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

Book: THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END by Elly Griffiths Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elly Griffiths
Shona who had finished teaching for the day. Shona drove over and collected Kate, taking her back to her house in King’s Lynn. Ruth trusts Shona (up to a point) but she also knows that the nearest her glamorous friend ever comes to motherhood is weekend visits from her married lover’s children. She hopes she won’t take Kate for a McDonald’s.
    Wiping the wet hair from her eyes, Ruth sees that Trace has reached the path. Without checking to see if Ruth is all right, she runs up the slope towards Sea’s End House, slapping her pockets for her iPhone. Ruth climbs slowly out of the icy water, her trousers now drenched almost to her thighs. She looks back. Across the bay, in the car park, she can just make out Ted and Craig loading the boxes into a van. Clough is there too. She can see his reflective jacket. Nelson has not come back. On the beach, the sea has reached the inlet and waves rush joyfully into the narrow cleft between the rocks. The grave of the six men has been destroyed. Water covers the beach, the biggest waves breaking against the cliffs with a sound like smashed glass.
    Ruth walks slowly up the slope. She is desperate to get back to Kate but she has to check that all the finds are accounted for. In the car park her Renault is beside the plain white police van. Ted and Craig are shutting the double doors. Clough is watching. A little way apart Trace is talking into her phone. Clough catches Ruth’s eye. ‘She loves that thing more than me.’
    Ruth hasn’t usually got much time for Clough, whom she regards as the worst sort of sexist, racist Neanderthal policeman, but something in his expression touches her. She is also surprised to hear him use the word ‘love’, even facetiously. Can the famously commitment-phobic Clough really have fallen at last?
    Ruth smiles. ‘I’m sure she doesn’t.’
    Clough shrugs, looking rather rueful. ‘Bone boxes are in the van. Post-mortem’s set for tomorrow, nine o’clock.’
    ‘Does Nelson know?’
    ‘He said to say he’d see you there.’
    ‘Thanks.’ Ruth has a last few words with Ted before heading back to her car. Clough calls after her. ‘Look after that baby of yours. She’s a little star.’
    Wonders will never cease, thinks Ruth as she drives off into the night. Kate has turned her into a nervous wreck and Clough into a human being. Whatever will she accomplish in the next four months of her life?
    The first thing that Ruth hears as she approaches Shona’s house is the sound of crying. More than crying; this is screaming, wailing, the sound of a banshee in full-throated howl. The neat terraced house seems almost to be pulsatingwith the noise. Ruth runs up the path but Shona has opened the door before she reaches it. A scarlet-faced monster squirms in her arms.
    ‘I’m sorry, Ruth. I’ve tried everything. Lullabies, classical music, ride-a-cock-horse. The lot. She’s been at it for nearly an hour. I think she must be ill or something.’
    Ruth reaches out her arms for Kate who takes a deep breath, leans into her mother’s neck and instantly falls asleep. The silence feels immense, far more than mere absence of sound.
    ‘My God.’ Shona sounds both awed and rather resentful. ‘All she wanted was her mum.’
    ‘She’s probably just cried herself to sleep,’ says Ruth, speaking gruffly to hide how she feels. This has never happened before. Secretly she has never felt before that she is any better than anyone else with Kate. It is her mother, comfortably upholstered and full of maternal authority, or Sandra, who have seemed like the real experts. Ruth may feel that she knows Kate but she has never been sure that the compliment is returned. Until now.
    Juggling Kate with what now seems to be practised ease, she follows Shona into the sitting room. The normally stylish room bears the signs of Shona’s struggle to placate the baby. A half-full bottle of milk rolls on the polished wood floor and CDs of suitably soothing classics lie scattered

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