Chapter Nineteen

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Dear Diary,

It’s nighttime and the house is silent apart from the familiar creeks and moans. I have to work tomorrow, at Chaplins, the bakery. I’ve worked there on and off for years. There are always free cakes. So I have to get some rest but before I go to sleep I just have to write down what happened today.

I feel a funny mixture of excitement and unease. This afternoon I burst through the back door not caring about the wind that had tried to push me over all the way home from the library. I just didn’t care. I had an inkling of an answer to the unanswered question that has stuck with me all these years. Mum. What happened to my beloved, wonderful Mum? Who killed her?

I had the book ‘Chatsworth Mystery’ tucked under my arm. I felt in my heart that somehow this book would help me uncover what had happened. Who else would take the time to find out? I realised that I can’t wait for someone else to do it for a second longer. After my trip to the police station I can see that it is not likely they are going to solve it.

I mean, look at what Officer Guthrie said. Mum caused her own murder, or that guy said it or whatever. He was wrong. Mum did not cause her own murder. I know that much for sure. I know that within every fiber of my being. I can see her face right now. Smiling at me. Stroking my hair at bedtime as I drifted off to sleep. If only she were here now, by my side.

She’s not here. She’s gone. The least I can do, as her daughter, is find out what happened and bring whoever did it to justice.

So this morning I burst into the house. I made sure my little plants in the porch were doing OK first.

‘Hello, little babies,’ I said, bending down to touch their leaves.

They looked a bit shocked after being attacked by the wind in the backyard. But they were safe now, tucked away next to the shoes. I was determined to go straight to my room and get on with my investigation. For the first time ever, I knew where to start. I knew what to do.

I got into the kitchen and flicked the switch on the kettle straight away. Nice cup of tea to take upstairs with me. As I reached for my mug out the kitchen cupboard I heard voices wafting in from the living room. Leo. And someone else.

‘Hey, Amber!’ shouted Leo. ‘Someone’s here to see you.’

‘Hi! OK, be there in a sec,’ I shouted back, wondering who the hell was here.

I threw the teabag into the cup, poured in the hot water, splashed in some milk, squeezed the teabag, threw it in the bin and went through to the living room. Cheryl. Curled up on the rug in front of the roaring fire. I felt a wave of relief, alongside a slight amount of guilt that I had hardly even thought of her since seeing her in the police station being led away.

‘Hello,’ she said, looking like a cat that had just caught its prey.

God, I always think of Cheryl as being like a cat. I think it’s something about her hair and the way she smiles, I don’t know. So there she was, in our living room.

‘What happened?’ I said, perching down onto my sofa, mug in one hand, book tucked under my other arm.

‘They let me out. They’ve got nothing on me,’ she said, flicking her hair behind her ears.

Leo looked at me, seeming to wait for my reaction.

‘Wow,’ I said. ‘That’s great.’

I was curious to find out what happened, but still, a part of me just wanted to leave the room to get on with my investigation. No, I should support my friend, I said to myself.

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