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Letting Out the Worms


For Whizz, Horace and Mavis

Copyright © 2020 Sue Nicholls

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-9997539-1-7


With gratitude to my family: Husband Dave, Daughter Helen and parents Meg and Reg, for reading and commenting with honesty. And my talented daughter Stephanie for her fantastic cover design. Also, to my dear husband, Dave, for his patience and financial, technical and moral support.

Belinda Hunt of Mardibooks got me started on my writing journey and taught me so much. My eternal thanks to her for this great gift.

Finally, I could not have achieved this novel without the help of my Buddhist practice. For further information and to find absolute happiness, visit https://www.sgi.org/ or https://sgi-uk.org/


The people and places in this book are entirely fictional. I have never visited Mauritius and the restaurant, Le Chamarel and its location near the promontory are made up.

Any resemblance to real people of the characters in this or any other books by Sue Nicholls is coincidental.


An old Matchless motorbike gleamed at the curbside in the autumn sunshine. Beside it, a figure, clad in red leather, shook its helmeted head. Fuel blockage? The helmet shook, No. Plugs? Another no.

The figure shrugged, lifted the red helmet from a small, neat head of cropped, white-blond hair and tucked it under one arm. She gave one last puzzled look at her bike and wrinkled her nose, making her silver nose ring wiggle. A careful observer would spot a tattoo - a delicate, pink rose - growing from inside the collar of the leathers.

Clutching her protective headgear under one arm, Kitty Thomas strode to her building’s entrance and took the uncarpeted stairs, in twos, to the front door of her spartan flat. Although this had been her home for three years, the place was the same today as when she moved in. It was her opinion that it existed only to provide the necessities of life: a space in which to sleep, eat and work. This pragmatism was anathema to her best friend, Sam, who viewed life almost entirely in terms of colour and form.

Kitty slotted her key into the lock and let out a sigh. She was weary, and looking forward to a shower and a beer. But when the door swung open, she halted on the threshold and stared at an envelope lying on the mat. Thumping her boot onto the familiar handwriting and leaving a pattern of diamonds across the white surface, she marched to her bedroom to strip off.

After a shower, and dressed for comfort in soft pyjamas, she flipped the cap off a Budweiser, keeping her eyes from the letter that sang to her like a Siren. To keep herself occupied, she decided to draw up a plan for maintenance of the motorbike and stalked to the sitting room, snatching up a roller-ball pen from the dining table.

In her childhood, her father, Paul, rode the Matchless every day, maintaining its perfection to the exclusion of almost everything else. Kitty and he would spend hours in Paul’s regimented garage, primping, de-greasing and re-greasing the bike’s components. In this way, Kitty learned about the workings of the internal combustion engine and the bike’s other mechanical parts. Sometimes, the two would take outings, Kitty low in the sidecar, excited by her view of the tarmac and hedges rushing past. On her eighteenth birthday, she became the bike’s sole owner. ‘I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for it now,’ Paul had said with a hint of tears in his eyes.

The small, soiled rectangle lay on the doormat, distracting her from her task. Other similar letters had arrived over the years, but after reading the first one or two, she had torn up the rest, unopened. This week, though, one had landed every day and their silent urgency disturbed her. Unable to bear it, she stuck the pen behind her ear, and still holding her beer, stomped down the hall and swiped up the envelope. In the kitchen, she stood by the fridge, ready to open another beer if the contents of this latest communication made one a necessity.

The printed logo on its back confirmed its source, HM Prisons, Lymchester.

Dear Kitty,

I think about you often. That little girl who stood so joyfully at the chapel doorway to surprise her mother on our wedding day, and waved her goodbye at the airport, not knowing it would be her last sight of her.


Kitty blinked.

Your mum and I loved each other very much, and it was our greatest wish to give you a loving, stable home.


My reason for writing now, is that I am due for release. I see from the On-Line Proclaimer that you are a journalist, and a hard-hitting one at that. As you know, I have always denied murdering your mother. I tell you again; I am innocent and determined to prove it. As a professional, it might interest you to help me investigate what really happened to all those women. What a scoop if you discovered a miscarriage of justice.


In your shoes, I probably would not come. But in the faint hope you are curious enough to meet the now much older man to whom your mother gave her love and trust, I will be out at 9am on Thursday, 15th September.

With every good wish,

Max W. Owen-Rutherford.

Kitty screwed the cheap paper into a ball and flung it the length of the hallway, where it bounced back onto the mat. Such cheek. To imagine she would meet him: the man who murdered her mother. She drained her beer and dropped to her haunches on the tiny floor, supporting her back on a cupboard. Gazing at the fridge door, she thought back to that time. There was so much

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