This is part 4 of ‘Murder and Mince Pies’, if you need to catch up before reading: click here.

The next afternoon begins to remind Emmeline of the time she was snowed in as a child. Her school had closed for the day as most students and teachers were unable to get there through the thick snow that blanketed the world, hiding the shapes of the earth beneath. She’d looked through the window dreaming of the world beyond, of jumping in the untouched snow that coated their garden and making snow angels. Her dad hadn’t let her go outside though, banning his child from venturing into the icy cold outside for fear that she’d catch a cold.

She hands Patrick his coffee and sips hers, leaning on the kitchen counter and thinking of all the places that she could escape to. Whenever her dad was at home he’d told her bedtime stories of all the places he’d been: the blazing heat of his Spanish offices and the ice cold beauty of those in Russia. He’d painted a picture of beautiful little harbours and ancient winding streets in Italy. Those moments had built a craving within her to visit these places and she thought perhaps she’d take the next flight and work her way through the list in her heart from there.

“Have a seat Em.” Patrick doesn’t look up as he speaks, but maintains his perch on the edge of the sofa facing away from her. Emmeline doesn’t move. Her mind flicks back to Patrick’s face when he examined the bauble, and the emotion that flickered in his eyes too briefly to identify when he’d pulled the car over. “Emmeline?”

“I just think I’d better get off soon, probably not the time to be chilling out with a coffee Pat.” He turns around now and looks at her, this time the emotion stays on his face for long enough to recognise danger.

“Sit down.” Instinctively, she crosses the room and drops onto the other end of the sofa,, wringing her hands on the Mickey Mouse mug she’s holding. Patrick’s face returns its usual concrete lack of emotion and then he smiles at her. She is reminded of a dog baring its teeth. “Ok, here’s the plan. We’ll go to your Aunt’s in Spain, she’s got a big place right, we’ll stay there…”

“How d’you…”

“Or in fact, we could go to mine. I’ve got a holiday cottage over there, it’d be perfect. Why don’t you get some sleep, we’ll leave in the morning.”

“I was hoping you’d stay here and solve this case, clear my name…”

“I can’t leave you Emmeline, silly! I’ll be with you every step of the way. We’ll drive over and catch the ferry. Get to bed, we leave at 5am.” His eyes are glittering with something, perhaps the thrill of being in control. She isn’t sure, but something about his expression forces her from her chair and into her bedroom with uneasy steps. It doesn’t stop her slipping the little file of letters out of the drawer, and snatching the bauble from the sofa on her way out.

 

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