Here’s hoping this works. This has been one of those frustrating weeks. BT seems to have locked me out of my emails and internet – no idea how. Getting this blog ready has been a trial. Anyway I do have the next episode of Resolution ready for your delight and I hope things are back to normal next week because there’s lots of news. Here you are.
Resolution – Part 9
They finished their drinks and walked back to Tania’s home. They didn’t speak much. Tania seemed deep in thought. Jasmine made sure she remembered all that Tania had told her.
Back inside the house, Jasmine started the farewells.
‘I’d better be heading back. Angela will be wanting me to do something with her. I have the weekend off and I don’t know how many more of those I’ll get working for DCI Sloane.’
Tania made a sort of chuckle. ‘Not many if my recollection is correct. Thank you for coming Jasmine. I think it was good for me to talk to someone who knew Milla.’
‘I didn’t know her well,’ Jasmine said.
‘You knew her better than any of the people up here. I’m finding it difficult to accept that someone hated her enough to kill her. Do you have any idea who?’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘I’ll have to look through her cases and see if there was anyone who might have had a grudge.’
‘What about the case you both worked on?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘It was only the one case, although it did turn out to be pretty big, and it was Milla’s last for Sloane. I don’t know, it’s possible.’
Tania stretched up on her toes and kissed Jasmine on the cheek. ‘Well, thanks for taking an interest. Come again some time.’
‘I will,’ Jasmine nodded, ‘You’ve got my mobile number. Give me a call if you want a chat, or if you think of anything else.’ She gave an answering kiss and left the house.
The drive back to Reading was dull but uneventful. Her phone rang once but she didn’t answer it as she didn’t have a hands-free kit. It was mid-afternoon when she got back to the flat.
Angela was delighted. ‘Wonderful. We can go and look at the house. I’ve got the key.’
‘But we haven’t exchanged contracts yet,’ Jasmine said.
‘We will next week. You know the owners have already moved out. They’ve given us permission to go in. I want to check a few things. It’ll be a rush when we complete.’
‘OK. Do you want me to change?’ Jasmine didn’t really want to put on male gear.
‘Not if you don’t want to. The neighbours are going to have to get used to Jasmine aren’t they.’
‘Well, let’s go then. Shall I drive, if you’ve had enough.’
Jasmine chucked Angela the keys.
Angela drove the Fiesta onto the driveway and pulled up right by the porch. She and Jasmine got out and stood by the door. Angela put the key in the lock.
‘Very soon this will be our front door and we’ll be stepping into our own house, Jas.’
‘Hmm,’ Jasmine sounded unexcited but inside she was feeling as emotional as her wife. After the years in sordid student flats and rental properties that were little better, this was the first home that they could call their own. Angela and James’ home; and Jasmine’s too.
Jasmine trailed after Angela from room to room occasionally holding the end of a tape measure while Angela made notes. The rooms were devoid of furniture and curtains but the floors were carpeted in a variety of colours some which Jasmine felt she could live with and others which she wanted to tear up there and then. Jasmine tried to imagine the house with their possessions in it; it was difficult.
She was standing in the lounge while Angela joyfully opened and closed cupboards in the kitchen. Jasmine remembered the call she had missed while driving home. She looked at her phone. The call was from Tania and she had left a voice message. Jasmine held the phone to her ear and listened.
‘Oh, Jasmine. I don’t suppose you can pick up while you’re driving. Look, I’ve just seen something and I’m worried. I watched you drive off and just stood looking out of the window. A car followed shortly after you and the driver looked like the man we talked about from the pub. I’m sure it was him. I’m scared, Jasmine. Why is he still watching me?’
Jasmine felt a cold hand grip her. She dialled Tania’s number. Tania picked up straight away.
‘Jasmine. Did you get my message?’
‘Yes, Tania. Can you describe the car?’
‘Um, not really. It was silver colour, quite small; a bit bigger than your car I think.’
‘Do you know the make?’
‘I’m not sure. A Nissan or a Toyota perhaps?’
‘Right. Thanks Tania.’
‘Why is he watching me, Jasmine? Milla’s dead.’
Jasmine bit her lip. Should she say what she was thinking. Surely she must say something to stop Tania worrying. ‘I don’t think he was watching you, Tania. I think it’s me. We’ll speak again soon.’ She thumbed the “end call” button and took a step towards the window. She didn’t want to get too close and be seen but she wanted to look outside. There were few cars parked in the road but she could see one on the opposite side of the road a few houses up to the left. It was a silver Toyota Auris. Jasmine couldn’t see if it was occupied. She stepped away from the window, turned and looked out of the rear window from the through lounge.
She called out to Angela. ‘What’s beyond the fence at the end of the garden?’
‘Nothing. Waste ground I think. Why?’ Angela replied.
‘Not a path or lane?’
‘I don’t think so. There’s no back gate is there?’
Jasmine stepped up to the rear window and looked at the six-foot-high wooden fence. Angela was correct; there was no gate.
Angela appeared in the lounge. ‘What’s the matter? Why are you asking about the back?’
‘Let’s go into the back garden,’ Jasmine said leading Angela back into the kitchen and to the back door. ‘Have you got the key?’
Angela picked up the bunch of keys from the worktop. ‘Yes, here. I’ve got all the keys. What are you up to?’ Jasmine took the keys from the Angela and tried fitting them in the backdoor. The third key worked. She opened the door and stepped into the small back garden which was simply a patch of weedy grass.
‘I need to get over the fence. Can you give me a hand, Ange?’
‘I suppose so but why?’
‘To get round to the front without being seen. I think there’s someone watching us.’
Angela’s eyes widened. ‘What? Why?’
‘I’m not sure. I’ll try to explain when I get back. Now give me a bunk up.’
Angela linked her hands and crouched close to the fence. Jasmine put her right foot in Angela’s hands and grabbed the top of the fence. Jasmine weighed little more than Angela and they were well matched in strength. Angela straightened up, lifting Jasmine. Jasmine stretched her left foot up to the top of the fence and vaulted over.
She landed in a patch of long reedy grass with her skirt around her waist. She stood up, brushed her skirt down and straightened the false boobs in her bra. She looked around. Angela was right. There was a patch of unused land for about a hundred metres to the boundary of a retail park. The ground was rough with clumps of soil and rubble left over from the building of the housing estate interspersed with grass and nettles and bracken. Jasmine scrambled along the fence behind the row of houses hoping that at some point she would be able to cross back over and gain access to the road.
She came to a right angle bend in the fence and realised that she had come to the end of the houses. The fence ended and she was on the pavement at the end of a cul-de-sac. She peered around the end of the fence along the curving road. It was empty as far as she could see, no pedestrians, no moving vehicles, no house owners in their front gardens. Jasmine began to walk along the street trying to look casual but she felt tense, alert, watchful.
The silver Toyota came into view parked against the kerb on the left. There was nowhere for her to hide to observe it. If it was indeed occupied by someone keeping watch on her she hoped that their attention was on the house and not on the image in their mirror. Jasmine walked slowly, praying that she wasn’t drawing attention to herself. What would she do when she reached the car?
She was just ten metres away. The back of the head of the driver was visible above the head rest. She took another step forward. The driver moved. The engine started. Jasmine ran. She was alongside as the car started to move. She reached for the passenger door handle but the car accelerated away, the driver’s face turned towards her. He had a round face with a thin beard and ginger hair.