When Kate woke the next morning she was alone again. She glanced at the clock – 7.30am. On an ordinary day she would be getting up for work, but these were not ordinary days any more. Last night she had had made love with an angel. She smiled at the memory. That was a very extra-ordinary thing in itself, but in the past week she had discovered that Lucifer was real, that she had been reincarnated dozens of times and that somewhere, evil was stalking her and that only she could end a five hundred year old curse. The day ahead could bring anything… and then she remembered that Brian was still missing and could well be the one coming after her. She hoped they were wrong about Brian: as annoying as he was she didn’t wish him any harm.
She got up and showered and went in search of Ash.
He was scrutinising the family tree again. He raised his head as she entered the room, the crooked smile spread across his face. Her heartbeat picked up pace and her stomach flipped. He looked so adorable when he smiled like that and it was nice to see him happy for once, the burden of guilt lifted off his shoulders, if only for a short while.
He walked round the table towards her, put his arms round her waist and pulled her close.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Once I got to sleep,” she said with a laugh.
He pushed her hair back from her face and kissed her. If only they could’ve stayed like that forever, she wished he would pick her up and carry her back to bed, but she knew it wasn’t going to work out that way and gently pushed him away.
“Brian’s still missing,” she said in a low voice.
“I’m not so sure Brian has anything to do with this.”
He released her from his embrace and led her to a seat.
“There’s something I have to tell you.”
She was gripped with a sense of foreboding. An icy stab of fear pierced her stomach as she waited for Ash to give her bad news about Brian. He was pacing in front of her searching for the words to soften what he had to say.
“What’s happened to him?”
He turned his head towards her.
“Oh it’s not Brian. I still don’t know where he is, but…” he sighed.
There was only one way to say this and it wasn’t going to be easy.
“The vicar of All Souls was attacked by whoever has the dagger.”
Kate jumped to her feet.
“Attacked? When? How badly?”
He put his hands on her arms and sent calming vibes through her.
“He’s fine, my brother helped him.”
“You mean the angel that was here last night?”
“Yes, it’s what he came to tell me, but he healed the reverend’s wounds and saw off his attacker.”
“Did he know who he is?”
“No, but it wasn’t Brian.”
“Where’s Reverend Pilling now?”
“He’s been sent away to recover. Don’t worry, he’s fine and we have more important things to worry about”
He let go of her and returned to the family tree.
“This connection to Evelyn makes me think your client might be a more likely suspect. Have you met him?”
“No. It’s not likely I will either.”
“But not impossible, right?”
“Do you have an address for him?”
Kate picked up a folder from the desk and thumbed through the loose pages inside, she pulled one out and read through the information.
“It says here he lives in Acomb.”
“That’s where the cats went missing from,” Ash said.
She turned the sheet over, on the back was scrawled another address and a mobile phone number.
“Hang on, there’s another one here. It’s Liverpool.”
They looked at each other, both thinking the same thing.
“Park Drive” Ash finished for her. “That’s Evelyn’s house.”
They were both silent, the obvious conclusion occurring to both simultaneously. It was Kate who spoke first.
“I remember now. Peter said something about the client inheriting a house from his parents that they’d had for years, but left empty. It was one of the reasons he’d started researching his family tree, to find out more about the people who’d lived there.”
There were deep furrows on Ash’s forehead as he stared at the spidery lines that connected the names on the tree. Whatever he was thinking, Kate could only wait to find out. She had no idea what they were meant to do with the information they now had.
The clunk of the letter box made Kate jump. On the doormat was a small rectangular shaped package wrapped in plain brown paper. She wasn’t expecting any deliveries. The address had been hand written in neat, heavy black letters and something about it felt wrong. She took the package to show Ash.
He took it from her, peeling back the tape and unwrapping the paper to reveal a matchbox. Kate watched as he slid the drawer of the box open and peered at the contents with a puzzled frown.
“What is it?” she asked, in a mouse-like voice.
He shook his head and held it out towards her. On a thin layer of fleece wadding lay a stud earring with a skull and cross bones design.
It took a moment for the implications to set in.
“Oh my God, he has Brian.”
She was overcome with dizziness and Ash was immediately beside her for support. He led her to a chair.
“Is Brian…” She couldn’t bring herself to say it out loud.
“I don’t think so. At least not yet.”
Kate let out a moan.
“I think he’s trying to tell us know he knows who and where we are.”
Kate felt helpless, she didn’t like the sensation and the mere thought that one of her friends was in danger because of her made her angry. Couple that with what had happened to Reverend Pilling and she was absolutely furious.
“And we know where he is.”
Kate searched Ash’s face for a clue. He turned over the parcel’s wrapping and pointed at the postmark.
“I think we should pay a little visit to Liverpool,” she said.
“What? You can’t be serious?”
“Why not? It’s the last thing he’ll be expecting.”
“And have you figured out what you’re going to do once we find him?”
“No, but if we sit here and do nothing he’s going to kill Brian and as annoying as he is, he doesn’t deserve that.”
“Kate, that house is the last place on earth you should be going.”
“I don’t think we have a choice.”
Ash looked at Kate with sad eyes. It was exactly the kind of reckless, ill-thought-out thing she had done time and time again in previous lives. Just like Isabel when she’d planned to poison the Witch Finder and then when she’d accused him openly of witchcraft, just like Charlotte when she refused to give up her life as a highwayman, just like Evelyn when she’d turned the knife on herself.
Ash pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. He was desperately trying to think of a way of talking her out of doing this, but one look at her determined face and he knew he didn’t stand a chance. She had made up her mind to rescue Brian, if indeed that’s where he was, and it was his duty to go along with her. He shook his head, grabbed his jacket and led the way.