Jay, a woman with a new identity is now living in the seaside village of Oxhope. It hasn’t yet been revealed why she’s there, or what happened in her past that has meant she had to start a new life, but she’s beginning to settle into it. She’s begun to make friends, including two women similar in age to her, called Emma and Gemma. Jay and Em bump into each other and moments later a woman runs screaming from a cottage shouting that someone is hurt. Jay and Em run through to the back garden where another woman lies dead, murdered! After the police have taken their statements the three of them go back to Em’s house, and Jay stays the night.
As Jay settled in the small room at the back of Em’s cottage, sleepy with wine, warmed by the kindness of her two new friends, she felt so relaxed, so comfortable and somehow so confident. For almost the first time in many, many months Jay felt the confidence which had been the core of her former self in her past, distant life.
What she’d been through today was horrific, but she’d dealt with it – no doubt it would trouble her for some time, but she could manage that.
The three of them, ‘powered by wine’ as one of them had said, looked at the photos from the pub festival – Jay had taken a few of the band, but there were loads on the pub’s Facebook page. There were a couple of pictures which might have shown the poor victim, but Jay couldn’t be sure – different hair style, different make-up, different expression – she wasn’t sure. Em and Gem between them knew a lot of the crowd, some personally, some from the quiz, some from the village – but they didn’t know Cath/Carrie even though she was clearly a local.
“There are different groups in the pub – there’s the lunchtime crowd, there’s the early evening crowd, there’s the lot down the pool table end, there’s the smokers who are mostly outside – or it could just be we go in on different nights from her,” Em said.
“This lad here,” Jay pointed. “He might be the one who spoke to her at the Fest.”
“I think he’s called Ozzie,” Em peered at the photo. Gem didn’t recognise him.
“Should I mention it to the police?” Jay asked. “They didn’t seem interested in it when I told them – mind you, the whole thing was so fleeting, I can barely remember it now.”
There was an intermission for more wine, then Em had decided a cheese fondue might be the thing; recently she’d found a fondue set in charity shop, she’d got cheese in the fridge and some French bread in the freezer.
Now Jay sat up in bed. The curtains were drawn open and across a spinney of trees she could see the tower of the village church lit up. She hadn’t visited the church yet – she wasn’t religious but she liked old places.
It suddenly struck her. She’d mentioned Cath/Carrie seeming to know the band. The police, disinterested had noted it, she’d told Em and Gem earlier but they’d been side-tracked by Ozzy.
Jay looked at her phone again, looked at her photos, then checked back on the pub’s Facebook page to find what the band was called.
She nearly exclaimed out loud. The name of the band? Off With Her Head. The deep slashes on the murdered woman’s neck – one of the PCO’s who’d first arrived had exclaimed in shock ‘Geez! They’ve almost chopped her head off!’