As promised here is part 3 and 4 of my four-part story, Sordid Secret.
I hope this OK, I haven't had a lot of time to work on these today due to a family emergency. I would have liked to have edited them and improved them further so really parts 1-4 are all just first drafts of a story.
I did want to share the full plot with my readership and I don't deny the story does need polishing but as a first draft I am pleased with it. I know I will read this back and think of loads of possible amendments. Another thing I always do is try to improve more 'showing' rather than 'telling' when I edit too, so that the story isn't too much 'I said', 'he was', 'she did' etc...
The bubbles tickled my chin as I sank into the water. I grabbed my wine glass and took a swig. It wasn’t that I even enjoyed the vinegary taste, it was just that I was getting a taste for alcohol now, it was becoming a habit. I didn’t get drunk but it was nice to help me relax. I had survived the evening with Peter, hearing glowing reports as ever, for our daughter Jenny. The fact he was proud of her and grinned when they praised her really boiled my blood, as if he was solely responsible – smug git!
It was gone midnight, Jenny stayed over at her dad’s place and I came home, alone. As usual my work came with me and I knew I wasn’t going to sleep tonight so I might as well have a soak and mull the case over in my mind.
I rested my head back and relaxed. The ache in my back and feet eased in the heated water and I could feel the tension escape from my shoulders. My eyes closed but my fingers clutched the wine glass tightly, resting it on my stomach. I had heard of the name Max Riches before and I knew he was bad news but I couldn’t recall what for. A full background check would be completed on him tomorrow and I could then pay him a visit, once I had all the facts.
Another swig of wine meant my wine glass was empty. I put the glass down, took a deep breath, and dunked my head under water. I shot up quickly, spraying the tiles as flicked my hair up over. A quick scrub of my hair and body, then a rinse meant I was ready to get out, and ready for my next glass of wine.
I slipped into some comfortable pyjamas and tied my hair back. My fluffy slippers tickled the soles of my feet as I slid my foot over the top of them and pushed my foot, down and inside. My laptop was still open on the dining room table, but the first pit stop was my chilled wine in the fridge. The pink colour soon glugged to the top of the glass.
Loud banging on the front door drew my attention. I wasn’t expecting anyone, especially not at half ten in the evening. I looked through the spy-hole and there was Nick, standing on my step.
‘Nick, what are you doing here?’
‘She’s dead, Sally, I’ve just heard an hour ago. How can she be dead?’
A pale, trembling, Nick, barged passed me and into the house. His eyes looked red and watery. He paced up and down the front room.
‘Look, Nick, I’m sorry about your sister, but I don’t think it’s very appropriate…’
‘I don’t care about it being appropriate, for fuck’s sake, Sally, my sister is dead and I have no-one. I thought I had you but you push everyone away in fear of what people think. You are your precious career, well I’m sorry, I didn’t have anywhere else to go!’
I knew the only thing inappropriate here was me, and my cold attitude towards everyone. The comments stung, because they were true, but my hard exterior wasn’t about to display any inch of emotion. I coolly headed to the kitchen, pressed a glass against the ice machine, took the best whiskey from the cupboard and filled the glass. Nick was still pacing so I pushed him onto the couch and pressed the glass into his hand. I returned a minute later with my wine glass and the bottle of whiskey, and sat in my arm chair.
Nick’s glass was already empty so I offered him the bottle, which he accepted.
‘What happened?’ he asked
‘Well, she was in her room. Looked like an over-dose at first but she has bruising round her neck. They are all I can tell you at the moment I’m still waiting for forensics.’
‘Well your Nan thought you might be able to help with that.’
‘I don’t know erm… I hadn’t seen her much. I paid for her bills and flat to help her but I thought she was clean now. She seemed to be getting back on her feet.’
‘Can you think of anyone?’
‘Well, there’s Max Riches her ex, she had been friendly with a lad called Jo who lived in one of the flats near her. She had a mate called Kerry and Ruby, but I thought she’d cut all ties with that lot and Max. She did owe money to a mate of Max’s called Stan. At one time, he had her working off the money by sleeping with his mates. He was inside when she moved but I don’t know if he still is or not. I don’t know how they would’ve found her though.’
‘Had she been seeing anyone?’
‘Not that I know of, why?’
‘I just wondered. Look Nick, I know I can be cold, it’s my nature. I’m sorry about your sister but we’ll catch the killer, it’s what we do.’
‘I just can’t believe she’s dead, Sal, and that I’m never gonna see my sister again.’
He put his head down.
‘We were close, you know. Maybe not as much as of late, but we lost our parents when we were young and we always looked out for one another. She went down the wrong path, and I tried to save her but she hung around with the wrong crowd and I wasn’t there as much as I had started the force, and when she lost Jersey, that was it. A piece of her died too that day. She blamed herself and she blamed me too!’
‘Well it wasn’t your fault, Nick, none of this is.’
‘It’s because I wasn’t there, I abandoned her. Our relationship wasn’t the same after that. I tried to make it up to her, give her a fresh start in this flat, away from the losers, but now she’s dead.’ He sobbed.
I had never seen Nick like this and I wasn’t good with emotional people. I sat next to him and put my arm around him.
‘You did all you could. You tried to save her, but some people don’t want to be saved. She obviously still hung around with the wrong people.’
Nick’s head flopped against my chest and I could feel his warm breath against my breasts. Nick and I had a thing when Peter first left me for Julie six months ago. We got on well, and banged into each other in the pub one night and found we had a lot in common. At first it was just sex and it helped me get over Peter, but Nick wanted more, he wanted a relationship – something I certainly wasn’t ready for. After a couple of month, word started to get round the station and I knew I was in line for promotion, so six weeks ago, I ended it. I didn’t have any regrets but now he was here, I wondered why I was bothered about the tittle-tattle in the station. We didn’t work for the same division, and it wasn’t frowned upon, it was just the talking and snickering. He was seven years younger than me and I think the women found that amusing, whereas the men just thought I was up for anything as I kept getting comments saying If you’re ever bored of Nick, I’m available. Considering most of the guys were married I felt insulted, as after Peter’s affair it was the last thing I would do to anyone.
My fingers ran through Nick’s hair and I rested my chin on his head. He smelled good, I always liked his autograph aftershave, in fact I bought it. I could feel his mouth nibbling on my breast through my pyjama top. I felt aroused and I knew I wanted him. Maybe he was right, maybe I was scared of what others thought too much, and not in tune with what I wanted. I stroked his hair again, running my fingers down by his chin and lifted his head. His big, brown eyes looked into mine and he lunged, to kiss me. I pressed my body towards him and kissed him back. I swung my leg behind him and he pulled me close, onto his lap. His lips pressed against my neck, and he tugged my top over my head and I raised my arm to make it easier. He threw me back over onto the couch and climbed on top kissing my mouth gently, but hungrily. My hands fumbled at the belt on his jeans and his buttons but it was all so fast and before I knew it, he was in me.
‘I love you.’ I whispered as my legs tightened around his waist. I don’t know why I said it, it just came out and I could feel myself blushing, horrified.
When I woke the next day I was alone. On the pillow next to me was a red rose from my garden, and a note saying love you. It made me smile. Soppy git.
I wrapped the sheet around me and headed for a shower. The reflection in the mirror looked different, I looked refreshed and happy. It was warm and I slipped on a strappy maxi dress covering my arms with a suit jacket.
When I drove to the station, I found myself thinking of what me and Nick saying I love you, meant. Did it mean anything? Or was it just words? Had he said it because I did? I wasn’t sure but I knew one thing, I wasn’t going to worry about what anyone thought any more. I’d solve his sister’s murder case and then we could go public, if he still wanted a relationship with me. I was sick of living my life for others and I wanted my own happiness.
‘You look erm… different, I mean erm… nice, Ma’am’ Moore stuttered when I entered the office.
‘Aw thanks, Moore,’ I said in a sarcastic tone.
He followed me into the office. ‘Listen, he said. Sacha Mason. Turns out she’s in the early stages of pregnancy. Nate reckons he can test the foetus for DNA.’
‘Good one, get on that then. Already are Ma’am. Oh, and Max Riches is in reception and asking to speak to someone.’
I stood up.
‘Does he want to confess?’
‘No. But he said he has important information. He only wants to talk to you.’
I headed down to reception.
‘Max Riches,’ I shouted. ‘Come this way!’
A tall man with spiked blond hair walked towards me. He was broad and looked very clean and tidy: quite handsome, with a bit of stubble. His leather jacket looked expensive, and his blue eyes looked calm and kind. Not at all what I expected.
‘Are you Sally Bernard?’ he asked.
‘I am. I was going to come and find you today Mr Riches. Just for a chat.’
‘I wondered how long before I would be in the limelight.’
‘You didn’t even give me chance to read the background check.’ I smiled.
‘I wanted to put my point across before I’m framed, again.’
‘Well we’ll listen to anything you have to say, Mr Riches. DI Moore will be along a in a minute, he’s my partner.’
I wondered what he meant by framed. Maybe he knew something, Nick mentioned Max’s friend.
I started to read the background check. Grievous bodily harm, seven years ago. Drug dealing six years ago with a stint inside. Grievous bodily harm, four years ago. Drunk and disorderly, three and a half years ago. Drugs suspected dealing but only charged for personal use three years ago. Cautioned for harassment, three years ago. Drug dealing, actual bodily harm, and cautioned – suspected pimp, two and a half years ago with a stint inside.
‘According to your record, you have been out for the past two years and managed to keep yourself out of trouble.’
‘Yes. According to my record.’
DI Moore entered.
‘OK. Max, you know the victim Sacha Mason. Did you have a relationship with her?’
‘Yes, but I’m here to give you information voluntary, so are you going to listen?’
‘Sure, why not!’
‘Sacha Mason is an ex-girlfriend of mine. I knew her from school and she lived near me with her Nan.’
I nodded and raised my eyebrows for him to continue. Moore scribbled notes.
‘Sacha and I started to have a relationship and Sacha became pregnant. Jersey was born and I loved her. I visited her every day, along with Sacha. Her brother had a problem with me. He didn’t like us being together and became obsessed. He was away training for the police, but when he heard of us being together he made every excuse possible to travel home and eventually got a role here six years ago, just after the birth of Jersey. Nick was over protective and obsessed with Sacha, and I came here to tell you to investigate him over her murder, because you’ll be surprised with what you might find out.’
Max stood up and walked towards the door.
‘Where are you going Mr Riches? Is that all, all you have to say? Please, sit down and answer our questions now to ensure you haven’t wasted out time. You can’t just make accusations or suggestions of who WE need to investigate and leave with giving us nothing to go on. Nicholas Mcdonald is an upstanding officer, without any blotches on his record. What makes you think he needs investigating?’ I said sternly.
Max turned with a grin.
‘I knew this would happen. You would never believe any of your own do anything wrong.’
Max walked back to the table and sat down. He leaned forward onto his elbows.
‘You see, if you look at my record more closely, detectives, you will see.’
He slouched back in the chair grinning.
Moore and I looked down at the report. Moore started pointing to the recurring name.
Grievous bodily harm against Nicholas Mcdonald, drug dealer informant and surveillance carried out by Nicholas Mcdonald. Grievous bodily harm again, arrested by Nicholas Mcdonald. Drunk and disorderly – arresting officer – Nicholas Mcdonald. Harrassment order, Sacha Mason, investigating officer, Nicholas Mcdonald, drug dealing, actual bodily harm – arresting officer, and intelligence of being a pimp provided by Nicholas Mcdonald.
Moore looked at me, and then looked back at Max.
‘What is it you are suggesting? A policeman lived opposite you and investigated you, what’s your problem, that’s their job?’
‘Oh, OK. There is no coincidence then. So why wasn’t I in any trouble with the law before I started dating this police officer’s sister? Can you tell me that. Einstein?’
‘Mr Riches, you aren’t seriously suggesting…’
‘I’m not suggesting, I’m telling you what I know. You’re the detectives, suggestions are down to you.’
He sat forward again and held his hands together on the table.
‘Jersey, wasn’t my child, Jersey was his! Actual bodily harm, two and half years ago – I’m actually guilty of that one. Thought I might as well make it worthwhile going to prison for, seen as he keeps getting away with framing me because I was having a legal relationship with his sister. That girl was lovely, but she was messed up. He had a hold over her and she went along with whatever he said, but she blamed herself for Jersey’s death. One night, she came to mine off her face and cried. She told me the truth and she blamed both her and Nick because she thought the heart defect was due to the incestuous relationship. After I was arrested he moved her away and I kept my distance. I used to see her pop in her Nan’s from time to time but didn’t want to get in any more trouble. She came to see me three weeks back and told me she wanted another chance, but I said no. She said Nick had found someone else and she was tired of being controlled by him. I told her it was too late and she wasn’t happy. She said Nick had ruined her life.’
This couldn’t be Nick, having a relationship with his sister, being so controlling and deceitful. The Nick I knew was kind, loving, and a model policeman.
‘This is a wild accusation, Mr Riches.’
‘Is it? Well she’s pregnant now and I can prove it ain’t mine love. Sacha didn’t tell him, she wanted me to run away with her and bring the baby up as mine. I told her she was a mess and there was no way.’
Moore and I looked at each other. Max was very convincing and if I hadn’t have known Nick, I would have believed him. But there was no way this was Nick.
‘Stay here!’ Moore said to Max and we headed out.
‘Watch him! Don’t let him leave,’ he told the officer outside.
We went to my office.
‘What do you think?’ Moore asked.
‘I don’t know, I don’t know what to think, Nick, would erm… Urgh! But the detective in me tells me we should definitely investigate.’
‘Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way, Sally. I’ve known you for a long time, let’s look into it at least.’
I nodded. Moore was right, we had to look into this, whether I wanted to believe it or not.
‘I’ll telephone forensics and ask if they think the foetus could have been fathered by a relative.’ I said.
‘I’ll telephone some of these other witnesses. If Riches was thought to be a pimp, it might be worth seeing if there were any girls on the radar that he was linked to.’
‘Nick told me that Sacha had two friends, Kerry and Ruby. See if you can find out who they are and what they know. Maybe she confided in them.’
Moore nodded and left my office, quickly.
I phoned forensics.
‘Ah, I was just about to call you with some interesting news.’ Phil said.
‘The foetus had a strange DNA combination and when I ran it through the system, it matched a PC Nicholas Macdonald. He must be a close relation of the victim.’
I hung the phone up without speaking. I didn’t even need to ask the question. Nick’s DNA was in the system already. I was no longer concerned with Moore’s investigations, I marched out of the office and to the interview room.
‘Come on, Moore.’ I yelled.
Moore put down the telephone and followed me.
‘Mr Riches, sign there and you are free to go. Your information was very useful and you may be called to give evidence.’
I walked quickly out of the door and out of the building.
‘Ma’am,’ Moore said.
‘Ma’am… Ma’am… Sally!’ he yelled.
I turned and looked at him.
‘Where are we going?’
‘Back to Sacha’s flat.’
I sped off and arrived in very little time. My head was spinning.
‘Go and visit Jo, here is a picture of Nick, ask him what he knows of this man and his connection to Sacha.’
I took two stairs at a time and burst into Sacha’s flat. I tried to place to Nick there but there was nothing. The place had been tore apart by investigators.
I needed something, some sort of evidence. I went to the kitchen and looked in the cupboard but they were bare. A lonely tin of beans on one shelf, and an old looking biscuit tin on the second shelf. I shot on a glove, and stretched for the tin. The lid came off easily and inside, was a picture of a young Nick, with the victim and a baby girl. There was also an old looking phone. I switched it on but it had no sim. I started searching through the phone in the photos, I came across pictures of me. At the station, at the supermarket, and even outside my house with my kids. In the messages, there were saved messages, saying; I’m going to tell Sally everything; you ruined my life and got rid of the one I love, now it’s my turn; say goodbye to your career like Max did; and you’re not going to get away with abandoning me again.
Moore had entered the kitchen behind me and I held out the phone. I had to hold in the tears, and shivers ran up and down my spine.
‘Get him in!’ I told Moore as I stormed back to the car.
I let Moore drive after he had finished on his phone ordering for Nick to be brought in for questioning.
‘So do you want to know what Jo said?’ he asked.
‘Sure,’ I said. ‘What?’
‘He said that the man in the picture was Sacha’s boyfriend but he didn’t live here and although he used to be here every night, over the past six months he visited less and less. He said Sacha said she was pregnant but that the father had been seeing someone else and before she left the area, she was going to ruin his relationship and career, so he knew what it was like.’
I nodded and gulped back my dread.
‘He also said that he had seen him a few days before Sacha was killed, on the Wednesday, when she died Friday according to forensics, and they were arguing about someone called Max.’
A sickly feeling came over me. I had been sucked in by this madman, but so had so many others. How many lives did Nick have to ruin?
‘Kerry and Ruby, also said Nick paid them to say they were prostituted out by Max, but when it started to get serious and Mac was threatened with a lengthy jail sentence they chickened out. They were reluctant to talk until I told them Sacha was dead and it was important they told the truth about Max and Nick as we had evidence. I told them they need to come and make a formal statement.’
‘Good!’ I croaked. ‘I need to speak to him first, Moore. Unofficially.’
I needed to speak to Nick unofficially to tie loose ends up between us, but I agreed not to be involved any further with the investigation and took some holidays. Nick pleaded with me, he told me how him and Sacha had only had one another for a long time and I felt sorry for them. How they had never been the same after Jersey and how they felt so close and loved each other, yet they knew it was wrong and tried to break it off but couldn’t. How they became so jealous if one of them was seeing anyone else. Sacha had found out about him and me, and told him she was going to tell all. She became unruly and mad with rage, and very vengeful towards him. He knew she blamed him for Jersey as well as herself, and hadn’t told him she was pregnant again with his child, and he broke down at that point as he had killed both his sister, his lover, and his child.
He begged for my forgiveness, but I was upset with myself, that I had been sucked in. I told him I forgave him, but could never be involved with something so fucked up. He became angry at that point and tried to defend his relationship.
‘You need help, Nick. Even now you can’t see. You murdered someone, your own sister, a person you loved. I don’t even know you or what you are capable of.’
That was the last words I spoke to Nick Mcdonald. A few months later, I gave birth to his son.
Hope you enjoyed, laters, Janet :)