Authors: Adele Abbott
Witch Is Why
Time Stood Still
Published by Implode Publishing Ltd
© Implode Publishing Ltd 2016
The right of Adele Abbott to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved, worldwide. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, dead or alive, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
If you’ve read the first 12 books in the Witch P.I. mystery series (the Witch is When… books) you can skip this section.
For those of you joining late, I would highly recommend starting at book one (Witch is When it all Began) in order to get the most enjoyment from the series. However, if you prefer to start with this book, here is a very brief rundown of what’s happened so far.
Jill Gooder is the star of the Witch P.I. Mysteries. A private investigator, she only recently discovered that she was a witch. Since then, she’s lived a double life in the human world (in Washbridge), and in the world of supernaturals (in Candlefield). Jill is able to move between the two worlds at will. She has adventures in both of those worlds.
Jill’s birth family comprises of her grandma, her aunt Lucy, and her twin cousins, Amber and Pearl. In the human world, Jill’s adoptive parents died some time ago. She’s still very close to her sister, Kathy, and Kathy’s family: husband, Peter, and their two children, Lizzie and Mikey.
Jill has had an on/off, sometimes fiery relationship with Jack Maxwell, a detective in the Washbridge police force. When we last saw Jill (in book #12, Witch is When All Was Revealed), Jack had asked her to move in with him. This book picks up the story twelve months later.
Arguably, the star of these books is Winky (at least according to him). Winky is a one-eyed cat who is completely crazy, as you’ll soon find out.
I hope you enjoy the Witch P.I. Mysteries.
The office just wasn’t the same. The furniture was the same, the decor was the same, and even the window-blinds were the same (still stuck). But without Winky, the office felt empty; it was so quiet. He might have driven me mad with all his moaning and groaning, and with all the mischief he got up to, but somehow I still missed him.
The voice from the intercom almost made me jump out of my skin.
I pressed ‘speak’. “Yes, Jules?”
“There’s a gentleman out here. A Mr Halfway, Arnold Halfway. He wonders if you could spare him a few minutes.”
“Certainly, will you show him in, please?”
“Okay, will do.”
I hadn’t been expecting anyone. I had no appointments booked for today. Or tomorrow. Or—well, you get the picture. So, I certainly wasn’t about to turn away a prospective client.
I put him in his early sixties, maybe even older, but his hair was still thick and Jet black. As soon as he walked through the door, I noticed he had a nervous twitch in his nose—a bit like a rabbit wearing glasses. I was mesmerised.
“Miss Gooder?” the rabbit said.
“That’s me.” I stood up and offered my hand. “Pleased to meet you. Thank you, Jules.”
“Would you like a tea or coffee, Mr Halfway?” Jules asked.
“Tea for me, please. Milk, no sugar.”
“Jill?” Jules turned to me.
“I’ll have tea too—with my usual sugar, please.”
Jules frowned. She still couldn’t get her head around my exacting sugar requirements.
“Just bring the sugar through. I’ll see to it,” I reassured her.
“What can I do for you, Mr Halfway?”
“Please call me Arnold; everyone does.”
“Okay, Arnold. I’m Jill. How can I help?”
“I own the jewellers on Pretty Road—close to the library.”
“I know the one. I bought a pair of earrings for my sister’s birthday from there last year. I forget the name of the shop, though.”
“Of course. Great name. So how exactly can I help you, Arnold?”
“There’s been a spate of thefts recently. They’ve targeted several of the jewellers in Washbridge, not just my own.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t remember seeing anything about it in the local press.”
“There was some coverage in The Bugle, but it was buried in the inside pages. They were more interested in carrying an article about a dog that had turned pink, on their front page.”
“I don’t know the details; I didn’t read the article. I’m not a big fan of The Bugle.”
“Me neither.” I hated that rag with a passion.
A few moments later, Jules came in, carrying a tray. This was the part I dreaded; the girl had no sense of balance whatsoever. The tea was slopping out of the cups, onto the tray. By the time she’d put it on my desk, there was as much tea on the tray as there was in the cups.
“Sorry, Jill. I seem to have spilled a bit.”
“It’s okay, Jules, I’ll see to it. Thanks.”
I kept a supply of cloths in the top drawer of my desk for just such eventualities. I wiped Arnold’s cup, and put it on a coaster, then did the same with mine.
“A little bit clumsy your PA, isn’t she?” He was staring at the tea on the tray.
“She’s relatively new to the job, and still a little nervous.”
“You were telling me about the thefts.”
“Indeed. My own shop has suffered three robberies in recent weeks.”
“What about your alarm system and locks? How did the robbers get past those?”
“No, you misunderstand. The robberies didn’t take place when the shop was closed; they happened during the day when it was open.”
“You mean armed robberies?”
“No, thank goodness. The circumstances are very peculiar indeed. It would probably be best if I explained exactly what happened.”
“Please do.” If there hadn’t been a break-in, and it wasn’t an armed robbery, I was baffled.
“The most recent theft from my shop was exactly the same as the two previous ones. The only difference this time was that I was behind the counter. On the previous two occasions it had been one of my assistants. I was attending to a young couple who were looking for wedding rings. I had a tray of rings on the counter in front of me. Then, all of a sudden, they disappeared. All of them.”
“When you say disappeared, do you mean the tray vanished?”
“No, the tray was still there, but all of the rings had gone.”
“How is that possible?”
“I have absolutely no idea. That’s why I’m here to see you, today. I’m hoping you might be able to throw some light on it.”
“Let me get this straight. You’re saying that you didn’t see anyone take the rings even though the tray was right there in front of you?”
“That’s precisely right. One second they were there, and the next they were gone.”
“What about the young couple you were serving? Did they see anything?”
“No. They were just as baffled as I was.”
“And the same thing happened on the previous two occasions?”
“Yes. The first time, it was a tray of necklaces, and the next, a tray of bracelets. But essentially, the same thing happened on each occasion.”
“What do the police make of it?”
“They are completely baffled. If it wasn’t for the fact that this has happened at other shops, I’m sure they would have suspected me of insurance fraud.”
“Have you spoken to the other owners?”
“Yes. Although we’re competitors, we all know each other quite well. They all describe exactly the same thing happening: A tray full of jewellery one moment—an empty tray the next.”
“Do any of the shops have CCTV installed?”
“They all do. In a jeweller’s shop, it’s pretty much a necessity.”
“Did the CCTV capture anything which might give a clue as to what happened?”
“Nothing at all. All the shops have a recording of the moment when the robberies took place, but none of them show anything that gives a clue as to how the jewellery disappeared.”
“I’ve never heard of anything quite like this. And you say the police have drawn a blank?”
“Yes, pretty much. They’ve viewed the CCTV too. They even took the equipment away for a while to see if the recordings had been tampered with. But they’ve now returned it, and confirmed the recordings have not been compromised. Do you think you can help?”
“I’ll be absolutely honest with you, Arnold, it’s one of the more unusual cases to cross my desk, but I like a challenge, so I’ll be happy to take it on.”
“That’s great.” He stood up and offered his hand.
“I’ll be in touch in a few days to arrange a visit to your shop. I’d like to talk to your staff, and view the CCTV. I’ll also need a contact name at the other shops.”
“That sounds fine.” He gave me his business card. “Call me anytime.”
After he’d left, Jules appeared, tail between her legs. “I’m sorry about the tea, Jill.”
“You really have got to get to grips with the drinks situation. Look at this tray; it’s swimming in tea.”
“Whenever I’m carrying a tray of drinks, I get nervous, and my whole sense of balance goes out of the window.”
“From now on, it might be better if you bring them in one cup at a time.”
“That’s a great idea, Jill. I’ll do that.”
“Jules had only been back with me for a couple of months. Gordon Armitage had poached her from me not long after Winky had recruited her. Gordon had only done it to get at me—little knowing that I’d planned to let her go anyway. She’d only lasted a little over nine months at Armitage, Armitage, Armitage and Poole, but then had been unceremoniously kicked out by Gordon.
Fortunately for Jules, it was around that time that Mrs V had said that working full-time was becoming a bit of a strain, and she needed to reduce her hours to two or three days a week. I’d offered Jules the chance to job-share with Mrs V. By then, she’d gained quite a bit of experience working in reception next door. Jules had been thrilled. The money was obviously less than she’d been getting, but it was better than being out of work.
So, for the last two months, Mrs V and Jules had been job sharing. It had started off okay, but more recently, a little friction had developed between them. And, of course I had to be the referee.
Just then, I heard what sounded like a small engine.
Could it be?
I glanced out of the window. Yes! Hooray!
The microlight came sailing through the open window, and skidded across the floor, coming to a halt near the door
“Winky! You’re back! How are you?”
He took off his crash helmet and rubbed his fur. “I’m great. Have you missed me?”
“Nah. I hardly noticed you’d gone.”
“Did you have a good time?”
“Excellent, really excellent.”
Socks, Winky’s brother, who’d been piloting the microlight, took off his crash helmet. “Hello there, little witchy.”
I gave him an icy glare. Winky may have forgiven his brother for the way he tried to steal Bella, but that didn’t mean I had to.
“Hello, Socks.” I managed, through gritted teeth.
“You look really pleased to see me.” He grinned.
“I trust you’re not staying.”
Winky turned to Socks. “I told you, bro, you’re not welcome here. I’m glad you and I have buried the hatchet, but you can’t expect Jill to forgive and forget so easily. You’d better get going. I’ll keep in touch.”
“Okay, bro. No worries.” Socks climbed back onto the microlight, and moments later, he was flying out of the window.
“I really don’t understand how you could forgive him,” I said.
“I’m not one to hold grudges. Unlike you.”
“I don’t hold grudges.”
“Are you kidding? If someone crosses you, they’re on your blacklist for life. Anyway, Socks had to fork out for a new microlight. That was punishment enough. So, how are things here? Still counting paperclips and sorting rubber bands?”
“I’ll have you know I’ve just landed a case. A jewel robbery.”
looking up.” He grabbed his backpack. “Somewhere in here I have a present.”
“You shouldn’t have.”
I should have known.
“I bought her a necklace—real gold.”
“Don’t sulk. I’ve bought you something too.”
“You didn’t think I’d forget you, did you? There you go.”
He handed me a small gift-wrapped package. How very sweet of him. He wasn’t all bad, despite what some might say.
I ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the box.
“It’s a can opener.”
“An electric one.”
“But, it’s a can opener.”
“They’re much quicker than the manual ones. Which reminds me: red not pink.”