THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END

THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END by Elly Griffiths Read Free Book Online

Book: THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END by Elly Griffiths Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elly Griffiths
one hand to the other, his lips moving. Father Hennessey’s rosary was black and ornate. This is smaller and simpler, white beads on a gold chain, a cross at one end.
    ‘May be able to trace that,’ says Trace.
    ‘Nah,’ says Ted. ‘Those things are ten a penny.’
    Ruth puts the rosary into a separate bag.
    ‘It’s all evidence,’ she says.
    They can now see the lower bodies, which are lying on what looks like a white sheet. On the sheet are some tiny balls of fluff. Ted bends closer.
    ‘Looks like the stuff we found the other day. Smells the same too.’
    ‘We can try to identify the material,’ says Ruth. ‘It’ll help with dating.’ She stands up, easing her back. Her earlier euphoria is overtaken by a sudden wave of tiredness. She’s out of practice at digging. Her neck and shoulders feel as if she is wearing an iron collar. Also the trench is starting to feel claustrophobic, the cliffs lowering over her with the triangle of sky above.
    Ted is watching her. ‘Why not let Trace take over for a bit?’ He leans forward. ‘It’d be good practice for her.’
    She smiles at Ted, grateful for his tact. He grins back, showing two gold teeth. She climbs out of the trench, being careful not to damage the sides, and Trace takes her place.
    Ruth walks back across the beach, noticing that white-flecked waves are starting to appear on the horizon. They
must
keep a watch on the tide. She climbs the slope and walks slowly along the cliff path to the car park. Nelson’s filthy Mercedes is parked by an ominous-looking sign saying ‘Beware! Danger of Land Slides’. The car window is half open and, through it, Ruth sees Nelson, head back, eyes shut, Kate nestling on his shoulder. For a moment, she just stands there. She has only once before seen Nelson asleep and she remembers how his face is completely changed, the fierce lines softened, the eyelashes surprisingly long, the mouth unguarded and vulnerable. Kate’s head is pressed against Nelson’s neck. From reflex more than anything, Ruth reaches in to see if Kate is breathing. Still asleep, the baby turns her head away. Nelson’s eyes open immediately.
    ‘Ruth. Bloody hell. You made me jump.’
    ‘Sorry,’ says Ruth.
    Nelson winds down the window. ‘I wasn’t asleep,’ he says defensively.
    ‘It’s okay,’ says Ruth. ‘I won’t tell Clough.’
    ‘How are you getting on?’
    ‘Okay. Four bodies almost excavated.’
    ‘Think you’ll get done today?’
    ‘I hope so.’ She looks at the sky which is a pale, wintery blue, the sun high and hazy. ‘It’s only midday now. Hightide should be at six, and we’ll have to have it done by then otherwise the trench will flood. We’ve cleared away the rubble from the cliff fall, you see. Nothing to stop the sea getting in.’
    ‘What are you going to do with Katie? She can’t stay here all day and I’ve got to get on.’
    ‘She can sleep in her car seat for a bit.’
    ‘What if she wakes up?’
    ‘I’ll sit with her.’
    Nelson looks at Ruth without saying anything. Kate stirs slightly and he readjusts his hold, his hand looking very large against her little back. Ruth finds herself staring at Nelson’s wedding ring. Has he always worn one?
    ‘Shall I take her?’ she asks.
    ‘Perhaps you’d better.’
    Ruth opens the car door and Nelson climbs out. He places the sleeping baby in Ruth’s arms and tucks her blanket carefully round her. Ruth looks at Kate to avoid looking at Nelson as he does this.
    ‘She’s beautiful,’ says Nelson softly.
    ‘Don’t.’
    ‘I can’t help it, Ruth. I’ve hardly seen her before today.’
    Whose fault is that, thinks Ruth. But she knows she isn’t being entirely fair. Nelson has asked several times if he can see Kate, but so far Ruth has always made excuses. She’s tired, she’s got a cold, I’m tired, I’m working. Nelson has a right to see Kate but there is only so much she can take.
    She keeps her eyes down, fiddling with Kate’s blanket. ‘Can I see

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