The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 30

Katarina went from room to room and eventually tracked down the noise to where the tea chests were. He had somehow managed to get himself stuck and couldn’t work out how to get out.

He didn’t seem to be hurt, but Katarina carefully slid the first tea chest containing the china out a bit so he had room to squeeze out. He bounded into the hall, then Katarina could hear him thumping down the attic stairs.

Katarina stayed where she was for a moment, thinking that she would get the cleaners to come and give this place a thorough clean.

The dust behind was thick and something had dropped on to the ground when she had moved the tea chest.

She glanced down. It looked like an old pillowcase.

She unfolded the fabric, thinking it would just have more pillowcases inside it, as they seemed to have so much old bed linen lurking around.

Inside there was an old notebook about the size of the visitors’ book that they used to keep at reception.

At first, that was what Katarina thought it was. Then she opened the first page and saw the spidery writing, sloping to one side, so curly that she couldn’t read it.

She had found Anna’s missing journal.

*  *  *  *

Charlie let herself into the kitchen and quickly keyed in the code so that the burglar alarm wouldn’t shout at her. She loved the peace of the old house when there was no-one about.

Old book on your table, Katarina had texted her.

Charlie had spent Saturday morning phoning her mother and waiting in for her online grocery delivery.

Now, she thought she would take advantage of a quiet Saturday afternoon to pick up the journal.

Dean and Albert were in the summerhouse, where Albert was showing Dean how to repair the rotten window frames and see what they could salvage of the floor. Robin was seeing an old university friend, who was visiting from America. Katarina had taken Mrs Cecilia to the hairdresser’s.

Charlie didn’t want to take the journal back to the cottage as this was an old family heirloom. She read a few pages, getting used again to the curly, old-fashioned handwriting, making the occasional note in her own notebook of dates and key events.

It made her feel connected to Anna, who seemed to have had the same busy life as folk today.

The other journal she’d found a few weeks earlier was here, too, and she would look at that in a moment and try to get the sequence of events clear in her head at last.

Charlie became so absorbed in the task that she didn’t notice the time passing.

The telephone rang but she let the answering service take it. Anyone important could ring her mobile.

She smiled as she read the words.

Instead of a folly, we started to build a dairy room.

“I knew it was here somewhere,” Charlie said out loud, so delighted at last to find a reference to what had happened to Anna’s husband’s plans.

Rufus the dog took this as an indication to be sociable again, so he got off his floor cushion in the morning room and padded in to be made a fuss of.

It was now pouring with rain outside so Charlie thought she might as well read more then head back to the cottage when the rain eased off. She noted that Anna referred to tapestries, and how at home she felt when they were hanging on the wall in the library.

What a find this latest journal had been! She felt more connected to Anna than ever, as if she were standing at her shoulder.

Rufus suddenly gave a low growl, then a short bark.

“Are they back?” Charlie said to him, expecting to see Mrs Cecilia and Katarina.

Sure enough, she thought she heard a car engine, but it was raining so heavily now that it was hard to tell.

Just then, she heard a squeal of brakes. No-one drove like that around here.

Rufus barked again and this time he wouldn’t stop. Slipping her phone into her pocket, Charlie got up and ran into the hall.

She couldn’t see a car, but there were two men running through the rain. Hoods covered their faces.

Still Rufus barked.

Quickly, Charlie pressed Albert’s name on her contacts list in her mobile phone.

“Yes?” Albert said in his normal, unflappable way.

“There’s someone here,” she whispered. “Two men, running towards the house. Are you expecting anyone?”

“No,” Albert said more urgently. “Stay there and don’t open the door. Dean and I will be right there. I’m calling the police.”

For the first time since she’d come to Anna Grace, Charlie felt afraid.

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.