Authors: Adele Abbott
“Mrs V’s scarf came in at just under twenty feet.”
Mrs V came through to my office.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Mr Roberts is here. He looks different.”
“Different how? Don’t tell me he’s wearing a coloured tie.”
“Shall I send him in?”
“Yes, please.” Now, I was intrigued.
What the? Either I’d slipped into some psychedelic, parallel universe or Mr Robert Roberts, my accountant, had been smoking the funny tobacco.
“Hi!” he said.
Hi? Robert Roberts was many things, but he was not the kind of man who said ‘Hi’.
Something very strange had occurred. Mr Robert Roberts had undergone a scary transformation. Mr Robert Roberts had turned into a hipster.
“Mr Roberts?” I managed, once the initial shock had passed. “I almost didn’t recognise you.”
“Do you like the threads?”
“Very nice. I didn’t think you were due to call yet.”
“That’s true. True that is.”
He had to have been smoking something.
“I’ve given up the accountancy practice.”
“Oh? What about my books?”
“I’ve left all your accounts and papers with the good lady out there. I’m sure you’ll find someone to take them over. It’s not as though you have much income to account for.”
Thanks for the reminder. “What are you going to do instead?”
“I’m now a food critic.”
“Really. That’s quite a career change.”
“I suppose so.” He scratched his hipster beard.
“Well, thanks for popping in to tell me. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
He looked me slowly up and down. “Unlikely.”
“You have to see it, Jill.” Mrs V had been on my case for most of the day.
It wasn’t that I minded going to Ever A Wool Moment; I was just worried that I might bump into Grandma. My next lesson was in a couple of days, and I was behind on my studies. Mrs V’s scarf-a-thon scarf was on display in the shop. The scarf that had cost me the best part of five hundred pounds.
“If it isn’t my star pupil.” Grandma collared me as soon as I set foot in the door of her wool emporium. “What brings you here? The wine offer has finished.”
“I didn’t come for the—I came to see Mrs V’s scarf-a-thon scarf.”
“You mean Costa?”
“That’s what I’ve decided to call the scarf.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know why?”
“I’ll tell you anyway. I called it Costa because it costa you five hundred pounds in sponsorship. Get it?”
“I thought so.”
“So where is Costa?”
“Follow me.” She led me to the back of the shop. There, just above the pay desk was a huge glass cabinet. Inside it was Costa—looking like a huge red python. Next to the cabinet, an illuminated display flashed the words ‘Scarf-a-thon - Costa, by Annabel Versailles.’
After a few moments, Grandma had lost interest in me, and was chatting to some of the customers who were waiting to pay. The queue stretched all the way back to the door.
“Hi,” I said to one of the assistants. “You’re busy today.”
“It’s been like this all week—ever since the ‘everlasting’ arrived.”
“It’s a new concept apparently. I don’t know how it works, but these balls of wool never run out.”
“That’s what I said, but apparently it’s true.”
“How can Grandma make money if the wool lasts forever?”
“It’s sold on subscription. Like Spotify and Netflix.”
I knew nothing about knitting, but I knew BS when I smelled it. “Can I see one?”
“Sure.” She skipped across the shop, and seconds later came back with a ball of red everlasting wool.
“How much is this?” I asked.
“One colour is one pound per month. Two colours are—”
“One colour should be enough.”
I filled in the paperwork for my subscription, and left with my ball of everlasting wool. If this turned out to be what I thought it was, I might have a way to get Grandma out of my life, or at least out of Washbridge.
“Did you see the scarf?” Mrs V asked, as soon as I walked back into the office.
“Never mind. Yes, it’s looking good. You should be proud.”
“Mrs V. Would you do me a favour? Can you knit me something using this wool?” I handed her the everlasting wool.
“Is this from your grandmother’s shop?”
“It is. It’s a new line.”
“What would you like me to make for you?”
“How about a scarf?”
“Is this all the wool you have? I won’t get far on only one ball.”
“Give it a try. Let me know how you get on.”
I know, I know. Grandma is my flesh and blood, blah, blah, blah. But, she is also one colossal pain in the rear. What if someone, not me obviously, but someone were to let Daze know that a certain someone was using magic to sell so-called everlasting wool? Wouldn’t that certain someone be made to return to Candlefield for flaunting their magic in public? Purely hypothetically of course. Cue evil laugh.
I’d spoken to Daze about The Dark One after Amber had been abducted. She’d suggested we meet to discuss what we could do. We’d agreed to keep the meeting low key; that’s why we’d arranged to meet at Cuppy C. It was the first time I’d seen Daze wearing her catsuit since the very first time we met in the same place. She looked great.
Daze had commandeered the table in the far corner of the tea room, away from prying eyes and ears. Amber and Pearl were both behind the counter. Daze had asked them to give us some time alone. No one argued with Daze. Except me, apparently.
“Doing what you’ve been doing up to now clearly isn’t working,” I said.
Daze’s face flushed red. “Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m not some jobsworth cop who doesn’t give a damn.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just frustrated that no one seems to know anything, and no one seems to be doing anything about it.”
“The police are a waste of time, so you can forget them. The sup sups have the powers to overcome TDO, but we have to find him or her first.”
“That’s the whole point. After all of these years, we still don’t know who he or she is. How are we meant to combat an enemy when we don’t have a clue who they are? That’s where you come in. We need someone who can identify TDO. We can take it from there.”
“But if no one has managed to identify him so far, what makes you think I can?”
“Apparently, TDO wants you dead. There has to be a reason for that. Maybe he is scared of you.”
“Find the reason why he wants you dead, and maybe you’ll find out who he or she is. What do you say?”
“What do I have to lose?” I shrugged. “He wants me dead anyway, so at least this way I get to fight back.”
“You can’t tell anyone what you’re doing.”
“That’s okay. Maxine Jewell has already made it clear she doesn’t want me working on her patch—I’m used to working around the police.”
“Not just the police. You can’t tell anyone. Not your grandma, aunt or the twins. No one. This is between you and me. Agreed?”
Daze was about to call the twins over when I took her arm. “Hold on a second. I may have a case for you—a witch using magic for personal gain in the human world.”
“Give me the details.”
“Just give me a moment; I need to make a quick phone call.”
I walked over to the window, and called Mrs V.
“It’s Jill. I wanted to check how you were getting on with the wool I left with you.”
“Okay, dear, but you’ll have to get more if you want me to finish this scarf. I’ve run out.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think I’d know.”
“Yeah. Of course. Okay, I’ll see you soon.”
Daze had her notebook in her hand. “Well?”
“Cancel that. Looks like I got it wrong.” Somehow Grandma had got one over on me again. She must have known what I was up to. One day, I’d get my own back—you just see if I don’t.
If there’s one thing I hated more than weddings, it was looking at photos of weddings. Amber and Pearl must have taken two zillion photos of Mum’s wedding. Not satisfied with those, they’d also got all of the ones that their fiancés had taken too. After Daze and I had finished the official TDO business, the twins had come over to join us. Since then, I’d been subjected to an hour of mind-blowing dullness.
“Pink suits you,” Daze teased.
“It wasn’t my choice,” I said. “I was ambushed.”
The twins took it in turns to show a photo. I was on my second coffee—it was only the caffeine that was keeping me awake.
“Who’s that?” Daze pointed to the photo on Amber’s phone.
“That’s Jill’s boyfriend.”
“His name is Drake, and he’s very hot,” Pearl said.
“He isn’t my boyfriend. We’ve been out a couple of times, that’s all.”
The twins grinned inanely at me.
“What? We’re just friends.”
Daze took my arm, and said, “Can I have a word?”
Anything to get away from the twins.
When we were out of earshot, she said in little more than a whisper, “I know Drake. I arrested him three years ago.”
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