Still Waters

Still Waters by Judith Cutler Read Free Book Online

Book: Still Waters by Judith Cutler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Judith Cutler
mind far more urgent than indulging my whims.’
    ‘Other things including young whatshername, the one with—’ He gestured large breasts. ‘And I’ll bet he’s told you it’s all above board, too, eh? The young. Think they’ve invented everything, don’t they?’
    The young
. As if they were a different race. She’d never heard him speak like that before. Had it taken less than a week’s retirement to change his perspective so profoundly?
    ‘They certainly didn’t invent sports injuries. Pete says you were playing cricket.’ She just stopped herself adding,
at your age
. ‘How did you hurt yourself so badly? And how long will you be on crutches?’
    ‘It was at this church match…’ He embarked on an explanation that she, as a non-cricketer, would have beenhappy to skip. And the answer to the second question involved equal quantities of medical jargon. But it seemed to equal a piece of string. It all depended on how fast he healed, if at all, but there might or might not be surgery, which might or might not be keyhole. It might have been one of Simon Gates’ meetings. The gist was that he would be immobile for some time, and as he wasn’t an officer who’d always craved time to work on a sedentary project he was not a happy man.
    In the end Fran was grateful for the ring of her mobile. Excusing herself, and promising a return visit soon, she let herself out and took the call.
    ‘Is that Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman? Paula Farmer here,’ came a resonant voice, the sort that could be heard from one end of a football pitch to another.
    ‘I’m sorry?’ Fran prompted.
    ‘Simon Gates asked me to contact you,’ she added encouragingly. ‘Didn’t he tell you? Typical!’
    Fran wasn’t quite sure whether such inefficiency was typical of men in general or Simon in particular.
    ‘You’re from the restoration people? How wonderful of you to call me! Thank you so much.’
    Her gushing deserved Paula’s dry response. ‘I’d save your thanks until we’ve seen the job and priced it up – and decided if we can take it.’
    ‘At least you called me back, Ms Farmer. A lot of firms don’t bother.’
    ‘Oh, that’s because they’re afraid of the work and it’s not macho to say so. Or some price the job so high you can’t afford them. We don’t work like that.’
    Fran didn’t think they would, somehow. ‘And “we” are?’
    ‘We started off as Paula’s Pots, a small co-operative. That’swhat some of our clients still call us. Pact Restorers we are now. So where’s the property and when can we do an internal inspection? This afternoon?’
    Fran surprised herself by being taken aback. ‘You don’t hang about.’
    ‘Gates says it’s urgent. I should warn you, however, Detective Chief Superintendent, that good restoration work is neither speedy nor cheap.’
    ‘It’s urgent because I don’t know how much longer the roof will survive. The other firms promised to protect the whole lot with scaffolding and sheeting, but they never showed up to do it.’
    There was a pause. ‘You love the place already, don’t you? Where is it? OS map coordinates would be useful if it’s remote.’
    Fran gaped. ‘There’s an OS map in my car. Bear with me a minute… I can be there in forty-five minutes,’ she added as Farmer read the coordinates back.
    ‘Excellent. So can I.’
     
    ‘Pact Restorers?’ Mark echoed when she called him with the news. ‘It sounds as if they ought to be operating under the United Nations mandate to police international ceasefires.’
    ‘Paula Farmer certainly sounded at least as authoritative as any General Secretary, and more likely to smack recalcitrant leaders into order. She certainly doesn’t rate our shiny new DCC over much.’
    ‘Did you say Paula Farmer? The name sounds vaguely familiar…’
    ‘Be that as it may, I’m meeting her at the Rectory in forty-five minutes. I must go. I daren’t be late!’
    Late she was, however, or Paula Farmer

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