They replenished the sustenance and sat down again.
Paul spoke. ‘Jenny’s mum will be half an hour now. I spoke to Rick, I also asked the boss here about the sideroom, the snug.’
Mrs. D was ushered through by the owner, Jenny went to pieces of course, the mother and she had five minutes in there.
Jenny then came out and called Miles through.
She sat demurely on the other bench seat, Mrs. D. immediately invited him to ask his questions. Interesting. He started with easy ones, Jenny was now watching carefully.
It then got to that question about the brother. Mrs. D was quiet for a few moments, then indicated she was about to whisper, cupping her hand over her mouth. Miles put his ear down to her cupped hands, nodding at intervals.
She then asked her own questions, also starting easily, then onto the typical questions a mother would ask on behalf of her daughter’s future. At times, Jenny looked up at the ceiling in exasperation.
Eventually, Jenny asked if she and her mum could have five more minutes. Miles went out and joined Paul, who’d been joined by Rick who’d brought Mrs. D up here. They had a pint, Miles’s round.
Those two came through, Mrs. D came up and hugged Miles, said welcome to our family and quickly made to leave. The driver supped up, grinned at Paul and off they went.
The three sat at the table again and got down to tin tacks on the beefing up of the launch.
Paul had certainly exceeded the call of duty, he’d gone over the boat once more, he’d always been like this and Miles had always paid a bit more than the going price, a win-win.
He suggested they anchor a few of the fishing craft around the launch at night, that at least was some protection, though anything from the cliff behind the wharf would be dangerous. Plod was two dangers – firstly Leyton co-opting people who owed him – they might do the dirty, secondly he’d know professionals had come in to defuse the boat.
There was a third point actually – the chances of local police or others leaning on Miles, driving him out of this harbour.
Paul had a fourth point … he knew of the patrons, this one in particular, he knew you never won with them – once you took their protection, you were on call and naturally, should the Patron wish to use the boat for some function … weeelll.
Against that was not being blown out of the water at random.
The Patron saw it exactly that way and knew this call was coming from Miles sooner or later. Could Miles provide lunch tomorrow? He could.
Miles got off the phone and said they had to put on a good meal for the man, Jenny understood, she quite agreed, she was even more obliging than Miles in that department. Miles asked if they should get caterers in, Jenny was insulted, hadn’t he liked the fayre she’d cooked so far? He agreed it was grand but so much work for her.
‘Well you’ll be there helping me, won’t you?’
The meal was the goods, the Patron had brought his new PA as well, she helped, releasing Miles for the plonk pouring, Jenny was profusely praised, now they got down to business.
Yes, there was a job, it did require two girls in tandem, the Patron knew the situation exactly with them and with the boat – congratulations too, by the way, on the upcoming wedding bells. ‘We’re reasonably up to speed with your movements just now. Any issue with that?’
‘The opposite, we’re a bit isolated here, as you pointed out.’
‘Your earning power is not quite back at the old levels yet but two girls in tandem would just about offset that, you coordinating from the launch.’
‘When? How much time to train, what of prying eyes from London or even closer?’
‘You leave that part to us. All right, contrary to rumours in the press, we do look after our staff, our contractors too, I’ve two new girls on the payroll, one is my new PA Felice whom you’ve just wined and dined,’ she smiled sweetly, ‘and one we brought back from Czechia.
Jodi’s her name, Jodi Svobodova.
Now Jenny, I’m not forcing her on you, quite the opposite, I want you to evaluate her and if she passes muster, if you’re happy, then you need to train her. That part is not a paid job, the training, the project very much is though, you’ll not be unhappy. So yes, I do need you for the project itself but your main value, Jenny, is in training our specialist people like Jodi. Interested?’ The smile in reply was all that needed to be said. ‘Good. All right, here are the details.’
‘Hold it, hold it,’ said Miles. ‘Haven’t we forgotten dessert?’
Jenny now surpassed herself, the Patron was smiling fit to bust. This augured well.
Jenny asked him that night, ‘What’s he want from you which is worth keeping you alive for, Miles, rather than just taking it all?’
‘Contacts, ways in, the goodwill of the skippers, an air of respectability, quite a few things. You, your cooking and general presence. You can buy a man any time.’
‘You say all the right things,’ she chuckled. ‘And of course you – you have that manner and arranging way about you. We’re still living dangerously but it’s ok – we just have to stay … valuable.’
‘Are you up to it?’
‘After a couple of days with Jodi, I’ll tell you.’
The Patron sent Luke who’d been in the last operation, he brought Jodi whom he now introduced. She acted demurely but Jenny was intrigued and impressed – she was the goods all right was Jodi, solid, sporty girl of that loose limbed, central European type, about Jenny’s height. A honey trap though, Jenny was going to set Miles up a couple of times.
The interesting thing about Jodi, Jenny thought to herself, was that she did not possess that out-and-out beauty – certain features undercut that, she was more solid than some girls … but she certainly exuded that strong sensual vibe and there was not an ounce of fat. Jenny thought her physically strong, very sensual, pro-male but somehow not tartish at all – there was actually a good girl innocence to her. Jenny would wait and see.
‘Similar to last time,’ explained Luke, ‘meeting, fire ladder, flak suits, Jenny and Jodi picking off the remnant if they fire, otherwise just cover while we tidy up.’
Luke had to go but would leave Jodi with them if that was ok?
‘Well,’ said Miles once Luke had gone, ‘I’m getting deja vu here. Start talking, girls. Coffee for all? I’ll make it.’
Jodi gave an apologetic smile which immediately got under Miles’s guard, noted by Jenny: ‘I speak English not so good. I Czech.’ She showed her translator.
They covered a lot of ground, Jodi was clear by the end how it would go, she’d sleep in the side guest room tonight. The aft cabin was now Jenny’s and Miles’, they’d ripped out the insides and redecorated, new bed, that sort of thing – fumigated. The front cabin was now Jenny’s alone for those ‘reflective moments’, Miles could have his reflective moments on deck.
Jodi could share the for’ard bathroom with Jenny, she could also use the galley/salon any time – eat or drink what you like.
They’d had their first day session, the girls, Miles had stayed on the boat, they’d got ‘home’ in one piece, had eaten and Jodi was lying down in the guest room, supper would be later, the two of them went to the aft cabin.
‘So?’ Miles waited.
‘I like her, she was very good today, I think this will work with your Patron, I demanded their own chief tactician come to us and no doubt he wanted to check us out too. We’re not doing the heavy work in this, just the mopping up but even that’s dangerous enough. I’d have liked you there today to evaluate things, to evaluate him too. It’s a bit like cricket, this game – you can play nine magnificent shots but …’
‘I get the idea. Go on.’
‘Jodi’s fast, really fast – she can cover ground just like that, I don’t think either Sis or I could in our heyday, not to that extent. She can pounce. Naturally, my shooting is better at this stage but she’s no slouch all the same. The critical part is she was feeding off my body language and I was starting to do that with her own as well. The Patron will get a good first report this evening. She’s the right type, Miles, I get a good feeling about her, providing she doesn’t seduce you. She’s already under your guard and goodness, she does put out the sensual vibes without making one open move.
She also told me, Jodi, about feeders – yep, these are genuine kidnappees, or genuine intergenerational victims bred for sex, but a few don’t fit the pattern, they’re fed in by someone else. She herself was fed in, a kidnappee and so the question is who fed her in and why. One day she might tell us.’
‘How good is she overall … physically and mentally?’
‘Oh she’s hot all right, she’s the goods. I was amazed.’
‘And now I have to go to her, away from you and talk about it all.’
Jenny smiled. ‘Well go on then, go and pump her.’ He looked at her curiously, paused, thought to say something, didn’t and off he went.
Miles knocked on her door, she said, ‘Come,’ he went through and perched on the chair. She gave the appearance of having skipped back to bed.
‘Can you understand my speech, Jodi?’
‘Yes, when you speak simply, slowly, I can feed off your words to reply but can’t think of any for myself.’
‘Feed off – this was one of Jenny’s expressions?’ She smiled that smile which went straight through him. She was well aware, this one. ‘How did you find Jenny today? Could she keep up with you?’
‘Jenny’s fast, really fast – she can cover ground just like that, I don’t think I can … er .. great much. She can pounce. Naturally, my shooting is not so good at this stage.’
Miles was grinning. ‘And do you like her? Could you work with her I mean?’
‘She’s my friend. I like you, Miles, but she’s my friend.’
‘I have that message loud and clear but can she physically keep up with you?’
Did you hear all we were saying?’
She smiled that smile. ‘Most of it, just as Jenny is doing now – she’s right there,’ and she pointed to a precise spot in the corridor. ‘Come please, Jenny,’ she called out.
Jenny did and he asked both, ‘Do you both want our cabin tonight? I can sleep here. And I promise I won’t be listening at all.’
They looked at each other and nodded. Jenny said, ‘Let’s eat first.’
All three prepared it, with some Czech variations. Nice.
The hit was over, not worth even reporting on.
As the Patron reasoned at another Jenny/Jodi luncheon onboard, his enemies must be truly thick. They’d fallen lock, stock and barrel again, there’d not even been a Leyton to contend with this time. He’d also concluded that Jenny and Jodi were a fighting item, something they’d fed back through Felice. Good. Patience. Planning. Ruthless execution. Watching out for anomalies along the way.
First thing Jenny said that evening in their own cabin was about celibacy before marriage. True they’d been doing everything ‘but’ before the wedding, however, there was still that ‘but’. It was pretty important, that ‘but’.
‘I’ll not do anything with Jodi, not that she’d want anyway. Plus she’s too young, plus it just complicates everything.’
‘I felt guilty when I climbed into your bed with Sis … you were still Laura’s. She was not all-in for you though, bebe, and that annoyed me. Really she wasn’t for you. She was all-in for herself. You do know those two must be dealt with.’
‘I think the Patron has that in hand. He’ll offer something that if they’re straight, they won’t fall for. If not straight, then there it is. Shall we approach a parish vicar and marry simply, with just your mum there? Or your mum not there? Which? Let me fall onto my knee and engage properly once we have the ring.’
‘Yes please. Jodi as bridesmaid, maybe Patron as your best man. I want to keep it simple.’
It was straight after the service, no reception for security reasons, no honeymoon yet, that the Patron sprung the next plan. Contraband. Money and underage girls … as in freeing them, he hastened to add. He needed the first to keep the show on the road, staff paid, they wanted the second stopped.
‘Yes please,’ the three had said.
Jodi was getting along all right with Madeleine’s son Peter too, too young an alpha for her, why must the only thing of interest to a male be bonking?
Her vocabulary had come along. ‘You looking around, Jodi? One of the Patron’s guys maybe, the patroni?’
‘They’re not their own people.’
‘You’re not thinking of the Patron himself are you?’ She said nothing. He did though. ‘Not my biz, Jodi, not my biz. You’ll be hurt. You can listen to me. Or do as you please. Too late afterwards.’
‘Jenny said that.’
‘You trust her?’ Jodi nodded.
‘Jodi, he’s married, I’m about to be.’
‘I know that.’
Dark, very dark was that sky the night the word came through that the ship of trafficked girls was coming, harbour next door, very few shore lights, no jetty, obviously the miscreants had planned it for around now in the month, compounded by the weather. Not windy as such, just dark, it was the obvious night for them to do it.
The very reason the next harbour north had been chosen by the foe was that it was far easier getting the underage girls to a dark shore and dispersing them.
It was essential the law knew nothing as the local law was part of the trade and on this, the Patron and miscreants were at one. Dozens of patroni, as Miles called them, were lying in wait at exit points, they’d kidnap the girls, guns trained on the pimps and hand the human cargo over to the unbribed Plod they knew of.
Payoff? That would come when the ship departed.
Four swift black skiffs waited just the southern side of the harbour, no lights, one with the two Js onboard, plus one M72 LAW. The other skiffs had similar but it was the marksmanship of Jenny which would first cripple the speeding vessel heading homewards, the other skiffs could then fire and board, grabbing the cash the old fashioned way.
The skiffs saw the ship with minimal lighting coming south past the point, saw it douse all lights and move into the harbour at low speed. They could not see but presumed the dinghies had gone out to meet the ship, do the deal and take the girls ashore.
They awaited the ship leaving the harbour again, they’d hit it right at the heads. There was a hullabaloo onshore they could hear.
They could see the silhouette of the large vessel once again heading out, coming their way, the skiffs took off, silently, from the darkened point, here was the moment, Jodi was bracing Jenny who was aiming at the waterline, the skiff was now within range, off went the M72 LAW, poetic justice, and as desired, it penetrated, the crews on the three other skiffs hit other points on the hull.
Grappling lines were shot into the hull near the gunwhale, up went the patroni, there was much gunfire, then an explosion, then another, the patroni slithered down, the skiffs raced off in their various directions, the J’s skiff was already racing south, south into their harbour, straight to the Sarah Marie Daniels, the ladder was thrown, they swarmed up the ladder, black suits left in the skiff, the next fifteen minutes were spent in bathrooms thoroughly removing the minor blacking, the skiff was now long gone, wherever it was headed.
Alone, the three of them, they awaited the law over a quiet game of poker, small change on the table before them.
Local police arrived some twenty minutes afterwards.
The ladder was thrown over the shore side, up came Lytton’s finest, the launch was searched, they were invited to the station.
It was 4 a.m. when they got back, weary, bored out of their skulls, warned in no uncertain terms to keep their noses clean.
A phone call came, Miles answered, he listened, nodded, it wasn’t the Patron but a remote connection of his they’d been prepared for.
‘Well?’ demanded Jenny.
‘Both of them were onboard. It was apparently quick. The ground force also rescued 15 from 17, two girls not accounted for, official alerts are out. They can take care of that.’
Jenny and Miles were both numb, they retired to their cabin, Jodi went to hers.
Sometime later she asked, ‘Is it all worth it? Can we escape this cycle? Fifteen girls saved. Now social services will get to them and ruin the whole thing, lose them. So much effort required. Fifteen girls saved.’
‘Even one was worth it.’
‘I agree,’ said a voice at the door.
‘Get in, Jodi,’ said Jenny.’ She did, carrying her translator and the chain around her neck, that was all she wore, just as with them. Jenny looked at her man, he understood, he said, ‘Ah … Jodi …’
She was already out and had raced back to her room, returning in PJ bottoms, they had done the same. Not tops. Ok … right … maybe this one needed to be talked out too.
Jenny spoke. ‘Translator ready, Jodi? Fifteen girls rescued last night, two not rescued. I suspect they were rescued though … and went to the Patron.’ There was a silence, Jodi staring up at the cabin ceiling. ‘As happened with Felice and you earlier, yes?’
‘Yes,’ admitted Jodi. ‘He employed Felice but gave me to you, Jenny and Miles. However, my job from Brno, where we come from, was to … one moment …’ she checked the translator ‘… to infiltrate and compromise. As I’m doing now with Miles.’
‘That’s trafficking all right, honey trapping,’ said Miles. ‘All right – he saw Felice, saw you, why did he give you to us?’
Said Jenny, ‘Because she’s hard-bodied, intelligent, difficult to handle, Felice is far more pliable,’ Jodi was translating each word, ‘plus he needed me to have a partner for his project. The happy thing is that we saw each other, Jodi and I, and we liked. The one here having enormous trouble is you, Miles.’
‘No … me too, Jenny,’ said Jodi, leaning over and kissing her. ‘I am not doing this now for this boy in Brno. I need your Patron to rescue my mother and brother, they are being held until I do my job and report back on the fleet situation in this harbour.’
Jenny overcame her shock. ‘Goodness. I don’t know what to say.’
‘Please ask him to help.’
They both looked at Jodi, still in a state of shock.
He recovered first. ‘Your English, Jodi … it’s suddenly become good.’
‘Yes, I was lying of course. It’s true I am from Brno but I learnt English for nine years, I can speak it and understand what you both say. Most of it. I want you, Miles, just to see, I could have had you, you know that, but you won’t have me. Tell Jenny why you won’t.’
‘Because Jenny is already younger than me by a lot and you’re that much younger again. Double guilt.’
‘Yes … 23 … Jenny 29 … Laura 34… MIles 37 … and yet here I am lying down with you both. You don’t see that as strange? You don’t fear Miles going to someone?’
‘Yes, I fear that greatly, but I also trust our vows.’
‘I believe in vows. So I must find someone or go back to my boyfriend in Brno.’
‘Yes, the one who sold me to the train, the gang who do this, they are at the university.’