Diamonds By Gwen Leader (Chapter Six)

The Selbright Mysteries; Book One

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, character and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © Gwen Leader 2014

Gwen Leader asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. No part of this publication may be copied in any way without the express permission of the copyright owner.

Proof read and edited by Kate Pittel

Link to Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Marlene looked at caller ID and knew instantly who was calling, “Damn, what now?” She thought, she lifted the receiver and spoke into the phone. “Well? What do you want now?” “Don’t take that tone with me,” snapped the voice from the other end of the line. Marlene licked her lips, she was sweating slightly, “Sorry,” she said, “It’s been a stressful few days.” “I’m quite aware of that, you think this hasn’t affected me?” Marlene closed her eyes and passed her hand over them. “Yes, I’m sure it has, so what can I do for you?”

“How well do you know Phillip Dunn?”

“What’s he got to do with this?” she wondered, but instead she answered, “Not well, but I know him to say hello to, pass the time of day that sort of thing, why?”

“He rang me the day they found Dunn’s body, said he recognised the word Yarpie. Don’t think he knows anything really but I need to be sure and you’re going to do whatever it takes to find out for me.”

“God, this could get nasty,” thought Marlene, but she didn’t dare argue. “Ok, I’ll see what I can find out, but we could be playing with fire here. Don’t forget it’s his livelihood.”

“I’m aware of that, so you will just have to tread carefully won’t you? Call me when you have something of interest to tell me, not before.” The phone went dead. Marlene sat looking at it. She could always make a run for it she supposed, but where would she go? The tentacles of this business stretched far and wide, she’d never feel safe, no, best to stay put and play it cool.

“So what have we got from the house, anything?” Asked Jane, “Maureen flipped through the papers on her desk, “No, nothing of any interest yet gov, but we’re still looking.” “There has to be something, anything.” She looked at Churchill. “Have you got anything Churchill?”

“Not sure gov, I’ve been trying to work it out, but look at these bank statements.” Jane went over to Sarah’s desk and looked over her shoulder. “What about them?”

“Well look, every few weeks or so a large amount of money is paid in to her account.”

“Well, it will be her bonus or commission or whatever they call it, or her widow’s pension.” “No, if you look here” and she pointed to a place on the statement, “that’s her salary coming in and here further down is her commission, not a lot but a bit, but this,” and she stabbed at the amount, “is far larger, I mean thousands, and it’s every few weeks consistently.” Jane stared, Maureen too had come over to look. Jane took the statement from the desk and looked at it closer. “It’s coming from someone called Van der He-u-vel.” “Van der Heuvel, Sarah said pronouncing it as Van der Hovel with emphasis on the O as in HO. Jane and Maureen looked at her, looked at each other and then back to Sarah. “How do you do that?” asked Maureen,

“Do what Sarge?”

“Pronounce that word, and how do you know how to say it anyway?”

“It’s Dutch, and as I said I spent a lot of time in South Africa. They don’t actually speak Dutch as in Holland but it’s pretty similar – it’s called Afrikaans and names are the same.”

Jane frowned, “Another link with South Africa, so where the hell is this leading us?”

“Well at least we know how she afforded that house and car,” said Maureen.

“Yes that’s true, so this time Churchill, let’s get it straight, you’re saying this Van der Heuvel or whatever it is, is a person not just a name like the other one?”

Sarah nodded, “Yes, it’s a person’s name.”

Maureen was looking thoughtful, “What are you thinking Phipps?”

“I’m just trying to think where I know that name from, it sounds familiar.”

“Ok,” said Jane, “We have to explore all the avenues, so let’s look at why this person would pay her all this money.”

“Blackmail,” said Maureen.

Jane nodded, “Go on – why blackmail?”

“Well supposing she had an affair with him. He’s wealthy and doesn’t want his wife to find out and she blackmails him.”

Jane shook her head, “No, too much money, no man would pay that much for her silence, and anyway he’d have to be a multi-millionaire to afford it, no something doesn’t add up here.” “Drugs?” suggested Sarah.

Jane nodded, “Yes, that sounds more like it, so is the health club involved or not? That’s the first question we need answered.”

“Should I call the drugs squad, gov?” Asked Maureen.

Jane shook her head, “No, not yet – let’s see if we can do this ourselves, after all the glory wouldn’t go amiss.” She looked at them, they smiled.

“Sounds good to us gov,”  said Maureen and she looked at Sarah who nodded her agreement. Yes, this could be quite a feather in their caps and could even mean a promotion. She could do with the extra money.

That evening Marlene Smith walked into the club and immediately saw Phillip Dunn. He was sitting reading the paper and had clearly not been there long as there was a full cup of coffee in front of him. She walked over to him and said, “Phillip, hi, how are you?” Phillip looked up from his paper, “Oh God,” he thought, what the hell does she want?” Instead he forced a smile to his lips and said, “Marlene, how nice.” Phillip Dunn did not like Marlene Smith. There was just something he didn’t like. He wasn’t sure why, she had always been civil to him but there was just something. “Mind if I join you?” Phillip glanced round the coffee shop. It was quite empty, there were only a few people there, she could have sat anywhere. Instead he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s a free country.” She sat on the chair opposite him and smiled at him, but the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. “She looks like a cobra about to strike,” thought Phillip. It was obvious she wanted to talk but what about? That was the burning question in Phillip’s mind.” He smiled back at her, “So Marlene, what can I do for you?”

She bristled at that, “What makes you think I want something, I just thought I could sit with you that’s all.” She looked around the coffee shop and leaned closer to him. “To be honest this place gives me the creeps after what happened to Charlotte, to think there must be a murderer here,” she shuddered. “Who do you think did it?” Phillip raised his hands and shook his head, “Haven’t the faintest idea, why – who do you think did it?” He watched her closely, she was nervous, he could see that. She looked him full in the face and smiled, “How should I know? But it’s creepy all the same, sitting in the Jacuzzi knowing she died in there.”

“Well, it’s been thoroughly cleaned out since then I can assure you.”

“I know but all the same, You must have some thoughts on who could have done it.” She raised her eyebrows, he looked at her, she was odd really, extremely tall for a woman – five ten, five eleven at least – a thought suddenly struck him. “Good lord, the hair wasn’t right but then again the hair had seemed odd. He remembered telling the inspector that, a wig, yes it could have been a wig, a disguise, and he remembered having the feeling the person looked familiar.” Marlene had been watching the expressions flitting across his face – she would have given anything to know what he was thinking. “Well?” she said. He looked at her as if he’d never seen her before then quickly pulled himself together, “Sorry what? I was miles away for a minute.”

“Who do you think killed her and why was she killed?”

“Oh yes that – well, at a guess I’d say a very unhappy wife whose husband had had an affair with her, saw red and lost her temper.” Marlene studied him; did he really think that? Yes probably. “So you think jealousy?”

Phillip nodded, “Absolutely, can’t think who else would want to kill her or why, can you?” He looked at her intently trying to gauge her reaction; she shook her head, “No, no I can’t.” Phillip looked up. “Hello – what are they doing here at this time of night?” Marlene turned as Jane and Maureen were being escorted into the manager’s office, she paled visibly and shot up out of her chair. “I have to go. I have an appointment, nice talking to you, bye.” She all but ran out the door, Phillip watched her go. “Now what rattled her cage I wonder?” he thought.

    Jane and Maureen sat opposite the manager. He looked dreadful – he must have had a bad week.. “Well Inspector, what can I do for you now?” he asked wearily.

“Just few questions sir.” Jane said. He passed his hand over his eyes and sighed heavily, “Right, you won’t believe the week I’ve had. Head office have been on my back over this.” Jane and Maureen looked at him, “That’s life old son, get over it.” thought Maureen. “Can you tell us who Mrs Dunn was particularly friendly with at all?”

He grimaced, “I haven’t the faintest idea. As I say I never met her and I didn’t know her, maybe one of the staff know.” This was getting them nowhere. He obviously knew nothing and just wanted the whole sordid mess to go away. Jane and Maureen stood up, “Well thank you sir for your time, We won’t keep you any longer.” As they left the office, Phillip Dunn raised his hand to them and said, “Do you have a moment, Inspector?”

Jane nodded, “Yes sir, what can I do for you?” Phillip stood and moved closer to them, he kept his voice low. “I’ve just had a very interesting conversation with a woman called Marlene Smith.”

“Well, well,” thought Jane, “And the nature of this conversation sir?”

“She seemed very interested to know why I thought Charlotte had been killed and more importantly who I thought had done it.”

Jane looked at him, “And your answer sir?”

Phillip shrugged, “I said I had no idea but at a guess I’d say a very unhappy wife.” Jane nodded, “I see, and is that all sir?”

Phillip shook his head, “No, I suddenly realised why the person in the track suit looked familiar. I can’t be sure you understand.” Jane waited for him to go on. She had a pretty good idea what he was going to say. “I’m pretty certain it was Marlene Smith. She’s about the right height but as I said I can’t be one hundred percent sure.” Maureen and Jane looked at him, weighing this information up. “But her hair is long and you said the person you saw had short curly hair.”

Phillip nodded, “Yes, but supposing it was a wig, remember I said something didn’t look right.” The two officers were quiet for a while, then Jane said, “Yes that could be it. Well thank you sir for the information – if anything else crops up you think I should know please call me.”

“I will Inspector. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight sir.”

“Well that sort of clinches it, don’t you think gov?” said Maureen as they climbed the stairs to the gym. “Yes, it certainly seems to, and he’s right, she is tall, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman quite so tall.”

Maureen giggled, “What’s so funny?”

“Sorry gov I was thinking maybe she’s a man in disguise.” Jane stopped at looked at her subordinate and rolled her eyes, “Honest to god Phipps you are the flaming limit – a man in disguise and you don’t think someone would have sussed that out in the changing room or the pool?” She shook her head in disbelief.

“Well, it was just a thought,” said Maureen.

“Yes, well keep that sort of thought to yourself in future. Now come on, we’ve got interviews to do.”

Maureen looked at the fitness instructor and thought, oh crikey what a hunk.She couldn’t speak, she just stared at him. She became aware that Jane and the young man were looking at her, “Are you ok Phipps?”

She nodded, “Yes, fine gov.”

“What’s the matter with you?”

She shook her head, “Nothing – just felt a bit faint. I haven’t eaten since lunch. It’s hunger.” Jane looked at her strangely,  “Phipps is behaving weird – better have a talk with her later, make sure everything’s ok. For all her silly foibles she’s a damn good copper.” The fitness instructor smiled at them. That nearly did for her – God, he was gorgeous. “How can I help you ladies?” he asked. Jane showed her badge and said, “Detective Inspector Douglas, and this,” she said motioning towards Maureen, “is Detective Sergeant Phipps, and you are?”

“Marco Banderas. Is this about the murder the other day?”

Jane nodded, “Yes, how well did you know the victim?”

Marco shrugged, “I knew her to say hello to and I saw her around, but I didn’t know her well.”

“Do you know if she was friendly with anyone in particular here?”

He shook his head, “I’m sorry inspector I can’t help you I’m afraid, but you should speak to my colleague, she knew her better. I will get her for you.” He left through a door behind the desk and Jane turned to Maureen. “What the hell happened just then, you went weird. Are you all right?” Maureen nodded; she’d had time to pull herself together while Jane was talking to Marco. She could see what Marlene had meant by her remark about him. “Yes, I’m fine. As I said I need my dinner.”

“We all need our dinner Phipps, so just pull yourself together,” snapped Jane.

    Marco returned with a small fair haired young woman and introduced her as Sheila Cameron. The young woman smiled at them, “Marco said you want to know about Mrs Dunn?”

Jane nodded, “That’s right – how well did you know her?”

“Well I was the one who did her induction when she first started here and took her through the equipment but that was all, I mean, I wasn’t a friend or anything.”

“I see. What about friends? Did she have anyone in particular she seemed to be friendly with?”

Sheila looked thoughtful and shook her head, “No not really, I mean she spoke to a few people, just the usual – hello, good morning that sort of thing,”

Jane digested this. “So no real friends, particular women she was friendly with.” Sheila smirked and shook her head again, “No, to be honest she was friendlier with the men than the women.”

Maureen, who by now was back to her normal self, said, “So which men was she friendly with?”

Sheila shrugged, “Well I wouldn’t say friendly exactly – they just passed the time with her that was all.”

“I see,” said Jane.

Suddenly Sheila said, “Actually there was someone, but I didn’t get the feeling they were friendly,. In fact the couple of times I saw them talking I had the feeling they were arguing, at least I felt it was a bit heated.”

Jane looked at her, “Oh, who was this?”

“Ms Smith,” said Sheila,

“Marlene Smith?” asked Maureen.

Sheila nodded, “Yes.”

“I see, and what were they arguing about?”

Sheila shook her head, “No idea, I wasn’t near enough to hear and when I did get close they moved and went separate ways.”

“So you’ve no idea what they were talking about?” asked Jane.

“No sorry.” Jane and Maureen looked at her. They didn’t think she knew any more. “Ok thank you, that’s all for now. If you think of anything else let me know,” said Jane.

Once outside Maureen said, “Blimey, to think I was going to rule her out, but it seems Marlene has more to do with this than we thought.”

“Yes but what is the connection?” Jane wondered aloud. “So what the hell was that all about back there?” asked Jane.

Maureen bridled, “Don’t know what you mean gov.”

“Oh yes you do Phipps. Don’t play the innocent with me, you were weird.”

Maureen giggled, “Well you must admit gov, he was gorgeous.”

“Oh god,” thought Jane, “that’s all I need – Phipps getting hormonal.” Aloud she said, “You are a happily married woman Phipps.” Then she had a bad thought and said, “You are aren’t you? I mean there’s no crisis in your marriage that I should know about is there?”

Maureen looked at her and nearly lost control of the car. “Of course not! Geoff and I are perfectly happy.”

That’s ok then. Better keep it that way, because you will be sidelined into traffic so bloody fast your head will spin. The last thing I need is one of my officers having a flaming domestic crisis in the middle of a murder investigation.”

Maureen swerved, “Traffic gov.”

“For God’s sake Phipps. Look what you’re doing, you damn nearly hit that truck.”

Maureen got the car under control, “Sorry,” she mumbled.”

* Chapter Seven coming shortly!

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