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The cottage was always quiet; the soft blue walls made it seem bigger than it actually was. Rachel had always lived there ever since her auntie died and left it to her. It was very remote, along a heavy-hedged back country lane, miles away from anyone else. Rachel returned from work one evening late and lay back on her sofa after opening the french windows to let the warm grass scented breeze blow through the stuffy cottage.

She lay back; her long brown hair was released from its clip and hung over the arm of the sofa. She kicked off her shoes and lay back picking up the stereo controller from the floor and turning on the CD player which began to play the CD she had put in the night before. A relaxed song started up; it was her Stereophonics album. The song which came on reminded her of the previous night when her new man Steve had cooked for her then by nine the next morning he’d performed a magical disappearing act.

Rachel had been single for about a year and a half and now she was twenty-five and she’d decided she needed to get out and meet a new man after her and Andrew had split up. She was now working as a family law solicitor after years of training; her job had been the cause of the break up with Andrew. Doing the job she did she got involved with a lot of jealous ex wives whose husbands she’d help divorce them. This one woman called Silvia Ripley had attacked her and she had a restraining order put on her and she’d never bothered Rachel again. This was about the same time that Andrew got fed up and bailed on Rachel and fu

nnily enough for one of her clients who had just been filing a divorce from her possessive husband and had been spending a lot of time at the cottage when Andrew was also living there. Rachel had never quite recovered from finding out about it because she had been with Andrew for five years and it came as a pretty huge shock.

Rachel had met Steve in a pub when she was chatting with Andrews younger brother Rob, Steve was his best mate. Steve was younger than Rachel by two years, he worked as a chef in a restaurant in the town. He was quite muscular built with short, black, tight curly hair and gorgeous dark eyes. Rachel liked him immediately and the next night when she was at home in the bath the doorbell rang. It was Rob; he’d come over for a chat. He knew she was home because all the lights were on and when she didn’t answer the door Rob opened the letter box and shouted, “Rachel, it’s Rob, are you okay?”

She sat up in the bath and shouted back, “Rob, I’m in the bath, the spare key is under the blue flower pot, let yourself in.”

“Alright.”

He let himself in and she got out of the bath and put on her night shirt and dressing gown (it was about ten o-clock) and went into the sitting room where Rob was sat grinning.

“What?” said Rachel.

Rob looked at her and smiled and said, “Oh dear Rach’ what has happened to you, you used to always be out with all your mates on a Saturday night.”

She looked up with a sad look on her face; “Your brother is what happened to me, you should know that Rob.”

Rob and Rachel had always kept in touch because they’d always got on well as friends. When she broke up with Andrew, Rob had been a shoulder to cry on, which seriously got to Andrew and he got a bit violent with him.

“Yeah, but you have to move on Rach, he’s an idiot to have done what he did to you and its been over a year and him and that woman didn’t exactly last, it was all of a three month thing before she got back with her husband.”

“I know Rob, but we’d been together for five years it wasn’t exactly a little fling we had was it?

“Very true but he’s an idiot as I said and you can do much better and that is why I am here.”

Rachel looked at him puzzled, tying up her hair in a loose ponytail. Oh god here we go, this better be good.”

He looked at her and smiled cheekily then said, “Well, I think you’ll like it.”

“Come on then get to the point.”

“Okay, Okay. You know my mate Steve who I was with last night.”

“Yeah.”

“Well he thinks you are quite nice and he wants you to come out with us two next Saturday night with one of your mates.”

Rachel was intrigued, she’d thought Steve was rather nice when she first saw him but hadn’t really given it a second thought because he hadn’t given her any signals.

“Really!” she said

“Yeah, do you like him?”

“Like is an understatement, he’s gorgeous.”

“Oh good well you won’t mind if I bring him here tomorrow to meet you then.”

She raised her eyebrows. “No I have no objections to that, but you know my best mate, the blonde one who laughs a lot called…”

“Ally.”

“Yeah.”

“I know, she came on to me at that party you and Andrew had that Christmas.”

“Oh yeah, that was so funny, she’s going to be here tomorrow.”

“Yeah I like her, well we’ll come around at about eight.”

“Yeah okay, you’re not going yet are you?”

“Yeah I don’t want to interrupt your evening alone.”

“Oh it really isn’t as good as it sounds, you don’t want to stay here tonight do you, it’s just it is actually quite scary here alone and we haven’t had a really good chat for ages.”

“Okay, we can have a chat about Steve.”

So Rob stayed the night in the spare room after they had stayed up until three in the morning talking.

The next day he left at about one and Rachel started to tidy her house before the others came round that evening. Rob was a good friend to Rachel, he checked up on her most days. He was very like Andrew in his looks; they both had short, light brown hair and bluey green eyes. They were both smooth talkers and could always make people smile. The only difference was Andrews temper sometimes when he’d had a bad day or drunk to much he would totally fly off the handle, which always upset Rachel and she was the only person who could calm him down.

Sunday night and Ally, Rob and Steve came around. Rachel clicked with Steve right away and Rob just sat their making Ally wet herself laughing all night with his filthy jokes. They all left at about midnight and arranged to meet at a pub on the next Saturday night for a bit of fun.

The week passed quickly and it was Saturday night and Ally was at Rachel’s and they were both getting dressed to impress. Their taxi arrived at half past eight and took them to “Rezza’s Bar.” They met Rob and Steve outside but as they went through the big silver doors the first person Rachel’s eyes met with at the bar were Andrews. He didn’t look all together too happy and he was sat alone and he looked pretty drunk. She was worried about Steve because she knew what Andrew was like when he was drunk. They went over and sat in the corner of the pub then Ally and Rachel went up to the bar to get the drinks. They ended up right next to Andrew. Ally stood between them but it didn’t work and when Rachel was walking back with the drinks he whispered coarsely in Rachel’s ear, “You’ll regret this, Rachel.” She just ignored him and walked back to the corner and didn’t tell the others what he had said to her. It did worry her and that night when she arrived back home alone she was so scared that she had to carry a golf club around with her. It was about four in the morning when she heard a crash from outside, she woke up with a start and sat up in bed petrified, she tried to move but couldn’t, she was like a rabbit in the headlights of a car which was gradually getting closer and closer. Her eyes started into the darkness off the room her breathing became faster and faster and she was finding it hard to hold back the tears of sheer fright. She was sat up, dead still for almost fifteen minutes before she plucked up the courage to turn on the lamp next to her bed. She began to cry with her head gripped firmly in her shaking, pale hands. There was nothing she could do and noone she could call who wouldn’t be fast asleep or drunk. She lay back in the bed with the light on; wide awake until it gradually got light outside. That night her and Steve had actually got somewhere, they’d chatted all evening and at the end she got a goodnight kiss and he arranged to come around to cook her a meal the next day. It became light and Rachel couldn’t stay in bed anymore, she got out of bed at about quarter to seven and checked everything was okay. She sat watching television clutching a cup of tea in her hands. At about half past ten she decided to ring Rob and tell him what had happened and what Andrew had said to her. Rob told her not to worry and that Andrew wouldn’t do that to her.

During that day Rachel had to work on a case about a man who was trying to sue his wife because she found another woman’s underwear under their bed and torched his new car and broke his wrist with a tennis racket. It was confusing and she didn’t have much information to work with. She spent most of the day working and then at seven the doorbell rang, it was Steve with a bottle of wine and all the ingredients he needed to make Rachel dinner. Rachel had cleaned the kitchen that morning which was lucky because later Steve told her he hated working in a messy kitchen and commented on how clean hers was. Rachel carried on working for another hour or so while Steve continued cooking away in the kitchen. At eight Steve came into Rachel’s study and said, “It’s all ready.”

They both ate in the dining room and the both talked, by eleven they were both shattered and slightly drunk. Steve couldn’t drive home so he stayed the night and not on the sofa!

That evening Rachel returned home from work and dreaded spending the night alone.

A week or so had passed and Steve had been around quite a lot, Rachel was still working on her case and it was going really well because she was winning.

One Tuesday night Rachel returned from work and picked up the post from the doormat. Most of them were bills but one was had a hand written address which intrigued Rachel. She thought it might have been from her sister Beth who lived in South Africa but then saw an english stamp. She opened it and unfolded a plain piece of paper and typed on it in big black letters was, “I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE AND NOW I’M GOING TO RUIN YOUR LIFE LIKE YOU RUINED MINE, RACHEL!”

Rachel was written in red letters, this was just another thing that scared Rachel after the night when she heard the noises outside. She didn’t know anyone who would have written something that twisted and deranged as a joke so Rachel rung the police. The police came to her house and looked at the letter. There were two policemen, Inspector Mark Gates and Inspector Peter Fielding. They couldn’t do much to help but apart from that she should have someone living with her.

Back at the station Gates and Fielding looked at the letter.

“It’s a wind up, noone round her would write something like that.” Said Fielding.

Mark Gates studied the letter and then said, “Nah, I doubt it, it’s probably a mate trying to scare her. Do you think we should find out a little more from her just in case?”

Fielding looked up from his newspaper and said, “I suppose we ought to really.”

Back at her cottage Rachel was sat looking at her phone list to see who she could call, she didn’t really want to ask Steve because if it was Andrew messing around it would make it worse. She decided to ask Ally. Ally was all for it and that evening brought round all her stuff and they watched a film. That night they shared Rachel’s bed because they were both scared, they talked about memories and Andrew. Rachel had known Ally ever since she was seven and they’d been best friends all the time.

Another fortnight passed and Ally was still staying with Rachel it was an early Friday morning at three thirty when the phone rang, Rachel answered it, her voice shaking. From the other end nobody answered but she could hear them breathing. She hung up to see Ally stood in the doorway looking like a ghost. She picked up the handset again and rang one, four, seven, one. From the other end the woman’s recorded voice said, “You were called today at, three thirty Am. The caller withheld their number.”

Rachel held the phone away from her ear, her whole body was now shaking, “who was it Rach.” Said Ally in a faint voice.

Rachel put the phone back on the hook and said, “I don’t know, they didn’t say anything and with held their number.”

“Oh Christ Rach.” Said Ally, “Andrew wouldn’t do this to you would he?”

Rachel looked up now looking quite angry and said, “I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to him properly since we broke up so he has no reason to do this. Maybe he’s changed I don’t know but I’m going to his house tomorrow to find out. If it isn’t then it’ll get the picture of it being him out of my head.”

“Are you sure Rach? What if something happens.”

“He wouldn’t, not in the house and anyway his little brother Ed will probably be there or his parents.”

“He doesn’t come across as the kind of person who would do this to a girl?”

“I know but it was just something he said to me one Saturday when I was out.”

“What?”

“Yeah, he said I’d regret something, I didn’t say anything because he was drunk and I didn’t want to deter Steve.

“Rachel.” Said Ally in shock, “Why didn’t you tell those police men that.”

She didn’t say anything at first then said quietly, “Andrew isn’t like that, everyone has got this notion that he’s aggressive, he isn’t he never laid a finger on me all the time I was with him. Just because he beat Rob up so bad when that woman finished it with him, everyone reckons he used to hit me.”

“So he didn’t hit you, but what about at that party when you arrived not speaking and you had a huge bruise on your face just before you split up.”

“It wasn’t him, it was that woman who beat me up and had the restraining order put in place on her. We weren’t speaking because I refused to go to the police about it and he had a go and we didn’t speak.”

“Rach has it ever occurred to you it might be her.”

Rachel went quiet and began to tie up her hair then said, “No she had the restraining order put in place and that was ages ago, she hasn’t touched me since.”

“Well I haven’t got a clue but can I sleep in your bed?”

“Yeah.”

They both went to sleep and the next day they both went off to work. At work Rachel had a message from Peter Fielding that asked her to ring the station because he wanted to make an appointment to see her the next day. It was all okay and he was coming around at seven the next evening to get some more information. That evening after work Rachel went up to Andrews, she pulled in the drive and saw his sixteen-year-old brother Ed sat in his mum’s car. Andrews car was parked next to that. Rachel got out and walked up towards the house and as she walked past Ed he said, “Oh my god, who is that, is that Rachel. Haven’t seen you here for a few years.”

She laughed and said, “Yeah tell me about it.” She walked on and gave him a cheeky grin then knocked on the door. Andrews mum Marcia answered, “Rachel! Hello darling, I haven’t seen you for ages, since Rob moved out, how’s it going?”

Rachel smiled and said, “I’m okay, getting a bit snowed under with work but I’m going okay, thanks and you.”

“Yeah I’m okay, so why do we get the pleasure of your company then?”

“I actually came here to see Andrew, is he in?”

Marcia raised her eyebrow and said, “Yeah, he’s upstairs go on up, I’ll see you later, I’ve got to go shopping.”

“Alright then, bye.”

Rachel walked up the stairs and realised that she was alone in the house with Andrew. She walked across the landing and into the doorway of Andrews room. He looked up and gave a half smile half frown look, Rachel said softly, “Andrew, I really need to talk to you.”

Andrew looked up again from his computer where he was typing something for work and said, “What could you possibly need to talk to me about?”

“Andrew, I’m serious, I really need to know what you meant when you said I was going to regret something.”

“Why?”

“Just tell me what you meant Andrew.” She said in a strained voice.

“Okay, calm down Rach. Steve is what I meant. Rob obviously didn’t fill you in on what he did to his last girlfriend.”

She looked him worried about what he was going to say next, “What did he do?”

“He used to hit her, once he put her in hospital when he pushed her down the stairs. He’s bad news Rachel. Rob says he’s changed but some people don’t change. Anyway why did you want to know so badly?”

Rachel was quite stunned by what Andrew had just told her then with her voice starting to shake and tears starting to trickle from her eyes she said, “I got a death threat a few weeks ago and then this morning a half three someone rung up and didn’t speak I could just hear them breathing.”

By now Rachel was crying and she knew it wasn’t Andrew because of the shocked look on his face. He said, “Rachel, babe I didn’t mean to scare you with what I said in that pub. You didn’t think I would do that to you did you?” She looked at him with her face wet with tears and didn’t say anything; “You did didn’t you? I’d never do that to you Rachel or anyone it’s sick, come here.” He put his arms around her and she continued to cry. Andrew held her and said, “I’m really sorry about everything I’ve done to you, I was such an idiot, I don’t even know why I cheated on you because I loved you so much.”

Rachel was quiet and for a moment Andrew thought she was going to run right out of there. She didn’t, “Look Andrew, I don’t want to confuse why I’m here, I loved you too but you hurt me so much, do you understand why I have hated you so much over the last year?”

He looked quite stunned because he was hoping for some kind of reconciliation but instead she was just rubbing the fact that basically she hated his guts into him, “Yeah I understand so if you’re not here for that reason, why do you think I’d do something so petty as to threaten you if I don’t love you which I obviously didn’t because I wouldn’t of run off with Jules.”

“Andrew, I’m not here so you can rub the fact that you cheated on me in my face, I went through enough at the time don’t you think.”

Andrews temper was starting to kick in and he said in a annoyed tone of voice like a father,” I didn’t exactly get off easily, my whole family hated me for doing it to you, I even had a fight with my own brother because of it.”

“Don’t expect me to be sympathetic with you, you brought it all on yourself and got everything you deserved.”

“Yeah exactly so why can’t you just forget it Rachel, I made a really huge mistake and I wish I hadn’t now because I came off worse in the end because I lost both her and you.”

Rachel went quiet, she was perched on the end of his bed and he was sat opposite her on a chair, she couldn’t resist and they kissed. After about two minutes Rachel pulled away and said, “Wow, well you haven’t changed I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing. Anyway look Andrew I have to go home because Ally will start to get worried if I don’t go back. I’m glad we’re friends.”

Andrew gave her a really cheeky smile and said, “Look if you’re worried about staying alone or if you and Ally are scared you know where to find me.”

Rachel raised her eyebrows as she was walking out of the door on to the landing and said, “Lets not go jumping the gun, remember I’m still loosely seeing Steve.”

Andrew rolled his eyes and said as he began to follow her down the stairs into the hall, “Yeah I know but just be careful with him Rachel, he’s got a weird temper and it doesn’t take much for him to get out of control.”

They were now at the front door and Rachel was making her way out of it towards her car and Andrew was stood propped up against the doorframe looking happy and Rachel said, “Thanks Andrew, for warning me about Steve and if I need anything I’ll give you a ring.”

“Okay then see you around.”

“Yeah bye.”

She got into her car and drove home. She walked in the door of her house smiling to herself, secretly she was really pleased that she hadn’t lost her touch with Andrew but she was major worried about what Andrew had told her about Steve. Ally was there and said, “Well did you go to Andrews?” Rachel smiled, “What did you do?” said Ally in an expectant tone.

Rachel began to giggle then said, “Oh not much, we kissed and it isn’t him.”

Ally’s jaw literally dropped, “Rachel, I thought you hated his guts?”

“I did but he apologised for everything and it was a long time ago now, I’m willing to forget.”

“Oh well but did you find out what he meant about the regret thing?”

“Oh my god, yeah, he used to beat up his girlfriend big time, he put her in hospital when he pushed her down the stairs.”

Ally didn’t believe her, “Yeah right, are you sure that isn’t just Andrew trying to scare you off him because he wants you back.”

Rachel thought for a second, “Andrew wouldn’t do that Ally, he’s not like that.”

The conversation drifted off in other directions and the girls decided to go out for a meal together. Rachel hadn’t seen Steve for a few days now, so she was hoping that maybe he’d gone off her. They ended up in a pub and had carvery and sat there talking until kick out time. When they returned home Rachel looked at the front door and in red paint someone had written R.I.P on the white painted wood. The girls looked at each other and were totally freaked out by this, this was getting seriously scary now and a little past a joke and they both knew someone was serious. Rachel opened the door, she’d picked up a garden fork, which had been outside the door, and they went in. On the floor, infront of them was an unmarked envelope on the doormat infront of her. They looked at one another with fear shooting through them. They quickly got into the house and shut the door and turned on all the lights. Rachel carefully opened the letter on the kitchen table; out of the envelope she pulled a piece of white paper and unfolded it. It said this time in big, typed, red letters, “HOW MUCH LONGER WILL I WAIT?”

Both of them began to cry with terror and Rachel picked up the phone and rang the police. The two original inspectors soon arrived and came in and saw the letter and the door, even they were getting worried now. This time they sat and took some thorough notes on Rachel and called some more detectives to inspect all around the property. She told them she was a solicitor and she had to tell them all the details about Steve and Andrew. Afterwards Gates said that he’d have someone there to watch the house all night and that they should call up someone else to stay with them. It wasn’t surprising for Andrew when his mobile phone started ringing at midnight. He recognised Rachel’s number and answered sleepily, “Hey Rach, what’s up?”

She explained to him and he came around right away with loads of his stuff and a baseball bat. As he drove into her drive the policeman sat outside watching the house saw him and he had to explain to him and call up the house to tell Rachel some weirdo with a baseball bat was coming to stay. Rachel answered the door and as soon as he saw her he hugged her. They went indoors and they all went to bed. The night went quickly but all of them found it hard to sleep with all that was going on. The next day the police had managed to discover where the prank phone call had been from and unfortunately it was from a phone box out in the middle of nowhere. During the day they tapped Rachel’s phone line so if someone rang again they could trace it straight away and hopefully catch who was tormenting her.

In the next week unfortunately for both Andrew and Rachel, Steve discovered that Andrew was living with Rachel but he didn’t know why because Rachel wasn’t allowed to tell anyone what was happening apart for Andrew and Ally of course because if there really was some psycho out there they’d be the most vulnerable and they might scare them off if they went around telling everyone or it might endanger their lives as well. Steve wasn’t happy about it and he rang Rachel and had a real stress out on her and got quite aggressive towards her which unfortunately the police were tapped into the phone call and heard and it made him a prime suspect and also the fact that he had been reported to the police by his neighbours when he was with his last girlfriend because they thought they could hear screams but his girlfriend said it was on the television and they couldn’t pin anything on him. Rachel didn’t have a clue who would do this to her and what with the last letter she didn’t know what to do next, even with the police living outside her back door she somehow still didn’t feel one hundred per cent safe. That Friday night when Ally, Andrew and Rachel had a quiet night in Rob turned up. The policeman had had to ask him who he was and had to ring the house up to check that Rachel actually knew him. Rob came in and didn’t look to pleased with Rachel or Andrew.

“Hey Rachel.” He said, “So what’s going on, the police played Steve a little visit yesterday, do you want to tell me what’s going on here and why Andrew is living here and why there is a policeman outside your drive.”

Rachel didn’t know what to say she couldn’t not tell him after all the things he’d done to her. “Look Rob if I tell you what is happening you have to promise not to tell anyone not even Steve.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He said.

“Just listen Rob.” Said Andrew

Rachel took a deep breath, “I keep getting death threats and phone calls, the police questioned Steve because he got quite aggressive down the phone the other day and they were tapped into it. I’m not meant to tell anyone but now you know you can’t tell a soul.”

Rob looked totally stunned by what he had just been told, “Christ, Rach you didn’t honestly think Steve had done that.”

“No I thought it was Andrew, I honestly haven’t got a clue who is doing this to me and I don’t want to endanger any of your lives but I when you’re here I know you’re safe.”

The three carried on talking for most of the night and Rob stayed the night. The next day they all went out which was a bit of a mistake because when the post came there was yet another two death threats and they were numbered one and two. The first one said, “HOW LONG?” and the second one said, “WHERE, WHAT WITH AND WHICH ONE OF YOU? FOUR IS A BIG CHOICE!!!”

That did it they were all totally freaked out, now they had to tell Rob that he was a target as well. Rob took it quite badly and Andrew was about ready to bail on them because he knew that it was seriously getting bad now. Ally couldn’t sleep; the inspectors managed to get her some sleeping pills so she could at least get some sleep. A week or so passed and nothing else had happened, they had managed to see the bright side of things using alcohol as an aid but it was only temporary and when reality did hit in, it was ten times more frightening.

Another fortnight passed and that is when everything started to go totally wrong. It was a Saturday night and Andrew, Ally, Rachel and Rob had all been out together and they all went back to Rachel’s for a safety in numbers reason and as the drove towards her house they could see that Rachel’s bedroom light was on. They didn’t think much of it until they were walking up the garden path to see the back door wide open. They couldn’t go any further when they saw it and they ran back to Ally’s car. They then noticed there wasn’t a police guard there and they rang the police straight away. Inspector Gates and Fielding turned up again and behind them were another group of detectives who went through the house they went into the house and they saw nothing, they went upstairs and that’s when they saw what had happened, Rachel’s room had been ransacked and hanging for the roof by string were pictures of Rachel, Ally, Andrew, Rob and Rachel’s sister Beth.

The police took them to the lab to be fingerprint tested and the four stayed at the police station. They didn’t go back the next day but the police had finished inspecting the property by the Sunday morning, Rachel, Ally and Andrew were steering clear and decided that they were going to go back on Monday morning.

Monday morning came and they all jumped in Ally’s car and went back to Rachel’s house. As they walked to the front door they saw a suitcase outside the front door. It was daylight so they weren’t so scared about someone being there. Rachel looked at a tag on the suitcase handle. It said in block capitals, “PROPERTY OF: MISS BETHANY SARAH BRADBURY, MILL FARM, COOMBE MARTIN, DEVON. EX31 5LH.

It was her sisters old suitcase, deep down Rachel knew that Beth was dead it was imminent that what with the photo and her not being in sight that someone would have done something to her.

“Its Beth’s, where is she?”

Rachel couldn’t hold back the tears, the door was still locked but the door that led around the side of the cottage to the back garden was open. They walked through the doorway and they knew what was going to greet their eyes. On the white flag stones outside the french windows lay the dead body of Beth lying in a pool of blood. Her lips were purple and her skin was white, Rachel broke down into tears. Within minutes the place was crawling with policemen and the whole place was turned upside down looking for anything that would be a clue to who it was. They found nothing and whoever it was they were good at not leaving clues. Rachel, Andrew, Ally and Rob were now put in new accommodation because there was no way that any of them would spend a night in that house ever again.

It took a few weeks before Beth’s funeral but the day soon came. Rachel and Ally were at the church and at Rachel’s parents all day and Andrew was coming later for the actual funeral because he had to work. He finished work at twelve and realised that he had to go back to his parent’s house to get his suit. The funeral was going to start at half one and he had to have a shower so he decided to have it back at his old house. His little brother Edward was at school and his parents were both at the church helping Rachel’s mum and dad. He went in and had something to eat and then had his shower and then put on his suit and was just about ready. As he stepped through the door to go outside something hit him hard on the head and he fell to the ground unconscious.

At the church the funeral was beginning. Rachel was quite angry that Andrew hadn’t turned up. As they walked down the aisle of the church behind the coffin she noticed Beth’s husband James, who she was separated from sat in one seat and right infront of him was Steve. Rachel was baffled as to why they were both there but as soon as it was over and all the guests went back to Rachel’s parent’s farm she soon found out. James was stood alone with a drink in his hand and Rachel was talking to him and he asked her something, “Tell me Rachel, who is the bloke in the dark blue shirt?”

“His names Steve Manning.”

“Oh right.”

Rachel moved on and went to talk to her cousin and as she did so she saw from the corner of her eye James walk up to Steve and hit him full pelt in the face. They were soon split up and that’s when she found out why it had all happened from James. Steve and Beth had been having an affair behind James back for a year when they were first married two years ago, then they moved to South Africa. James had been tidying up their bedroom before he was about to decorate it and found Beth’s diary. A few bits of paper fell out and one had a photo stapled to it. It was a letter from Steve talking about their affair and how stupid it was, and Beth must have stapled the photo of him to it. That’s why Beth had come home because they had split up and she wanted to see Rachel first.

It was about half five the same day that Rachel’s mobile phone started to ring. It was Andrew’s home number that flashed on the screen at her. Andrews’s parents were still at Rachel’s parent’s house so it must have been Andrew. She was just about ready to give him a full blown earful when a voice she recognised but not Andrews spoke down the phone to her, “Rachel, it’s Edward here, you have to come here and tell mum and dad. I’ve just got home from school and found Andrew unconscious outside the back door. I’ve called an ambulance but I can’t feel a pulse.”

“Oh no.” said Rachel. “I’ll tell them and come straight away, keep talking to him.”

“Okay.”

Rachel was as white as a sheet, she went and told Andrews parents and they all rushed to their house, it wasn’t very far away so it didn’t take long. As they came down the last few metres of their lane they could see the lights of the ambulance flashing from outside the house. They pulled into the drive to see Ed with his head in his hands and Andrew being lifted into the back of the ambulance. The ambulance crew had managed to revive him and were taking him back to the hospital to make sure his head was okay and that there weren’t any blood clots or severe damage to his skull.

After spending a week in hospital they gave him the all clear and sent Andrew home. Rachel was now feeling totally responsible for Beth’s death and the attack on Andrew it was starting to get to all of them and Ally was so scared that she would be the next victim. Ally, Rachel, Rob and Andrew had all been moved into a house together and were under tight regulations. The local and national newspapers were plastered in stories about Beth and now Andrew. The whole area was being watched and searched for clues. Andrew and Rachel’s parents were also being watched in case someone took an attempt at killing them as well.

The police were watching every move of the four and no one was allowed to go near them and they weren’t allowed alone anywhere. They were somebody’s prime targets and there was no way the police wanted another dead body on their hands because not only did it make them look bad but also it was causing uproar in the locality. Everyone knew what was going on now.

James and Steve were both suspects in Beth’s murder and the attack on Andrew and they had been questioned about where they were at the times when the things happened but both of them had been released because they couldn’t pin anything on either of them.

A month passed and nothing else had happened until one night when Rob and Andrew were driving back from their parents house, it was raining hard and the visibility was poor as they were driving along there was a huge bang and the car reared out of control and fell thirty feet from a single track road into the bottom of a valley. Back at home it was now ten o-clock and Rachel and Ally were getting seriously worried because they were meant to have been back at half eight. In panic Rachel rang Marcia and asked her if they were still there, they weren’t they had left over an hour before. Rachel then rang Andrew’s mobile number. She got his answer phone and like wise with Rob. She was in major panic now and rang the police. They drove their car round where Andrew and Rob had come from. They reached the spot where the car had crashed. They got out of the car and peered in the rain over the steep side valley and into the grassy bottoms. The saw a mangled piece of metal. They called the ambulance and the fire brigade, basically it was pointless, they were both dead, crushed under the folded car. That night the bodies were removed and the car taken to be examined. A policeman turned up at Rachel and Ally’s.

“Did you find them, are they okay?” said Rachel

The policeman looked at the and took a deep breath and said, ” Miss Bradbury is it?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Can I come in please?”

Rachel nodded and let him in, he sat uneasily on the sofa and once again deep down both Rachel and Ally knew that what had happened was not going to be good. “We found Mr Andrew Berry and Mr Robert Berry their car had crashed and were both dead on the scene. Sorry.”

Both of the girls screamed with hurt, they couldn’t believe that they were both dead, it had gone too far now it had be connected to this killer. Andrew’s family were completely destroyed and Edward took the news really badly which wasn’t suprising and that same night that he found out he disappeared and everyone went completely frantic. They found him at two in the morning sat crying in the middle of their wood on a bridge that crossed their stream. He had cut all up his arms with a stanley knife and was crying his eyes out in the rain.

A week after the crash the car examiners discovered that the two front tyres were damaged with a shotgun bullet and that had indefinitely been the reason for the crash and the death of the two brothers.

Rachel was now basically wishing they would kill her. She had nothing to live for anymore, her boyfriend, best friend and sister were dead and her other best mate was going to die no matter how much was done to prevent it. They couldn’t pin anything on anyone. The only person who was a suspect now was Steve and they had failed to pin anything on him and they asked him if he owned a shot gun and he didn’t so that was also a waste of time.

A year passed Ally and Rachel were still living in a special house for their protection, they could never go back to Rachel’s cottage it wouldn’t be right. Rachel had quit her job as a solicitor; she was also on antidepressants as well as sleeping pills. After a year she hadn’t recovered from what had happened, no one had. Edward had tried to kill himself twice, which was the most heartbreaking thing for Rachel, he’d always been brainy and popular at school, he failed every single exam in his GCSE’s and kept trying to end his life. None of his friends could snap him out of it and his girlfriend couldn’t cope with it and finished with him earlier in the year and he tried to kill himself and then on Andrew’s birthday and neither time had he succeeded. His parents had to pick up the pieces every time.

Ally was still in a state, she was like Rachel she spent all her time popping pills to keep her sane, the had both seen psychologists but they hadn’t helped there was nothing they could do.

It was a late summers evening and for the first time in ages Ally and Rachel had gone back to the cottage to get the rest of the stuff that was there. It smelt and it was spooky. It brought back the horrific memories of what had happened a year ago. They went upstairs to clear out the bedrooms. In one room Rachel found a photo of her and Andrew. She burst into tears and heard a scream from downstairs, she thought it must have been a mouse or something that had scared Ally, “Al mate are you okay?”

There was no reply and the sheer fear flowed through her body and she became completely frozen. She soon snapped out of it and grabbed the baseball bat that was next to the bed from when Andrew had stayed there, that brought back the horrific memories and pure anger kicked in. She walked down the stairs in complete silence; she walked into the sitting room to see her only best friend lying dead on the floor bleeding heavily from her chest. Rachel knew this was her chance to make the person who was killing everyone who meant something to her pay for what they had done to her and her family and Andrew’s family. Without thinking someone put their hand over her mouth and was pressing something hard in her back. A familiar voice said harshly in her ear, “Ah Rachel, it’s your turn now.” It was Steve. Rachel swung the bat and hit his shin. He fell to the ground in complete agony with a knife in his hand. She hit him again and again in the legs and eventually he couldn’t stand up. “What are you going to do Rachel, kill me that would make you just as bad as me.” He said sarcastically.

“Fine I won’t kill you but you have to explain a few things, first what was with the death threats then what were they about?”

Ah well I thought I had to scare you first the first one was really aimed at Beth but I couldn’t be bothered to send it to her and as I knew it was all going to take place at your house then why send it to South Africa, oh yeah and I thought the photo’s in your bedroom were a nice touch and you figured what they meant but that didn’t stop me killing all of you.

” Okay and secondly now tell me why you have killed Beth and why you hated her so much and why you killed Andrew, Rob and Ally and why you want to kill me.”

Steve sat upright, clenching his teeth in pain and Rachel took a step backwards. “Well fair enough Rach but if I tell you I’ll have to kill you afterwards.”

“Okay then.” Said Rachel

“Well I killed Beth because she hated me because of our affair which you already know about. When James found the letter she rang me and had a complete go at me but stupid Beth told me when she was coming back and I was mad. I killed Andrew because he told you about what I done to my ex who coincidentally was your sister and because he stole you from Rob and me because I was only mates with him so I could get to you and Andrew. Ally, well I didn’t plan that one but it was just for fun really because I couldn’t have her witnessing any of it so I thought I might as well kill her too.”

His tone of voice was so relaxed, it angered Rachel so much and before he had the chance to stop her she hit him in the face full pelt with the baseball bat.

“You are sick Steve, how could you do that to everyone you don’t realise how much damage you have done do you?” She couldn’t hold back and she hit him again, she felt his face crunch as she crushed it with the baseball bat, blood started flowing all over her cream carpet and ran into Ally’s blood. He was dead she stood there and cried and kept hitting him until she fell to the floor. She sat staring at the two bodies for about ten minutes before ringing the police. They came and took both the bodies and Rachel was questioned. She wasn’t arrested or anything because she had killed Steve and that pleased a lot of people. She was pretty shocked afterwards for months but proud that she killed Steve after everything he had done.

Ten years passed and Rachel got a new man who she ended up marrying, it was Edward they had always got on well and when he was twenty-one and she was thirty they ended up getting together and three years later they were married much to everyone’s delight and after another three years Rachel gave birth to twins, Alexandra and Bethany which was a new beginning for both families and helped them to get over the loss of Beth, Rob and Andrew.

Edward and Rachel’s parents took a long time to recover and they ended up moving to Spain and buying a villa and living together. Edward and Rachel took on Rachel’s parents farm and that although so much that couldn’t be forgotten had happened, the families had found ways to move on and were beginning to get their lives back together after so long.