The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 31

Rufus kept barking. Charlie froze, fearing that the two men in hoodies would try to force the front door with a crowbar. The burglar alarm was off and no cars were in the driveway, so they must think that the house was empty.

However, just before they came to the three steps up to the house, the two men skirted around the path to the back, which ran towards Little Wood.

Charlie ran upstairs, Rufus tracking her every move. She peeked out of the landing window, hoping to see which way the men had gone.

Sure enough, she could see a figure disappearing into the thicket at the start of Little Wood. She was still clutching her phone, and she dialled Albert’s number again.

“One of them has run into Little Wood,” she told him.

“Me and Dean will see if we can track them down. Don’t let anyone in until we come,” Albert said.

Charlie dared to look out again. There it was: a slight movement.

She strained to make out anything through the lashing rain. The figure had dropped something. Was he coming this way again? She ducked down, just in case.

It all seemed to happen so fast. A few moments later, Albert was running to the back door, where Charlie let him in.

“Dean ran like a hare and nearly caught him. Got a good description,” Albert said. “The police are down by the boathouse.”

“Is Dean OK?” Charlie said, rising to fill the kettle.

“He’s grand. No, Charlie, you sit down. You’ve had a shock.” Albert took the kettle from her.

“I’m fine,” Charlie said, but her hands were shaking, and Rufus still hadn’t settled.

“That was good thinking, to call me,” Albert said, handing her a mug of tea. “Now, you get this down you before you think about anything else.”

“Do you think they’ll be back?” Charlie asked, sipping her tea.

“Hard to tell. Old houses like this one are always fair game. We’ll see what the cops have to say.”

A policewoman came and took Charlie’s statement, chatting away as if it were all in a day’s work to her. Her reassuring attitude calmed Charlie down, and she tried to focus on remembering as much as she could while it was still fresh in her mind.

“It was hard to make anything out. If it hadn’t been for Rufus barking, I don’t think I would have heard anything.”

“What were you doing before that?” the policewoman asked.

Charlie told her as much as she could remember, from reading Anna’s journal to hearing the squeal of brakes.

“One of them dropped something,” she said, suddenly remembering. “I was standing at the landing window.”

Albert was already running out to the garden.

*  *  *  *

“They’d have lifted this from the boathouse,” Albert said when he returned, clutching a rain-soaked object.

It was an old cigar box with a broken clasp, held together with an elastic band.

“What is it?” Charlie said.

“It holds the keys to the summerhouse. Old Mr Graystone always kept a spare set there.”

“What do you think they were after?” Charlie said.

“Oh, money, valuables. They were likely waiting until the house was empty and all the cars were away. What they didn’t know is that we were at the summerhouse, but you can’t see that from the main driveway. This fellow here likely scared them off,” Albert said, reaching down to stroke Rufus.

“I need to make sure everything is OK for when Robin’s mother comes back,” Charlie said. “Oh, and there’s that couple who were meant to be coming tomorrow.”

“Never mind Mrs Cecilia, Charlie. She’s more robust than folk give her credit for. I’ve phoned Robin and he’s on his way,” Albert finished.

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.