This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 739 words.
Sitting in the van, Jon shook his head when he read the address. Broadstairs in Kent was a considerable distance, at least one hundred miles south-east, if not more. That would mean changing hotels, as he had no interest in driving such a long round trip for however many days this next part of the mystery might take. While he was at it, he would change the van back to a car too. He hadn’t enjoyed his short time as a surveillance operative, and if he found himself doing it again in Kent, he would do so from the comfort of a nice car.
It had occured to him that whoever wrote the letter needing help might well be beyond aid by now, but his main concern was how he was going to progress the new book with this change of location. Inspector Johnson and Sergeant Chen would undoubtedly be making the drive from London, after informing the Kent Police they were going to be in their area. He jotted some notes down, so he could flesh out the next chapter later, in his hotel room,.
For now, he wanted a late breakfast, unable to hold out until places began to serve lunch.
The reception staff were very good about him leaving early, and he paid his bill ready for a departure the next morning. A phone call to the car rental company confirmed the van would be collected the next morning at nine, when the replacement car he had ordered was delivered. With no Mercedes available, he chose a Volvo X60 instead. This jeep-like car looked very comfortable, and he would hopefully keep it until he returned to York.
After an unusally light dinner, he arrived back in his room to pack everything for tomorrow, leaving out just what he would be wearing for the trip, and anything else he needed. Researching Broadstairs on the laptop reminded him of a visit he had once made to the small seaside town, part of a south coast book-signing tour. A favourite haunt of Charles Dickens, where he holidayed whilst writing some of his famous books. It seemed entirely appropriate to Jon that he might solve such a mystery for his new book, in a town associated with one of the greatest British writers.
Western Esplanade, where Eloise lived, was a clifftop road with sea views that boasted some impressive houses. He started to ring round some hotels in the town, securing a double room for three nights in the impressive-looking Royal Albion Hotel. Parking was available, and breakfast included in the room rate.
The Satnav in the Volvo showed one hundred and eleven miles to his destination. Feeling relaxed in wool trousers and a cashmere polo shirt, Jon was thinking that if this went on much longer, he would either have to buy some new clothes, or find a laundry service. Choosing the suggested route around the southern stretch of the M25 motorway, he at least avoided the Dartford Toll Bridge, despite the greater distance involved. No doubt the Satnav knew about delays and roadworks.
Three hour’s drive after a hearty breakfast, and he was in the rather upmarket seaside town that he had last visited more than fifteen years ago. The staff at the Royal Albion were immaculately uniformed, and very professional. His room had no sea view, but that didn’t matter to him in the slightest. It was very comfortable, and well appointed. And so it should be, given the price.
He decided to relax, and reacquaint himself with the town before lunch. Eloise could wait until tomorrow, no point in rushing things. She might not even be at home. Although Roderick Bowes had added her land-line phone number to the piece of paper, Jon had decided not to call her. It was far too easy to fob someone off on the phone, and he wanted to see her face when he asked her the question.
The restaurant in the hotel was surprisingly good. That evening, he enjoyed a three course table-d’hote meal before retiring to his room with a bottle of Grenache that he had purchased in the town earlier. Writing up the notes for the novel on his laptop, Inspector Johnson’s police team were speeding along the M2 motorway from London, eager to interview the sister, Eloise.
In the real world, he would drive to her house early the next morning, and show her the letter.