Charlie put his mug down and said, “Those rooms are stunning, Gavin, like this whole house. I can’t believe we have them to live in.”
He smiled across the table at Charlie, “It had to be like the rest of the house and it took me a while, working out how to get a music room up there, as well as guest digs.”
“I’m glad you haven’t covered the beams – we both love it. Where did you get all those swords?”
I was sitting on one of the outside chairs, opposite Luke, and when I heard that I stood up and couldn’t help butting in on their chat, “Who’s taking me up? I’m the only one who hasn’t bloody seen it.” Luke giggled, grabbed my hand and the next second we were in the music room. Gavin and Charlie appeared beside us, laughing.
“They can show you, Jane, I’ve seen it.” That tickled him, making him titter. “I’ll play my guitar and open some wine.”
“Come on then, boys, I’m itching to see it now.”
Luke opened the door and took me into a small kitchen, shielded from the other three-quarters of the room by a beautiful black lacquered screen, dripping in gold Japanese paintings. My eyes wandered to the detail in the rest of the room. I looked up to the rafters that were the backbone of the roof and saw the roof-lights. They looked like solid blocks of glass to me, hanging down between the wood which would cast pillars of light down to the low slate table and cushions, in daylight. Charlie flicked a switch on the wall, and it was then that I realised they couldn’t have been solid. White-light spotlights did that task now, because it was dark outside. It was stunning.
Along the straight wall, backing up to the music room, lacquered cabinets matching the screen, stood proud and beautiful against the silk covered wall; hand-painted with bamboo and a perfect accompaniment to the whole theme. The Chinese rugs looked wonderful on the dark oak floor – tying it all together. I turned to the boys, “This is really beautiful.”
Luke took hold of my hand, saying, “Come and see the bedroom, Jane?” On our way to the door, we heard Gavin playing some intricate music on the piano.
“Christ, he sounds good on that joanna,” fell out of Charlie’s mouth.
I giggled at them, “How many bloody years would’ve passed, before you’d said something to each other, if you didn’t have rooms up here?”
Luke couldn’t get the words out fast enough, “Too fucking many – idiots, Jane.”
You said it.
He laughed at me and took me through the door where the gable end of the house faced me. My eyes were drawn up to the dozens of beautiful swords, resting on black shapes that were fixed to the wall. The razor-sharp edges glinted when I moved my head. I turned to see the rest of the room and the headboard of the low bed, stood out at me. The shape alone was stunning; inlaid with carved Japanese Geishas. Apart from the ivory they’d used for their faces and hands, they’d carved large chunks of brightly coloured semi-precious stone and they’d used gold for all the detail on their clothing, making them striking against the density of the lacquer, which looked like a deep pool of water. Instead of pillows, there were strange black pillars to rest a Geisha’s head on. I’d seen them in books.
“Careful you don’t drown in that headboard, boys. I wouldn’t want to crease the bloody sheets, either.”
Charlie laughed, “That did cross my mind when we brought Alli in. She loved it.”
“If you get a headache resting on those block thingies, I’m sure Gavin could find you some tablets.” He flashed his eyes. “I can’t wait to see their house, Charlie. Harvey collected tribal furniture, before they found each other – bet it’s lovely.”
Come and get some wine?
“We’re coming. Could I scrounge some tea, instead, Luke? I don’t fancy wine.”
“Go out there and I’ll make you some – no trouble.” He hurried ahead of us.
“Now you’ll have to get all your gear from your digs, Charlie.”
“Let’s hope we’re not called out tomorrow night. It won’t take long. We had to store a lot. The speed we had to move was a bit ridiculous, but give Reese his due, he’d already found us a storage place that was open during the night.”
Back in the music room and before we sat down, Gavin gave Charlie some wine. He’d grouped the large chairs in a circle. I sank down into one and pulled my feet up. “This is cosy.”
“They were in the cellar, Jane, and the only place not soaked and covered in black mould – perfect up here.” He asked Charlie, “What instruments have you got, Charlie?”
“A couple of guitars, Gavin – not much. Luke’s got quite a selection of music, plus a few instruments.”
“Here, Jane,” Luke said, giving me my tea, and then he filled Gavin in, “I have some strange stuff. Anything that looked hard to play, really…you’ll see.”
Charlie laughed and added, “He can knock a tune out of anything.”
Luke sat down and said, “I’ll sell the drum-kit, Gavin. You don’t want that up here.”
“Yes, we do, Luke. There’s tons of room, so don’t get rid of anything.”
“It’s a bloody noise and drives everyone loopy.”
“This place is detached and sound-proofed to the hilt. For Christ’s sake don’t worry about that? We could have a brass band up here and no one either side would hear it, Luke – even the roof’s got a second skin on the inside.” We looked up and heard Gavin laugh. “I’m telling you, it’s fine. All the spaces between the floor joists are stuffed with wool, as well as the studded wall and both gable ends.”
“I’m staying out of this tiff, you two. I’m just pleased we’ve got this lovely room up here.” I drank my tea and looked around at all the things hanging on the rafters, wondering how they sounded. Charlie broke into my thoughts.
“What was Alli saying to you, about playing something, Jane?”
“Oh, that. She just asked if I’d tried anything, Charlie – no point now.”
“That makes me think you wanted to play something.” I looked at him and laughed.
“It would have sounded like tom cats, fighting in the night – bloody awful.”
Gavin asked, “Please tell us what you had in mind?” I looked at him and smiled.
Really no point, love – I mean it.
“Please?” he asked again.
I took a deep breath, “Oh, well. Two things, really. A violin and I heard something on one of those shows with Irish dancers on it. I think they were Northumbrian pipes. The sound was really haunting. I loved it.” Gavin smiled and suddenly Luke disappeared. “Where the hell’s he gone?”
Charlie laughed; said nothing and continued to sip his wine.
Please your bloody self!
Gavin cracked up and grabbed my hand, “I love it when you’re sarcastic.”
I giggled, “Just as well, you’ll hear it forever, Gavin; don’t forget?” They both laughed.
Charlie got up and chose a guitar off the wall. He sat down again to tune it. Then I remembered that Gavin was playing the piano. I turned to him, “Hey, you didn’t say you could play the piano, as well, Gavin.”
“I didn’t mentioned a lot of things you’ve found out today, Jane.” He knew I wanted to answer – I kept quiet instead, which made him smile and stand up. He said with his hand out, “Come over to the piano and sit beside me?” I wanted to watch him so I took hold of his hand.
I was surprised how long the stool was when he pulled it out. He parked himself at one end, patting the other end for me. Once I’d sat beside him, he told me to press every key from left to right – black as well as white. I didn’t understand why, although I did as he asked. Once I’d done it, he played something simple, using both hands, and then he told me to play the same. I felt sure he was kidding. I hadn’t really watched that closely, only listened.
He knew I was puzzled and said, “This is middle C, Jane. Now work it out?” I glanced at him, remembering the tune, so I tentatively pressed the key. That one note swam around my mind with the others that Gavin had played previously; joining up the dots on a puzzle. It suddenly gelled in my head and made sense. I knew I’d chosen the wrong fingers, to play through the short piece – I didn’t care – I’d played a tune. A thrill coursed through me that almost made me change, it was so powerful. Gavin cuddled and kissed me, to cheers from Charlie. I hugged Gavin so tightly; he’d opened a door for me that I’d never thought possible.
A melodic sound filled the air and we both turned to watch Luke, playing a set of Northumbrian pipes. He smiled at me with his arm blowing up the bag, in short intervals throughout the beautiful music, filling the rafters with a sound I wish I could bathe in. I felt the tears dribbling down my cheeks, long before Gavin saw them. When he did he squeezed me. Another little repair job.
Worth it! I could get drunk on this music. He cuddled me closer and we listened until Luke had finished, with the last notes floating away to a whisper. I was thrilled.
Luke saw my tears, put the pipes down and came over to give me a cuddle. Gavin let me go. “You really loved it, Jane, I felt it.”
I looked at his T-shirt and giggled, before saying, “Now I’ve covered you in mascara; bet that’s a first?”
He sniggered. Charlie yelled as he jumped up, “Now that would be telling, Jane! A boy has to have his secrets!”
Gavin roared with laughter and as sure as eggs were eggs, we both knew they’d been drag artists. “You’ll have to give me a few tips, boys – this bloody lot is always streaming down my face.”
They fell in a heap, laughing so much. Gavin grabbed my hand and took me into their kitchen. He pulled some paper towels off the roll, wet them under the tap, and then he began the job of wiping the black streaks from my cheeks. “I’m chuffed they live with us, Jane.” I giggled.
“Me too, Gavin. I’ll be able to cadge some make-up, if I run out.”
He laughed, just before they came in. Luke asked, “More tea, Jane?” He was so dead-pan, I couldn’t help sniggering. He turned away, quickly. His shoulders were shuddering and I knew he was laughing, trying to fill the kettle and missing the tap, with his hand shaking so much. Not a sound could be heard from him, in or out of our heads, though.
You’re getting good at that, Luke. They moved even more. He was trying so hard to stop it, and he wouldn’t turn around or he’d have landed in a heap again.
Charlie grinned at him, then he flashed his eyes at me, “That was in another life, Jane, before we were bitten, and the first night we were together. We were asleep and attacked in my bed.”
“Christ! I’m so sorry, Charlie, and you Luke.” Gavin was gutted for them, too.
“Hey, we brought it up, so don’t feel like that? We both love being hybrids, and I could give you a few tips, if you want, Jane?”
“Perfect guests, Charlie. As you’ve seen, I’m a hopeless case.”
“You’ll have eyes to die for when I’m finished – pun intended. Get your make-up…we haven’t any now – years ago, Jane.”
I laughed and vanished. I could hear them laughing before I picked up my make-up bag. There was no way I wasn’t having eyes to die for. When I appeared next to Charlie, he was waiting by an upright chair, he’d brought out from their room. I gave him my kit of goodies.
“Sit down, Jane,” he said, unzipping my bag. “Let me see what you have in here. Oh, well, look at this?” He dug around in the bottom and brought out something.
“Let me see?” He showed me the small box that held Kohl dust. “Oh, I bought that with every intention of learning how the model’s used it. Another thing that’ll live in that bag, forever, Charlie – it’s full of those.”
“Sit down, Jane. Some good stuff in here, you’ve never touched.” He looked around, “Is there a small table up here, Gavin, please?” Gavin got up and headed down to the bar cupboard, to get something from behind it. He brought a folded card table over that he erected beside Charlie. “Thanks, Gavin.” He tipped my whole bag out on the table and sorted everything into different sections. Mascaras, eye shadows and miscellaneous. There was a heap of those and a lot of trash that Charlie put to one side with a smile. He picked up my one and only hair band and pushed all my hair back from my face with it.
“Right, lie back and think of England, Jane? In the nicest possible way, of course.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He giggled. I put my head back and waited for him to begin.
It didn’t seem to take long. I listened to the music Luke and Gavin were playing quietly, on their guitars. I’d moved my eyes wherever Charlie had wanted and couldn’t wait to see the finished result. He said, “Keep your eyes closed for a sec?” I felt him spray my head.
“I’m finished. All we want now is a mirror?” He pulled the band of my hair and ruffled his hands through it.
Gavin piped up, “Wait there.” A couple of seconds later he said to Charlie, “Will this do?”
“Perfect, Gavin, hold it up?” I lifted my eyelids and sat up straight, staring at the woman in the mirror. That’s not me? She’s beautiful. Look at those eyes, like pools of black water.
I heard Gavin’s voice, “Jane, you don’t see it, but you are beautiful. You look bloody amazing.” Luke whistled which brought me back to earth.
I smiled at Gavin. He could feel my emotions brewing, “Don’t cry, for God’s sake, it’ll slide right off your face, Jane?”
Charlie laughed, “That’ll last for a few hours yet. I sprayed it lightly with hairspray. We had to know a few tricks, to stop us melting under stage lights. They were fucking hot. All you want now is a belly-dancer’s costume and you’d look the part, Jane.”
“I have something like that.” I vanished and could hear them wondering what on earth I’d gone for. Gavin was the most confused. If he could have secrets, then so could I.
I found the costume I’d bought in an Indian shop, over a year ago. It was so beautiful and I just had to have it – girls are like that, squirreling things away.
I put it on, though I didn’t just appear in the room again, I climbed the stairs and stood in the door-way. Then I thumped my bare heel on the floor, to make the bells around my ankles jingle, with each thump of my feet as I walked slowly into the room swaying my hips; twisting my hands in different shapes, not really knowing how they’d have danced in the costume. It kept them entertained until I got to my chair and sank into it, laughing at their gobsmacked faces. “More tea, vicar?”
Gavin couldn’t help himself and almost yelled, “You’ll have to give me a private viewing with that on, Jane, no mistake!”
I loaded my answer with a ton of innuendo, “I might, if you’re good?”
“I’m gunna be perfect from now on, Jane.” We laughed at him, almost grovelling.
Over breakfast, Gavin told me that Mike Brooks would be back from remand, for another interview about Stephen and Maxine.
“That’s made my day and it’s only just started, Gavin.”
“The Richardson’s, too. Perhaps we’ll understand them this bloody time?”
Charlie said between drinking his tea, “I’ll fax you the PM reports, as soon as we’re in work, Gavin.”
“Cheers. I can’t wait to see Brooks’ face when he knows we’ve found Maxine as well.” Gavin turned and asked me, “Has she asked you to cross her over, yet, Jane?”
“No, love. It could be years before she’s seen all her family. She might even wish to stay near one or more of them and never cross over. They have to want to go and it wouldn’t surprise me if she turned up at his trial. They do that sometimes; hang around until they know their killer has been caught. Before you ask, I didn’t have a job at one point so I used to go to the court-house near where I lived. I had to do something to fill the days. I saw a few ghosts, laughing at the people who’d killed them, and one was in the dock, taking swipes at his killer. I had a job not to laugh.”
They were laughing and Luke said, “I bet that was difficult.”
I giggled, “It was. I was above the dock and the bloody ghost was looking up to me and yelling for him to die, making a hell of a racket. I was dying to make him visible to all of them.”
Charlie blurted out amongst his laughing, “Didn’t know you could that. Christ!”
“You don’t know the half of it, Charlie. They would have smelled his rotting carcass, as well.” Gavin was sniggering beside me. I pushed my thumb back at him and said to Charlie, “Gavin’s had the full dose.” The lads were in fits.
Gavin said, “If that didn’t put me off you, Jane, nothing will; good first date.”
My eyes flashed at him and I giggled before I said, “I think we better get to work or we won’t have a bloody job to go to?”
Gavin checked his watch, “You must be eager, we’re not late. I’ll make more tea.” He collected our mugs and stepped into the kitchen.
“Poor bugger. I showed him in the Indian restaurant, on the High Street. Forgot to tell him he’d get it all – nearly sunk him.”
“You and Alli sound the same with your gifts, Jane.”
“I don’t think there’s much difference, Charlie. She uses all hers in her interviews and I’ve no objections, either. Brooks has it coming today although I don’t think Alli get’s the smell with hers. She’s lucky – makes me feel sick at times.”
Gavin came in with the tea and dished it out, saying, “Maybe next time we see them, she could stop you getting that, Jane?”
“God, I hope she can, Gavin. That’s the only thing I really detest when I see them. The rest, I can put up with.”
“Perhaps we could organise a day away, before we finish this case? We’ll see what happens and I’ll ring Reese. You shouldn’t have to put up with that. I wish I’d remembered.”
“Alli did mention hypnotising people, to stop them feeling tattoos. I should’ve remembered myself, Gavin. Didn’t think.”
Once we were in work, things happened fast. I was sat at Gavin’s desk, checking that we had everything we needed for the interview. The door to the team’s office was open. I looked up when I heard the fax machine begin to churn out the reports. Jenny waited next to it until they’d all been delivered. I saw her gather them up and tap the pile on the table, before she’d finished straightening them, and then she brought them in for Gavin. He’d been on the phone since we arrived.
Jenny glanced at Gavin and said with a low voice, “These are from Charlie, Jane.”
“Thanks Jenny. How are things going between you and Phil?” She giggled.
“He’s been home for tea with the rellies. While he was there I showed him where I worked when mum and dad get away.” I couldn’t help laughing; she smirked loudly. I glanced at Gavin, thinking we’d been too loud. He was trying not to laugh himself – totally bored with the phone call. I knew it was John on the other end, bending his ear and not giving him a chance to even say yes or no.
Got it in one, Jane. I think I might have a nap. We both creased up. He couldn’t if he tried. He just grinned at us.
Finally he said, “Yes, it’s all in hand, John, and I’ll let you know how it goes.”
He closed his phone and blasted, “About fucking time! I’m making a brew before the bloody interview. Sorry, Jenny. Half an hour he prattled on.” He headed for the door.
I looked at Jenny, who was smiling like she would burst. “He does bloody slow us up. His promotion has gone to his frigging head.”
“That’ll be his wife, Jane. Have you seen her?”
“God, no. She can’t wriggle out of that dominatrix kit of hers.” We heard a roar of laughter from the team’s office. “Shit! I forgot they can hear me. Bloody glad he can’t.” Jenny was holding her sides when Gavin returned with our tea. He could hardly put them on the desk without slopping them.
Once they were safe, he said, “Fuck! I hope we’re not bugged like the others are?”
“When did you find that out?”
He looked at me, “From Harvey. I’ll tell you later – too long-winded now. We’ll have this and start the interviews.”
When we got to the interview room door, we could see him yelling at Rod, who sat patiently without answering. He’d put up a barrier that Brooks couldn’t break through. Being hybrids we couldn’t afford to get angry and Rod was stronger than I’d have been, with that lot hurled at him. Gavin turned the handle and Brooks’ head shot around to watch up come in. Just as well you’re silent or I’d have stopped you talking for life!
I saw the glint in Rod’s eyes, hearing my thoughts. He said, “Good morning, Jane; Gavin.”
Gavin pulled my chair out, answering, “Morning Rod. I see you’re getting on famously with our prisoner?”
“If I could get a word in, I might have, Gavin. As it is, he’s foregone any help from me, as he wouldn’t shut up.” Brooks was pissed at that and stared at Rod beside him.
Phil, could you stand across the door please?
Pleasure, Gavin. Two minutes.
While we waited, Gavin opened two new tapes and slid them in the groves of the machine, ready for when we logged everyone in the room. I stared at Brooks, digging around inside his head, on the hunt for the info I wanted. I found a ton more, we knew nothing about. Under the table, Gavin tapped my leg with his and when I turned to him, he was grinning. I can see you’ll enjoy this; fill your boots, Jane!
The door opened and Phil came into the room. We could feel him behind us, no need to look, although Brooks was trying to see him between us. I moved nearer to Gavin to block his view; wanting nothing to distract him. Gavin switched the tape machine on.
“Those present are Detective Inspector Wells.” He glanced at me, to say mine.
I said, “Psychic and Detective Jane Hanson.” Brooks stared at me.
Rod followed, saying, “Rodney Miller, solicitor.”
Behind us, Phil said, “Detective Phillip Brecon.”
Gavin thought to me: You start, Jane. Looking forward to this.
I cleared my throat, to make sure I had Brooks’ full attention. “We’ve found Stephen.” His jaw dropped like a stone. “You hit him and because you thought he’d died when he fell against something, you decided that burying him in the grounds of that bloody hotel was preferable to ringing for an ambulance.”
“What do you mean, thought!” he yelled.
“He was still alive! There was soil in his lungs that could only have got there by gasping for breath, underground!”
He screamed, “HE WAS DEAD!”
“A doctor, are you? Paramedic or in the St John’s Ambulance Brigade. Do tell me please?” He began to splutter. “Don’t bother lying to me. That’s not all. Have a guess what else I have to tell you?” I crossed my arms and waited.
Brooks glanced at Gavin and then at Rod, wishing he wasn’t here and in the deepest shit ever. We could all hear it running around his mind as he tried desperately to find an excuse for burying Stephen alive.
I reminded him, “We know about Stephen, so why are you cooking up lies about him? Think man! What else do we know that you think we don’t?” He began to shake his head at me. “What’s her name?” He turned grey before us. “She’s gone back to Manchester to say goodbye to her family, one last time.”
He looked at my face, “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“You should know. You got rid of her partner for the night; only she wouldn’t play ball with you, would she?”
He snapped, “Now you’re talking rubbish.”
“You’re wishing I was, but Maxine had a long chat with me at her graveside, about ten metres from Stephen’s grave.”
He huffed at me and turned to Rod, “I’m not saying another word.”
Rod glanced at me and smiled before he answered him, “I don’t think you’ve grasped what’s going on here. You won’t have to say anything, detective Hanson will pull it all from your mind and you won’t be able to stop her.”
“SHE CAN’T DO THAT!” he blasted at Rod.
“Watch me.” I said quietly and he turned his head slowly to stare. “Forgot the word psychic when we logged in our names, for the tape?” He opened his mouth to speak and nothing came out – powerless to make his tongue move. About bloody time. Gavin tapped my knee again, laughing in my head, along with Rod and Phil.
I said bluntly, “Now, give us a statement about everything?”
“You can fuck off!” I could feel Gavin tense.
Don’t worry – leave this to me, Gavin. He’s walked right into my hands.
I closed my eyes and pushed the scene beside Maxine’s grave; blasting into his head. His hands gripped the edge of the table when it hit his mind and I made sure he had everything attached to the vision. He started gagging with the stench, pulling back from the table, trying to get away from the sight of her rotting flesh. She was covered in earth that dropped off when she moved, talking to me. His chair fell over. He landed on his back on the floor with his hands in the air, trying to fend off what really wasn’t there for anyone else to see. I kept pushing it until he cried out for it to stop. Then I switched it off. I waited for him to get up. He was dubious about sitting that close to me now.
“You better sit down or it’s the cells for you and we’ll have to go through all that again. I think you get the message, Mr Brooks. Fancy it?”
“No I bloody don’t,” he mumbled, picking up his chair. He parked his backside on it, although about a foot away from the table which made me giggle. That went down like a lead brick with him. I ignored it.
Gavin turned to Phil, “Could you take his statement, Phil, please?”
“Pleasure, sir. I’ll get the forms.” He left us.
Gavin said, “Interview terminated at ten fifty-five.” He switched the machine off, taking the two tapes out and giving one to Rod.
“Thanks, Gavin. How are the lads settling in?”
“Great, thanks, Rod. You’ll have to come to dinner – bring a guest?”
“I’ll take you up on that. Could I bring Beth?” Don’t worry; we’ve become great mates and nothing physical will ever happen.
You have your head screwed on, Rod, I know it won’t. Come whenever you want; Beth’s itching to see the house. “It’ll be a pleasure, Rod.” He laughed in our heads.