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Authors: Faith Martin

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But could she ride the damn horse now that she was on it? That was what was really giving her nightmares. Or had she let that bastard win?

Feeling vaguely depressed, she entered the offices of the law firm where Meg Vickary had last been seen alive and well.

Marcus Kane kept her waiting, which exacerbated her already bad mood. But, as she listlessly scanned a
Homes & Gardens
magazine in the swish waiting room, she tried to be
philosophical about it. It was only to be expected, after all. He was telling her that big, bad solicitors such as himself had nothing to fear from the police. In fact, he probably regularly dined on the constabulary for breakfast.

He was also making the point of just how valuable his time was, whilst she could presumably waste hers willy nilly. The me-big-important man, you little-nobody was a ploy that was old as the hills, and had been used against her so often that it now barely registered on her psyche.

But maybe he was also informing her, and not so very subtly at that, just how unimportant Meg Vickary was to him as well? Because Hillary had made a point of telling his secretary just what her visit was all about.

Either way, when she was finally shown into his office, she was in no mood to take prisoners, and she moved with her most graceful sway. Her smile was strictly one of her feminine best.

The man who was rising from behind his desk to greet her was of medium height, with dark hair and blue eyes. She knew from Sam’s notes that he was forty-seven years old, and had been married for nearly twenty years to the very rich, senior partner’s only daughter. They had no children. She had assumed that was Mrs Kane’s choice, or was maybe down to a medical problem of some sort, because she rather thought that a man like this
would
have wanted to have children, if only to reinforce his power base. A woman with children was far more likely to look the other way when it came to marital infidelity, because she’d be far less willing to seek a divorce. Also, producing grandchildren for the powerful senior partner would have earned him extra brownie points. Or perhaps they were just one of the growing number of couples who had chosen to enjoy their youth for as long as possible and have children at the last minute.

As expected, Marcus Kane’s blue eyes widened just slightly as they took her in, and a definitely interested look crossed his
handsome face but was quickly suborned. No doubt even Marcus Kane’s libido could be held in check by the knowledge that she represented the police.

She showed him her ID, and briefly explained her civilian status and the work she did for the Crime Review Team.

‘Yes, Jenny said this was about Meg,’ Marcus acknowledged, waiting until she was sitting down in the chair opposite his desk before retaking his own seat.

‘Jenny would be Meg’s replacement, yes?’ Hillary said,
slipping
in the knife right away, not wanting to give the slippery sod time to draw breath. ‘No doubt that makes her even more curious about what happened to Meg,’ she swept on with a charming smile. ‘It can’t be easy to step into the shoes of a woman who simply vanished.’

Marcus Kane’s own charming smile tightened. ‘I can’t say as I ever thought about it like that,’ he conceded.

‘No? Your secretary goes missing and you don’t give it much thought?’

‘That’s not what I said,’ Marcus responded stiffly. ‘Of course we were all concerned when Meg left.’

‘But she didn’t exactly leave, though, did she, Mr Kane?’ Hillary pointed out at once, not willing to let him get away with anything. He was desperately trying to keep this civilized, and to understate the seriousness of it, and she was damned well not going to let him. ‘She didn’t hand in her notice in the usual way, or tell anyone where she was going. She didn’t pack a bag, cancel her milk, or withdraw any money from her bank. She just – poof! – vanished.’

Marcus drew in a long slow breath. ‘Yes. It certainly appeared to be a spur-of-the-moment thing.’

‘Her flatmate reported her missing,’ Hillary said, letting the intended criticism sit for a scant second, before sweeping on, ‘so you weren’t surprised when she didn’t turn up for work one day as expected?’

‘I assumed she was unwell, of course. What else was I to think?’

‘Didn’t she usually phone with the usual excuses whenever she threw a sickie?’ Hillary asked innocently.

‘Of course. I mean, not that she ever lied, I’m sure. That is, whenever she was off work, I’m sure it was because of genuine illness,’ Marcus said, aware that he was stumbling over his words, and beginning to flush with anger. Words were his
stock-in
-trade after all, and dealing with intense, potentially dangerous situations was what he was paid well to deal with. He shouldn’t be letting this bloody woman walk all over him like this.

He squared his shoulders. ‘By the time I realized something untoward might have happened, I received a visit from a member of the Missing Persons department. It seems that her flatmate, as you said, had reported her missing. Naturally, everyone here in the office co-operated fully.’

Hillary nodded. ‘Very commendable, sir, I’m sure,’ she said blandly. ‘How long had you and Mrs Vickary been having a relationship?’

Marcus drew in a long, slow breath. ‘As I told the constable at the time, the, er, affair between Margaret and myself wasn’t that serious. And I would appreciate it if you didn’t bandy that information about, Mrs Greene. I know it’s been a long time now, but I would still rather my wife didn’t get to hear about it.’

‘Yes sir, I’m sure you would,’ Hillary said amiably. Now the bastard had called her
Mrs Greene
he had really put his foot in it. At some point she was going to call on Mrs Marcus Kane and have a really long chat with her.

‘It would only upset her,’ Marcus Kane stated, ‘and, like I said, it was never serious between Meg and me.’

‘Miss Biggs seemed to think that it was.’

‘Who?’

‘Meg’s flatmate. Apparently Meg told her all about you. According to her, you and Meg were a very hot item indeed and deeply in love. In fact, Meg was just waiting for you to leave
your wife.’ Hillary gently cocked her head to one side. ‘Is that true?’ she asked, sweetly curious.

Marcus Kane began to sweat. ‘Of course not! I think there must be some mistake. Either this Miss Biggs has got the wrong end of the stick or Meg herself seriously misunderstood the
situation
. And before you make any more snide comments,’ Marcus rushed on, ‘I can assure you that Meg wasn’t the sort to misread anything. She was hardly a simpering, retiring wallflower, Mrs Greene. She was an experienced divorcee who knew exactly what she was doing, how to get what she wanted, and just how the land lay.’

Hillary looked at him for a moment or two in complete silence. ‘So, the affair was strictly light and casual?’

‘Absolutely.’

‘You never intended to leave your wife, and Meg knew this?’

‘Absolutely. She never asked me to leave my wife.’ He looked at her so steadily and openly as he said this that Hillary knew at once that he was lying. Whenever anyone became so palpably honest, it always set her radar pinging.

‘Of course she asked you to leave your wife, sir,’ Hillary said amiably, making it a statement of fact, ‘but I fully accept that you told her that such a move was out of the question.’

Marcus opened his mouth to deny it, then thought about it, and sighed. ‘Look. I don’t know why Meg upped and left in the way that she did; it certainly made a lot of trouble for me, I can tell you – which, knowing Meg, was probably the point. I don’t know where she went, or who with, but I can assure you, I had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance.’

Hillary nodded. ‘Let’s just get the facts straight, shall we, sir? Miss Biggs seemed to think that the relationship between you and her friend had soured somewhat, by the time Meg
disappeared
. Would you say that was true?’

Marcus shifted uncomfortably on his seat. ‘I suppose you could say that the affair was coming to its natural end,’ he conceded cautiously.

‘And Meg wasn’t happy with that?’ Hillary asked sharply.

Marcus Kane shrugged, a shade helplessly. ‘A lot of women who start affairs aren’t happy when they end. But, like I said, Meg was a big girl, and well able to take care of herself. I can assure you, I hardly broke her heart and left her devastated. Meg was the sort of woman who came armour-plated.’

Hillary nodded. She found it interesting that both Meg Vickary’s ex-husband, and her boss and ex-lover were both singing from the same hymn sheet where Meg’s personality was concerned. Was she really the hard-headed, hard-hearted woman as they were both anxious to portray her? Or did they both have guilty consciences that made them want to remember her as being that way?

‘Did Meg ever say anything about being stalked?’ Hillary asked abruptly.

Marcus looked genuinely surprised. ‘What? No. Why? Was someone bothering her? Oh hell, her body hasn’t been found has it? Has she been killed by someone?’ He was now quite pale.

But Hillary was wondering why it had taken him so long to come to that conclusion. Surely hearing that the police wanted to see him about a missing woman, he would have jumped to that conclusion long before now? He was a solicitor after all, and regularly came to the defence of criminals. He would know – and who better – that many women were killed by the men in their lives. And yet, for some reason, it had never occurred to him that something like that had happened to his conspicuously absent lover.

The fact that it hadn’t, told her something unexpected: either Marcus Kane was a superb actor, or there was something about Meg herself, or Meg’s disappearance, that he knew and she didn’t.

‘No, sir, nothing like that has happened,’ she said, realizing that he was staring at her and still waiting for an answer to his question. ‘But, surely, a man of your experience must have
thought at some point the worst might have happened? Unless you happen to know something that we don’t?’

And for the briefest of moments as she spoke, she saw
something
sly and secretive flash in those handsome baby-blues of his. Something that seemed to both amuse him, but worry him slightly as well.

Then the smiling, urbane solicitor was back.

‘What? No, of course not. As I told you, I have no personal knowledge of where Meg is or why she left.’

Hillary nodded slowly. Now he was hiding behind words – which was something of a stock-in-trade for people of his profession, she thought grimly. So he had ‘no personal
knowledge
’ of where she was or why she had left. That was a very careful phrase. He might not
know
, but she would have bet a substantial sum of money, that Marcus Kane could make a bloody good guess.

Or rather, that he
thought
he could.

But the truth was actually the other way around:
she
knew something that
he
didn’t.
She
knew that an experienced stalker, who was almost certainly a killer, had sent Hillary Greene a wooden cross with Meg Vickary’s initials on it, which meant that Meg Vickary, along with Judy Yelland and Gilly Tinkerton were almost certainly dead and long gone.

But clearly this man thought that something else entirely had happened to Meg Vickary. But what, and what had made him think so?

But did it really matter in the end, what it was that he thought?

Suddenly Hillary felt very tired. She’d got what she’d came for. She didn’t think that Marcus Kane had had anything to do with Meg’s disappearance, despite what Georgia Biggs had come to believe. More importantly, she was sure that this man was not her stalker. Or even had any idea that the stalker existed.

Hillary sighed. ‘If you can think of anything else that might
be relevant, please let me know, sir,’ she said flatly, handing over one of her cards.

She saw the startled look in his eyes as he realized that the ordeal was suddenly and unexpectedly over, but couldn’t even summon up the energy to feel smug.

For now, she would let Mr Marcus Kane keep his secrets. She couldn’t see how they could possibly be important.

Later, she’d come to realize that she’d got that rather wrong.

Gilly Tinkerton’s sister Rebecca Frost, lived in a terraced row of neat cottages in the village of Woodeaton, not far from the Oxford suburb of Headington. Older than Gillian, she was married with four children, and when Hillary called on her at 4.30 that afternoon, she’d just completed the school run.

As she showed Hillary into a small parlour with an original fireplace and a large-screen HD television dominating one corner, she could hear youthful squeals coming from the slightly overgrown garden out the back.

‘Sorry about the mess,’ Rebecca said, bringing in a tray bearing a jug of lemonade and tall tumblers. Ice jangled
deliciously
against the glass. She was a short, dumpy woman who would obviously turn into a mirror image of her mother before she was much older. ‘Lemonade?’

‘Yes, please.’

Hillary accepted a glass and took a long cool drink. As she did so, she noticed Rebecca glance at the scars on her throat and then look away.

‘So, this is about Gilly?’ Rebecca said with a bright smile. ‘Mum told me that you’d been round. She said there was nothing to worry about though. You haven’t got any reason to think something has happened to Gilly, right?’

Hillary caught the anxiety in the tone and smiled, forcing back the usual feelings of guilt. ‘We don’t know for sure what has happened to Gillian, no,’ she said, ironically aware that Marcus Kane wasn’t the only one who could hide behind words.
‘Do you share your mother’s view that Gillian has just gone off somewhere?’ she asked curiously.

‘Oh heck, yes. We all think that – you’d have to know my sister to understand why. Believe me, I fully expect her to turn up for Christmas dinner one day, and wonder what all the fuss would be about when we demand to know where she’s been for the last few years!’

Hillary nodded. ‘I’m sorry, but that still seems to me to be somewhat off-the-wall, even for a so-called “free spirit”. I didn’t really like to ask your mother this, and I don’t want to upset you, but would you say your sister might have some, er, mental issues?’

BOOK: Walk a Narrow Mile
4.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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