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Authors: Debbie Viggiano

Lipstick and Lies (61 page)

BOOK: Lipstick and Lies
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‘Well have a great time
in
Oxford
.

Morag walked me and Eddie to the door.
‘I know what I’d be doing ton
ight if I were in your shoes.’

‘Hmm.
I don’t think there are any
indoor equestrian centres near the hotel
.

I gave my friend a wry smile
,
before hugging her good-bye.

 

On returning to Lilac Lodge,
I transferred Eddie’s car seat from The Muck Truck to Edna’s Micra
.
Letting myself into the house
,
I
cleared up a fur ball one of the cats had sicked up
, and
then gave Eddie some lunch.
My earlier nausea had subsided
,
so I munched on toast while Eddie worked his way through a jar of Mr Heinz.
Edna and Arthur appeared soon after
wards for a bite to eat
,
and then took
Eddie off with them.

Suddenly I was alone.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d
been in the house
without somebody around.
Even the cats had naffed off to chase mice.
I found my mobile phone and gave Jamie a ring.
Hopefully his time spent with James Powell today hadn’t been compromised by Ethan’s absence.
However, upon connecting, my ca
ll went straight to voicemail.

‘Oh
,
hi darling
.

I started to leave a message
.

U
m, I hope you’re not having too many problems without Ethan being with you and, well, I’m going to get ready now.
I’m looking forward to seeing you
later
.
Love you.’

I disconnected the call and headed off for the shower.
Fifteen minutes later I
blew my hair dry,
but
decided to
do my make-up at
the hotel
.
I chucked everything required into an overnight bag
along with my mobile phone
,
and made sure my expensive evening dress
and a soft pashmina were
zipped safely into
a
protective cover.

Grabbing a coat,
I
took everything downstairs.
I lay the dress over the banister
.
Leaving
my bag and coat by the bottom stair
,
I did a final security check.
Peering into each room
,
I ensured no windows were left on the crack, that the ovens and hobs were off in the kitchen
,
and the back door was locked.
Everything was as it should be.
The house was
so quiet it was almost eerie.

Suddenly the doorbell drilled into the silence making me jump.
Oh no.
I hoped it wasn’t the Born Again
b
rigade.
I really wasn’t up for debating what would have happened had Adam and Eve not eaten the forbidden fruit.
Picking up my car keys, I went to answer the
door
.
No doubt there would be
a little apple dumpling of a lady
standing on the doorstep, holding
a bible and inviting me to find God.
But as I released the catch, the breath whooshed out of me.
For there on the doorstep
,
in all her malevolent glory, was Selina.

 

Chapter
Thirty One

 

It was probably only a nano-second that I stood, framed in my own doorway, with my mouth hanging open.
But the brevity of the moment
, for me,
stretched into a lifetime.
Several questions crashed through my brain, the most pressing being:
why wasn’t Selina in an interrogation room with Humpty and Olive
?
Selina was the first to speak.

‘Hello Cass
.’
S
he smiled
,
showing a row of even white teeth.
I was reminded of Lucifer the cat in Walt Disney’s
Cinderella
, beaming at Jaq the mouse before tormenting him.
‘You look quite
bemused
to see me.’

I re-arranged my gaping mouth into a hasty smile.
‘Selina!
Well yes, actually I’m exceedingly surprised.’
Exceedingly?
Steady Cass.
Don’t overdo it with the
astonishment
.
This wasn’t a Mr Kipling commercial.
‘Ethan
telephoned
Jamie last night to say you weren’t at all well
.
We understood Ethan wasn’t
feeling fab either.
And that
neither of you would be
attending
the ball.’

Selina rolled her eyes and made a dismissive gesture with her hands.
‘Trust my darling Ethan to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Honestly Cass, it was nothing.
One of those annoying little bugs that
lower
your equilibrium for two or three hours
, before leaving
you wondering what it was all about.
Certainly nothing a good nigh
t’s sleep couldn’t put right.’

‘G
reat,
’ I nodded
,
but my mind was whirling.
‘So Ethan
went into work this morning?’

‘Eventually.
He didn’t want poor Jamie coping with that horrendous James Powell all on his own.’
Selina rolled her eyes again.
‘Boy
,
does that
man want his pound of flesh.’

‘Yes,’ I agreed.
‘So–’

‘But never mind James Powell and banks and security and heaven knows what!’ Selina bared her teeth again
.
‘L
et’s get ourselves off to
Oxford
.
I see you haven’t put your make-up on
yet
.’

‘Well I–’

‘Ethan wants the four of us to have champagne cocktails together before heading off to the ball.
So there really isn’t a moment to lose if you need th
e luxury of time to dolly up.’

‘Oh, right.
Well I’ll just do a final sweep
of the house before
lock
ing
up.’

‘Okay.
I’ll
pop
your stuff in my car.
H
urry up.’
Selina pushed her way into the hall and picked up my overnight bag and coat.
Spotting my dress over the banister
,
she flung it carelessly over one arm.
She noticed my horrified expression.
‘Don’t worry,’ she assured
.
‘I’ll fold it flat and
put it in the boot with mine.’

Selina headed off down the driveway to her car.
I
had an urgent, overwhelming need to speak to Jamie.
I decided to try his number one more time
before leaving the house
.
Disappearing into the study, I picked up the handset on the desk and
quickly tapped
out Jamie’s number.
But once more the
voicemail kicked in.
Damn and blast
my husband for not picking up!


Hi
Jamie
.
Me again.
Look, Selina’s here.
She is apparently fit and well, but presumably you know that
,
because Ethan is now with you?
I can’t say I’m happy about this Jamie
.
I really don’t have a good vibe
,
and
–’

A shadow fell across the study door.
I looked up and blanched.
Hell’s bells.
How muc
h
had she heard?

‘Come on Cass.

Selina tapped her wristwatch.

I disconnected the call.
‘I’ll just double check the back door is locked.’
I walked into the kitchen.
Selina promptly followed me.

‘Did you
just
speak to Jamie?’

I pulled down the back door’s handle.
It
held fast.
‘No.
It was his voicemail.
Why?’


J
ust wondered.
Let’s go then.’
Selina trailed me out of the kitc
hen and back through the hall.

‘I need to put the alarm on
,’ I said. ‘I’ll
be right behind you.’

Selina said something I didn’t quite catch.
I watched her walk out the front door and towards the Mazda MX-5.
Clearly the business about her second lot of car trouble had been a pack of lies.
Either that or she frequented a garage with the quickest mechanics in history.
A chill went down my spine
,
which was nothing to do with the cold winter air filtering into the hallway.
I went to the cupboard under the stairs where the burglar alarm was housed and tapped in the security code.
Shutting the front door after me, I scampered across the drive to Selina’s car.
Moments later I was seated, most reluc
tantly, in the passenger seat.

‘Buckle up Cass,’ Selina started the engine.
‘The seatbelt is a bit stubborn.
Here, let me help you.’
She leant across the handbrake and yanked at the strap.
The belt flowed into her hands before something caused it to resist.
‘Breathe in,’ Selina instructed.
God, how embarrassing.
The wretched
thing
hardly stretched across my abdomen.
Surely I wasn’t that fat!
Selina hauled on the strap until it skimmed my tummy and then qu
ickly snapped the buckle home.

‘It’s awfully tight,’ I ventured
,
and gave it a little tug.

Selina shrugged.
‘It will
probably loosen up in a while.’

Ramming the gear into first, she shot forward so quickly the sensor on the electric gates didn’t have enough time to let us
off
the driveway.
Selina hit the brakes
so
hard I lurched forward.
The seatbelt tightened to the point where the simple act of breathing was almost a challenge.
I pressed the release button.
But nothing happened.

‘Um, the seatbel
t seems to have jammed and–’

The words died on my lips as
the gates rolled back and
Selina once again hit the accelerator
.
I found my neck whipping
backwards.
We shot along the unmade up lane, bouncing uncomfortably over the potholes.
At the end of the private road
,
the Mazda swerved out onto Lavender Common and roared off.
I clung on to the edge of my seat.
Clearly Selina was a bit of a girl racer.
But then again, anybody driving a sports car was hardly going to emulate my style of
nervous
driving.

The Mazda roared towards the M25.
As it powered along the slip road to join the motorway
,
I began to wonder what Selina was playing at.
There
was
fast and
there was,
well, faster.
And her
speed
was definitely out of my comfort zone.
I glanced at my chauffeur and felt a frisson of alarm.
She was staring through the windscreen looking strangely elated.
Her eyes flicked sideways and
snagged
on mine.

‘Are
you sitting comfortably Cass?’

‘Well actually
, no.

I tried releasing the seatbelt again but it was having none of it.
‘This belt
is really cutting into me.’

‘Good.’

‘Sorry?’

‘You heard.’
The Mazda sailed past
a lorry hogging the middle
lane.
‘Oh how I’ve waited for this moment Cass!
And at last it’s come.
I
have you right where I want
you
.’

BOOK: Lipstick and Lies
6.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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