Janice nearly gave up then and there. If she hadn’t already told Godfrey, who she sensed was watching her, she might have turned and run away. Instead she took a deep breath and opened the door.
Silence. Taking several breaths she headed for the kitchen and eased open the door. The tins of food were in the high cupboard near the sink. She was just reaching up with a sound like a door opening triggered a squeal.
She turned to see the cat flap swinging madly and Colin twisting in circles near his bowl as he waited for the food.
Concentrating on mundane tasks made it easier to relax a little. The cat was as good as gold and, to Janice, really rather lovely. She sat on a barstool by the breakfast bar and watched the cat eat with dainty nibbles. She should go, call the police and leave it at that. After all, they could do all the questioning they wanted, which was more than she could. Still, now she was here…
She re-entered the hall and wondered what to do. She wished now she’d brought some latex gloves. She imagined the police doing a forensic sweep of the place and if her prints were everywhere… She returned to the kitchen to look under the sink. A pair of pink rubber gloves sat on top of some cleaning materials. Feeling slightly foolish she put them on and went back to the hall. As she turned to go up the stairs she noticed the cat had sneaked ahead of her and now stood at the top as if barring her way. She wondered if he might attack her as he apparently done Godfrey if she tried to push past him. She was being silly. She needed to be methodical, that’s all.
Keep cool, she told herself. That made her turn back to the front door and slip on the chain. If Christopher did return or anyone else come to that, she’d know soon enough.
Struggling with the gloves she opened the first door on her right. A bedroom. The wardrobe had clothes and shoes but no interesting boxes. There was nothing under the bed or the mattress as far as she could judge. The second bedroom produced some boxes but they were a mixture of old crockery, some paintings done by an amateur – Christopher? And old clothes. The bathroom was even less interesting. She headed downstairs and checked the lounge. There was a photograph of his mother, amongst several of him and his father at a much younger age. The one of his mother was clearly on a trip to visit but that was all. Finally after an hour she stood in the kitchen again. The place lacked personality, apart from the photos, as well as anything that might explain a link to Roger and her.
A thought occurred. She peered into the garden. At the far end sat a small shed. The door was clearly padlocked. Remembering a key board in the hall she retraced her steps and checked the keys. Sure enough one said ‘shed’. Smiling she headed outside, careful to keep her head lower than the fence and hoping none nearby was in a back bedroom and looking out.
Her hands shook as she unlocked the door and pulled it open. It was musty and crammed with garden paraphernalia, much more than she imagined he would need for the size of garden. Maybe he was very keen. She began to pull tools away from the walls and checked under sacks and in the drawers of an old desk that held string and labels and seeds of all kinds. Nothing. This was hopeless. She needed to lock up and call the Inspector.
Pulling open the door, she stepped out into the sunshine and froze. Standing a few feet away, Christopher Scrutt or Parsons faced her, a small tight smile playing on his lips. “My sister Janice? So kind of you to want to look after the garden as well as the cat.”
Janice had a job holding herself together.
“Do I get a kiss? This is some reunion, don’t you think?”