A Secret Killer (Julia Blake Cozy Mystery Book 4)

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A Secret Killer

 

Chapter 1

 


So,
how many dead bodies have you actually seen?


A
few,

Julia Blake replied.

Can
you tell me more about your cleaning experience, Mrs Donnington?

A
chuckle came from the large lady sitting on the sofa.

Please
call me Val, we might as well use first names if we

re
going to be working together.

Her chubby hand reached for another
slice of cake. She looked back at Julia and said,

I

m a
slave to my appetite. Go on, you were telling me about the dead bodies you

ve
discovered.

She waved the cake at Julia,
oblivious to the crumbs that fell to the carpet.

Julia
shot a look at her dad. He caught her look and swiftly glanced down at his
tablet on his knee. Julia

s eyes narrowed
as she saw the corner of his mouth twitch. This was all his idea. She was adamant
that she didn

t
need anyone to help her with her cleaning business, she could cope on her own.
Even if that meant working over the weekends. But no, Dad insisted on her
hiring someone. He insisted on placing the advert, and then helping her with
the interview process. Not that he was providing much help at the moment.

Julia
tried again.

Mrs
Donnington, can you tell me about your last job? You

ve
put down on your form that you worked for a family. What sort of work did you
do for them?

Mrs
Donnington licked her thumb. She put her plate down and gave Julia a stern
look.

I did
everything for that family! They treated me like a slave! Expected me to do all
their polishing, to clean the toilet, vacuum up! Pah! A servant would be
treated better. I

m glad to be out of that line of work.
Any chance of another cup of tea? My throat is parched after that lovely cake.

The
last request was directed at Julia

s dad. He smiled
at Mrs Donnington and nodded his head.

It

s my
pleasure.

Mrs
Donnington

s
chest seemed to grow larger as she looked him up and down.

What
did you say your name is again?

With
a blush on his cheeks, he answered,

Ray. Is it three
sugars again?

Mrs
Donnington giggled and said,

Ray, like a ray
of sunshine. Is there a Mrs Ray?

Julia
stopped her eyes from rolling. She glanced at her watch. She had paperwork to
catch up on. In a firmer voice she said,

The
work that you just mentioned, that

s exactly what
this job will entail. Are you sure you want to apply for it?

Mrs
Donnington batted her eyelashes as she took a fresh cup of tea. Without looking
at Julia, she said,

This job will do. I can

t do
Wednesdays, Thursdays or Friday mornings. No bending or kneeling, and no
reaching up too high. Doctor

s orders.

Julia
stood up, smiled politely and said,

Thank you for
coming to see us today. We

ll be in touch.

Mrs
Donnington

s
eyebrows rose as she looked at Julia.

Oh! Is that it?
We were having such a lovely chat. When do you want me to start? I can

t do
next week, and I

ll need three weeks off in May.

Julia
maintained her smile.

As I said, we

ll be
in touch. Thank you again.

Mrs
Donnington reluctantly put her cup down. She turned her attention back to Dad
and said,

Would
you mind helping me up, Ray?

Dad
leapt to his feet and held his hands out.

Of
course. Let me see you to the door.

Julia

s
cheeks were starting to hurt from keeping her smile in place. She finally let
it go as her dad escorted Mrs Donnington out of her front room. She sank into
her chair and sighed. This was taking such a long time! She took her phone out
and had a quick check of her emails. More enquiries about her doing some
cleaning work. It was a good thing, of course it was, she was glad to be so
busy. Perhaps Dad was right, she did need someone to help her. Not Mrs
Donnington though.

Dad
returned with a smile on his face.

What a lovely
woman. Totally inappropriate for the job, of course, but a lovely woman.


Don

t let
Mum hear you saying things like that.

Dad
patted his slightly rounded tummy and said,

Your
mum knows what a catch I am. She knows that women often throw themselves at me.

He gave a dramatic sigh and then
winked.

It

s a
curse, being this handsome, but I

m happy to live
with it. Who

s
next on the list?

Julia
checked her list of interviewees.

Someone called
Tiger Lilly Thomas.


How
exotic. Do you think tea will be okay for her? Or should I open the pineapple
juice?

Tiger
Lilly sashayed into Julia

s front room a
few minutes later. She was an exotic-looking orange. What was it with young
girls and fake tans these days?

The
teenager refused any offers of refreshment. Julia had to ignore the hurt look
on Dad

s
face. Julia started to ask her first question. She was interrupted by a beeping
noise. Without an apology, Tiger Lilly took out her phone and read the text
that had arrived. She frowned and swore, then she started tapping furiously on
her phone.

Julia
spoke loudly,

Are
you ready to begin our interview? Or have you important business to attend to?

Tiger
Lilly looked up, her fingers still tapped away.

What?

Julia
persisted,

I
need to ask you questions about the job, to see if you

re
suitable.

Tiger
Lilly stopped tapping. She aimed her phone at Julia and said,

I
want to ask you something. How many dead bodies have you seen? Were they
decomposed? Did you take any photos?

Julia
couldn

t keep
her sigh in. Dad stood up and said firmly to Tiger Lilly,

This
isn

t the
job for you, young lady. I think you

d better leave.
I

ll
see you to the door, come on.

In
a flash of orange the teenager was escorted quickly out of the room.

When
Dad returned, Julia said,

Thanks for that.
I don

t
think we

re
going to find anyone, they

re only
interested in the dead people that I

ve seen.

Dad
held a hand up,

Let

s not
be defeatist! When the next candidate comes in, you tell them in no uncertain
terms that you won

t talk about those dead bodies of yours!

Julia
nodded.

Good
idea, but they weren

t exactly

my

dead bodies. I was just in the
wrong place at the wrong time. Who

s next?


A
young man. Interesting, he

s the only man
to apply. I can hear someone at the door. Remember, tell him straight away that
there

s
going to be no talk of corpses!

That

s
exactly what Julia said to the young man sitting opposite her a minute later.

She
was not prepared for his reply.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 


Good.
I

ve
seen enough corpses to last me a lifetime.

Julia
blinked a few times and then said,

Excuse me?

She looked down at his
application form.

I can

t see
any details of previous experience.

She frowned and looked over at Dad as if
to ask why this young man had been given an interview.

Dad
smiled back at her, oblivious to her inquisitive stare.

The
young man spoke,

No, I don

t
have any experience with any kind of official job. I was quite surprised to get
this interview.

Julia
pressed her lips together, she was quite surprised too. She

d be
having words with Dad later. She turned her attention back to the young man,
Cain Andrews. She

d put him in his late twenties, he was
slight-looking with light brown hair and brown eyes. He was very pale. He was
dressed casually in jeans and a smart shirt. Julia said,

Can
you tell me about yourself, and why you think you

d be
suitable for this job?

Cain
gave her a wry smile.

This could be
the part where you ask me to leave, I

ve a story to
tell, it

s a
bit long-winded. Are you sure you want to hear it?


We
certainly do!

Dad interjected.

You

re
our last candidate and we

ve plenty of
time, haven

t we,
Julia?

Julia
looked at Dad

s
eager face. How could she say no? And there was a part of her, the nosy part of
her, that would love to hear Cain

s story. She was
already impressed with how well-spoken he was.

Of
course we have time. Would you like a cup of tea? A slice of cake? There

s a
bit left.

Cain
smiled.

Thank
you, it does look delicious. Did you make it?


I
made it,

Dad moved forward with a proud
smile on his face.

I

ve
been going to cookery classes.

He put a slice of cake on a plate and
handed it to Cain.

Since I retired I

ve
been going to all sorts of classes, even knitting. See this cardigan I

m
wearing? I knitted it myself!


Really?

Cain took the plate and placed it
carefully on his knee.


Yes!
It was a bit tricky, I

m not happy with
the buttonholes, but they

ll have to do. I
made a scarf for Julia, but she hasn

t worn it yet.

He handed a tea-filled cup to
Cain.

Julia

s
estimation of Cain rose slightly as Cain placed the cup carefully on a coaster.
It rose even further when Cain said,

I think you

ve
done an excellent job, I could never make anything like that.

Dad
beamed. He gave Cain a quick look up and down.

I
could knit one for you, I

ve got enough
wool left.


That

s so
kind, but I can

t expect you to do that, we

ve
only just met. And,

Cain
paused and looked down at his yet untouched cake,

you haven

t
heard my story yet.

Dad
sat down and shared a look with Julia. Julia said to Cain,

Please
tell us, we won

t judge you.


And
don

t
forget to eat your cake!

Dad insisted.

Cain
put the cake on the table.

Perhaps in a
moment, thank you. I may as well come out and say this, I

ve
been in prison for the last twelve years. That

s why
I haven

t any
work experience. I worked all the time in prison but it doesn

t
count as official work.

He looked closer at Julia.

You
don

t
look shocked. Do you want me to leave?


Of
course not. Why were you in prison?

She laughed.

If
you say murder, I might have to chuck you out!

Cain
said quietly,

It
was manslaughter.

There
was a pause.

Shall
I go now?

Julia
shook her head. There was something about Cain that was intriguing, she wanted
to know more about him. There was also something she

d
noticed about his eyes. Despite his happy demeanour, there was a great sadness
in his eyes, as if he

d seen things
that he hadn

t
wanted to see. She said,

Please, go on.
Start at the beginning, that

s a very good
place to start. Oh! I almost broke into song then! Do you ever do that, Cain,
say the lyrics of a song and then feel like you have to sing them?

Cain
gave her a quizzical look.

Not really.


Must
be just me then,

Julia
said with a smile.

Right, start again.

Cain
took a sip of his tea.

Have you heard
of the Clover Estate? The one at the far side of town?

Dad
said,

I
certainly have, the buses refuse to drive through it after dark.


I don

t
blame them,

Cain said.

Well,
that

s
where I grew up. I was the youngest of five boys, and Mum, let

s
just say that Mum had a few problems. I know she was doing her best now, but at
the time I couldn

t see it. She worked three jobs and then
spent her money on drugs and drink. I suppose she had to get by somehow. I didn

t see
much of her, I had to fend for myself. My brothers watched out for me now and
again, but most of the time I was free to go out when and where I wanted. I
hardly ever went to school, I didn

t see the point.
And when I did go, the other children made fun of me, they used to say I stank.
I did, and I was filthy, I hardly ever washed.


You
poor mite, eat some of your cake. I

ll make you a
sandwich if you like,

Dad offered.

Cain
smiled.

Thank
you, you

re so
kind. Don

t
feel sorry for me, it happened a long time ago. Things did change for me, but
they got worse before they got better.

Dad
moved forward in his chair,

Is that when you
killed someone? You can tell us all about it.


Dad!

Julia shot out.

Cain
doesn

t
have to tell us. He did say he was in prison for manslaughter, not murder.

Dad
frowned.

I don

t
really understand the difference. Someone died who shouldn

t
have died, that

s right, isn

t it?

Cain
nodded.

It
is. My story gets even worse, I haven

t told you who
the victim was yet.

 

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