Parity Book 3
Parity (£3.06 | $3.76)
The ice put paid to any leisure we’d have for a long time. We worked around the clock for nearly two weeks with no let-up in the bad weather. Bodies kept rolling in most mornings. Caz had started helping out and most days helped Leo to dress the clients. He’d never have kept up with it on his own. One of the local funeral directors closed. The proprietor died, and the funny thing was, his wife insisted that we did the funeral. She said we’d do a better job than his staff – and she ordered the carriage. We had quite a few giggles about that.
Four weeks before the bad weather hit, we had a date for the grand opening of the new church that Danny had commissioned for Elsbeth.
I’d not been near the church while it was being constructed, and Danny had only seen it a few times, but not lately. We were too busy in the business after we’d dealt with the last three vampires. We’d all breathed a huge sigh of relief after they had been obliterated.
We travelled to the opening night in two of the limousines and were all dressed up. The boys looked very smart. Danny had told them to wear their best suits – normally reserved for the most expensive funerals. I had on the black full-length dress Danny had bought me for the occasion. Emily, Janet and Caz looked beautiful in their long dresses.
Danny had taken Janet and Caz to the bank to pick some jewellery from the safety deposit boxes. Emily and I were to be wearing our favourite pieces, and he didn’t want them to feel left out. He also took Alec and Billy and had suits made for them. Billy thought it was funny; he’d never worn anything so formal. He wasn’t a suit sort of person.
We pulled up outside, got out, and waited for Josh and Danny to park the cars so we could all go in together. We walked in as couples, even Leo and Billy; they didn’t care.
Elsbeth came over as soon as she saw us. She glowed radiant in a long dress and looked amazing. I’d never seen her dressed up before, but this was a special occasion, the opening of her very own, brand-new church. The seating was different. Instead of chairs facing into the middle of the room, they were set out in rows. Mind you…I’d seen it like that once before. The night I was hijacked to be the resident medium. Danny was listening to my thoughts and glanced at me. He remembered that night. It hadn’t been funny for me at the time. I was unable to remember any of it, and it was still a blank.
The church was just wonderful. It had a proper stage and an organ in a booth to the side – which we didn’t have before. To our left were a few doors, along the wall. One would have to be Elsbeth’s office and one a kitchen. What the other one was, I didn’t know, but I’d find out soon enough. The seating was very plush, actually comfortable, unlike the wooden chairs we had before. We were taken by Elsbeth to the front and given the front row to sit on, and we filled it; every seat. I looked at the wall at the back of the stage.
“Have you seen that, Danny?”
He followed my gaze. “No, I haven’t. I didn’t want her to do anything like that.”
He looked around for her, and when he’d caught her eye, she came over.
“Elsbeth, I didn’t expect you to do something like that…” He pointed at the plaque.
“Danny, I didn’t. Graham must have thought that up himself. It was up there when I came in today,” she burbled, all of a fluster.
“It’s all right, Elsbeth. After tonight, I want it down. You have it in your office if you want. I had this place built for you, not to receive praise for it.”
Elsbeth looked somewhat happier after those words. She said she had some things to see to before the service and left us. Danny’s annoyed. He glanced at me. I’m right.
I noticed Matt and Faye sitting near the back, and I told Danny to bring them up with us.
“We’ll sit with them, Leah. I don’t like sitting up here, on show.”
He grabbed my hand, and we left everyone at the front. They didn’t like it either and followed us. It was a good job we were there first.
We sat talking to Faye and Matt for quite a while, and still, no one had turned up.
“Have we got the day right, Danny?” I looked at my watch. “It’s way past the start time.”
Elsbeth came out of her office, flapping, with a phone in her hand. “The newspaper didn’t print the advert about tonight. They’re all at the other hall. One of the regulars has just phoned. They thought I was ill.”
Danny rushed into her office and found the phone book section for local taxi firms. He rang a few and asked them to collect as many as they could – the drivers would have to come into the church for payment. He handed Matt a roll of notes and called Josh. They left, to pick some up themselves. That’s a fucking good start. I left my seat, climbed the steps to the stage and took down the plaque. Elsbeth watched me but didn’t say a word.
People started arriving, and they were in their normal clothes. We stuck out like sore thumbs and made a joke of it. Thank God they could see the funny side.
Elsbeth greeted everyone as they entered. The taxi drivers came in, but most of them declined Matt’s offer of money; instead, they stayed for the service. They probably thought royalty had arrived – us – done up to the fucking nines, dripping in diamonds. Perhaps they thought the press were coming; I don’t think so – they couldn’t even bloody announce its opening. And here I was, trying not to swear as much. Fat chance of that.
Josh walked in, followed by Danny, who smiled when he noticed the plaque had gone. That’s him happy. It didn’t take long for everyone to settle down. Elsbeth was now in her element. She walked onto the stage and thanked everyone for coming to the opening of the new spiritualist church.
On the way home we laughed about it; so hilarious. Instead of going straight back to work as we’d planned, Danny said we were to take the night off. It was Saturday tomorrow, and we’d be shutting it down anyway. He brought out the wine, and we all had a few drinks as we recounted the evening we’d just sat through. We’re still in our glad rags and look bloody strange, sitting around the kitchen table as if we’ve been to a grand ball. We should have our fucking headsexamined. What were we thinking?
Danny giggled beside me. “I suppose we were a bit over the top, but Elsbeth did say to get dressed up – as she was.”
I smiled at him.
It wasn’t long before couples began drifting off to bed. Caz and Josh were first as she was still resting until her strength built up. Danny had his arm around my shoulder as we watched everyone leave, after saying goodnight.
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“Have you forgotten your driving test next week, Leah? You haven’t mentioned it.” He waited for my reply.
I looked at him and smiled. “How could I forget that? I’ve been looking forward to getting my licence for so long. I don’t fancy being away from here, during the day, for five days, though. I’m going to miss you.”
He pulled me towards him and kissed me gently; it reminded me of when I was human – when he’d had to be extremely careful or he could have seriously hurt me.
“We may not be as busy and have the nights together, Leah. I’ll figure something out, and I’ll miss you, too.”
“We ought to make the most of tonight then, I’ll race you up.”
Danny thought I would race up ahead of him and headed for the stairs. Wrong. I thought myself to our room and was waiting for him when he opened the door. He had a wicked smile on his face.
He picked me up and stood me near the bed. The clothes didn’t stay on long, but at least they weren’t ripped to shreds. Danny gently lowered the zip after he kissed the back of my neck, and the dress dropped to the floor. He undid the clasp of my necklace and laid it on the nightstand, unhooked my bra and slipped the straps down my arms for it to join my dress. Everything he did was slow and very seductive, and he knew what state I was in. Boiling point.
His gift of calming anyone down with a buzzing in his hands could come in very useful on a night such as this. He was still behind me and ran his hands all over my body. He was aroused and pressed tight up to my back, which built the emotions in my mind until he knew I could hold off no longer.
I changed and so did he; unable not to, as that was what we were; vampires, who change when we’re aroused or angry at the least little thing. Restraint was difficult, but we’d made a game of it since I was turned, and it had become great fun to see how long we could hold off. It wouldn’t be that long tonight, as we’d not made love at night for a long time. The only time we’d let ourselves was when we had to feed in the morning, and then it was always hurried because of work.
Danny picked me up, laid me on the bed, then kissed my mouth and all down my body – where he took me to another place as I writhed on the bed and lifted myself up to him.
The noise from us both was enough to raise the roof, and when we reached our climax together, the bed shook. Danny pulled me down to his chest and held me tight until the feelings subsided and we changed back.
“I’m surprised this fucking bed has survived us,” I said and giggled.
Danny creased up. “Good job it was made a few hundred years ago. It wouldn’t have, otherwise. They build crap these days.”
“I don’t suppose they put labels on to say they’re vampire-proof.”
He cuddled me, rolled me onto my side, and looked at me. “I’ve missed this, Leah, and I know you have.”
We were up to feed at the break of dawn and arrived downstairs around nine. Josh was at the table, and Caz was in her studio. She had work to finish for Mark, who had a gallery in Salisbury. They, Caz and Emily, had a joint exhibition arranged for just before Christmas, and they’d worked strange hours to get their paintings ready, due to us being loaded with work. It was just as well we could turn on the speed when we wanted. We all looked forward to the private viewing, as the work they’d produced was amazing. Emily had been driving to and from the framers, when she could snatch the time, or the boys had picked things up for her and Caz when they passed after funerals. Everyone mucked in with everything, and it worked out well.
“Have you thought about what you want in the games room, Josh?” Danny asked.
Josh started to smile. “We’ve been drawing lots to see what we want. So far we’d like a snooker table, a couple of pinball machines and a two-lane bowling alley.” He stopped there, to see how that would be received.
Danny smiled; he knew there was more.
Josh looked to the heavens; he’d been rumbled. “Okay! One of those video racetrack machines, a pool table, somewhere to play darts and a shooting gallery. I don’t think we could get any more in there.” He waited.
Danny kept him dangling, playing with him. “That’s fine. Find out where to get it all from, and I’ll order it. I think the internet would be the best place to look. The decorators have finished down there; have you looked?”
Josh was dumbfounded. It took him a few seconds to recover, after expecting a no from Danny. “I didn’t even know they’d started. I’ve only been over here to feed with Caz for the last two weeks, too early to see any workmen. Thanks, Danny, they’ll be thrilled and so am I.”
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He got up and went down to investigate. He came back up at top speed.
“When did you get all that, Danny? I can’t believe it. How did you know? We thought we’d blocked it from you, in case we were asking for too much.” He was ecstatic. “I’ll have to tell the others.”
“What do we have to know?”
There was a sea of boys’ heads looking in through the back door. They’d been playing football in the yard and heard the conversation in their heads. With all of us being telepathic, it made life so much easier.
“You’re not going to believe this! Come down to the games room,” Josh almost yelled.
The boys looked at each other, puzzled, then followed him. Danny held his hand out for me, and we ventured down after them. This was the first time I’d set foot in the cellar, and I didn’t know Danny had done anything. He’d kept it well hidden.
We heard the laughing and yelling long before we got to the end of the corridor. When we walked in, the boys were trying everything out. Rushing from one thing to the other, not really believing it was all there. I’d never seen them so happy. Michael was on the car-racing machine. I hope he doesn’t drive at the speed he is on that? As he looked up at us the car on the machine crashed. He laughed and set the machine away again. After a few minutes, they settled down a bit and believed everything was there to stay.
Billy and Leo were bowling and having a great time. John and Greg were racking up the pool balls. I’d no idea if they’d played before, although Josh had taken them over to Weymouth a couple of times and we didn’t know what they got up to over there.
“We played in the games halls, Leah. That’s how we knew what we wanted. These are the games we played on the most. We can’t thank you enough, Danny, and you, Leah, for coming up with the idea.”
Alec put his head around the door. “What have I missed?”
When he saw all the games, he came in and went to one of the pinball machines. He looked over to us with a grin on his face. “I don’t think I’ll ever grow up now.”
We both laughed. Alec is thirty next week. It’s going to be difficult getting them off these when we’re busy.
Danny shook his head. “No, it won’t, Leah. Think of the long nights when we’re not busy. Even if only John and Greg use this in the night, it would’ve been worth it. They’re not old enough to ever have partners. There’s got to be more to life than work, for all of us.”
I squeezed his hand. You’re so kind.
“Come on, Leah. We’ll close the work down and let them have some fun for the rest of the day.”
We went over to work, where Danny did most of the things that needed doing. He didn’t want me there to help, just to be with him. I think he was making the most of us being together because I wouldn’t be there for part of next week. I felt the same and never liked being away from him. Once he’d finished, he took me into the office and sat me on the desk. He stood in front of me, straightened my hair and planted a kiss on the top of my head.
“Is there anything you’d like to do today, Leah, anything at all?”
“I’d like to get a few of Mum’s personal things from her house, Danny. Would you mind?”
“Of course not, we’ll tell one of them where we’re going and head off straight away.”
We met Emily in the yard. She was carrying a huge stack of paintings that she’d collected from the framers.
“If you want Alec for anything,” Danny told her, “he’s down in the games room with the boys.” She looked baffled. “All the games they wanted are down there, and they’re trying them out. If you get a free minute, you should have a look – they’re like kids in a sweet shop. We’re going to Leah’s old house to collect some of her mother’s personal things. I don’t know how long we’ll be, but I have my phone, so ring if you need to, Emily.”
“Okay, Danny. I’d offer to help, but I have so much to sort out for the exhibition.” She looked sorry she was letting us down.
“It’s fine, Emily; don’t worry yourself. We’re going now, and we’ll see you later.”
He pulled his car keys from his pocket, and within half an hour, we turned into my old road. It felt strange to be on that street again as we pulled up outside the house.
I looked at the front and had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Those weren’t like the feelings I’d had before, when Mum had just died. This was something new to me. Danny picked up on it and stared at the house.
“Do you still want to go in, Leah? You don’t have to. We can go home or for a walk instead.” He let me decide.
“We’re here now. I’m just being stupid.”
I opened my door a little way and quickly slammed it again. We looked at each other; all we could smell was death. Danny pulled his phone out and called Matt. We sat in the car for half an hour as we waited for him to come. He brought the troops with him.
When Danny told him what we could smell, he didn’t hesitate. Who would know what death smelled like better than us?
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“Danny, could you move your car? We have to cordon this off, or we’ll get all and sundry coming to have a look. How anyone living near this house failed to smell that, I’ll never know. We haven’t opened the door yet. When was the last time Michael was here?”
“About two weeks before it was all finished.” Danny didn’t go into specifics in case anyone was listening. Matt knew exactly what he meant. “He met David in the gardens a few times, during those two weeks. On that morning,” Danny looked him in the eye, “he didn’t reach the house; we called him back.”
Danny pushed thoughts into Matt’s head. In that two-week period, we had hardly any bodies in work. I think they’re all here. We can smell a lot more than one. Matt looked horrified. He turned around and looked at the house. I looked around for Janet and couldn’t see her anywhere.
“I thought this would be right up Janet’s street, Matt?” I didn’t expect the answer I got.
“There’s a conflict of interest, Leah. She couldn’t be on this.”
“Does that mean we’re suspects and under suspicion?” I couldn’t conceal the hint of anger in my voice.
Matt glanced at me and smiled. “No, Leah, it’s procedure. If everything is kept separate, no one can accuse us of hiding anything. Don’t worry. You should get off home. I’ll ring you when I know more.”
Danny started the car, but the coroner’s van had pulled in front of us, barring our exit from the front of the house. We had to wait a few minutes, for cars that were coming up the road behind us.
The coroner faced the front of our car on his way to get his gear from the back of his van. As he looked at us both, recognition flashed across his face; he dropped his eyes immediately, crossed the front of the car and hurried to go up Mum’s front path. We both knew from that look. He knows who we are and the fact that we know about him and his son. If that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what fucking is. I lowered my window and called Matt. He looked towards the car and came over to see why I’d called him.
“The coroner’s son was one of the vampires we dealt with, Matt.”
“What!” He was shocked. “Thanks, Leah. I’ll deal with this – you get off.”
We drove away from there with hundreds of questions flying between our minds. We’d have to wait for a lot of the answers, whether we liked it or not. Instead of going home, Danny drove to the centre of town and parked the car as near to the square as he could. I thought we were going for a walk. No. Danny took me through the gardens to the bandstand and up the first path beside it. I remembered when we’d sat there to practice my mind reading, a long time ago. God, it seemed like years.
“Where are we going, Danny?” I had a good idea – but wanted confirmation.
“The air raid shelter. There may be more bodies.”
“Are you sure we should do this? Don’t you need to call Matt?”
Danny glanced at me and pulled me along. I wasn’t going to stop him, he had to know.
We walked between two huge laurel bushes, set back from the path on the right. The black, gaping doorway lay straight ahead. Danny walked into it and took me with him. I could see okay because we see in the dark with no trouble. What shocked me was the pile of bones we nearly stepped on, as our eyes adjusted to the pitch black. They were just inside the building. Danny bent down to examine the bones. He didn’t need to touch them. We could both see they’d been chewed in places. Foxes maybe, or even the black creature they’d shown on the TV months ago. Either way, I wouldn’t touch them. I’d see exactly how they died and would’ve felt everything they had in their final moments.
“We should leave, Leah. Come on, we’ll go home. I’ll ring Matt from there, and he may have some news for us later in the day.”
“I’ll be glad to get out of here. How on earth did you all live in this place?” I had to ask.
Danny smiled at me. “There’s a door at the end of this room. It takes you to a staircase and rooms below. I would hate to think what’s down there now. That’s why I want to go.”
I didn’t need telling twice. I grabbed his hand, and we left the shelter. On the walk back to the car, I chatted to Danny.
“I wonder what Matt said to the coroner. I hope he’s been thrown off the case. I intended to sell that house. If it’s filled with bodies, no one in their right mind will want to buy it – apart from that, I couldn’t let anyone live there, not now. I’ll ask Graham to flatten it.”
Danny listened to me prattling on as we approached the car. We got in and drove home. The sound of the tyres on the gravel drive was so comforting when you turned off the main road. I’m pleased to be back. I love this place.
“I know you do,” Danny said and smiled.
The rain started as we stepped out of the car so we hurried to the back door and into the kitchen. They’d all come up from the cellar because Billy and Alec had to eat. They’d finished their meal, and there was laughter and banter around the table. What the fuck will they think about this? Danny gave me a sideways look. It’s got to be said.
“I’m glad you’re all here.” Caz walked in the back door with Janet. “Come and sit down,” he instructed Janet. “Have you been sent home?”
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“Yes. Matt thought I should have some leave until this is settled.”
Now, one by one, the vampires around the table looked worried as they picked up Janet’s thoughts.
Danny surveyed them all before explaining. He knew every one of them was shocked.
“I’ll tell you what we know. Leah wanted some personal possessions of her mother’s, before she sold the house. I know Emily told you we were going there.
“When we opened the car door, all we could smell was death, and it was very strong. I called Matt, and they were just about to open the front door when Matt said we should leave. Before we could shift, the coroner pulled up in front of our car, which stopped us moving off.
“He recognised us and went about his business, to do his job, as if he wasn’t involved. Leah was incensed, told Matt about George, and he told us he’d sort it. Now we have to wait for Matt to get in touch with us.”
“I’ll tell you what I know, now,” Janet offered.
Danny blurted out, “Please do, Janet. The wait is bloody torture.”
She nodded. “There were fifteen bodies in the house. Decomposition, and the three-foot-deep, writhing mass of maggots, made them difficult to count. Some poor bugger had the job of wading into that nightmare and feeling around to find the skulls.”
Fucking hell! That’s all we need.
“Believe me, Leah, that was good. They won’t be able to establish how they died, since the maggots had eaten most of every one of them. They’ll have to put it down to either a very busy serial killer or something to do with gangs.”
“Christ, that’s a load off my mind, Janet, thank you. I thought everything we’ve done was coming back to smack us straight in the face.”
Relief softened everyone’s anxiety, and their frown lines disappeared.
“I wasn’t supposed to know all that. One of the new lads told me on the quiet. If it got back to Matt, he’d be in big trouble and so would I, for asking him. Try not to drop me in it, please? I needed to know. I can’t help it.”
Michael put his arm around her and giggled. He remembered the day she was bitten. Your nose was too big, that day. The smiles spread around the table. She elbowed him and laughed.
“Do any of your colleagues know that you read minds?” I had to ask.
“Only Matt. I think that’s why he sent me home, so I couldn’t read his. I don’t use it much at work, I’d look a bighead. It’s weird; I only use it when I interview someone. I have to be careful who I sit with, too. Now with Matt, I’m fine. I read their minds and find out tons of hidden things we need to know. He called me his secret weapon the other day. ”
We couldn’t help laughing; the thought of Matt using Janet like that was hilarious.
Danny was doubled up laughing when he said, “Is he looking for promotion, getting you to do that? I bet his clear-up rate is higher now.”
Janet burst into a fit of laughter. The back door opened. Her face straightened, and the laughing stopped instantly. It was Matt, and he looked deadly serious.
He came and sat next to Danny. “Cup of tea, Matt?” Danny enquired.
I got up to make it. All eyes were on him for news; we waited.
“What was the big joke?” He waited now.
Danny answered. “We were laughing at Michael. If he drove for real the way he drives that video game machine, he’d have been banned long ago.”
Michael smiled at Matt.
“Oh! What video games machine?”
“The games room is finished. When you’ve drank your tea, we could take you down. They chose some good stuff.”
Matt relaxed. I put his tea down in front of him.
I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. “What’s happening, Matt? I’m going nuts here.” I want some answers.
“Calm down, Leah. There was nothing in the house that could lead anyone here. They couldn’t even say how they’d died. You’re the only person who could tell them, and I promised I wouldn’t put you through that again – so they’ll never find out.” He smiled, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“I should tell you this because it’s only right,” Danny confessed to Matt. “We went to the air raid shelter behind the bandstand when we left you. We nearly fell over a pile of bones inside the entrance. It looked like an animal had been eating them.”
All eyes stared at Danny.
“That could have been a tramp, Danny. A few drift into town, in the winter. Someone will check it out. Don’t worry about it.”
Danny left it there.
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“The coroner’s off the case,” Matt revealed. “A home office pathologist has replaced him. I had a quiet word in his ear, and he was shocked when I told him I knew about George. He’s on leave for a month. I perhaps could have charged him with perverting the course of justice, but that would likely come back to bite you. He must have been threatened by George, and I suppose he was glad he was still alive. That’s not an option, so rest easy.”
“Do I have to stay here tomorrow, Matt?” Janet wanted to get back to work, which she loved with a passion.
“Yes, Janet. I don’t want you back in until Wednesday. The post-mortems will be finished by then, such as they are. There’s nothing for them to look at. Leah, we have a team to clean the place up, after something like that has happened. Don’t think you’ll have to do it.”
“Would all of Mum’s things be thrown away?” I want something to remember her by.
“I know you do, Leah,” Janet cut in. “Don’t get upset. They only get rid of things that have come into contact with bodily fluids.”
“Janet’s right, everything else is left where it is. All the bodies were in one room, the kitchen.”
“How many were there?” I had to ask to keep Janet from getting into trouble.
“Seventeen in total. Two bodies were dumped behind shrubbery in the back garden.”
“Oh my God! That many! They must have filled the fucking kitchen.”
“Enough of this; time to see the games room,” Danny interrupted. I thought you’d never change the fucking subject. Thank God.
Danny smiled, and all the chairs pushed back at once. Everyone had endured enough seriousness for the moment. The two younger boys rushed down ahead. The girls hadn’t seen it at all and were excited, pushing and shoving their way down the long corridor. The giggling and laughter started before they saw anything. When they walked into the room, they just stood there looking at everything.
Michael took Janet over to the shooting range and showed her how the video and guns worked. The others spread out and tried out some of the games. Danny had organised comfortable chairs, in groups, in each corner of the room. It looked like a coffee shop in places. We sat and watched them enjoy themselves.
“This is brilliant, Danny.” Matt couldn’t stop smiling. “The room is huge. I’d never get my bearings in this house.”
“We’re under the ballroom, and my den is on the top floor.” Danny winked at me. He’s happier now we aren’t in line for trouble.
Matt stayed for a while, and Danny took him over to use the bowling alleys. He was surprised they were automated – none of that by hand lark, which our lot would surely fight about, given how impatient they were.
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End of chapter