Murder by Mistake

Free Murder by Mistake by Veronica Heley

Book: Murder by Mistake by Veronica Heley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Veronica Heley
photos in the conservatory, she says, because she knows I love my flowers, though I think perhaps a trip to the garden centre first wouldn’t be a bad idea, would it? We’re not looking at our best in that direction at the moment, are we?’
    ‘Garden centre. Agreed,’ said Ellie, her mind whirling.
    ‘And that Pat’s been in looking for you three times now, lots for you to sign and look at, she says, and oh yes, there’s a letter come for you, by hand. On the hall table.’
    A hand-delivered letter? Ellie didn’t often get those. Something for Thomas? She went to look. No, it wasn’t for Thomas. It was addressed to Ellie in an angular script, handwritten and not typed. Very black ink on a heavy, cream paper. Ellie’s first instinct was to throw it in the bin, because she guessed who it was from.
    She didn’t throw it away, of course. She was trained to open post and deal with it as soon as possible. Sometimes, naturally, she passed awkward correspondence on to Pat, but in this case she knew she’d have to deal with it herself.
    There was an embossed address on the letterhead, that of Prior Place. Mia’s old home. The tower block which Mr Prior had built on the North Circular bore the same name. Mia’s ordeal had begun in the penthouse suite of the tower block, and had continued back home.
    So Mrs Prior was still living at home, was she?
    A square script, written with an expensive pen.
    Dear Mrs Quicke ,
    I am desperate for news of my poor daughter. Someone sent me a picture of her taken after an incident in the Broadway. I hardly recognized her, but I am assured that it was her, and that she is staying with you, posing as your daughter.
    I understand that I am most unfairly banned from meeting her, but if it is true that you have hidden her away, may I at least ask for reassurance that she is well and receiving appropriate treatment for what she suffered at the hands of her stepfather and stepbrothers? As you may know, they are now in jail awaiting trial, and I myself – another innocent victim – have in consequence suffered greatly. All that would be as nothing if I can only be assured that my only child is being well cared for.
    Would it be possible for us to meet before I leave Ealing, as I understand that I must? I have been informed that I must not even shop in the Avenue if Mia is staying with you.
    Yours sincerely ,
    Adelina Rossi, ex-Prior, née Parham.
    How dare she make herself out to be ‘another’ innocent victim, she who had entered into all her husband’s schemes and had been quick to arrange punishment for anyone who dared defy him!
    So her name was Adelina, was it? Appropriate. And she was now calling herself ‘Rossi’. Was that her first husband’s name? It occurred to Ellie to wonder in what manner Adelina had got rid of her first husband, in order to marry the wealthy Mr Prior.
    Yuk! And to pretend that her sole concern was for Mia’s well-being after all that had happened! Ellie felt that she would very much like to strangle the woman . . . except – she had to laugh – that the boot would probably be on the other foot, since Ellie was neither very tall nor very muscular, whereas Adelina Rossi, ex-Prior, née Parham, was both. In fact, she was monumental. The only time Ellie had seen the woman, she’d towered over most people, including her husband.
    Ellie took the letter through to Thomas, expecting him to join with her in condemning Adelina Rossi, but he was in no mood to listen to her, jabbing at his keyboard and growling into the telephone. Not wanting to interrupt him, Ellie kissed the top of his head, patted his shoulder and left.
    Now what? Her mind was awhirl with jobs to do.
    That letter from Mrs Prior. Ex-Prior. Ellie had been brought up to believe that there were always two sides to an argument. She tried to make herself believe that Adelina Rossi, ex-Prior, might not be as black as she’d been painted. That, appearances to the contrary, she really was concerned

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