A Christmas Beginning

A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry Read Free Book Online

Book: A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Perry
Tags: Fiction
possibly had little idea what to do next. He had painted himself into something of a corner with his assumption that it was a madman. It was easy enough to understand why he had done so, faced with the brutality of the crime and the horror it had awoken in everyone, family and stranger alike. The whole town suffered under a weight of shock as if life had been darkened for all of them. Something irreparable had been destroyed.
    Warner was too loyal to say outright that Faraday was floundering; in fact, he would not even look Runcorn in the eye as he tried to find the right words, but that was what he meant.
    â€œHe’s going to have to acknowledge that it was someone she knew,” Warner said aloud. “Nobody’ll want to think so, but you can’t get away from it.” He stirred the porridge a final time. “Then you can start asking the questions that’ll lead us to the truth.” His voice carried more confidence than he must have felt.
    Warner ladled the porridge into two bowls and brought it to the table, along with milk and spoons and both salt and sugar. “But what kind of questions?” He faced Runcorn fully now, the awkwardness of pretending he was not really looking for help had been negotiated.
    They both started to eat while Runcorn thought carefully of how to reply. The porridge was thick and smooth and the more he ate, the more he liked it. He wondered what he could say that was honest and still kept a remnant of tact? Or did tact matter any more at this point? Surely now it was harsh and dangerous enough that only the truth would serve? If he were taking over this case from someone else, what would he do, were he able to have complete control of it?
    Warner was waiting for him to speak, his face pale with the deep exhaustion of fear.
    â€œI’d be plain,” Runcorn told him quietly. “There’s not a lot of use going back over where everyone was because they’ve already said, and no one’s going to admit to a lie. I suppose you haven’t found the blade?”
    Warner shook his head.
    â€œIt would have come from someone’s kitchen,” Runcorn observed.
    â€œWe could see who’s missing one?” Warner suggested doubtfully. “But that’d mean pretty well saying as we thought it was one of them, or we couldn’t even look.”
    â€œAnd for all we know, it could’ve been washed and put back,” Runcorn added.
    Warner winced, his face clearly mirroring his racing imagination, the Sunday joint carved with the weapon of murder.
    Runcorn clenched his teeth. This was difficult, but he had promised Melisande that he would help, which meant that he must do so, wherever the truth led him, even to angering Faraday and possibly making an enemy of him. Nobody would welcome the sort of questions that must be asked, but to investigate other than honestly would serve no purpose. However painful the truth of why Olivia had been killed, and by whom, it must be found. And, inevitably, other secrets, follies, and shames would also be uncovered. Perhaps even Melisande would be forced to see things she might have preferred to overlook. Runcorn had a strong feeling that very little would be the same afterwards.
    Should he have warned her of his prediction? Should he do so now? Of course he knew the answer in his heart. In the past he had sometimes done what was expedient, said the right things, turned the occasional blind eye. It had won him the promotion Monk had never received. It had also earned him Monk’s contempt, and if he were honest, his own as well. He could never have Melisande’s love—it hurt to say so—but he would keep the integrity which made him able to look at her without shame.
    â€œI don’t know whether Sir Alan will look into the weapon more closely or not,” he finally said to Warner. “But what I would do, were it with me, is to learn more about Miss Costain herself, until I knew

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