11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 41

“Looks like she’s going into the town centre,” Ewan said after a few minutes. He turned to look at Harrison. “It was brilliant, the way you made the link. You saw that photo of the whole family, then noticed how the son, shown in the picture right next to his father, no longer works at the company.”

“And you said he was never mentioned while you were working there. He’d been his father’s deputy, the heir-apparent, but now it’s as though he never existed.”

“It was still clever to work out from there that his sister must have taken that money to give to him, and framed me because I was a convenient stranger.”

“More lucky than clever,” Harrison replied.

He was aware he might not have got the idea had it not been for Mel telling him about the argument in her family, when she and her sister, Carol, were just kids, that had led to their beloved brother, Mick, leaving home.

“We would have done anything, Carol and me, young as we were, to help him. But we didn’t know where he was…”

And so they hadn’t been aware he’d hit tough times until they were informed of his death.

Ewan was still looking at him, but Harrison wasn’t saying any more. Georgia was aware of Mel’s sad story – she’d been there when Mel had confided to him in his office – but he didn’t know who else she’d spoken to. Harrison was always mindful of client confidentiality and of careless words.

He sighed. Sometimes it was a lonely job, being a private investigator.

“Don’t forget,” he said to Ewan, “what we have is only a theory at present. We haven’t got any evidence yet…”

He broke off, manoeuvring into a parking space not far from the one Ellie had now turned into.

“She’s going into that bank!” Ewan whispered again.

“I’ll go after her,” Harrison said, seeing Ewan unfastening his seat belt. “No, just me – you stay here. She’s likely to recognise you.”

Inside the bank, Harrison turned up the collar of his leather jerkin and pretended to be looking at a list of interest rates on display.

He managed to see that Ellie, having checked that a fairly large sum had been credited to her account, was withdrawing a substantial amount. Used as he was to picking up the signals that indicated someone’s mood, Harrison sensed her nervousness.

Back in the car with Ewan, he watched her now standing outside the bank and using her mobile phone. Then she strode off, leaving her car where it was parked.

Again, Harrison followed her alone.

After just a short distance, she cut down a side street – an alley really, running behind a row of tall commercial buildings. Desolate-looking, Harrison thought, with bulging rubbish bins and the skeletons of old fire escapes.

Seeing a figure coming out of the shelter of a doorway to meet her, Harrison rapidly ducked into an emergency exit near the top of the alley.

Hearing a sob, which he thought was probably Ellie, he risked peering out. She was hugging her brother. Harrison could tell immediately that was who it was. The son of the family.

He stayed long enough to see Ellie handing her brother the money she’d withdrawn, and to hear her tearful words.

“I had to sell some of my jewellery to get this. I don’t want ever to steal again, not even from the company…”

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.