I have mentioned before that Abigail is quite the talented gymnast haven’t I? She’s not going to be competing in any national competitions, but you’d be hard pressed to find a girl who could do more somersaults then her in the Carrington area. Today she was on absolute top form, and as she took to the floor for her first set of triple somersaults even I could tell that she hadn’t put a hand or foot wrong.
She pivoted on her bare feet, her leotard coloured in green and white (the colours all Carrington Sixth Form College sports teams) sparkling under the lights. As she outstretched her arms for her next run I felt Felicity, seated beside me, inhale deeply as if expecting her younger sister to fall flat on her face as she rotated elegantly in mid-air. She was nearing the end of her routine and she prepared for the final couple of runs. You would never have guessed, looking at how calm and collected the blonde haired girl looked, how shy she normally was. She took a run up, and again, spinning like a top in mid-air, she made a perfect descent. Everyone in the gym seemed to hold their breath as she dived forward, gave one somersault, then another, then pressed her feet hard into the gym mat to launch into the air, she spun one, twice and then…landed!
Immediately I was on my feet, whooping and cheering my friend as she held her mouth to her hands in shock, barely able to believe what she had just achieved. Everyone in the stands was clapping enthusiastically; and no-one harder than Felicity, who looked utterly flushed with pride. I was seated on her right, and on her left was Simon, her old school friend who she had been spending a lot of time with recently. Together we all screamed Abigail’s name in support when it was announced that she was in silver medal position. Then began a pair of routines from the final two competitors, which were truly agonising to watch. The first girl held her composure, didn’t put a foot wrong and swiftly found herself gold medal position, knocking Abigail down to bronze. Finally came the last girl, the favourite, and we all braced ourselves for disappointment. But when the girl stumbled on the penultimate jump and fell to the ground, we found it difficult to contain our gasps of delight.
When it was announced this mistake had cost the final competitor a medal everyone in the crowd was on their feet congratulating not the gold medal winner, but the local girl who had just won her first ever gymnastics medal. Abigail could scarcely believe it, and was giggling uncontrollably as she embraced her friends and trainers.
Forty minutes and a medal ceremony later, Abigail elbowed her way through the crowds to greet us, now dressed in her tracksuit top and bottoms and clenching her bronze medal firmly in her hand. As if taking another run up she threw herself into Felicity’s arms and said over her shoulder, “Told you not to worry.”
“Did I ever say I was worried?” Felicity laughed as she hugged Abigail in return.
“You don’t need to say anything,” Simon said, “The way you stopped breathing every time she was in the air said it all.”
Soon it was my turn to congratulate my friend, and as I hugged her I said, “You were absolutely amazing Abigail. You should try doing that during our cases once in a while.”
Abigail laughed. “Nice idea, but it’s much harder doing it in dresses and heels.”
“Well wear a pair of trackie bottoms once in a while” I laughed back.
“How about lunch down at The Rose Inn to celebrate?” Felicity asked.
Abigail was about to reply, but was distracted when a pair of arms wrapped around her waist and hoisted her up into the air. “Well done gorgeous,” she was told by the dark haired James as Abigail giggled happily.
“Did you enjoy the show?” Abigail asked her recently acquired boyfriend.
Jokily James replied, “Well I thought the other girls did a pretty good job…but you definitely beat them in the cuteness category.”
“Aaaawww thank you,” Abigail said, before she gave James a long and fairly indulgent kiss right in front of us. I leant behind Felicity’s back and pretended to put my finger down my throat to Simon, and he found it hard to contain his sniggers as Abigail and James broke apart. “Erm, I kinda agreed that James would take me out after the competition for lunch, but I’m seriously up for the pub in the evening, if that’s OK with you.”
“That’s fine,” Felicity smiled knowingly. “Go have a good time.”
I’ll call you later to organise…”Abigail began before James dragged her back to the crowd where his friends and the rest of the gymnastics team were waiting for them.
“Ah teenage romance; can’t beat it,” Simon smirked, stroking his stubbly face. “Remind you of the good old days Felicity?” Felicity didn’t answer him, instead she gazed after the retreating form of Abigail with a glazed look in her eyes. Simon gave a sigh and told her, “Listen, I got to dash as well.”
“Why don’t you come with us to the pub later?” I asked, for Felicity’s benefit.
Turning to his blonde haired friend Simon replied, “Would that be OK with you?”
Felicity turned to face him, swept back her immaculately straightened blonde hair out of her eyes and said, “Yeah that’ll be great. See you there around six-ish?”
“I’ll be there,” Simon told her. He then leant in and kissed Felicity platonically on her cheek, though I surmised from how he lingered that he would have liked to have given her more than that. As it was I said nothing as Simon moved back through the crowds to the main exit, while Felicity and I went in the other direction to the side doorway, which would take us to where she had parked her blue Mini Cooper.
I looked at my beautiful PI mentor and close friend, noting how even dressed more casually than usual in blue jeans, a blue and white striped long sleeved top, brown high heeled boots and light blue pashmina wrapped around her neck, how glamorous she still looked. But she also appeared sad, her eyes staring straight ahead and not taking in any notes about the world around her. “Everything alright?” I asked.
“Oh I’m fine,” Felicity assured me. “It’s just…Abigail’s always depended on me in the past, but seeing her today made me realise that soon she won’t need me at all. I mean she’ll be off to uni soon and…”
“Don’t be silly, you’re her big sister. Abigail will always need you!” I assured her. “Not to mention you’ve got Simon back in Carrington now to look after.”
My words did little to improve her mood. Felicity gave a sigh and said, “Sara you know I’m really fond of Simon right? He and I have been friends since primary school. But I just don’t know if we’re…really compatible in that way. And…it’s only been two years since Toby died, so I don’t…”
She trailed off. I knew for a fact that underneath her determined and professional exterior, Felicity still missed her childhood sweetheart very much. Since his death in a motorbike accident she had dedicated herself to her work, to Abigail and supporting me and the CGDA. It was clear that she was still torn between her residual feelings for Toby, her new feelings for Simon, and her fear of getting involved in a new relationship again.
I was going to say something re-assuring but I didn’t get the chance as someone hollered my name across the car park. I looked over and saw a group of three boys from my college, dressed in rugby kits with their faces and knees caked in mud. Telling Felicity to start the car I ran over to the group to see what they wanted.
“Hey Sara, how did Abigail get on?” Pete asked me.
“She got bronze,” I told them. “How did you guys get on against St Barnabas’?”
“Won 27 – 12!” Sanjeev (cousin to my friend Kavita) boasted to me proudly. “Scored two of the tries myself. You coming to the Nags Head for a celebratory booze up?”
I gave a shake of my head and brown locks. “Sorry, got something planned with Felicity, then we’re heading out to congratulate Abigail on her medal.”
“No worries,” David told me, though he did sound a little disappointed. “But you’re going to Barney’s house party next weekend right?” After I nodded to confirm he added, “If you’re stuck for a lift, perhaps I could drive you in? Passed my test on Tuesday.”
“That would be great thanks,” I answered gratefully. “Perhaps you could pick both me and Harriet up?”
“Course I can,” David told me. “I’ll Facebook you later to arrange the time and place then?”
“Sounds good,” I smiled. “Listen, got to dash. Thanks for the offer again guys, and well done!”
Pete, Sanjeev and David all waved me goodbye as I trotted over to Felicity’s car. As I swung open the door and sat into the passenger seat I began, “Sorry, just needed to discuss some plans with them for next…why are you looking at me like that?”
Felicity’s mood seemed to have brightened, and was looking at me with a wry smile on her lips and a mischievous glint in her eyes. “I remember a sixteen year old girl who used to wear nothing but hoodies; and how me, Rachel and Abigail had to surgically remove her countless pairs of mucky jeans just to get her wearing a skirt. Two years later she’s now sitting in my car looking seriously glamorous having just flirted with a bunch of rugby boys.”
“I was not flirting thank you Felicity,” I muttered, feeling my cheeks begin to flush red.
“Well they certainly seemed eager to talk with you,” Felicity continued to tease. “And honestly, dressed like that I couldn’t blame them.”
She was referring to the black, sleeveless tunic dress I was wearing, with blue and red floral patterning on the body and skirt which finished just above my knees. A mini-black leather jacket, dark tights and dark suede, wedge high heel boots completed my attire, and my brown hair had also been straightened so it now fell well past my shoulders (it had now been months since I’d had it properly cut). Still feeling a little embarrassed I said, “Well, you’ve always offered me such great fashion advice. I mean you picked this dress out, not me.”
“Yet you’re the one wearing it for all the blokes in Carrington to drool over,” Felicity said. “You’ve grown up a lot these past two years, and you’re becoming a wonderful, confident and independent young woman. I’m very proud of you, and of Abigail, Rachel and Harriet. Having gone through so much, the way you four continue to blossom is wonderful to watch.”
I raised my eyebrow at her. While I was appreciative of her comments, I knew Felicity well enough to realise something else was afoot. “That your way of telling me we’re not heading back into Carrington for coffee?” I asked.
As she started the engine Felicity said to me, “Well we do have some time to kill, and I had a very intriguing tip-off two days ago. Trust me Sara, this will be right up your alley.”
As I exited her car a ten minute drive later, I found myself doubting her words when I realised where I had been taken. “Why have we come to the Conifer Estate?” I asked as I looked at the empty, silent and half completed circle of houses through the iron bars of the estate gates.
My question was a valid one. Over a year ago planning permission had been granted to build a fancy new estate of up-market houses on the outskirts of Carrington (similar to the one my grandparents now live on). For months the construction went smoothly, but then out of nowhere, with the majority of the buildings nearing completion, the construction company abandoned it. Yet strangely, they remained very protective of the site, refusing to sell it to rival companies or to discuss the matter further with a severely narked off council and neighbouring community. In any other small town community in England this would have been all everyone was talking about, but hey, this is Carrington. We usually have much bigger issues to gossip over.
Felicity was searching the nearby fence for the gap in the already rotting wood. “A bloke was walking his dog in here one evening when he noticed that there were lights on in one of these houses,” she explained. “That’s suspicious enough given none of these houses have electricity. But he went in for a closer look and heard a raised voice from inside, like someone having an argument on the phone. Something about a deal which went wrong, and how if he doesn’t get what he wants then he’ll send his men around to beat some sense into that (in his words) incompetent twat.”
That certainly raised my interest. “Did he hear anything else?”
“Well he didn’t hang around long after that,” Felicity answered. “He hasn’t gone to the police yet because he knows the construction company are still funny about trespassers for some weird reason.”
“Good job that we don’t have such issues,” I smirked. “Shall we take a look?”
Felicity went through the gap first, and I swiftly followed. We stepped onto the muddy banks of the construction site, originally intended to be a grassy rise upon completion, but now a lump of sodden earth and straggly weeds. I struggled to maintain my footing in my wedge heels as I descended, but managed to avoid tumbling onto my face. I looked around the ring of eight houses arranged in a circle, some close to completing, others surrounded by creaking scaffolding with tarpaulin for roofs. “Which house was it?” I asked.
Felicity pointed to the house closest to completion, which would have looked pretty much built were it not for the dirt filled garden. Immediately I pointed out to Felicity that there were muddy footprints leading up the tarmac driveway. Moreover, while the door was locked, we both noticed that the lock had been scratched and worn by someone repeatedly picking at it. It was so worn in fact that we had it open in less than two minutes.
We stepped into the silent, freezing cold entrance hall. The floor was littered with newspapers and abandoned paint pots, yet the muddy footprints continued confusingly on the floor and against the year old tabloid pages. As Felicity moved to check for life elsewhere in the house I continued to examine these prints, noticing that there was a strange cluster by a blank space of wall.
I stared at this space with a bemused expression. The floor was much dirtier here than at any other point. I ran my hand along the undecorated plaster, before I knocked against it. To my surprise it felt hollow. Now with snoop alarms really ringing, I ran my hand along the wooden frame until I felt a definite break in the woodwork. I then pushed against it, and to my complete surprise I felt the wood give way and swing down like a door handle. Jumping back in alarm, I could only stare open mouthed as, like something out of a gothic novel, a hidden doorway swung open with a loud grinding sound to reveal a flight of stairs leading down to the basement.
Felicity was brought back into the entrance hall by the sound of this doorway scraping over the floor as it swung open. She blinked in astonishment first at the now revealed pathway, then at me. “So what kind of planning permission do you think the construction companies needed for this?” I half asked/half joked.
Pulling out a pocket torch from her handbag Felicity answered, “I doubt something like this will be on the building plan.”
I let Felicity lead the way with her torchlight illuminating the wooden steps which creaked underfoot as we descended. Hardly daring to breathe we reached the bottom, and found ourselves in a windowless, yet very spacious basement. It was barely furnished save for one thing. In the far corner, on standby waiting to be turned on, was a large frame on which were attached a number of computer screens, twelve in total. Pushed against this stand was large desk on which only a keyboard and a mouse pad were positioned, and underneath this was an office swivel chair. The rest of the basement was empty and devoid of all dirt.
Felicity was just as surprised as me when she saw the computers. “Who the hell has set all this up?” she remarked in confusion.
“And why?” I added.
We both stared at these screens for a while, wondering what our next move should be, until I was unable to contain my curiosity any longer and moved forward to investigate. “Careful, there might be prints!” Felicity tried to warn me, but I was not to be deterred. I immediately thumped the enter key and all of the screens immediately sprung into life.
On eleven of the twelve screens was hacked CCTV footage from around Carrington. We could see footage from the high street, from the train station, from the sixth form college, from the church, from the supermarket, from the roundabout on the town’s main road and, to my horror, the road on which my house was situated. The one final screen was a computer monitor, which was asking us for a password.
I had no idea what to make of this. Neither did Felicity. All of this must have required hours of manpower, a huge amount of resources, and massive knowledge of computer hacking, to put all this in place.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was only one person this set-up could have belonged to.
At that moment the silence of the basement was broken by the sound of my phone’s ringtone. I fished it out of my jacket pocket and saw it was from a blocked number. I answered the phone and heard a very, harrowingly familiar voice say jokingly down the line, “Am I speaking to the homeowner? Could I interest you in compensation for any miss-sold PPI?”
I felt like my brain exploded in shock, and I struggled to maintain my footing as I growled, “You!”
I heard the posh, softly spoken, taunting voice of Mr White say, “How kind of you to drop in on my humble abode. Please, kick off your shoes and make yourselves comfortable. I’m afraid I can’t be there in person to welcome you, but I can see you just as well through my own CCTV relay.”
“How did you find out my new number?”
“Well if you’re going to start a new Facebook group telling all your mates your new number then…”
“You’ve accessed my Facebook page?” I gasped, now feeling really sick.
“Miss Philips, if I can hack into the computer files of the Metropolitan Police then an eighteen year old girls Facebook page with the password NancyDrewFan18 is child’s play.”
Felicity deduced who it was from the tone of my voice, and quickly indicated that I should turn the phone onto loudspeaker setting. I obliged, and with that she snarled into my phone, “I’m here as well you masked freak, so anything you have to say to Sara you have to say to me as well.”
“Lovely to hear your dulcet tones as well Miss Swann,” Mr White replied. “Remember the day we first met? The warmth of the autumn sun on my face, the smell of the freshly baked bagels from the bakery down the road, the ripping sound of duct tape as I bound you to your office chair.”
“I should have known you’d have a little den like this in Carrington,” Felicity snapped. “Hope you encrypted it well, because the police are going to have a field day trawling through your hard drive.”
But Mr White, not sounding the least bit perturbed, simply answered, “That’ll depend if you can get out of here in the first place.”
The meaning of his words became clear when we heard a loud clunking sound from above, and the light filtering in from upstairs vanished, leaving us with only our torches and the computer screens for illumination. Felicity immediately ran back up the stairs to check what had happened. I heard her swear loudly before she announced, “The secret door’s shut, and there’s no way of opening it from the inside, we’re trapped!”
I heard Mr White chortling happily down the phone, before he said, “Why bother coming all the way to Carrington and tying you up when flicking a switch and trapping you in my den serves just as well?”
“Let us out of here now you coward!” I yelled.
“What kind of villain would I be if I did that?” he sneered. “But I always like giving my favourite girl snoop a fighting chance, so here’s how this will play out. The door is controlled by my computer. If you can figure out my password all you’d need to do for release is click on the door icon on my desktop. You hold the key to your own release Sara.”
I exhaled in frustration. More damn games from my masked nemesis. But with Felicity and my own freedom at stake what choice did I have? I sat down at his computer and began typing in whatever password popped into my head. MR WHITE, CRIMINAL MASTERMIND and I HATE NATHAN NORTON were some of the passwords I tried, but each was rejected. Frustrated, I punched in MR WHITE IS A COLOSSAL TWAT, just for my own self-gratification, and wasn’t in the least bit surprised when that failed too.
I think he saw me type this in, because at that pointed he laughed down the phone, “Fed up Miss Philips? Well serves you right for blundering in as usual without thinking through the consequences.”
“Don’t know why you’re in a position to gloat,” I snapped. “Hiding a computer terminal like this down here is pretty risky. Someone was bound to find it sooner or later.”
“And may I say I’ve been secretly hoping you’d be the one to find it for months,” he replied. “Been looking forward to having an excuse for a chinwag with you again.”
“What exactly is this for anyway?” Felicity demanded as she leant over my shoulder, trying to devise the password herself. “I’m guessing you’re the reason the construction company abandoned this place, and why this house has been provided with an electricity supply and hidden trapdoor.”
“I have a direct line to the CEO,” Mr White boasted. “He conducts some rather shady construction practices in the Middle East, so he’s pretty easy to blackmail.”
“But why?” Felicity insisted. “What is your obsession with this town?”
“Surely a PI as experienced as you knows that Carrington has held a strategic importance to the criminal underworld for decades?” Mr White explained. “It lies on the boundaries between a number of gang territories, which is why you lot are always so busy. The criminal who controls Carrington controls the underworld for miles around…and anyway, I like to keep an eye on the detectives I have a secret interest in, and her friends.”
I was about to make a retort to this when the screens all changed. Instead of hacked CCTV footage we were seeing a live feed from a hidden camera. It was situated in my favourite café on the Carrington high street, and was aimed directly at the two occupants of a neighbouring table. Felicity and I both gasped in unison when we recognised Abigail and James. Abigail had changed out of her gymnastics kit was dressed much more trendily in a red tunic dress and matching red flats. We couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she was giggling madly at a joke James had just told her. Then they paused, and together leant in for a lingering kiss, unaware that their intimate moment was being relayed for her horrified sister and friend to witness.
“Don’t they just look the cutest?” Mr White sneered. “Of course, all it would take from me is one text message and my associate sitting across from them could spoil their tender moment in a spectacular way. How about we turn those digits all the way up to eleven and say that in an hour dear old Abigail will face a truly perilous situation? If you can’t get out of here in that time then it’s a peril she will have to face on her own.”
I was horrified. Mr White was once again making threats against my friends and once again there was nothing I could do to stop him. I was about to yell at him down my phone but Felicity got in there ahead of me. “If you even lay a finger on her then I will hunt you down and shove that mask and bowler hat down your throat, you hear me?”
“Oh there’s the feistiness I’ve come to expect from you Carrington girls,” Mr White hooted. “I’m touched by your devotion to your younger sister Miss Swann. I guess that’s understandable. Being abandoned by your parents, then the unfortunate death of your fiancé. Never been a fan of motorbikes personally, though you have much more reason to hate them then I do.”
“SHUT YOUR GODDAM MOUTH YOU PSYCHOPATH!” Felicity roared in an unusual explosion of emotion. She was quivering with rage, her eyes wide and nostrils flaring. Picking up the phone she held it to her lips and roared, “What do you know about losing the people you love? You pick on innocent people, subject them to horrifying ordeals and you delight in their misery. What do you know about loneliness?”
There was a brief pause, before we heard Mr White chuckle, “More then you could possibly imagine.”
“That’s enough!” I yelled, snatching the mobile out of Felicity’s hand. “This is between you and me. Leave Abigail, Felicity and the other girls out of this.”
“Of course Sara, it’s always about you isn’t it?” came his snide reply. “Always the centre of attention; the number one girl. Fat lot of good that will do you if you can’t break my…”
“WAIT!” I interrupted, having just had a brainwave. Of course! That psycho just couldn’t resist dangling clues in front of my face.
‘You hold the key to your own release Sara…’
‘I like to keep an eye on the detectives I have a secret interest in…’
‘Let’s turn the digits all the way up to eleven…’
‘Always the centre of attention; the number one girl…’
Putting all these titbits together I realised exactly what this password was. Swallowing the nauseous lump in my throat, I returned to the keyboard and typed in the eleven digit password.
Immediately I was granted access to the computer, able to access all the files Mr White had on here, all the footage he’d recorded. Managing to contain my disgust over the fact that he’d used my name as his password I quickly clicked on the door release icon, and I heard the sound of the concealed entrance swinging open. After checking to confirm we could escape, Felicity said, “Door’s open Sara, let’s go!”
“Wait,” I said again, not daring to move from my position. I’d suddenly realised that I had access to an incredible amount of potential information regarding Mr White and his activities. I might even find out his identity!
I quickly clicked on the first file I could find, entitled intriguingly ‘Friends and Foes.’ This brought up a massive database of criminals throughout the country which he’d compiled; lists of names, activities, areas of involvement and pictures of them all in action. And next to all of them was a status revealing their current relationship to Mr White. There were some familiar faces in there. I came across the entry for The Scarlet Rose with the accompanying status ‘Susceptible to anything shiny.’ The Skeleton was there too, with the status ‘Never play the same trick twice.’ The mysterious Madame, The Gentleman Robbers and the China Dolls were there, each with the status of ‘Highly unlikely.’ There was Emerald as well, looking suitably unpleasant in her picture, with a status that simply read, ‘LOL.’
There were faces I didn’t recognise, including a gang leader by name of McKenzie with the status ‘Recruited.’ There were other recruits too. A man without a picture simply named ‘The Spider.’ A group of men referred to as the ‘Littlefield Photographers.’ I came across a picture of a burly looking man called ‘Kreep’ with a burlap sack over his head with a sinister smile stitched into the material and a long trench coat. I didn’t like the look of him, and his status was an ominous ‘Work in progress.’
I knew I was looking at a list of criminals that Mr White was either trying to recruit to his cause or listing as an enemy. Finally for the first time I became fully aware of the long game my nemesis was playing. He was recruiting an army of criminals in his bid to take control of the underworld. And judging by the number of ‘Recruited’ status’ I could see, he was building quite the impressive force.
Then I came across a file entitled ‘My Dirty Little Secret.’ How could I resist that? It had to be clues to his identity, surely. When I clicked on it, I felt my heart had been skewered. It wasn’t anything about him at all.
Inside were pictures of…me.
More pictures then I could count, taken from across Carrington and beyond. There was a picture of me walking to college with Rachel at my side. A picture of me the day of the Carrington Races wearing my purple party dress. A picture of me out on a cross country run. A picture of me in London with my American friend Ashley. A picture of me in snowy fields in the company of Matthew. There was even a picture from the Cowgirls and Indians pub crawl I’d been on last week, of me in the bar having a drink in my cowgirl costume.
There were other pictures too. One was of me tied against Vicky on the day he’d caught us on board that boat in the river. One of me tied to the chair in the Sixth Form College when he set up that mock peril for me. One of me tied up next to Rachel in the warehouse when we’d been caught by Emerald. On and on the pictures of me went. And the more I saw the more sick I felt.
Mr White had been spying on me every day of my life for the past year. And I hadn’t even realised. I felt utterly…hunted.
Suddenly I smelt an acrid burning smell originating from underneath the desk. It took me a couple of sniffs to see the smoke originating from the computer hard drive. Felicity had seen it as well, and pulled me out of the chair as the computers all erupted into a shower of sparks and smoke, filling the basement with the smell of burning. “What the hell is going on?” I shouted as one by one the screens went black.
“He’s destroying the computer hard drives,” Felicity explained as the computer died on us.
“Well can’t have you handing all my darkest secrets to the police can I?” Mr White laughed at us through my phone.
Breathing deeply, I darted forward, scooped up my phone and snarled into it, “You are one sick son of a…”
“Want to see how sick I can get?” he interrupted. “Get into town as soon as possible girls. Abigail and James have just left the café. Better get running!”
We managed to get back into the centre of Carrington in record time. We even managed to find a parking space straight away. We weren’t exactly thankful for these small mercies, because all Felicity and I could think of was getting to Abigail before Mr White’s plan came into play. We ran first to the café and found that Abigail and James had indeed departed a few minutes ago. That was our cue to frantically start running up Carrington high street, briefly checking every store to see if they were inside. Eventually we breathlessly came to the top of the high street, where it split into a T-junction with the cars regulated by traffic lights, and we looked about desperately, wondering where the hell they could have gone.
Then I looked across the street and saw them. Abigail and James, arm in arm, oblivious to the danger they found themselves in as they walked towards the crossing. I exhaled in relief, they were safe; Mr White hadn’t done anything to them.
But then my phone started ringing again, once again a blocked number. Felicity leant in closer as I put the call onto loudspeaker. It was Mr White again, and mockingly he said to us, “Eyes to the flashing green man ladies.” And then he cut off.
I did as he instructed, looking to the icons above the pedestrian crossing which indicated when it was safe to cross. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion after that. I saw the green flashing icon turn on, indicating it was safe to cross. Abigail had seen it too, and eager to greet us she stepped onto the road to cross. But she hadn’t seen that at exactly the same time the green light on the traffic light had also turned on. And revving at the crossing eager to move was a man on a black motorcycle, and the moment the light turned green he pushed his foot on the gas and accelerated forward, eager to whizz around the corner.
He hadn’t seen Abigail crossing.
I opened my mouth to scream her name, but she was almost halfway across the road and the bike was rounding the corner. Abigail turned her head and only saw the bike when it was mere feet away. But the bike was on a collision course with her, and it seemed like her getting hit was inevitable.
But out of nowhere a pair of hands wrapped around her waist and hauled her back at the last second, her flailing feet missing the zipping motorbike by inches. We heard the cyclist swearing at her for being a dozy blonde but all of us were too shell shocked to care. The important thing was that Abigail was safe.
I only remember feeling relief as I ran over the road at the first opportunity and flung my arms around my friend’s neck. “Thank God you’re alright,” I breathed over her shoulder.
“Course I’m alright, save for maniac cyclists. Didn’t he see it was a red light?” Abigail exclaimed in disbelief.
Felicity ran over too, but instead of falling into the arms of her sister, she fell into the arms of the man who had pulled her out of harm’s way. “You…you saved my sister,” she breathed in disbelief, her blue eyes shimmering at the brown haired man ahead of her.
“Well I’m just glad I was there to grab her,” Simon exhaled in relief. “I don’t know what that motorcyclist was thin…”
His statement was abruptly cut off by Felicity pulling him into her and kissing him.
Abigail, James and I stood open mouthed in shock at the sight of the two old school friends suddenly taking such an intimate step. Simon seemed to be just as stunned as us, only relaxing into the kiss after a few bemused seconds. Even after they pulled away he still looked like he couldn’t believe his luck, while Felicity looked like every reservation she’d had earlier in the day had disappeared. Smiling at Simon she said, “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” Simon said as his surprise gave way to delight.
Five hours later Simon exited the back entrance to the Rose Inn after our evening celebrating Abigail’s victory. It was a slightly more muted victory following the revelations Felicity and I had uncovered in that basement. My dad and the rest of the police had lifted what they could from the frazzled computers, but he wasn’t optimistic that anything of note could be recovered. That combined with more proof of Mr White’s continued obsession with me put a real sour note on the evening. For the first time ever I found myself looking over my shoulder at the pub’s other occupants wondering if one of them was relaying my information to that freak.
But eventually, and after a few drinks, I began to relax. Rachel and Harriet also turned up, and with them on either side I found myself laughing at Harriet’s jokes and Rachel’s rants about local politicians. Plus we had Abigail’s success and Felicity’s breakthrough with Simon to celebrate. I have to say, seeing my PI mentor and friend sitting with the arm of a man she cared about around her shoulder once again was delightful to see.
When Simon got a text message late on, and left the pub to make a phone call, we thought nothing of it. As it was Simon moved into the chilly, deserted beer garden with his phone in his hand, and after making sure he was alone, he made his phone call. “It’s me, what do you want?” he spoke into his handset.
“Good work today in saving that girl from Mr White’s scheme,” said the voice at the end of the line.
“It was just lucky I was keeping an eye on Abigail,” Simon replied. “If I hadn’t been at that roadside then I don’t…what does this Mr White want?”
“We don’t know, and we are working on finding out. In the meantime stay close to the CGDA and Sara in particular. She is Mr White’s weakness. If we can ensure her safety, we can frustrate him and find out his overall plan.”
“You don’t think I should at least tell Felicity about…” Simon began before he was cut off.
“Remember why we brought you back to Carrington. Do not lose faith, and make sure you protect Felicity, Sara and their friends to the best of your ability. Remember the vow you made Simon, and that we are watching you closely.” With that the phone call went dead, leaving Simon to stare upwards at the stars twinkling above wondering exactly how he had got into this situation.