The Cedar Face: DI Jewell book 3 (DI Elizabeth Jewell)

BOOK: The Cedar Face: DI Jewell book 3 (DI Elizabeth Jewell)
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The Cedar Face

By

Carole Pitt

 

 

 

 

The Cedar Face

Carole Pitt

Copyright 2010 by Carole Pitt

Smashwords Edition

 

 

 

 

This book is dedicated
to Iain Charles Pitt

1949-2013

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Amy Pitt
and Jenny blood for all their help.

 

Thank you to
Dhansolo Designs for the cover

Contents

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

Three hundred years ago
.

Nass Valley.

Northwestern British Columbia. Canada.

The Wolf Chief bent
over and looked cl
oser. His vision had become noticeably weaker
and he knew when it came to harvesting the Sockeye
he would be blind.

The piece was almost complete; one
more day should see it done. Then he would don
his regalia and call everyone to witness the ceremony. Afterwards
he would explain gently to the villagers. Tell them of
his faltering skills and the light fading from his eyes
. How, from now on he would spend his time teaching
the children. Make sure they learned the ways to pass
on to their own children and grandchildren. He would explain
why they needed more discipline and how he hoped to
persuade them from taunting the animals. It was imperative they
heeded his warnings, upsetting the balance would bring reprisal, but
not all would listen. Some who had reached the brink
of adulthood often laughed at his old ways. He understood
that every new generation had the right to question their
elders, that new ideas and progress were instrumental in maintaining
stability. What he would never accept was mans cruelty to
man and his fellow creatures.

Once the leaves started to
flourish again and the days grew warmer, the children would
be his new eyes, helping him through the darkness. Suddenly
he heard their voices; he stood up and listened, the
wind had strengthened from the north. Turning his head, he
sensed they were near the river, and from their high
-pitched shrieks, playing games. The children were free spirits and
allowed to roam. Sometimes though, he felt they had too
much freedom. His people worked hard and supervising the children
was not always possible. Parents had little time to chastise
, which meant childish unruliness often led to erratic behaviour.

Leaning
into the wind, he heard their voices echoing. Then an
intermittent cry, someone was distressed, a young girl. Straightening up
, he made his way to the river. His pace was
slow and it took a while. When he came to
the river's edge, he felt fearful. Many of the
children had waded too far and the fast moving water
was already reaching their shoulders. He shouted to them and
they looked up, one held up a salmon, others were
throwing the fish around as they would a toy. He
could see the salmon were desperate to escape, and then
an older child deliberately killed one with a wooden spike
. This game of torturing these precious fish must cease. He
had warned them before and the younger ones had given
their promise to desist. Now they had broken that promise
. He shouted again, told them to return to the riverbank
, which they did, but carried on tormenting the frightened creatures
.

On weary legs, he turned to walk away and at
that very moment, the noise came. The sound in his
ears was one he had never heard before, but he
knew what it meant. In the distance, his eyes made
out a vague, dark shape moving closer. For a brief
moment he was deceived and mistook it for a rain
cloud, but the smell rising to meet his senses told
him no rain would fall.

Then he forgot about the
children and the salmon. Before disaster struck, he must rescue
his work and find someone to take it to safety
. The old Wolf Chief gained strength in his legs and
more light into his eyes. Panic confronted him when he
came to the village, he watched people running everywhere, gathering
possessions as they headed away from the dense black cloud
and the rumbling, thunderous noise. Others seemed unsure how to
escape, running wildly in the wrong direction. He shouted to
them to stop but no one listened. Desperation hung in
the toxic air and time would not stand still to
alter the outcome. Returning to his dwelling, he retrieved the
mask. He turned it over in his hands wishing he
could add the final touches. There was so little of
his life left and he must find someone to keep
it safe.

He began to chant, hoping to attract attention
. A young man approached him and asked if he could
help. The Wolf Chief struggled to utter words of gratitude
. Instead, he handed over the mask and pointed. 'Go in
that direction and you will be safe,' he said.

'Come
with me,' the young man said pulling at the Chief
's elbow.

The old man shook his head. 'I must
stay here, this is my destiny. I must face the
river of black. You will survive, as I hope this
mask will. I leave a legacy from my culture for
future generations to show them the way.

The young man
hid the mask under his blanket and ran. The Wolf
Chief stared after him until he disappeared.

 

From Nisga'a
oral tradition

When the volcano first erupted, it was like
smoke from a burning house. No one knew how quickly
their lives were about to change. The poisonous gas drifted
ahead as the lava slid slowly down the mountainside. As
soon as the villagers smelled this gas, they began to
suffocate and their bodies grew stiff. The garound began to
tremble and shake, for nature could not restore the harmony
.

A scout came to investigate and from the top of
Gennu'axwt. He saw smoke and flames and ran to
warn the rest of the people of their fiery destiny
. Panic followed, some villagers fled up the mountain. Others canoed
to the far side of the river but the black
lava overcame them. Some did escape and from a distance
watched the lava flow over their villages. Gwaxts'agat, a
powerful supernatural being, suddenly emerged to block the lavas advance
. For days, Gwaxts'agat fought back the lava by blowing
on it with it's great nose. Finally, the lava
cooled and Gwaxts'agat retreated into the mountain where it
remains to this day.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Friday May 10th. Nine
am

'Why the hell did I buy this useless foreign
shit,' Jackie Kilmartin shouted at the RAC mechanic after he
told her the Toyota Corolla had transmission problems and he
couldn’t fix it there and then.

'Most cars are
foreign these days,' he added, slamming down the bonnet.

Jackie
looked at her watch then kicked the nearside back tyre
, forgetting her open toe sandals offered no protection. She bent
down and tried to rub away the pain. Late again
, she thought, and this time I've run out of
excuses. She'd blamed her car on the previous occasion
, even though it hadn't broken down. Twice in a
month sounded suspiciously like lying, except this time it was
the truth. Jackie didn't have a problem with lying
when life seemed out to defeat her. Recently it had
been one damn thing after the other. Pay back perhaps
, she briefly considered, for making sure Wilson didn’t get
the job.

She sensed the mechanic’s irritation and was
about to remind him about the term chivalrous. A buzzword
once used by his company's advertising campaign, aimed at
women drivers to describe a modern day knight rescuing them
from dark, dangerous roads. Glancing at his expression she realised
getting angry wouldn't solve anything. Repairing cars was his
job, not placating neurotic women.

She waved her phone at
him. ‘I suppose I'll have to ring for a
taxi. I’m already very late for an important meeting
.’

The mechanic gave her a weak smile. ‘Sorry I can
't give you a lift but I'm headed in
the opposite direction.'

'How long will it be until the
car's picked up?'

'Twenty minutes max but you needn
't wait,' he pointed to the Toyota, 'it's not
going anywhere. Remember to tuck the keys behind the sun
visor before you go. The recovery driver has all your
details.'

Jackie didn't offer any thanks. He nodded and
climbed into his van. She heard him turn on the
radio before driving away. Jackie paced up and down finding
it difficult to concentrate because of the traffic noise. Leckhampton
Road in Charlton Kings wasn't usually this busy. Jackie
guessed another accident at The Air Balloon roundabout. The renowned
bottleneck and crash black spot had resulted in a diversion
.

From the moment she'd woken up everything had irritated
her. Mornings were never her best time but lately she
’d been plagued by depression as soon as she got
out of bed. Jackie knew why, too much alcohol. She
'd developed a bad habit and couldn't stop. Now
the depression was taking hold during the day, and getting
worse.

Her first priority was to speak to Giles Beresford
, the head teacher. Keeping him sweet wouldn’t be difficult
, he’d dropped enough hints lately. Only the other day
he’d suggested a weekend away together. He'd pestered
her for weeks and although she didn't fancy him
, she knew refusing wouldn't help her career opportunities. Giles
was no ordinary Academy head. His wife was ridiculously wealthy
. She was also the Shadow Secretary of State for Education
.

Since taking charge of the art department, Jackie’s stress
levels had increased even more, as had her drinking. Occasionally
she wondered if her ambition had become a burden, one
she couldn't afford to offload. Her A-level students
faced tougher exams this coming summer due to the Government
’s overhaul of the examination boards. If results were poor
, she could expect plenty of criticism. If Giles only wanted
sex, she'd be a fool to refuse. Her drinking
problem had started as an escape from her dismal prospects
. She wondered how long it would be before the exhilaration
of her recent promotion would wear off and her depression
worsen. Giles would serve as a diversion and future ally
.

She scanned the road hoping to spot the recovery vehicle
. Phoning a taxi was pointless until it arrived. Feeling thwarted
she moved back from the edge of the pavement and
leaned against the bus shelter. There was no point getting
on the next bus either, it stopped about a mile
from the school and now her toe had started throbbing
she would have trouble walking. Jackie checked the time; she
should have arrived over an hour ago. Keith Wilson would
have her guts regardless now. He was the favourite candidate
for heading up the art department until three of her
most talented students encouraged her to apply for the post
. Their reasoning behind this unprecedented support was simple. Wilson’s
teaching method was old fashioned and they wanted a more
modern approach. Jackie realised she should have seen through their
selfish motives. The three lobbyists had monopolised her time to
the detriment of the rest of the class. Wilson, had
he taken over the job, would never have put up
with such classroom scheming.

Lost in her own misery Jackie
didn't notice a police car pull up behind her
Toyota. A thickset uniformed officer got out of the passenger
seat and walked towards her. 'Is this your vehicle?'

'Damn
,' she muttered under her breath. She stood up and managed
a smile. 'I'm not in any trouble, am I
?'

The officer smiled back. 'Only that this traffic is going
to build up and we need the road cleared, especially
near a junction.'

'It won't start. I'm waiting
for a recovery firm to collect it. Has there been
an accident?'

'Road works on the A40 are causing problems
. We're diverting some of the traffic onto the 46
.'

A rumbling sound caused both of them to turn around
. The breakdown vehicle rattled to a halt in front of
Jackie's car. 'Thank God,' she said. 'Is it okay
to leave now?'

The officer produced a notebook and wrote
in it before he answered. 'Hang on a minute.'

He
spoke to the recovery driver and within minutes, the Toyota
was winched onto the lifting grid.

'You can go now
,' the officer said.

Jackie rang the taxi firm who promised
her one soon. Again, she checked her watch, beginning to
feel the first waves of anxiety. By now, Wilson would
have gone to Giles, complaining bitterly about her not being
there to greet their foreign visitor. Twelve minutes later the
taxi turned up. The driver apologised for being late. Jackie
sank into the backseat, already wishing the day away.

Outside
the main entrance, Jackie was relieved no one was waiting
for her. Wilson would be busy teaching year seven, which
meant one of the other staff members had done the
meet and greet. The transformation from the old secondary school
to Academy status never failed to impress her. It was
double the size and boasted huge plate glass windows looking
out onto manicured lawns. She ran along the pristine white
corridors until a vision stopped her in her tracks.

He
was tall, she guessed about six foot three, and broad
shouldered. He was looking out of the window, his face
partially hidden by an authentic wolf head angled to the
side and back of his head. As she moved closer
, Jackie hoped it wouldn’t slip off and land at
her feet. The rest of the wolf pelt covered his
shoulders, the paws hanging over his chest, the rest, including
the tail hung down his back. Underneath he wore a
highly decorative fringed blanket, the distinctive colourful designs standing out
against the neutral background. Leaning against the wall next to
him was a tall wooden pole, the top carved into
a face. Jackie found the sight amazing and for once
in her life was speechless.

The man returned her stare
and held out his hands as she approached. ‘I've
been looking forward to meeting you,’ he said.

'Who let
you in?' she asked him.

'The lady working in reception
saw me hanging about outside. I waited while she phoned
your head teacher, but he wasn't answering.'

He bloody
wouldn't, Jackie thought, too busy placating Wilson.

On closer
inspection, she decided he wasn't traditionally good-looking but
his angular face, high cheekbones and dark, intelligent eyes made
him a very striking individual.

Jackie softened her voice. ‘I
'm very sorry I'm late. My car broke down
.’

‘Then we have both had transport problems. I stayed with
friends in Bath last night, and my train was late
. I only arrived ten minutes ago. I hope your students
are patient.’

Jackie laughed. ‘This subject has caught their imagination
. As it’s not part of their coursework, there’s
no pressure on them. This is more to do with
widening their appreciation of Canadian First Nation's culture and
art. Mr Martin and I run an evening class and
each term we set a different project. We asked for
ideas and one student had visited the Nass Valley in
British Columbia while on holiday and suggested we study the
Nisga’a people. She read an article in one of
our local papers about your proposed visit to four Gloucestershire
schools. She insisted we ask you to come here.'

'It
's a great Academy,' he stated.

'The original school on
this site had a bad reputation and we're doing
our best to change it. Cheltenham has some very prestigious
schools and the old Grasmere comprehensive was at the bottom
of the league tables. Having this wonderful new building and
Academy status has changed peoples' perception. We hope it can
only improve from now on. All the staff here are
very proud of that achievement. I know you will inspire
them Mr Morven. We’re honoured you agreed to come
.’

‘I’m honoured to be here and please call me
Jacob.’

Jackie almost asked him about his outfit but stopped
in time. He might be offended she hadn’t bothered
to establish his status. She cursed her laziness. All she
’d needed to do was look him up on her
computer. God knows she wasted enough time trawling the internet
. ‘We better get going. Ninety students are waiting for you
in the lecture hall.’

Morven picked up his carved stick
and followed her. They turned left into another corridor and
Jackie overheard Keith Wilson arguing with Grasmere's head teacher
, Giles Beresford.

BOOK: The Cedar Face: DI Jewell book 3 (DI Elizabeth Jewell)
10.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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