6

Not over yet

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I

‘Last thing from me,’ said Miles to Johanssen, ‘do you want to see your girls here? We can fly them over.’

‘See the girls? Here?’ Johanssen barely gave it a moment’s thought. ‘Of course not, no.’

‘Thought not. Natalie asked me to deliver this camcorder, it’s been watched by the authorities here. That’s for you tonight. It’s your daughters saying hello. What you need to do is record a reply on this camcorder for them, you won’t be in prison gear, you’ll be in the library, the Chaplain or someone will do the filming. I’ll be back in two days to collect it at the front desk, I’ll not come in here again. It will go Royal Mail in a box to the school.’

‘I don’t know what to say.’

‘Don’t say anything, I’d prefer the brownie points.’

‘You really do want that quiet life. Maybe if I make threats every few months, I could get you to do more things.’

‘I’ll do them anyway – just send word, nicely – and no threats. You know the clout I still have. OK, need to go. You’ve got some video watching to do.’

The last image Miles had was of a man who had scored a victory and that’s how it needed to be. Word of this would spread like wildfire around the prison. Now he had to, they had to, deliver on their end of the bargain.

II

‘I have to go to Chloe,’ he said to Laura.

‘She won’t see you.’

‘I have to try.’

‘When?’

‘ASAP. End of this week, it’s on my mind. Laura, will you come with me?’

‘What!’

‘There might be a paternity suit in the offing down the track. Largesse from us now, as well as being kind, is good politics, plus I need you to hold my hand.’

She thought. ‘It might work if it’s both of us, we need something similar to Johanssen – a carrot she won’t be able to refuse. Trouble is, she doesn’t really have anyone, sure there’s family but she never spoke of them, she must be hellish lonely in there with that baby inside. Can our financial position cover it, plus Johanssen?’

‘It won’t need to. As the former occupier of the land, she can negotiate or I can on her behalf, for a half percent. Carrot we offer is Cornell on a plate, as with Johanssen. We have the goods via Dave. Also, one of my 12 friends would be interested in one of the deals Cornell made in order to stiff him.’

‘He’ll be killed.’

‘Not by my man, it will be that lot up above.’

III

They fished Cornell’s body out near Shad Thames.

Such a public disposal – who was being warned? Janine had done as they’d agreed, she’d fronted him in his office, provided the proof and that was that, Janine had gone to ground, also as prearranged, the resignation had come.

Cornell had still been in his suit, nothing had even been taken – the issue was more what had been planted on him and naturally, it put Ms. Dalshiel in the box seat as chief suspect.

Miles immediately checked back with his man – no way on earth had it been him, sounded like an internal matter.

Janine reported that the 12 principals were now in a position to recover not only their own lost shares, plus interest, but another 2% could go to Johanssen as promised, 2% to Miles’s IT man and half a percent to Chloe, then the other half a percent might go to Frank.

IV

‘Hello Chloe,’ said Miles.

‘Hello Chloe,’ said Laura.

Chloe looked a wreck. She was not happy to see them but neither was she now prepared to turn away a visitor. But what could they say to each other?

Instead, Miles, who’d given the papers to the officer first, passed the deed for the half a percent.

She looked down at it and every instinct told her to make the grand gesture of tearing it up and flinging the pieces at the glass. But she saw the half a percent and thought of the child inside her. She knew instantly how much that was going to realize, money beyond any hope she’d had since the troubles, and if she began behaving, she could now be out in three. She wasn’t of course to know that it was worth considerably less than she thought. On the other hand, it was still worth something.

‘You’ve brought me trouble, this will get around, I’ll be heavied now. If I tear it up, the certificate I mean – does that stop, does that -’

‘No, we supposed you would, the originals are in safekeeping. Make the grand gesture, tell us to fuck off.’

‘Thanks. And thanks for coming. Will you … er … come back again, another day, to have another try at melting my cold heart?’

‘Oh we’ll never give up,’ said Laura.

So Chloe went into her performance and none too pleasant it was either, they both beat a hasty retreat, the officer shrugged.

They thought it was pushing it to visit Frank with largesse – it could wait till he came out and frankly, Miles did not want her anywhere near Frank. Which was fine, as she didn’t want either.

What they did do was track down Frank’s mechanic, apprised him that there was a little bit of cash coming to Frank, enough to let him set up again when he came out but it wouldn’t be due for two years. Plus there’d be enough to cover his own efforts, the mechanic’s. Would the man visit Frank, give their regards and tell him?

He would.

VI

Dave called and wanted to report in person.

He arrived in his S40, not the white Transit, a beer was provided and nibbles, he began. He covered the paedo party ring, how it operated, the scope of it, how they were puzzled that it had not broken wide open so they could snuff out the hackers, the little deals between various members of various departments were listed, the way Penny was gunning for Amelie/Janine and … well, just about everyone … Penny was not long for this world, thought Laura.

Someone was covering for Amelie, he’d search who.

The death of Cornell had been the shock to London – Dave could throw no light on that. However, there was one particularly worrying development – Haas, in an unguarded moment, had sent to one of the ring that he was sending his best operative to deal with ‘the pest’, whoever ‘the pest’ was.

Dave explained that these bureaucrats, they were maniacal for dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s, whilst being inefficient in every other way, especially about money coming to them. The pest might have been Penny Dalshiel herself, it might still be Laura and Amelie, it might be Dave himself.

Miles thought about it and Laura commented, ‘You’re thinking of getting us away from the fleet, aren’t you, to protect it.’

‘Let’s go to Bergen.’

‘Why Bergen?’

‘One of my boats is there. We can stay on it for now and get away quickly if we need. Boats are good near coastlines for that, they become vulnerable further out to sea.’

VII

They’d deposited the bags in the wheelhouse.

‘We need to check the boat. If you go through inside, Laura, check everything which looks like a cranny, look for screws which might have been recently loosened and so on, you’ve done that before.’

He went to check the engine bay. Opening the hatch, he looked down at the engine and noted the extra wires.

Heading back to the wheelhouse, he met her coming back up from below, shaking her head, saying she’d found nothing, she saw his expression, he picked up his as yet unpacked bag, she’d started on hers but threw it all in again and followed, he threw all the ship’s papers into the top of his bag on the way out, they made for the jetty and didn’t stop until they’d reached the local information booth.

They were in the equivalent of a B&B, in a small room on the second floor, they’d eaten, they were awaiting the call from the hostess and the visit she’d said she was arranging.

It came about 2.15. She appeared with a man who introduced himself and behind him was a young, adenoidal lad who knew English, quite proud of it too.

Yes, it had been a bomb, would have blown the boat to splinters, would have been activated by the starter. Miles and Laura looked at one another. There’d been a second device under the bed but this one was activated by remote.

The young man now took Miles aside and quietly hinted about the custom around these parts for this sort of service. Er … how much? Miles peeled off some the roll, curt bow, much obliged, leave taken.

He sat on the bed, hands on knees, she sat on the rug, leaning back against the bed, staring at the opposite wall, this time it had been a tad too close for comfort.

‘Those local boys are going to motor her around to their dock, give her a thorough looking over, do a bit of routine maintenance as well. Miles, I don’t like it. I think they’re in danger.’

‘Yes. Not nice, is it?’

‘Not nice at all – this is upping the ante, Miles, to see at what level we can play. I want out.’

‘How far out? Out of the danger or out of my life?’

‘The former but Miles, if it’s at this level 24/7, 7/52 – I’m not so sure.’

He just looked at her, she then relented. ‘What am I saying? Of course I’m not leaving you – you’ll get yourself killed.’

About 7 p.m., the night sky in Bergen lit up and the most enormous boom filled the air, it seemed to have come from around the dock area. The obvious thought went through both their minds and it was time to vacate this B&B, leaving sufficient, plus a misleading note, they took their bags and waited until they saw the lady go out to the nearby shop, they skipped downstairs, left their keys on the hall table and closed the door behind them, feeling sorry for her.

The woods had two extra night creatures this night, huddled together in a hollow, the subject of some interest to many pairs of animal eyes but thankfully, no humans. The text was sent – eight hours to wait.

VIII

‘Penny Dalshiel? Right. Send her through – go for a walk, Jenny.’

When Gerald Haas suggested a walk, his PA always thought it a good idea to go immediately. She gathered her papers, put them in the drawer, went over to the cupboard, took her bag, checked her keys and hurried out.

She even forgot to ask Ms Dalshiel to go through, much to the latter’s amusement. Never mind, Ms Dalshiel went through anyway and didn’t wait to ask to be seated on the other side of the monstrously dark desk with the turned legs.

‘What do you have, Ms Dalshiel?’

Silently, she handed the file across. Haas turned side on to catch the light better, skimmed through, then went back again, reading this page and that.

It took some eight minutes but eventually he was done. He turned to Ms Dalshiel. ‘And the bottom line, Ms Dalshiel?’

‘I should have thought that was obvious. My firm mines it, for a minute consideration.’

‘MoD has it.’

‘Oh , Sir Gerald.’

He looked through the file again, noting certain points, nodded and turned back to her. ‘I can’t see there’ll be any issue with this, I’ll see what I can do by tomorrow, close of play.’

‘I thought you might be kind enough to, I’ve prepared these.’ She handed two sheets across. ‘I’ve marked the spot with a cross in each case.’

‘Most thorough.’ Taking up his pen, he signed where indicated, took the two sheets and tapped them into order on the desk, then handed them across. ‘Don’t come back to this office, Ms Dalshiel.’

‘I’d say the likelihood of that is rather remote.’

‘Yes, I’d agree.’

They both got up, she departed, he went round the back of Jenny’s desk and watched Dalshiel walk out to the flagstoned footpath, went into the kitchenette to make a coffee, then sat in his chair, thinking.

About seven minutes later, Jenny returned and the two of them went through the disc they’d recorded. ‘Is it enough?’ she asked.

‘Oh it’s more than enough but it still doesn’t stop her doing her worst first.’

‘Not everyone out there loves our Ms Dalshiel, I wonder how much older she’ll get.’

‘Jenny, promise me you won’t do anything.’

‘Me? It won’t be me, I can assure you. I just have acute hearing and heard some little birds talking.’

IX

That night in the woods had not been a whole lot of fun but they were now back in home waters, on their own boat.

Her phone went, it was Amelie’s text. Miles went to prepare the breakfast.

She came out to the galley. ‘Miles, brace yourself, it’s Penny – fished out the same way. Not the Shad Thames this time, closer to her home – no rape, no violence other than having lost her balance, fallen and cracked her head on a concrete block, then rolled into the canal.’

The silence was deafening.

Eventually she said, ‘Amelie’s too close to all this now, these people are no respecters of anyone, look at your boat in Bergen, they’ll hardly stop at Sis. I texted her, a text came back but it was noncommittal in a way she’s not been with me before.

‘What’s your chief fear for her?’

‘That she’s being used, that she’s in too deep, that she’s loving the cloak and dagger. She sees herself as the femme-fatale spy, she’s right into it, she’s loved every bit of what we’ve done, you and me and I know her – she can say yes to things and then finds herself up to her neck in it.’

‘And you’ve always bailed her out?’

‘Sometimes the other way. I’ve slipped up too and she’s been in the shadows. Giving all my secrets away now but I never operated alone. If I was in some village, she was always closeby. She was in the Travellers, by the way, easy enough to keep out of sight, went for a wander, had a coffee. You never asked where I went after reaching the lower fence. She’d hired a car.’

‘Can you actually operate without her?’

‘I could at first with just you – but you can’t take her place in the shadows the way she did, you don’t have her instinct, also when I need a double, which used to be often … well …’

‘If I disappeared from the scene now, could you get back into that again?’

‘I doubt it. This thing with you now has driven in a wedge and she’s essentially adrift and at a loss. I was able to keep her focussed but I’m not there now, she’s susceptible to those elements who see this. Don’t think I’m blaming you, our partnership had to be.’

‘But?’

‘No buts. The work I used to do always had an end date – I knew it but Amelie lives in a world where the good things keep on going. I’d like to get her in, get her to me and talk but I do fear she may be in their camp by now. I’ve another question out of the blue, Miles.’ He nodded. ‘If someone were to sink all your boats, could you replace them?’

‘I could replace those which were mine but there’d not be much cash left over. As for the entire fleet, well most of those belong to those skippers so though I’d be angry and would lose those 5%s, that wouldn’t cripple me in itself. The one in Bergen was my own boat, as is this one we’re on now.’

‘Don’t frighten me. Should we get off the boat now?’

‘Unlike the one in Bergen, this is my own crew and they know to have at least one on board at all times. Every day starts with the same checks and they are thorough, knowing this is exactly what we’re looking for. Two hours a day are spent just on checks. That wasn’t the case in Bergen – the boat was just docked, we did the checks ourselves.’

‘But we could be shot at, blasted out of the water.’

‘True and it’s getting to be more than a worry. But it could also happen at any street address we were at, anywhere we went – except for those redoubts. And we can’t live indefinitely there.’

‘Could we … um … buy one of those?’

‘Beyond my current means. You slowly starting to think of moving on from me to someone who can afford it?’

‘That’s a fair question and the fact that I think that means I’ve thought about it. Answer is no, I like your model best – small incremental amounts from many sources, staying our own bosses, replacing what we need to. Speaking totally self-centredly, this seems the best compromise position with the best chance of a good life. Speaking less self-centredly, I love you, Miles and couldn’t leave you.’

‘Goes without saying that I do too … er … love you I mean.’

‘Miles?!’ He almost jumped out of his skin. ‘I’ve suddenly had a thought, nothing to do with this matter. We’ve had so much on the mind, I never thought to ask you about the sheep. I mean, I know they just munch on grass and have the wool cover them in winter and all that and they roam freely but did you – um, did you make any long term provision?’

‘That ship which was approaching the island was an old troop vessel, there were a dozen men with shotguns, farmers. You know the gite walkway down to the shore -’

‘That’s no walkway, it’s just rubble.’

‘Yes but sheep can get down there, the 93 we had left went down and were sold.’

‘Who tried to kill us? I have my ideas, I want to hear yours.’

‘You won’t like them.’

‘You’re going to suggest Amelie, aren’t you?’ There was no reply. ‘You’re observing from a distance, that’s a fair conclusion. I can’t see it, I can see her succumbing to them but to deliberately blow us up?’

‘We don’t know what hold they really have, Laura, I’m not pushing the idea, you asked me what I thought. It could easily be Jan de Vries, it could be any of that lot in London, it could be this Jenny.’

‘I fear it might be. That’s difficult to get the head around.’

‘I know.’

X

Paul Glendinning had left for home after a revealing day. Amelie watched him down below, heading his usual route home, she went to the phone, then hesitated.

She was starting to become uneasy with Haas, with his little references. She’d need to disappear but not the way she felt Haas and Jenny had in mind. Even now it would be nice to get back with Laura but she knew Sis and her suspicious nature. She could really have done with Laura now.

First, the filing cabinets. She unlocked the one which looked the most nondescript, the one which would least house any key information.

Nothing. All right, the computer. She knew yesterday’s word and hoped it hadn’t changed. She typed in the word, looked at the screen and clicked.

Ah, second word needed. Enormous chance – what about Laura or Emma? She typed in Emma.

Nothing. She typed in Laura.

She was in. File on desktop with Janine’s name on it. Letter to her. If she was reading this, so was Haas’s office, delete everything now, shut down, get out of the office, make yourself scarce.

She shut down and got out of the office.

XI

Jenny Daniels, twelve minutes after she saw Glendinning leave and not return, let herself in, walked up the stairs, let herself into the office and started methodically going through the filing cabinets.

She found what she needed on Glendinning, also on Janine, the one on Haas was what she’d expected. None of them needed copying.

On the train, she removed her gloves and put them in her bag.

XII

There were two messages on Laura’s phone. Sis, with news of Haas – he’d almost made it home to his wife – knifed on the gravel path just outside the small gate. A second, from Paul Glendinning, asking to meet both, urgently.

She thought it through, then ran it past Miles.

‘We’re running out of miscreants, love. My money is on Jenny for now, but Dave doesn’t read her that way and I respect his opinion. There’s always Paul Glendinning of course. And then … well …’

‘Yes I know, it could be any of them. You know what it looks like to me, Miles – everyone has done something naughty, therefore blackmail is always on … but this is cross blackmail. There could be two or three killers in this, each stopping someone else. And so the process continues without end. Someone gets the top job, the 2IC has the dirt … what a life.’

‘I’m sure that’s how it is.’

‘Let’s set up a meeting with Paul, as he wants, but on a boat of ours, we put into shore somewhere and I’ll have arranged for Amelie to be there. I’d lay odds Jenny will also be there.’

‘Too dangerous. That’s how you used to do it when you had backup, this time there’s no one with weapons covering us.’

‘We have friends, we have just enough to take care of all our main players, one or two with a van.’

‘I like the idea of forcing things but I’m also getting protective of you.’

‘So am I of you. We have to forget that for now and do what’s kept us alive so far. We have to trust the other one, we have to remember there are two of us now, double trouble. We have to be bold but careful, Miles – that’s what will win the day and if it doesn’t, then I’d rather go out that way. This business of boarding boats where there are bombs – that would follow us the rest of our lives – we have to be proactive on this.’

‘What can I say?’

XIII

The morning silence, broken by the gulls, was now further broken by a phone call. Paul Glendinning on his way, he gave his ETA, he’d have eaten.

Spring had sprung all right and it was that time of budding flowers, leaves on trees, sunshine in bursts, followed by heavy downpours.

Glendinning arrived, two of the crew did the security, he had no weapon, bar his mobile. Yes, he’d love a drink. The boat pulled out and quickly reached the choppy part of the river near the heads.

‘Saw your unobtrusive people, Emma. You need to come in you know, you can’t keep running.’

‘How are you situated with Mrs. Glendinning? Is she expecting you back today?’

‘I’ll need to call.’

‘Fine but as we explained,’ said Laura, ‘we’re coming into a secure zone now – so you’d need to phone your wife now. Not your people, only someone close, to say you got here and we’ve left the dock, same applies to us.’

‘I do … er … have to make some calls along the way to ensure my safety – it’s on a no-call, come in and rescue me basis.’

‘Pity.’

‘I’m sorry,’ smiled Glendinning, looking from one to the other, ‘I’m not kidding about the support. I need to check in.’

‘No, we’re sorry, Paul. You can call now and then again at the other end. You knew what the terms were.’

He was in a pickle. To be fair, with all the deaths, he might well have thought he was next, they could see the cogs turning, his hands clasped and unclasped. ‘One call you say?’

They smiled. ‘To your wife,’ said Miles.

He brought out his mobile, there was a good signal in these parts, he made the call, there was a lot of no can do, no, don’t do that and there were no terms of endearment at the end.

The instant he was about to shut it off, Laura sprang, snatched the phone from his hands and threw it to Miles, Glendinning leapt at him, he threw it back to Laura who disappeared below and locked the door behind her.

Glendinning was furious but Miles said, ‘You can stop that now, she needs to know. You know the way it goes … Paul … you know this whole trip is about people being killed and we have to eliminate the suspects one by one. In fact, we’re doing your job for you.’

Glendinning sat down, scowling. The skipper was oblivious at the wheel.

They heard the door unlocked, up came Laura, she now dialled a number and gave the person two phone numbers which Glendinning knew implicitly, he went white.

They all waited and then came the return call, not a text. ‘Uh-huh, uh-huh, cheers.’ They were all seated. ‘Well, isn’t this jolly,’ tried Miles, Glendinning scowled.

‘Paul,’ soothed Laura, ‘please see the situation we’re in. Someone tried to blow us up in Bergen. Do you think we did that to ourselves? Then they actually did blow up the boat and both boys were killed, so we’re told. Cornell, Penny, Haas – all of them are killed, Amelie goes strange on me, goes AWOL. Would you not accept that there’s something rotten in the State of Denmark? That there’s a killer on the loose?’

Miles took it up. ‘Late afternoon, where we’re going now, we have to judge the tide exactly, and it’s a long journey. Only the skipper can access the radio, it’s on lock. We’ll be 14 nautical miles from shore, outside our territorial waters. We’ll take it in turns keeping watch.’

‘You’re truly maniacs,’ said Glendinning. Don’t you unerstand that by bringing all these parties together – and yes, when you named them, of course I have to be there – bringing them together is going to have someone killed? I’m sorry about what happened in Bergen but that was some rogue element -’

‘And we’re bringing all the rogue elements together to bring this thing to its conclusion, that’s all.’

‘You’re maniacs, both of you.’

‘And loving it!’ retorted Miles, though the reference to that 60s US spy sitcom would probably not have registered with anyone else on the boat.

Correction, the skipper now turned and smiled, ‘The old ‘bring the maniacs together ploy’ eh, ninety-nine? Better check him for his shoephone.’

‘I’ll explain later,’ Miles said aside to her. ‘although we really should have checked for shoephones.’ She just stared at him, wondering if Glendinning might have had a point.

[Get Smart:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058805/quotes ]

Paul had behaved, they’d eaten, no one was seasick, they’d each caught some kip. The lights were approaching in the late afternoon gloom, the sea was still reasonable, a fishing boat came alongside, his gunwhale above theirs, Miles went outside, there was a thud, another, and another.

‘Evenin’,’ acknowledged the rough customer who came through with his pack as the skipper departed with his pack. The two nodded to each other.

‘Paul, meet Calum.’ Calum nodded and grunted. He went to the wheel, opened the throttle just a little and the boat began to chug slowly ahead.

Miles explained. ‘He can’t go any faster, it will take us a couple of hours, he has to watch even today’s news on the state of the river, it’s always tricky, this bit. Best we can do is relax and have a drink.’

Laura sprang into action and asked what Paul would like. Whisky. She knew what Calum would have – tea.

The instant Paul took his whisky, he threw it in Laura’s face, ran for the door, lifted his leg and extracted a stiletto from his shoe, Calum took two strides and a massive blow came down on Glendinning’s hand, Calum now lifted the man on his shoulders, went outside and threw Glendinning over the side, Miles leapt through the door after him, lifted the lifering and flung it upstream of Glendinning who was last seen by them floating on his back, the ring not having made its way to him yet. There was the start of a fair old tide.

Calum returned to the wheel as if nothing had happened, Miles tapped him appreciatively on the shoulder, Laura was in shock, not a common occurrence for her. ‘You’ve killed him.’

‘Three hundred yards from shore? Nah, he’s a better than even chance, love, especially if he grabs that ring. True, the tide will carry him for now but it does eventually return him to shore. We might have to deal with Paul further down the track.’

‘How?’

‘We do one of your Plan Cs. So, tell me about the numbers you gave Dave.’

‘They meant nothing to me. First one was a man, he just said, ‘Yeah?’ The second was a woman. Dave said the first was some muscle Glendinning had organized, maybe section, the woman was Jenny.’

‘Curiouser and curiouser.’

‘Dave’s had a bit to do with this Jenny of late, it’s been an online battle of wills it seems.’

‘And Dave’s loving it?’ Laura smiled, Calum did not turn around.

Calum now shut off the lights, the shorelights were enough, he knew the stretch, there were no nasties below as long as he stayed aligned. They were now well within the river proper and its particular tidal variants, the speed had picked up.

Closer into the shore now, the engine were back to chugging, the tide no longer an issue, Calum shut down the engine.

They grounded in the one spot they could, he went out, ran up forward, Miles had the wheel, the line went over Calum’s shoulder, he plunged into the shallows in his chest-wader wellies, stepped onto the bank, ran the line around a tree and made it fast.

The darkness had closed in quickly – they were still dark and chilly evenings and visibility was minimal.

Laura now went on deck, for’ard, in the dark gear, as did Miles just behind, she clipped onto the line and off she went, Miles followed, both pairs of feet hit the bank in turn. They shook hands with Calum and he made his way back to the boat.

They were still a couple of hundred feet from where they needed to be – a launching ramp, Amelie should have been in place somewhere there. Their guns were just inside their jackets.

Moving towards their separate positions on different sides of the ramp, Miles having circled through an arc near the main track passing the ramp, saw their back ups in place, he then got to his place and settled in to observe the little hut to the side of the ramp, barely lit.

Someone was in that hut but someone else was over on the left in the darkness, he could not make out who but his gun was going to be for that person, Laura now indicated a tree to her right that she felt someone was in – her gun would be for there.

The person wasn’t coming out. Miles looked across the ramp and made a gesture with hands to his mouth, as if he was going to call out, she immediately crossed arms and shook her head, mouthing, ‘No.’ She would do it.

A good seven minutes later, an eternity, the door to the hut opened a fraction and two eyes peered round, looking this way and that.

Then someone cautiously came out, a slight female, Laura called her sister by her diminutive and, ‘It’s Jacquie,’ so there’d be no mistake, the woman immediately dropped to one knee, aimed straight at Laura, there was a shot and she fell straight back with the impact, Laura’s gun was on the tree but the person had disappeared, Miles immediately had the shooter in his sights, Jenny put the weapon straight to ground and stepped back two paces, hands on her head.

Laura rushed to Amelie but it was over, that was as clear as day, the back-ups covering the two of them now came down the ramp, and yes, one was a medic, he examined Amelie, shook his head, Laura fell to her knees, Miles and one of the support had Jenny looking at two barrels now, a third went behind her, she even volunteered her arms to be tied, as were her feet, the man then carried her in a fireman’s lift up the ramp to a Transit van.

Miles went down to Laura. ‘I can’t leave her here, not like this, Miles.’

‘Rob and the boys will take her and do it right, she’ll be in a cold room for now. Say your goodbyes, Laura. One minute.’

She didn’t need to be told, she fell on her prostrate sister and wept and wept and wept, then abruptly got up and ran after Miles – he was in the back with Jenny and one of the support team, Laura went up front.

It had been a careful and long drive, it was always best that way, not too slow and correct, but no speeding, obeying the law.

The driver turned down a road then into a stony lane, stopped, got out and undid a gate, opened it and beckoned them through, then followed up with Jenny over his shoulder whom he now dumped on the divan.

The other two stood in the living room, curtains closed, Laura now sunk to the carpet. When you’re in a house not your own, when it’s not your decor, when your sister has just been murdered and left for dead, when the killer is right here with you …

Jenny just lay on the divan, saying nothing.

Miles went to Laura, went down on his knees and held her but she’d done her thinking through the tears, she clearly accepted that Jenny had not been the guilty one and if that was the case, then Jenny had just saved Laura’s life.

‘Speak,’ said Laura.

Jenny’s voice was quiet and actually, it wasn’t bad – it was a nice voice. ‘Laura, think about this. Yes, I see you have. Who was not at the ramp with us, who was expected but was not there? Who had organized Amelie and me? You two should be dead by now.’

Laura was sobbing, Jenny went on. ‘Amelie will be taken care of as your man said, it will be done right – you organized those people to take care of those things. I saw both of them when I went to position. I knew Miles’s gun was on me.’

‘Who the hell are you?’ Laura cried out.

Jenny asked Miles to go over and remove all her weaponry – it turned out to be two guns and a knife.

‘Now, release my hands, Laura can keep her gun on me the whole time.’

‘You speak as a professional,’ said Miles, and Laura did just that with her gun. Jenny turned over and Miles undid the cord. She turned back to face them.

‘You don’t know the half of it.’ She now removed all layers of clothing from her top, including her bra, causing Miles to say, ‘You don’t have to.’

‘Yes I do. Now tie my hands again to the armrest.’ He did.

‘I prefer Laura to do the next bit but if she doesn’t want -’

‘I do.’ She got up, came over, untying Jenny’s ankles, then removed, first her rugged but soft-soled shoes, then her thick socks, then her outer trousers, then the inners. In a final insult, she pulled down the knickers but Jenny assisted by lifting her hips.

‘Now go through everything I have with me but please throw that rug on the couch over me.’ Miles did.

They went through everything and Miles whistled. ‘She’s some sort of special section of some kind, been on this case for two years. She’s written an account for us.’

‘In case I was shot and you wanted to know afterwards.’

‘You could easily have put the second bullet into me,’ said Miles, ‘and the third into Laura.’

‘I’m glad you realize that.’

There was silence, then broken by Laura. ‘Tell us about it.’

Chapter 1-5 hereChapter 1-7 here

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