Abigail: Chapter 33
When I woke the following morning it took me a minute to remember where I was. It was still dark outside and there was none of the usual early morning hustle and bustle that comes as standard in most hotels. I glanced at the clock and groaned. It was only six o’clock, the rest of the world was still fast asleep. By the time I’d crawled into bed the previous night I’d been so drained I’d hoped for a bit of a lie in but something had disturbed my sleep. Now I was awake there was no chance of dropping back off again so I decided I might as well get showered and ready to face the day. I had so much I needed to do, a wave anxiety threatened to wash over me. I was starting the day with yet more questions than answers and without my file and notebook to capture it all, I felt lost.
I stood under the shower letting the water rush over my head and body, the warmth helping to ease my sense of dread. By the time I was washed and dressed I almost felt human again. I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep my head in the game. I definitely didn’t have time for anxiety attacks, even if after the events of yesterday they were completely warranted.
While I’d been in the shower I’d made a decision about the rest of my trip. Until I’d spoken to Abigail, there wasn’t much more I could do here. I also longed to be back home in my own bed and even if that meant forgoing the cost of my second night in the Travelodge, I decided that was a price worth paying. Decision made, I packed my overnight bag and headed to reception. The desk was empty so I posted my keycard into the box and turned to leave. I’d just pushed the door open to head outside when I heard a voice call my name.
I turned to see the receptionist smiling at me. “Yes, that’s me.”
“I have a message for you. From your daughter.”
I smiled. “Which one?”
“Oh, she didn’t say.”
“Not to worry. What was the message?”
“She said to tell you everyone’s fine and she asked me to remind you to send her your new number when you sort out your phone.” She handed me a piece of paper with the same message.
“Thanks very much.”
“My pleasure. Did you break your phone?”
“Not exactly. It was stolen yesterday.”
“That’s awful! Have you reported it to the police?”
“I know who did it. I just need to catch him.”
“How about your mobile phone provider? My friend Lorraine got stung with a huge bill because she didn’t report her phone as stolen.”
“Ouch! Okay, thanks for the tip. I’ll head over to the phone shop next.”
With another errand to add to my already long list, I decided it was lucky I’d woken so early. I got in the van and headed back in the direction of town. Without my phone’s sat nav to guide me, finding somewhere to park took longer than the day before but I followed my nose and eventually found my way. I made an educated guess that the phone shops would be in the main shopping centre and was rewarded half an hour later with a replacement. As irritating as it was to have to buy a new phone when I hadn’t chosen to be parted from my old one, I couldn’t help but smile. I was long overdue an upgrade and this new one was lovely. I wouldn’t get my old number back for about a day but the new one worked straight away so I sent a message each to Louise and Grace. Hi, this is mum. This is my number for now. Back later today xox I’d already told them a little about my escapades the day before so they were expecting a different number. What they weren’t expecting was me home today. I hoped I wouldn’t walk into too much of a disaster zone.
I smiled at the thought of home. It had only been a day but it felt like much longer and I couldn’t wait to get back. First though, I owed Muriel a quick return visit, so that’s where I went next. I parked the van a short distance from her house and tried the buzzer for Ryan’s flat. I knew it was too much to hope that he’d be there but I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t at least try. There would have been something wonderfully satisfying about catching him in his own home but alas, it was not to be. With Ryan away from home I went to Muriel’s house and rang the bell.
“Charlotte, you’re back! Are you coming in for a cuppa?”
“I need to get home Muriel but I wanted to leave you my new number, just in case.”
“Are you okay though love? How did you sleep?”
I smiled. “Like a log.” I decided not to tell her about the threat Ryan had left in my van. She was dealing with the news that he was a scumbag pretty well but I didn’t know what the thought of death threats would do to her ticker. I handed her the paper with my number. “If you happen to see Ryan or Toby, give me a ring?”
“Of course. That Ryan had better not show his dirty little face round ‘ere though. I’ll give ‘im a piece of me mind!”
“I’d rather you didn’t. Just ring me, let me deal with him.” She didn’t say anything. “Muriel, I mean it. If he did anything to you I’d not forgive myself.”
After making her promise she wouldn’t try and apprehend Ryan herself, Muriel waved me off and I headed back down the motorway towards Wales. First stop would be Abigail’s house. I’d had just about enough of people giving me the run around. It was time for Abigail to be straight with me and that would start with the state of her relationship with Toby’s parents.