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Authors: Pauline Rowson

In Cold Daylight

In Cold Daylight
Pauline Rowson
(2005)
Rating:
****

Fire fighter Jack Bartholomew dies whilst trying to put out a fire in a derelict building. Was it an accident or arson? Marine artist Adam Greene doesn't know, only that he has lost his closest friend. He attends the funeral ready to mourn his friend only to find that another funeral intrudes upon his thoughts and one he's tried very hard to forget for the last sixteen years. But before he has time to digest this, or discover the identity of the stranger stalking him, Jack's house is ransacked. Unaware of the risks he is running Adam soon finds himself caught up in a mysterious and dangerous web of deceit. By exposing a secret that has lain dormant for years Adam is forced to face his own dark secrets and, as the facts reveal themselves, the prospects for his survival look bleak. But Adam knows there is no turning back; he has to get to the truth no matter what the cost, even if it means his life.

IN COLD DAYLICHT

First published in 2006 by Fathom 65 Rogers Mead

Hayling Island

Hampshire

England

PO11 0PL

ISBN: 0955098211

Copyright © Pauline Rowson 2006

The right of Pauline Rowson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of publication) without the written permission of the copyright owner except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd. 90 Tottenham Court Road, London, England W1P 9HE.

Applications for the copyright owner’s written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publisher.

Warning: The doing of an unauthorised act in relation to a copyright work may result in both a civil claim for damages and criminal prosecution.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are entirely the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locations is entirely coincidental.

Printed in Great Britain by Cox and Wyman Fathom is an imprint of Rowmark Limited
PAULINE ROWSON

Pauline Rowson was raised in Portsmouth, the setting for her crime novels. For many years she ran her own marketing and public relations agency and is now a writer and a professional conference speaker. She is the author of several marketing, self-help and motivational books. She lives in Hampshire and can never be far from the sea for any length of time without suffering withdrawal symptoms.

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

Fiction

Tide of Death

Non-fiction

Communicating With More Confidence
Being Positive and Staying Positive
Marketing

Successful Selling

Telemarketing, Cold Calling & Appointment Making
Building a Positive Media Profile
Fundraising for Your School
Publishing and Promoting Your Book
Pauline Rowson

For Chrissy and my mum

For fire fighters everywhere – the true heroes –

and especially for Bob and Red Watch, Southsea
AUTHOR’S NOTE

This novel is set primarily in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on the south coast of England.

Residents and visitors of Portsmouth must forgive the author for using her imagination and poetic licence in changing the names of places, streets and locations. This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters, businesses, locations and incidents portrayed in it are entirely the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locations is entirely coincidental.

PROLOGUE

If it hadn’t been for the breakin on the day of the funeral I might never have got involved.

But that and Jack’s note urging me to take care of his wife, Rosie, obliged me. I had let him down in life; I wasn’t about to let him down in death.

Danger wasn’t usually my kind of thing, though. I was just happy to let things be. But the past has a nasty habit of catching up with you and mine had done just that. As I stood around Jack’s grave in the bleak Portsmouth cemetery in December the memory of another funeral fifteen years ago had rushed in and almost suffocated me.

I tried to shut out the image but I couldn’t.

Some things never went away. They just lay in wait for you. I wanted to leave but knew I couldn’t.

I had closed my eyes and tried to block out the past but it refused to go. I knew then that it wouldn’t. I had run away once. This time I had a feeling that running away wouldn’t be an option.

CHAPTER 1

I woke with the mother of all hangovers. I could hear my wife Faye moving about the house. I groaned and reached for the clock only to find my arm waving in thin air. I peeled open my eyes.

The electric light stabbed at me like a laser beam.

Of course I was in the lounge. It was the day after Jack’s funeral. I hadn’t been able to sleep.

My mouth felt like sandpaper; my tongue two sizes too big for me.

What on earth was Faye doing? She sounded as if she was trying to break the record for the number of times she could circumnavigate the house wearing hobnailed boots whilst spinning crockery. I guessed she was punishing me for going to Rosie’s aid last night, but what was I supposed to do? Rosie had only just buried her husband, and to return home from the wake to find her house ransacked… I couldn’t leave her to face that alone. And I couldn’t let Jack down.

‘Look after Rosie for me, Adam’.
The words on Jack’s last message to me obliged me, but I would have gone anyway.

I wasn’t usually in favour of corporal punishment; last night had changed my mind. I thought hanging was too good for the burglars.

The odd thing was though, nothing had been taken, or so Rosie’s daughter, Sarah, had said after a quick check round. Rosie’s jewellery was still in her bedroom and even I could see, through the chaos of strewn condolence cards and flowers, that the TV and hi fi were in the lounge, and intact. I’d only glimpsed Jack’s study but it was enough for me to notice that the computer had been smashed but not the printer. Why that and nothing else? It didn’t make any sense, but then neither did Jack’s death.

Sarah had taken her mother back to her flat whilst I had stayed behind to talk to the police and arrange for the locksmith to change the busted front door lock. It was the least I could do.

‘You’re awake then.’ Faye’s reproachful tone was like barbed wire in my brain.

I opened my eyes again and grunted. Faye was looking at me as if I was something the cat had sicked up on the carpet. Remembering our row last night I wasn’t surprised. Faye had wanted me to take her out to celebrate winning her first new client account since her promotion to account director at the London advertising agency where she worked. Instead I had dumped her for Jack’s widow. I tried smiling but that must have made me look worse because she tutted and tossed her blonde hair.

‘How much did you drink last night, Adam?’

I watched her pick up the television remote control and put it beside the television set. Faye always liked things in their proper place and I wasn’t where I should have been. I thought if she could pick me up and tidy me away she’d be happy. Her pretty face was frowning as she lifted the almost empty whisky bottle with thumb and forefinger. I felt a stab of guilt as she carried it as through to the kitchen as if it were contaminated.

‘Does it matter?’ I heaved myself up on one arm.

‘Of course it matters. I don’t wish to be married to a drunk.’

She returned from the kitchen and stared down at me, her hands on her slender hips. She was dressed for work in a smart black trouser suit.

‘What time is it?’ I asked.

‘Time you did some work. You can’t mourn forever. Jack wouldn’t want you to.’

Since Rosie had telephoned me to say that Jack was dead I hadn’t been able to lift a paintbrush.

That was twelve days ago. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever paint again.

‘You’ll miss your train,’ I grunted, standing up and making a valiant attempt not to stagger. The expression on her face told me I’d said the wrong thing.

‘I’m taking the car to London and I’m staying in the agency flat until Friday. In case you haven’t noticed Christmas is less than three weeks away and I’ve got a great deal to do.’

‘When did you decide this?’ I asked surprised, stumbling into the kitchen and almost tripping over Boudicca who give a loud meow and glared at me. Not you too, I thought, flicking on the kettle. I turned to face Faye then wished I hadn’t as the movement caused my head to spin.

‘Last night, after you rushed out. I called Stewart. He said it was OK.’

Was this my punishment for going to the aid of my best friend’s widow? I’d never met Faye’s boss, but I didn’t much care for him, probably because I was sick of hearing about him.

She continued, ‘I thought it would give you time to do some work and prepare for the exhibition on Saturday. I’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to get a top London gallery owner down for it, not to mention the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and our MP.’

‘I know. I haven’t forgotten,’ I only wished I could. Faye was determined to make me into a household name. Me? I wouldn’t even have bothered to have an exhibition. Or if I had to, I would have preferred to absent myself. I find showing off my work excruciatingly embarrassing. A decided drawback for an artist.

I reached for a mug and spooned in some coffee. I opened my mouth to talk about Rosie but Faye got there first.

‘Are you even going to try and paint today?’

Faye eyed me with contempt.

‘You’ll miss your car.’ Further discussion was pointless.

She snatched up her briefcase and car keys, glared at me and stomped out. ‘And that is that,’

I said to the cat who lifted her head as if to say what did you expect, then turned tail on me and hopped through the cat flap.

I drank my coffee slumped on the sofa. I’m not very good at arguing. Giving in is more my speciality. Faye was understandably peeved that I had deserted her in her hour of glory. Perhaps I should call her and apologise? I hate an atmosphere. Maybe later.

I closed my eyes but couldn’t blot out the events of the previous night. The police had said drug addicts were probably to blame for the breakin, but what sort of drug addicts would leave jewellery and other items that could have been sold for a quick buck? I had voiced my opinion to the younger, stouter police officer.

He’d said, ‘If they’re drugged up, sir, who knows what is going through their mind.’ I thought his reply a cop-out but then he didn’t know about my last conversation with Jack.

‘I’m being followed,’ Jack had said when I had telephoned him two weeks ago. I had laughed and told him he was being paranoid.

‘Why would anyone want to follow you?’ I had teased.

‘I can’t tell you yet, Adam, it’s too dangerous, but I’m almost there.’

‘Where?’

‘At the truth, give me a few more days.’

Only Jack hadn’t had a few more days. The day after he had entered a derelict burning building. It was his job putting out fires. It could have happened to any fire fighter. But it hadn’t.

It had happened to Jack. I wasn’t laughing now.

I poured the remainder of my coffee down the sink staring out across the windswept garden to the rising slopes of Portsdown Hill. Two forlorn-looking ponies shivered in the cold. Jack wasn’t given to hallucinations. If he said someone was following him then they were, but who and why?

What was he doing that was dangerous? And why send me the postcard? I wasn’t going to get the answers by staring out of windows.

I threw on some old clothes and trekked across the garden to my studio. The smattering of snow that had covered that hummock of earth in the bleak cemetery yesterday had vanished overnight leaving in its wake a chill grey day, damp and miserable.

I gazed at the canvasses of seascapes hating them all, seeing nothing but mediocrity before my eyes travelled to Jack’s postcard. I had only received it yesterday even though it had been posted the day Jack had died. I guessed it had got caught up in the Christmas mail. It had been a shock seeing his handwriting, and a puzzle as to why he had written it and what he had written. I didn’t need to read it again because every word was etched on my mind but I unpinned it and turned over the picture of Turner’s ‘The Fighting
Temeraire
’.

Look after ‘Rosie’ for me, Adam. You’re an accomplished
artist and a good friend. Happy Sailing!

Best Jack

4 July 1994

Why date it July when he had sent it in December? Why put the year as 1994 when it was 2006? And why had he underlined certain letters? S I E D N G O. It was some sort of code.

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