With All My Love

With All My Love by Patricia Scanlan Read Free Book Online

Book: With All My Love by Patricia Scanlan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patricia Scanlan
Tags: Fiction, General
minute she’d driven into the car park of St Anthony’s, behind the hearse. ‘Can you see the Egans?’ she’d asked Lizzie, doing a quick scan herself of the various clusters of people waiting to follow the coffin into the church.
    ‘I don’t think they’re here. I’m sure they’d know you wouldn’t welcome their attendance,’ Lizzie assured her, taking a good look around to see if she could see Jeff’s parents.
    Valerie had hardly heard a word the priest said. All she wanted was to get the hell out of Rockland’s as fast as she could. Knowing Tessa of old, she wouldn’t put it past her to cause a scene.
    There’d been a good turnout at her father’s funeral, although she had no idea why. Nosiness probably, she’d thought crossly as she’d stood shivering outside the church, receiving the neighbours’ condolence, wishing the whole charade was over.
    ‘A terrible tragedy – what was he doing out on a night like that?’ Jonny Carroll, a nosy little git who liked to know everyone’s business, had asked her.
    ‘I’ve no idea,’ she’d said crisply.
    ‘Was he putting out rubbish or something?’ Jonny asked slyly, hoping to discommode her. She’d long got past the stage of being mortified by her father’s behaviour – not like when she was young – and she was damned if she was going to let that sly little turd of an accountant get to her.
    ‘How would I know, Jonny, and I hundreds of miles away in London? But one thing I do know, I hope Da didn’t take any of your advice about tax dodges. I don’t want the tax man after me.’
    ‘Ye were always a little madam,’ Jonny muttered, melting away into the crowd gathered at the church gates.
    And you were always an obnoxious little bollox, she thought, remembering his hard groping fingers when he and Terence would come lurching home after doing the rounds of their elderly neighbours at Christmas.
    Valerie had only spoken to a few more people. It had been bitterly cold with snow still on the ground, and she’d told the undertaker she wanted to go straight to the graveyard in case it snowed.
    She had caught a glance of Jeff’s headstone as she followed Terence’s coffin up the cemetery path. The grave looked so fresh and well tended, with pots of red and yellow winter bedding. She felt, for the first time that day, like bursting into tears. She struggled to compose herself, desperate to avoid the memories of the last time she’d been in the graveyard when she’d said goodbye to Jeff. She’d kept her gaze straight ahead when the ordeal was finally over, and the priest had left the cemetery after giving her a kindly pat on the shoulder, wishing her well, and telling her how much the elderly people in the parish would miss her father.
    What an irony, she’d reflected as she’d walked carefully down the graveyard path, trying not to slip on the ice, that Terence, who had smarmed and charmed half the widows and pensioners in the village in the hopes of being left something in their wills, had died suddenly and it was they who had prayed over his coffin.
    In the space of a month, Valerie had cleared the house and put it up for sale. Now that she had power of attorney for Carmel she took the decision to sell, figuring that there was no point in letting the house go to rack and ruin; she certainly wouldn’t be going back to Rockland’s to live. It was just before the property crash hit and she’d made a fine profit on the three-bedroomed cottage, bought as a holiday home by an affluent couple from Dublin. Her mother’s pension plus a monthly contribution from Valerie paid for the nursing home, and in the meantime the proceeds of the house sale accrued a yearly interest, though it had fallen dramatically in recent years as interest rates fell. Nevertheless, when her mother eventually died, Valerie would have a nice nest egg indeed. It was this knowledge that had made her take a leap of faith and buy the villa in Spain. Yes, life had at last turned

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