6

Just when you thought

Chapter 5 hereChapter 7 here

I

At 8 p.m., the air still being warm enough, with only a few spots of rain during the day – Young walked the cobbled wharf again and could hear the chugging of the boat before he saw it, it was unlit down this end of the wharf. He went to the door, knocked the requisite times and let himself in.

A pistol was pointed at his head, to which he said, ‘Enough of the dramatics, let’s go.’

Jenny B holstered the pistol again, nodded and pointed to Jenny A. ‘Had to knock her out.’

‘Not literally?’

‘No, crude chloroform. Unfortunate.’

They got Jenny A quickly to the ramp, Young threw the key to the warehouse to an officer and followed the Jennys, the ramp was pulled back, the boat chugged away into the river, headed further upstream where it widened out a little and where the tide was at its strongest. There was a powerful mooring which the bosun caught, a monster of a thing with a huge rode and the launch’s own rode was 500 feet long, 200 feet being chain. This boat wasn’t going anywhere but it was going to be buffeted. It would do for now. The tide was currently coming in.

The girls were down below, the door had been locked by Young, he now gave a key to Jenny B as well, the downstairs had been slightly remade to include foodstuffs and a Baby Belling, with a flue over it, poking through the roof. The windows were barred but the glass still opened. Jenny B went to the drinks cabinet, just to see and sure enough, two bottles of Drambuie were in there. She grinned at him.

Jenny A had been put to bed but was now coming out of it. They sat on chairs nearby. She woke, eyes darted left and right, she considered her escape options, saw them for what they were, those options and decided to fall back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. ‘This is entrapment, kidnapping, even if sis was involved.’

‘Stop your crap, Sarah and get real.’ That shut Jenny A up, Jenny B went on. ‘The Inspector might be the law, still against us, but he’s the least worst alternative we have now and I think he’s having trouble sin his own police force.’ Sarah was interested – when Jenny went like this, she usually had something up her sleeve and it was perfectly apparent to the terrible two that they outnumbered Young, something he was also aware of.

Jenny went on. ‘The Inspector has put himself in our power for now, brave man. Let’s hear him out., he needs us to tell the whole story coz there are bigger fish to fry than us.’

She filled Sarah in on all that was known and unknown to this point, Young supplied the bit about Laura having ordered the last hit and the contention that it had been Mandy who had hit Miles.

Jenny A had been nodding but in the last seconds had been shaking her head. ‘No, I shot Miles. I was aiming for Laura.

I was captured by them on the continent during one of our projects, not to do with this business. I can’t speak of what they did, there are trigger words, phrases, but they’re having less power with each week now. When you hear them, it’s as if something monstrous hidden down inside will happen again if you don’t obey. So you learn just to obey.’

‘I know of these things,’ said Young. ‘You’ve certainly made progress to be able to even say that.’

‘Maybe. They’re monsters, they give themselves colour names, I can’t think of those things now. Though it was in Holland, two of them were British – some of the nurses were. They want obedient people who will do what they want, that’s all it is. And you do hat they want if you know what’s good for you.

I could still function as sis’s ally as there were jobs ordered from London which she was given and she needed me. In my brain, sis was a goody and could be helped. She still is of course. The only reason I’m talking to you is she’s here and she just told me off. I have a self-destruct if I’m cornered by someone like you. A few weeks back, I could only see you as enemy, now I can see you as possible ally, if sis says so. Unless you have her under control … but I’d know that.’

‘No one has me.’

‘Good. I think I’m still subject to the triggers, but sis knows them. I’m not all that well, it takes it out of you.’

‘Sarah,’ asked Young, ‘who are the baddies? I don’t mean the names, I mean how deep they go.’

‘I know most, there might be others hidden but I haven’t seen them yet. I once used them but that did not make sis obey me, she obeyed whoever she thought was directing her. I never used them again.’ Sarah nodded. ‘I don’t know anti-triggers as you might say but I know some childhood things which will get her back after some time. But as we’ve said, it’s all fading. They need her back inside to do it to again.’

‘Why split from Laura? You’d been fiercely loyal to her.’

‘We haven’t split, we’re not being disloyal – she’s been very good to us. We think she’s going under control herself but we’re pretty sure no one has actually got to her. I’d say you’ve already thought well, Laura had Jenny A with her all that time so maybe Jenny A is doing the trauma and all that. Sarah doesn’t have that knowledge, she’s not trained in any of that. That’s easy for you to check. But what we know is that Laura does respond to some triggers and that might be from long ago, long before Miles and the island. It’s weak but it does exist.’

‘And maybe she’d been going under more?’

‘I think I can take the blame for that. She was under all right, long ago and she knows I have been – that makes a sort of sisterhood and my passive mind could influence hers. Without a counter influence -’

‘Such as Miles?’

‘Such as Miles … or even you – without that, she can be brought under. I swear I wasn’t consciously doing it but I might have been used, fed things to say.’

‘That’s one reason,’ said the real Jenny, ‘I had to get sis away from her – sorry, sis. I liked our talk the other day … Leyton … and I thought if sis and you and me all spoke together, we might get somewhere.’

‘And I thought I arranged this,’ grinned Young. ‘I really want to help you both, not a clue why but I do.’

‘Even if I killed Miles?’

‘No court in the land is going to allow that to stand, not under the influence and they are never going to allow you to stand for that reason either – it would come out. I can’t give 100% but I’d say that’s how it would go.’

‘OK.’

‘So Sarah, please speak now.’

‘OK. As I said, they got me in Holland, in Amsterdam – why do you think so much porn comes from there? And yes, I did – you can probably find it on the net. Jenny’s aim is to kill those bastards who betrayed us, betrayed me. While she was being employed from London, she could do some freelance for her and me and I see she did get a couple of them. You understand I was against sis at this time, even though I put out Harrison’s minders.’

‘Yes. And the crosses?’

‘I broke from my control, sis was in danger – I had to save her, I hated them all.’

‘OK, go on.’

‘You want to know about the killings, the shootings. I shot Miles and I was meant to, it was from a boat -’

‘Same boat as Ralph,’ added Jenny.

‘Yes and Mandy was with me. She’s lying if she says she had no connection with Amsterdam -’

‘No, Laura said that,’ said Young.

‘Yes, well. But she’s under control – always was, still is – and when she appeared and met Laura some time back, that was the start of it. Part of getting Laura under again was dangling Ralph in front of her eyes -’

‘Poor Miles,’ interjected Young.

‘Yes, maybe. Laura was quite mushy after that, very weak in the soul. Sis has told me about her coming onto you and that’s what she was before, she never was a killer.’

Jenny took it up. ‘The idea was to get rid of Miles because though he was naive, he might not have been, they weren’t sure, but Laura was easy to control, even if not under control if you see what I mean. And we know some of the skippers and many of the crew were in their pay. It’s all money.’

‘How susceptible are you to triggers at this moment, Sarah?’

‘I think less but it hasn’t been tested. Jenny’s intercepted some coming in and those people are on the list we’re going to deal with when I get better.’

‘Don’t tell a police officer that.’

‘Legally,’ said Jenny.

‘Like Miles, eh?’

‘He showed us how.’

‘All right,’ smiled Young, ‘sorry to interrupt.’

‘So,’ continued Sarah, ‘messages were coming in from Mandy Sobel, Jan, a few others, and then it began with Laura. Someone had fed her words.’

‘Sorry to interrupt again – has Laura gone over to the bad side or is she just unsure in her mind? I heard you speak of weakness of the soul – I’m trying to understand here.’

‘Yes, that’s right, she’s just weak in the soul right now. Miles’s death shook her up and to have his killer in the same boat with her, she had to blame someone – she blames Mandy Sobel and she’s right too, on so many counts, but for that shot – no.’

‘If she’s so weak in the soul, then with us here and her alone on that boat – is she not in danger?’

‘You sent Tim Madders, didn’t you?’ asked Jenny.

‘Yes I did, they’re out looking for you two.’

‘You’re devious.’

‘Maybe, it occupies their time now.’

‘Am I a prisoner here?’ asked Sarah.

‘Yes and no. Jenny can tell you that better.’

‘Sis, you’re coming out of it but if they snatch you, which they’re trying to do, remember I’m out and about while you’ve been on the boat – I can’t afford to let that happen. You’re everything to me, sis, you know that.’ Sarah smiled a weak smile, ‘and you know they’ll put you back in that chair and the pain they’ll cause.’ Sarah shuddered. ‘You must let us do it this way. It’s not good for Laura to be with you just now – she’s feeding off you and you can’t escape it either as she brings you back in. You trust me for now?’

‘As long as this man is all right.’

‘I’m monitoring that, you know me.’

‘I’m fine with that,’ added Young. ‘This boat can’t stay her on this mooring forever, no more than a couple of days, it will be seen by them for a start. This will end soon, Sarah but if you’ll put up with it for a couple of days, with Jenny here with you, then I promise we’ll end it.’

‘Promise?’ She uttered a hollow laugh.

‘I said promise,’ reiterated Young, ‘that’s how I operate.’ Sarah looked at Jenny and thank the Lord she was nodding. Come back to your shooting of Miles. It was intended but you were under influence.’

‘They thought I just completed the task but I was shocked because I’d never meant to hit him. I knew sis loved him and I would never kill anyone she loved. My mind said kill him but I said no to it, I froze. Mandy stood behind me, she leaned over and pressed my finger – she could see in the scope.’

‘Did Laura have anything at all to do with it?’

‘Yes, she was to get you and Miles to be sitting there.’

‘That was me,’ said Jenny. ‘I told Laura there were going to be warning shots -’

‘I told her that,’ said Sarah, ‘and if I didn’t do that, then they were going to hurt me, which they would have.’

‘Phew.’ Young ran his finger through his hair and shook his head. ‘Dear oh dear. Everyone using everyone, everyone under influence.’

‘I know,’ said Jenny.

‘Let’s go to the second shot.’

‘All right,’ began Sarah, ‘that wasn’t mine, never was, I was on the launch by then, hidden away.’ Jenny nodded to confirm it.

Young knew it anyway. ‘So am I right in thinking that Mandy made all three shots in her own way?’

‘Correct, though Sarah had the gun in her hand with Miles. No one at all has disputed that Mandy did the third, though I said I could have faked the photo on the roof. I didn’t but I could have, I was making a point to you, that was all.’

‘Was the second shot meant to kill?’

‘None of us know – not Laura, not sis, not me,’ said Jenny. ‘We were onboard. What they told her I don’t know.’

‘You know what I think?’ mused Young. ‘I think Mandy herself was getting cold feet after the Miles kill. I think she deliberately missed and maybe she’s not such a bad shot after all.’ Both girls saw the validity of it but couldn’t comment. ‘So what it leaves us with is the point made by Laura – that if I think Mandy did not fire that first shot, then I should look back at who told me she didn’t.’

‘Yes,’ Sarah waited.

‘It was Tim Madders who told me that.’

‘And he’s with Laura right now. Inspector, we can stop him.’

‘We can’t do it like that, we have to set a trap, y. You girls just want to wade in, firing.’

‘Yes?’

‘Sigh. I’m going to let slip in certain quarters that you two are being hidden on this boat here -’

‘But they’ll blow us out of the water,’ said Jenny.

‘No, they won’t,’ said Sarah. ‘They’ll come for me, they want me back as an asset. And they’ll want to take Jenny alive and torture her and turn her and do all sorts of things to her.’

‘Would you let me get back to it, ladies?’ They sat up straight, all attention. ‘As Sarah says, they won’t blow the boat, for that reason and also because it’s a police launch, also because it’s not a straightforward hit out there. But if I let slip that you’re to be brought ashore and stored in that warehouse -’

‘We’ve already been there.’

‘So you’ll know it well, you’ll plan it like any other. Whoever comes into that place has no right to be there, leave some vulnerabilities open so it can’t be just kids or a tramp picking the lock and coming in, make sure it takes them some effort and then you’ll know. I can’t make you do this, it’s too dangerous. Perhaps you’d better not.’

The look they gave made that a good ploy.

‘Unfortunately, it’s still not going to give us the main people, the henchmen will do for now. But those henchmen will tell us who passed the information on. Meanwhile, I’ve a meeting with Tim and Laura at a cafe in town.’

II

‘Hello Laura.’

He entered the cafe at the far end of Lytton, not one they’d used before.

‘Hello … Inspector …’ Her voice was loaded. ‘Do you know where the girls are?’

‘Yes. And now you’re going to hear all of it. You want to order more food?’

‘This is official, is it, or can I just get up and leave?’

‘It’s official.’ That quietened her. ‘You want more food?’

‘Let’s all have a pizza together, they’re good here, I sometimes used to come here.’

‘You order it, we’ll eat your selection.’

‘Quattro gusto please, Madeleine,’ she called to the proprietor. ‘All right, I’m listening.’

He unloaded. Every single detail, including Laura’s own capitulation, the presence of Jenny A, the effect on her and so on. Laura affected a poker face but was occasionally surprised, occasionally vindicated.

‘There, did I not tell you Mandy was at all the hits?’

‘Did you know she was going to do the second?’

‘Not exactly, but Jenny B and I knew it was always on.’

‘And actually, she’s a pretty good shot,’ added Young.

Laura thought a moment. ‘All right … Leyton … I give you that one. And you want to know why I was protecting her. Quid pro quo. She knew that I knew of the hit on Miles, I swear she was aiming off, as with the second.’

‘What was the point of the hit then? I mean, if there was no intent to kill, why do it?’

‘Well I didn’t do it. I knew of it. I believed Mandy when she said she was aiming off, a frightener. Yes I know the next one – why did I even put Miles in that position, and you? I had to. Mandy had no choice either, she’d told me about her … er …’

‘Being under control.’

Laura looked at him. ‘Well of course you’d know that now. But she also had dirt on me and I … I just had to.’

‘You had Ralph.’

‘I would have had but no, he was in prison. That day release when he came south I never met him and was cursing about that, I was on the boat with Miles and you. No, it wasn’t with him, it was with one of the crew on one of the boats. Don’t ask me why, don’t ask why I let it happen. There was just him, just me and I knew we had the time. I’m not proud.’

‘I think part of that guilt can be annulled – you were going under again. We know about the past.’

‘Ah. I thought it was all gone, all over.’

‘They never let that happen, Sarah’s still a conduit for them, even now.

‘But not a killer.’

‘Not a killer?’

‘She’s a babe in arms, she’s like me, let’s call it the pleasure model. Jenny is a killer.’

‘But a killer who decides if a target is bad or good.’

‘That much is true. You’ve been lucky so far, or else you’ve done right by her. If she’s sure you’re trying to help her sister and not prosecute, I’d imagine she’d be the opposite of a killer.’

‘Jenny is a killer though?’

‘Of course. If I’d made passes at Tim, which I’ve been doing, she’d have killed him.’

‘She’s a maniac,’ muttered Madders. ‘so Id be in your power if Jenny was to come in.’

‘Yes, Timmy, a gal has to have some leverage.’

‘I’m tired, Laura – this pizza will help though.’

They tucked in.

‘All right,’ said Laura, ‘I’m going to need the loo soon, I can escape. Any more questions before I do?’

‘Can you speak of the hit on Miles? Or should I tell you?’

‘Whose version?’

‘That’s a fair question.’

‘Tell me.’

‘Mandy was there all right, Ralph was the decoy, the bunny. I think that was your doing. I think that in your letter to him, you outlined the plan but Mandy didn’t deliver the letter, she told him at visiting time.’

‘Not bad, at least as far as I know.’

‘Still dangerous putting yourself in her power like that.’

‘There were reasons. What have you heard about how it happened?’

‘Sarah was the one with the gun, she couldn’t complete the hit, Mandy stood behind her and squeezed her fingers.’

‘That’s the story I get too.’

‘The second hit was wildly dangerous to rig up.’

‘We really believed in that glass, its stopping power.’

‘Who told you about that glass?’

‘Former contact, now in Holland. Not Jan.’

‘Agt?’

‘No. You don’t know him, he’s in the munitions game and doesn’t come into the story.’

‘Well he clearly does, as he told you that and yet the killer knew she could break through it.’

‘I’ve thought about that – it might be so.’

‘Could it have been Jenny B who made the shot?’

‘She was with me.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Things said, the way they move. I need the loo and unless Tim or you wants to hold my hand, I’m going to escape.’

‘Fine, see you soon Laura.’

III

Dusk had fallen two hours earlier, the night had become wet, which meant that the warehouse roof was leaking but that also showed where they’d try entry.

They assumed a team of three, with the aim of capture, which meant there was transport nearby, perhaps one of the boats. The main question was whether it was to capture or kill the two girls, maybe one of each, which was too high a risk for Leyton Young, despite their protests.

So he put an alternative, they thought about it, felt it gave them a better chance of achieving their objective – the warehouse being an unnecessary extra really – they thought some more, looked at one another then nodded. ‘Yes,’ said Jenny, ‘let’s do that.’

‘Thank goodness for that,’ thought Leyton Young. He couldn’t afford to use any of his own colleagues, not because he didn’t think them up to it but because any movement in that direction would be monitored. Miles’s patrons were the only way to go, strange bedfellows indeed and it was going to cost him. However, the vindication of Miles had the effect of cancelling that debt – the patron would grant this one freely.

11 p.m. came around, the night dark enough in these conditions and the first trying of the roof in the left rear corner could be heard by those inside. They were also listening above and as there was no one in that back room, deliberately, they felt bolder, the first dropped down to the floor on padded feet … then the second, covered by the first but not the third, still out the front.

The first moved on hands and knees towards the open door to the room, suspiciously open and then stopped. He stopped for some considerable time.

After what seemed an eternity, he moved forward and softly shuffled behind a couple of packing cases, again a bit too convenient, the second moved through, saw cover in the form of some machinery, they concluded they could hold anyone inside at bay long enough for their colleague to spray fire through the front of the warehouse, fairly old planking. Standard move and a valid one, as the ceiling itself was eight feet high, nowhere up there for anyone to lie, no loft section. The complicating feature was that there was too much cover everywhere – they’d been told the warehouse was empty – it was far from empty.

This was beginning to look like a siege.

Eventually, one of the intruders resorted to language and the accent was southern. ‘We have a stand-off, we’re all concealed. If you want to leave, go out the front door and we won’t fire.’ The cover was movable – mainly cases, some machinery, so it seemed a fair deal.

In fact it had been worked out to the inch during the day.

The two intruders heard someone shuffling towards the door and grinned, the reception would be unfortunate outside that door, they heard the door open …

… then nothing. Which puzzled them and they tumbled immediately to it that they might have lost their colleague. It was still OK, as they had the fourth on the hillock at the end of the wharf and he’d drop whoever came out.

‘There’s still another one of you – you just heard nothing happen. We’ve got our own way out so don’t wait for us.’

‘They heard the second run for the door and leave – again nothing happened. Maybe it had, maybe the drop had been silent.

They waited some more.

It became apparent they’d have to leave soon enough and that had been sorted. Part of the back wall was a door held in place over a gap by a beam on an angle to the floor, they had a fifth outside on the hillock at right angles to them, time to move.

The first made for the little room again and waited, his colleague also made it – it just seemed too easy altogether.

They gave it another five minutes by the watch.

They made their move, removed the door carefully and as they’d agreed to do, moved outside back to back, handguns outwards. Both dropped to the ground, not dead but ‘darted’.

Music was switched on inside the warehouse, low music but it was enough for those out front.

The five were now carried inside from various directions, trussed up and weaponry removed.

One stirred from his drowsiness and was given water. Then another, then another.

Eventually, all were awake an aware. They waited.

Their captors were still covered with balaclavas, one did speak and it was through a distorter, creepy in fact and it set the captured on edge.

‘You know the score. Speak and we leave you here. Don’t and we start at your knees. Anyone wish to test that?’

No one spoke.

One of the five captors put a silence round into the leg of the one on the end, he started howling and had a rag put in his mouth and tied there.

‘Any one wish to speak?’ spoke the distorter.

‘All right,’ said number three in the middle. He then gave chapter and verse, one of them behind their heads clicked a button.

The five captors now left through the front door and the captured thanked someone up in the sky that their captors had in fact been professional.

A good half hour later, someone ventured off the boat holding a flashlight – by the height and gait, maybe male, he skipped over quite quickly to the door of the warehouse and peered inside, went inside and turned on the torch.

‘You took yer fooking time,’ said one of the trussed and then went silent as a pistol was clapped to the new intruder’s head.

A voice breathed, ‘Drop it.’ He did. ‘Now the inside – slowly.’ he unzipped and reached inside his jacket, removed the weapon and dropped it. Then he thought he’d try it on.

‘You’re in serious -’

‘Shut it.’

‘If you think -’ the butt came down on the back of his skull and he dropped to the floor. Two moor in balaclavas appeared from behind packing cases, those on the floor laid their heads back, realizing they’d been well done over, these weren’t Plod. The only one moving and moaning was the first with the shot-up leg.

Soon this new one was also trussed up and now a new development – the others appeared from the little room, took one of the large pellets and laid it in the only available space. Each man was now taken over and laid on it, a 4.8 metre piece of 8×2 was laid across their thighs and tied down at each end, another 8×2 was laid across their necks and tied down less severely at each end.

‘Sorry lads,’ said distorted voice, ‘no harm done I trust.’ Shot Up Leg was swearing like a trooper behind that rag. All still had their hoods on, no one had seemed interested in knowing who they were.

A new pallet was prepared, one captor went out to the wharf and texted, then waited in the shadows.

Very shortly afterwards, two figures could be seen leaving the boat, obviously female, their hands tied behind them, two others followed them, not with hands tied and pushed the first two towards the warehouse. One refused to move and one ran. One of the women behind pulled out a wide bore gun and shot a dart.

The refusee now went through the door with one ‘free’ woman behind her, she now indicated for two boys to go out there, they did and soon dragged the sleeping woman in. both were put on the pallet and secured in place the same way.

To the five on the large pallet, this all seemed pretty intricate – maybe they were Plod after all.

The one who seemed to be boss now texted and now told all of the captors to disappear, they did, through the back wall. No one had spoken except the distorted voice and the one whispering drop it and shut it.

They could all hear a commotion down the wharf path but no sirens – still, there were a hell of a lot of them. The captor now took the masks off the two girls on the pallet, photographed them with his phone, distance and close up, then also left through the back.

III

‘Quite a haul,’ grinned Leyton’s mate who’d been doing a stint in the midlands but who’d now been transformed up north, this being his first job up here again. ‘If they’re all like this, Leyton, this is going to be fun.’

‘Sorry Raymond, old son, think it might get a bit boring after this.’

‘I know you, you’re a bleedin’ stormy petrel, you seem to have a noise for it and these two girls here have a bit of a reputation too.’

One of the girls on the other side of the table finished her slice of pizza and replied. ‘We weren’t allowed the fun bit this time, we’re a bit pissed about that.’ but they were smiling.

‘Next one is your hunt, Jenny.’ He looked across into their eyes and they saw he was serious, which delighted them. ‘This one, for obvious reasons, was mine, it was personal, it wasn’t personal for you.’

‘You call us ruthless,’ observed Sarah, also finishing up a slice of pizza – they always did things in stereo, ‘but you’ve now signed their death warrants.’

‘Maybe with Tim but a rotten copper takes his chances, those inside will probably get to him and he knows it. He’s not my responsibility any more. Laura is though, she has a case that she was under duress and yet she hasn’t chosen to claim that. It’s not that she’s pretty or Miles’s wife or that I’m sweet on her – if she’d been like Tim, malice aforethought, I’d have abandoned her just as summarily, I think you know that.’

‘And the one called Mandy Sobel,’ asked xxx.

‘Ah, she’s the bird someone sprung, the one who got away. She must have some powerful pull, that girl. Quite instructive. She’ll be your task, girls.’ They were grinning from ear to ear. ‘What’s more, it’s going to be fed out that you two are coming after her, should be interesting. Let her stew for a couple of months, don’t move yet, they’ll be prepared.’

‘Where do you have her?’ asked Jenny.

‘You know I can’t tell you,’ understanding she was referring to Laura.

‘We have no real beef with her, despite that thing with me and me with her. She didn’t order Miles. Don’t worry, boss – she’s not on our list.’

‘Good. Ray, you’re going to come up against the same thing, the very same thing Tim did – you’ll be offered big money, corrupted, maybe even captured and turned. You do know that.’

‘I’m on a massive wicket for a copper since I came back, it’ll do me.’

‘We’ll see, Ray. I hope so.’

‘Right, Leyton, you’ve loaded me up with work this afternoon, I suspect you want to spend a bit of time with these ladies. Best I get on with it … and you too,’ he smiled. With that, he got up and departed.

Jenny looked at him. ‘You’ll get us fat with this pizza.’

‘That’s Madeleine’s fault. Once she spots a new regular …’

‘Well I sure am,’ said Sarah, hewing into the last slice.’ Madeleine heard and felt she could adopt these girls. Everyone in the room knew she’d made the pizza and extra inch and a bit.

‘Now the serious part, girls. I need your take on Ray. You’ve known Tim, I don’t want that happening again, I can’t show you his records but I can read them myself and answer any question of yours.’

‘What’s his history?’

‘Bit younger than me, a bit more of a stickler than me for form but will still come to the party, join the chase. I’ve been thinking of going freelance, private -’

‘What, leaving the force?’

‘Yes. Too many going wrong in there, new people I don’t trust, he’ll stay inside and that’s so valuable for us. We can’t be thinking about that until you’ve dealt with Mandy Sobel.’

‘You say ‘dealt with’. We know your instructions about what we can and cannot do now. What can we do?’

‘Too early to say, girls, not outright execution, wait till we all throw something in to the mix, we’ll form a plan out of that.’

‘And Laura?’

‘She’s far more difficult to work out. I’m going to offer her a way out, if she takes it, then that’s that but I won’t be her friend after that. If she doesn’t, then I’ll throw her to the wolves.’

‘Meaning?’

‘Meaning she’ll have only the protection form then on that any member of the public would have.’

‘They’ll kill her.’

‘I told you, this one’s not easy, it’s personal and I have to do it myself.’

‘Of course,’ said Sarah.

‘And you, Sarah, you’re a major worry. In the next months, we’re going to need you at your peak, not subject to triggers, you have to up your training again.’

‘Don’t use that word.’

‘I’m truly sorry. Yes, that was thoughtless.’

‘It’s Ok. I’m happy you said that. I’m Ok, Inspector.’

‘Can we call you Leyton or Mr. Young?’

‘Which do you feel better with?’

‘We prefer Leyton but you might think that’s too familiar from subordinates.’

‘You’re not subordinates, you’re not employed by the state. I contract your assistance. You call me what you will. Obviously I like my first name used but I don’t insist.’

‘That’s settled then,’ said Sarah. ‘As we agreed, we’re going to disappear off the face of the earth for a month and we’re hoping you’ll have it sorted with Laura by then.’

‘Girls … thanks so much. I just feel we can achieve things now, am I allowed to say together?’

‘You may,’ grinned Sarah, they upped and were gone.

‘Another coffee, Mr. Young?’ asked Madeleine who’d snuck up beside his table.

‘Yes please … and thank you too.’

Chapter 5 hereChapter 7 here

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