RoYds Part 17 - Receptive

Present Day

It was Lady Mabel who eventually discovered Kerry after reading a report in the local paper about a group of high school students who had seen a ghost on Mill Lane and claimed it was the Grey Lady of Heyleigh Hall. It was Stanley who approached Elizabeth.

“Ah! Elizabeth, erm... I’m afraid we've got a bit of an unusual case involving the Living this morning.”

Elizabeth looked up at him and thought he looked a little ruffled which was very unlike him. He sat down at her desk and started to brush invisible flecks of fluff from his ever-immaculate navy twill trousers.

“Everything that happens here is extremely unusual, as far as the Living are concerned, Stanley!" But her curiosity was aroused more than usual. “What’s happened?”

“A young girl was murdered several weeks ago and her body dumped in undergrowth.”

“Several weeks ago? Strange that we haven’t heard about it before now.”

“Yes... Indeed,” he muttered, attacking the invisible fluff again. “Kerry Crabtree; she was nineteen years old. Her body has lain undiscovered until now and Lady Mabel thinks it could still be a good while before any of the Living come across it. It's been well hidden in the woods on the far side of Heyleigh Hall. At the moment I understand the police suspect Kerry has run away -– we on the other hand know that she was victim of our local serial killer.”

Elizabeth thought for a moment. “There'll be a coach party arriving up at the Hall just after lunchtime. It might be a good idea to send someone up there around that time. If one of the tourists is receptive, a word in their ear could encourage them to discover the body. Does she know who killed her?”

Stanley sighed and stood up. “I believe he took something of hers that will lead us to him,” he shook his head gently. “It’s sad. It always is in a case like this. We need to stop these murders -– without any further delay -- or it will be dark at breakfast if we are not careful. By the way, good idea about the tourists. We’ll send Gemma.”

Elizabeth cringed at the mention of the name and bit her lower lip. Since her return, the two of them had so far managed to avoid each other.

Lady Mabel arrived in the room beside Stanley. “Why don’t I go instead?” she asked Stanley, and then turned to Elizabeth for support. “They're much more likely to be looking out for me and will therefore be more receptive.”

“OK...” Stanley seemed to have his mind focused elsewhere.

"Is something wrong, Stanley?" Elizabeth asked. Concerned, she rose from her seat.

“In a way,” said Stanley, putting his arm around her in a fatherly fashion. “I've a terrible feeling of foreboding. It’s been a long time since I felt anything this strong so close to RoYds.”

***

Linus Howell hesitated before approaching her. He wasn’t quite sure what he was going to say; he would have to wing it. The wine bar was packed and he grimaced when he entered and saw the Whituth Set already celebrating the start of the weekend. He should have known better than to arrange to meet her at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon; any other day of the week would have been fine.

He sipped his white wine spritzer as he surveyed the orgy of designer clothes, teased hair and polished bodies. He was certain that she was the petite brunette with the dark eyeliner and purple lipstick who had been watching the door keenly when he walked in. Pity he hadn't arrived early and managed to down at least one drink beforehand. He sighed. Never mind. In for a penny in for a pound.

“Ms Whyte? I’m Linus Howell. Apologies if I’m a little late, and also for suggesting we meet here. I had not realised it would be so busy.” The words rushed and he felt awkward. He reached for a stool and was just about to pull it over when she spoke.

“Case of mistaken identity, I’m afraid.” The brunette smiled and looked beyond him to a handsome young man who was struggling to make his way through the throng towards her.

Cheeks burning in frustration with himself, he backed away slightly. He had been sure that she was the one. Feeling an idiot, he mumbled an apology and nudged his way back to the bar. How the hell was he supposed to find her amongst this lot?

“Hello, I’m Elizabeth Whyte.”

Her hand reached out beckoningly and he shook it without thinking. She definitely wasn’t what he had been expecting.

“Hi... Uh... Linus Howell. Can I get you a drink?”

“Hmm... Let’s see. I’ll have a bottle of Magners, please.” She smiled and looked across the room. “I see there’s a table over there. Why don’t I go and grab it while you get the drinks?” She didn’t give him chance to answer before she walked away.

Well, this was a turn up for the books. He was glad he had taken the time to shower and look presentable. This could turn into a very pleasurable afternoon.

“How did you know it was me?” he asked, joining her and placing their glasses and her bottle of cider on the table.

She smiled wickedly. “Let’s just say I knew the moment I laid eyes on you.” Her smile widened as she crossed her legs.

His mood lightened and he felt the familiar, warm rush of attraction trickle through his veins.

“Shall I call you Linus?”

“Linus is fine.”

“So Linus, what exactly is it that we can do for you?”

He cleared his throat, wondering whether he should just come out with it or if he should think of something completely different to say. “We’re developing the old Ministry of Defence buildings at Staibey Nayes. Do you know the ones I mean?”

She nodded. “Weren’t they also rented out as industrial units at one stage?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Well, there have been some... How can I put this? Strange goings on since we started working there. After the latest incident, the workmen have downed tools and refused to go back to work until we get someone in to investigate.” His face felt hot and he was sure it was as red as the coat she was wearing.

“Why did you choose to meet here rather than visit RoYds?”

“I want to keep the number of people who know anything about this down to a minimum. If I’m seen going into your building, rumours will start and before you know it, no one will be interested in buying the properties once they’re completed.”

“I see.” She raised an eyebrow and gave him a knowing look. He didn’t quite like her attitude.

“What about the workmen? Won’t they talk about what’s been happening?”

“Nah. Firstly, they wouldn’t want anyone thinking they’re crazy and secondly, I'm still paying their wages while they sit on their arses. It's in their interest to keep their mouths shut.”

As she removed her black leather gloves he caught himself checking her finger for a ring. He felt like kicking himself. She was still attractive even if he didn’t like her attitude.

“Why did you think RoYds could help?”

“I’ve lived in this town all my life; my family have been in these parts for generations. It’s not a secret that you people are interested in this sort of thing.” He was getting tired of the small-talk bullshit; they both understood the type of thing these geeks got themselves involved in. He didn’t feel comfortable with the whole thing and if his hand hadn't been forced into making contact with them he never would have done so.

“Look, Elizabeth... I hate to be rude but I don’t have the time to beat about the bush. I want this project finished by the end of March at the latest. All I want you to do is take a look, confirm it’s all in their minds, and then I can get them back to work. How about this : in return I'm prepared to make a contribution to the RoYds Foundation.” That should seal it.

Elizabeth leaned forward slowly and narrowed her eyes at him. “How about this: we take a look and in return you name your latest development something more in keeping with local heritage?”

“More in keeping? What colour’s the sky on your planet?” he glared back at her indignantly.

“More in keeping,” she repeated calmly. “As far as I’m concerned, the last thing Whituth needs is another Howell Place or Howell Villas or Howell whatever...”

Cheeky mare! He finished his drink in one swallow and wished that it had been at least his third. The need to get the job finished was his number one priority. It was not as though he would have anything more to do with her after tonight. “Fine! I’ll get us some more drinks and then I’ll tell you what’s been happening.” He picked up his glass and stood up to go to the bar.

“Do you have the keys to the buildings on you, Linus?”

He patted his inside jacket pocket in order to be sure. “Yes. Why?”

“We could go over there now if you've the time to spare? As it's costing you money, I thought you might prefer sooner rather than later?”

He had been planning on leaving the car here at the bar and making a night of it; he’d only had the one drink though. “Great! Ready when you are.” He smiled toothily.

What a result! They would be back at work on Monday morning and the job would be back on schedule!

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14 Comments:
  • At 27 October 2009 at 01:14, Blogger Melissa said…

    Yay!! The editing and work you've done on RoYds has given it a whole new flow and continuity that works so well. The characters are floating (quite literally, lol) into the story and I love how Mabel comes into this one. I get this sense of the workers' presence at RoYds in the shadows. And when Stanley is unnerved, I'm unnerved ... eeks! And that Linus, grrr. I'm glad to know a bit of what happens to him -- giggle -- Elizabeth handles him so nicely! Bravo!

    I'm so glad that my comments are helpful -- it is a joy to read this story and to have seen it from its very beginnings. I believe so much in your writing!

    And I cannot wait for a chance to get my collection of RoYds shirts ... what fun!!

     
  • At 27 October 2009 at 14:05, Blogger Charles Gramlich said…

    I'm enjoying the story. I have one thing to say that may just be me but I'm having a bit of a hard time reading the small black letters on the gray background. The color scheme is neat but man my eyes are watering by the time I get very far along.

     
  • At 27 October 2009 at 16:27, Blogger Miladysa said…

    Melissa - "The characters are floating (quite literally" *wicked cackle*

    Lots this week - in time for Halloween ;)


    Charles - Thank you for mentioning that - I have changed the font size. I would be grateful it you could let me know if it is a good enough improvement - if not, I will change the background colour :)

     
  • At 27 October 2009 at 20:46, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bimbimbie said:

    Going to have to leave my comments via email, I've been trying several times this morning but no, can't get through your door - bet someone from roYds is behind it ;)

    "It’s sad. It always is in a case like this. We need to stop these murders -– without any further delay -- or it will be dark at breakfast if we are not careful...

    Oooo sense of foreboding - unless of course he's a late riser and concerned that he will now have to re-set his alarm clock to cover his extending work load*!*

     
  • At 27 October 2009 at 20:49, Anonymous Miladysa said…

    Bimbimbie - "bet someone from roYds is behind it ;)"

    I split my sides laughing when I read that! I bet they are too & I wonder why...

    ;)

     
  • At 27 October 2009 at 21:03, Blogger Bimbimbie said…

    ... there, see a cup of English breakfast and the door opens ;)

    I'm enjoying RoYds greatly and you have me wondering all over the place now*!*

     
  • At 28 October 2009 at 01:14, Blogger laughingwolf said…

    thoroughly enjoying this, milady... you have a special gift and a, grateful you share it here :)

    i have no problem reading the increased font size and laud the design work...

     
  • At 28 October 2009 at 01:15, Blogger laughingwolf said…

    make that AM grateful...

     
  • At 28 October 2009 at 04:15, Blogger Charles Gramlich said…

    This is quite a bit better for me for reading. Part of it too was that the previous font was particularly tough reading if there was any glare on the screen.

     
  • At 28 October 2009 at 10:41, Blogger Baino said…

    Loving it and Charles is right, the sage green is softer on the eye!

     
  • At 28 October 2009 at 20:25, Blogger BernardL said…

    As Melissa stated, the flow of the story is very smooth.

     
  • At 29 October 2009 at 11:57, Blogger Vesper said…

    Now I'm very curious to find out what awaits them at the construction site. Like the others have said, this is a great story! And I've stepped into unknown territory now - I think I've only read up to Archie's death last time.

    I have no problem with reading the font and the colour scheme is perfect. It would be a shame if you had to change it.

     
  • At 29 October 2009 at 18:51, Anonymous Miladysa said…

    Bimbimbie - Pleased to see your comment obstacles have been overcome :)


    Wolfie - Thank you for letting me hang out with your pack :)


    Charles - I think the larger font size is much better - thank you :)


    Baino - Good :) I think you will enjoy what happens to Linus...


    Bernard - Thank you. Please let me know if you spot anything out of place :)


    Vesper - I like the template the way it is too - I think the larger font is a great improvement :)

    I like it that you are now in unknown territory - I hope the story doesn't disappoint... :)

     
  • At 29 October 2009 at 18:53, Anonymous Miladysa said…

    Plently of action coming up *wicked cackle*

    Completely new post in just over 4 hours!

    In keeping with the Halloween Spirit there will be 2 posts on Halloween :)

     

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Whituth's living can't see the dead but psychic Elizabeth Whyte can see everyone: living humans, delayed souls, fallen angels, vampires and fae. She helps maintain the fragile peace between light and darkness in her work with RoYds, an unworldly refuge. But that peace has suddenly become fragile. Whituth's carefully maintained balance is tipping toward darkness. Now Elizabeth and her angelic allies must discover who or what is threatening both town and refuge before balance is lost forever

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