7

Dark logic

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I

Leyton Young had shifted all operations to his new boat, he’d just had the patron over for lunch, Jenny had prepared it earlier, it just needed microwaving, she’d gone into town, Sarah was due in about twenty minutes and he’d just been dealt a body blow.

The patron had come clean about Jane. He’d advised Leyton to be seated for this, he was sorry, he had a couple of confessions himself. Thing was, you see, Leyton and she had been a diversionary tactic, that had been their purpose at the place – to carry out discussions which would alarm the patron’s rivals while the real negotiations were going on elsewhere in the building.

The other confession was that the patron had observed that Mrs. Young, far from being forced to go with these three, was actually instructing them once she was inside the vestibule, the three men left hurriedly and who should then go into that antechamber but Mandy Sobel. There may have been an innocent explanation, the patron felt he should wait and see. Perhaps Mandy had just been biding her time, had seen the three depart and had gone in.

Those three were clearly the later assassins according to his man, the patron was sorry to distress Leyton. Any light on that?

‘None. She might have been trying to carry out her own negotiations, thinking she could achieve some result for the fleet – to possibly score Brownie points.’

‘I’d have agreed, except for her next visitor, Mr. van Agt – one of my boys accidentally on purpose burst in, apologised and withdrew, he saw a wad of Euros handed over. Perhaps your good lady was doing a bit of business on the side, had made certain threats. The best construction was that she’d been trying to buy your safety, Leyton, the worst construction I don’t wish to spell out.’

‘You’re not … actually wrong. She’d done that before … but with me on the force, it just wasn’t on for her to make side deals. My Jane was never at one with that sort of propriety and I have to say she was not altogether unhappy with my dealings with Laura and the girls – I think she was motivated by things other than just love. She needed things to run securely and in a stable way. You’ll notice me not breaking down – I’ve already been through such thoughts and now, your confirmation – well, it’s a bodyblow all right but not unexpected. I choose to believe she was doing it for the two of us, for the operation.’

‘I’m so sorry, Leyton. There it is. I’ll be getting back now.’

The boat pulled into the dock about 13:50, he stepped off, he nodded to Sarah as she went aboard, lightly skipping along the gangplank. She worried him a little, that one.

‘Leyton.’

‘Sarah.’

She picked up on the mood immediately and did not ask.

‘Sarah, I’ve just been told something about my wife and I need to ask you – do you have any light you can throw on her being involved in things opposed to us – was she in with Laura, do you know anything?’

‘I don’t, Sis does.’

‘All right, let’s get down to you and me – I can’t join forces with you yet for many reasons. One is that you’re coming on too strong and I can’t cope, another is that it would go down very badly with my people, also the local area, so soon after … Jane, there is also Jenny and I do not wish to lose her. Against that, I’d love to make a life with you … just not yet. I’m not saying no, I’m saying I must wait. What I really fear now is your reaction to this.’

‘You’re letting me down slowly.’

‘No, a thousand times no – I’m all over the place, it would be madness just now. I need breathing space.’

‘With Sis right in there with you, looking after you.’

‘You had the chance, the choice too – you didn’t choose to. Anyway, why should you look after me? You have many things you want to do.’

‘Oh Leyton, Leyton.’

Tears were welling as she turned and scuttled off the boat as fast as she could manage. He felt a heel.

II

What had become his favourite pizzeria was run by a married lady, Madeleine and she’d been his confidante so many times now, she was happy to when she was not run off her feet, so he chose times when she was not so busy and she enjoyed it. He also tipped handsomely.

She’d served his meal and had sat down with a tea for a breather.

‘I’m thinking of marrying one of the girls.’

‘I see.’ Long pause. ‘Which one?’

‘Jenny.’

‘Aha.’ She thought how best to put it. ‘People did talk about your wife’s death, tragic, and about your grief. I’m wondering if this is not a bit too soon.’

‘Thanks for being straight. I understand that completely but I also know we advanced a bit a couple of evening’s ago – not that, not yet but we’re in discussions shall I say.’

‘You’ve always asked me to be straight, you told me you needed that. The girls are not liked around here, not trusted. I’m sorry. However, my opinion is that Jenny is the better, certainly for you, less flighty. The other, Sarah – she does have many friends, not all female.’

‘I know.’

Then she added, ‘I know it’s easy for me to say – you’re with them day in, day out. You know the good side we don’t see. We see sharp little madams who, to be fair, are loyal. At least the one called Jenny is, the other I think is. I’ve heard they’ve been involved in some hardnosed business as well down south, for the government but then again, you’d know all about that.’

He nodded and she went on. ‘You’re running a few ventures from what we gather. If you sign on the dotted line, those businesses at least partly go to the one you married. You must hate me saying this.’ He put a reassuring hand to her forearm, so she went on. ‘Having said that, word is that this Jenny has not been doing a bad job, quietly and unsung.’

‘Jenny’s been half running the businesses since the time of Miles, even during Laura’s time. She’s well aware she’s not popular, it hurts her but she understands, she’s hard all right but also anxious.’

‘And the other?’

‘She’s easier going and yet I think more dangerous at the same time.’

‘If you want my advice, you have to come clean. Have you slept with either?’

‘How far does this go?’

‘Walls of this room.’

‘Sex – no. Sleeping with? The other night, it was tentative with Jenny, she was very self-conscious.’

‘I see. Principled man, principled girl. I want to be fair to her but we’ve had the crews in here for lunch and they were not saying good things about your Jenny.’

‘Part of that was they felt it was not a woman’s place, part of it was fear of her catching them out – she’s silent and smart.’

‘Ah, now that does really explain it. I’ve not heard this from them of late. Give it time, Leyton. It might be fine but don’t be rushed into it – if she’s genuine, she’ll wait. If she’s waited this long, she’ll wait a bit longer – not too long, mind, that would be cruel. Also, I know you need a pair of arms through the night right now but I’m not sure, if you’re going to now sleep with Jenny, however innocently, that you should let Sarah into your bed after that.’

‘Thanks, Madeleine. What’s the damage?’

‘On me this time. And Leyton, don’t leave it so long next time – I need your custom … and your chats.’

III

Jenny came back quite late and was a bit weepy.

‘It must be obvious I’ve spoken with Sis – we were in town. She also tells me you looked like you’d had a huge shock. You don’t have to tell me.’

‘Jenny, I can’t go on like this, torn between you and your sister. She worries me, you don’t. How will she react to this? I wouldn’t like to cross either of you.’

‘My concern is that they don’t get her, don’t take her back in. Apart from that, she’s a big girl. We haven’t been rivals before though, so this is a new thing. If I stay just as your housekeeper, that’s one thing. If I climb into bed with you, even if it’s only to talk, which I’d like to do tonight, then that’s another thing altogether. There’s no blueprint for this with Sis – I’ve never looked at the men she’s gone for before.’

‘Please, tonight, let’s talk together, closely.’

It had to have been one of the most awkward moments ever – just the very act of getting into bed and then knowing where and how to lie. Jenny lay as far away as she could, almost terrified.

‘I have to know, Jenny, I need some signals – are you the other way inclined?’ She shook her head in the half light. ‘Are you asexual, meaning you can’t stand any intimacy … at least with me?’ She shook her head again.

Then she spoke. ‘It’s a huge move, there’s Sis and you, there’s our own relationship which did not immediately develop. There’s are my feelings for Miles and Laura as a unit. There’s your situation and state of mind, there’s my unpopularity. It’s also too soon. I’m also sleeping with my dead partner’s brother. There are so many reasons, Leyton. There’s your Jane and what you two had. You haven’t told me yet but I gather it might have been something to do with her today.’

‘There’s nothing I want more, Jenny Daniels, than you as my partner – you have more than I could want – but I can’t make a move on you because I’ll frighten you off and I couldn’t stand losing you, I really couldn’t. That’s why we go through this housekeeping thing – that and all the things you said. Let’s try this – if you come to the middle of the bed, if we meet there, then we can just have a simple hug and talk, I wouldn’t move it forward unless you wanted.’

‘You can do that so soon after Jane?’ His face fell, she gasped. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’

‘I haven’t told you yet what I heard today. If I do, you might call this rebounding and it’s not, it’s really not – we’ve been building up to this for some time.’

‘I’d like to hear it before I hug you, I want to know what I’m hugging you about.’

He repeated the conversation with the patron, she gasped again and was appalled. She did take the same middling view as him on it because it was the more sanity-preserving view. She shuffled over straight into his arms and touched his face. ‘You poor boy, you poor, poor boy.’

‘And now I’m going to break the mood by asking where Sarah is.’

Jenny sighed. ‘She does have friends she can go to, stay with, just a few … both sexes.’

‘That was a move. I rejoice in the move but it was still a move.’

‘Yes, I know. I chose you over my sister in telling you that. I feel … strange.’

‘You also know that if you and I do … become partners say … that you would be everything in my world. Is that too claustrophobic?’

‘Not the way you do it, not with our work and all the things happening, not with the constant danger. How can you hold a killer in your arms?’

‘Don’t forget I’m one too. I just can’t see anyone else out there I’d rather have beside me forever than you. Our outlooks are similar in many ways, I’m a little straighter than Miles, you’re a little straighter than Sarah, we’re a bit more serious people.’

She squeezed him hard and put a kiss to his lips. ‘I really do have issues with this intimate business, let it take its own time, let it happen slowly, I’m sure I’ll end up being a good lover for you. Leyton, I’m not a virgin and I even did it as part of my work once but I hated it.’

‘Ok, this part of it will work itself out, let’s not rationalize it further unless there’s something very important to say – there are some other very important things we have to get to … and soon..’

‘Oh? Yes I suppose they’re are.’

‘First thing is that Miles was just a citizen, I’m an ex-copper – different attitude from the locals, I’ve busted some local lads in the past – those things can come back on a cop. Then there’s you – you’re not liked because your clever and closed, also silent, also a killer as they say. We can get around this though by putting ourselves out a bit more – we’re doing that with the collections from the skippers but we also need to do other things together, such as go to that pizzeria. It helps to have locals on your side and Madeleine onside is a good thing. Could you stand going there with me?’

‘I’d be delighted – I just don’t know anyone up here.’

‘And they can see you as human then, Madeleine is the type that if she takes a liking to you, she has many customers and she talks. If we have even three Madeleines in the area, things will start to thaw out. I need to do things too – for example, if a skipper is having some problem with the boat, I lend him another boat, the things Miles used to do. The patron doesn’t count against us, it didn’t against Miles, in fact it helps my reputation locally … a bit.’

‘Plus the powers above will always want to kill us, Leyton, we have to be fatalistic about this, there’s always going to be an attack and no one will jump in and help us. In fact, Sis might turn against us, I don’t know, it’s all so new.

‘Wouldn’t she be delighted for her twin sister?’

‘I hope so, I really hope so. I fear not.’

‘There’s another thing – while that trafficking was going on, those boats were getting money , to compensate for what the EU stole. The people who did that are out of the business now but there’ll be new ones. We have to decide our attitude, I’m no longer police and you’re no longer protected. They leave you alone up here because you know too much – that’s why you’re not in prison – prison is death for both of us. Our skippers are not making much money going straight, we need to think of ways they can increase their earnings – I was planning to say to each in turn that the only thing I’d draw the line at is trafficking and not say anything else.’

‘That would do it. Leyton, we still have two other problems and they’re human – Stammers and Sobel – you do know that this must come, don’t you?’

‘Yes. And the locals aren’t going to like that either.’

‘I’m not so sure – I think it could cut both ways – but we need a defence plan. We need to talk one through, have the measures in place. And this is nothing to do with it but I need to smile more and talk to people, I know this.’

‘Shall we have a pizza tomorrow? Let’s eat big at Madeleine’s, she’ll have lighter traffic around 10 a.m. – is that too early for pizza?’

‘What else does she do?’

‘All sorts – if I phone her and tell her, she could do cottage pie or whatever we like.’

‘Let’s do that.’ She was far happier now, the voice had brightened up, she now planted a kiss on him, then said she was very tired.

IV

Madeleine was delighted at the end of the phone, of course she had cottage pie and lasagne, all would be ready. 10 a.m.?

Jenny had just the right amount of nervousness and that all important thing, a shy smile, not contrived, she really was happier. Plus she loved lasagna.

Madeleine came over and sat down once it was all on the table, a chap over in the corner now got up, gathered his things and came past them. He looked down at Jenny and said, ‘You’ve a nerve showin’ yer face round here.’ Jenny burst into tears and Madeleine jumped up.

‘If you don’t apologize to this girl, your banned from here for two weeks, George Cowell, she’d done nothing to you.’

‘Living with a bent copper, you call that nothin’? Yer goin’ daft, Maddy.’

‘George, you apologise right now!’

‘Sorry.’ He then stalked out. Madeleine rushed to put her arm around Jenny and Jenny began to see what it was like to have friends. ‘It’s all right … really.’

They had a dessert and tea, they spoke of this and that, of local issues which Leyton knew but Jenny had to learn and keep up with.

Suddenly, Jenny leapt over the counter and rugby tackled Madeleine to the floor, Leyton saw it too and dived to the floor, Jenny was in position with the pistol and fired through the door, it hit someone, Leyton groaned at all the good work undone, Madeleine got up and had now totally revised her opinion but another customer, a retired lady, spoke out.

‘Maddy Powell, you could not be more wrong if you tried – that girl just saved your life! Maybe all of our lives.’

Madeleine was propped up at the counter, still breathing hard but realized there might be something in this. She turned to the old lady, who explained.

‘Two of ’em, not local, guns, they were coming in to kill someone or hold you up or something like in the films. This girl hit one in the stomach, they ran away. I say she deserves a medal.’

Madeleine wasn’t entirely mollified. ‘Jenny, I thank you but maybe you’re just a bit too hot around our way, I’m sorry.’

‘Maddy, you’re well out of order,’ the old lady persisted. ‘She was fast and her whole aim was to save you. I could do with protection like that. And don’t say you haven’t had rowdies before -’

‘Not with guns.’

‘Maddy Powell, you owe that girl.’ The old lady got up and came over, resting a hand on Jenny’s shoulder. ‘You’ll be all right, love, it takes time to wear this lot down.’

She shuffled out and Leyton asked to pay. He did, well over the odds and then Jenny surprised. She went over to the counter and said, ‘Mrs. Powell, I’m really sorry but he was going to hurt us.’

Madeleine just looked at Jenny and said, ‘That’s all right, love, we’re not used to guns here, that’s all.’

‘Madeleine, am I still welcome next time?’

She hesitated and then said, ‘Bring Jenny too. I like you, Jenny. And … thanks.’

Time to leave.

Back at the boat, Jenny looked at him enquiringly.

‘All in all, a gain, a great gain – you saving someone will do the rounds but what will also do the rounds is that you’re trouble. What I get out of it is that your reflexes are still good. Me, I’ve softened up and have to start training again. If you have the strength, love, I think we’re going to melt these cold hearts bit by bit – we started today. Now, the underlying issue, far more important – someone came to kill you or me.’

‘I know who it was. It wasn’t Mandy Sobel but one of those two was in her company once – he might be from Stammers. I think there’s going to be another attack on the boat. We need one of those M72 LAWs again or something like it.’

‘I’ll get onto the patron.’

There was a hoy from the shore, two uniformed and one plainclothes, from the city, not Lytton, Leyton put through two calls immediately, then went out and rowed to shore, the officers delicately stepping into the rowboat.

Eventually they made it and entered the wheelhouse. There’d been another call and Jenny was on the mobile.

She got off the phone and turned to face the officers.

The long and the short of it was that they were not local station but city, which Leyton had suspected might happen, recognizing one of them. He hoped the calls had been effective.

They rowed to shore with one of the crew and were taken to the city HQ.

Mr. Daniels – not related, one of the patron’s high-fliers – arrived and bullied his way in, the questioning officer knew the game was up and then came the phone call from above. Leyton, Jenny and Mr. Daniels waited, this was going to be interesting, there was a lot of arguing, there was a lot of ‘we’ll see about that’ but there was also, ‘Right, off you go.’

They walked out and there was the patron himself, the three got into his car and off they went.

‘Was it Mr. Daniels, Leyton?’

‘I think someone above, inside. Mr. Daniels certainly helped and thanks yet again. It’s not actually good that we got off that way. Means they’ll try it again, only more effectively next time.’

‘We’ve discussed the defences, you’re paying for them, we’ll just have to wait. Any idea who the two were at the cafe?’

‘I do,’ said Jenny, ‘connected to Mandy Sobel.’

‘Want us to deal with her?’

‘Think she’s higher than we thought,’ said Leyton, ‘think she’s cross-channel, it would be heat you don’t need. If we could somehow get hold of two M72 LAWs, we might be able to do it ourselves.’

The patron grinned. ‘You’re quite taken with those, aren’t you? How are you going to explain taking out the Man as you call him?’

‘I’m not sure the Man is all that interested in us now – there’s been no Jenny threat for some time and word is out that we live the quiet life of respectable citizens, a bit like you – this unpleasantness seems to be down to Mandy Sobel and some elements in Holland, I think it’s still about fishing.’

‘It is,’ said Jenny. Turning to the patron, she said, ‘Sorry to talk out of turn but this one has now got personal. We’d appreciate those M72s please sir and some 12 gauge for the shotguns -’

‘A bit bulky, shotguns, no?’

‘Jenny, please show our guest our little babies.’ Jenny went down to their cabin, returned with four sawn-offs and beautifully crafted stocks they were too. ‘Do you have any use for such things?’

The patron’s eyes were popping out, he was almost drooling. He took one and lovingly caressed it, turning it over, then he smiled a smile Leyton had not seen before – he was almost a child.

‘We’ll not give you these particular ones,’ said Leyton, ‘because their shelf life will soon be over – we must rotate every few months you’d understand – but we’ll get a pair made for you, I’ll order them today. Double action all right with you? Two barrel? Have a look at the coachwork and decide what you want in the stock – any particular design?’

The patron was grinning from ear to ear. ‘Hand-crafted,’ was all he could whisper to himself. ‘My man will bring over the drawings.’

Jenny said, ‘Please wait.’ She went quickly to the first drawer and pulled out a sheet of wax paper and a marker, laid one of the guns on the table and began tracing around the contours, including the outline of the embossed bits. She gave the drawing to him.

‘Ours are brass but I think you might want a bit better than that. We can inlay with silver but if you want gold, that’s a little beyond us. If you don’t specify your wood, we’ll leave that up to him – he does a nice job.’

He took his leave, still in a daze.

‘Jenny, it’s essential we get these made and they have to be good.’

‘Of course. Let’s eat, there’s still some nice haddock in the cooler. Will you put the guns away?’

‘I will. Just one more thing.’ He came up to her now and gently took her in his arms, placing the kiss and saying, ‘I only want you, forever.’

Now she was the one in a daze, she went to prepare the lunch.

V

Their new launch generally sat at anchor between five other craft bought specifically for this protective purpose, they were away from the wharf by a long distance, which meant the waves were a little choppier but they considered it a small price – the issue was always going to be once they left that protective ring and headed out onto the river proper.

And this is what they intended to do today, their regular day in the past month. They’d never kept it regular before like this but they wanted Mandy Sobel’s lot to have an easier shot at the this way. The launch had its regular crew of four and two of those were old trusteds they’d now trained to use the rocketry. It would be a bit of a problem were there more than two boats attacking but they assumed two.

There were also two small fishing dinghies with 15hp outboards which would hover about on the port side for collecting purposes after a hit, they’d wear lifejackets. If they were directly hit, any of the personnel, that was fate. They’d thought long and hard about pre-emptive strikes but with those, you’d need to be damned sure you got the right miscreant. Morally better was to take a hit first and retaliate.

They decided on the pre-emptive if they could get away with it. This was made easier by a phone call in coded jargon from the patron saying one part of the order was being filled but not the noisy things. His man would explain.

The boat pulled up alongside the two runabouts in the dead of night, no lights, and Leyton’s two crew unloaded, the boat now came alongside their launch, the man explained that the rockets were best left with the patron, the patron would take any heat over them and if Leyton would provide two local boats to fish from, the patron’s men would run these, looking out for non-local craft doing unusual things, especially fast craft, these boys were pretty good at sniffing out enemy, the kaboom would be theirs.

It was suggested that Leyton and Jenny transfer valuables and papers to the real runabouts – already done he said – and that he and Jenny be in separate runabouts – already organised. They’d need one man to drive the launch along the agreed route – already sorted. Did they have the second runabouts ready with the dummy Leyton and dummy Jenny with rifles? They had to telegraph this to the binocular watchers.

Leyton explained that they had a man in each runabout but these two runabouts would tow covered dinghies and under the covers were a Leyton and Jenny respectively – effigies anyway – with rifle muzzles slightly visible from a distance. They would keep on the port side of the launch at first, in its shadow and see if the launch was the target, then the dummy Leyton would drop back out of the launch’s shadow, plus the dummy Jenny would move forward out of the launch’s shadow and they’d see what happened.

Start of play would be 14:00.

They were prepared, the patron’s men were to do this for three days – word was that something was definitely in the offing. Also, if the terrible two were going to use those sawn-offs from their own runabouts, they’d need to dump them straight afterwards – already sorted.

VI

Came the time and Leyton was looking through the binoculars, as was Jenny from her boat, they had mobile contact with the patron’s men – new mobiles all.

These things are all in the preparation – the actual event often happens in the blink of an eye and that’s what they were expecting here. The skipper of the launch started up and went through the motions.

He put the boat in gear and it putt-putted out from the ring of launches. As the launch passed the dummy Jenny, it pulled out from its place and ditto the dummy Leyton. They were well aware the runabouts could be hit from other angles – the shadow of the launch business was theatre.

They were off the second point when suddenly it did all happen – the dummy Jenny dinghy was taken out, there was an almighty explosion further out, the dummy Leyton was hit less than a second later but not taken out, there was another almighty explosion, a third from the hill on the other side of the river took out the launch, the firing point was taken out, there was silence, the police launch had been nobbled so it wasn’t coming, now the real Jenny runabout and real Leyton runabout went to the two separate wrecks.

Jenny and her crew member reached the wreck of splintered fibreglass and glass, she saw a movement and fired one barrel of her sawn off and the movement stopped. They pulled up beside what was left and it was apparent she’d taken out Sarah, the crewman told Jenny to take the wheel, he went onboard and carried a quite dead Sarah to their runabout, Jenny actually took the weight of her sister and laid her down, the crewman then took off as arranged, out around the point and three miles down the coast.

Leyton had reached the other boat or what was left of it, there was nothing left, the bodies were in the water, including Mandy Sobel and a Dutchman Leyton recognized, their runabout now took off in the opposite direction, up-river.

Both had a call – do not throw them in the drink – they assumed it meant the sawn-offs.

VII

It never made the evening news, anywhere. It was online, on Twitter, but after an initial flutter with no subsequent mainstream confirmation, it would die away in a few days.

Jenny was inconsolable, she was asked by the patron if she wanted the full honours funeral or a quiet service they’d attend, no markings but a year later, a stone would be put in place. She was no fool and knew it had to be the latter. The patron assured her it would be done by the wives, done with dignity.

Though she was inconsolable, she was not the sort to blame herself if it was not warranted – Sis and she had always known that if they were in the wrong spot during a firefight, these things happened. Also, it had been her boat which had fired on the dummy Jenny’s dinghy. Mandy’s boat had gone for the dummy Leyton.

Word around the area was that it was a gang feud involving the patron and his two proteges again, best ignored, look the other way. They’d lost their new launch, those two.

The patron had asked Leyton not to ditch the sawn-offs, saying he hadn’t been able to get an artist who could do the stock justice, was there any chance?

Was the Pope Catholic, asked Leyton? The four guns were ceremonially presented and it was one very happy patron – he refused all financial remuneration for the rest of it.

‘We’re happy they’re going to a good home,’ observed Leyton and Jenny nodded her agreement through her weepiness.

VIII

They were in one of the other patron’s redoubts, it was suggested two weeks was the right duration this time around, they must not come out, phone, any of it. The fleet would run as per normal, the patrons would not take it over like the island.

First night. Bed.

‘You haven’t said a word about Sarah,’ was Jenny’s opening salvo.

‘I loved her, I’m weeping inside, I can’t face it. I’ll talk about it if you need, I’d prefer not.’

‘I wanted to be at her burial.’

‘Remember Amelie?’

‘No, I wasn’t there.’

‘Ah, yes. Forgetting.’

‘It’s never going to change, is it?’

‘Yes and no. In the short term, no one would be silly enough but we still need vigilance. In the long term – staff move on, faces change, even around the patron – yes, they’ll try again, loose ends. What do you see as the imperative – not dying or not being taken?’

‘Not being taken of course. I can’t actually ask you to shoot me of course -’

‘Nor I you -’

‘Then we read between the lines, husband.’

‘Husband? Then you accept?’

‘The unasked proposal? Of course I do.’

‘Do you know one of the core s why it had to be you?’

‘My resilience.’

‘Close – your recovery powers – we’re going to need those. Just hope it doesn’t turn us in to monsters.’

‘Just hope we’re not monsters already. Can we go back to the fleet?’

‘Not sure. How would you feel about helping me make bespoke artefacts, weapons for example?’

‘You could do that?’

‘Did you not like the sawn-offs?

‘You can get him to teach you?’

‘Not any more. He died in 1981.’

She gasped. ‘You.’

‘He taught me all I know about it.’

‘Leyton, that’s just … wonderful.’ She hugged him so hard she almost asphyxiated him. ‘Can you do women’s things too? Jewellery boxes and so on?’

‘I’ve done some.’

‘You know I’m good at designing those for women.’

‘Then I think we have our immediate future planned, patron can have the fleet, just as they had the island in the end. We can live in various places, we can build our own secret haven bit by bit, over maybe two years.’

‘We’d have to do some services for the patrons.’

‘We will, we’ll get over all this first and then plan. Let’s just have a couple more days of nothing, try to clear the mind – we can’t clear it of Sarah, we’ll do what we can.’

‘We’re planning our life and we haven’t yet made love. How sure are you of me being your partner – do you think I’ll regress, chafe at the bit?’

‘I don’t know. If you do, if I do, then we move somewhere else. Or you move on. I’m not leaving you, I have what I want.’

‘I’m not leaving you either. Let’s get the patron to bring a priest in – two days from now, I’ll cook something nice up. Just two days more and then we can make love … after the ceremony.’

He smiled. ‘Done.’

Chapter 2-6 hereLift [short story] here

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