11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 24

Georgia wasn’t a nervous sort. Nor was Mel. But because of the day’s events and the lateness of the hour, both of them peered cautiously from the shadows of Number 11’s kitchen towards the stout front door.

“It’s just Harrison,” Mel said, relief in her voice. “He often comes back in the evening.”

“It could be useful to talk to him,” Georgia said. “To see what he makes of all this, him being a private investigator.”

“No problem,” Harrison assured them when they asked him if he could give them a few minutes. “Come into the office. So, what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong with you first?” Mel said as she accepted one of the seats he cleared of papers for them to sit on. “You’re pulling funny faces.”

Georgia smiled. She’d noticed something about his expressions, too, but hadn’t liked to comment.

“Oh, it’s just that a filling’s come out of a tooth,” he said, with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Well, try not to touch it,” Mel advised, “until you see your dentist.”

“Yes, yes.” Another little wave.

Mel started telling him about Ewan. How he’d been accused of taking money from a customer of hers, where he’d been working that morning.

Harrison listened intently, face thoughtful, occasionally scratching his short beard.

“Ewan completely denies it. And you know how he’s clearing up outside here for Georgia? He found some semi-precious stones, apparently accidentally thrown out by that jeweller who worked here, and he took them straight to you, didn’t he?” Mel finished, looking at Georgia.

“He did,” Georgia agreed. “We reckon, if he were a thief, surely he would have kept them?”

“He isn’t a thief,” Harrison replied. “Of that I’m certain. I was doing some surveillance in that same business park at the exact time, from what you’ve told me, that Ewan is supposed to have crept outside and dumped the money ready for his accomplice to come and pick up. The thing is, my car was right opposite their reception. I did see him later, leaving with Sandra. But at the time you’re talking about, Ewan did not come out alone.”

Harrison added that his surveillance target wasn’t anyone from Mel’s customer’s company, though obviously he couldn’t say more than that.

Georgia and Mel weren’t interested. All they cared about was that Ewan was innocent.

One thought had occurred to Georgia.

“Is there another door, for emergencies or deliveries?”

Mel nodded.

“Yes. But it’s alarmed, and will sound when it’s opened. Ewan couldn’t have sneaked out that way.”

Harrison was frowning.

“You say, Mel, your customer isn’t reporting it to the police to protect your firm’s good name, and because of the goodwill he feels towards you?”

Mel nodded again.

“I’d like to know what really happened, though, even for business reasons. If I’m going to continue employing Ewan, I want his name cleared properly. Will you take the case? Obviously I’ll pay you.”

Harrison frowned.

“It isn’t just for your firm’s credibility you’re doing this, is it? I’ve known from the day he approached you for a job that there was something else.”

Mel sighed.

“You miss nothing, do you? OK, then…”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.