A Shroud for Delilah (DCI Webb Mystery Book 1)

A Shroud for Delilah (DCI Webb Mystery Book 1) by Anthea Fraser

Book: A Shroud for Delilah (DCI Webb Mystery Book 1) by Anthea Fraser Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anthea Fraser
‘I’ll have to hang up. I’ll be back as soon as I can.’
    Kate worried about Lana all morning and at lunchtime, reaching a decision, she phoned Madge.
    ‘Could you be an angel and keep Josh this afternoon till I collect him? Lana Truscott’s not well and apparently there’s no one to look after either her or her father. I thought I’d go over for a couple of hours and make myself useful, since it’s half-day closing.’
    ‘No problem. Stay for supper if you like; you won’t have time to prepare anything.’
    ‘Thanks, Madge.’
    Having checked Lana’s address from the filing cabinet, Kate bought a few provisions and collected her car from Lady Ann Square. She hadn’t used it during the ten days she’d been in Broadminster and the engine was slow to start.
    It was a pleasant day for a drive. The morning mist had given way to thick sunshine, which lay like a benediction on the autumn fields. Overhead against the blue arch of the sky a hawk hung like a chainless pendant before dropping silently on its prey.
    Kate turned off the main road at the Littlemarsh sign, hoping apprehensively that her visit would not be taken as interference. She hadn’t realized how small the village was. There seemed to be only the one road, with a few cottages on either side. Behind them, fields stretched to the skyline, some full of crops, some grazing land for cattle. The only address she had was The White Cottage, and Kate slowed down, eyes scanning both sides of the road. She passed several farms, a church, and a general store, and was beginning to think she must have missed the Truscotts’ house when, almost at the end of the village, she came to it.
    With a sigh of relief she parked the car, collected her purchases and walked up the path. The small garden was tidy and colourful in a regimented fashion, as though each flower knew better than to bloom out of place. The white step gleamed, the paint-work was clean and new. Kate raised the brass knocker and let it fall. Hardly surprisingly, no one came to answer it. Experimentally she turned the handle and the door swung open. The little hallway was deserted and there was a lingering smell of furniture polish. An old-fashioned coat-stand stood on the right; Kate recognized Lana’s jacket among the others. From a window on the landing the sunshine streamed down the blue-carpeted stairs as though inviting her to climb them.
    ‘Lana?’ she called softly. ‘It’s Kate. Can I come up?’
    There was no reply. A quick glance through the open doors beside her showed the rooms to be empty. Kate went up the stairs, calling as she went. ‘It’s Kate, Lana. Are you there?’
    Still no answer, and now the silence took on an eerie quality. Kate ran up the last few steps and pushed open the first door she came to. Lana was lying on her back, her face as white as the pillow and her dark hair spread loose about her. So still was she that for a heart-stopping moment Kate doubted if she were alive. Then her eyes opened, she gave a gasp and struggled into a sitting position.
    Kate said contritely, ‘I didn’t mean to startle you. I knocked, but the door was on the latch.’
    ‘I left it for the doctor.’ Lana was staring at her with an incomprehension left from sleep. ‘What are you doing here? Is something wrong?’
    ‘No, no, I thought you might need help. You said there wasn’t anyone else.’
    Lana flushed. ‘That’s very kind. The neighbours would come if I asked them, but I prefer to keep to myself. Ralph always said I was too independent for my own good.’
    ‘Well, now I’m here I’m going to cook lunch. I bought some fish — it doesn’t take much eating.’
    ‘Oh, Mrs Romilly!’ For a startled moment Kate thought she was about to weep.
    ‘I do wish you’d call me Kate,’ she said.
    ‘Thank you, yes. I — it’s just that I’m not used to being looked after. I’ll come down and show you where everything is.’
    ‘Indeed you won’t. I’m quite capable of finding

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