Death Takes A Trip (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 5)

BOOK: Death Takes A Trip (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 5)
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Julia Blake

Death Takes A Trip

 
 

For Kathleen

thank you

 
 

Cover by
www.coverkicks.com

 
 

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www.gillianlarkin.co.uk

 
 
 

Julia Blake - Death Takes A Trip

 

Chapter 1

 

Julia Blake glanced at her colleague as she drove
along.

You haven

t met our next client yet, his name is Douglas Pedley.

Cain said,

Is he a new client? I thought I knew them all by now.

Julia turned left.

Douglas doesn

t want his
house cleaning every week, he prefers me to give it a thorough going over once
a month. He lives on his own so his house doesn

t need much cleaning, although it has three large bedrooms. It

ll take us a couple of hours to get all the cleaning done.

Cain frowned.

Why doesn

t he want you
to clean more often?

Julia smiled as she drove past a new housing estate.

You

ll soon see. I
get on well with Douglas but he prefers his own company, he

s not the most sociable of men. His bark is worse than his bite, as the
saying goes.


Does he know
about me?

Cain asked.

Julia slowed down.

Not yet, I

ll tell him
straight away. You

ll be fine, no
one has objected to having you in their homes.

Cain looked out of the window and added,

Not yet. Is this his house?

He looked to
the left and right of the detached property.

It looks out of place next to all these new houses.

Julia switched the car engine off and released her
seatbelt.

Douglas

house was
built about eighty years ago, there were similar houses surrounding him at one
point. But, one by one, people have sold their houses to make way for the new
ones. From what I

ve heard, the
building contractor who

s responsible for these new houses offered the homeowners a good deal.

Cain clicked on his seat release button and said,

What about Mr Pedley then? Didn

t they offer him anything?

Julia laughed.

More than once! They even offered him more than the house is worth. But
Douglas is as stubborn as a mule. He won

t sell, ever. This house means too much to him. It belonged to his wife

s family, she was an only child so she inherited it. Val, that

s his wife, died about twenty years ago.

Julia got out
of the car and opened the boot to retrieve her cleaning bag.

Cain joined her at the boot and said,

Most people want to move on when a spouse dies, make a fresh start, that
sort of thing.

Julia looked towards the house.

Not everyone feels like that, some people just can

t say goodbye. I think that

s why Douglas prefers his own company, he

s still living with Val

s memories.

She headed towards the house.

It

s not just the
house that

s valuable to
the building contractor, there

s a lot of land with the house. Three acres I believe.

Cain faltered in his step, his eyes wide.

Three acres! Where? I can

t see anything.

Julia headed down the garden path.

It

s all round
the back, I

ll show you,
if Douglas will allow me.

She stopped and looked at Cain.

His house can be a bit oppressive, and so can Douglas. Don

t let it upset you, I know how sensitive you are.

Cain puffed his skinny chest out and said,

I

m not that
sensitive. I

m a real man.

Julia smiled and said,

So it wasn

t you who was
crying at Downton Abbey, I saw you watching it before I picked you up this
morning.

Cain held his hands out.

But it was Lady Sybil! Why did she have to die?

They both jumped as the front door was flung open. A
straight-backed elderly man glared down at them, his thin moustache bristled as
if it was annoyed on the owner

s behalf. Julia always felt like saluting Douglas Pedley, he had that
military air of authority about him.


Julia Blake!

Douglas boomed
out.

Is it the last
Friday of the month already?


It certainly
is,

Julia said. She raised a hand to her left and said,

This is Cain Andrews, my colleague.

Douglas

eyes narrowed as he studied Cain.

So, this is the famous young man. Or should I say infamous! I

ve heard about his manslaughter charge! I

m surprised you

ve got the nerve to bring him here, Julia Blake!

Julia held a hand up.

Now look here, Mr Pedley, you can stop that shouting right now! Cain has
done his time in prison, and I am more than happy to employ him. And all my
other clients are happy to have him in their houses! If you don

t want him in yours, then we

ll happily leave.

Douglas

moustache twitched. His mouth lifted slightly and he
said,

So, you

re calling me Mr Pedley now, you

ve gone all formal.

His mouth lifted more and he burst out laughing.

I

m only joking
with you! I know all about Cain and his time in prison. And I know that he was
wrongfully accused.

He opened the door wider.

Come in, come in. I

m not very good at baking so I popped out to the supermarket this
morning and got a chocolate cake, its sliced up and ready on the kitchen table.
Don

t just stand
there, Cain, come in, I won

t bite!

Cain shot Julia a quizzical look. She shrugged in
return. She didn

t know what
was going on with Douglas Pedley, she

d never seen him look so jolly. And as for popping out for a cake! Why
did her clients feel the need to feed Cain? She knew he was a skinny-looking
thing, but still. They never offered her anything. She glanced down at her
tummy. Perhaps there was a reason why they never offered her anything.

Douglas led them through to the large kitchen. Julia
sniffed and said,

You

ve been cleaning in here.

Douglas shook his head and said,

I haven

t, but my new
friend has.

Julia

s heart sank.

Have you got a new cleaner? Are you getting rid of me? Is the cake to
soften the blow?

Douglas said,

The cake isn

t for you at
all. And no, I haven

t got a new
cleaner. Why would I do that?

He turned to Cain and said,

Julia keeps me up to date on all the local gossip. I don

t get out as much as I should so she lets me know what

s going on.

Julia walked closer to the kitchen table.

I don

t gossip. Tell
me who

s been
cleaning your kitchen. Have they cleaned the rest of the house too?

Douglas gave her a wide grin, his eyes seemed to
sparkle. Julia couldn

t help but smile at him, he looked years younger today, he could pass
for someone in his sixties.

Douglas clasped his hands together and declared,

Julia, I

ve got a
girlfriend! And she

s older than
me!


Oh! I wasn

t expecting that.

Julia sat down on the nearest chair.

Good for you. When you say older, how much older?


She

s eighty, just a few years older than me.

Douglas paused
as if lost in thought.

She

s beautiful.
And charming. And she makes me laugh! I haven

t laughed so much since

I lost my Val.

Julia stood up and put her hand on his arm.

I truly am pleased for you.

Douglas suddenly looked nervous.

Would you like to meet her? She

s coming round soon. I know she

d like to meet you. And Cain.

They both
looked towards Cain. He was sitting at the kitchen table and appeared to be on
his second slice of cake. He didn

t return their look as he tucked into the chocolate icing.

Julia shook her head.

Shall we make a start on the upstairs?


You can. Or
you could show Cain around outside.

Douglas gave
her a wink.

I know you
need to stock up on your supplies. Does Cain know your secret?

 
 

Chapter 2

 

Cain looked at Julia and said,

What secret?

Julia replied,

I don

t know what he

s talking about.


Ha! Don

t try that with me, Julia Blake, tell your colleague the truth.

He turned to
Cain and said,

She

s a witch! Did you know that? She goes foraging around my garden looking
for herbs and plants to make into spells and potions. I

m surprised she hasn

t turned me into a toad by now.

Julia tutted.

Don

t listen to
him, Cain, he

s having you
on.

She paused for a moment, she

d never known Douglas to joke about anything, he really was acting like
a different man.

What Douglas
is trying to say is that I collect herbs and certain plants from his garden,
with his permission of course.

Cain didn

t look convinced.

And what do you use those herbs and plants for?


Love potions!

Douglas boomed
out.

Or if she
doesn

t, she should
do. A bit of romance in your life works wonders. I feel like a new man.

Julia ignored his outburst.

I use the herbs and plants to make my cleaning products. You

d be surprised how many natural ingredients you can use.

Julia pulled
an old-looking notebook from her pocket. Cain smiled softly when he saw it.
Julia continued,

You remember
this notebook that you gave me, that belonged to your gran? Well, there are some
things that I

d like to try
out.

Douglas looked closer at the book, one eyebrow raised.

Are you sure
there aren

t any love
potions in there? When did you last go on a date?


None of your
business,

Julia said. She put the notebook back in her pocket.

Right, shall we start on the bathroom?

Douglas looked at his watch.

No, you can leave that. My lady friend will be here soon. You may as
well show Cain the garden, and the land.

Julia didn

t wait for him to offer again. She did need to stock up on her supplies.
She grabbed Cain by the arm and dragged him out of the kitchen door. He
snatched another piece of cake as he left.

Julia led him into the large garden. She waved her
hand over to the right and said,

Douglas is a keen gardener, he loves growing herbs and vegetables. He

s more than happy to share them with me. I

ve told him many times to give some to his neighbours in the new houses
at either side of him, but he refuses. He

s never forgiven the builders for tearing down the original houses and
putting these new ones up in their place. I think he blames the house owners
too.


That

s a shame,

Cain said. He pointed to the bottom of the garden.

Does that gate lead to his land?


It certainly
does. You can see the field behind the wall, and can you see those trees
further on?

Cain nodded.

You mean the forest?


I don

t know if it

s big enough
to be called a forest, but yes, that

s Douglas

land too.


Wow. Why does
he need so much land?

Julia walked over to the herb garden and looked down
at a patch of mint.

The land
belonged to his wife

s family, like
I said before. The plan was to build homes for the large family that Val

s parents were planning to have.

She picked a
mint leaf and sniffed it. She straightened up and said,

But they only had one child, just Val. And Douglas and Val never had any
children. Douglas said Val always felt guilty about that, as if it was her
fault.


Didn

t they want to adopt? Or try being foster parents?

Julia put the leaf in her pocket.

Val did start adopting, but it wasn

t children, it was cats.


Cats?

Julia nodded.

There

s a cat rescue
charity shop in town that has links to cat rescue centres, it

s run by one of Val

s friends from school. I can

t remember her name. But Val started to adopt the cats when she finally
accepted that she couldn

t have children. Not just one cat, but many.

Julia laughed.

Douglas hated
the cats but he put up with them for Val

s sake. From what he

s told me, the cats made Val happy. And look at all the land they had to
roam around. Val wouldn

t give up the land, her cats needed it.


What happened
to the cats after she died?


Douglas kept
them, until the inevitable happened. But when the last one died he went to the
cat rescue centre and got another one. Just one this time. Even though he
swears he hates cats I think he likes to keep one as it reminds him of Val.

Julia looked
from left to right.

Speaking of
which, where is Cat?

Cain snorted.

Cat? He calls his cat, Cat?


He likes to
keep things simple. I wonder if she

d wandered into the woods. I hope she

s okay, she is getting on a bit.

Hope lit up in Cain

s eyes and he casually said,

Should we have a look for her? In the forest?

Julia caught his look and smiled.

Is that an excuse for you to have a nosy about?


I

ve never been in a forest before, it looks exciting.

Julia nodded. She kept forgetting that he

d been in prison for the last twelve years. A small woodland area must
look like some sort of adventure playground to him. She said,

Yes, let

s have a look.
I

ve been in a few
times with Douglas, and hopefully, we shouldn

t get lost.

Cain clutched his hands together, his eyes shone.

Shall we take some supplies? Some water and food, something to shelter
in?

Julia shook her head and smiled.

We

ll be in and
out in thirty minutes.

Cain

s face fell.

Oh, okay.

He followed
Julia down the garden path and through the wooden gate at the bottom.

As they walked across the field his tone changed back
to excitement.

I

ve seen lots of detective shows where they find a dead body in a forest.
Sometimes hanging from a tree, sometimes hidden in the undergrowth.

Julia

s step faltered.

Just because we found one deceased person last month doesn

t mean we

re going to
find another.


Yeah, I
suppose you

re right.

Julia hoped she was right too. She crossed her fingers
as they entered the woods.

 
BOOK: Death Takes A Trip (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 5)
7.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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