“I… how do you know I’m your sister?”
“Sister in law. I thought, with my brother, your husband dead the informality might be appropriate. I didn’t mean to offend. Come. Let’s have a cup of tea and you can tell me how you found me.”
“Why were you hiding?”
He looked pained. “I imagined you might have known. No one said?”
“All the more reason for tea and confessions. Please.” He stood back and indicted the back door.
Janice glanced around desperately hoping to see an escape route. The back gate stood behind him, firmly shut and also padlocked. She had no way of scaling the six foot panels that surrounded the garden and screaming might lead to an extreme reaction. She took in a breath and headed for the house, wondering how easy it would be to get to her phone, currently sitting in the bottom of her bag on the work counter.
“Why don’t you go and get settled in the sitting room and I’ll come through with tea.”
She nodded, keen to get away from him. She picked up her bag and moved towards the hall. As she stepped through she eased the door shut behind her. The chain was still on the ront door but it was just a few steps. She could open it and be on the street, in front of who knew how many twitching curtains and calling Thorne in moments. She felt a weight lift as she took hold of the chain and lifted it free. She pulled the door latch hard.
Nothing. She yanked harder, now desperate. The door refused to move. The mortice lock had been applied and without a key she wasn’t going anywhere.
The kitchen door creaked open behind her. Christopher stood framed in the light from the back of the house. On the tray stood two flowery china cups and saucers, an ornate teapot and strainer on a stand with, incongruously, a carton of milk. He saw her looking at the tray. “I know, I’m sorry but I broke the jug a while back and haven’t yet replaced it.” He indicated with his head to the sitting room. “Please. Do go in and sit.”
But Janice wasn’t looking at the tea things or milk carton. It was the keys the front door and her mobile phone that were also on the tray which caught her eye.