Twenties Girl

Page 16


“‘They might arrest me,’” Sadie echoes mockingly. She’s perched on the window ledge again. “Have you never been arrested before?”
“Of course I haven’t!” I goggle at her. “Have you?”
“Several times!” she says airily. “The first time was for dancing in the village fountain one night. It was too funny.” She starts to giggle. “We had some mock handcuffs, you know, as part of a fancy dress costume, and while the policeman was hauling me out of the pond, my friend Bunty locked her handcuffs round him as a lark. He was livid!”
She’s in paroxysms of laughter by now. God, she’s annoying.
“I’m sure it was hilarious.” I shoot her a baleful look. “But, personally, I’d rather not go to jail and catch some hideous disease, thank you.”
“Well, you wouldn’t have to if you had a better story.” Her laughter stops. “I’ve never seen such a ninny. You weren’t credible or consistent. At this rate they won’t even proceed with the investigation. We won’t have any time.”
“Time for what?”
“Time to find my necklace , of course.”
I drop my head down on the table with a clunk. She doesn’t give up, does she?
“Look,” I say at last, raising my head an inch. “Why do you need this necklace so badly? Why this one particular necklace? Was it a present or something?”
For a moment she’s silent, her eyes distant. The only movement in the room is her feet, swinging rhythmically back and forth.
“It was a present from my parents for my twenty-first birthday,” she says at last. “I was happy when I wore it.”
“Well, that’s nice,” I say. “But-”
“I had it all my life. I wore it all my life.” She sounds suddenly agitated. “No matter what else I lost, I kept that. It’s the most important thing I ever had. I need it.”
She’s fidgeting with her hands, her face tilted down so all I can see is the corner of her chin. She’s so thin and pale, she looks like a drooping flower. I feel a pang of sympathy for her, and am about to say, “Of course I’ll find your necklace,” when she yawns elaborately, stretching her skinny arms above her head, and says, “This is too dull. I wish we could go to a nightclub.”
I glare at her, all my sympathy gone. Is this the gratitude I get?
“If you’re so bored,” I say, “we can go and finish your funeral if you like.”
Sadie claps a hand over her mouth and gasps. “You wouldn’t.”
“I might.”
A knock at the door interrupts us, and a jolly-looking woman in a dark shirt and trousers puts her head around it. “Lara Lington?”
An hour later, I’ve finished giving my so-called “statement.” I’ve never had such a traumatic experience in my life. What a shambles.
First I forgot the name of the nursing home. Then I got my timings all wrong and had to convince the policewoman it had taken me five minutes to walk half a mile. I ended up saying I was training to be a professional speed walker. Just thinking about it makes me cringey and hot. There’s no way she believed me. I mean, do I look like a professional speed walker?
Then I said I’d been to my friend Linda’s before visiting the pub. I don’t even have a friend called Linda; I just didn’t want to mention any of my real friends. She wanted Linda’s surname, and I blurted out “Davies” before I could stop myself.
Of course, I’d read it off the top of the form. She was DC Davies.
At least I didn’t say “Keyser Söze.”
To her credit, the policewoman didn’t flicker. Nor did she say whether they would proceed with the case. She just thanked me politely and found me the number of a cab firm.
I’ll probably go to jail now. Great. All I need.
I glower at Sadie, who’s lying full length on the desk, staring up at the ceiling. It really didn’t help having her in my ear the whole time, constantly correcting me and adding suggestions and reminiscing about the time two policemen tried to stop her and Bunty “racing their motors over the fields” and couldn’t catch up with them; it was “ too funny.”
“You’re welcome,” I say. “Again.”
“Thank you.” Sadie’s voice drifts idly over.
“Right, well.” I pick up my bag. “I’m off.”
In one quick movement, Sadie sits up. “You won’t forget my necklace, will you?”
“I doubt I will, my entire life.” I roll my eyes. “However hard I try.”