This is the fourth part of the Fiction Relay organised by May More. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to read the first three instalments, links to which you can find here.
Ellie’s best friend Susie was murdered in 1995 when Susie was 12 and Ellie 11 years old. In 2006 Ellie find an undeveloped film from that fateful day and sees on one of the photographs her husband Steve. What was he doing there? Susie’s parents never came to terms with what had happened and their marriage foundered. In Part Three we meet the investigating detective Phil Walker, himself a troubled man who finds solace in drink after the failure of his own marriage. From the pathologist’s report he concludes that there were two attackers. The story continues.
Steve had taken the keys to the flat from the office the previous night so that he could drive straight to Belper this morning. The firm had a couple of flats in the new development in an old mill by the Derwent and if he was buying his preference would have been for Number 14, with its high ceilings, spacious kitchen diner, its original features including riveted iron beams from the works. But the buyer, a Mr. Yarnold, had seemed insistent on viewing No. 6, which Steve thought, had been tucked into a corner of the building, almost as an afterthought. Maybe money was the issue? And number 6 was the cheapest flat in the building, not that any of them was particularly cheap.
The drive to Belper gave him thinking time too. To think about his relationship with Ellie. He had thought for some time that she had issues of trust and had seen her on more than than one occasion checking his phone although he had never confronted her about it. In the last couple of days she had become withdrawn, and unwilling to engage with him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I know there is I”
“Look, I am fine. OK?”
“Can we talk?”
“What do you want me to say? You are a good shag. OK. Is that what you want to hear?”
Ellie had taken a duvet out of the cupboard and gone to the spare room. Steve lay alone in the double bed of the master bedroom, thinking, hearing Ellie snoring in the next room. He masturbated, to Ellie, to Sam the escort he still saw occasionally, to…… but his heart wasn’t in it. He wanted Ellie.
It was about two o’clock when he crept into the tiny box room where Ellie was sleeping on the narrow bed, naked, uncovered as she had thrown the duvet off as she tossed and turned. She hadn’t drawn the curtains fully and a shaft of moonlight invitingly lit up her cunt. He stood there, hesitant at first, then went to lie next to her. She reached out in her sleep, put an arm round him.
“I thought you were never coming.”
He was hard. He slid a finger inside her and felt the slickness. He rolled her over onto her back, moved on top and fucked he, quickly, purposefully but gently. She purred as he he thrust in and out. He soon came and withdrew. He was sure he saw a smile on her face.
“Fuck me again baby.”
So he did, a fell into a deep sleep, his legs intertwined with hers.
It was the bright autumn sunshine that had replaced the moonlight that woke him up. It was nearly quarter to eight, he had forgotten the alarm which had, no doubt, been ringing uselessly in the master bedroom. Ellie wasn’t there. She had got up and gone to work without a word to him.
He rushed to get ready, he cold not be late for the viewing in Belper at 9 and Belper was nearly 45 minutes away. As he struggled with his cufflinks at the kitchen table, a piece of toast dangling from his mouth, he saw a note she had left for him.
“Have gone to Carla’s for a couple of days. Need time to think. Back Friday evening. I will have eaten so don’t bother cooking for me. E.”
That was it. E. It could have been a note to anyone. Not even a perfunctory x
It was still chilly when he stepped outside. He climbed into the car, started the engine and sat, waiting for the windscreen to clear. He was shaking.
Steve drove into Belper and drew up outside the building. There was a man waiting outside. Before getting out of the car Steve took a moment to weigh him up. He looked maybe early to mid 30s, had a black coat on over a grey suit. His lace up shoes were polished to a shine. That was a good sign. As an estate agent you looked for the small indications that a potential buyer could actually buy. When you were selling the more upmarket properties dreamers and timewasters were always a problem.
Steve looked again. There was a new 5 series BMW parked outside the building close to where the man stood. Steve smiled to himself. Thoughts of commission started running through his head. He got out of the car, straightened his suit and ran his fingers through his hair.
He walked up to the man.
The man nodded. Steve offered his hand.
“Steve Marchant, Senior Negotiator, Foster and Maw. Pleased to meet you. It’s just this way”
Steve led him to the front door and typed in the entry code being careful to shield the keypad. The door swung pen and he stood aside for the buyer to go first up the stairs to the first floor. Where he unlocked the front door of Number 6.
He followed Mr. Yarnold into the flat. The front door led straight into the lounge.
“I think this is the smallest flat in the building but actually I think it is deceptively spacious, and it has huge potential. It’s not Derwentside but the views are interesting.”
As he took a step towards the window he heard footsteps behind him. He half turned, caught a glimpse of a heeled shoe, a red dress, before he collapsed into oblivion and saw them no more.
I passed the baton to Sassy C who continued the story here.