Kelly didn't speak until we were on the ferry, in the café drinking coffee, we didn't feel like food. In the car Lorraine had rung round, finding out what she could, whilst Kelly just lay curled up on the back seat. She hadn't cried yet, and from experience when my mum died, crying is necessary, it helps with the grief.
"So what now?"
The question from Kelly broke the silence, Lorraine answered.
"We're going to the police station, they'll take us to the scene, at the moment I'm not sure where it is, or why they were there. As best as I know at the moment they were upstairs in a shop in Barnsley, there was a gas explosion which destroyed the shop and the houses either side."
"Will I have to see the bodies?"
"You're dad's solicitor has identified them, so if you don't want to see them that's OK. They're having a post mortem this morning, but the solicitor assures me it's just a formality as it's an unexpected death."
"What about us? Will this affect us at all?"
"Well I hope not, we're your friends, and friends pull together in times of need."
At this Kelly broke down, deep sobs shook her body. Lorraine moved in and held her tight whilst I grabbed some paper towels. After a few minutes the tears subsided, between sniffs she whispered "You're my only friends, and don't want to lose you too".
Kelly got up to tidy herself up in the bathroom, "do you need me honey?"
"No it's OK Lorraine, my coffee is cold, can I have another?"
"Sure, take your time, and I'll fetch you another when you come out."
When she'd gone I asked Lorraine about the friends comment, which was something I'd wondered about, as she never mentioned any.
"It's very sad, you've seen her house haven't you", I had, only once when I drove her home after our first night together, I didn't take much notice then, but I remembered it was big, and behind a high wall. "She lives in luxury, but she's isolated, that big wall keeps people away. Then there's her school, she should go to the school I went to, but her mum decided it wasn't very good, which is probably true, so Kelly goes to a private girl's school. It's very strict and the girls are very snobby, very few of them will talk to her, and I don't think she has any contact with them outside of school. Her whole world was her family, you, me, and the people she met when working in the hotel.
"I think her parents were just doing what they thought was best, the area where they live isn't exactly Mayfair. They built that high wall and installed CCTV after one of the neighbours was killed by a burglar. It's just that Kelly hasn't been allowed to grow up like a normal girl. This week may well be the happiest week she's had in a long time, at least this terrible news happened after her birthday." She looked up to see Kelly coming out of the bathroom, she didn't look much better, "go and get us some more coffee, and a Mars bar or something, she needs chocolate to cheer her up."
I did as I was told, fetching coffee, they had no Mars so I bought a couple of Galaxy bars.
"Oh Dave you are a sweetie, are these for me?" Kelly took the Galaxy bars and started to eat one, but not without too much enthusiasm. She did look a bit better when she'd finished it though, and almost perky after she'd drunk her fresh coffee, by which time it was time to get back to the car.
We were met off the ferry by a female police constable, who'd been sent from the Southampton station to check Kelly was OK. I was introduced as Lorraine's partner to explain my presence. She radioed her control room and advised them of my licence plate, "you're flagged for the next 6 hours, so as long as you don't drive like an idiot any tickets will be cancelled"
Lorraine and Kelly thanked the constable for her concern and we hit the road. As it was still before 7am Southampton was pretty clear and within a few minutes we were on the M3, and 10 minutes later we were on the M40, where I opened up and was soon cruising along the mostly empty motorway at 120mph, approaching Oxford traffic built up so I dropped down to 80, and the M1 had a lot of roadworks which kept us below 60mph. Tension was building up in the car, we wanted to get home, even though nothing at home would be welcoming. After Northampton the road opened up again, so I put my foot down, cancelling the cruise control which had been set at 50mph for the last hour, I quickly hit 120mph again and in less than an hour we were on the outskirts of Doncaster where we hit traffic again, just after 10am on a Saturday, lots of shoppers heading into town.
The traffic noise awoke Kelly, who'd been asleep curled up on the back seat. Lorraine squeezed my knee, I looked back and smiled at Kelly through the mirror.
We wove through traffic, slowly circling the town centre until we reached the Police Station. I was thankful for the amazing Mercedes car, as we arrived as relaxed as possible, the cramped confines of my previous car would not have helped on a day like this.
Kelly's parents' solicitor met us at the front desk, he introduced himself as Maxwell Carruthers, he looked like an old-school solicitor with his three-piece suit and club tie. He checked his slim gold watch, "you made good time..." he looked at me, awaiting my name.
Lorraine took up the bait, "Dave Foster, my partner. He'd kindly taken myself and Kelly away for a few days, to celebrate her birthday."
"Quite, well the investigating officer is still at the scene, so we'll go there straight away. My car is just out front, we'll give Mr Foster's car a rest as it must be out of breath after the high speed run up here."
He led us to his Jaguar, one of the new XJ series, I expected nothing less from this man. He drove us with both car and speed, and we were soon on the outskirts of Barnsley. We parked up in the middle of the road, any further progress prevented by crime scene tape and a pair of fire engines. Beyond the road looked to be mostly motor-parts dealers and tattoo parlours, a DVD rental shop stood out with its bright blue and yellow signage, a typical scene on the outskirts of many city centres, a buffer-zone between the high pressure selling of the main shopping centre and the housing estates, behind this street would be back-street garages, small factories and depressed terraced housing.
We got out of the car and were approached by a wiry man in a tatty suit, he walked up to Carruthers who pointed out Kelly, the man took Kelly's hand, "Hello Kelly, my name is Detective Inspector Brown, I'm so sorry for your loss." He looked over at Lorraine and I, "are these people related to you in any way?"
Kelly didn't like that question one bit, she looked up at the detective and stormed, "I have no relatives any more, they're all gone, these people are the best friends anyone can ever have, they're better than relations as I chose them myself. Anything you want to say to me can be said in front of my friends."
"Steady on girl, be careful what you say," butted in Carruthers.
"And you can be quiet, my family have all been killed, if I want to yell and scream please let me. Now Detective Brown, is that right?" he nodded, "I feel better now, can you tell us all everything, because I've got to admit I'm puzzled about why my whole family would be in this part of Barnsley on a Friday night, our home and business are in Doncaster."
"Before I go into that, can I have your friends' details please."
"Oh yeah, sorry. This is Lorraine Peters, she's my oldest friend, and is the receptionist at my parents' hotel, she took me on holiday to celebrate my 16th birthday, which was yesterday. That's David Foster, Lorraine's partner, he's been very kind and driven us around for the last week."
"Thank you, if you'll all follow me we'll got to the onsite incident room, where we'll try to help each other out."
Hidden by the fire-engines was an articulated lorry, inside were a number of police and fire service person sat at tables with laptops.
"Do any of you want drinks, we have some hot stuff that's almost coffee, and some other stuff that looks similar, but is almost tea."
Kelly giggled at this, which was a good sign I think, "Can I have an almost coffee please", we all concurred except for Carruthers who opted for almost tea. We sat round a large table with our drinks and the detective picked up a folder from a desk and joined us. The almost coffee was almost OK.
"Right, here's what we've got so far. The building was an adult bookstore, it belonged to a company called Xcite Trading Ltd, which we've traced to your father..."
"What, my dad owned a porn shop? Never..."
"Actually your dad owned a chain of 8 of them around this area."
"When did this happen, I knew nothing about them,"
Carruthers interrupted, "if I could just join in at this point, I've checked our records this morning and I have some further details. Your father didn't deal with me directly in relation to this business, it was done through our property department, which is why I knew nothing earlier.
"Five years ago your father purchased this business from a man called Johnny Parks, although we're not 100% sure that's his real name. According to our files Mr Parks was in considerable debt to non-official financial institutions, they were threatening to kill his family, your father was approached by a mutual friend who knew he was looking to invest in a new business. Terms were agreed and your father took control, Mr Parks paid off his creditors and I can find no further trace of him anywhere.
"Your brother Stephen Adams is listed as the company director, and our assumption is that he was in day to day charge of the company"
.... There is more of this story ...