On Saturday morning I got up early because I wanted to catch Mum before she went to work.
“Morning,” she said, looking puzzled, “are you going to Annabel’s early?”
I gave a white lie. “Oh no, I just couldn’t sleep.”
“Don’t let this business with Nan worry you, Lacy. I’m going to get some good advice on Monday, and then I’m going to sort it out.”
As Mum had mentioned Nan, I thought it was a good time to ask some more questions.
“You know you said that you’d been back to Lavender Road a few times with Nan, when did you go?”
“Well, a few times when I was growing up. She would take me to the park and then walk up the road and look at the houses, but I never understood why.”
“What about later, when you were older?”
“Yes, a few times. And after Dad died, I know she got bored and started looking again.”
My heart skipped a beat. “I wonder if she ever went to the Library and asked about it?” I asked casually.
“I don’t know, she never said.” Mum laughed. “That would be a coincidence, wouldn’t it?”
After Mum had left for work, I rang Barry and left a message on his voicemail asking him to contact me urgently, but by the time I had arrived at Annabel’s house I had heard nothing. Annabel looked in good form when she opened the door to me. She had her colour back again, and was moving around a lot more.
“Hi!” she exclaimed, kissing me on both cheeks. This was a new idea, and I wondered if she had got into this habit with André. I’d already decided I couldn’t tell Annabel anything about murder plots, although I was really aching to tell somebody. If Barry didn’t call me back soon, I’d have to mention my discoveries to the police.
“So looks like you’ve heard from André again,” I said, referring to the screensaver on her laptop, which bore a large picture of them both.
She giggled. “Oh yes, I can’t wait to see him again, he said he thinks of me every day.”
“I can’t wait to see Julian again on Wednesday, either.”
“I bet. So tell me again what he looks like?”
I thought about him again and tried to compare him to somebody famous.
“He’s a bit like Robert Patts but darker, and with curly hair.”
“Wow! And is he tall?”
“Mm hmm. A lot taller than me, I’d say nearly two metres.”
“Really? So how old is he, then?”
“That I don’t know yet, but he’s at college so he must be at least 17.” I could see he was meeting with Annabel’s approval. “And Carey more or less asked me out again,” I told her, exaggerating a bit.
“Look at you, getting all the men! My André may not be tall, but he’s cute and fit anyway, so I don’t care.”
“I can see that from the photos!”
Annabel went quiet for a moment. “You really shocked me the other day when you said you were thinking of joining the police.”
“I know, I’ve surprised myself, even. But you know something, I think I’d be good at it.”
“I couldn’t ever do it,” she replied. “In fact, I still haven’t got a clue what I’ll do when I leave school. Although I wouldn’t mind studying to be a beautician,” she added thoughtfully.
“Well, that’s a start. There’s always Elham College down the hill.”
“I just wish you were back at school, there’s so much going on in my life at the moment,” I confessed.
Annabel gave me a look.
“What is it, Lacy? You can tell me.”
I could tell my friend knew that something was wrong. “It’s okay, you just worry about getting better.”
“Oh go on, Lacy, tell me.”
I laughed. “I can’t. But how would you feel if I was living in Lavender Road?”
“That’s really close by, I’d love it!” she exclaimed. “Oh I get it, your Mum’s got a new boyfriend and he lives in Lavender Road?”
“Nice try,” I laughed again.
“Well, whatever it is, you know you can always tell me.” She paused. “How’s your cross? I see you are still wearing it.”
“It hasn’t shone in anyone’s eyes recently. Although I do sometimes see things in my head and it’s like – it’s like the cross is trying to tell me something. Or maybe it’s trying to warn me.”
I was about to say a bit more when we were interrupted by Crystal bringing us in mugs of hot soup and rolls.
“Lovely to see you again,” she said, giving me a smile. “Only a week till your birthday and the holiday.”
“I know, I’m really excited about it.”
“We’ll make the arrangements nearer the time,” she continued. “Have you thought about what you’d like as a present?”
“Oh, I wasn’t expecting anything,” I replied truthfully.
“Why not? Sixteen is a special birthday these days. Have a little think about it, and just let Annabel know, okay?”
“Okay, th-thanks very much,” I stammered, a bit overwhelmed.
So that took my mind off the subject of murder mysteries and onto what I should ask for as a present, and we spent a happy afternoon where I updated Annabel with all the latest gossip from school, boys and stuff. When I got home I found Mum all dressed up and getting ready to go out.
“I’m seeing Tom this evening,” she said, looking a little embarrassed.
“Oh right. Are you bringing him back here later?”
“Oh no! I’ll be back before ten.”
I looked at her all dressed up and I felt a bit of a lump in my throat.
“You look lovely,” I told her. “I like what you’ve done with your hair.” She had had it coloured and pulled up into a bun.
Then the doorbell rang and I heard her talking to Tom outside, before she called out, “’Bye Lacy, see you later,” and pulled the door shut. I looked out of the window and saw her get into a large blue car, which might have been a Mondeo or another swish vehicle. I had very mixed emotions as I watched the car drive away.
I should have started revising for my exams, and got out some text books ready to look at, when I had a thought about looking for my great uncle, Paul Brent. I would put his name and address on a ‘Brent’ genealogy forum and see what happened. I had a browse through some of the other names on there, but nothing caught my eye. Then I thought I’d check the ‘Unwin’ forum, although I hadn’t received any emails. I logged on and found my message on there. To my surprise, there had been a response:
“John Unwin does not have any UK relatives. Who are you?”
Not exactly a friendly reply, I thought. I answered:
“I am his Great Granddaughter and was given his cross for my 16th birthday.”
Then I switched off the internet so that I could concentrate on my studies, because the exams were really close now and, apart from history, I had six other subjects to worry about. As well as worrying about my Mum and what had happened to Grandmother Margaret, of course. Sometimes I hated the thought that I was ‘growing up’ and becoming ‘more responsible’, but it seemed as if I had no choice.
I didn’t hear my Mum get back home but then I was probably asleep, because the books were so boring that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.