Echoes From The Past – Episode 57

Holly had no idea what to do next. She could hardly challenge her on such flimsy evidence. There was the key, of course. The only way she could have got one was to have an original key copied, which would not be too difficult for a resourceful girl. While in Daniel’s office, Holly had a good look round to see if Fiona had left any traces, but she hadn’t. The place was reasonably tidy and the computer completely closed down. She found the brochures and was blown back to the house.

It was later in the evening, when guests were looking for more coffee, that the accident happened. Fiona nudged Holly while she was pouring, and the scalding coffee missed Holly’s hand and hit her skirt. It was fixed in minutes, but it could have been far more painful. Fiona was most apologetic, but unconvincing. Holly knew exactly what had happened, and was incensed. Fiona had been making sly digs all day, and had now gone one step too far.

“Just one question, Fiona,” she said, when they were momentarily alone. “Who is Ken Guthrie?”

If she had slapped her, she could not have had a bigger reaction. Fiona might have expected a question about Dan, or about the coffee incident, but not about someone called Ken Guthrie.

Holly knew she had hit home, and carried on.

“So who is he? A boyfriend? A cousin?”

“He’s my brother.” Fiona’s voice was barely discernible. “My half brother. We share a mother. How do you – what are you talking –?”

“Stop wittering, Fiona. Just tell me what’s going on. I’ve seen some of Ken Guthrie’s work, and I’ve seen Daniel’s designs. So why do I detect a close similarity?”

Fiona blustered some more, but now that Holly was sure she was right, she was unrelenting. Eventually it all came out. Ken Guthrie was trying to set up a landscape gardening business, but was short of capital and had lost his designer. So by using his little sister, he had cut a few corners.

“How did you get into Dan’s computer? How did you get his password?”

Fiona shrugged.

“A lucky guess.”

Holly did remember thinking that Daniel could occasionally be careless, or perhaps a little too trusting. Fiona had possibly taken advantage of that.

“How many? How many of Daniel’s designs have you stolen?”

“Just three,” Fiona whispered.

“Three? Does that include this afternoon’s pickings?”

She shook her head, and sat down suddenly in defeat.

“I’ll tell Ken that’s the end. Please, just don’t tell Dan.”

“Oh, I won’t tell him,” Holly said grimly, “but you will. You will confess, or I’ll make sure he finds out. You can’t expect me just to forget all about it, Fiona. It’s theft. You know it is. If you tell him yourself, there’s a chance he won’t prosecute, though he has every right to.”

Fiona rallied momentarily.

“You can’t prove anything. It’s your word against mine.”

So Holly took her mobile from her pocket and showed her the photograph of Brenda Harris’s garden. She didn’t have to say anything more.

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!