A Croatian Adventure – Episode 26

He took her hand in his and a thrill raced up through her fingers, into her chest and ended somewhere in the depths of her tummy. How could she resist?

“OK. It has been worrying me.”

“Just one thing.” He continued to hold her hand. “There’s no point testing for fingerprints if he has nothing to go on. He’d need to eliminate people like Makso, Severina, Mihovil and Ivan, and maybe even Hiroko. It’s a real easy thing to collect fingerprints. You just have to have something the person’s handled. If you were able to bring a few items like that along, we could eliminate people. What d’you think?”

“Wouldn’t it be snooping?”

“Nah. It would be like we were in an Agatha Christie novel or something. It would be assisting. Let’s do it. You’d be back at the villa as soon as we’ve finished drinks with Joshua and Kaylee.”

Before she knew it, she’d been swept along by Ryan’s energy and had found herself agreeing to his unorthodox plan.

*  *  *  *

The sun was waning, but the air was as warm as soup when Ryan dropped Mel off at the Villa Lavanda. During the ride, he’d chatted about her “mission”, as he called it, to collect the fingerprints, and turned it all into a game.

“See how many you can come up with. I’ll drop round to the villa first thing and wait outside about eight. Just put the things in a carrier and bring them out. Then I’ll pick you up after lunch and we’ll pop into Rovinj together to see Joshua. You’re sure you can get the afternoon off?”

“Yes, Makso and Hiroko are taking Ivo to the doctors to get his jabs. The doctor’s a personal friend of Makso so they’ve been invited for a long lunch.”

“Well, bye.” Ryan leaped into his car and sped away.

Mel had hoped he might want to hold her hand, or to give her a peck on the cheek, but perhaps he wasn’t keen on her in that way after all. Men were so difficult to read.

Lost in her own thoughts, Mel opened the gates of Villa Lavanda and, walking round to the pool, she encountered Greg. He was on a ladder pruning one of the albizia trees.

She hadn’t seen him since their uncomfortable clash on the roof the other night and she still wasn’t sure about him. His shorts were soaked in sweat which had poured down his back – he certainly worked hard.

But why had he been on the roof that night, spying with binoculars?

As soon as he saw her, he climbed down the ladder. As he did, she noticed a can of cola he had been drinking discarded on the path. It occurred to her that Greg could possibly have written the note.

Was he into something dodgy and wanting help to get out of it? She tried to keep an open mind. You couldn’t judge a book by its cover, and he had helped her fend off that snake shortly after she arrived.

Mel didn’t like to think ill of anybody and she wanted to get hold of Greg’s drink can as part of her investigations. It must be covered with prints. She had never considered Greg as the writer of the note.

She felt like a younger version of Miss Marple, and one thing she did know was that you had to engage people in conversation if you wanted to know what they were up to.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!