Well-Schooled in Murder

Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George Read Free Book Online

Book: Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth George
Tags: thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Adult
behind two wrought-iron gates that hung open from a brick wall. It was a nondescript building with a pantiled roof, a three-car garage, and white curtains—all of identical pattern—at the windows. There was no front garden, only a wide expanse of driveway edging a hillock that, along with the wall, shielded the house from the road. The front door was a single sheet of opaque glass framed in white wood.
    When St. James rang the bell, the door was opened by another constable, this one a woman. She directed him to the sitting room at the back of the house, where four people sat on chintz-covered chairs and a sofa surrounding a coffee table.
    St. James paused in the doorway. The scene before him was like a tableau consisting of two men and two women who posed in a study of gently probing confrontation. The men wore their police identities like suits of clothes even though neither was in uniform. They leaned forward in their chairs, one with a notebook and the other with a hand extended as if to emphasise some remark. The women sat without speaking or looking at one another, perhaps in the expectation of further questions.
    One of the women was a girl of not more than seventeen. She wore a shapeless terry robe stained with chocolate on one of its cuffs and a pair of thick woollen socks that were overlarge and dusty-bottomed. She was small, excessively pallid, and her lips were cracked as if from exposure to harsh wind or sun. She was not unattractive; rather she was sweet-looking in a wispy sort of way. But it was clear that she was unwell. Next to her fleeting prettiness, Deborah was like fire with her mass of flaming hair and ivory skin.
    Although St. James had wanted to go to his wife several times during her trip, Deborah had refused his offers to meet her both in Yorkshire and in Bath, so he had not seen her for a month. Instead, he had only spoken to her on the telephone, in conversations that, with the passing weeks, had grown more and more strained and difficult to complete. Each time her hesitant speech revealed to him the extent to which she continued to mourn the child they had lost, but she would not allow him to speak of it to her, saying only, “Please, no,” when he tried. As he saw her now, absorbing her presence as if presence alone could bind her to him once again, he realised that he had never understood until this moment the terrible risk attendant to giving his love to Deborah.
    She looked up and saw him. She smiled, but he read the heartache in her eyes. They had never been able to lie to him. “Simon.”
    The others looked in his direction and he came into the room, crossed to his wife’s chair, touched her bright hair. He wanted to kiss her, to hold her, to infuse her with strength. But he only said, “You’re all right?”
    “Of course. I don’t know why they phoned you at all. I can certainly get back to London on my own.”
    “The DI said you weren’t looking very well when he got out here.”
    “The shock, I suppose. But I’m well enough now.” Her appearance belied the words. There were dark circles under her eyes, and her clothes hung upon her loosely, testament to the amount of weight she had lost in the last four weeks. Seeing this, St. James felt a prickling of fear.
    “Just a minute more, Mrs. St. James, and you can be on your way.” The older policeman, probably a sergeant who’d been assigned the duty of preliminary enquiries, turned his attention to the girl. “Miss Feld,” he said. “Cecilia, if I may?”
    The girl nodded, her face chary, as if the request to use her given name were the kind of liberty that led to a trap.
    “You’ve been ill, I take it?”
    “Ill?” The girl seemed oblivious of the fact that her choice of clothing at six o’clock in the evening was hardly apt to suggest anything other than ill health. “I…no, I’m not ill. I’ve not been ill. Perhaps a bit of flu, but not ill. Not really.”
    “Then we can take you one last time through

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