Disgruntled young author Lily hasn’t a good word to say about anyone – and the feeling is mutual
Tottering up the broken paving stones, Lily tutted under her breath. She hated Sunnyfield Estate, where dog mess and used needles littered the streets.
It was hard to believe that her father had grown up in this downtrodden place.
Still, Nana would be pleased to see her, and she was dying to try on her new killer heels.
Not that her grandmother knew anything about designer shoes. Following Lily’s writing career had become her primary focus in life.
Standing on her doorstep, Lily pressed the stiff buzzer until Nana’s shadow appeared through the dimpled glass. She swept a stray blonde curl
from her face, flitting in and out of her dream world as cars rumbled by.
The film deals and book signings could not come quick enough.
The scent of cat pee wafted towards her as Nana opened the door.
“About time,” Lily grumbled, wrinkling her nose.
“Sorry love,” Nana said, head lowered as she bent over her walking stick. “I’m not too good on my feet today.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Nothing new there.”
It was hard to believe her grandmother used to perform in theatres worldwide.
She took in the drab living-room which had seen better days. Damp spores dotted the ceiling. On the walls and mantelpieces, clocks of every size and shape ticked the minutes by.
Lily shuddered. She was never ending up like this.
“Ready for the boneyard, that’s me.” Nana chuckled. “Sorry I won’t be able to make you a cuppa, I’m all out of milk.
“My arthritis has been so bad, I’m nervous about walking to the shops on my own. It wouldn’t do to fall over and break my hip now, would it?”
“No, I suppose it wouldn’t.” Lily shooed a fat tortoiseshell cat from the sofa before sitting down. Always the same, she thought, she probably gave
the last of the milk to her precious cats.
“I see your books have gone down in the charts,” Nana said, pulling her iPad from the side of her chair. Her fingers pecked at the screen as she brought it to life. “How many have you sold again?”
Lily’s face soured.
“Not enough to be rolling in it, that’s for sure.”
“What’s Rupert got to say about it?”
Rupert. Lily’s agent and the bane of her life.
“We’ve not been able to agree on anything so far.” Lily folded her arms. “And that Frieda Warren isn’t helping, with her bitchy reviews.”
“Yes, she can be cruel, can’t she?”
Nana pushed her glasses up her nose as she quoted the review of Lily’s latest book. “This reads like it’s written by a four-year-old. I can’t believe I wasted 99p on this rubbish.”
Lily exhaled tersely.
“Why don’t you read the good ones instead? Lots of people enjoyed Murder Game.”
A simple smile graced Nana’s face, her blue eyes twinkling as she spoke.
“Yes dear, I know. But why has Frieda read every book in the series if she hates them so much?” She peered at her iPad as Lily failed to respond. “She’s
a popular lady. She has thousands of followers in her Facebook book club.”
Lily winced. She knew all about Frieda Warren and her stupid Facebook group. The woman had hounded her ever since the release of book one. All
because Lily refused a photo with her at a writer’s conference one day.
She could see her now – her weaselly face and dowdy clothes. It was jealousy, that was all, because Lily was everything she was not.
But that was OK. She would take care of Frieda, and anyone else who dared cross her path.
Lily clutched her handbag tightly on her lap, her long red fingernails digging into the expensive leather.
“Honestly Nana, I don’t see why you have to point these things out to me every time I visit. It’s like you want to put me in a bad mood.”
Nana lowered the iPad.
“Oh, I’m sorry dear, I’m just trying to understand how it all works…”
Lily exhaled tersely.
“Well you don’t need to know, do you? As long as the books get written and published, that’s all that matters.” She picked up the remote control from the coffee table and jabbing the red button, pointed it at the television.
“Here. Why don’t you watch Countryfile instead?”
“I suppose you’re right.” Nana sighed, stroking the tabby cat that had jumped on her lap. “It’s all gone over my head.”
“Have my shoes come yet?” Lily said. It was a clever idea, using Nana’s address to hide her online shopping sprees. It saved her a lot of grief from
her parents at home. At the age of twenty-eight, she should have had a place of her own, but she enjoyed being waited on hand and foot.
Lily exhaled an exasperated breath as Nana slowly climbed the stairs to retrieve them. Flicking out her foot, she kicked out at the cat that had nestled on Nana’s lap minutes before.
“Here you go dear,” Nana said, ,balancing her walking stick in one hand and Lily’s package in the other.
Tearing open the wrapping, Lily’s eyes grew wide as she coveted her precious Louboutins. She ran her fingers over the sleek black patent leather, the signature red undersole.
Slowly, she slipped her feet into them, admiring them from every angle, and wishing she had a nicer background than Nana’s tatty carpet to show them off. Instagram would have to wait.
She paced the floor, enjoying the satisfaction that only a new shoe purchase could bring. Sitting down, she took them off and rubbed her heels.
“You’d think they’d at least be comfortable, given how much they cost.”
Gently, she placed them back into the box.
“I’ll leave them here for now – pick them up next week when Mum’s not at home.”
“Whatever you like.” Nana smiled. “And don’t worry about those reviews. They’ll sort themselves out in the end.”
But Nana’s words returned to haunt her the next day. Slowly, she ambled to the front door, just as she did before. But it was not Lily calling,
because she always left her finger on the bell.
She took in the official-looking couple before her as she peeped through the crack in the door.
“I’m DS John McGuire,” said the generously proportioned man, raising his warrant card. He pointed to his shorter companion. “This is DC Diane Gerard. I take it you are Mrs Walker?”
“Please… call me Nana, everyone does.” She looked from one to the other, opening the door wide. “Would you like to come inside?”
Her slippers shuffled against the threadbare carpet as she showed them through to the living room.
“Can I make you a cup of tea?” she said as they both sat down.
DS McGuire shook his head. “There’s something we need to ask you. Why don’t you sit down?”
Doing as she was told, Nana listened intently as DS McGuire spoke.
“Do you know of a woman by the name of Frieda Warren?”
Nana frowned as she searched her memory.
“It rings a bell…” She shifted in her chair, pulling out her iPad as it dug into the side of her thigh.
“Of course,” she said, resting the tablet on her knees. “She’s a book reviewer. Lily told me about her.” A shadow crossed her face as she
remembered their last conversation. “Let’s just say they don’t get along.”
Her words were met with sombre nods of the head.
“What’s wrong? Is Lily all right? I told her not to go round there, but she was so annoyed…”
Straightening in her chair, DC Gerard slid a pen from behind her ear.
“Go around there?”
“Yes, to Frieda’s. She lives around the corner. Lily was furious about all those bad reviews she kept putting on.”
“Did she say what she was going to do?” the officer prompted.
“Have it out with her, of course.” Nana looked from one officer to the other. “Is Lily all right?”
“Sorry – yes, she’s fine. Can you tell us when you last saw her?”
“She came to see me yesterday, bless her. Always has time for her nana. But she didn’t stay long. Got in a bit of a bad mood when I mentioned Frieda’s latest review. She stormed out in quite a state at six o’clock. I remember because that’s when Countryfile started.”
The officers exchanged a glance.
“Are you sure?”
“One hundred percent. I may be over sixty, but I’m a long way off losing my marbles. Now are you going to tell me what’s going on or do I have to guess?”
Suitably admonished, DC Gerard cleared her throat.
“Frieda was found dead in her flat last night. Your granddaughter claims she was here with you all evening.”
“She was here…” Nana’s voice faded “…but she must be mistaken because she left at six o’clock.”
DS McCormack tilted his head. “Can you remember what she was wearing?”
“Of course. A black pencil skirt, a pink top and her new designer shoes. Lou Lou or something. My son and his wife… they’re quite well off, but they
don’t like Lily squandering her money, so she gets her deliveries sent here.”
Nana sighed as she recalled the memory. “They were black, with red on the sole. She was so taken with them, she decided to wear them home.”
“And the shoes she wore when she got here?”
“Pumps. Small enough to fit in her bag. I’m sorry but… what has this to do with Frieda? You’re making no sense.”
“Would you agree to us searching your house? It’s just that Lily insisted she left those shoes with you.” “Feel free, dear – lots of shoes in my
bedroom, but you won’t find her new ones. The box is empty because she was wearing them when she left.”
Having taken a statement and searched her home, the detectives rose to leave.
“Can I ask what happened?” Nana said, struggling to get to her feet.
DS McGuire helped her steady herself. She could see the sympathy in his eyes, knew what he was thinking. How could someone as rich as her son leave his mother in squalor like this? It was a question she’d asked herself many times over the years.
“I won’t tell anyone.” Leaning forward, she delivered a conspiratorial wink. “With my dodgy hip, I don’t see many people these days.”
Returning her smile, DS McCormack updated her on the news.
“Last night there was a disturbance at Frieda’s flat. Neighbours reported hearing her scream your daughter’s name at nine o’clock. This morning
Frieda was found dead in the hall.”
“Oh dear.” Nana leaned against the detective as she wobbled on her feet. “That poor woman. Whatever Frieda did, she didn’t deserve to die.”
Waving goodbye to the detectives, Nana closed the front door.
Humming, she rested her walking stick against the wall and trotted up the stairs.
As she reached her bedroom, she slid her latest manuscript from inside her pillowcase. She’d known the police would never look there.
It had seemed like a good idea, Lily representing her writing – the young, attractive face the publishing world wanted.
But her granddaughter was too spoilt to appreciate the opportunity, arguing with her agent and spending their royalties on ridiculous shoes.
Prison would teach her some much-needed humility when they sent her down for Frieda’s murder.
Nana’s lips curled into a smile. She could go back to using her own first name. Having two Lilys in the family was confusing at times.
But now it was her time to shine: show the world what she was capable of. The publicity around the murder may even do her some good.
It was terribly inventive, stabbing Frieda with Lily’s new Louboutins. Her granddaughter underestimated her knowledge of shoes.
She truly appreciated a pair of killer heels.
We’re sharing a varied collection of crime-themed short stories from our archives. Look out for them every Monday and Thursday during September. And don’t forget, there’s exciting brand new fiction – including some from big name authors – in My Weekly magazine every week! Check out our great money-saving subscription offer.