Judy's Death (Cara Daniels Cozy Mystery Book 2)

BOOK: Judy's Death (Cara Daniels Cozy Mystery Book 2)
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A Cara Daniels Cozy Mystery

Book 2

 
 

Judy’s Death

 

Chapter 1

 

Cara Daniels stared at the blond-haired
vision that had just appeared in front of her. The young man grinned and gave
her a little wave.

Cara leant back on her chair, folded
her arms and said, “So, are you my angel?”

The man nodded. “I certainly am. I’m
very pleased to meet you, Cara. What a lovely home you have. It’s small but
cosy.” He pointed towards her computer. “What are you working on? According to
my records, you design websites and solve online problems. Are you designing a
website now? Can I have a look?”

Cara’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t look
like the other angel I met.”

The man smiled. “I know. You met
Edward, didn’t you? He looks like Santa.” His smile dropped. “Oh! Did you want
me to look like Santa? I can do that if you like.” He pushed his floppy hair
back, his smile returned. “Although, I do like this look, I look like someone
out of a boy band, don’t you think so?”

Cara said, “I don’t know what to think
yet. I’m not convinced about this whole business of me working with an angel to
save someone’s life. I know I helped Gran a few weeks back when she prevented a
murder.”

“You didn’t just help, you stopped the
murder going ahead,” the man pointed out.

Cara’s frown deepened. “I’m beginning
to think that I imagined this whole angel thing. I’ve had a lot of work to do
lately, I think I must have experienced a hallucination.” She rubbed her tummy.
“And my health isn’t as good as it should be. I really should see a doctor at
some point.”

The young man suddenly flapped his
hands at her. He grinned and said, “Did you have soup today?”

“No. Why?”

He put his hands down and looked
disappointed. “That’s a shame. I’ve been working on a joke about soup.”

“A joke? I don’t want to hear a joke! I
want to stop having these crazy hallucinations!” Cara closed her eyes tightly.

The man said, “I’ll tell you anyway. If
you’d have had soup for lunch you could have blamed that for giving you
so-called hallucinations.” He paused. Cara opened one eye. He stood taller and
said, “Then I could have said, ‘You must think there’s more soup than
supernatural about me’. Ha! Do you get it? It’s a bit like that line from
Christmas Carol when Scrooge doesn’t believe in ghosts and he blames gravy!”

Cara’s other eye opened.

The man wagged a finger at her. “You
can laugh at that joke later. I can tell by your face that you’re not convinced
I’m real. Let me tell you what I know about you, Cara Daniels. You are thirty years
old. You live alone in this apartment. You were married but your husband left
you for someone else a few years ago, a younger woman.”

Cara winced.

The man continued, “You work online.
Oh, I’ve already said that. You spend a lot of time alone. You’re anti social.”

“I am not!” Cara butted in. “I speak to
the postman, sometimes.”

“You have a kind heart and a generous
spirit, but you are wasting those traits. Edward says that you have potential
to be a great soul saver.” He walked closer and nipped her arm. “And I am
real.”

“Ouch!” Cara rubbed her arm. “What’s
your name then?”

“My angel name is …” he began, and then
said something incomprehensible.

Cara blinked. “All I heard was
something-something-tron. Haven’t you got another name?”

He looked over her shoulder and out of
the window. “I’ll pick a human name.” He thought for a moment. “Robin. I like
that.”

Cara turned her head. She tutted when
she saw the little bird of the same name perched on a nearby tree. She turned
back to Robin and said, “Did you just make that up? Hey! Weren’t you wearing a
blue T-shirt a second ago?”

Robin nodded and grinned. “I changed it
to match my little friend’s chest out there. Do you think I’m real yet?”

Cara shrugged.

Robin moved to the middle of the room.
“Watch out, these might be bigger than I remember, I don’t need to turn them into
physical form often.” He held his arms out. Two huge wings appeared at either
side of him. The tips of the wings reached both ends of the room. He looked at
Cara and said, “Come over and have a feel if you like.”

“No, thank you.” Cara sighed. “I do know
that you’re an angel, I was trying to convince myself that this soul saver
business wasn’t real.”

“Tell me what you know about being a
soul saver.”

“Just what Gran and Edward told me, and
what I saw for myself. Gran told me she’s a soul saver and that she stops
people from committing murder. Those kind of murders that are spur of the
moment, when people aren’t thinking straight. Gran said that when normally good
people commit these murders they can never forgive themselves. It makes their
souls shrivel.”

“That’s true. Their souls don’t
disappear forever, but it feels like that to the human. These murders can also
be accidents, did your gran or Edward tell you that?”

Cara shook her head. “Does that mean I
have to go around making sure accidents don’t happen?”

“Sometimes.” Robin retracted his wings.
“So, Cara Daniels, are you agreeing to go on a soul saving mission?”

“I’m not sure.” Cara looked at her
computer screen, aware that she was making excuses. “I’ve got a lot of work to
do.”

Robin’s look softened. “Cara, I’m an
angel. I know when you’re lying.”

Cara clasped her hands together and
looked down at them. “I’m scared. I don’t want someone’s life to be in my
hands.” She looked up. “What if I don’t stop the murder?”

“If you sit here and do nothing then
you definitely won’t stop the murder. Don’t you want to even try? You could do
with getting out more, get some sun on your face, you’re very pale.” He let out
a laugh. “When I first saw you I thought you were a ghost!” He jumped and
looked down at the watch he was wearing. “It’s on vibrate. Ah. I see. We’ve got
forty-eight hours to stop the murder of someone called Judy Wallace. She lives
in this town.”

“Judy Wallace? I’ve seen her name
somewhere today.” Cara stood up and walked over to her window sill where there
was a large pile of junk mail. She looked through them and pulled a sheet out.
“Judy Wallace works at the library, she’s in charge of the local book festival
that’s starting tomorrow. There’s a photo of her.” Cara looked closer. “Oh.”

Robin walked over and looked down at
the photo. “What a sweet-looking old lady, she’s got a friendly smile. Who
would want to kill her?”

Cara felt something tug at her heart.
Judy Wallace did have a sweet face. How could Cara let her be murdered?

 
 

Chapter 2

 

Robin said, “I like your car.”

Cara’s hands shook as she shoved the
keys into the ignition. “It’s not mine, it’s Gran’s. She left it to me when she
went on a world cruise.” The car started up. Cara wiped her hands on her jeans.
She looked over at Robin. “I haven’t driven for years, this might be a bumpy
ride.”

“You’ll be fine,” Robin assured her.
“Don’t worry about me. If we crash I won’t get hurt.”

“That’s reassuring,” Cara muttered. She
pulled away from the kerb, aware that sweat was forming on her brow. In a
casual tone she said, “Do you know my gran?”

“Abigail? All the angels know Abigail!
She’s the best soul saver that’s ever lived! No one will ever be as good as
her.” Robin laughed and shook his head. “It’s going to be hard for you, Cara,
to live up to Abigail.”

“Thanks,” Cara said.

Robin caught her tone. “Oh! I didn’t
mean that in a bad way! It’s just, I’m glad I’m not you starting out on your
soul-saving journey. No, that didn’t sound any better. Watch out for that
lorry!”

Cara pressed her lips together and
concentrated on driving. After a moment she said, “Are you going to stay with
me all day? When Edward helped Gran he disappeared for a while.”

Robin said, “I’m going to stay with you
as long as I can! I haven’t helped a soul saver before, I was hoping that you could
show me what to do.”

Cara’s hands slipped on the steering
wheel. “But I don’t know what to do either!”

Robin laughed. “Well, this is going to
be fun!” He pushed his floppy hair back. “Do you like my hair, it’s very
modern, isn’t it?”

Cara didn’t reply as she pulled into
the library car park.

“What a beautiful building!” Robin
exclaimed. “I can’t wait to see inside. Can we have a good look around?” He
leaned closer to Cara and said, “There’s so much I want to see! I’ve read books
about Earth before but this is my first time here.”

Cara looked at his eager face. She
didn’t want to say no to him but felt he would get in the way. She needed to
meet Judy Wallace and she didn’t want Robin acting like an excited puppy at her
side.

Robin’s eager expression changed. He
moved away from her and said, “You don’t want me to come with you.”

“Can you read my mind?”

“No, I can read your face.” Robin tried
to smile. “I’ll wait here. I can look at the building from the outside.”

Cara thought for a moment. “Can other
people see you?”

Robin nodded. “I’m in human form at the
moment.”

“If you made yourself invisible you
could go inside and have a look around. How does that sound?”

“Awesome.” Robin took a deep breath.
“I’ve changed out of human form.”

“I can still see you.”

“Of course you can, no one else can.
Let’s go!” He floated through the passenger door and towards the library
building. Cara blinked as she watched him float through the stone walls. “I’ll
go through the door,” she said to the now empty seat at her side.

As soon as she walked through the
library doors she saw Judy Wallace. Judy was standing behind the main desk and
had her back to Cara, but Cara knew it was her. There was a fine black line
around Judy. Cara had seen it when she’d helped Gran prevent the previous
murder. Gran had called it the line of death. The line got thicker as the
victim got closer to being murdered. Cara was expecting to see the line but
actually seeing it around Judy stopped her in her tracks.

Judy turned around and spotted her. She
gave her a friendly smile and called out, “Good afternoon! Welcome to our
library. How can I help you today?”

Cara’s throat felt dry. Judy Wallace
looked like she’d stepped out of a bygone age. She was wearing a tweed skirt
and a twinset. Pearls hung elegantly around her neck and her hair was neatly
arranged in a bun. The smile on Judy’s face was genuine, it reached all the way
to her eyes.

Cara knew she’d do all that she could
to prevent Judy’s murder. She walked towards the desk and took out the flyer
that she’d found at home. Cara said, “I’d like to volunteer at the literary
festival. It says on this leaflet that you need volunteers. I know it’s last
minute but …”

Judy leant over the counter and grabbed
Cara’s hands. “Oh! You’re an angel! An absolute angel!”

Cara kept her face straight as she saw
the real angel in the room whoosh past them and towards a photocopier. Robin
stared down at it, he looked over at Cara and shouted, “A photocopier! I’ve
only ever seen a picture of one before! Have you seen what’s over there? Books!
Lots and lots of books!” He flew away.

Cara turned her attention back to Judy
who still had hold of her hands. Cara said, “I don’t know what use I’ll be but
I’d love to help.”

Judy released her hands and said, “Do
you know about computers? Do you know how to download something? Is that the
right word, download?”

Cara nodded.

Judy’s hands flew to her chest and
said, “I think you’ve just saved my life!”

 
 

Chapter 3

 

Judy stuck her hand out towards Cara in
greeting and said, “I’m Judy Wallace. Would you like to come round to this side
of the desk, I need you to look at something.”

Cara took Judy’s hand and introduced
herself. She came round to Judy’s side of the desk and looked at where Judy was
pointing. It was an old computer.

Judy said, “I’ve got a laptop at home
and I sort of know how to use it. But this old thing! It should have been
replaced years ago.” She shook her head. “We just don’t have the money for new
equipment. Have you seen one of these before?”

“I have, my dad still has one. What are
you trying to do?” Cara sat down at the computer.

“We’ve got a couple of children’s
authors coming to our festival tomorrow. They’ve sent me an email with some
files attached. The files contain activity sheets that go with the books they’re
going to read tomorrow. I promised the authors that I’d have them printed out
and ready by the time they get here.”

Cara nodded. “And what’s the problem?”

“I think I’ve downloaded them but I
don’t know where they went on the computer!” She indicated her head towards a
printer in the corner. “This old computer is the only one that’s linked to the
printer.” She sighed. “No one else seems to have this problem. Me and
technology don’t get along!” She held up a finger. “I can email though, I’ve
got the hang of that.”

Cara said, “Let me have a look.” She
tapped on the keyboard. The screen lit up. “Are these the emails from the
authors?”

“Yes.”

Cara tapped away at the keyboard. She
said, “How many copies of each sheet would you like?”

“Fifty of each should be enough. Have you
managed to do it?”

They both looked behind them as the
printer began to make a noise. Judy walked over and picked up a sheet. She held
it up and smiled at Cara. “You’ve done it! Thank you!” She returned to Cara and
said, “I’m so glad you sorted that out. I was about to ask for help from one of
my younger colleagues. I hate having to do that. Some of them think I’m too old
to be here.”

“They’re probably right,” a cold voice
said.

Cara looked up. A chill shot down her
spine as she met the icy stare of a young woman. The woman had short dark hair
and was wearing a black business suit. The red lipstick she wore seemed to
drain all colour from her face. The woman said to Cara, “Who are you?”

Judy spoke up, “This is Cara, she’s
volunteered to help at the festival. Isn’t that wonderful?”

The woman’s cold look focused on Judy
as she said, “Have you run a background check on her? She could be anyone.” She
gave a dramatic sigh. “Judy, there are security issues to think about. You know
who we’ve got coming here tomorrow.” She pointed a red nail at Cara. “She could
be a stalker or a murderer. I knew you weren’t up to organising this year’s
event, it’s too much at your age.”

Cara cast a glance at Judy. The smile
hadn’t left her face. Judy said, “I am more than capable, Lauren, and I’ve been
more than capable since I set this event up twenty years ago. I’d thank you to
not speak to Cara like that, she’s already proved herself to be invaluable.”

“Really? Has she turned on that
computer for you? I know how terrible you are around technology.”

Judy’s smile tightened. “I’m fine with
technology. Was there something you wanted?”

Cara saw a vein throb on Lauren’s
temple. It was not a good look for a woman. Lauren said, “I wanted to make sure
everything was
organised
for tomorrow, for Snake-Eye’s
visit. Have you double-checked everything?”

“I’ve triple-checked everything. His
visit has been booked for months, you know that.” Judy’s smile faded. “Have you
come here to check up on me?”

“As if I’ve got time to do that! You
know that if anything goes wrong tomorrow it’s on your shoulders. You’ll have
to resign from the committee then.” Lauren threw them both a disgusted look,
turned on her high heels and stalked away.

Cara stood up and said, “Who was that?”

“That was Lauren Ellis. I’m sorry you
had to see that. I wish I could say she isn’t normally like that, but she is.
She works at the solicitor’s up the road. She joined the literary committee
this year in an effort to get herself known locally. I think she’s aiming for a
place on the town council eventually. She’s already made her opinions known
about the sort of literary festival that she wants our town to have. She says
the more outrageous it is, the better it will be for publicity. That’s why
we’re having Snake-Eye Jones here tomorrow.”

“I’ve never heard of him. Or her.”

“It’s a him. Neither had I until Lauren
put his name forward at our initial planning meeting. He’s an author. He writes
these terribly vivid horror novels, they’ve got vampires, werewolves and all
sorts in them. I started to read one but I gave up after the first two pages.”
Judy shivered. “I don’t care for that kind of book, and neither will the people
of this town. I’ve been organising this festival long enough to know what
people like.” She smiled at Cara. “Would you like to help me set up the
children’s library for tomorrow? It’s through here. There are some toddlers in
at the moment, they’re just finishing their story time.”

Cara followed Judy into the brightly
coloured children’s library. There was a member of staff sitting on the carpet
at the far side of the room, she was reading a picture book out loud. Five
little children sat at her feet, engrossed in the story. Cara couldn’t help
smiling when she saw Robin sitting behind the children looking equally
engrossed. He saw Cara come in and he yelled over, “It’s a story about an
elephant in pyjamas!”

Cara helped Judy pull some tables
together. They arranged the newly printed activity sheets on the table along
with some colouring pencils.

There was a cheer from the far side of
the room as the story was finished. Robin’s cheer was the loudest.

Cara asked Judy which authors were
coming to the festival. Judy said, “Well, you know about Snake-Eye and the
children’s authors, we’ve got a local man who’s written a history book and …”
She waited until the little children toddled past them with their respective
parents.

Robin flew over Cara’s head and said,
“I’m going upstairs to the café! I wonder what cakes they’ll have?”

Judy lowered her voice and said, “We’ve
also got A. J. Moss!”

Cara gasped. “A. J. Moss! The one who
writes the … the…”

Judy nodded. “Those kind of books.
They’re referred to as erotica. Although they had an entirely different name a
few years ago!”

“How have you managed to get A. J.
Moss? I heard that she never attends festivals.”

Judy looked to her left and right. She
turned back to Cara and said, “Do you want to know my secret?”

 
BOOK: Judy's Death (Cara Daniels Cozy Mystery Book 2)
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