long gone by the time Violet got home. As she paused in the porch to find her key, Kitten LaBouche and Daisy Ladds, Rowena's twin teenage daughters called out a greeting - they were obviously on their way to work. Violet smiled wistfully as she watched the girls stroll by, their tiny little stilettos clicking on the icy pavement. She felt old suddenly. The street lamp shimmered in the glitter they had sprayed into their backcombed peroxide blonde hair, and the sweet scent of 'Angel' lingered on the cold air long after they had disappeared into the bar. As the bar door swung closed behind them, the street fell silent. Violet shivered. She wished Swotsy was with her.
Violet knew something was wrong the moment she walked through the door. Someone had left an old record playing, but only James' dwarf hamster remained. Roy, at the hardware store had given it to the boy as a gift six months or so ago. James loved that little hamster, taught it all kinds of tricks. It liked popcorn, but it went wild for Roy's holiday brownies - well, who didn't? A trail of crumbs traced across the parquet floor to the old piano Bitsy had loved to play. Violet scooped the hamster up and stroked it gently in the palm of her hand as she looked around the room.
Jack had clearly left in a hurry. She had just missed them. James' homework assignment lay strewn across the floor. Violet's hand trembled as she reached down and picked up his colouring. James was planning to breed hamsters, sell them down at Roy's to earn a little extra pocket money. Everyone knew how hard it was to sex hamsters - especially dwarf hamsters, and James was reading everything he could on the subject. He was supposed to take Hammy in to school the next day, give all the kids a presentation. She'd have to ring his teacher ... she'd have to tell Sister Margaret.
Violet slumped onto the floor. She couldn't believe her own father would do this to her. He had threatened her time and time again, but she had never believed he would take her baby away from her. Tears pooled in her eyes as she stared at James' work. Of course! It was a message. James had left her a clue. She looked deep into the hamster's glistening eyes. This was the answer to everything ...