Jean felt better when Carl left her later that evening. He had helped her to choose and order a new laptop. At last she felt that she had the situation under control. “Thanks so much love. I have to say I was a bit freaked out. I’m thinking I might take this picture for Bob Rather to have a look at.”
“I reckon you’re worrying about it all too much. There’s no way they could think that you’ve done anything wrong.
“Well possibly you’re right but it’s a nasty thing isn’t it?”
“And there’s nothing else that you can remember. No-one that you’ve had a bit of a row with, another writer perhaps who wants to discredit you somehow.”
“No. I think it’s somebody just being mean, because they can, which is horrible. Mind you I think I need to speak to the police anyway..”
“It’s probably nothing but, I’ve been thinking about it constantly and, there was a car, I think there was anyway. I think there was a car parked behind the bushes. I should tell the police about that shouldn’t I. For certain I should. Well that’s good because it gives me a genuine reason to get in touch. Maybe if there are any cameras round about there, maybe at the junction just after the bridge, or by that little row of shops, they’ll be able to find it and the driver might have seen something.”
“Dunno. I’d just let it all go if it was me but, well, you and your imagination.” He laughed as he stepped out into the dark evening. She closed and locked the door, heard the satisfying click of all the new locks and for good measure she slid the chain into the little runner.
It had been a good evening, she’d accomplished much and sharing the experiences with Carl had done a lot to lift her mood.
She filled Slumpy’s water and biscuit bowls and went upstairs. It was time for a lovely long bath and then bed with a book. It had been an unsettling couple of days and she was tired to the bone.
She fell asleep with the Kindle still in her hand.
Insistent ringing eventually dragged her back from the depths of her dreams. The nearest phone was in the kitchen and as she ran down the stairs a chill ran through her. She was nervous in her empty house, it was the first time for years that she had felt it and she silently cursed the thieves who had stolen her peace of mind, which was so much more precious than the replaceable electronics and cash.
Calls in the middle of the night were rarely good news. As she reached across the work top she felt a quiver of nerves. It was almost one in the morning. She swallowed and cleared her throat.
“Jean, it’s Lesley. I know it’s late, sorry but I’ve just got in. I hope I didn’t wake you guys.”
“Oh hello love, what’s wrong?”
“No, nothing. Carl came over to see you, yeah.”
“Yes, bless him he was lovely company, and he helped me out with some stuff.” Jean closed her eyes and bit back a sigh. She had asked Carl not to tell her sister about the problems. Lesley was a worrier and really, she hadn’t wanted to spend nervous energy fielding her sister’s imaginings. Ah well.
“So, can you tell him that I’ll be out tomorrow when he comes back, the boss has called a meeting at five so it could well be late, but he’s not to worry. I’ll leave him something in the fridge, I know he’s going training so he’ll be starving when he gets in. He didn’t say he was staying over, I hope you haven’t been getting my boy drunk. I did try calling but his phone’s flat or turned off.” She laughed as she spoke.
Jean couldn’t find a way to react without causing panic. She closed her eyes, struggled with various forms of words.
“Are you there, hello Jean.” Her sister’s voice demanded response. “I didn’t mean it, I know you wouldn’t get him drunk, of course not.”
“Lesley. He’s not here now. He left quite a while ago. Are you sure he wasn’t going on somewhere else?”
“What do you mean, he’s not there? I’ve got his text here. Going to see Aunty Jean, staying for dinner.”
“Yes, and he did love, he did. Look at your messages, are you sure there are no more, maybe he went to see his mates after he left here.”
“Well, what time was that?”
“I think it was about half past ten.”
“No, there’s no more messages. Maybe he’s gone to his dad’s. Although he usually tells me. I’ll ring him, that’s probably what’s happened. I’ll give him what for, worrying me like this.”
“Okay love. Look, I’m going to stay up until you’ve spoken to him. Ring me back won’t you, just so I know he’s okay.”