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'The Long Call' Chapters 35 & 36

a hand holding a pen signing a check

Illustration by Stan Fellows


Chapter Thirty-Five

JEN RAFFERTY SAT IN THE SHAPLANDS’ cottage near  the creek and eased her way carefully into a conversation with Christine and her mother. Although it wasn’t quite dark outside, Susan had drawn the curtains and switched on the light. A fire burned in the grate again. There was more tea on a tray. No scones, because Jen hadn’t been expected. In the weak artificial light, the mould on the ceiling was hardly visible. Everything was warm and welcoming. Except for the subject of conversation.

‘Lucy’s gone missing,’ Jen said. She was sitting where Jonathan had been on the previous visit, close enough to Chrissie to reach out and touch the woman. ‘We think she was taken by the same man as you. I know it’s the last thing you want to talk about again, but we think you might be able to help us.’ A pause. ‘I’m going to show you photographs of some men. If you see the one who took you, can you tell me?’ She lifted the tea tray from the coffee table and put it on the floor. There was a lace cloth underneath and Jen spread the pictures over that.

She’d tracked down an image of Christopher Preece. It had been taken at the time of the Woodyard opening; he was cutting a gold ribbon and there was a big grin on his face. Jonathan was standing in the background, and Jen had had to look twice before being sure it was him, because he was wearing a suit.

She’d thought it would be impossible to find a picture of Colin Marston, but he’d appeared on the U3A website as a tutor, and she’d printed that out. It had been small, and had blurred as she’d tried to enlarge it, but it was better than nothing. He was in a waxed jacket with a pair of binoculars around his neck.

She’d added a picture of Dennis Salter, as a wild card. She couldn’t see how Christine hadn’t recognized her uncle, but if he’d disguised himself in some way, perhaps she might be tricked. Then there was Edward Craven, the picture taken from the North Devon Journal, looking rather grand in full dog collar and cassock, celebrating the day he’d moved to the parish. Jen couldn’t think that there was another man involved in the case, and Christine had been clear that a man had picked her up. If Matthew was right and the abductions were all to do with Simon Walden, one of these people must be holding Lucy. It occurred to her that perhaps she should have thrown a bigger picture of Jonathan Church into the mix, but surely if he’d been the abductor, Christine would have known him, and besides, it would have felt like a betrayal to Matthew.

Jen wished the light was better, less shadowy, but it seemed that Susan was thrifty when it came to the strength of the bulbs she bought. Jen held up each photo in turn for Christine to look at, tilting it to catch the best of the light. Watching Christine looking at the pictures, Jen thought she seemed focussed and concentrated. She’d lost the panic of the previous day.

‘Can you help me, Christine? Do you recognize any of these men?’

‘That’s my uncle Dennis.’ ‘Yes, it is. Well done.’

Christine beamed at the praise.

Susan shot a look towards Jen. ‘What’s he doing there?’

Jen smiled. ‘I just wanted to see what your daughter’s memory for faces was like.’

‘She’s always been good at pictures.’ Susan was appeased. ‘Is there anyone here you recognize?’

Susan pointed to Preece. ‘He’s a big cheese at the Woodyard. Loads of money and on the board. A generous man. Without him, the place wouldn’t have been set up.’ Her fat finger moved across the table. ‘And the vicar came and helped out in the day centre a few times when he first moved down here.’ She sniffed. ‘I haven’t seen him recently, though. You get a lot of that. Do-gooders, thinking they’re going to change the lives of our people, then getting bored and moving on to other things.’ She looked up. ‘Nothing happens quickly with people like Christine and Lucy. You need to be patient to work with them.’

‘Anyone else?’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘What about you, Christine? Can you see the man who drove the car that picked you up outside the Woodyard and took you to the flat? The man who asked you all the questions.’ Christine looked again at the pictures and then she shook her head. She seemed upset that she hadn’t been able to help.

‘I’m sorry.’

‘No need to be sorry, my love. You’re doing just great.’ Jen paused to choose her words carefully. ‘You’re a good friend of Lucy’s. Did she ever talk to you about another friend? A man called Simon Walden. She met him on the bus some nights on her way home.’

There was silence. Complete silence. The main road was too far away for there to be traffic noise.

‘Lucy said she was going to help him,’ Christine said. ‘In something important.’

‘What was that, my love? How was Lucy going to help him?’

Christine shook her head. ‘She didn’t tell me. She said it was a secret.’

‘Lucy didn’t give you any idea at all? It might help us to find her.’

Christine looked up. ‘She said she was going to help him to save the Woodyard.’ She shivered, although the room was very warm.

Susan came up and put her arm around her. ‘She’s been shivering all day. It must be the shock after all she’s been through. Here you are, my lover, let me get you a cardie. We’ll keep you cosy.’ She pulled a knitted jacket from the back of her chair and wrapped it around her daughter as if it was a blanket.

Jen looked at the cardigan. It was purple. Maurice had said Lucy had been wearing a purple cardigan when she’d gone missing. ‘Doesn’t Lucy Braddick have a cardigan a bit like this?’

‘Yes,’ Susan said. ‘Exactly the same! We all went on an outing to Plymouth with the Woodyard just before Christmas to do a bit of shopping, and they both got one.’

‘Did Christine have it on when she was snatched from the centre?’ Jen tried to remember what the woman had been wearing when they’d found her at Lovacott pond. Her clothes had been wet then, patched with mud, almost unrecognizable, but surely she’d been wearing this.

‘Yes. I was going to bin it, but Chrissie loves it so much. They said they were like twins, her and Lucy. So, in the end I put it straight in the machine and it came out like new. It’s not real wool, see, so no damage in a hottish wash.’

Jen left them sitting together, warm and snug, and went to sit in her car to phone Matthew.

 

 

‘I think it could have been a case of mistaken identity. The car driver had been told to pick up a woman with Down’s syndrome wearing a purple cardigan from the centre and got Christine, not Lucy. He said to Christine that he’d been told to give her a lift back to Lovacott. Both women would have been going there.’

‘But Christine doesn’t look much like Lucy. Lucy’s hair is longer.’

‘From behind, though, wrapped up in the purple cardigan, it might not be possible to tell them apart. Then Christine was sitting in the back of the car and the driver would just have glimpsed her in the mirror. And once he’d got her to the flat, what could he do? Just say it had been a dreadful mistake and drop her back at the Woodyard where anyone could see him? Perhaps he thought she’d have the same information as Lucy, and he asked his questions anyway.’ It was quite dark outside now. No moon. No street lights.

‘Then he got frustrated, took her to Lovacott where she was heading originally and dumped her by the pond,’ said Matthew. ‘I suppose it makes a kind of sense. But that implies that more than one person is involved in this. Someone giving the orders and someone carrying them out.’

‘I asked Christine about Lucy’s friendship with Walden. Lucy told her that together they were going to save the Woodyard.’

Matthew didn’t answer immediately. ‘I’m going to withdraw from the case. I should have done that from the beginning. There was always a conflict of interest and the Woodyard is obviously at the heart of it. I’ll contact management in the morning. From tomorrow you’ll be in charge. Temporarily at least, until they decide what to do next.’

Jen didn’t know what to say. She had mixed feelings. She’d never headed up such an important case and it had been her ambition since she’d joined the service. But this was Matthew. A good man and a good detective. ‘We’d better crack it tonight then, hadn’t we, boss. I’m coming in to the station and I’ll see you there.’


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Chapter Thirty-Six

ROSS AND JEN ARRIVED BACK AT the  station  at  about  the same time. The day had been so full of events that it felt late to Matthew, as if it could be nearly midnight. In fact, Saturday night had just started in Barnstaple and from the police station, he heard music and voices, revellers on their way to the restaurants and bars.

Jonathan phoned. ‘We’ve searched every inch of the Woodyard. No sign of Lucy.’

Matthew wanted to talk to him about what Lucy had said regarding Walden’s secret plan to save the centre. Do you know what this is about? Why does the Woodyard need saving? But he thought he’d already involved Jonathan too much in the case. Matthew had always seen the point of rules, the need for order. That was why he’d joined the police. The decision had been his own small attempt to save the world from the chaos that he’d felt was about to engulf them all when he lost his faith. Life without the laws of the Brethren had seemed random and without meaning. He couldn’t see how every individual following their own path, selfish, weak, could form any kind of decent society. The law provided structure, its own morality. A safety net.

Now, he couldn’t pass on information about an ongoing inquiry to someone who might be involved and who was certainly close to people who were.

‘It’s going to be a late night.’

‘Don’t worry,’ Jonathan said. ‘Just find her. I’ll be waiting for you.’

Ross burst in, swinging the door almost off its hinges. Like a bored teenager, he could never keep his frustration to himself. ‘The Salters weren’t bloody there. No sign of them. What a waste of a trip.’

‘No sign of Lucy either?’

‘We went all the way round the house, but there were no lights on. I looked through the downstairs windows, but it was almost dark by then. Impossible to tell if she’d been there.’ Ross paused. He knew what Matthew thought about rules too and wasn’t sure what the inspector would make of an attempted forced entry, but he continued anyway. ‘I couldn’t find any way of breaking in. I did check all the doors and windows just in case, but it was impossible. The Salters are very heavy on security. Verging on the paranoid.’

Matthew nodded and on impulse phoned his mother’s landline. He still remembered the number from when he’d lived in the house. He was only half surprised when she answered.

‘Ah, you’re there,’ he said. ‘I thought there might be a Brethren meeting tonight. Or some sort of get-together. I’ve been trying to get hold of the Salters, but nobody’s home.’

‘No,’ she said. ‘There’s nothing like that as far as I know.’ Her voice wasn’t as sharp as it had been in the past, but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of asking why he wanted to know. Matthew was grateful for that. He replaced the receiver. His thoughts were wheeling and dipping like the gulls over the estuary, groping for an explanation, feeling that at last he was making sense of what might lie behind Walden’s death. He’d never considered pride as one of his sins, but now it occurred to him that Jen might be right. He might crack the case over- night. The thought gave him an unexpected thrill of achievement. Then it occurred to him that Lucy was still missing and that he had little of which to be proud.

Jen arrived just as he replaced the receiver. ‘I’ve told the kids it’ll be an overnighter, but that’s no excuse for them to have a party. I don’t want to go back in the morning to vomit and a bunch of comatose teens in sleeping bags, looking like giant slugs on my front room floor.’

He grinned, grateful for the lift in mood. Her ability to raise his spirits alone made her an invaluable member of the team. He’d brewed coffee in the filter machine and they sat around one of the tables in the big room. Ross joined them.

‘I think we’re looking at a conspiracy,’ Matthew said. ‘If Jen’s right and Christine was snatched by mistake, at least two people are involved.’ He turned to Jen. ‘She couldn’t identify any of the men in your photos?’

Jen shook her head. ‘But the pictures I managed to print off aren’t brilliant quality. I don’t think Colin Marston’s mother would pick him out from the only shot I could find.’

‘I’ve been trying to phone Marston all evening,’ Matthew said. ‘No reply.’

‘I can’t see how Marston can be important,’ Ross said. ‘He doesn’t have the same strong link to the Woodyard as the others. He only teaches a weekly course there. Besides, if he’d kidnapped Lucy, I’d have thought he would reply to appear less suspicious.’

‘He told me he’d offered the board a couple of pieces of informal legal advice.’ Matthew remembered the conversation on the shore. He’d thought Marston was being pompous, inflating his own importance, but perhaps he was more caught up in the affairs of the Woodyard than they’d realized. Again, a few strands of the investigation came together in his mind and he thought he could glimpse a motive at least. ‘We need to track down Colin and Hilary Marston, and the Salters who seem to have mysteriously and conveniently disappeared too. Can you get the word out? I want them brought in to the station as soon as we find them. We’ve got their car registrations.’

‘As suspects?’ Jen sounded shocked.

‘Not yet.’ Matthew grinned. ‘They’ll be helping us with our enquiries. Respectable people like them, they’ll be glad to help the police.’

Ross got to his feet and stretched. He’d been still for long enough. They were both looking at Matthew for an answer, but his thoughts were too tentative at this stage. If he put them into words, they might disappear altogether.

‘Could it be about money?’ Jen said. ‘We know that Walden had plans for his two hundred grand, but then he sent it to his solicitor for safe keeping instead. We know he’d been planning a big donation to the Woodyard, then thought better of it. Perhaps he’d discovered something dodgy had been going on. The organization at the Woodyard seems a bit chaotic so fraud could have been relatively easy. Preece and Salter are both trustees and they both have a background in finance. Could they be filtering off donated cash or charitable funding for their own use? It does happen with charities. There have been a few cases recently in the press. One guy got away with hundreds of thousands. And it can take years for any crime to come to light. That would fit in with the conspiracy theory.’ She looked at Matthew. ‘Jonathan wouldn’t be aware of that. He manages the place but I guess he has nothing to do with the financial administration.’

Matthew didn’t know what to say in reply. He appreciated Jen’s kindness. He wanted to tell her that Jonathan was the most honest man he’d ever met, that his husband would work at the Woodyard for nothing to keep it running, that he fretted if he’d thought he’d undertipped a waiter in a mediocre hotel, but until they found Walden’s killer, Jonathan would still be an object of suspicion.

‘It would be interesting to look at Preece’s and Salter’s bank accounts. They seem prosperous enough, but they might have had problems with money.’

He was thinking that Preece had provided the deposit for the house in Hope Street. Matthew had gained the impression that the man was trying to buy his daughter’s affection. He was probably still subsidizing her lifestyle. Perhaps that, and the guilt-ridden donation to begin the development of the Woodyard, had depleted his savings.

‘Let’s bring Preece in too. If he hasn’t disappeared like the others. We’ll interview them separately, see if we can find some inconsistencies in their stories.’

He couldn’t imagine what Salter’s guilty financial secret might be. It could be related to the Devonshire Building Society, perhaps. Could he have been stealing from them too?

Ross gave an embarrassed little cough. Matthew could see now that he’d been building up to this throughout the conversation, gathering his courage. ‘Perhaps we should look at Jonathan’s bank account too. Just to put you both in the clear in case the press gets hold of the connection.’

Jen jumped in, fighting. ‘Is this your idea or Oldham’s? Been brown-nosing again, Ross? More cosy chats over a few beers? Hoping for another speedy step up the ladder?’

Matthew raised his hands, a gesture of agreement and peacemaking. ‘You’re quite right, Ross. I’ll give the forensic accountants all the details. For Jonathan’s accounts and mine. We have to be transparent here. And as all our victims and witnesses seem to be connected to the Woodyard, I’ve already discussed the conflict of interest with Jen. She’ll be taking over the case tomorrow. You’ll be reporting to her from first thing in the morning.’

He sent them away then and sat for a moment in his office. Matthew felt no resentment about the request to disclose his financial affairs, but he wished it had been done differently. The decision had obviously come from Oldham, but filtered through Ross. The DCI had been too idle or too cowardly to ask himself, and that wasn’t fair either to Ross or to him. He suspected that Jonathan would find the idea of being a suspect faintly amusing, especially if the motive was supposed to be greed. Money had never mattered much to either of them.

Matthew tried to set office tensions aside and replayed the conversations he’d had with Salter and Preece. Suddenly his perspective shifted. There was something that mattered more to both these men than money too. He wound back the timeline since the opening of the Woodyard to look for a trigger, something that might have led to one murder and two abductions. Then he stood up and made for the door.

‘Where are you going, boss?’ That was Ross, at his desk.

A little subdued, but resentful because he was still here, in the police station, waiting.

‘I need to speak to a witness.’ He still thought it was too soon to tell the team about his suspicion. There was someone who had far too much to lose.

 

 

The Rosebank Care Home was two storeys high, purpose-built with a narrow strip of garden in the front. Parking for staff and visitors was at the back, most of the spaces empty now. All but a few rooms were in darkness. It was only nine o’clock but it seemed that most of the residents were already in bed.

The door was locked and he rang the bell. A buzz and a crackly voice through the intercom. ‘Who is it?’

‘Inspector Venn for Mrs Janet Holsworthy.’

A brief silence. ‘You’ll find me in the office at the end of the corridor.’ The door clicked open and he went in.

Through open bedroom doors, he saw carers in pink tunics helping the last remaining residents still up to prepare for bed. Matthew imagined his father in a place like this — because surely his hospital ward hadn’t been very different — and he thought there were worse things than death. One woman was sitting on a commode. He turned away and hurried on before she saw him. Rosa’s mother sat in a small office, a plate on the desk in front of her, with a half-eaten sandwich and a banana skin. A mug of coffee in her hand.

‘I haven’t got long,’ she said. ‘I’m just on a break.’ But it seemed that there was no fight left in her. She waited while he took the chair on the other side of the desk.

‘I need to know about Rosa,’ he said. ‘One man’s dead and her friend, Lucy Braddick, is missing.’

She nodded. He thought she was very tired. She must scarcely sleep, working all night and looking after her husband and daughter during the day.

‘Why don’t you tell me what really happened? Why Rosa doesn’t go to the Woodyard any more.’

‘You met her,’ the woman said. ‘That’s how she’s always been. Affectionate. Loving. She’ll hold the hand of a stranger. When she was a girl she’d climb onto the knee of anyone who smiled at her. We tried to teach her that wasn’t a good thing to do, that she should sit with her legs together if she was wearing a skirt, that not everyone wanted to be cuddled, but she didn’t understand. How could she? She was innocent.’

Matthew didn’t speak.

‘When the day centre moved to the Woodyard we thought she’d be safe. The same staff went with them. We liked Jonathan. He wasn’t so hands-on but he was still in charge.’ Another period of silence. ‘There was a visitor. Someone who came and took advantage of her. Took advantage of her because she was so trusting.’

‘Did Rosa tell you what happened?’

‘Not at first. I could tell that something had happened when she came in that afternoon. She said she was feeling poorly, that she needed to stay at home the next day. We thought the move had unsettled her. That it was nothing serious.’

In the distance one of the home’s residents started shouting. ‘Help! Mummy! Please help me!’

‘Do you need to go to her?’ Matthew asked.

Janet Holsworthy shook her head. ‘That’s Eunice. She shouts every night just before she goes to sleep. She’ll settle now.’

There was one more scream, low and plaintive, and the home was quiet again.

‘When did you realize that Rosa had been abused?’

‘I thought a bath might calm her. I saw that her underwear was torn. There were bruises.’

‘She’d been raped?’

Janet shrugged. ‘She couldn’t say in any detail what had happened. She wouldn’t know the words. But she’d been assaulted.’

‘Why didn’t you go to the police? To a doctor?’ But Matthew knew the answer. This was delicate, personal. They wouldn’t want to tell the story to a stranger. ‘You could have told Jonathan. You knew him.’ Matthew tried to keep the emotion out of his voice.

‘Jonathan wasn’t there. He’d been away for three weeks on honeymoon. I went to the big boss. Something had to be done.’

‘The big boss?’

‘The head of the trustees. Christopher Preece.’ She paused. ‘I phoned him first. He asked me to his house, he said it would be best to talk there.’

Matthew pictured her standing outside the house by the park, nervous, but expecting sympathy, that something would be done.

‘When I got there, it wasn’t just him,’ Janet said. ‘He said it was such a serious allegation that he had to consult his colleagues. There were three of them. Three men.’

‘Who else was there?’ Matthew could only imagine how intimidating that must have been.

‘One was another trustee. Dennis Salter. I hadn’t met him before. And there was someone else who they said was their legal advisor.’

Colin Marston. Though what someone who’d overseen contracts in the car industry might have to do with a criminal case of sexual assault, Matthew couldn’t imagine. He’d be there solely to intimidate.

‘It must have been frightening for you. Facing those men.’

‘It was the word allegation. As if I was making it all up. Mr Preece said he couldn’t understand how it had happened there at the Woodyard with all the staff around. I told him it had happened in a counselling session. They’d started that when the centre first moved to the Woodyard. One-to-one chats in the small meeting rooms, the users talking about the place, their ideas and hopes for the future.’ She looked up at Matthew. ‘He asked if I had proof. If I’d been to a doctor or the police. As if I wasn’t telling the truth. I told him I couldn’t have put Rosa through that. Not yet. That’s why I was talking to him, so he could help us through the process. Rosa wouldn’t understand without support. She’d get in a state and she wouldn’t be able to explain. Imagine her having to go to court!’ Another pause. ‘But I told him I’d kept the torn knickers. They were stained. I didn’t tell him about the skirt, though, and the fact that the skirt was stained too. I kept that. My secret.’ She looked up. ‘I was thinking about the American president and that scandal with the young girl. It was a skirt that proved she was telling the truth. I didn’t trust them, you see. There’d be DNA, wouldn’t there, on both of them?’ 

‘There would.’

‘I don’t think they were expecting that I’d have proof.’

‘What happened, Janet? Why didn’t you pursue it?’

She stared up at him and he saw she was crying. ‘Because they bought me off. They gave me money to keep quiet. It was a dreadful time. My husband had just lost his job and there was no cash coming in. We were waiting for the welfare people to sort out his payments. I get attendance allowance for Rosa, but that’s nothing, a pittance. We were weeks behind on the rent. And Preece offered me money.’

She shook her head as if she was trying to shake out the memory. ‘I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but he was so persuasive. It was as if it wasn’t about the money at all. Not really. He said the Woodyard was such a great project and any bad publicity would mean the funding would stop and all those service users would be left without care. He promised to keep the perpetrator away and make sure that he got help. He’d never be allowed to do anything like that again.’ A little gasp. ‘And then he wrote the cheque. Buy something nice for Rosa, he said. Take her away for a break, a weekend. It wasn’t huge but it was enough to pay back the rent that we owed. It was enough to keep us going.’ Another pause. ‘That’s why I didn’t tell you about Rosa when you came looking for Chrissie Southcombe. I was still ashamed at taking their money. They told me when I took it that it was a kind of contract. I was promising to keep quiet. To keep the secret.’

‘Was Preece the only person to sign the cheque?’ Matthew asked. ‘Or did Mr Salter sign it too?’ If it was a joint signature, it would have come from the Woodyard account, not from Preece’s personal bank, and there’d be a record of that. A record that Walden might have come across. None of the office doors in the building were ever locked and Jonathan would never have picked up any discrepancy in the accounts.

‘They both signed it.’

Matthew nodded, but still he showed no emotion. ‘Has anyone else come along to ask you about Rosa’s story? A man called Simon Walden?’

‘Is he the man that was killed out at Crow Point?’ She seemed shocked.

‘That’s right. He was a volunteer at the Woodyard. I think he was taking an interest in what happened to Rosa.’

‘No,’ she said. ‘I’ve never met him.’

Matthew felt a stab of disappointment. His theory, his hope of bringing the investigation to a close, was based on Simon having discovered what had happened to Rosa.

Janet continued: ‘The only person from the Woodyard we’ve seen recently is Lucy Braddick. You know, Rosa’s friend.’ She looked at him again, her eyes so tired that they looked bruised. ‘Did you say she was missing?’

He nodded. ‘That’s why I’m here, bothering you. We need to find her.’

‘It was a couple of weeks ago. The two of them text from time to time, scraps of nonsense. Then Maurice phoned and said Lucy was missing Rosa. Could he bring her round after the Woodyard? They came to tea. It was lovely to catch up and the girls got on as well as they always had. They disappeared upstairs and we didn’t see them until it was time for me to go to work.’

Matthew thought for a moment. ‘Could Lucy have taken the skirt with her? Because I think Rosa must have told her what happened. Perhaps just after the abuse took place. Perhaps Lucy saw that Rosa was upset.’ And if Lucy had confided in Walden, he might have asked her to help him find evidence. This could have been his great campaign, the secret that they shared.

‘I don’t know! The skirt was in a plastic bag in my wardrobe.’ Janet was thinking. ‘I haven’t checked if it’s there. Not recently.’ A pause. ‘The girls were in my room, though, that day. I heard their footsteps through the ceiling and I shouted up to them not to be cheeky monkeys. I thought they were trying on my clothes. Rosa likes to do that. To dress up in my things, my high-heeled shoes. She comes down with her face plastered with make-up.’ She looked at Matthew. ‘Shall I phone my husband and ask him to check?’

‘If it’s not too difficult for him.’

‘He’ll be upstairs now anyway, getting ready for bed.’ Matthew sat quite still and tried not to listen to the conversation, tried not to allow emotion to cloud his judgement. He only looked at the woman when she clicked off her mobile.

‘The skirt’s gone,’ she said. ‘He’s looked everywhere.’ 

‘Did Lucy have a bag with her when she came to visit?’

‘Yes,’ Janet said. ‘A shoulder bag. Maurice said she should leave it with him when she went upstairs, but she took it with her.’

And she hid the skirt in it and carried it to the Woodyard to give to Walden. And even when Chrissie went missing and Walden died, she kept her promise. She kept her secret.

‘Thank you,’ Matthew said. ‘Thank you.’

She put her mug on her plate and looked at her watch. ‘I should go,’ she said. ‘My break was over five minutes ago.’

‘Who was it, Janet? Who abused your daughter?’

There was a moment. He thought she still might refuse to tell him. ‘It was the clergyman.’ She stood up. ‘The young curate. Of all the people you’d think you should trust, it would be a man of God.’

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