Authors: Gillian Larkin
A Cara Daniels Cozy Mystery
“Her name is Yvette Carter, she’s
forty-two, is married and has a twelve-year-old son.” Robin paused and tapped
his chin. “And she’s going to be murdered in less than forty-eight hours. Or is
it twenty-four hours?”
Cara Daniels folded her arms and
studied the angel in front of her. He looked more like a member of a boy band
than a wise angel. “Can you be more precise? Is it forty-eight or twenty-four?
If I’m going to save this woman’s life I need to know when she’s likely to
Robin looked at his watch and tapped
it. “I’m going with forty-eight hours. Sorry, Cara, I’m still getting used to
this saving souls business. I don’t think my countdown watch is working
properly, it’s second-hand.” He suddenly snorted and held up his left hand.
“This is my first hand,” he lifted up his right hand, “and this is my second
Cara shook her head. “We haven’t got
time for your jokes, or what you think is a joke. Tell me more about Yvette
Carter, I’ll have to make contact with her.” She stood up from her desk and
said, “And will you please put your wings away! They’re too big for my living
Robin stuck his chest out and moved his
white-feathered wings slightly from side to side. He grinned and said, “I just
wanted to see my one silver feather again, it’s beautiful, don’t you think so?”
Cara said, “If we ever get round to
Yvette’s case you might get another silver one. Where does she live?”
Robin slowly retracted his wings. “It’s
like a medal for me, getting that silver feather. I know you get my old white
one when you save a soul but my silver one is nicer, don’t you think?” He
pushed back his floppy blond hair. “Do you think I should change my hairstyle?
I feel a bit outdated with this one.”
“Robin! Will you stop preening and tell
me about Yvette!” Cara exploded.
Robin jumped back. He held his hands up
to ward Cara off. “Whoa! No need to shout! What’s wrong with you?” He lowered
his hands and gave her a knowing smile. “That time of the month is it? I know
all about that, one of the other angels told me.”
Cara sighed. “No, it isn’t that time of
Robin nodded. “That time of your life
then, going through an early menopause. Are you having hot flushes? Your face
does look red.”
Cara’s hands curled into fists and she
forced herself to take a deep breath. “Robin, please tell me about this new
All joviality disappeared from Robin’s
face. He moved closer to Cara and placed a cool hand on her forehead. “Let me
feel your emotional temperature.” He looked into her eyes and said, “Oh, Cara,
I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were having such a hard time dealing with this
Cara gave him a wry smile. “You mean
this business of an angel turning up in my living room to warn me that someone
is going to be murdered, and that I’m the one who’s got to stop the murder
happening? Yes, I’m still trying to get my head around that.”
Robin removed his hand from Cara’s
forehead. He gave her a gentle smile and said, “Don’t forget about the saving
souls part, that’s important.”
“I haven’t forgotten that, it’s just …”
Cara looked away, “it’s just that I’m not sure I believe it’s true about
someone having a soul.”
The outraged gasp that erupted from
Robin made her jump. Robin’s hands flew to his chest and he spluttered, “Of
course people have souls! You have a soul! I can see it right now!” He pointed
at her and continued, “And those poor people who commit murder on the spur of
the moment, or through an accident, their souls wither and shrink until they
can’t feel them any more! You’ve already saved two lives, you saw how relieved
the people were when they realised they had just avoided committing murder.”
Cara sighed and looked at Robin. “I
know. It’s hard to believe in something that I can’t see.”
“You believe in me, don’t you?”
Cara nodded. “You’re standing in my
“You believe I’m an angel?”
Cara nodded again.
“Listen, Cara, I know about souls, I
know how delicate they are.” Robin indicated for her to sit on the sofa. Cara
did so, Robin sat by her side and picked up her hand. “Cara, although you might
think I’m a complete beginner to this saving souls business, I have had some
training.” He looked down at her hand. Cara felt something drop onto her hand,
it was a silver tear. She’d seen Robin cry before. Robin looked back up and
said, “I’ve been told about cases where the murder has gone ahead, and tragic
accidents that could have been avoided went ahead too. And I’ve heard about
desperate people in desperate moments who extinguish another’s life because
they thought it was the only way out. And, Cara, I know what happens to their
souls, it’s terrible.”
Cara said, “But why do these things
happen? Why aren’t there more people like me who can stop them?”
Robin released her hand. “Not everyone
is prepared to help, people walk past others in distress and don’t bat an
eyelid. But you, Cara Daniels, you will help, you’re going to save souls.” He
stood up abruptly. “Are you going to help Yvette Carter or not? We haven’t got
all day to chat!”
Cara stood and said, “I’m ready!”
Robin said, “She works at a shop called
Olivia’s Wool Shop. It’s not far from here.”
“Oh! I know where it is! It’s on Happy
Hill. I used to go there with Gran. It’s not really called Happy Hill, I used
to call it that because I was always happy when I walked up that hill!” Cara
laughed and clasped her hands together.
“Would you care to explain yourself?”
“When we’d go into town shopping, Gran
would always promise me a treat when we’d finished buying what we needed. Happy
Hill was a short walk away, it’s not really a big hill but it seemed that way
to my little legs. At the top of the hill was a parade of shops. Wonderful
shops! Sweet shops, toy shops, a joke shop even! There was a café that sold
amazing cakes. And Olivia’s Wool Shop! It’s right on the corner. Gran used to
take me there.” Cara grabbed her handbag and headed to the door. “Come on,
Robin! You’re going to love Happy Hill!”
Robin looked out of the car window.
“All we need now is a piece of tumbleweed to blow across the road and this
place will look like one of those ghost towns in cowboy films. Are you sure
this is your Happy Hill?”
Cara frowned. “It is. Or it used to be.
I can’t believe all those wonderful shops are now boarded up. It looks so run-down.”
Robin pointed to the shop on the
corner. “Olivia’s Wool Shop is still there. And it appears to be open. Shall we
“I suppose we’d better. You said Yvette
Carter works there. I wonder if she’s a relation of Olivia’s? I vaguely
remember Olivia, she made customers feel welcome and always had time to listen
to people’s problems.”
Robin said, “Do you want me to be
invisible or visible?”
Cara looked at him. “I think invisible
would be better. I’m not sure how I’d explain who you are. We don’t look at all
related and I don’t think I’d get away with referring to you as my boyfriend.”
Robin nodded. “That’s true, I look far
younger than you. Come on then.”
Cara walked across the road and pushed
open the door. She froze as the smell of wool hit her nostrils. She was taken
back to the times that she’d been here with Gran. Happy times. She missed
talking to Gran. But then Cara remembered Gran was on a world cruise and hadn’t
even bothered to send her a text, let alone a postcard!
Robin bounded into the shop and spun
around. “Cara! Look at all this wool! Look at all these colours! It’s amazing!
It’s like a rainbow threw up!”
Cara sighed. Maybe she should have told
Robin to stay in the car. She’d do her best to ignore him. Her attention was
drawn towards the woman behind the counter who was smiling at her. Cara knew
immediately it was Yvette Carter. Cara could see the fine black line that
surrounded Yvette, the death line that confirmed Yvette would be murdered soon.
Yvette said, “Good morning. Are you
looking for anything in particular?”
“Good morning,” Cara said and returned
her smile. “I used to come here with my gran. It looks just the same!”
Yvette laughed. “I wouldn’t dare change
a thing! This shop belonged to my mum, Olivia, as in Olivia’s Wool Shop. She
left the shop contents and tenancy to me. Mum died five years ago.” Yvette’s
smile faltered. “I do miss her but I feel close to her when I’m here.”
Cara nodded. “I remember the other
shops that were on the parade. What happened to them all?”
Yvette shook her head sadly. “They
weren’t making any money, I barely am either. It’s that new shopping centre at
the other side of town, everyone goes there now, it’s more convenient. Please,
have a look around the shop. What are you wanting to knit?”
Cara gave her an embarrassed smile. “I
can’t knit. Gran tried to teach me but I never got the hang of it.”
Yvette laughed. “I can help you, if you
like. It’s not as if I’m overrun with customers! Would you like me to teach you
how to knit? We could start with a scarf.”
“Would you really? That’s so kind of
you,” Cara said, glad that she could spend some time with Yvette.
Yvette waved a hand at her. “You’ll be
doing me a favour, it’s nice to have some company. Hang on, I’ll pop the kettle
on. We might as well have a cup of tea.” She disappeared into a back room.
“Cara!” Robin called out from behind
her. “Look at me! I’m a model!”
Robin was standing near a row of men’s
knitting patterns. He was in the same pose as a man who was swinging a golf club.
Robin shouted out, “Fore!” He moved to another pattern and adopted the pose of
a man wearing a cable jumper who was swinging an axe. “Timber!”
Cara couldn’t help but laugh.
Robin said, “You could knit me a
jumper. I like that one with a horse on it.”
Cara shook her head. “I think that’s
way out of my experience. I’m going to start with a scarf. Did you see Yvette?
She seems very nice. Are you sure she’s going to be murdered?”
“You know she is, you saw her death
line,” Robin said.
Yvette came back into the shop carrying
a tray. She set the tray down on the counter. She said, “How do you take your
“Milk, no sugar. Thank you.”
“And have you chosen some wool?”
Robin’s hand hovered over a pile of red
wool. He grinned at Cara and said, “You can make me a scarf, to go with my red
Cara picked up one of the balls of wool
and gave Robin a brief smile.
“Good choice,” Yvette noted. “Here’s
Cara walked over to the counter and
took the proffered cup. “Are you sure you’ve got time to teach me?”
Yvette nodded. “I’m making the most of
my last week in this shop. My lease is up soon and the landlord is due to see
me soon to talk about the renewal. Sol’s a good man and he’s let me renew the
lease even when the other shops closed down. He was a good friend of Mum’s. I
don’t think he’s going to let me renew it again.” Yvette looked round the shop.
“I’m not looking forward to Sol’s visit. My heart already feels like it’s
breaking at the thought of losing Mum’s shop. I think I might actually die if
Sol turns up today.”
The door to the shop opened and a
grim-faced man entered.
Yvette’s hands flew to her chest. “Sol!
Sol walked over to the counter, his
hands held outwards. Robin came to Cara’s side and said, “He’s a funny-looking
chap, isn’t he? All that hair on his chin and none on his head.” Robin tipped
his head and looked at Sol again. “He looks like he’s got his head on upside
Cara ignored him. She was too concerned
for Yvette who had now turned deathly white.
Yvette cried out, “Don’t say it, Sol! I
don’t want to hear the words.”
Sol rested his hands on the shop
counter. He shook his head slowly and said, “Yvette Carter, I’m very sorry to
say this, but I’m giving you the option to renew your lease.”
Yvette’s mouth dropped open.
Sol’s mouth twitched at the corners.
“You heard me, you can renew your lease. You don’t have to close the shop.”
“But … but … how? I thought you were
ready to close me down. I thought you were going to sell the whole block of
shops! Sol! Are you serious?”
Sol nodded and then burst into laughter.
“Yvette! You’ll never believe what’s happened! We’ve been saved, your shop is
going to survive and I’m finally going to make some money on the rest of my
Yvette’s eyes narrowed. “Have you been
drinking? Is this a cruel joke?”
“I haven’t had a drink yet, but I soon
will be.” Sol laughed again. “I can forget about torching this row of shops for
the insurance money now!” His laughter abruptly stopped when he saw Cara. “Oh.
How long have you been standing there? You don’t work for an insurance company,
Yvette said, “This is a customer.” She
looked at Cara. “I’m sorry, I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s Cara, Cara Daniels.” Cara looked
at Sol and said, “Is something happening with the rest of the shops?”
“It certainly is! The local council are
going to put some money into rejuvenating this area. They’re wanting to bring
more tourists in. They’ve given me a grant to update the shops on this parade!”
He paused to catch his breath. “Yvette, there’s even talk of a tram line being
laid, right from the centre of town, up the hill and along this parade! The
tram will stop right outside your shop. You’ll have more visitors than you can
handle! Isn’t it wonderful? I never dreamed something so amazing could happen!
Well? What do you think?”
Yvette shook her head. “I don’t know
what to think. Are you sure this is happening?”
“It is. I’ve just come back from the
town hall. The details are on their website. They want me to fill the empty
shops as soon as possible.” Sol beamed at Cara and Yvette. “It’ll be just like
old times.” There was a beep from his phone. He looked at it. “Oh, I have to
go. I’ve got potential tenants waiting for me. Yvette, I’ll come back later
with your renewal papers. Don’t worry, I won’t be increasing your rent! You’ve
been my one loyal customer. Catch you later!”
“Later!” Robin called out as Sol
hurried out of the shop.
“Well,” Yvette said as she picked up
her cup. She took a sip and looked at Cara. “Did that actually happen or did I
imagine it all?”
“It happened,” Cara said. “I witnessed
it. Wow, imagine that. All these shop units opening again. Are you pleased?”
Yvette put the cup down. A grin spread
across her face. “I am! I can’t believe it! It’s amazing news. I can’t wait to
tell my husband and son.”
“Why don’t you go home and tell them
now?” Cara asked.
“They won’t be home yet. Anyway, I
promised you that I’d teach you how to knit! You are not going to escape that
Robin perched on the end of the counter
and watched as Yvette taught Cara the basic steps of knitting. After a few
attempts Cara proudly held up the first part of her scarf.
“Not bad,” Yvette said.
Robin said, “Are there supposed to be
so many holes in it?”
Cara ignored him. She caught Yvette
looking at her watch. Cara said, “Sorry, I’ve been here too long. Have you
somewhere to go?”
“I thought I might buy something
special for dinner tonight, a celebratory meal. My husband has been on at me
for years to close this shop. I can’t wait to tell him what’s happened. I might
splash out and get a bottle of fizzy wine.”
“Don’t let me keep you.” Cara held up
her knitting again. “I’ll go home and practise my stitches.”
“You must come back and show me how
you’ve got on. Let me know if you need any more help.”
“I will do. Thanks again,” Cara said.
She headed for the door, Robin at her side.
Robin said, “Are you really going home
to practise your knitting? I think that scarf is beyond saving.”
Cara waited until they’d left the shop.
“We’re going to follow Yvette. I haven’t seen anyone yet who might be a threat
Cara had parked a little way down the
road. She got into the driver’s seat and looked back at Olivia’s Wool Shop.
Robin floated through the metal of the car and into the passenger seat. He
nodded towards the parade of shops and said, “There’s that funny-faced man
again, Sol. It looks like he’s talking to some potential clients.”
“Oh yes. I wonder what he’s saying to
them. Oh! Hang on, there are some listening devices under this seat.” Cara
reached under the seat and pulled out a small briefcase. She opened it up and
placed a small object on the dashboard.
Robin whistled. “I’d forgotten this is
your gran’s car. She’s an amazing soul saver.”
“Yes, you’ve told me that before.”
“She’s saved hundreds of souls. Needed
three angels to help her.”
“You’ve told me that too. Ssh! I’m
trying to listen.”
Cara and Robin listened as Sol spoke to
the two suited men in front of him. The taller man said, “We are more than
interested in this complex, we want two, maybe three retail units. I want that
one on the corner too.”
Sol said, “I’m afraid that’s already
taken, it’s staying as Olivia’s Wool shop.”
Cara heard the coldness in the man’s
voice as he said, “That’s a shame. It’s the best unit. Perhaps I can speak to
the person who rents the unit.”
Sol laughed. “Yvette Carter will never
leave that shop!”
Cara shivered as she saw the look that
passed between the two suited men.
There was some more talk as Sol
explained about the benefits of the retail units. The taller man assured Sol
that they’d be in touch soon and Sol walked away.
The two men were silent as they walked
towards a large car and got in.
“Why aren’t they driving away?” Robin
asked. “I don’t like how they’re looking at Yvette’s shop. What are they
Yvette came out of her shop and locked
it up. She walked towards a small car, got in and drove away. The car that
contained the two suited men drove after her.
Cara started the car up and said,
“Looks like we’ve found someone who might be a threat to Yvette.”