Read MYSTERY: BRITISH MYSTERY: Missing Hearts (Amateur Sleuth Suspense Thriller) (Cozy Crime Detective Short Stories) Online
Authors: S. Y. Robins
Copyright © Lovy Books Ltd, 2016
S Y Robins has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.
Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.
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. Robins lives in Surrey, England and is a short story author. Despite being partially blind and suffering from kidney failure at a young age, she is perpetually happy and lives in a laughter filled home. S.Y. has turned her personal tragedy into unimaginable strength by envisioning brand new worlds through her writing.
When not writing she spends time with her guide dog, Mochi and reading anything she can get her hands on.
It is very important for S. Y. Robins that her book is available for the visually impaired like herself. After finding out that Braille production is rather expensive for small indie author like herself, S. Y. Robins has decided to make her book available in the version of Audio book. Her first book, Scoop Away is now available to buy on Audible and iTunes.
village in the heart of Derbyshire, England is shocked when visitors to the local moors and stone circle begin to go missing.
A search by police and the local search and rescue team turns up no trace of them.
A group of strangers have arrived at the sleepy village and a new tenant has taken over the farm above the old stone circle. Are they suspects? Have they brought the problems of the city into the country with them?
Benjamin, the barman at the local pub and his girlfriend, Janey, find themselves drawn into a plot to bring hell to earth at the expense of thirteen hearts.
Hopefully they can foil the plot before blood is spilled. Perhaps even their own.
enjamin Stanley had been hard
at work all morning sorting out and changing barrels in the beer cellar. He eventually emerged from the cellar hatch behind the bar to be greeted by the smiling face of George Ethelthwaite.
“Are you planning on serving some of that stuff or are you just going to shuffle it around in the cellar?” George snickered. He was leaning over the bar from a stool. His long green poacher’s jacket was still wet on the shoulders from the brief rain shower outside. Short and wiry, with balding grey hair, Benjamin could never figure out how George managed such a capacity for beer without gaining an ounce.
“Shut it George, or you’ll end up at the bottom of these cellar steps and you’ll have gone down 'em head first.” Benjamin replied. At twenty five years old, tall blonde and fit, George knew that Benjamin was easily capable of following through on his threat.
“Aye, but you’d worry there’d be nothing left down there once I’d come round and start drinking my way to freedom.” George laughed.
“I’m guessing it’s a pint of best then George.” Benjamin laughed. He slid a glass under the beer tap and pulled a thick creamy pint and placed it in front of George. “That’s your house freebie George. It’s a fresh barrel. No point in wasting it down the sink right?”
“Too right.” George replied licking his lips. “First of the day and I’ll give it my expert eye lad.”
As George savoured his first pint of the day and Benjamin carried on smartening up the bar for the day, the small Derbyshire pub began filling up with customers.
Blenkenson was a quiet village set in the rolling hills of Derbyshire and apart from the hanging of a witch sometime back in the middle-ages, the only real attraction there, apart from the wonderful walks and scenery, was of course the pub. The “Cow and Calf” was famous throughout the area for its selection of hand pulled ales and the excellent food. It was a magnet in summer for tourists. Most of the walkers that ended up at the Cow and Calf had usually made their way down from the ancient stone circle some five miles to the north on a desolate and lonely part of the moor.
“Looks like the summer crowd are starting early Ben. I hear most of the rental cottages are all booked up too. Strange is that. They all seemed to fill up at the same time this year. Usually it’s just dribs and drabs isn’t it?” George said.
“Bring ‘em in I say. More the merrier. A bit of help from the landlord would be nice but you know how that pair are?” Benjamin replied.
“Oh aye, you do better when they’re away lad. Leave ‘em in Spain. We’d all be happier” George chortled. “If they paid me like a landlord I’d be happier doing the work of one.” Benjamin replied.
Fred and Mildred Jones were the owners of the Cow and Calf and seemed to spend more time away from it than running it. For now, they were in sunny Spain looking for somewhere to retire to. As their locals pointed out often enough, they might as well have already retired as they spent more time abroad than most retirees could dream of.
Benjamin moved comfortably around the bar serving the ever increasing group of walkers that were filtering into the pub and George settled himself at the end of the bar observing the new arrivals and greeting most with a friendly nod and a “Hello”.
About a half a mile down the road Janey Masters was flitting between tables at her mother’s café. It was only a tiny place with seating for ten at a push so today with a constant stream of walkers arriving, hungry and thirsty, Janey was under some pressure.
Her mother, Monique Masters, took up position at the cash register and scowled at the throng of faces. She was tall. Her long dark hair flowed down her back and framed her fine porcelain features and hazel eyes. She watched her daughter as she worked her way between tables, smiling, joking and serving without looking for a moment as stressed as she really was.
Though not as tall as her mother, Janey had her beautiful dark hair and eyes but the complexion of a girl that loved to live in the outdoors. She smiled constantly and her slim and healthy figure caused its own smiles with the patrons.
“Not seen it like this in forever Mother. Where did they all come from all of a sudden?” Janey gasped as she took a moment to deliver a pile of dirty plates to the counter where her mother stood still scowling.
“City folk dear. They will all go back to their miserable existence in their grubby cities and wax lyrical to their workmates how totally green and environmental they are. Despicable.” Janey’s mother replied.
“Mother please! Keep your voice down. These are the people that keep our little shop afloat” Janey replied.
“Pah! I intend to accommodate you on this cash register dear, but please don’t expect me to talk to these grubby peasants” Monique said.
Janey gave a sigh and a weak smile as she turned back into the throng to deliver more food and collect more plates. As far as she was concerned, this was the best time of the year. Hard work, but wonderful. Her mother on the other hand had no time for either the café or the people. She had one love and that was her collection of books and artefacts she kept in her study upstairs. There, Janey would find her, either dusting or reading intently. Sometimes muttering to herself. Strange words from the books, Janey could never quite understand. Latin perhaps? Something more ancient?
Her mother had inherited the café many years ago from an aunt and had moved in when Janey was still a baby. She had of course maintained the business for appearance sake and to keep the rest of the family happy, but her only love was ever her mysterious books and artefacts.
As the last of the visitors drifted out of the café, Janey took time to clean the little place down and load the dishwasher. Her mother, though drifting between the shop and the private area to the rear was now absorbed in the book she was carrying. Bound in leather and quite obviously ancient, it carried a strange circular emblem embossed on the cover, Janey noted. She didn’t bother to ask. It could be priceless for all Janey knew but had learned not to even ask her mother about her collection of curiosities. She would always receive the same answer. “In time dear, in time. Now is not that time.”
Janey had finished the last of the cleaning and turned to her mother. “I’m going up to the Cow to see Ben, Mother. I’m sure you can manage any waifs and strays that might arrive while I’m gone. Please be nice to them and they might just come back sometime.”
“On your way child. I have work to do and woe betides some simple minded city dweller who disturbs my studies.” Monique sneered before breaking into a rare smile. “Take your time Janey darling and give my love to Benjamin. He is a sweet boy.”
Janey closed the café door behind her and began the walk through the village and up to the pub. She noticed the sleek, silver BMW four wheel drive slowly gliding past her. Inside she noted the gentleman. He was tall it seemed although he was sat in a car and well- polished. Certainly not the type to be walking on the moors, even on a beautiful day like today. She wondered where he might be headed but the answer came ten minutes later as she reached the car park of the Cow and Calf. The BMW was parked outside and the driver had obviously gone in for a drink. Janey made her way into the porch-way of the fourteenth century inn and pushed her way through the solid oak main door.
Ben was busy serving a group of visitors but his eyes lit up as he saw her entering the pub.
A glass of wine was placed in front of her as she took a seat just down from George. Ben finished the order he was working on and moved over to her. He leaned over the bar and gave her a big kiss. “I’m guessing you’ve had a day like us today babe. I hope your mother managed to get out of her office at some point.” Benjamin said.
“She did indeed. Poor dear has been worked to a frazzle today. I left her reading one of her weird books. She’ll be happy for a while as long as she doesn’t get any of those pesky customers.” Janey replied. At the far end of the bar she saw the tall, well-dressed gentleman she had spotted in the BMW parked outside. He had grey well-groomed hair and though he was casually dressed, she could tell there was not a stitch of clothing on him that hadn’t been hand-made. He caught her gaze for a moment before turning to talk to a couple of the travellers.
“Any idea who he is Ben?” Janey whispered over the bar.
“No idea sweetheart. He turned up just a few minutes before you arrived. Don’t know if he knows these other folk but he’s been talking to a few of them since he came in.” Benjamin replied.
“Well he’s not short of a few quid. That BMW outside is his and it looks like it just came out of the showroom” said Janey.
George leaned himself down the bar to chip in to the quiet conversation. “He’s renting the farm out on Stonemoor. The one just up from the circle. Looks loaded right enough. I’ll chat him up for a pint.”
“Don’t you go bothering my customers, George.” Benjamin laughed. “I don’t think he looks the type to mess with low-lifes like us.”
“Speak for yerself” George added as he slid back to his place at the end of the bar, sliding his glass towards Benjamin.
One of the visitors that had been talking to the tall stranger arrived at the bar and ordered a round of drinks. The martini he ordered was obviously for the tall gentleman and George again leaned over to speak. “You know that fellow then mate?” He asked.
“He is Daniel Van Lomas and yes we are acquainted” came the reply.
“I’m guessing he’ll be the chap that has moved into the farm on Stonemoor then. Doesn’t look much like a farmer to me.” George said.
“He is doing research and the solitude allows him time for his research. He doesn’t like to be disturbed so I would suggest staying clear of the place if I were you.” Came the curt reply as the visitor gathered the drinks order, paid and moved back into the group he was with.
“Right.” George said as he slid back to his position at the end of the bar and winked at Benjamin.
“Best take that as a warning then George.” Janey said smiling. “Not that a warning like that would mean much to Derbyshire’s finest poacher of course.”
George looked back at her. “Was thinking the same thing Janey and I still have a few of my rabbit snares set up near there. Who knows what I might bump into on those moors?”
George emptied his pint and pushed his glass to the relief barman that had taken over from Benjamin. As he did so another one of the Van Lomas group arrived at the bar. As the man slid the empty glasses towards the barman George noted the intricate ring the man was wearing. It was a twisted scroll of silver holding a round black stone. The stone had something like a rune engraved on it. George could only assume the man was some sort of football player. He knew American Super bowl players wore something like that but this guy was certainly no American footballer or American for that matter. He thought no more of it as he sank back on his stool.
Janey and Benjamin carried their drinks over to a table in a corner away from the throng and sat chatting hand in hand while George started work on his new drink in the corner, gazing over at the new customers now and again and particularly at Mr Daniel Van Lomas.
Eventually, Benjamin and Janey stood up, bade their farewells and began the walk down the road back to the café.
“There’s something strange going on Ben. I don’t know what exactly, but I can feel it. Something about these people just doesn’t seem right.” Janey said.
“Don’t go fretting. It’s just a lot of folk all at once and we’ve both been rushed off our feet. Things will settle down eventually. Are we walking the dog? We’ll have a nosey up at the circle.”
Janey punched his shoulder laughing. “You spend far too much time around that idiot George. But yes we’ll take Annie for a walk and the circle is as good as anywhere. She can chase some of George’s rabbits.”
As they entered the café, which was now empty and quiet, Monique rose from a table at the back, holding a book she had been reading.
“Welcome home children. I assume you will be taking Annie for her evening constitutional?” Monique said. “Lock the door behind you and I shall retire upstairs. I have reading to do.”
“We won’t be too long, Mother.” Janey replied as she slid past her mother and into the room behind to retrieve an excited and ready Annie. Annie was bouncing around desperate for her chance at the outside world. She was a very attractive, brown and white Posavac hound. She had two loves apart from Janey, whom she adored. Running and eating. Now she knew she would be doing a lot of running and was eager to get onto the moors.
A slow amble over rough footpaths interrupted by the occasional stile had them high on the moors as the still warm evening sun shone down on them. Annie was chasing backwards and forwards around them and disappearing into the heather. Soon they were heading down a narrow track through the gorse and heather leading to the old stone circle. Nobody really knew much about the circle apart from the fact it had always been there. Archaeologists had done a few digs and dated it sometime around the Bronze Age but had little idea as to why it was there apart from the usual “religious” aspect of circles such as this. For most of the locals, it was just a circle and a landmark to meet up on the moors. Everybody knew it, had played there as kids and of course had heard all the old stories of Pagans, witches and ghosts. But for most it was thirteen stones, just above knee height in a circle of forty feet radius. About one hundred feet away stood a taller stone, known as the “Kings stone”. It stood to the north of the circle and a path headed straight from it to the circle itself. At the centre of the circle was laid a large slab that could comfortably accommodate a person laid upon it. Obviously the speculation was that this was a sacrificial stone and the blood of many innocents had been slain upon it in the far distant past. For Janey and Benjamin, it was nothing more than a good place to sit after the hike up to the circle and this they did. They sat, wrapped in each other’s arms, gently hugging as Annie ran around sniffing and exploring. Annie stopped at one of the stones and began sniffing and pawing. Janey looked over to her.