Fleeced by Julia Wills

Book: Fleeced by Julia Wills Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julia Wills
one else had heard before holding her pencil up towards the screen to check the proportions of the gown she was drawing against the girl on screen.
    “Daddy’d make a good meal,” added Hex, slapping his lips with his black tongue. “Texasss hasssh!”
    Medea shoved Hex back into the damp flannel-lined bag and jabbed him with the heel of her spiked boot, ignoring the muffled squeal of pain. Unfortunately, as Medea had recently discovered, black mambas, unlike black cats, don’t make good familiars. Despite their mean looks and reputation, they’re born daydreamers who’d rather snooze than squirm around a cauldron and spend most of their time lingering like a lost sock under the bed, which is hardly sorceress-chic.
    “Breaking news,” barked the newscaster as the screen flipped to a picture of the British Museum, “from our London correspondent, where reports are coming through that a sheep – yes, you heard me correctly, a
– has run amok through the British Museum. Witnesses say that the sheep seemed to appear out of nowhere in Room 18, home to the Parthenon exhibits.”
    Medea glanced up as the screen changed to a jittery video, clearly from a tourist’s camera, to see Aries looking back at her.
    “According to those present,” the reporter went on, “the sheep was simply not there one moment but there the next, crashing into a caryatid from the Parthenon. A second vandal, this time a boy dressed as an ancient Greek, was accompanying the sheep, although museum guards now tell us that both boy and sheep have been removed from the premises and are being dealt with by the relevant authorities.”
    Medea stared.
    It couldn’t be, she told herself, the image of Aries emblazoned on her mind. It simply could not be him. Except, as her icy brain pointed out, how many other enormous bald rams with horns like bedsprings were there on the planet? Or, in fact, usually in its Greek Underworld.
    Flipping shut her sketchbook, she knocked her coffee cup to the floor.
    “Mistressss?” Hex edged his snout up and stopped, startled by her expression.
    She was smiling, actually smiling. Hex blinked to make sure. But seeing the corners of her mouth lift upwards turned his tepid reptile heart to ice cubes. Medea smiling, you see, was always more dangerous than Medea sulking.
    “Mistressss?” he murmured, sinking back into the bag.
    “Mind your own business,” snapped Medea, dropping her sketchbook on top of him.
    Snatching up her coat and bag, she hurried out of the café, as erratic as a startled scorpion. She didn’t care about the muffled
as her bag knocked into one chair after another. Nor did she notice the customers nudge each other and whisper as she strode past them, out into the square where now, wholly oblivious to its baroque architecture and magnificent fountains, she hailed a taxi to Leonardo da Vinci airport and her private jet.
    17 . Forty-two.
    18 . Caracas.

    Well, that’s enough of her.
    Let’s talk about someone nicer instead: Rose.
    Now, as you might have guessed, Rose’s mother didn’t have much time for television news. No, I’m afraid Dr Pottersby-Weir didn’t have much time for holidays, cinemas, sunbathing in the park, trips to the London Dungeon, cream cakes, bicycle rides or, if you’d asked Rose, daughters, either. And so when Rose found her mother that afternoon she wasn’t remotely surprised to discover her engrossed by something small and twinkling at the end of a microscope, her elbows red from leaning on the desk.
    Rose pulled up the stool beside her mother and sat down.
    “Two ancient Greeks turned up in the Parthenon room this afternoon,” she began.
    Her mother continued to peer down the lens. “Really?”
    “Yes. Both been dead for years.”
    “Uh-huh,” muttered Dr Pottersby-Weir, straightening up.
    She slid her black-framed glasses onto the top of her head, pushing back her hair, which was the same mass of red

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