Blood Money

Blood Money by Chris Collett Read Free Book Online

Book: Blood Money by Chris Collett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Collett
Tags: UK
Mariner felt a numbness spreading along the underside of his left thigh.
    ‘Well she must have, mustn’t she? Because when Jessica’s real mummy came in later, Jessica wasn’t here.’ Leanne looked over at Samantha. ‘I didn’t know she wasn’t—I mean, how was I supposed to know?’ The belligerence faded and her face began to crumple in the way that Ellie’s had moments before.
    ‘Nobody’s blaming you, Leanne,’ Samantha said, though it seemed to Mariner that her words lacked a certain sincerity.
    ‘It’s great that you saw the person who took Jessica, Leanne,’ Mariner said, conscious of the need to keep her on side. ‘It means we stand a much better chance of finding her.’
    ‘I should have stopped her though, shouldn’t I?’ the girl said miserably. ‘If I had we wouldn’t be in this mess, and poor Mrs O’Brien—’
    Mariner was pretty determined that this young kid wasn’t going to shoulder the blame for what appeared to be pretty lax security all round in the nursery. ‘It has happened but now we need to put it right. You can do that by telling me everything you can about this woman. What were you doing when she came in?’ He knew that re-setting the scene would help her recall.
    ‘I was sitting on the carpet there, on a beanbag and I was cuddling Ellie, trying to make her stop crying.’
    Mariner got up and walked over to the beanbags. ‘Here? And where was Jessica at this time?’
    ‘In her car seat on that side of the carpet, there.’
    ‘So she was about three feet away from where you were sitting.’ Mariner picked up a little chair and plonked it where she had said. ‘And the woman came in. What did she do?’
    ‘She stood in the doorway and said hello.’
    ‘And you looked up and saw her. Just take a minute to think carefully. This is really important. Now, what did she look like?’ They’d get as much as they could now, and if necessary bring in a psychologist later to take her back over the events again.
    Leanne shrugged, and Mariner’s hopes sank a little. ‘She was ordinary, no different from the other mums who come here. And I only glanced at her for a second.’
    They sank further. ‘Had you ever seen her before?’
    ‘I don’t think so.’
    ‘What about her hair colour?’
    ‘It was sort of brown, I think. But it might have been blonde.’
    Mariner was beginning to see Samantha’s point, that the girl wasn’t very bright. ‘Was she tall or short?’
    She looked around her as if trying to judge alongside them all, but failed to come to a decision.
    ‘Thin or overweight?’ Mariner persisted.
    Another shrug.
    Mariner bit back his frustration. From where he stood by the beanbag he glanced over at the door. He squatted down to the level at which Leanne would have been and, from that perspective, suddenly he could see why Leanne’s memory was hazy at that point. The autumn leaves would have obscured most of the view. ‘Okay,’ he said. ‘Let’s try something different. How did this woman behave?’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘Did she hesitate at all?’
    ‘She might have, I don’t know. I was trying to quieten Ellie.’
    ‘Okay, so she was standing in the doorway, then what did she do?’
    ‘She went over to Jessica.’
    ‘And how did Jessica react?’
    ‘She didn’t. She was asleep in her car seat. She’d nodded off.’
    ‘Her car seat?’
    ‘Yeah, you know the baby seats with the handle that you strap into the car.’
    ‘Okay, then what happened?’
    ‘I think I said, “Oh you’re Jessica’s mummy.”’
    ‘So you told her the baby’s name, before she said it.’
    She blushed again. ‘I suppose I must have done.’
    ‘Did she say anything else?’
    ‘Something like: “Oh there she is, my little sweetheart. Mummy’s come to take you home.” The usual stuff that mummies say. Then she asked how she’d been, and I said, “Fine.”
    ‘She asked me when Jessica had been fed and changed, so I said that we’d had to change her when she

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