Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller| ePUB | 3.0 Mb
Ailsa Tilson moves with her husband and children to Trinity Fields in search of the new.
New project – a house to renovate. New people – no links to the past. New friends – especially her next-door neighbour, the lonely Verity, who needs her help.
Verity has lived in Trinity Fields all her life. She’s always resisted change. Her home and belongings are a shield, a defence to keep the outside world at bay. But something about the Tilsons piques her interest.
Just as her ivy creeps through the shared garden fence, so Verity will work her way into the Tilson family.
And once they realise how formidable she can be, it might well be too late.
A flighty wind was playing in the tree next to her, leaves spiralling past her shoulders.
‘If I’d rung an ambulance immediately would I have saved him? Was it already too late?’
I opened my mouth to answer, trying to control my expression. If only I had been near that night. If only I’d known he was home. ‘I don’t know.’
Maudie had disappeared from view, and even as I was concentrating on Ailsa, I made room for a small amount of mild panic. I fought the urge to stand up and call.
Ailsa’s head was making small darting movements, her eyes flickering with shadows. ‘They said the hemlock was what stopped him from breathing?’
It was a couple of seconds before I realised it was a question. I said: ‘I believe it paralyses the nervous and respiratory systems, and that is what leads to death.’
Her hands had fallen limply by her side. ‘I often said I wished him dead.’ She had begun to cry. ‘That things would be so much better if he were. But they’re not. It’s not fair. Everything always goes wrong for me. I wish I could turn back time.’
I felt impatient with her then and I stood up. ‘We’d better get going,’ I said crisply, and I pulled her to her feet – all those years fussing about her weight; I’m not sure these days she’s even eight stone – and, once I’d pinpointed the dog, I sort of frogmarched her home.
She’s asleep now. We’ve made her a nest in the front room, in one corner of the sofa, and she is conked out there. She was sweet when we got in. She held my hand to her cheek when I brought her her rooibos tea, said thank you for standing by her. I’ve been watching her – the tiny muscular flickers under her eyelids, the way her mouth opens, blown apart by her breath, then gently falls back into place. It’s a dear little face, really, heart-shaped, with the widow’s peak (ironic now) in her tawny hair, those distinctively upward-turning green eyes. The small dent of an old scar runs for an inch or so under her hairline. I don’t know how it got there. There is so much about her I don’t know.
She has a meeting with the QC this week. Until now I haven’t been too worried; I’ve been complacent. I thought it would work itself out. I told myself nothing on the surface was wrong with their marriage – they were the perfect couple. The case would be dropped, I assumed, or dismissed; after expressions of unending gratitude for all that I’ve done, she and the children would move back next door. Now, I don’t know. My head is full of thoughts. Who is she? How have we come to this?
Her tone this afternoon – I keep thinking about it. There was shock there, of course, and self-pity: her own particular ‘why does this have to happen to me?’ vein (the consequence, I think, of being slightly spoilt). And fear, and horror – watching Tom dissolve into something animal and unrecognisable before her eyes: ‘like a dog frothing’. All of this is understandable. Each of us deals with trauma in different ways. And after what she’s done for me, I’ll forgive her anything. I really will.
My fingers are still raw from scrubbing at the graffiti. I keep wondering who could posibly have done such a thing? What are they trying to tell me? It’s awful, but as she sleeps, and the night presses against the window, I feel scared for the first time. Have I made a mistake? It’s just one thing was missing from her outburst this afternoon, the one thing you’d expect to find in a tragedy of this kind.