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The Fifth Victim
Mary Kelly Was Murdered by Jack the Ripper Now Her Great Great Granddaughter Reveals the True Story of What Really Happended
By Antonia Alexander
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2013 Antonia Alexander
All rights reserved.
Heavy rain began to fall again; I looked out of my window at the relentless downpour pounding the pavements below. I'd heard on the news that this was the worse June in history for rain, hey but look on the bright side, the hosepipe ban had been lifted, unlike my spirits.
I had had a phone call from Nan, she lived in La Cala and I hadn't visited for a while, but she wasn't her usual cheerful self; she might be 81 but her wicked sense of humour and her positive outlook on life made everyone around her feel good. I could feel something was worrying her so I offered to go over to see her; knowing I apportioned my time with university and my family she usually told me to wait until the holidays to visit, but this time she immediately said: 'Yes love that would be great'.
I was instantly worried, although I'd asked her a number of times she kept insisting everything was fine, but there was always a 'but, I'd love to see you'. I told her I would come over as soon as I could arrange a flight.
I needed to speak to Philip, my husband, I knew he was due some time off and I wanted him to take it to look after Lana and Maddie, our two daughters; I didn't want to take them on this trip, I sensed something was wrong and thought it would be better to see Nan by myself.
I had been married for five years now and although juggling family life with University was difficult at times I wouldn't change it. I loved being a wife and mother; I remember the night I had met Philip.
It was the hen night of one of my best friends, Jessica. I always took ages deciding what to wear on a night out and this night was no exception. I finally decided on a snug-fitting black halter neck dress which I felt very sexy in. I could hear a car horn beeping outside signalling the arrival of my taxi.
Stepping into the cab I was greeted by Emily, my oldest friend and confidant; we had gone to primary school together, then comprehensive, then college and now University. Emily had arranged the hen party and was her usual boisterous happy self as I took a seat in the cab.
'Wow Tonia, you look great!' she squealed, hugging me to her ample bosom; all my close friends and family called me Tonia, all except for my Dad who always called me Antonia.
I returned Emily's compliment, 'Thanks, so do you.'
And she did with her blonde, not-a-strand-out-of-place hair, low-cut red top and black pencil skirt. She has the looks a lot of girls would be envious of.
We had arranged to meet the others at a club; Emily had been there on numerous occasions and had guaranteed us all a great night. We headed down the stairs of the club, receiving admiring looks from some of the male staff and customers; I hadn't been out socially for a long while, so I was unused to such attention and I could feel myself blush. The room was smaller than I imagined, but I liked it. There was a cosy feeling with candlelit tables around the dance floor, stools placed discreetly at each corner, and a friendly-sounding DJ churning out all the latest chart hits.
'Over there, look,' Emily shouted above the noise. 'The others.'
Emily pulled me by the arm towards a table just ahead of us. I was looking forward to the evening, it was the first time in over a year that we'd all got together, and we all got on really well despite being very different characters. There was Jessica, the bride to be, a petite blonde, who had been with her fiancée since she was 18; she was always quiet and unassuming. Then there was Brooke – a very giggly, happy-go-lucky girl, curvaceous with long, dark-brown hair. And then there was Ebony – the serious one who went out even less than me. Tall and very elegant, she has strawberry-blonde hair and the most amazing green eyes.
Emily and I ordered some drinks; the others looked as if they'd had a few already. After a lot of talking and some more drinks we were all ready to take to the dance floor.
'Come on, girls!' shouted Emily. 'Let's go show 'em what we're made of.'
Although I rarely went to clubs, I loved to dance; I was convinced that dancing around the house to the radio or the music channel was what kept me in shape. We were all having a great time. Even Ebony had loosened up and was shaking herself around as much as the rest of us.
'Wahoo!' Jessica screamed above the noise of the music. 'I'm having the best time.'
'We should do this more often!' admitted Brooke.
'Well, it's not like I haven't tried.' Emily's I-told-you-so tone left us in no doubt.
After what seemed like an eternity on the dance floor, I went back and sat down at the table. Emily and Ebony kept dancing while Brooke took Jessica to the toilet. The 'hen' was beginning to look a little the worse for drink and quite unsteady on her feet. I looked around at my fellow clubbers. Some obviously made this a weekly visit, while others looked a bit out of place.
I called out to a passing waitress. 'Excuse me; can I get some drinks, please? Two Bacardi and diet cokes, a vodka and lemonade, glass of white wine and a soda water with lime.'
Soda and lime seemed a good option for Jessica. She'd need to sober up a bit if she was to enjoy the rest of her night. Still dancing, Emily edged closer to the table, then bent down to speak, as quietly as the club's noise allowed, into my ear.
'Don't look now, but you've got an admirer. Over by the bar.'
Feeling a little self-conscious, I took a sneaky look anyway. Sure enough there was a guy looking at me. I turned away quickly, but knew he was still staring. I turned to look again.
'Oh my God!' I said, panicking. 'He's coming over.'
I couldn't help but look at the good-looking dark haired man approaching me. I gulped as he smiled – it made him look even more gorgeous – and I found myself grinning back.
'Hi! I hope you don't mind me coming over. I knew you'd seen me looking at you and, rather than just sit there staring and probably spooking you out, I thought I'd just come and say hello!'
'No, I don't mind. And hello to you too.'
He seemed relieved that I hadn't told him where to go; he sat himself on the seat next to me and held out his hand.
'Antonia.' I replied returning the courtesy.
We both turned to my friends grinning at us, and I waved them away like a pack of giggling schoolgirls.
'Sorry, I don't want to interrupt your party,' he said.
'No no, you're not,' I said reassuring him with a smile.
It was the usual small talk at first – names, jobs, where we lived. But, before we knew it, we were talking about dreams and ambitions – the conversation flowed so easily. I hadn't felt this good in a long while. He stood up to order us both another drink – I didn't mind, anything to prolong our time together.
I discovered through our conversation that Philip was a chef at an expensive restaurant nearby; needless to say I hadn't been in there too often, just when it was a special occasion and my dad was paying. Being a student I couldn't yet enjoy the finer things in life; Mum would always tell me ... 'all your hard work will pay off in the end,' but until that time arrived I could always depend on the bank of dad.
I was studying medicine and it would be a while yet before I would start to make any money; I loved what I was doing though, it was hard work, and you had to be committed. Half of my class had dropped out already, but I was going to see it through until the end. That was the main reason I hadn't been out socialising; my university work was time consuming. The last thing I was looking for was a relationship, but something told me that Philip was different and I felt an instant bond with him.
We looked around and the club was starting to empty. My friends signalled from across the room that they were ready to leave.
'I'd better be going.' I said apologetically and reluctantly.
As I stood up, he caught me by the hand.
'Do you have plans for tomorrow?' He looked a little embarrassed. 'I'd like to see you again.'
Being a Sunday, it was the only day I relaxed: dinner with mum and dad and then just lounging around watching TV.
'Well, nothing much.' I shrugged, trying not to look too eager.
'Would you like to come out for lunch, with me, and maybe a walk after?'
I didn't need to think for too long. 'Sounds good.' I smiled, slipping away from his grasp. I had already exchanged numbers with him.
'Ring me in the morning and we'll make arrangements.'
'OK.' He said smiling, 'see you tomorrow.'
Just over an hour later I lay in bed, excited at the prospect of seeing Philip again. I'd never felt so comfortable with a man I'd just met. I couldn't believe the things I'd told him about myself, my dreams and ambitions.
After talking on the phone for over 15 minutes the next morning, we made plans for him to pick me up at my flat and then head down towards the Mumbles for some lunch. I was so nervous; I kept looking out of the window in eager anticipation and a little trepidation. What if it didn't go as smoothly as it did last night, what if he didn't like what he saw in the cold light of day ... without the ambiance of dimmed lighting and candles, would he still find me as appealing?
I was about to find out; I saw a car pull up outside and Philip get out. He was just as good looking as I remembered ... even more so. He looked cool and relaxed in his faded blue jeans and dark blue shirt. He looked up and saw me at the window, I jumped back nervously, I grabbed my bag and made my way out ... checking my reflexion in the mirror as I did.
He kissed me gently on the cheek when I reached the car, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It felt good and I wanted to kiss him back. He opened the car door for me and I got into the passenger seat. I needn't have worried; we talked as though we'd known each other for years, we were so at ease with each other and I found out that we had loads in common, not least our sense of humour.
We didn't end up going to Mumbles, we headed instead towards Gower, it was a lovely day and what better place to go than to the Gower Peninsula, renowned as the first place in Britain to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.
After lunch we just walked, talking and laughing constantly. I was falling for him; everything felt so right, this wasn't like me at all, I was always sensible and level headed. My head was saying 'get a grip, you hardly know this guy' ... but all my other senses were telling me otherwise.
We sat on an embankment and he kissed me passionately. All reasoning went out the window as I kissed him back, we lay back on the grass not saying anything, he took my hand and we lay there in silence looking up at the sky. The sky was completely blue – no shades, no hesitations or doubts, just endlessly, solidly blue. Yet as I stared up at it I couldn't find the source of the blueness – the part where the world ended and heaven began. I remember staring for so long that my point of view changed and I felt as though I was looking down from the sky at myself – a dun-coloured dot, insignificant yet surrounded by the most breath-taking scenery.
The months that followed were blissful; Philip was everything I wanted. My parents, however, were not so thrilled. We got engaged after six months and Phil was seven years my senior, but I wanted to spend every waking hour with him. I fell pregnant soon after our engagement; we didn't plan it but were thrilled nevertheless. Mum and Dad had come around, I knew they only wanted what was best for me and this wasn't how they had envisaged my future. Mum was great with my pregnancy, making sure I ate well and looked after myself ... unfortunately I lost the baby at four months; we were all devastated.
We had planned to get married abroad after the baby was born, but after the loss Phil and I became closer than ever and decided to bring the wedding forward and two months later we were married in the Greek island of Lindos. It was a small affair, just close family and friends, and I couldn't have wished for a better day. The ceremony took place in the hotel grounds and I felt like a princess, all the guests were out clapping and there were utters of 'bellisimo' and 'bella, bella'. Not long after we returned home I discovered I was pregnant again; I had conceived while on honeymoon. We were over the moon. I put university on hold and concentrated on the pregnancy ... I wasn't going to lose this one, I don't think I could have coped with another loss. Thankfully, I didn't have to.
Our daughter Lana finally arrived; it was a magical day. I remember looking at her, checking she had all her fingers and toes, as you do, and thinking what a miracle creating life was. Philip and I couldn't take our eyes off her she was so perfect, she was also so big 8lb 14oz, and had a mop of black hair. My parents couldn't believe their eyes when they saw her; not only did she look exactly like I did at birth, she also weighed the same.
I had planned to go back to university, but I didn't want to leave the baby it didn't feel right. I wanted to focus on her; I think losing a baby made me more protective.
Two and a half years later our little Maddie joined the family, another 'mini me', I was told. And six months later I decided it was time to go back to university, Mum said she would look after the girls, which would make things a lot easier. I felt guilty leaving them, but I knew I needed to make something of my life if I was to help them make something of theirs.
Now, had I forgotten to pack anything? I walked around the house I'd been renting for the past three years checking I had everything. The house was Victorian, most of the original features had been taken out when the owners had refurbished it. The two bedrooms, large bathroom and living/kitchen area were all we needed for the time being, although we had talked of maybe getting something a little bigger.
I kissed the girls and told them to be good for their dad, though I knew they'd run him ragged. Kissing Phil, I made my way to the taxi that was waiting outside.
I was all set; my flight left from Cardiff at 6.30 in the evening, the airport was relatively quiet which is why I liked using this airport; it was unlike Gatwick or Heathrow which would have been bustling with throngs of people trying to find their check-in desks. Cardiff airport is very small in comparison with just a handful of check in desks, some car rental companies and a help desk on the ground floor and first floor, toilets, a couple of eateries and an amusement arcade section. I checked in and made my way through to the departures where I browsed through the usual airport shops before making my way to the VIP lounge situated at the back of the departures. I had a free lounge pass which allowed me six visits courtesy of my bank and I must say it came in very handy, especially as I was travelling alone. I sat next to the window that overlooked the runway sipping my vodka and Diet Coke and nibbling on my bowl of veggie crisps thinking, what was it that was worrying my Nan so much?
The flight was on time and just two hours later we had landed. As I descended the steps of the plane I looked up at clear blue skies, and inhaled the warm fresh air deeply. I felt physically lighter, my stress already lifting, the warmth of the sun gently caressing my skin.CHAPTER 2
I picked up my bag from the carousel and made my way out of arrivals; I climbed into a taxi and sat back, a little relieved to be away from the hustle and bustle of the chaos that is my life. It seemed strange to be here without the family, especially the girls. By now I'd usually be trying to placate and cajole the girls into behaving themselves, although they were very good generally; I think when they're so young the travelling makes them a little stir crazy.
Looking out of the window I took in the view of a mixture of villas to one side and land that had been untouched by time, no buildings, just the perfect emptiness covered by a vast blue sky. The taxi swerved quickly to avoid two young boys bouncing along on a motorbike, their shirts open and blowing in the wind; the taxi driver just shrugged his shoulders and smiled at me in the rear view mirror.
After about an hour we pulled up outside Nan's villa; she had lived there for about 20 years, when the area was unspoilt by high-rise apartments. The villa was close to the sea but the view had long been blocked out by the large buildings.
As I approached the gate Nan was heading out to meet me, she never ceased to amaze me, she was elegant and still a very attractive woman. She was strong and independent and had the most wicked smile.
We hugged and she led me into the villa, the smell of baking filled my nostrils and I knew that it was the gym again when I returned home.
'How are the kids? Why didn't you fetch them with you?'
'I thought it would be nice just to a have a bit of you and me time', I said trying to sound convincing, not wanting her to sense my concern.
I put my case into my room and returned to the kitchen just in time to be presented with a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge.
Sitting at the table I noticed that Nan wasn't her usual chatty self.
'You OK Nan?'
Excerpted from The Fifth Victim by Antonia Alexander. Copyright © 2013 Antonia Alexander. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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