Helen Denkha was born in
She has lived in
From Paris with Love is the fifth
book featuring Ryan Gregorian and the psychic, Cassandra.
Helen is currently working on her sixth book.
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Friday 18th November
The heart wrenching sobs were getting closer and louder. Ryan tried to run two steps at a time but found his knees were shaking and he could barely walk, let alone run. He knew with certainty the sobs were coming from within his home. In the two minutes that it took to reach his front door a series of horrible images passed though his mind. He expected to find his son dead, probably lying on the couch. He imagined Rosemary kneeling over him trying to will him back to life.
It then suddenly occurred to him that the female crying upstairs may not be Rosemary. In his mind the scenario changed quickly to a cold lifeless Rosemary lying on the couch, a female acquaintance wailing and Alexander trying to lift his mother with his little hands wondering why she did not answer him back.
Ryan finally reached the front door, it stood wide open. He walked in slamming it shut behind him. There were three people in the room. Rosemary was kneeling trying to comfort Rosita their housekeeper. Alexander was standing next to Rosita, with one hand holding his teddy bear and other patting Rosita on the lower part of her arm as he could not reach her shoulder.
Ryan felt an overwhelming sense of relief accompanied by an immense sense of guilt. His immediate thought was if Rosemary and Alexander are all right then the tragedy must be related to Rosita’s family. He felt ashamed of himself but try as he would he could not dismiss the sense of relief.
The three faces immediately turned to him. Alexander ran to him and grabbed his legs, “Daddy Zita down baby!”
“What?” Ryan lifted his son and looked questioningly at Rosemary. He knew that Zita was Alexander’s version of Rosita and gathered that something had happened to a baby. Rosita had stopped crying when she saw Ryan but a fresh bout of tears started. She lifted both her hands and hit herself hard on the head. She was about to repeat the action when Rosemary grabbed her hands and looked pleadingly at Ryan.
Ryan disentangled his son’s arms from around his neck and put him down. He moved over and sat on the arm of the sofa that Rosita was occupying.
“I am evil woman, Mr Ryan. I go straight to hell.”
“Can someone please tell me what is going on here?” asked Ryan in desperation.
All three obliged simultaneously. “I go to hell, maybe some place worse than hell. Maybe first God take out my eyes, so I never see any children again.”
“Zita down baby.”
“There was an accident at the Pattersons’ birthday party. Their son drowned in the pool.”
“Who are the Pattersons?” asked Ryan.
“They are a family who don’t have a son, no more, because of me!” offered Rosita, her tone implying that was all the explanation that was required.
“Rosemary please?” pleaded Ryan.
Rosemary turned to Rosita and said, “Rosita, I was about to give Alexander his bath when you turned up. Please can I ask you to give him a bath and something to eat while I explain to Ryan what’s happened?”
Rosita stood promptly and grabbed Alexander’s hand. “I give my bambino his bath. I very glad you still trust me. You don’t think I drown him in the bath tub, no?”
“I trust you implicitly, Rosita… we both do,” said Rosemary looking fixedly at Ryan.
“Of course we do,” he said obediently.
Rosemary waited until Rosita had shut the bathroom door and turned to Ryan. “It’s really too awful to think about. That poor mother! How she must be feeling!”
“Are you seriously telling me Rosita has drowned someone’s baby?”
“No! Of course not! Maybe I should start from the beginning.”
“Maybe you should, my love.”
“Rosita babysits and cooks for a family called Patterson twice a week. They have two angelic daughters, both teenagers.”
“I’m yet to meet a couple of angelic teenagers, Rosemary, but I’ll take your word for it.”
“These girls are different. Anyway there is also nine-year-old boy… oh my God; I should say there was a nine-year-old boy. They were celebrating one of the girl’s birthdays today. There were about a dozen guests. Sometime during the party this boy, Parry, must have wandered off. When they were cutting the cake and taking pictures, his father noticed that the boy was missing. He went to look for him to make sure he got some pictures of Parry with his sister, that’s when they found him in the pool.”
“Why does Rosita insist that she drowned him?”
Rosemary sighed heavily. “Oh, you know what she’s like about children. She feels it is all her fault; she should have kept an eye on him. That’s really the reason she was employed. He was apparently a little difficult but Rosita managed him and he became very attached to her.”
“I’m sorry about the poor child, and his parents, but I’m glad Rosita’s not physically responsible. The way she was carrying on I thought…” Ryan was interrupted by the ring of his mobile. It was Alan Dawson.
“Ryan, is Rosita at your place?”
“Hello to you too. Yes she is. What’s wrong?”
“There was an accident this afternoon at a birthday party…”
“I know the boy drowned. Rosita’s here crying her heart out but why are you looking for her?”
“We have to talk to everyone that was present. The father of the boy is here. He doesn’t think it was an accident. He thinks someone’s killed his son. You might as well drive Rosita over to the station so someone can question her… someone other than you and me.”
“Who’s in charge of the investigation?” asked Ryan.
“You will be, but someone else will have to take her statement. Can you bring her around to the police station?”
“Can you send me 20 wild horses?”
The trip to the police station was not as bad as Ryan had expected. Rosita spent the first 10 minutes appealing to various saints for help. When she ran out of names she decided philosophically that it was now all in the hands of God. She sat back in her seat, folded her hands across her ample bosom and stared out the window. She craned her neck slightly to get a better view of the sky, apparently seeking some indication that God had already started to work on her case.
After a few minutes she told Ryan what was really on her mind.
“Mr Ryan, I not really worried to go to prison, maybe not too bad. But I worry about Tony’s wedding. Who will sit at my place on the bridal party? My place empty and everyone talk bad about me. They call me evil woman, baby killer.”
“You’re being incredibly silly, Rosita.”
“I not being silly at all. You don’t know what I talk about.”
“That, I can’t argue with.”
“Tony has mother-in-law, she very cheap; she buy cheap food. When she find out I’m in prison, she become boss of the wedding and Tony say yes all the time, because he scared of her. Maybe, she even buy cordial, not soft drink but cordial and she shame me in front of everybody. I never hold my head up until I die.”
“But I thought you’re going to be in prison; why are you worried about holding your head up?”
“I talk about when I get out, I don’t stay forever. One day I get out and I very ashamed; hold my head down.”
“Because they served cordial at your son’s wedding!”
“Yes, what more shameful than that?” she asked looking at Ryan wide eyed.
“Not serving a prison sentence apparently.”
Alan re-arranged the files on his desk, moved a paperweight slightly to the left and then back to the right. He then started to clean his telephone with a tissue. He avoided Christian’s eye on the other side of the room and tried to look anywhere but at the man in front of him. Robert Patterson had come into the station and told one of the constables that he wanted to speak to someone in charge. Alan had met him and Patterson told him that he wanted his son’s murder investigated. After some further questions on both sides, Patterson had ascertained that Alan was not the highest-ranking officer at the station and had refused to elaborate any further until Superintendent Donovan arrived. Alan and Christian had tried unsuccessfully to get the man to talk but he only shook his head. He sat slumped in his chair. He was dark, slightly balding and Alan estimated somewhere in his late 50s. It felt like an eternity before Donovan arrived but it was 12 minutes exactly.
Donovan came in and extended his hand, “Mr Patterson I’m very sorry to hear about your son. I know words are inadequate but… please tell me what I can do for you.”
“You can find out who pushed down my son’s head and held it in the water until he stopped breathing,” replied Patterson.
Donovan sat down slowly, his eyes on Patterson the whole time. “Why don’t you tell me what happened and why you think your son’s death was not an accident?”
“I’ll tell you a little about myself and my family first. My wife’s name is Naomi; we have three children… two children. My eldest daughter turned 16 two days ago, her name is Venus. Aphrodite is three years younger and Parry would have turned 10 in two months time. I am an accountant by profession. I had a practice not far from where we live but seven years ago I closed down the business and started working from home. There are times that I have to see some clients on their own premises. We therefore had to hire a full-time babysitter, for Parry.”
“Does your wife also work?” asked Donovan.
Patterson swallowed and twirled the wedding band on his finger, “My wife doesn’t work as such, but she is away from home a lot. I should explain superintendent, the reason I closed down my business was because of Parry. He can be a difficult child, not everyone can manage him.”
“I see,” said Donovan hoping he would in time.
“When Parry was three years old we realised that… well… he had some problems. It wasn’t anything major, he suffered from A.D.H.D. Do you gentlemen know what that is?”
“Attention Deficiency/Hyperactivity Syndrome,” said Christian speaking for the first time.
Patterson turned to Christian, “That’s correct. I won’t go into details of what it all means for now but let’s just say he was considered to be a difficult child by certain people. We had to continually watch him.”
“Please continue,” said Donovan after a short pause. Patterson had stopped to rub his eyes several times with his palms and continued, “Parry had a fear of water, as well as a fear of heights. Our pool has a six-foot gate that’s always locked. All our children only swam under supervision, my wife and I insisted on that. I know that’s not a great deal to go on with but the gate was locked as always this afternoon. It was only after the ambulance had come and gone that I realised the gate stood wide open and I can tell you Superintendent, there is no way that child could have reached the latch. The key was sitting in its normal place on the key rack. Someone had opened the gate and taken my boy in there and I want you to find out who it was.”
No one spoke for a while. Donovan looked at the two detectives quickly and received a slight shrug from Christian and a shake of the head from Alan.
“Mr Patterson, you’re right in saying that there is not much to go on with. The simplest explanation is that someone did open the gate and accidentally left it open and your son wandered in. I know you say he’s afraid of water but is it possible that with no one around he thought he would try and swim anyway?”
“That is out of the question. I hope you’re not going to try and sweep this under the carpet with lame explanations, Superintendent,” said Patterson starting to raise his voice.
“I hope you will give us a little more credit than that. If you suspect foul play we will certainly make a full investigation. I should tell you that I have spoken to our own doctor, Dr Bhawani. He has no way of telling if it was accidental drowning or if, as you suggest, someone held the boy’s head down. His preliminary examination which is by no means conclusive doesn’t show any signs of force or any bruises on the back of the child’s neck to indicate someone held his head down. I’m expecting a full report from him in a few days and we will know for certain then.”
“Does that mean you will not start the investigation until you receive the report?”
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