A Deadly Restoration (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 2) (2 page)

BOOK: A Deadly Restoration (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 2)
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Chapter 6

 

I
didn’t sleep well that night. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the noise and
disruption that was going on next door. I didn’t like the thought of living
next door to a man like Leo Kennedy. I briefly considered moving. I didn’t want
to though, I loved living here.

I
got up early and made my plans for the day. I would catch up with the people
that I had to cancel yesterday, see if I could call round today instead.
Hopefully, I would be busy enough all day to stay away from home. Maybe that’s
something I would have to do everyday until the house next door was finished.

My
clients were happy for me to call round so I had a wonderfully busy day.
There’s nothing like cleaning somebody’s mess up to make you forget the
problems in your own life.

I
even had time to call on Cora Roberts again. I’d promised her yesterday that
I’d take some  bags of rubbish away.

Cora
was delighted to see me.

And
I was delighted to see that all the rubbish had been removed from her home.

“My
Stephen came round. He worked so hard to clear everything away,” Cora said
proudly.

I
thought that he probably felt guilty when he saw the state his mum was living
in, but I didn’t say anything.

I
stayed at Cora’s for a while.

“Have
a bun, Julia, I made these for Stephen whilst he was tidying up. They’re his
favourites. He loves these little silver balls on top! When he was little he
used to pretend he was eating real silver. He said it made him feel like a
super hero! There’s only a few left and I don’t like them. The little balls get
stuck in my dentures.”

It
would have been rude for me to refuse them. I politely ate two buns while Cora
talked about Stephen.

“He
told me he’d had an argument with that nice Leo Kennedy. He said Leo Kennedy
hadn’t paid me enough for the house. I can’t believe that, can you Julia?”

I
didn’t say anything about the house, Leo seemed like exactly the sort of man to
swindle a pensioner. I changed the subject to Cora herself and asked how she
filled her days.

“Well,
now that my house is tidier I was going to invite some of my new neighbours round.”

“That
sounds lovely.” I smiled at her.

As
I stood up some of the silver balls fell off my lap and onto the floor.

“Oh!
I’m sorry, let me get them,” I said.

Cora
chuckled. “Stephen’s just the same. The amount of times I found those little
things in his bed!”

When
I finally arrived home that night it was getting dark. The builders had gone
and there wasn’t anybody having arguments on doorsteps.

I
decided to have a long soak in the bath. All the cleaning work I’d done today
was starting to catch up with me.

When
the bath was ready I gratefully sank into it. I placed a cup of tea on the side
of the bath. Bliss. What more could a person want?
Suddenly there was a loud crashing noise. It sounded just like the tiles did
yesterday when I knocked them over.

“What’s
he up to now?” I asked myself.

I
wanted to know where the noise was coming from but I didn’t want to leave my
warm bath. I tried staying there for a while longer but curiosity got the
better of me.

“I’ll
just have a quick look,” I promised myself.

I
got out of the bath, put on my dressing gown and looked out of the front
window. I couldn’t see anything unusual. I looked out of the side and back
windows. I noticed that Leo Kennedy’s back door was open. None of the lights
were on in his house.

Strange.

But
as that had nothing to do with me I decided to go back to the bathroom and my
warm bath.

I
stopped halfway. Perhaps I should take a quick look, just to make sure he hadn’t
had an accident or anything.

A
few minutes later I was wishing that I’d stayed in my bath.

 

Chapter 7

 

There
had been no answer when I knocked on the open door. I called out ‘hello!’ but
no one answered.

I
soon saw why.

Leo
Kennedy was buried under a pile of tiles in his front room. My hands flew to my
mouth and held in the scream that was about to come out.

I
took a few deep breaths and then put the light on. I checked the pulse of the
hand that was sticking out from the rubble.

There
was no pulse.

I
looked around the room and spotted a telephone. I phoned for an ambulance and
the police.

I
took a closer look at Leo Kennedy. There were only a few parts of him visible
beneath the tiles but it was definitely him, I recognised his fancy designer
shirt.

What
were roof tiles doing in his living room? And who had pushed them on top of him?

While
I waited for help to arrive I took a look around the room. The walls had been
replastered and the ceiling recovered. It looked nice, very professional.

I
moved into the kitchen. New units had been fitted. Not my style but very sleek.
There was a brochure lying open on the worktop. I picked it up, it was for new
ovens.

“Ms
Blake! I hope you’re not contaminating the crime scene!” a voice rang out.

I
dropped the brochure back onto the worktop and looked up at the angry face of
DI Clarke.

We’d
met before. I’d forgotten how piercing his eyes could be.

“I
haven’t contaminated anything!” I blurted out.

“You
seem to have a habit of finding dead bodies. Is there something you need to
tell me?” he asked.

“I
live next door and noticed that the back door was open. I just came round to
make sure everything was alright.”

DI
Clarke raised an eyebrow. “In your dressing gown?”

I
pulled my belt tighter and said, “Yes, in my dressing gown. That’s not a crime
is it?”

DI
Clarke gave a little smile. “You’ll have to give us a statement. Do you want to
go home and change first?”

I
nodded. It’s hard to be dignified when you’re wearing a dressing gown with cute
ducks on it.

I
returned five minutes later and gave DI Clarke a statement. I told him about
the noise which I now knew to be slates crashing onto Leo Kennedy.

“It
doesn’t look like an accident. Can you think of  anyone would want to kill Mr
Kennedy?” DI Clarke said.

“I
can think of two people straight away,” I said. Then I hesitated. I felt
disloyal to Cora but I had to tell the inspector about the argument that her
son had had with Leo Kennedy.

Was
he the one who had killed him?

 

Chapter 8

 

It
took a long time for DI Clarke to take my statement. He kept asking me to
repeat the things I’d overheard. I was tempted to point him in the direction of
Joan’s house, I’m sure she knew more than me.

The
next morning I was having a lie in when there was a thudding at my front door.

I
muttered to myself as I pulled on my dressing gown and stomped downstairs.

“Yes?”
I asked as I opened the door.

John
Thomas, the builder was glowering down at me. He was so big that he was
blocking out the sun. A vicious looking dog was slobbering at his side.

“What
have you been saying to the coppers? You told them that I killed Leo Kennedy!”

I
took a step backward. “I didn’t! The inspector asked me if he had any enemies
and I told him about your argument over the tiles.”

“That
doesn’t mean I killed him. You’ve no right spreading lies,” John Thomas said
angrily.

“I
didn’t say you killed him! But you must admit that it’s suspicious that your
tiles were the ones that crushed him,” I pointed out.

He
shrugged. “I just piled them up in his living room, to teach him a lesson about
not paying my bills. If I wanted to kill him I wouldn’t have wasted good
quality tiles.”

He
had a point. I’d seen him with all sorts of tools that he could have used
instead.

“I’m
sorry if I’ve upset you.” I tried to smile. It was like smiling at a thunder
cloud.

Suddenly
his face cleared and he returned my smile. “It’s not the first time I’ve been
accused of murder. I must have one of those faces. Ha!”

I
didn’t know what to say to that. I looked closer at the dog. It was slobbering
all over my front step. I’d have to clean that when he’d gone.

John
Thomas saw me looking. “He’s a smasher isn’t he? Ugly as sin but a great
hunting dog. Watch this.”

He
took the lead off the dog and within a second the dog raced away into Leo
Kennedy’s  garden.

John
Thomas laughed. “Keep watching, he’ll come back with something soon.”

About
a minute later the dog returned from a garden further down the road. It had
various things in its mouth, all of them covered in dog dribble.

“Well
done, Razor, what have you found? Couple of bones and a football.  Good job,
lad.”

I
didn’t like to point out that the things belonged to other people. John Thomas
was not a man that you argued with.

“We’ll
be off then,” he said to me. Then he leaned closer, pointed a chunky finger at
me and said, “Don’t be telling any more tales to the police about me. Me and
Razor don’t want to have to visit you a second time. Cheerio!”

I
watched the two of them walked away.

Had
I just been threatened by Leo Kennedy’s killer?

 

Chapter 9

 

I
didn’t know whether to phone DI Clarke to let him know what John Thomas had
said. I thought about it for a while then decided not to bother as I’m not sure
what the inspector would do with that information.

Also,
I didn’t want a second visit from the builder and his dog.

Thirty
minutes later I set off for my first cleaning job.

I
arrived at Mrs Claybourne-Brent’s detached house twenty minutes later. She
greeted me at the door, immaculately made up as usual.

“Can
you do the bedrooms today, please, Julia?” she asked. She wrinkled her nose and
continued, “My teenage son had his friends round for a sleepover last night and
I must apologise in advance for the aroma.”

“That’s
okay. I’m sure I’ve smelt worse,” I said.

“I
wasn’t keen on him having friends over but it seems to be the done thing now,
and you know I like to keep up with everyone else!”

I
smiled. That was an understatement.

“One
of his friends lives at the end of Prospect Road, you know, in one of those big
houses? His parents have had the most amazing conservatory built. He showed me
photos on his phone,” Mrs Claybourne-Brent said.

I
walked up the stairs towards the bedrooms. Mrs Claybourne-Brent followed me. It
seemed she had more to say.

“Anyway,
I was surprised that they’d got planning permission for it because it’s an old
house. He didn’t know anything about that, so I phoned his mum.”

I
opened the door to the son’s room. I nearly keeled over from the smell. I took
a deep breath, walked quickly over to the window and opened it.

Mrs
Claybourne-Brent was still talking. She didn’t seem to notice the smell,
perhaps she was used to it.

“So
I phoned his mum and asked how she got planning permission. She gave me the name
of this man at the council who, apparently, is very understanding.”

I
gave her a look. “Understanding in what way? Did she have to pay him?”

Mrs
Claybourne-Brent frowned. “She didn’t say. Anyway, I got his number, this chap
at the council, and he’s coming round today to look at our kitchen extension.”

“What’s
wrong with your extension. It’s beautiful,” I said.

“Yes,
but it’s not big enough. My sister’s is much bigger,” she said wistfully.

Her
kitchen was plenty big enough. I should know, I’d cleaned it enough times.

The
doorbell rang.

“Oh!
That’ll be him now.” She looked in a nearby mirror, patted her hair and
adjusted her pearl necklace.

I
was left alone to get on with the cleaning. I made a start on the window. I
could hear Mrs Claybourne-Brent talking to the man from the council. I looked
out of the window at the doorstep below to see what the man looked like.

I
recognised him. It was the shifty looking man with the big nose, the one who
had called on Leo Kennedy shortly before his death.

 

Chapter 10

 

What
was he up to? And what sort of council services did he provide? Going by what
Mrs Claybourne-Brent had told me, it seemed he was willing to put illegal planning
permissions through the council – perhaps for a price?

Is
that why he’d spent time at Leo Kennedy’s house? Had Leo paid him to put the
plans for the house through?

I
thought about this as I rubbed the window clean.

I
had to find out exactly what sort of man he was. I zipped through the cleaning
work in the bedroom as quickly as I could. I headed downstairs on the pretence
of asking Mrs Claybourne-Brent if she’d like the bathrooms doing.

She
was in the kitchen with the shifty looking man. She had her back to me.

“So
you see, Mr Heap, it’s not really big enough is it?” she said.

Mr
Heap was making notes on a clipboard and hadn’t noticed me listening by the
door.

“I
see your point, Mrs Claybourne-Brent,” he said. “How much bigger would you like
it?”

Mrs
Claybourne-Brent gave a silly giggle and said, “How big can I have it?”

Mr
Heap smiled and carried on writing, “As big as you like. It will cost you...”

He
looked up and noticed me. He stopped talking.

Mrs
Claybourne-Brent looked around. She seemed annoyed to see me standing there.
“Yes, Julia? What is it?”

“Would
you like the bathrooms cleaning?” I asked politely.

She
waved a hand at me dismissively, “Yes, just do upstairs today. Mr Heap and I
are in the middle of a business meeting. You don’t need to bother with the
kitchen.”

Mr
Heap gave me a sly look. He turned to Mrs Claybourne-Brent and said, “Perhaps
we should continue our conversation in the garden? I could measure out how big
you want your kitchen.”

Mrs
Claybourne-Brent giggled again.

Mr
Heap took her arm and led her outside.

Bother!
I wouldn’t be able to hear what they were saying now!

Unless...

I
ran upstairs and into the en-suite bathroom that faces onto the back garden. I
opened the bathroom window. I could hear the murmur of voices but not actual
words. I climbed onto the bath and leaned out. I could see the heads of Mrs
Claybourne-Brent and Mr Heap. The sun glinted off Mr Heap’s nose. It really was
an exceptionally big nose.

They
couldn’t see me but now I could hear what they were saying.

“Are
you sure we can get planning permission?”

“Of
course, and I can make it happen within weeks. For a small fee,” Mr Heap said.

Mrs
Claybourne-Brent asked what the fee was.

I
nearly fell into the bath when I heard the amount. It wasn’t small at all!

Mr
Heap was definitely a crooked council man.

Did
he have something to do with Leo Kennedy’s death?

 

BOOK: A Deadly Restoration (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 2)
9.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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