Murder At St Marmaduke’s #29c

St Marmaduke’s sections are like the proverbial busses. None for ages, then two come along in quick succession.

As ever, to read previous chapters click here.

And to read the first two sections of Chapter 29, it’s here, followed by here.

Chapter 29

Tuesday 12th November 1985: 14.30 – 15.30

Section (c)

As she and Joseph hurried away from the vicarage, Amita felt the flame of embarrassment still suffusing her face. God, what a fool she was! To think that she could get away with investigating on her own without DCI Meredith finding out; and, worse, dragging Joseph into her silliness. It was so lucky that Clarissa Rawlings had covered for them, bless her heart. She’d got away with it this time. But next?

Clarissa. And Joseph.

She could see why he was so struck. The woman was beautiful. And so sophisticated. She herself had felt a drudge in comparison all the time they’d been there.

And his ardour was reciprocated. Definitely. Clarissa Rawlings had displayed all the signs of somebody enamoured almost as soon as she’d opened the door to them.

Lucky Joseph. And lucky, lucky Clarissa.

She sneaked a sideways glance at the young black man. Her first impressions in the cafe had been spot on. Absolutely a face you could get used to looking at day after day…

Oh God, what was she to do? He must be so contemptuous of her at the moment, the way she’d dragged him out of the vicarage. Even if he wasn’t so in love with Clarissa Rawlings, he’d never even contemplate looking at her…

Hold on! She’d only known him a couple of hours! What was she thinking?

But then — that had been time enough for her to realise that he was really sweet. Okay, a really sweet murder suspect; but then (again), she was one of those herself, strictly speaking.

Amita had never had ‘really sweet’ in a boyfriend. Of the three she’d had (one Asian and two Caucasian), one had only ever wanted one thing from her (and dropped her like an England cricketer underneath a swirling ball as soon as he realised he wasn’t going to get it); another had made it clear she should expect nothing more from life with him than to be yoked to the ploughshare (which, at the young age she’d been, she’d at first assumed to have something to do with receiving dividends from the Farmers’ Co-op Society); and the third (the Asian, who was the only one to have any sweetness about him at all) had suddenly surprised her one day by announcing his intention to set up home with his boyfriend (of whom she’d known nothing), his boyfriend’s girlfriend (of whom she’d also known nothing) and his boyfriend’s girlfriend’s boyfriend (who turned out to be Amita’s first boyfriend, now getting as much as he could possibly want from all directions).

Her heart felt heavy and her stomach hollow. She must stop this now, before she got too deep.

She turned to him. ‘Joseph…’

But at exactly the same moment he also turned, and said, ‘Miss — er — Amita…’

There was one of those pauses you got in a film whenever this happened, full of embarrassed half-laughter and lots of ‘After you’, ‘No, after you’. Eventually, she said firmly, ‘Please, Joseph, go ahead.’

‘I am sorry,’ he said. ‘But it is cold out here today. I cannot help thinking that we should have picked up our coats before we left Father Rawlings’ house.’

Oh damn! She’d been in such a hurry to grab Joseph and scram, she hadn’t even noticed!

And wasn’t there something else about that? Something she should be doing — or maybe was still doing that she shouldn’t be?

‘And also…’

The pause this time contained no half-laughter, after-yous, or anything else at all.

‘Yes, Joseph?’ she prompted.

He indicated downward towards their waist-level. ‘Although it is nice, do you think that we should really be walking along hand in hand? Anyone who sees us might jump to the wrong idea.’

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