When Ryder entered Kate’s room that evening he was in a much better mood than earlier that morning.
“Hey Katie, baby.” He greeted her cheerfully.
Kate lifted herself up off the bed and watched him almost skip toward her with a tray of food.
“Come on babe, I got Thai, I know how much you like it.” He said, placing the tray on the side of the bed. “And, ta da.” He produced a bottle of champagne from behind his back.
Kate eyed the bottle hungrily.
“Let’s celebrate.” He said popping the cork. “Aren’t you going to ask why?”
Ryder carefully poured two glasses and handed one to Kate, who drank it down greedily, immediately holding her glass up for another.
“Oh, wait for me.” Ryder downed his glass and started to fill the glasses again. “Don’t you want to know why we’re celebrating?” he asked again.
Kate nodded bringing the glass to her lips.
“Well your friend, Ellie, she’s in hospital. She’ll be out of action for a while.” He announced triumphantly.
Kate choked, spitting her champagne out.
“What? Ellie? What did y…” Kate began, rephrasing as she watched his eyes narrow, “what happened?”
“Oh a little mugging, nothing too serious.” Ryder produced his phone from his pocket and showed Kate a picture.
Kate took the phone from him and pinched the screen to enlarge the image. It was of a woman lying on a pavement a pool of blood around her head, her face covered in blood. As Kate enlarged the image she recognised Ellie, lying unconscious, an obvious injury to her face.
“Apparently she had to have surgery to reconstruct her cheekbone, nothing major. Amazing what the nursing staff are happy to share with a good looking guy like me. I’m telling you Kate, I’m a catch.”
Kate’s eyes filled with tears, she was speechless.
“Come on Kate. See, everything’s going to be fine between us now. And if it’s not, I know just who to go to, to fix things.” He said, his face twisting into a threatening scowl, “it could be a lot worse next time, it might be her whole face that needs reconstructing.”
+ + +
Mike checked on Ellie throughout the night, eventually settling in the bed beside her for a kip in the early hours of the morning.
The next morning he awoke and checked her vitals, Ellie was out to it and would probably be like that for most of the morning, Mike planned to head home and have a shower and change his clothes. He decided to grab some things from home and leave them at the hospital so he could be around for Ellie when she was more with it.
He remembered Ellie’s far fetched story about the park across from Kate’s house and caught the 168 bus to Camden, to check for himself.
It was a fine day, the sky lightly clouded with birds singing in the dappled sunlight when Mike reached Gloucester Crescent.
He walked to the address he had been given by Ellie. It certainly was an impressive building, Edwardian three storey that took up two blocks of the surrounding houses’ one.
Mike crossed the road and found the small park area Ellie had described. He walked to the grassed area Ellie had described, there were shrubs and bushes growing thickly.
He saw the bare ground in the corner of the park and stood there, looking back to the Stane’s residence, it was the same view that Ellie had shown him on her phone.
He crouched down, there were no cigarette ends, nor foot prints. The ground looked like it had been racked clear of anything, not even Ellie’s footprints were visible.
Mike stood up, he took photos of the same scenes Ellie had, just to show her and walked away.
He felt puzzled and worried. Why was it cleared? Was Ellie really that obsessive that she would fabricate a scene like that or had someone actually come back and cleared the site? If someone had done that, had that same someone also attacked Ellie the previous night?
Mike was uncomfortable as he sat on the bus heading back to his place, he decided to call the PI Ellie had spoken to the previous day. If she was paying for his services he might as well make sure she got her money’s worth.
+ + +
“Hi, I’d like to talk to PI Jo Brown, please.” Mike said into his mobile.
He had already showered, dressed and packed a small overnight bag now he was sitting at the small dining table in the flat he shared with two guys he had met at university.
He looked around the room a kitchen, come dining, come lounge area. It resembled the typical share house of three men, clothes scattered over the backs of lounges and chairs, breakfast cereal packets opened on the kitchen worktops, the sink over flowing with dirty dishes.
He had never taken Ellie back to his flat, too messy and not private at all, once his flat mates were there. He had brought girls back in the past but they were mostly one night stands, he didn’t want Ellie being subjected to the same ribbing they had received from his flat mates nor the sight and smell of the devastation that surrounded him.
“Hello, PI Brown, speaking.” A deep voice said.
“Oh, hello. My name is Mike Carver. I’m Ellie Gordon’s friend, boyfriend.” He corrected.
“Oh, yes Ellie mentioned you.”
“Yes, well Ellie was mugged after leaving your office last night. She’s in hospital.”
“Oh, no. Is she okay?” the smooth voice changing to one of concern.
“Yeah, she is now. She had surgery on her cheekbone. Witnesses said it was two thugs, in hoodies, tried to grab her bag.”
“Yes. Well I wanted to let you know but also I did go out to the park, where Ellie found the cigarette ends.”
“Yes, the ones I will send to the forensic lab.”
“Ellie said there were more and she showed me the picture of the site with footprints.”
“She printed the pictures, I have them here.”
“Well I went out there this morning and it’s clean. No cigarette ends, no footprints.”
“Perhaps the council have been to clean the park?” Jo questioned.
“Possible, I am concerned. I haven’t known Ellie long but the time I have known her she has been almost obsessive about Kate. First the stabbing and now this, Kate going missing. It’s probably Kate in rehab but Ellie won’t let it go.” Mike stammered, finally able to voice his concerns with someone.
“I can see how you would think that.” Jo said, “Ellie has paid for the search so I will continue as she requested. I suppose I can still contact her on her mobile?”
“Yes, she has it with her. Not supposed to use it in the hospital but I know she will.” Mike said, remembering the first day he met her.
“Well, thank you for letting me know about Kate. I will keep her up to date with our findings. I can call council to find out if they had a clean up as well.” Jo offered.
“Okay, well thanks, P Brown. Look I’ll give you my number as well, in case you can’t contact Ellie.”
“Call me Jo.”
Mike gave him his mobile number and then hung up, he picked up his overnight bag and headed for the door.