‘He needs to see someone, Ivy,’ she said. ‘Someone professional. I know someone who works up in that region. She’s brilliant. Give me your friend’s number and I’ll get her to give him a call.’
‘You’re the best.’
I strode back to Gareth and passed the phone over to him so he could give her his details. He was somewhat taken aback that so many strangers seemed willing to help him out, but I knew that if I didn’t force him to get help he’d keep going on his own until he cracked completely. I could manage a few phone calls. He was the one who’d have to really work hard. Maybe sometimes we all need a bit of a nudge.
I snuggled up into my duvet feeling pretty damn pleased with myself. All in all, I reckoned it had been a good day’s work. I might have run around like a mad thing for the first part but I’d played the role of runner to perfection. I’d potentially saved two teenage boys from cancer, not to mention that I’d found Gareth the help he needed to return to a sane and normal life.
Of course, I didn’t want to have to work this hard every day. I probably ought to give myself the day off tomorrow after doing so well. It was only fair.
I stretched out, enjoying the sensation of drifting into to blissful sleep. This was what I needed. This was what it was about. Glorious, uninterrupted slumber. I sighed contentedly.
I frowned. As much as I liked Amy, there were limits. I ignored her whisper. I was sleeping; this was not the time for girly chats. If she wanted a bedtime story, she could go and find Mazza. I was sure he’d be very happy to oblige.
Unfortunately, my room-mate wasn’t about to give up. ‘Ivy! Can you see that?’
No. I was sleeping. My eyes were closed. I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t want to see anything.
‘It’s right outside our window!’
Whatever was there, she was starting to sound alarmed. As long as it was outside, I didn’t care.
Then the room phone rang. Amy yelped. I heard her pick up the receiver and answer cautiously. ‘Hello?’
Didn’t she know anything? You should never pick up the phone at night time. It only invited problems that could almost always wait until daylight. Preferably after noon.
Uh-oh. I felt an unpleasant squirm deep in the pit of my stomach.
‘What? I can’t throw water over her!’
Arse. I sighed and sat up. ‘Give it here,’ I said reluctantly. Wide-eyed, she passed over the phone. ‘Winter,’ I said. ‘I love you to bits but it’s the middle of the night. I need to sleep.’
‘How did you know it was me?’ he asked.
Because I’m not a complete idiot; no one else would be rash enough to try and phone me at this hour. I tutted into the phone.
‘Never mind,’ he said. ‘I need to know what your new friend told you. The one who found the body. I waited ages for you to show up.’
‘Really?’ I grinned.
His response was terse. ‘Of course. We’re here on serious business, Ivy.’
As if I’d forget. ‘I know that. That’s why it’s very important that I get enough sleep to function like a human being instead of a zombie tomorrow. He didn’t say anything you wouldn’t expect.’
I shot a glance at Amy. She was watching me with her arms wrapped round her knees, apparently concerned that this was some type of family emergency. I had to be careful how much I said on the phone; I didn’t want to give the poor girl nightmares that might interrupt my sleep even more. ‘What he saw was very nasty.’
‘Did he give you a location?’
Hang on a minute. There was a business-like tone to Winter’s voice that had me worried. He’d better not be planning what I thought he was. ‘Yes.’
‘Good. That’s what I was hoping for. Meet me downstairs in five minutes and we can go and check it out.’
Before I even began to tell him what a plonker he was, he hung up. I stared at the silent phone, half-expecting Winter to start speaking again and tell me he was joking. Of course, that didn’t happen.
I replaced the handset and lay down. There was no way I was going out at this hour to meet him. Midnight trysts were not my thing, even with Winter.
‘Is everything okay?’ Amy asked tentatively.
‘Fine.’ Hopefully my terse response would encourage her to lie down and go back to sleep. I closed my eyes. Back to dreamland.
A moment later, I sat back up again. Huffing, I swung my legs out of bed and scrabbled around for my clothes. All I was going to do was to tell him what an idiot he was and that tramping around the Scottish Highlands at this hour was a stupid idea. Then I was going back to sleep.
It might have been close to summertime but this was Scotland. My breath clouded in the air and the shock of the cold was almost enough to wake me up. Almost.
Winter was waiting for me underneath a street lamp, looking for all the world like some kind of old-school detective. Or crazed stalker. Frankly, it could have gone either way. I yawned in his direction.
‘I really don’t think this is a good time to go wandering about a great big hill,’ I told him in no uncertain terms.
He didn’t acknowledge my complaint; instead, he cast a critical eye up and down. ‘You can’t wear your pyjamas. Even with that coat on, you’ll still get cold.’
‘I’m wearing my pyjamas because I’m going back to bed. Winter, even you can’t think this is a good idea.’
His expression was blank. ‘There’s no other time. You’ll be busy working during the day. In fact, now there’s been a bloody pentagram, I will be too. If we want to check out the murder site, this is the only time we can do it.’
Except I didn’t want to check out the murder site, I wanted to go back to bed. ‘The police will have been all over it with a fine toothcomb. There won’t be anything to see. Not any more.’
Winter arched an eyebrow. ‘No witches have been permitted access, Ivy. Do you really think that the police, regardless of how competent they are, will be able to recognise spell traces? Do you think they’d notice if there were some stray herb sprinkles amongst the grass? Would they…’
Bloody hell. ‘Enough,’ I said. ‘Give me five minutes and I’ll change my clothes.’ This was an argument I wasn’t going to win.
Just about the only positive to this venture was that Winter had somehow managed to procure a motorbike. He muttered something about borrowing it from the proprietor of his B&B. When he initially refused to let me drive it, I pointed out that driving was what I did for a living and that I hadn’t told him where we were going yet. What I didn’t mention was that I’d never driven a motorbike before. There was a first time for everything.
‘I’d have thought,’ Winter shouted in my ear as I revved the engine, ‘that you’d take the opportunity to sit back and not do anything. If I drove, you’d be able to relax.’
True. But if he drove, we’d go at snail’s pace and he’d probably want to stop to examine random trees or pick rare herbs just in case they would come in useful in the future. With me in charge, we’d get there and back much more quickly. After all, I had to get some sleep at some point.
It was also rather nice having Winter hold my waist. When he almost fell off the back and took me with him, however, I decided I was less enamoured of the situation.
‘Slow down!’ he yelled in my ear as we careened away from the hotel.
‘I can’t hear you!’ I shouted back and sped up. This was fun. It helped that the roads were empty. Maybe I should get out and about in the Highlands of Scotland in the dead of night more often.
From what Gareth had told me, I had an idea about how to get to Dead Man’s Hill. There were enough signposts for the cemetery and, when we reached it, I spotted a small dirt track leading up the slope behind it. That had to be what we were looking for. It looked less like a hill and more like a damn mountain that would give Everest a run for its money.
Yet again I pretended not to hear Winter when he shouted that we could walk from here and nudged the bike upwards. I was going to use horsepower to get as close as we possibly could. I kept going upwards, stopping only when I was forced to.