The Real Bella Pleasance

      Back in his room, Jona booted up his laptop. He opened his internet browser. He looked at his watch. Not much time – he was due to collect Bella in an hour, and what he was looking for might be difficult to find.

      It didn't take as long as he had feared. Twenty minutes later he was reading a local newspaper report. An article from nearly four and a half years ago.

     He zoomed in on the grainy photograph which accompanied the article, and peered at the monitor. It was a holiday photograph. Colin Pleasance had been an ordinary-looking chap, but his wife, Marie... Well, she was... breathtakingly lovely. She was smiling disarmingly at the camera. He knew that smile – he saw it every day. She even had the same heart shaped face. There was little doubt in his mind now, but he still needed to know more.

    He went into Bella's bedroom. Where would she keep it? He opened drawers, looked in cupboards, and finally, under the bed, he found a metal box. Not locked. Good. He glanced at his watch again. He had a couple of minutes at best. Bella would not be impressed if he was late. He rummaged through the box, and found the document he needed at the bottom. Bella's birth certificate.

     He scanned it quickly. Place of birth. It was a pity they only gave the town and the district, but he knew there was only one hospital there, and doubted that a first time mother would opt for a home birth, not eighteen years ago.  He thought.  Yes, it was possible.  Two blue eyed baby girls, born the same day...  You heard that these things happened.

     He put everything back, as fast as he could, then ran to the car. He didn't actually care if he was late, but he needed to see Bella. He was going to initiate a conversation with her, for the first time ever.


     Bella sat on the wall outside the building where she'd been conducting a meeting which had just finished. She joggled her foot up and down. Rage was building up inside her. Jona was late. How dare he? She'd send him back to where he came from. Bella Pleasance didn't give second chances.

     She saw the car approaching and stood, ready to let fly at him. Jona got out of the car, a look of real remorse on his face.

      ''Bella, I'm so sorry! Please forgive me – it was the traffic. I didn't mean to keep you waiting.'' He looked deep into her eyes, his own full of penitence and compassion.

      Bella was taken aback. She looked at Jona in amazement, lost for words. She gazed back, making the most of this unexpected eye contact.

     ''Oh... that's all right, Jona.'' she said, still gazing. ''You can't help the traffic, can you?''

      ''Fancy riding up front with me for a change, Bel?'' he asked, opening the front passenger door.

     Bella almost fell over her feet in her rush to get into the car. What was up with Jona? She smiled to herself. Maybe he'd come to his senses, and realised his true feelings for her.   She'd known if she was patient it would happen eventually.

     He was making small talk, and Bella was responding, feeling happy at this state of affairs, when Jona changed the subject.

    ''What were your parents like, Bel?''

     She turned in the seat and looked at him, then shrugged. Strange question to ask out of the blue, but at least he was talking to her.   She'd talk about anything he liked as long as this carried on.

     ''My parents?'' She snorted. ''Dad was a fool and Mother was a ninny,'' she said. ''I don't know how I ended up with such idiots.''

     ''In what way? Why do you say they were idiots? Were they... educationally subnormal or something?   Is that what you mean?'' he asked, innocence in his tone.

     She bristled at that. ''No, of course not.    No, HE was a pushover, always giving money to charity, a sucker for the hard-luck story.    SHE just went around smiling and laughing and singing all day. It irritated me.''   She looked out of the window, scowling.

     ''Were they good parents, though?   They looked after you all right, maybe even spoiled you a bit, being an only child and that?''

     ''I suppose so.   They didn't appreciate me though.    Always taking me to therapists and quacks to find out why I was like I am. As if  there was something wrong with me.    It never occurred to them that I'm the normal one and it's everyone else who's ... flawed and weak.   Fools.    Served them right, what happened to them. I was better off without them.''    She turned to gaze at Jona, who had his eyes resolutely ahead.    ''And if I hadn't....that hadn't... happened, I would never have met you, Jona, would I?''    He changed gear and she stroked his hand.

     Jona barely suppressed a shudder at her touch, but he smiled, grimly. He was sure, now.


     He was dying to talk to Cat, but Bella was watching his every move and following him round the house, after the conversation in the car.   He made a mental note to lock his door tonight.

     ''I'm going to bed. He said, around 11pm.   ''Feeling a bit rough tonight.''

    Cat looked concerned.   Bella looked disappointed.   He looked at Cat, trying to communicate, longing to tell her.   He went to his room.

     And sat by the door.   He waited.   Eventually he heard one door open and close, and shortly afterwards, another.   He gave it another half hour, then crept along the corridor.

     He tapped, very softly, on Cat's door.   Nothing.   He knocked louder, holding his breath and listening.

     Cat came to the door, her mouth dropping open when she saw him, his finger to his lips.   He put his other index finger against hers and pushed her into the room, pushing the door closed with his foot.

     ''What?'' hissed Cat. ''What is it?''

     He sat on her bed, grabbing her hands and pulling her down to sit beside him.

     ''Catriona.'' he said, looking into her bright blue eyes. ''Where were you born?''

     She told him.   He looked at the floor, then back at her. He took a deep breath, holding her hands tightly.

    ''Catriona. Cat.''

     She held his gaze, looking worried.

     ''What is it, Jona? What's wrong?''

      He took another breath, deeper than the last.

     ''Bella didn't push her parents off that cliff.''

     Cat looked at him. Puzzled.   She opened her mouth to speak, but his next words stopped her.

     ''Catriona,  it was YOUR parents she murdered.''

The End

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