Maxwell's Crossing

Maxwell's Crossing by M.J. Trow Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Maxwell's Crossing by M.J. Trow Read Free Book Online
Authors: M.J. Trow
“forgot”,’ and Maxwell could clearly hear the quotation marks as she spoke, ‘that he was on call after nine and is lying insensible in the remains of the Christmas pudding, according to his wife. The other reason is that the shot man is an old friend of mine, well, ours actually, as he went to Leighford High. Henry and I had him in court finally last October; you may remember the case, it was in the Advertiser. We finally had enough on him for child abuse, mental, physical and sexual – a horrible case, but he got off on a technicality.’
    â€˜A technicality?’ Maxwell was appalled all over again.
    â€˜His wife was the main witness, and she changed her testimony. We had no other witnesses, the medicalevidence was a bit equivocal and so the case was thrown out. I have rarely seen Henry so mad.’ She was gathering herself together, running her hands through her hair and generally checking her clothes for gravy dribbles and chocolate smears. She held out her arms and faced Maxwell. ‘Do I have to get changed?’
    â€˜You’re fine,’ he told her, ‘although you might want to take off the Santa earrings. So, the wife did it?’
    â€˜Who knows. I would if I was his wife. I’ve been tempted married to you, so I can only imagine what she must be feeling. Her children have been taken into care and she had to choose between him and them. Not a choice I would care to make, especially at Christmas.’
    â€˜If the case failed, though …’
    â€˜Social services work independently of the police and the case is still ongoing. They have a child protection procedure underway, and until it has gone through all the stages, it can’t be stopped. Like us they are sure of their ground, although there is no longer any corroborating evidence, so they are dragging their feet on this. The children are quite little, so they can’t be witnesses, but if they are away from their father for long enough without showing any signs of bruising or anything, that will mean that the chance of accidental bruising becomes less and non-accidental more.’ While she was talking, Jacquie was scrabbling under the sofa for her other shoe. ‘I hope it isn’t her, I have to say. She seemed a nice enough woman, just very weak.’
    â€˜So, she probably hasn’t done it, then, this Mrs …?’
    â€˜You don’t catch me like that,’ Jacquie said. ‘Even the Advertiser understood the need for anonymity. So do I.’
    â€˜An old Leighford Highena, though …’
    â€˜Yup.’
    â€˜I can’t think who …’
    â€˜A lot can go on between GCSE and … however old this man became before tonight.’ She grabbed her bag and left the room, blowing a kiss as she went. ‘I don’t expect I’ll be long. Henry’s meeting me there.’
    â€˜Henry is? He was having Christmas off, I thought?’
    â€˜Yes. That’s why I took the days on, really. It’s the first Christmas with the boys back from university and I think Margaret wanted to do the family thing. She’s a bit empty nest, love her.’ Jacquie spoke with the confidence of one whose empty-nest days were long in the future.
    â€˜So …’
    â€˜He felt it badly, like I did. Those kids were covered in bruises and cowered whenever he came into the room. He is built a bit like their dad, same colouring as well. They are totally traumatised.’ She coughed to cover a sob. ‘We couldn’t help comparing …’
    â€˜I know, sweetie. Sooner you’re gone, sooner you’re back. Love to Henry.’ He waved her off and listened as her footsteps went the wrong way along the landing, to Nolan’s room at the foot of the second flight of stairs. She just had to do it, he knew. Having their son was the best thing they had ever done, but it didn’t make her job any easier.
    She blew another kiss into the sitting

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