Book cover for Diamonds By Gwen LeaderThe Selbright Mysteries; Book One

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters 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.

Proofread and edited by Kate Pittel

Link to Chapter Two

Chapter Three

“Hi sweetheart, how was your day?” Jerry Thompson kissed his wife as he pulled at his tie. “God awful day, I swear one of these days I shall tell old man Peters what he can do with his bloody job. So what have you been up to today? Anything exciting?” Suddenly he looked at his wife. She just sat there nursing a cup of tea – she looked awful. “Den, what’s up are you sick?”

“Charlotte Dunn’s dead.” She answered without any emotion, he stared at her.

“Dead, what are talking about, when, how?”

“This morning. Drowned in the Jacuzzi.” He gulped and passed his hand across his eyes. “Drowned in the Jacuzzi, what, at the club?” Denise looked at him for the first time since he’d walked through the door. “Of course at the club where else would it be?”

“Who told you, how do you know?”

She shook her head, “No one.” He sighed, it had been a long tiring day he didn’t need this.  “Then how do you know?”

“Because I bloody well saw her that’s how I know.” She shouted.  Jerry took a deep breath and sat down. “Ok, start at the beginning tell me everything.”

She gulped back tears. “I went to the club this morning early, I fancied a good sauna and a Jacuzzi. My back’s been playing up again and I thought it might help. I went into the Jacuzzi area and that’s when I saw her, she was just lying in there, her hair floating around her head and her eyes were open. God, it was awful.” She put her head in her hands and started to cry. Jerry put his arms around her and held her, “It’s ok, so what happened, what did the police say, I assume you did call the police?” She shook her head.

“What do you mean no? What did you do, why didn’t you call them?”

“I panicked; I just ran out of there and came home.”

He stared in disbelief at her. “Good lord, did anyone see you?”

She shook her head again, “No there wasn’t anyone around, at least I didn’t see anyone. There was someone in the shower but I was gone before she came out.”

“Oh God, why didn’t you report it?”

“What after last week? They would have thought I’d done it.” He closed his eyes, oh hell. “That’s ridiculous – you wouldn’t hurt a fly, everyone knows that. Yes, you got angry but you wouldn’t really have hurt her.”

She looked at him with something akin to sympathy. “I threatened to kill her, Jerry, and now a few days later she’s dead.”

“But it could have been an accident.”

She sighed heavily, “In the Jacuzzi, don’t be stupid. You don’t drown in a Jacuzzi, not unless someone holds you under.”

“But she could have been taken ill, fainted, fell, anything.”

She shook her head vigorously. “Her eyes were open and she just stared at me. Oh god, it was horrible! I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind all day.” She started to cry again.

“Ok, what you need is a stiff drink, and frankly so do I.” He poured them both a large glass of wine and they sat sipping them.

After a while, he said, “Look, there were witnesses to the row you had last week. I think it better we go to the police and tell them before someone else does and gets it twisted.” She shook her head in terror, “No, they’ll think I did it. I can’t Jerry, please.”

He spoke softly to her as if to a child while brushing the hair from her face. “Sweetheart, nobody in their right mind is going to think you did it, but trust me it’s better, to be honest with them. I’ll be there – I won’t let them think you did it, I promise.”

“But the row.”

He stroked her hair, “Never mind the row. People have rows every day and threaten to kill other people but they don’t do it, and anyway you’ll feel better once you’ve spoken to them, otherwise, you’ll be on tenterhooks all the time worrying that they’ll find out.” After some time and a few more sips of wine she agreed.

Jane and Maureen looked at the young woman in front of them. She looked like a scared rabbit and she was shaking violently. “Would you like some tea or coffee?” Maureen asked. She shook her head; her husband sat holding her hand. “My wife has something to tell you about Charlotte Dunn’s death.”

Jane looked at her, “At last a breakthrough,” she thought. “Ok, take your time and just tell us what you know.” Denise gulped and wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. There was only one word to describe her – mousy – she had mousy brown hair and was the sort of person you would walk past in the street and not even notice. Her husband, on the other hand, you would notice – tall, blond with the most piercing blue eyes but he obviously adored her by the way he kept looking at her and the closeness of their chairs. “I saw her, in the Jacuzzi, she was dead.”

Maureen and Jane exchanged glances, “When did you see her?” asked Maureen.

“This morning I went to the club to the sauna and have a Jacuzzi. It’s for my back.”

“Your back?” Jane asked.

“Yes, I have a back problem and the sauna and Jacuzzi help in-between visits to my chiropractor; it’s like having a massage.”

“I see, so what happened?” Denise swallowed back the tears threatening to engulf her again. “Well I went into the Jacuzzi area and there she was, in the water just lying there. Her eyes were open and she just looked at me, but I knew she was dead.” She gulped and started to cry again. Her husband put his arm around her shoulders.

And did you see anyone else?”

She shook her head. “No, no one, I was just so scared I ran out and came home.” Jane smiled at her trying to put her at her ease.  “I see, and what time was this?”

“A little after eight twenty. I remember because I glanced at the clock.” Jane looked at her – the poor kid must have had a terrible shock. She was obviously the nervous type. “Ok, is there anything else you can tell me?” Denise shook her head. “Ok, I’ll have this typed up and you can sign it then you can go, but we may want to speak to you again so let me know if you’re going away.”

Jerry grimaced at her. Chance would be a fine thing, but instead, he said. “We’re not going away at present, but there is one more thing you should know and I think you should hear it from us rather than the gossips.”

Jane looked at him, “Oh God, he had an affair with her,” thought Jane. Aloud she said, “Yes go on.”

“Denise and Charlotte had a row last week, and in the heat of the argument Denise threatened to kill her.” Jane and Maureen looked at the young woman who was sobbing into her husband’s shoulder. “I see, so how did this row start and what was it about?”

“Charlotte had been coming onto me, she didn’t really want me, I knew that, but every man was a conquest although once she got them she didn’t want them. I ignored her but she was persistent to the point where I had stopped going to the club; she was annoying and frankly, I felt embarrassed. anyway Denise had a bad day with her back last Tuesday and she flipped and told Charlotte to stay away and if she came near me again she’d kill her.”

“Were there any witnesses to this row?” asked Maureen.

“Yes, unfortunately.”

“I didn’t mean it,” sobbed Denise, “I was in pain and she annoyed me, it’s just something you say isn’t it? I wouldn’t really have killed her.” She started to sob again.

“Ok, well as I said we may want to speak to you again but in the meantime, you can go once you’ve signed your statement.

“Think she did it, gov?” Asked Maureen as she and Jane watched the young couple walk out to their car. Jane shook her head, “No I don’t think so, she’s not a murderer – I think she was in pain and just flew. No real harm in her she doesn’t have what it takes.”

“It narrows the time down though,” said Maureen.

“Yes, get onto Phillip Dun and Pauline Butler. Find out what time they were in the Jacuzzi.”

Maureen put the phone down and looked across the desk at her boss. “Ok, Phillip Dunn was there at seven forty-five he left at just after eight and Pauline Butler was there at seven-thirty and left at seven forty-five. She was just leaving as Dunn came in.”

Jane looked at her, “Seven-thirty, what time do they open for heaven’s sake?”

“Six-thirty according to the manager.”

Jane rolled her eyes, “And people work out at that unseemly hour? It’s all I can do to get out of bed.”

Maureen smiled “Me too, I don’t wake up properly until the tea break.” Jane looked at her – that girl and her flaming tea breaks. “Well, it certainly narrows it down, so she was killed between eight and eight twenty. Ok, let’s go and track down the others.”

Fred Wilson looked at the officers, “So what can I do for you, Inspector?”

“Far too old,” thought Jane and Maureen at the same time, but now they were here they had to go through the motions. “I understand you are a member of the Bayview Health Club, sir.” “Yes, my wife and I are both members, why?”

“You were there at between eight and eight-thirty this morning I understand.”

“Yes that’s right; we popped in for a coffee, we usually pop in for one.”

“I see, did either you or your wife use the Jacuzzi this morning?”

Fred shook his head, “No, just coffee. We’re early risers so often go for an early coffee – it’s nice and peaceful at that time of the day. Sometimes we sauna or use the Jacuzzi but not today.”

“I see, and did you see anyone at all?”

“Yes, there was a young woman there – she sat and read the papers, had a coffee and left, no idea who she was.”

“Pauline Butler,” thought Maureen. “I see sir, no one else?”

“No. What is all this inspector?”

“I’m afraid a young woman was murdered in the Jacuzzi this morning and we’re interviewing everyone who was there.” Fred gasped and his wife paled and put her hand up to her mouth. “Good heavens, that’s terrible.”

“Yes, well I won’t keep you any further. If you think of anything please call me. Here’s my card.”

Jane and Maureen left. “Well, we can rule them out for a start. They wouldn’t have the strength and anyway can’t imagine that he was Charlotte’s type.”

“No absolutely not,” agreed Maureen.

Mike Griffiths surveyed the two officers and like Jack Cummings previously, thought, “Mmm, not bad.” Aloud he said, “Yes, I was at the club this morning, is there a problem?”

“Did you use the Jacuzzi at all?”

“No, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. This morning I just had a workout.”

“I see, and did you see anyone at all? Speak to anyone?”

“Not really – just the usual you know, good morning, that sort of thing.”

“Do you know Mrs Charlotte Dunn?”

Mike paled, “God what had she been saying?” “Yes, I know her. Why, what’s she done now?” Jane looked at him, “He had an affair with her, I’d bet my life on it,” she thought.

Maureen was the first to speak; she didn’t like him – he gave her the creeps the way he looked at them. “She was murdered in the Jacuzzi this morning.” If it was at all possible, he went even paler. He got up and poured himself a whisky and drank it in one gulp. He held the bottle up to them but they both shook their heads. He poured another for himself and sat down again.

“Was she a close friend sir?”

“No, but I knew her. Just a shock that’s all, after all, you don’t expect people to be killed at a health club. Died in the Jacuzzi you say.”

“Yes sir, she was drowned.”

“God, it’s enough to put you off using the thing. Won’t ever be able to feel the same about going in there now.”

“No well, so you didn’t see anyone?”

“Well, only in the gym. I didn’t see anyone in the changing room.”

“I see, just one more thing, do you know what Yarpie means?” He stared at her and swallowed. “Yes, you know alright,” thought Jane.

He shook his head. “No sorry never heard of it.”

“Liar,” thought Maureen.

“Ok thank you. Here’s my card if you think of anything at all please call me.” They left.

“He knows something,” said Maureen.

Jane nodded “Oh yes and I intend to find out what it is.”

Mike Griffiths lifted the phone and dialled. “Mike – what I can do for you?”

“How did you know it was me?”

“Your number came up. What do you want?”

“The police have been here, Charlotte Dunn…”

The voice didn’t let him get any further, “Yes I know, what did you tell them?”

“Nothing but they asked if I knew the word Yarpie – that’s why I’m calling you to warn you.” “Oh, is this a threat?”

“Of course not I just thought you ought to know, be prepared and all that.”

“Ok well, thank you for your concern very touching, but Phillip Dunn rang this morning so I already knew.”

“Dunn, what the hell’s he got to do with this?”

“Nothing but they asked him the same question so he called to let me know, that’s all.”

“God, I can’t afford to be mixed up in this business.”

“Don’t fall apart now – you have to keep a tight hold, do you hear me? I can’t have you going to pieces on me now.”

Mike swallowed, “I’m ok, but for God’s sake get it sorted will you?”

“Don’t panic, it’s all under control.” The phone went dead. Mike poured another drink. Hell, this is getting out of control nobody was supposed to die. They were just meant to make money not kill each other.

Marlene Smith stared at the officers, “Murdered? Good lord! Who, how and in the Jacuzzi – I can’t believe it, why?”

Jane waited for her to stop. Marlene Smith was tall – five-ten, five-eleven – with blue eyes and blonde hair tied up in a knot on top of her head. She wore her cooks’ whites with a large apron tied around her waist.  “Well, she was drowned. It was Charlotte Dunn – do you know her at all?”

She swallowed and smiled, “Yes, well I know of her rather than know her if you see what I mean. Yes, I was there, I used the steam room and the Jacuzzi at seven this morning after my workout. I like to get an early start – it’s peaceful. Can’t stand all those bloody kids that run around screaming, they get everywhere, damn nuisance, so I go early. Also, it sets me up for the day, you know energises me.”

“Right, and did you see anyone at all?”

Marlene shook her head, “No not really, the chap in the gym – a member of staff, rather hunky actually, don’t know his name, foreign, he has an accent.”

“I see, does the name Yarpie mean anything to you at all?”

Again she swallowed then shook her head, “No, should it?”

“No not really, ok Ms Smith, thank you for your time, here’s my card if you think of anything else.”

“She’s innocent, bet my pension on it,” said Maureen.

Jane disagreed. “No, I’m not sure. There was something – I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something didn’t seem right and she seemed nervous.”

“In what way not right? She seemed ok to me, apart from she talked too much. Though she was never going to stop.”

“Yes but all the same we won’t rule her out, did you catch that accent? Australian I’d say.” “Yes, very faint but it was there. I agree definitely an Aussie. Right I’m off home, see you in the morning,” said Maureen,

“Yes ok, see you tomorrow.” Jane too decided to call it a day and take a fresh look tomorrow.

* Chapter Four coming shortly!

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