Uncompromising, gritty, thrilling, and not for the faint hearted! British detectives suspect a serial killer is on the loose. With the support of American profiler Dr Tessa Davies, they soon realize that this could be the work of a druidic sect.
Please enjoy another two chapters of my dark crime novel, Death Marks . For now, I will post a chapter every Monday and Thursday.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Pushing aside the results form from the Forensics report, Dove sighed, so it was Delle Woodhouse. Poor – poor girl, what the hell did she suffer? And now the mother? How in God’s name was she supposed to tell her? There was no going home now; her stomach growled. Damn, the sandwich machine was empty, the officers having bought every scrap and chocolate bar. Rifling through her drawer, she was sure she had a couple of Twix bars stashed away in there. Her eyes lit up as she saw the brown and blue paper wrapping. Yes – yes. That would keep her going for the next few hours. Biting her lip, she realized she’d have to arrange that bloody Press Conference. No excuse. Bugger it. Picking up the phone, she got through to Redd’s secretary. ‘Hi Michelle, I’ve got a name now for the female body so that we can go ahead with TV and Press Conference. Would you arrange it for the Conference Room – nine AM tomorrow morning? Yeah Not looking forward to it – I might shit my pants. Okay. Thanks.’
She phoned the Family Liaison Officer, ‘Lisa? Felicity here – we have had the result of the DNA for the decapitated victim. They confirm it is Delle Wood. I’m just on my way over there with Jack. I can’t leave it to Someone else, as I did go and see her with Redd. We should be leaving in a few minutes, so I’ll pick you up in the car park, okay. Yes, it looks like you could be in for an overnight stay. Bye for now.’
Putting the phone down, she heard a knock on the door. ‘Come in – door’s open.’
His usual cheerful expression, now unhappy, Jack pulled a chair up to the desk. ‘So – what’s up?’
‘I’ve got the results in, sir; here, have a look.’ Pushing them over to him, she watched his expression.
‘Jack – call me Jack.’ Reading over the papers, he muttered, ‘Poor woman. So, it is Delle Woodhouse. How the hell do we tell her that her daughter is not only dead but decapitated? Can’t Someone else do this? Maybe DC Green, she’s a tough bird; she could go with her partner, Crosby?’
Felicity looked at his skin now pale, his forehead creased. It would be hard for anyone to give the news. ‘Sir. I was with the boss when he went to investigate. I’ve seen over the girl’s bedroom, the whole flat, in fact, and I wouldn’t put the woman through that again with a stranger. She needs us, Sir. Also, it would give me a chance to go through the girl’s bedroom once more. I thought I’d swept it clean, but there must be something I’ve missed.’
‘Yeah – okay. And, it’s Jack. By the way, have you heard from Redd?’
‘Nope, he’s still with the profiler. He rang in half an hour ago to say they were going to visit the crime scene. He did say he might be late, so he told me to go ahead and see Mrs. Woodhouse and that maybe you would go along as well. Quite honestly, Green is competent, but I think Mrs. Woodhouse will need comforting and support. I’m not saying Green is hard-hearted, but she’s not a shoulder to cry on.’
Jack nodded. ‘Brittle bitch; Ted Papworth is besotted with her. Okay, I suppose, if you like your women, stick-thin.’
Felicity’s eyes opened in surprise. Catching her glance, he said, ‘Give me a healthy-looking woman anytime.’
She bristled, there he went again, “Healthy-looking woman,” his eyes roving over her breasts and rounded stomach. ‘What exactly do you mean by a healthy-looking woman?’
His eyes gleamed as he looked over at her legs. ‘Someone with some flesh. No good kissing a bag of bones.’
Despite herself, she grinned; he was a bit too sophisticated for her, besides her attention was wholly caught up in Redd. Straightening her back, she said, ‘You ready to go? I’ve got DC Barrett waiting for us in the car park.’
‘Yep – lead the way.’
Going through the door, Felicity said, ‘Can’t say I’m looking forward to this. The lady’s a strong character, but I don’t know she’ll be able to cope with the news. I don’t know how any mother could.’ She didn’t mention Regina’s foul language or the short skirt minus a thong.
Dove took a deep breath as the door opened, ‘Regina, this is DCI Jack Cummings and DC Lisa Barrett. May we come in?’
The aggressive look had gone from Regina’s eyes; now there was a questioning, a quirk of the mouth. She’d seen the TV, witnessed the police requesting information on the bodies. She stepped aside, ‘Don’t mind the mess – ain’t had time to clean up.’
The cigarette smoke lay heavy overhead, the walls once white now grimed with the pale brown stains of tobacco fumes. A few framed pictures hung on the walls, a family together on a beach; a young Regina, her hair thick, lustrous, lying on a towel, a small girl digging sand at her feet, a man standing, hand on hip, proud of his family. Dove realized that was hung up since their last visit. Already Regina forgave her daughter. The woman who disgusted her on the prior visit now looked vulnerable, lost, and alone in the dregs of a life trailing in cigarettes and booze. Her miniskirt digging into the heavy legs looked pitiful. Where was the young girl on the beach, and now the child – decapitated?
‘So have you found her? Delle? She was giving you trouble. Always was a little sod yer know. Kids, what can yer do wiv em? Only the other day I said to my neighbour, you can bring em up, but you can’t live their lives for em, can you? Where’s my bleedin’ fag?’
Jack and Lisa stood just inside the small lounge as Dove moved forward, ‘Regina, sit down.’
‘Nah, I got things ter do, so hurry up and say wot you gotta say. She looked at Dove with dreadful eyes, paused, and spluttered, ‘It’s her. It’s her on the tele’.’ She dropped onto the settee, her head in her hands, her shoulders shaking; sobs came from deep in her chest. ‘Can’t bear it – can’t bear it.’
Dove went to her, sitting beside her, pulling her into her arms. ‘I’m sorry – so sorry.’
‘Where is she? Where’s my baby?’
‘We’re taking care of her.’
Lisa, eyes brimming, said in a small voice, ‘I’ll make a cup of tea.’
Regina sobbed, ‘I gotta go to her – she needs me yer know – she’s always needed me. Oh God – dear God – my baby.’
Jack left the small room -a woman’s tears always left him feeling helpless. Regina lifted her head, her eyes streaming. ‘I hurt – hurt. Please tell me – tell me it’s not her.’
Dove felt the hurt, her eyes stinging, her throat closing up. She pushed a thin lock of brown hair from Regina’s eyes, shaking her head.
‘Can I see her? I gotta see her ….’
Dove held her hand. ‘Is there anyone who can be with you for the identification? Mother – friend?’
Regina shook her head, her voice muffled in her hands, ‘Me mum’s a crack head, don’t know her tits from her arse, but I’ve got a good mate – I know she’ll come with me.’
Lisa returned, sitting on the other side of the weeping mother. Dove had yet to tell her that her daughter’s death would be on the news tomorrow. Thank goodness the decapitation was held back.
Dove looked at Lisa and nodded; now she had to tell Regina. Taking the nicotine-stained fingers in her hand, she said gently, ‘Regina – I want you to be strong now – strong. Sadly, Delle was hurt badly – they took her head. I’m sorry – so sorry.’
A stunned silence followed. Regina shocked, sat very still, her face rapidly suffusing with blood; beetle red, she found her breath, ‘Took her head? Don’t you dare – don’t you dare.’ She paused, her eyes glaring. ‘What the fuck – what the fucking hell do you mean – you bitch – you bitch.’ She screamed, lunging at Dove, beating her about the head. ‘What the fuck – what the pissing hell do you mean? I’ll kill you – kill you.’
Snarling, she punched Dove on the nose, grunting, ‘Head off? I’ll tear yours off – fuuuick.’ Grabbing Dove’s corkscrew curls, she dragged her to the floor, kicking and biting. Lisa tried to intervene only to be kicked in the shin by Regina.
Fighting back, blood dripping from her nose, Dove tried to get the hysterical woman onto her stomach to cuff her. But Regina’s bull-like strength won. As Dove felt vicious kicks to the kidneys, Jack dived into the room and threw himself into the fight, lifting Dove and hefting her over to Lisa. Talking non-stop to Regina, trying to calm her, he spun her on her stomach, and raising her arms behind her back, cuffed her.
Then she screamed. ‘My baby …oh dear God … my baby.’
Driving back, Jack looked over to Dove, her face now clear of blood. ‘You okay?’
‘Yeah, I will be. I couldn’t manage her; I was just about to use the Taser. I feel a bit of a wimp.’
‘Come on, Felicity – the woman’s twice your size.’
‘Yeah, well – they shoot the messenger, don’t they?’
‘The Romans often did, cut their throats or beheaded them if they brought a message from the enemy camp. Hence the cliché.’
‘I just feel so sorry for her. I could weep myself. At least she calmed down; Lisa will stay with her. I just wonder about the identification. Surely, the boss can think of some way? How could she cope with seeing her daughter without a head?’ Dove sniffed. ‘At least she didn’t break my nose.’
Dove dabbed at her nose. ‘Christ – it’s just not fair. Poor woman, she’s on her own. Regina’s tough, as we know, but this is beyond anything any mother should have to face.’ Pausing, she said, ‘I never did that search – maybe later. I did get a ticket from the last search. Delle and the Baker boy went to a nightclub – “Saturdays,” the one on the pier.’
‘Yeah, busy on a Saturday night.’
‘I went there a couple of days ago; the bar was in full swing – dance floor crowded, but no-one seemed to have seen her or David. I think I’ll go over there again, ask some questions.’ Looking at her watch, she said, ‘Should be opening up soon; at least the bar staff will be there.’
Slowing down, Jack frowned. ‘Are you up to it? You took a beating, Felicity.’
‘Delle and David took more than that. We’ve got to get on this, Jack; I don’t think they’ll stop with these two.’
‘It’s your call.’ Jack took the next turning left to Marine Parade. ‘I’ll park outside, put the blue light on. Otherwise, we’re sure to get a ticket.’
Dove felt the sea breeze, fresh and clean on her skin, lifting her hair, sweeping away the stench of Regina’s smoke-filled flat. Jack was pleased to see her step become brisk, her hair like ripe corn stalks. ‘I think the office is around the side here. Yes, here, the light’s on.’
Stepping into reception, she saw a girl at a PC, long red nails clicking on the keys. ‘Can I help you?’
Dove showed her card. ‘Yes – police. Is the Manager here?’
‘Yes – one moment, please; I’ll get him for you.’
Rising, she smiled, walking swiftly to the double doors.
Jack said, ‘I’ll leave you to do the talking, shall I?’
‘Yes – fine. I’ve got photos of Delle and David, so we might strike lucky. Delle was a beautiful girl – bound to have turned heads, especially the clothes she tended to wear.’
A man in his forties wearing a typical business suit of dark grey stripes pushed through the doors, followed by the receptionist. ‘Hello, my name’s David Ferry, Manager here. How can I help you?’
Dove stepped forward, showing him her warrant card. ‘Homicide. I was here with an officer a few nights ago, questioning the barmen. We’re investigating the murder of a young couple.’ She showed him the photos of Delle and then David. We have reason to believe they frequented here.’ She produced the ticket. ‘It’s frayed, so there isn’t a date on it.’ We’d like to speak to some of your staff – barmen, waitresses, anyone who may have seen these two.’
The man took the photos. ‘I see. I’ll most certainly show it to the staff; they’re getting the bar ready now. You’ve come at a good time.’
When was it ever a good time, Dove thought, as she followed him through to the main bar the length of the dancing area? At least four young men and two older ones busied themselves polishing glasses, taps, and mirrors, whilst half a dozen women cleaned the floor, tables, and chairs in readiness for the oncoming crowd. Dove nudged Jack’s arm. ‘More staff here today; maybe we’ll strike lucky.’
Turning, the Manager said, ‘I’ll introduce you to the Bar Manager.’
A taller man in a white shirt, dark trousers, and black apron stepped forward, his face serious. ‘Brent Mason. Can I help?’
Dove showed him the photos. ‘Would you ask your people to have a look at these? We’re trying to find anyone who may have seen them here?’
The bartender took them, nodding his head. Raising his arms, he said, ‘Everyone, your attention, please. Gather round.’
The workers stopped immediately. Huddling together, they scrutinized the photos. One young man with a number-one haircut, half a dozen earrings in his ears, and a small dagger through his eyebrow spoke through lips, pierced with clips and rings, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen them. About two weeks ago. She’s a looker yer know.’
Another young man laughed. ‘Tight arse on her she has, knows how to shake the bootie.’
Dove ignored their quips, they didn’t have the full picture, and she had no intention of enlightening them. ‘Okay.’ Trying to ignore all the cutlery on the kid’s lips, she said, ‘Were they alone? Did you see anyone with them?’
He bit into the steel rings. ‘Yeah; they were talking to these people, can’t remember them, but they were chattering away; yer know.’
Dove nodded, feeling a quiver of excitement. ‘Try to remember, it’s important.’
‘Why, they been murdered or something?’
Dove looked at him, her face expressionless with flat cop’s eyes. He stepped back, shrugging. ‘Yeah, well, I fink I remember them.’
Jack stepped forward. ‘We’d like you to come down to the station. We could—’
‘I ain’t done nuthin’ … really guv … nuthin’.’
Jack suppressed a smile; for all his rings and daggers, he looked like a frightened little boy. ‘No – no, we’d like to get a better idea of them – link you up with the police artist, get an identity sketch – okay? Now your name?’
Jack saw the young man glower, his eyes almost like slits, his tongue licking the steel nails on his lips. ‘I don’t remember them guv, honest.’
Jack clenched his teeth together. ‘Remember them or not; we want you to come to the station.’
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: