursery upstairs. She told me that she prefers being
tucked into her scrambled egg as she thought about what Ada had said.
picked up her cup and took a sip. As she placed it down she said, “I’m sure
Maria will get pregnant soon, I keep telling her that. In the meantime I do all
that I can to keep her busy. She comes shopping with me and takes me to the
hairdresser’s, that sort of thing.” Ada shook her head. “I do get annoyed with
Ben sometimes, he’s spending far too much time at work. I worry too much.” Ada
sighed and gave Cara a look as if deciding whether to continue talking. “Cara,
don’t tell your gran this, but I’ve been having trouble sleeping. It must be
the worry about Ben and Maria. I’ve had to resort to taking sleeping tablets!
Something I swore I’d never do.”
put her knife and fork down and pushed her empty plate to one side. “Thank you
for that. Don’t feel guilty about the sleeping tablets, I’ve taken them before.
Where did you get them? Did your doctor prescribe them?”
of. Well, not a doctor but a nurse. You’ll think I’m being an old fusspot but I
told Ben I hadn’t been sleeping well, and that sometimes …” Ada looked away, a
blush on her cheeks. She looked back at Cara and continued, “I sometimes lose
things. I forget where I’ve put them. Ben was worried and he employed a private
nurse for me. He insisted that the nurse give me sleeping tablets.”
gave Cara a direct look. “I knew something was wrong. Why would her son employ
a private nurse? Is it so he can control what’s going on with his mother?”
Robin folded his arms. “I don’t like this at all, Cara.”
didn’t either. She said, “I’d love to meet Maria, and see Ben again.”
you’re in luck! They’re coming here for dinner tonight and you’re invited.
Don’t even think of refusing!”
won’t refuse,” Cara said. “Let me wash up. You can tell me more about Ben and
stifled a yawn. “Normally I wouldn’t let you but I’m feeling my age today.
Cara, could I ask you a favour? I thought I had all the ingredients in that I
need for dinner but it seems I haven’t. I could have sworn I had some minced
beef in the freezer but when I looked there last night it had gone! I don’t
know how I’ve managed to lose it.” There was a pause as Ada looked towards the
window. In a quieter voice she said, “Perhaps I never bought the minced beef in
the first place. I think sometimes that I’m losing my mind. Perhaps Ben is
right, I do need a nurse to look after me.”
stood up and picked up her plate and cutlery. “You don’t need a nurse today,
you’ve got me. I’m going to be at your side like an annoying shadow!”
gave her such a grateful smile that Cara nearly started crying. Ada said,
“Thank you, Cara, for being here. I feel safer somehow.”
did start crying. Silver tears ran down his cheeks. He turned watery eyes to
Cara and said, “You can’t let her die.”
trip to the supermarket was tiring for Ada. She placed her hand on the trolley
for support as Cara wheeled it along the aisles. Cara was tempted to pick Ada
up and put her in the child seat at the front of the trolley.
was unusually silent as they walked around.
apologised throughout the visit as she continually yawned. “I’m so sorry, Cara,
I’m not normally like this.”
okay,” Cara said. “We’re nearly done. I’ll pack everything into the bags at the
checkout, don’t you lift a finger.”
can barely lift my eyelids,” Ada pointed out.
were soon packed and on their way back home. A woman was waiting outside Ada’s
frowned as they pulled up outside. “I didn’t think she was due to see me today.
I write her visits on my noticeboard.” She shook her head. “I’m sure I checked
my board this morning.”
stopped the car and said, “Who is it?”
nurse, the one that Ben employed. She checks on me two or three times a week.
Oh! I hope she hasn’t been waiting long. Me and my useless memory!”
got out of the car, came to Ada’s side and helped her out. Ada called over to
the woman, “Suzanne! I’m so sorry! I forgot you were coming today.”
heard the woman shout out, “No problem, I’ve only just got here.”
made her way up the driveway. Cara retrieved the shopping from the boot of her
car and followed her. As she walked closer, the woman who was waiting at the
door gave her a big smile and declared, “Cara! Cara Daniels! I don’t believe
narrowed her eyes. Who was that woman? She walked closer. “Oh! It’s you!
Suzanne Roberts! I haven’t seen you since … since the last day of school. How
fine. I’m married now, my surname is Roebuck. You haven’t aged much. I know I
have! Thanks to three children under the age of five. A good night’s sleep is a
know how you feel,” Ada said.
turned her attention to Ada. “How are you today? Didn’t you sleep well again?
Did you take any of those sleeping tablets?”
put her key in the door. “I took a couple in the middle of the night. I just
don’t know why I can’t sleep. I’ve been drinking decaf tea and coffee, just
like you told me to.” She opened the door. “Come in, both of you. I’m glad you
know each other, I’m too tired to give you proper introductions.”
shot Cara a concerned glance and then followed Ada into the house. As they went
in Cara said quietly, “She’s not herself. She says she’s becoming forgetful,
she’s more worried than she’s letting on.”
gave her a nod and walked into the kitchen where she found Ada filling the
kettle. Suzanne moved to her side and gently took the kettle from her hands.
“Now then, Ada, you look as if you could do with a nap.”
looked shocked. “A nap! I don’t have naps, I’m not a baby.”
not a nap. Let’s call it forty winks. Go and lie down on your sofa and just
rest your eyes. You don’t have to sleep. Me and Cara will sort your shopping
out. Once you’ve had a rest I’ll carry out my tests.”
sighed and nodded. She shuffled past Cara and said, “I’m going to rest my eyes
for a moment. Don’t go home, I’ll be right as rain before you know it.”
Cara said, trying to hide the concern in her voice.
shuffled over to her sofa and lowered herself on to it. She placed a cushion at
one end, lay down and closed her eyes. Robin floated over to her side and lay
down on the carpet directly in front of Ada. Cara felt concern over Robin’s
attitude. She hadn’t seen him become so attached to a potential murder victim
looked away from the scene and placed the shopping bags on the kitchen table.
Suzanne looked back through the kitchen door towards Ada. She smiled and said,
“She’s already asleep. Let’s have a chat. You can tell me what you’re doing
started to put the shopping away with Suzanne’s help. For a second she was
tempted to tell Suzanne the real reason that she was there. It would be lovely
to share her burden with someone.
She couldn’t do that. She explained briefly about Gran being away and that she
was staying in Gran’s house for a while. Suzanne insisted on knowing what Cara
did for a living. Again, Cara kept the details brief. She wanted to be the one
the shopping was away, and a cup of tea placed in front of each woman, Suzanne
began to talk, “I worked as a nurse at the local hospital until the children
came along. Peter, my husband, got a new job as a salesman for a pharmaceutical
company. It’s better money but he spends weeks away from home. I wanted to go
back to work at the hospital but that was impossible because of the shift work
that I was expected to do. Peter used to look after the children when I was
working night shifts but that wasn’t possible any more. So I looked into the
private sector and this job came up. It’s perfect for me, less hours but more
said, “I was surprised when Ada told me she had a nurse. Does she really need
shook her head. “Not really. Her son, I think you know Ben, worries about her.
He knew she wasn’t sleeping well, and he knew that she was forgetting things.
He works long hours and he wasn’t able to visit as often as he could, so he
employed me to keep an eye on Ada.”
caught Suzanne’s worried look. “What aren’t you telling me?”
don’t think Ada really needs my care. I think she’s fine, but I have noticed a
difference in the last few weeks, particularly in her sleeping habits. I have
prescribed some sleeping tablets, but they’re only mild ones, not addictive in
any way. I … no, I shouldn’t say anything else.”
leant across the table and put her hand on top of Suzanne’s. “Please, if you’ve
anything to say, please tell me. I’m concerned about Ada, I’ve known her all my
gave her a small smile. “I just get the feeling that Ben’s employing me as a
backup, as if to prove that his mum needs medical help.”
frowned and removed her hand. “Why would he do that?”
what people do before putting their relatives in nursing homes. They have to
prove that the relative can’t take care of themselves.” Suzanne stood up.
“Look, Cara, forget I said that. It was unprofessional of me. I’m sure Ben
Clement just wants the best for his mum. I’d better check on her. It was lovely
to see you again.”
abruptly left the kitchen. Cara stood up and watched her through the open door.
Suzanne knelt at Ada’s side and gently touched her on the shoulder. Ada stirred
and then tried to sit up.
said, “Ada, I’ll come back another time. You look better for having a rest. Do
you need any more sleeping tablets?”
pulled herself into a sitting position. “No, I’m fine. Are you sure you don’t
want to do a few tests? Ben’s coming over for his dinner tonight and he always
asks me what you’ve done on your visits.”
had her back to Cara so she couldn’t see her expression, although she did
notice the slight slump of Suzanne’s shoulders. In a bright voice Suzanne said,
“Of course I can do my checks now. Roll your sleeve up!”
turned away and busied herself with the washing-up. Her thoughts were full of
Ben Clement. What was he up to? What did he have to gain from his mum going
into a nursing home? Would he take control of his mum’s estate? He was an only
child, and he worked at a solicitor’s so he’d know how to make that happen.
Cara looked down at the running water. Was Ben going to murder Ada?