The Cedar Face: DI Jewell book 3 (DI Elizabeth Jewell) (6 page)

BOOK: The Cedar Face: DI Jewell book 3 (DI Elizabeth Jewell)
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Elizabeth hauled herself off the seat and contemplated her next problem. The main road was lit up like a Christmas tree. More media vehicles had squeezed into the pickup bays beyond the school gates. How would she get through without having the press on her back? Many of the local hacks knew her well. They relied on her for a few sound bites but tonight there was no chance. She'd given Patterson her big torch, but she kept a small one in her bag.

'Only one way,' she muttered as she turned on the powerful LED beam. Then she made her way across the playing fields towards Cresswell woods.

 

 

 

CHAPTER NINE

Relieved to be out of the woods Elizabeth stood still until her breathing returned to normal. Her mad idea had taken its toll. She'd expected to see the odd dog walker about, but she'd found herself alone in the dark forbidding woods as dusk had quickly turned to total darkness followed by a short spell of thunder and lightning. Now she was drenched and scared and wondering who to phone for a lift home.

Rather than have to answer questions about where she had been, Elizabeth decided to walk the half mile to Leckhampton High Street where she could pick up a few items from the supermarket. Burger King was open and the thought of food cheered her up. She hurried along on aching feet, went straight into Burger King, ordered, and sat by the window.

After the earlier confrontation with Yeats, what she really needed was a stiff drink and pleasant company, but that wasn't going to happen tonight. Outside, the rain was pelting down, she stood under a canopy and phoned Patterson.

'Where are you?' she asked.

'I had to come back to the warehouse, not enough crime scene guys turned up, and the brothers Grimm hired a shit hot solicitor. He wants the search completed by midnight and this place locked up. As he pointed out, there's thousands of pounds worth of legitimate products in the warehouse. If it's nicked he's going to hold us responsible. The irony of it is we've found more stuff. One of the crime techs literally tripped over a dozen boxes containing branding irons and violet wands. I reckon this little lot hasn't come through customs. I can't wrap my head around all this stuff Liz, it's too bizarre.'

Elizabeth concentrated. 'I've heard of the violet wand things. Don't they produce electric currents? I agree with you. I'm just as bewildered as you are. Why do people need to inflict intense pain in order to make sex better?'

Patterson didn't want to discuss sexual gratification with his superior officer. He heard the strain in her voice and changed the subject quickly. 'I got one hell of a shock when I heard about Keith Wilson. I met him once at a school football match. A few people thought he was a bit weird, but he seemed an okay bloke to me. Even though he was an art teacher, he took a keen interest in sports. Anyway, you sound stressed.'

'I'm depressed and need a lift. Can you pick me up?'

Patterson's surroundings were dim, dark, dirty and claustrophobic. A Scene of Crime Officer stood opposite painstakingly sifting through large hessian bags full of polystyrene chips. 'Hang on a sec,' he shouted over to the crime scene technician. 'How much longer do you need me?'

'We've got another bloke coming in shortly. If I was you I'd bugger off while you have the chance.'

Elizabeth heard the reply and felt better.

Patterson got back. 'Tell me where.'

'Outside Morrisons, pull into the side street. I'm going in to buy wine. Do you fancy a drink?'

'Are you sure you want company?'

'I'll take that as a yes then.'

Patterson went straight to the men's room. He didn't have time to go back to his apartment to tidy himself up. The toilets were squalid, the washbasins black with grime. He grabbed a handful of paper towels and soaked them under the cold tap. It would have to do, he thought, rubbing his blond hair with the makeshift facecloth. While dusting off his jeans with the soggy mess he looked back to the Valentine's night party when everything seemed to change. If he'd paid more attention to Katie Gardiner, she might not have gotten involved with Eldridge and since that relationship ended badly she'd barely acknowledged him. If he was honest he still fancied her, but the atmosphere at Park Road had gone downhill since Daly's unexpected departure. There was an air of mistrust, and the many once solid friendships had fractured slightly. Liz wasn't the same since Yeats took over. He'd noticed her lack of energy and general pessimism. At first, he wondered if she was pregnant, he knew he was looking for a reason to understand her behaviour but asking was out of the question because the subject would involve bringing up Calbrain.

He'd taken Hannah, Calbrain's secretary, out a few times, then one of her former boyfriends returned from his world travels and Patterson had to bow out gracefully.

Driving to Leckhampton, he wished he knew more about early pregnancy. He pulled up outside Morrisons and saw her coming out with a couple of carrier bags. By the time they reached her house the rain had stopped and the ground had dried up.

Elizabeth poured two glasses of red. 'In the eyes,' she said.

Patterson checked out the kitchen. 'Where's that huge cat?'

'Why can't you ever remember his name? I've reminded you often enough.'

'I can't bring myself to say it. Bagpuss is a bloody stupid name. Why didn't you call the beast something more sophisticated? Like Horatio.'

Elizabeth frowned. 'No one criticises my cat. Sit down and listen. Yeats asked me to pass on a message. Not only are you off the case, you're going back to your favourite desk to sort out our horrendous backlog of crimes. He wants us apart, he thinks that way we won't challenge him.'

Patterson didn't react the way she would have expected. Two months of disruption at Park Road had pointed the way to change. Yeats had arrived with an agenda, one he wasn't afraid to implement. At least now, they knew where they stood. He emptied the glass in two gulps.

'He's a bastard and we need to do something about it.'

Patterson refilled his glass. 'I suppose it will be against all the rules.'

'We do background checks on plenty of other people. Yeats isn't royalty or the Prime Minister so as far as I'm concerned he's fair game. Find out everything you can about him. Inside that stiff and uncompromising excuse for a human being are secrets. I want you to find them. You spent plenty of time probing into that doctor, what was he called again?'

'Ursini was a suspect. Yeats is a senior police officer; imagine what will happen to me if he finds out.'

'Forget about him finding out. He's so up his own backside he won't notice. He thinks we're terrified of him and I intend to encourage that for as long as it suits me.'

Patterson leaned his head against the wall. Liz's investigative methods usually got her into trouble. Even though he voiced his disapproval, she could be very persuasive. Experience had taught him that for all her methods were unconventional, she got results. As his future was on the line anyway, he supposed he had nothing to lose. 'So I’m done with the Faraday case?'

'Not until I finish the paperwork for the CPS.' Elizabeth flicked a switch and pushed open the French doors into the garden. 'Let's forget work for a while. Come and see my garden lights. If they still work okay, you'll be able to see what I've done. Bring the wine with you.'

Patterson followed her onto the patio and sat down. 'I thought you'd hired a gardener, so why wouldn't they work?'

Elizabeth flicked a switch by the door. 'I did, but gardeners don't do electrics and I didn't want all solar lights because they always seem to need new batteries. I asked an electrician friend and he's done a great job. What you think?'

Stainless steel lamps lit up most of the garden. All along the back fence, she'd festooned the shrubs with garlands of smaller solar lights. Patterson thought they looked like Christmas trees, except there was no tinsel.

'A bit out of character, I thought you preferred minimalist surroundings. So what's prompted all this?'

'Simple, I copied Mum and Dad's ideas. If you think this is over the top, their garden is ten times worse.'

Patterson refilled the glasses. The wine helped him view his situation with less concern, and if Liz opened another bottle, which no doubt she would, tomorrow morning's hangover would take precedence over everything else.

'So now you're a keen gardener?'

'I need a hobby. I don't see my girlfriends very often since they had kids.'

Patterson tried comforting words, knowing how she felt about children. 'I bet they've put loads of weight on and can only squeeze into those hideous polyester tracksuits.'

'That comment is bordering on discrimination Sergeant. Don't let me hear you be offensive towards new mothers again.'

Patterson emptied the last dregs from the bottle. Elizabeth twirled her glass gazing into the bottom. He knew he would never understand women, at times Liz was a total enigma to him. They had always worked well together and the prospect of their partnership ending upset him. What happened last year had brought them closer. 'Sorry boss.'

She looked up and smiled. 'Yeats won't stay, I promise you.'

'If that's the case, we'd better celebrate. It's Friday night so we can start another bottle?'

Elizabeth Jewell's smile lit up her face. 'Sod work and sod Yeats,' she said and went back into the kitchen for another bottle.

 

 

 

CHAPTER TEN

Saturday May 11th

Jade Harper didn
't want to get out of bed. She'd arrived
home at three in the morning and fallen asleep in
her clothes and five-inch stiletto heels. Struggling to sit
up she squinted through swollen eyelids and made out the
time, it was almost midday.

Along with six other friends
and acquaintances, Jade had gone to the Alcaidesa nightclub in
the centre of Cheltenham with one intention, to get blind
drunk. By midnight, she'd lost count of the number
of tequila shots she'd downed, so when Duncan Mortimer
suggested they go for a walk Jade had gone willingly
. Ten minutes later, she found herself in a narrow alleyway
engaging in frenetic sex. Thinking about her stupidity and any
repercussions from it had brought on a panic attack. Even
by her standards, the hangover was one of the worst
she'd ever experienced in her eighteen years. Added to
that, her body ached all over from the previous night
's gymnastics.

She eased herself across the bed, rummaged in
a cabinet drawer until she found a strip of painkillers
. She swallowed three, staggered to the bedroom door and listened
until she was sure her parents and brother had left
the house.

Negotiating the stairs proved difficult as she'd
forgotten to remove her shoes. Twice she had to sit
down to stop herself falling. When she reached the hall
she made straight for her father's office. Jade unlocked
the drinks cabinet, removed a bottle of vodka and filled
a crystal tumbler to the brim. She drank half and
immediately replenished the glass. Feeling marginally better, she wandered into
the garden and slumped onto a padded recliner. The sky
was a cloudless blue and the noon temperature had reached
twenty-two degrees.

Jade closed her sore eyes as her
headache began to ease. She turned onto her side, shaded
her eyes with her hand and tried to think clearly
. Yesterday had been a nightmare, which was why she had
needed the alcoholic oblivion. Now the police were at the
Academy so it wouldn't be long before they came
knocking on her door. The prospect of losing her university
place didn't bear thinking about. On top of that
, if her parents discovered half of what she'd done
they would probably throw her out onto the street. She
gazed back at the eighteenth century house set in an
acre of garden and imagined living in a disgusting bedsit
on the edge of town.

The kitchen phone started its
annoying ringtone. Swigging the last of the vodka, she stumbled
across the grass and reached it just before the answer
machine kicked in.

'Morning gorgeous,' Duncan Mortimer said.

'What the
hell do you want? I've got a blistering hangover
so piss off.'

'As it's going to be a
hot day, I thought we could find a secluded spot
and carry on where we left off.'

Jade didn't
want to antagonise him, nor did she want to encourage
him. Too many friends had deserted her over the last
few months. As her popularity dwindled, more had followed suit
and hanging on to the last of her supporters was
proving difficult.

She switched to her baby voice, as her
father called it. 'Seriously I feel yuk. Why don't
we leave it until tomorrow? I'll call you in
the morning.'

'Okay babe. Make sure you do. Jed took
some explicit shots of us on his phone. You wouldn
't want your dad to see them.'

Jade was horrified
. Now she was in even deeper trouble. The culture of
videoing or photographing friends indulging in sex was common, but
naïvely she'd never thought it would happen to her
.

'Don't threaten me Duncan or you'll regret it
. Remember my father is well connected.'

'It depends on what
you call connected,' he laughed. 'Rumours suggest your daddy mingles
with unsavoury types. Although I guess he might have a
few friends in high places. I've seen him in
the Queens Hotel drinking with a cop. That's probably
how he stays out of jail.'

Jade desperately wanted to
end the conversation. 'All right, pick me up tonight about
seven and make sure you bring a bottle with you
.'

Before going upstairs, she filled up the glass again and
changed into a black bikini. If she had to lie
down she may as well improve her tan. Stretched out
under the hot sun Jade wondered why she'd chosen
to study at Grasmere Academy. Her parents had insisted she
enroll at Cheltenham Ladies College. Even at eleven years old
Jade had showed a rebellious streak. She'd attended a
state primary school where her popularity began. When the time
came to move to secondary education, all of her close
friends chose Grasmere. The last thing she wanted was to
spend seven years with girls who were richer and more
beautiful. At Grasmere she would stand out. Her father had
warned her that one day she would bitterly regret her
decision. If only she'd listened to him. She closed
her eyes and tried to make sense of why things
seemed to be going terribly wrong, but facing up to
reality bored her and she dozed off.

Half an hour
later, the sound of a car door banging disturbed her
. Jade opened her eyes to see her mother rushing across
the lawn. 'Go and put some clothes on right now
. There's a youngish man at the door asking to
see you.'

Jade felt the panic again. Duncan must have
come over to cause trouble. He was a rotten bastard
and she vowed for the umpteenth time to stop seeing
him. The trouble was he excited her, unlike the other
two guys she was sleeping with. 'I'm not feeling
too good, tell whoever it is to go away.'

Christine
Harper grabbed her daughter's arm and yanked her to
her feet. 'You're not ill. How many times have
I warned you about binge drinking? One of these days
you'll end up in hospital, or worse. You're
nothing better than a nymphomaniac Jade Harper. No wonder you
have no girlfriends left.'

Jade turned on the tears, which
was hardly difficult considering her state of mind. 'Stop it
Mummy or I'll end up having one of my
panic attacks.'

'Stay there and I'll send him over
,' her mother capitulated. 'Why waste my breath on a common
slut and why should one extra bloke seeing you half
naked matter?'

'Who is it anyway?' Jade asked and got
to her feet but it was too late, her Mother
was beckoning to a tall redheaded bloke who was walking
towards her. She wished she wasn't wearing the bikini
or had brought a towel to cover up.

'He wasn
't smiling as he approached. 'You're Jade Harper?' He
asked.

She nodded, and sat back down.

'I'm DC
Eldridge from Park Road police station. I believe you attend
Grasmere Academy.'

Jade nodded again, and wondered why she couldn
't speak.

'I need to question you about yesterday afternoon
. I'm assigned to the investigation into the murder of
Keith Wilson.'

BOOK: The Cedar Face: DI Jewell book 3 (DI Elizabeth Jewell)
13.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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