When 19-year-old waitress Millie takes a summer job as companion to wealthy Lady Vera Ashington at her Suffolk stately home, she has no idea that a mystery will unfold which puts her own life and her family's business at risk. Unexplained deaths will test her morality. Can the end justify the means? Lady Ashington (Vera) fears a breakdown due to personal regrets. She has one last go at seeking long-term happiness. Having taken Millie as a companion, the two women become friends and enjoy arguing about Vera's wealth and her inability to use it wisely. ‘ Too much cake', is the problem. Millie empowers Vera. She keeps a first person diary, and includes Vera's viewpoint. This diary is the novel. It tells how the talents of two very different women, when harnessed, move mountains. But, Vera's local influence means every good deed, leaves a loser. Millie had not appreciated this and conflicts mount. Things reach a head when a couple in the village, are murdered . The evidence isn't clear. Who would profit from their deaths? Is Vera implicated? Must Millie fear for her life?View More
Day 331. Friday.Nearly a year has gone by and much has happened.My Diary. I shall never show Vera this diary and she will never ask to see it. It’s better that way. It’s behind us.Vera’s pregnancy. Nothing to report. She either got carried away with her diagnosis, she was lying for reasons only known to her, or she lost the baby. Whatever, if she wants to talk about it, she will. She doesn’t seem fussed, now she has Sid in bed and Tom and Sandra to mother.But why would she lie about that? I have my theory (as always).Charley saw himself as the surrogate father and would never have let the children down. Only by bringing Charley into the house, could she hope to get Sid and the children for herself. Trying to exclude Charley was too risky. He would certainly have been hurt after all he had done for them and may have l
'A lot has happened since then. I expected more recent thoughts.''It all has to start at that point. If we extrapolate back from all points around today’s Lower Butts, we end up at that fateful morning. That’s where big bang happened. Let’s start at that moment. We can consider distance travelled since then.''That’s fine by me,' she affirmed.'I’m going to assume that you knew Sid had lesbian leanings. I wasn’t sure. You were!'I waited for confirmation. She remained quiet so I took that as a ‘yes,’ and proceeded.'You wanted her and you wanted the children she looked after, so you hired me so that you could have contact without your scheme becoming obvious to the outside world.'Vera stiffened, sitting upright like a governess wanting to make a good impression. She still said nothing.'Then you moved the Walker children into the stable apartments - with good reason I hasten to add. Ch
'I need to explain that I’ve taken steps to legally adopt Sid, Tom and Sandra. That will give them financial security as they will qualify for a small allowance under the Ashington estate rules. The adoption was what caused me to go to the Walkers that fateful morning. I also had to broach the problem of them quitting the house. The rest you know.'No mention of blackmail this time. She’s a lousy crook. She continued, 'It’s quite likely that my visit sent Cedric over the top, but it was unintentional. Not that intent will help if I’m prosecuted.''Is that really likely?' I asked.'Probably not, but it’s in the hands of the coroner’s court.'Sid went as white as a sheet. She couldn’t cope with the idea that she could lose her protector and patron. The thought of being solely responsible for Tom and Sandra again took her back to the edge every time.I had two more questions.'Why did you exclude me fro
'Every time I deliver Lady Ashington’s evening paper, Charley is just knocking off work and on his way up to the House. It seems he doesn’t go home for a wash these days. I usually bump into him when I’m doing the morning milk and paper deliveries, coming out the house, on his way to work. But then his hair is wet so he must shower somewhere in the House. Has he shacked up with Sid?'Miss Marple, eat your heart out! That girl misses nothing and draws nearly the right conclusions.'So how long ago has this been going on?''Quite a while.''What time did he go up tonight?'She stopped and pondered a sickle moon, silhouetted against the early evening sky.'I stopped for a fag, then did the stables. About half an hour I’d say.'I’m still surprised I didn’t burst into tears, but instead I became as hard as blue steel.'That’s long enough for Charley. Georgie, if I gave you the gossip of a li
It’s a Friday. I don’t know what day anymore. Weeks have passed.I’d taken the mail to the letter box. As I walked by the bus lay-by on my way home, a car pulled up beside me. The window wound down. There was Detective Sergeant Smythe.'Just hop in please, Ms Backhouse. I need to talk to you.''Do I have to? I’m really not in the mood.''We can do this without you being in the mood,' he snapped.He released the door catch and it swung open. He wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. I climbed in beside him and shut the door. The window whirred upwards.'How can I help you, sergeant?'There was a long pause, while he took his notebook and pencil out. His whole demeanour was that of a fifties cop like you see in TV dramas. I put my hand on the door release and moved to get out again. That concentrated his mind.'You will be aware that you owe me.'
Day 64.Friday. I’ve slept on it and decided I’ll have to ask Vera for her version of events, woman to woman, two friends together. It’s the only way to lay the ghost of Sonya’s ramblings. Should I tell her the full Sonya version? We could have a laugh about it. I didn’t. You can’t laugh about the death of two destitute alcoholics, who had once been the kindest, softest villagers - according to village lore that is. I’d never known them and only spoken to them the few times this summer. The walk up to the House after work that day was the loneliest I’d known. I didn’t notice the late summer colours forming, the swifts collecting on the electricity cables, chattering and practising their departure, the squirrels hunting nuts, and the chill in the air as the autumn mists collected over the sea. It must have all been there. It’s there every October. This was the first October that I had carried such a
Day 64.Friday. Five to seven my phone went. It was Sid. 'Vera is in a state. I’ve tried, but she screamed at me. She is so scared of what may happen. Her husband has refused to go with her, which would have silenced a lot of tongues. Take a hairbrush, make-up and a can of hairspray. Maybe she’ll let you work on her.' Seven on the dot, Vera was outside our house. It felt like the old days. I realised how much I missed her company and doing things with her, although, when I view my diary, we did precious little. The day was blustery and I had run down our long path to the front gate, with my hand on my head, holding my beret down. Once in the car, I could see how dishevelled she was. This woman wasn’t coping at any level. I took a chance with my conversation opener. 'Morning sickness?' 'Not really. I suppose Sid told you.' She pulled away towards the A12. 'It
Her message sounded very matter of fact. She was hard to understand, due to background noise and that confused me. It was five thirty in the morning on a lonely country lane in Suffolk. Where did the noise come from? My finger hovered over the delete button, but providentially Sonya came through the office door.'What’s it like to kiss a boy, Millie?'I was incandescent and finished her off as only siblings can.'Jesus Christ, Sonya. Right now, must it be?'Yes - this lad last term - before the holidays. He wanted to kiss me and now he’s going to ask...'I freaked. I shrieked.'Just go and kiss the stupid prat and find out for yourself, and shut the effing door after you!''Sorry,' she flounced, 'I was only asking.'She spun on her heel and headed back out the door.'Well it’s not exactly rhubarb-patch stuff, is it?' I shouted after her.She shut the door with a very loud and ostentatious bang th
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