Diamonds by Gwen Leader (Chapter Two)
The Selbright Mysteries; Book One
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, character and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Gwen Leader 2014
Gwen Leader asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. No part of this publication may be copied in any way without the express permission of the copyright owner.
Proof read and edited by Kate Pittel
Link to Chapter One
Jane and Maureen looked at the smiling young man behind the counter in Costa. ‘Gorgeous’ was their first reaction. They could see why Charlotte had fallen for him, but did Kylie realise what she was giving up? “Well and what can I get for you two beautiful ladies today?” They flashed their badges at him, “Kevin Porter?” Jane questioned.
He smirked, “So what have I done Officer? Parked on a double yellow?”
“Smart ass reply” thought Maureen. “We’d like to talk you about Charlotte Dunn, is there somewhere quiet we can go?”
He paled slightly, “Charlotte, what’s she been up to?”
“Well that rattled you my old son” mused Jane, “We’d just like to talk to you please. In private.”
He looked across at his colleague, “Pat - I’m just taking five ok?”
The young woman glared at him, “The hell you are, not when we’re this busy.”
Jane flashed her badge, “Police business, ok?”
Pat looked at Kevin, “Blimey, what have you been up to now?” He shrugged but it was obvious he was nervous.
“Nothing. Why should I have been up to anything?”
“Ok let’s go” said Maureen.
His whole attitude was defiant and arrogant; he was under no illusion but that he was good looking, muscular with a mass of black curly hair, a bit too long but nice, and chocolate brown eyes. He obviously looked after himself. He and Charlotte must have competed for attention, both being sure the opposite sex was constantly after them and theirs for the taking. “So what about Charlotte? Haven’t seen her for months.” He was slumped down in the chair with his legs stretched out in front of him and his arms folded across his chest. “Yes, arrogant little devil.” Maureen thought. “Where were you between eight and eight thirty this morning?” She asked him.
“Just answer the question.”
He shrugged, “Ok I was at home getting ready for work, I started at nine.” Jane looked at him. She didn’t like him one bit. “Anyone with you who can vouch for you?”
He smirked, “Oh yeah there was someone there alright.”
“Boy would I like to wipe that smug smirk right off your arrogant face,” thought Jane, but instead she said, “Name and contact details of this person.”
He laughed, “Oh come on you’re not serious?”
“I’m very serious, name and contact details.” Snapped Jane.
He sighed, “Ok, Leanne Smithers and she works for the council over the road in the town hall.”
“Housing, look what is all this?” he asked.
“Charlotte Dunn was found dead this morning at the fitness club, we’re just checking on everyone who knew her.” That rattled him; Maureen thought he was going to pass out.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
He swallowed, “Yeah, yeah just shock that’s all. How did she die? She was so fit - always working out, looked after herself.”
“She drowned in the Jacuzzi.”
He stared at them. “How the hell could she do that? Did she slip and go under or what?” Jane shook her head, She was going to enjoy seeing his reaction to this piece of news. “She was murdered.” That got a reaction; he jumped up out of his chair and started to drag his hand through his hair. “And you think I had something to do with it? God I haven’t seen her for months and why would I kill her anyway?”
“She dumped you and ruined your relationship with Kylie Vickers.”
He smirked again, “Oh please, that little fool, believe me I’m well rid of her - too bloody clingy by half. Actually Charlotte did me a favour, I’ve had more fun in the last few months than in all the time I was with little miss tight knickers Vickers, right old fashioned prude.” Jane and Maureen looked at him, yes he might be good looking but a real nasty character. Kylie was well rid as far as they were concerned. “Ok you can go but keep yourself available. We may want to speak to you again. Oh one more thing - does the name Yarpie mean anything to you?”
He frowned and shook his head. “Who? Never heard of him. Is he the latest boyfriend?”
“That will be all. You can go.” He sauntered out of the office.
“Nice little charmer, isn’t he?” said Maureen,
“Yes, a real sweetheart,” replied Jane.
Leanne looked at the two officers. “Kevin, yeah I was with him this morning. Is spending the night with a bloke a crime now?” Her whole demeanour was one of boredom, she had a vapid face. Maureen wondered if she actually had a brain - she certainly didn’t look like she did. Her hair hung around her face lifelessly; frankly she was a mess and they both wondered what on earth Kevin saw in her.
“Don’t get smart with me, just answer the questions,” snapped Jane. She’d had enough of this generation’s arrogance and smart replies. “So you were with him all night until eight thirty this morning, right.”
Leanne nodded, “Yeah, we left at the same time - about eight forty.”
“And he didn’t leave the house at all during that time?” Asked Maureen.
“Flat actually, and no he didn’t. When a bloke is with me they can’t think of anything else. I know how to keep them entertained.” She smirked. Both Maureen and Jane wanted to slap her smug face. God, did nobody control their kids anymore and teach them respect? “One more thing, does the name Yarpie mean anything to you?”
Leanne stared at her, “Who’s she? Another of Kevin’s conquests?”
“OK, that will be all you can go,” said Maureen.
Jane passed her hand over her eyes, “We don’t seem to be getting anywhere with that name. What the hell does it mean and who is it if it’s a person?” They were back at the station. “Sarah, have you had any success with Charlotte’s in-laws yet?” Maureen enquired. “Yes, here you go, address of his parents and his brother, no other relatives that I can find at present.”
Maureen took the list, “Ok, do you want to see them now Gov?” she asked Jane.
“No I need my lunch first. I’m starving - come on, then we’ll go and talk them.”
Jane and Maureen looked at the middle aged couple in front of them There were pictures everywhere of a soldier, obviously their dead son. Poor devils - like so many in the country they would never get over their loss. “We can’t tell you much about Charlotte’s life now Inspector. We haven’t seen her in over a year. Once Michael died she rarely came here and then just stopped completely,” said Phillip Dunn. Whilst they were clearly still relatively young, maybe mid-fifties, they looked much older, the shock of their son being killed possibly.
“I see. And how did you feel about her? Did you like her and approve of your son’s choice?” She hated doing it but it was her job and she had to get an overall picture of this woman if she was going to solve this case. The couple exchanged looks; Sally was the first to speak. “No Inspector, I’m sorry, I know you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but we didn’t like her. She was far too flighty, but Michael bless him was besotted - convinced he could tame her.” She looked across at the picture of her dead son as she spoke and tears sprang to her eyes. Jane and Maureen felt deeply sorry for her. “So she had a reputation?” Jane asked.
Phillip sighed heavily, “Yes she had a reputation. Phillip, our eldest, tried to talk some sense into him but he wouldn’t listen, kept saying she would settle down, but she even made a play for Phil while she was engaged to Michael.”
“Blimey, a right little harlot by all accounts,” thought Maureen. “How do you know this?”
“Phil came round and told us. He was appalled, his own brother’s fiancé, disgusting.”
“Yes, well you would be, wouldn’t you?” thought Jane, “So your son Phillip. How did he react to her?”
Sally answered her, “Told her in no uncertain terms he wasn’t interested. He had a girlfriend, in fact they’re getting married soon. Told her if she ever did it again he’d tell Michael.”
“And what was her reaction to that?”
Sarah pulled a face, “She laughed, told him Michael would never believe him. She was probably right too - he was so besotted, she would have caused a rift between the boys and they have always been so close.” She sniffed into her handkerchief.
“What about Phillip’s girlfriend? How did she take this?”
Phillip senior shook his head, “Phil never told her. Thought it was best. She and Charlotte didn’t like each other I’m afraid.” This didn’t surprise Jane or Maureen one bit. Hell - they didn’t like her and they’d never met her. “I see, so you can’t tell me any more?”
They both shook their heads, “I’m sorry no. We didn’t like her or approve of her but I wouldn’t wish this on the girl. It’s tragic and her sister was such a nice young woman,” said Sarah. Jane agreed. She’d liked Jackie Thorne. “Yes she is. Just one more thing - does the name Yarpie mean anything to either of you?” They looked at each other. Sally shook her head, “No, why should it?”
“No maybe not. Ok that will be all for now. If you remember anything that you think might be helpful please call me.” Jane gave them her card and they left.
Phillip Dunn was a tall dark and extremely handsome man, but unlike Kevin Porter he was modest and very pleasant. “Please sit down Inspector, Sergeant - what can I do for you?” Jane felt she could get straight to the point with him. After all, he was a busy man and he would appreciate it.” “Sir, Charlotte Dunn, your sister-in-law was found murdered this morning.”
He stared at her. “Good lord, was it a break in?”
Jane shook her head, “No sir, she was found at her fitness club.” He seemed to have trouble taking this in, and frowned. “Her fitness club, you mean The Bayview Health Club?”
He pulled himself together quickly. “I’m a member of that club also Inspector. Where was she found?”
“Odd question to ask, not how did she die but where,” thought Maureen. “In the Jacuzzi, she’d been drowned.”
Something flickered in his eyes.
“He knows something.” they both thought in unison.
“When did you last see her, sir?”
He thought a minute before answering, “Ah, let me see, oh about a month ago. We bumped into each other at the club in the coffee shop.”
Jane watched him closely, “Can you tell me what you talked about?”
He lifted his shoulders slightly, “Nothing really, we just exchanged pleasantries. The usual - hello, how are you, that sort of thing.” She nodded at him, there was definitely something but she couldn’t put her finger on it. “And how did you get on with her, did you like her?”
Phillip smiled, “No Inspector, I did not like her. She was not at all a likeable person. She used people, especially men. I’m sorry to say she was not popular at the club particularly with the ladies.”
“This seems to be the common theme here,” thought Maureen. “I see, and how did you feel about her marriage to your brother?”
He sighed, “I tried to warn him off but he was totally obsessed with her. Said he could change her, all she needed was to be cherished.” They doubted that.
“Was she faithful to him while he was away?” A flash of something akin to anger came into his eyes.
“No inspector she was not and I was appalled, her husband was fighting in a terrible war against a very dangerous enemy and she was cheating on him, couldn’t stay faithful to her husband even under those circumstances. She was not a nice character at all.” He was clearly angered by this.
Jane looked at him – well, he was nothing if not honest. “I’m afraid I have to ask sir, can you tell me where you were between eight and eight thirty this morning?”
He smiled, “As a matter of fact I was at the gym working out. I like to work out before starting work. It sets me up for the day.” Well, that puts him in the right place at the right time. “And did you see anyone, speak to anyone, go near the Jacuzzi at all?”
“Yes, I spoke to the trainer who was there, chap called Marco, Spanish chap. I spoke to a couple of people in the changing room - don’t know their names I’m afraid - but I’ve seen them around, and yes, I went to the steam room and used the Jacuzzi.”
Jane and Maureen looked at him, “Did you see the victim at all, speak to her?”
Phillip shook his head. “No I didn’t it was quite empty when I was there, oh no I tell a lie, there was someone. No idea who it was, funny actually.”
“Oh why funny?” asked Jane with interest.
“Well they were in the pool area and they had a track suit on with a hood, I thought that was odd. Never seen anyone in a track suit in that area before and certainly not with a hood.”
Jane and Maureen were immediately alert. “Can you describe this person. Was it a man or a woman?”
“Well, I didn’t speak to them because as soon as they saw me whoever it was put their hood up and went out through the glass doors to the patio. Describe them, let me see – tall, five ten, five eleven, dark hair from what I could see, short curly, didn’t seem to suit them though somehow. I remember thinking it looked odd - not sure why I thought that. Reminded me of someone I know but the hair wasn’t right.”
They both looked at him intently. “I see, and the track suit. What colour was it?”
“Red or possibly more orange. I only really got a glimpse as they just disappeared when I came in.”
“Was it a member of staff or a member of the gym?”
He shook his head, “Sorry can’t help you there as I say I only got a glimpse.”
“You say they looked familiar, in what way?”
He frowned again. “Not sure, but I had the distinct feeling I knew them.”
“Well was it the way they walked, or stood? Anything would be helpful sir, as I’m sure you know.”
“Yes I know - I’m sorry Inspector I really am, but I can’t be more helpful, it was just a feeling.”
“Well thank you sir. You’ve been very helpful. If you think of anything else please call me.” “Certainly.”
As they headed towards the door she turned, “One more thing sir - does the name Yarpie mean anything to you at all?”
He frowned, “Yarpie? No,sorry, should it?”
She shook her head and smiled again. “No maybe not. You never heard the victim call anyone Yarpie, she never mentioned it in conversation at all?”
He shook his head again, “No I never heard that name before.”
“OK well thank you again.” They shook hands and then left. After they had gone he lifted the phone and dialled. “Hello,” said the voice.
“Just thought I’d let you know the police have just been here. Apparently Charlotte Dunn was found murdered in the Jacuzzi this morning.” Silence, “Did you hear me?” Phillip asked. “Yes, I heard you but what’s that got to do with me?”
“They asked if I knew the name Yarpie, I didn’t tell them it’s not a name, but my advice is if you know anything about this you’d be advised to go to them before they come to you.” “What makes you think I know anything about it?”
“Because like I said they asked about Yarpie, need I say more?”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Nothing, absolutely nothing. I have no wish to get involved, I’m just warning you that’s all.” “Quite, well like I said I know nothing about it. It’s just coincidence.”
“Ok, I believe you.” He hung up and sat staring at the phone; he had no wish to be drawn into whatever this was about.
“Do you believe him, gov?” Maureen and Jane were outside the building. Jane was looking thoughtful. “Do you?”
Maureen shook her head. “No not really, did you notice the look on his face when you mentioned Yarpie, he definitely knows something. That name meant something to him, I’d bet on it.”
“Yes, that’s what I thought, he looked uncomfortable.”
“So where do we go from here?” Maureen asked her senior.
“I haven’t the faintest idea. We seem to have hit a dead end. Let’s get back to the station and see if Churchill’s come up with anything.”
“Only five people used the gym at the time we’re interested in, gov. I have the list here. No one used the coffee shop other than two on the list and one elderly couple; regulars just pop in for coffee occasionally.”
Jane took the list from her. “Right Phipps come on.”
Maureen looked up, “Now gov, what about my tea break?”
Jane shook her head, “Your tea break, what about your flaming tea break? In case you aren’t aware Phipps, we are in the middle of a bloody murder inquiry and you want a tea break.” Sarah giggled, “Well, just a quick one then, I haven’t had a drink since lunch time and I’m parched.”
Jane raised her eyes to the ceiling, “Blimey oh riley Phipps - you’ll be the death of me, I swear to God you will. Go get two takeaway teas from the canteen, you’ve got two minutes.” Maureen fled from the room before she could change her mind, Sarah looked at the inspector and laughed, “And what are you finding so funny Churchill?”
“Sorry gov, but the Sarge - she does like her tea.” Sarah Churchill had a round chubby baby face that belied her twenty seven years. She could easily pass for younger and had indeed been refused alcohol in bars on the grounds of her youthful looks. Her hair was short and blonde and she was almost as round as she was tall. At just five foot one she looked larger than she actually was, she seemed to be forever fighting a losing battle with her weight, and she had the most infectious laugh Jane had ever heard.
Jane laughed, “Yes I know, honestly I swear the world could end and she’d be saying what about my tea break gov?” They were both still laughing when Maureen came back.
“What’s so funny?” she asked them.
“Nothing, just come on,” said Jane.
Jack Cummings looked at the officers. Pretty he thought as he looked at Maureen, the other one’s not bad either. Aloud he said, “So officers what can I do for you?” He was quite good looking and obviously took care of himself; he had a nice smile too, thought Jane. “I understand you are a member of the Bayview Health Club and you were there between eight and eight thirty this morning, can you confirm that, sir?”
He smiled at her, “Well you seem remarkably informed Inspector, but yes, that’s correct, I am a member and yes I was there at the time you said.”
“And can you tell me if you saw or spoke to anyone there?”
“Well, there was a chap in the changing room, don’t know his name but I’ve seen him around, just passed the time, you know good morning that sort of thing. Then let me see, Marco the trainer, had a chat with him.”
“What did you discuss with Marco?”
“Football, Inspector, we both like our football.” Jane and Maureen grimaced. They couldn’t stand football, a complete waste of time as far as they were concerned. “Did you go to the sauna or Jacuzzi area at all?” Maureen asked.
“No I was running late. I chatted too long with Marco and had to run or I would have been late for a meeting. Can I ask what this is all about?”
“A woman was found murdered in the Jacuzzi this morning.”
Jack whistled, “Good lord, who was it? Did she drown or what?” Seems honest and open enough, they thought. “The woman in question was a Mrs Charlotte Dunn and yes, she was drowned.”
He stared at them he obviously knew who they meant. “Good God, that’s terrible. Have you any idea as to who could have done it?”
“Not yet, that’s why we’re interviewing everyone who was there at the time.”
“I see, well I can’t help you Inspector. I was at the gym and worked out, then I had a shower and came into the office. That’s it I’m afraid - oh no, I got a take away coffee from the coffee shop, but never went near the Jacuzzi.”
“Well, thank you for your time sir. Oh just one more thing, does the name Yarpie mean anything to you at all?”
Jack frowned, “Yarpie, no I’m afraid not. Sounds foreign to me, is it?”
“I don’t know sir, but we’ll find out.”
“What can I do for you Inspector?” asked Pauline Butler as she motioned to the two officers to sit down. “I understand you are a member of the Bayview Health Club madam.” Pauline nodded assent, “Yes I am, is there a problem?”
Jane smiled at her, she liked what she saw with this woman - striking if not beautiful. Fairly tall at five foot five with shoulder length brown hair, grey eyes and a nice smile, Jane estimated her age as late thirties, early forties, “I believe you were there at between eight and eight thirty this morning, is that right?”
Again Pauline nodded, “Yes again Inspector. I like to go at least four times a week and early morning seems the best time, quieter.”
“I see, did you speak to anyone at all while you were there?”
“Well, let me think. I said good morning to the trainer, don’t know his name, had a chat with the young girl in the coffee shop. I always stop for a coffee afterwards and read the paper. Sometimes I even pinch the crossword - that’s not a crime is it?”
Jane smiled, “No madam that’s not a crime.” Pauline smiled back, “Did you use the sauna, steam room, or Jacuzzi at all?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact I did.” Jane and Maureen watched closely for her reaction.
“And did you see anyone there?” She raised her eyebrows slightly and shook her head.
“No I didn’t. It was funny though, because I had the distinct feeling there was someone there, weird. I remember feeling unnerved by it so didn’t stay long.” Maureen’s head shot up. She had been writing in her notebook but now she looked straight at Pauline, “I see, and where exactly was this person would you say?”
Pauline frowned in recollection, “Well, like I said I didn’t actually see anyone, but I had the feeling I was being watched from the pool area,” She shuddered. “It was quite unnerving as I say, then just as I was leaving a man came in. I’ve seen him around, don't know his name. I don’t think he saw me though - he was coming out of the men’s changing room as I was going into the ladies, so he was visible to me but I wasn’t visible to him. It’s the way it’s built, there’s a wall.” She stopped, “Sorry I’m babbling, so what’s this all about Inspector, may I ask?”
Jane looked at her. “A woman was found murdered in the Jacuzzi just after nine this morning. We estimate time of death at between eight and eight thirty.”
Pauline shuddered again and went white. “Dear God in heaven so I would have been in the shower. My God it could have been me.” She was visibly shaken.
“Can I get you a glass of water or anything?” asked Maureen.
“Oh yes, thank you.” Maureen left the office and came back with a glass of water. Pauline sipped at it thankfully. “Can I ask who it was? Maybe I know her?”
“Mrs Charlotte Dunn.”
“Good lord – well, I hate to say this Inspector, but I’m not surprised. I know one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but frankly she wasn’t liked very much. She upset too many women over their men I’m afraid, but nevertheless no one deserves to be murdered.”
“So you knew her, did you know her well?”
Pauline shook her head, “No, not well. I knew of her and had seen her around so I knew who she was when I saw her, but we never spoke, we didn’t move in the same circles.”
“I see. Did she ever make advances to the man in your life, Ms Butler?”
Pauline smiled and shook her head once again, “No Inspector. She wouldn’t be interested in my partner, I can assure you.” Jane and Maureen looked at her.
“Oh why is that?” asked Maureen.
Pauline looked straight at her. “I’m gay - my partner is also female, and so no, Mrs Dunn would not be interested.”
Maureen gulped, “Crikey, walked right into that one.”
Jane forced a smile to her lips, “I see. Well, we can rule you out then,” she joked. Pauline smiled. “Just one more thing does the name Yarpie mean anything to you at all.”
Pauline frowned, “Yarpie, no I can’t say it does why, is it important?”
“I don’t know yet, but it was written in Mrs Dunn’s diary for today.” Jane said.
“Maybe someone she had an appointment with - her work or hairdresser or something like that.” suggested Pauline.
“Yes maybe,” smiled Jane.
“Well, two down three to go,” said Jane as they left the school.
“Quite young to be a head teacher don’t you think?” said Maureen as they walked across the playground to their car. “Not really, maybe she’s just very good at her job.”
“Mmm I guess so, still at least we can rule her out, after all, if she’s gay then as she said Charlotte wouldn’t be interested.” Jane agreed.
* Chapter Three coming shortly!
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