The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 32

“Are you OK?”

Robin rushed straight to the kitchen, where Charlie was sitting with a pen and notepad, determined to jot down anything else she could remember.

“I’m fine,” Charlie replied. “Albert sorted everything. The police have had a look round and taken a statement.”

“You shouldn’t have been here on your own,” Robin said. “We’ve been broken into a few times and that was before the burglar alarm. Where was everyone?”

“It’s Saturday afternoon,” Charlie said with a shrug. “Let me make you some coffee.”

Robin took off his coat and sat down beside her.

“There are dangerous sorts out there. Tell me exactly what happened.”

As she made the coffee, Charlie went through everything again with Robin.

“I’ve spoken to the lads,” Robin said. “Albert reckons one of them got through the gap in the old wall on the edge of the estate. They think their car was parked behind the boathouse and the other one drove off from there.”

“That path leads out to the motorway slip road where the lorry park is,” Charlie mused.

“Albert and Dean went down there and the police are asking around. The police reckon they had been waiting a while and saw their chance when there were no cars around.

“Albert said you did brilliantly,” Robin added gently. “I’m sorry. This place is in the middle of nowhere and fair game for any passing thieves. You must be pretty shaken up.”

“I’m nothing of the sort!” Charlie argued.

Albert came back in, closely followed by Dean and Rufus.

“We’ve asked around and Eric, the man who owns the burger van at the lorry park, reckons he’s seen a broken-down car there for a few days and told the others to keep an eye out. It’s disappeared now.

“We’re going to check the dairy room and all the sheds again,” Albert added.

Charlie looked at Dean’s soaked hoodie.

“Not like that, you’re not,” she said.

She went down to the cloakroom and grabbed an anorak of indeterminate age, which looked like it might fit the gangly Dean.

“She’s right,” Robin said, as the teenager reluctantly took off his hoodie and put the coat on. “But I think Dean should stay here with you, Charlie, just in case. We can’t take any chances. You OK with that, Dean?”

Dean nodded and Albert and Robin left.

Charlie cubed the stewing steak and dusted it with flour and a teaspoon from Katarina’s jar of herbs. The simple actions calmed her and the upset of the break-in started to recede.

“What’s that for?” Dean asked as she took the suet out of the fridge.

“Dumplings,” Charlie replied.

“Cool. I like doing the kitchen stuff,” Dean said.

It was the longest sentence she’d had out of the teenager since they’d found him sleeping in the barn, and as he deftly chopped onions Charlie dared another question.

“Where did you learn to do that?”

“Home Ec at school. The teacher was really cool,” Dean declared.

“Would you want to go back to college?” she asked, trying to sound casual as she chopped mushrooms.

“Suppose,” he said, and she decided not to push things any further as he added the onions to the sizzling pan.

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.