A Certain Malice

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Book: Read A Certain Malice for Free Online
Authors: Felicity Young
Tags: Mystery, australia
frocks and men in gut-stretched work shirts stood in segregated groups, as they always had, discussing wool prices and CWA, horse racing and lamington drives.
    Cam peered through the grimy window of one of the town’s two boutiques where post war dummies with large busts and wasp waists modelled last summer’s sun-bleached clothes.
    No wonder Ruby hated it here.
    But given time, she’d learn to love it. The town might be small, grotty and old, but this was home: this was where they were meant to be.
    The sun was heavy on his head as he scooted between the shady shop awnings, but a wave of cool air rolled over him when he reached the open door of the Glenroyd Arms. He stopped for a moment to savour the sour tang of beer and listen to the contented murmuring from within. For those citizens of Glenroyd with the money and the time, this was the only place to be on a stifling day such as this. Even the adjacent TAB had lost all but its hardcore gamblers to the cool allure of the pub.
    He paused again at the window of the stock feeder’s to peruse the For Sale section. The sun-faded pictures of quaint weatherboard houses surrounded by bucolic farmland were photographed in spring before the summer sun and wind had dried the countryside to a dustbowl. He skipped past these, spending longer on the lists of second-hand tractors, posthole drillers and harvesters, his breath whistling through his teeth when he noticed the prices.
    When he came to the equestrian section, he rubbed his chin, reading through the descriptions of over a dozen horses and ponies. The ponies were too small, the horses too young and flighty for an inexperienced rider. At five foot six, Ruby would have to have something between fifteen-two and sixteen-two hands, an old bombproof schoolmaster who had done it all. But the right horse would come along, if they bided their time.
    A gentle tapping on the window drew his attention from the notices to the smiling face of an elderly woman on the other side of the glass.
    “Mrs Wilmot?” he mouthed. Her face lit up. Her hair, like a white powder puff, bobbed from side to side as she nodded her head.
    “Cameron Fraser, crikey Moses – aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!” she said as he entered the store. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust from the baked whiteness of the street. The store was cool and dark and smelt of grain and dried dog food.
    “They said you’d come back. I nearly dropped in at the station the other day, but held back knowing how busy you’ve been since you arrived.”
    He laughed. “You know you’re always welcome, Mrs Wilmot.”
    She frowned, tapping at her cheek.“Well, come on then, what are you waiting for? Don’t I deserve a kiss?”
    He gave her an extended kiss on the cheek and moaned with mock passion.
    She laughed. “OK, you don’t have to eat me alive. Stand back so I can have a look at you.”
    He stepped back and braced himself for her reaction. When she tilted her head to one side, he focused on the dust motes dancing in a beam of filtered light.
    She clasped his hand. Hers were fibrous and knotted like pieces of root ginger. “I’m so sorry, Cam, sorry about everything.”
    “The worst is over.”
    She nodded. “There’s always the future to look forward to.”
    “And what about you? You still have the teashop?” he asked, keen to change the subject.
    “Crikey, no. I gave that up not long after you left, went to work at St Luke’s Retirement Home. I’m retired from that too now.” She chuckled. “I suppose you could call me a lady of leisure.”
    Cam doubted that. She laughed again and smoothed the imagined wrinkles in her faded cotton frock.
    “I still dream about your vanilla slices.”
    “You and half the boys from St Bart’s, I’m sure. I’m hoping them that used to steal ’em are still getting nightmares.”
    “I’ll bet they are. You had the fastest wooden spoon in the west. How are Greg and Mark?”
    “They run this place now. Doing a grand

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