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Ellie drifted in and out of sleep on Mike’s shoulder during the hour long trip to her mum’s house in Doddington. Each time she was nodded awake by a bump in the road the change in the landscape was notable from, city to urban to countryside..
When they turned the country lane that lead to Doddington, the surrounding landscape was in complete darkness apart from the glow of a farm house, scattered along the countryside.
Ellie called her mum as they neared the village, the cottage was located at the far end of the village. The taxi slowed to navigate through the narrow roads of Doddington, past the two country pubs, the butcher’s which doubled as the grocer and the newsagent which was also the village post office. The outskirts of the town was scattered with quaint thatched roof cottages, small farm holdings and larger residences once homes of lords and ladies. Ellie’s family had kept the small cottage just outside of the village through the bankruptcy of her father as their family home, giving her mother somewhere to live.
The cottage was next to the old church and the graveyard, and Ellie often imagined the residents of the graveyard wandering the dark fields on a moonlit night.
The taxi pulled up outside her mum’s cottage the gravel crunching under its tyres. Ellie scanned the graveyard, across from the cottage and imagined the dead roaming the neighbouring countryside, suddenly feeling isolated.
“I didn’t realise how far mum is from the village.” Ellie said softly as the cabbie pulled on the brake.
Mike nodded, “it feels that way.”
The moon was a silvery glow behind the clouded sky, giving the surrounding rolling hills a ghostly shimmer.
“Thanks, cabbie.” Mike said.
Ellie held onto Mike’s arm as they made their way across the darkened gravel, activating the sensor light along the darkened path.
Immediately the door opened and Ellie’s mum had her in her arms.
“I can’t believe all this has happened. Are you alright?” her mum asked, into Ellie’s hair.
+ + +
“What do you mean they didn’t get the job done?” Ryder yelled into his mobile.
He had just returned from the basement where Kate was being held. She was refusing to eat and drink and Ryder’s stress levels were high, he had to get out before he really hurt her.
“Bloody hell. Where are they now? Still at the Cross?” Ryder continued on the phone to Will.
“Why can’t you do something properly?…… So you’re not sure where they’ve gone?…… What did that girl, Nina, Noni say?…….. What do you mean she won’t tell you?….. Can’t’ you sort her out, threaten her with hurting her mum or something? Ryder continued to yell into the phone, his face red. “Okay, well get over there and sort it out. Let me know when she tells you……Look it’s my business why I kept Kate. She’s under control now…… It’s my fucking business alright?….Look I’ve told you, she’s under control now. Just find out where that busy body, Ellie has gone.” Ryder hung up, almost throwing the phone across the kitchen.
He dropped his head into his hands, he knew Ellie would go to the police and it wouldn’t be long before they were knocking on his door, he was surprised they hadn’t already. And now Will’s little snitch, whatever her name was, was refusing to give them information. He had better sort that out.
Ryder got up and picked up his car keys and hit redial on his phone.
“I’m coming over. I don’t want to be here when the cops come knocking…….We’ll have to do this one ourselves.”
He hung up as he entered the basement garage, slamming the door behind him.
+ + +
Ryder parked his car on a side street, close to Will’s apartment and ran up the stairs two at a time.
“Any news?” he asked as Will opened the door to him.
“Okay, let’s take my car.” Ryder said, as he turned to head back down the stairs.
“Hey, hang on. We need to plan this out.” Will said, catching Ryder’s arm in the process. “The police may be watching the place. They called the police.”
Ryder turned and walked back into Will’s apartment, sitting at the kitchen counter, his head in his hands.
+ + +
“Noni, stop crying. Tell me who was on the phone? What’s happening?” Billy asked cradling Noni as she sobbed uncontrollably.
The police had been and gone, Noni not offering any information on the identity of the youth who had tried to snatch Ellie’s bag.
“God, Billy. I’ve done a bad thing.” Noni sobbed.
“No you haven’t. You’re trying to find out who the dopehead was that attacked Ellie.” Billy said trying to console her.
“No. No. It’s not that. I knew them because they were from the estate. They knew that Ellie and Mike were coming here because I told them.”
“What, what?” Billy was stunned, his arms dropped from her shoulders.
“I didn’t tell those boys but I told, told….”
“Who? Noni, who?”
“Will. He threatened me if I didn’t give him information about where Kate was and now Ellie.”
Noni burst into a new flood of tears, rocking on the lounge.
Billy rubbed his face with his hands and then stood up.
“Who’s Will? Billy asked confused, “I need to call the police.”
“Oh, God, what have I done?” Noni wailed.
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