Authors: Paul Pilkington
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense
The One You Trust
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by Coronet
An imprint of Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Paul Pilkington 2014
The right of Paul Pilkington to be identified as the Author of the
Work has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that
in which it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance
to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
For my family
Let the final act begin . . .
Peter Myers hadn’t been asleep. Before he turned over to face the prison guard, he tucked the photograph that he had been gazing at into the waistband of his tracksuit, covering it with his top. If they knew he had it, they would take it off him straight away. There was no doubt about that. All the effort to which he had gone to keep the photo secret would have been wasted. And that photograph was one of the only things keeping him going in this place. Without it, he didn’t know what he would do. It was the one thing that lifted him above the filth and the degradation of the life that festered within the prison walls, threatening to consume him.
‘Come on, Myers, up!’
He climbed off the creaky, uncomfortable bed, with its damp odour, paper-thin mattress and unforgiving springs.
Without saying a word, he faced up to the guard with his bright green eyes. Despite the warder being half a foot shorter than him, their faces were only a matter of centimetres apart. Myers could smell stale tobacco on the man’s breath.
‘Look lively, Myers.’ The guard liked to act tough, play the bully.
Peter Myers scratched at his greying beard, and continued to stare at the guard. He could sense his discomfort. No matter how well he tried to hide it, the man was afraid. He probably came to work every day with a sense of terror that someone would puncture the false bravado and show him up for what he really was.
But no matter how much Peter Myers wanted to be that someone, he knew he had to behave.
The guard watched from the doorway of the cell as Peter Myers brushed past him and moved along the corridor towards the washroom.
There was only one other prisoner in the cramped washing area – a man by the name of Carl Jones, who was awaiting trial for attacking his wife with a knife after he found her in bed with his best friend. Jones liked to think of himself as a bit of a joker; sometimes playing the fool, and at other times trying to make a fool out of others. Myers just found him annoying. He wanted to swat him away, like a persistent fly.
He didn’t acknowledge him as he entered the room. Bending over the sink, he splashed his thin, angular face with ice-cold water.
‘Hey, Myers, is this your girlfriend?’
Peter Myers, his face dripping, glared at Carl Jones in the mirror.
The man was holding up the photograph. It must have fallen from his waistband.
‘Hey, she’s a real looker!’ he said. ‘Nice pai—’
The word was cut off by Peter Myers’ hand, which he had thrust out and wrapped tightly around the man’s throat, pressing his thumb deep into his Adam’s apple. ‘Give me the photograph back, now.’
Jones relinquished it immediately, grabbing at his throat, gasping. His face was blood-red. Peter Myers tucked the photograph back out of sight. He stared down at Carl Jones, as he crouched, hunched over, still gasping for breath, and wanted to hurt him some more. But he had already done more than was sensible. He needed to stay out of trouble.
His plan depended on it.
Lizzy paused as she arrived outside Dan and Emma’s apartment building. The weather was that of a typical early December morning – sunny but bitterly cold. She had her hands buried deep inside her winter coat, her strawberry-blonde hair covered by a woolly hat. She liked this kind of weather – it was Christmassy, and she loved the festive season.
Lizzy took a deep breath as she considered the events of the past two weeks, a feeling of dread rising within her, but she entered the apartment block anyway, glancing over at the post trays where the postman deposited the mail for each resident.
There were several letters in the trays, including a variety of Friday’s newspapers. Hesitating again, nerves tightening, she shook off the feeling of dread, knowing she had to face up to things.
She leafed quickly through the mail. Thankfully, there was nothing to be worried about there.
Not like nine days ago.
The first letter had been waiting for her three days after her best friend, Emma, and her new husband, Dan, had left for their honeymoon in Mauritius.
Emma had asked Lizzy if she would mind the flat while they were away. She had only asked Lizzy to pop around once in a while, just to check that all was well, but Lizzy had found herself drawn to the place every day. Maybe after all that had happened, she just felt the need to be extra vigilant. Even though the nightmare was over.
Or so they had all thought.
The grey envelope containing the letter had been the only thing in the post tray that third morning.
It had been addressed to Lizzy, sent externally, first-class post. Inside had been a piece of lined paper, with just a single, taunting, typed sentence, in a Gothic font, centred on the page.
Who can you really trust, Lizzy?
Lizzy had never considered herself easily intimidated: she had always been somewhat thick-skinned, a trait she’d developed during childhood years of being playfully taunted by two older brothers, and which had further hardened by surviving in the sometimes catty world of theatre. But this had certainly got to her; for the rest of the day it had remained uppermost in her mind.
Who sent this? And why?
Whoever had sent it must have known that Emma and Dan were away, and that Lizzy was visiting the apartment building. She had found herself looking over her shoulder, wondering whether the person was watching, following.
But she had refused to be intimidated.
Defying her fears, Lizzy returned to the flat every day, making the post trays her first port of call. And, each day, she had expected to find another letter for her. But it had been another seven days before the next communication arrived. The modus operandi had been the same: a single typed sentence, in Gothic font, posted first class, addressed to her.
The one you trust is the one to fear. Who do you trust, Lizzy?
Lizzy had no idea what that was supposed to mean. It wasn’t a threat, as such; it was more like a warning. But it was not a friendly warning – it was designed to unsettle her.
Again, the question is who . . .
The suspect was obvious: Sally Thompson. Two months before, Sally, masquerading as a girl called Amy, had planned to kill Emma’s brother, Will Holden. A qualified skydive instructor, she had met and dated him, all with the intention of tandem-jumping out of a plane with him – and sending them both to their deaths. The motive had been revenge on the family: Sally blamed Emma for the death of her fiancé, Stuart Harris, who killed himself after his advances towards Emma, to whom he had once also been engaged, had been spurned. But, ultimately, Sally hadn’t carried it through: she’d pulled back from the brink and hadn’t, in fact, committed any crime. Which was why the police had only given her an official caution.
Maybe she was too obvious a suspect.
But if not Sally Thompson, then who?
Lizzy hadn’t told anyone about the letters. She certainly wasn’t going to let it spoil Dan and Emma’s honeymoon. There was no way that she was going to let this individual ruin things. And she hadn’t told Will, because she wasn’t convinced that he would be able to keep quiet if Emma happened to get in touch. She knew he probably wouldn’t say anything, but it wasn’t worth the risk. Lizzy had considered contacting the police, but it was probably just some loser with nothing better to do, who had been attracted to the case following the press publicity.
Lizzy climbed the stairs to Emma and Dan’s top-floor flat. She entered, glancing back down towards the staircase as she closed the door. There was – of course – nobody there.
Once inside, she did her daily check of each room, moving quickly. Everything was as it should be. But being in the place, devoid of its owners, unnerved her, and she never stayed for more than a minute or so, always glad to leave.
Lizzy peered around the bathroom door. Again, nothing. But, inside her head, she heard Will’s voice.
It’s Richard. I think he’s dead.
That image, of Will emerging from the bathroom, blood all over his hands, having found the battered body of Dan’s brother, Richard, still haunted her – even though she knew Richard was safely up in Edinburgh now, getting on with his life.