Authors: Heather Atkinson
“Thank you for seeing me Mrs Maguire,” began Janine Wareing.
“Please, call me Rachel,” she smiled pleasantly, reclining in Danny’s office chair in The Wherry Tavern.
Janine nodded and swallowed nervously, wiping her lank brown hair back from her face. She wasn’t sure coming here had been a good idea but she was at her wits end and didn’t know where else to turn. However Rachel seemed amiable enough and was going to great pains to put her at her ease.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard about my little girl, Sally-Ann? She got run over by a drink driver?”
Rachel nodded sympathetically. The girl was only nine years old and would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
“The man who did it, Bruce Spencer…” Janine almost gagged on the name and Rachel patiently waited until she’d recovered. “He served eight poxy months for destroying my baby. Now he’s out and living barely a mile away. His dad’s some powerful businessman. No one gives a shit what happens to us, we’re just scum. Sally-Ann needs a specially adapted house but we’re still stuck in our second floor flat and the Council are doing sod all to help while that scumbag is back in his Porsche, still driving like a maniac. It’s not right,” she sobbed.
Rachel handed her a tissue.
“How can I help?”
“I want justice. I want that bastard to suffer, just like my little girl suffers. I can’t pay you, I don’t have any money but I’m a hard worker and I’d be willing to work for free.”
Rachel sat back in her chair to consider the offer. “That won’t be necessary,” she eventually said. “We’ll take care of everything for you.”
Janine visibly brightened, amazed it had been that easy. “Thank you so much Mrs Maguire, I mean Rachel. You can’t know what this means to me.”
“Go home Janine and try not to worry. Everything will be alright, I promise.”
Twenty minutes after Janine left, Danny returned to his office in the pub to find his wife on the phone, her feet up on his desk. Any objection he might have to his desk being used as a footstool evaporated when he saw her long legs clad in her trademark stockings and high heels.
She hung up and beamed at him. “Hi Babe. How was your meeting?”
“Great actually. Jez Law is a revelation. We all thought he was as thick as pig shit when in fact he’s smart, really smart. He’s running the heroin and prostitution businesses well and he doesn’t even need Alex to hold his hand anymore.”
“Great. The sooner we wash our hands of those businesses the better,” she frowned. “I don’t like them.”
“Me neither. I know Dad wouldn’t have liked us to have anything to do with them but as long as the Laws are in control, they’ll be run properly.”
They both went silent at the mention of Frank. Six months had passed since his death at the hands of his own brother and the nightmare that followed. However the pain of his loss was still very raw.
“I had a visitor while you were out,” said Rachel, breaking the silence.
He threw his briefcase onto a chair and loosened his tie. “Who?”
His face creased with concern. “How’s the kid?”
“Not good by the sound of it. She asked me to do her a favour. The bloke who knocked Sally-Ann down has been released after serving eight months.”
“That’s what happens when Daddy’s a big shot. I take it she wants him sorting out?”
“Did you tell her we’d do it?”
“Yes. I know I should have checked with you first but Bruce Spencer deserves it and it won’t hurt to get the local community on our side.”
“It’s alright, I trust your judgement. I’ll send Battler and Bruiser round tomorrow.”
“Thank you but there’s more.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Sally-Ann needs an adapted home so she can get about in her wheelchair but the council haven’t done anything about it. The two of them are stuck on the second floor of the Montford and Janine’s really struggling.”
“Okay, I’ll get onto my contact in the council about it.”
She looked at him pointedly.
“Go on, what else?” he sighed.
“Money’s really tight too and we have so much…”
Danny smiled at his wife. “Despite the tough exterior you‘re really soft and gooey inside.”
“You didn’t see her Danny, she was in a right state. We’re in a position to help and we should and when word gets round we’ll be in everyone‘s good books. Just imagine the headline when the news reaches the local papers, which it will, I’ll make sure of it.
Local Businessman Helps Sick Child
,” she said theatrically.
“Alright, I’ve got the picture. Give them twenty grand. That should keep them going for a while.”
Rachel got up and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Thank you,” she said, kissing him. “I’ve some other news too.”
“Don’t tell me. The local cats’ home needs a new roof?”
“Funny.” Her eyes sparkled with excitement. “My period’s a week late.”
He beamed. “Have you taken a test?”
“I’m frightened to in case it’s negative. At least this way there’s still hope.”
“Oh Babe,” he said, embracing her. “I’ll pick up a test in the morning. I’m sure this time it will be positive.”
They’d been trying for a baby for six months and so far nothing.
“Yeah,” she replied, forcing a smile.
“In the meantime why don’t we increase the odds?” he murmured, kissing her.
“You have a one track mind.”
Their passion for each other had only increased with time. The trials they’d endured had formed an unbreakable bond between them and they lived and breathed for each other. For the first time since they married everything was going their way and business was thriving. Life was good and they were desperate for a baby to complete their happiness.
“We don’t have time for that now,” she said. “Mikey’s boxing match starts in an hour.”
“He won’t mind if we’re a bit late,” he murmured into her neck.
“You’re…oh Danny that’s nice,” she breathed as his lips kissed a line to her breasts. “You’re his, what’s the word?…Oh that’s really good…sponsor, that’s it. We need to go home and get changed first.”
“Good idea, let’s take off some clothes.”
“Were you a rabbit in a previous life?”
“It’s you Rach, you drive me wild.”
Screwing up her resolve she stepped away from him. “We have to go but I promise I’ll make it up to you later.”
“Alright,” he replied sulkily, following her to the door.
By the time they arrived at the ring the match had already begun, Danny having seduced Rachel in the shower. They took their seats next to Alex and Beth just in time to see Mikey pummelling the life out of his opponent.
“You got here just in time,” said Alex. “I don’t think it’s going to last much longer.”
The bell rang for a break and Mikey’s opponent staggered back, blood pouring from his nose and mouth whilst Mikey returned to his corner, hardly affected.
“How are you feeling?” Rachel asked Beth excitedly.
She and Alex were tying the knot the following week and Beth had been a bag of nerves about the whole thing for the last couple of months.
“We’ve just booked the honeymoon, that was the last thing on the list.”
“Antigua. Two weeks,” she replied, eyes lighting up.
Their conversation was cut short when the bell rang again, marking the start of the third round. Give Mikey’s opponent his due, this was the longest anyone had managed to stand up against him but it couldn‘t last. Mikey laid into him and twenty seconds later the man lay unconscious on the canvas and Mikey was being proclaimed the victor. Everyone was on their feet cheering and shouting, especially the Maguire clan.
“Damn, did I miss it?” called a voice over the din.
They all turned to see Jez Law making his way towards them, everyone giving him room to pass. Since his brother, Ryan, had been sent to prison Jez had come into his own. He’d gone from being very unsure of himself to a smart, confident businessman under the Maguire’s tutelage. He’d kept his people firmly in line and told them all to respect the truce with their former enemies and things had never been more peaceful.
“Yeah, Mikey won,” said Alex proudly.
“I never doubted it,” smiled Jez. “I was delayed talking to Ryan’s brief. He’s up in court tomorrow.”
“Finally,” interjected Danny. “They’ve pissed about long enough.”
“It was the missing evidence that held everything up,” said Jez knowingly. “Funny how these things happen, isn’t it?”
Danny had arranged for the forensic evidence against Ryan for the murder of Lord Davenport to disappear, a murder for which Danny himself was responsible after Davenport set their family up, with Ryan’s assistance. Without that evidence the prosecution’s case was very tenuous and they were all confident he’d be acquitted.
Despite how he’d played her family, Rachel still felt very guilty for helping set Ryan up. She’d visited him a few times in prison and he’d always been very friendly and of course extremely flirtatious. But she wanted to be sure he would still be their ally when he got out, she couldn’t bear for him to become her enemy. Although she loved Danny more than anything in the world she still carried a torch for Ryan way down deep in that delicious place inside her that always clenched at the thought of him. But that was just her secret, not even Beth knew.
“He’ll be home before you know it,” Danny assured Jez.
Rachel studied Jez carefully. He used to be frightened of his older brother and yielded to his every word. Now he’d been running the Law firm single-handed and he knew Ryan would expect to walk in and take everything over again when he was released. She prayed it wouldn’t cause trouble between the brothers because if they could work together they would be a force to be reckoned with.
As was their custom after Mikey won a match, they all headed back to The Wherry Tavern for a celebration.
“Well done,” smiled Rachel.
“Cheers Rach,” Mikey grinned, wrapping her in a hug.
Women were draped all over him, vying for his attention, as usual. He was a player and hadn’t had a permanent girlfriend for a while, preferring to sow his wild oats in great abundance. His good looks and reputation ensured he was never short of female company.
Rachel was incredibly proud of Mikey, he’d come a very long way in such a short space of time. After being locked away in an institution for years for poisoning four people he’d been released, still maintaining his innocence, but only Rachel had believed his claims. Then it had been proved that his older brother Jake was the one responsible and his own mother, Frank’s sister, had set Mikey up to take the fall to protect her adored first born. Since his name had been cleared Mikey had become a valued member of the family and a successful amateur boxer, so successful in fact that there was talk of him going pro. Apart from Beth he was Rachel’s best friend and the brother she’d never had.
While everyone was distracted by the celebrations, Danny took two shaven headed giants, Battler and Bruiser, their personal bodyguards and heads of security, into the office to discuss Bruce Spencer. Danny had a secret agenda for sorting out Bruce, one he’d not shared with Rachel yet. His father, Richard Spencer, had a business empire of his own in the city and he’d started encroaching on Danny’s territory, attempting to take business from Maguire Construction and putting it about that their firm was untrustworthy. Hopefully this would warn him to back off.
Bruce Spencer was a short tubby man with curly black hair and brown eyes. Unattractive, arrogant and selfish, the only reason he’d had any success in life was through the intervention of his wealthy, well-connected father. Even his so-called friends only tolerated his presence for what they could get out of him.
Bruce was dressed in an expensive tailored suit complete with Omega watch and silk tie. He was about to leave to meet some friends for lunch when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to reveal two giants with limbs like tree trunks wearing balaclavas. When he attempted to slam the door in their faces they kicked it open, sending him staggering backwards. They closed the door behind them and produced hammers from inside their long black jackets, causing Bruce to lose control of his bladder.
“Remember Sally-Ann Wareing?” growled one of the figures.
Bruce’s heart sank. Would that ever be laid to rest? Anyone would think he’d killed the girl.
“I‘ve done my time for that. You have no right…”
His protestations were silenced when the man kicked him in the jaw, snapping his head back. Pain exploded in his face as a loud crack filled the air and Bruce realised his jaw had been broken. Therefore he was unable to scream when they laid into his legs with the hammers.
Two minutes later Battler and Bruiser gazed down at Bruce’s prone form on the floor, feeling they’d just performed a civic duty.
“Let’s find his wanky little Porsche,” growled Battler.
They headed through the back door and into the garage, taking with them the buckets of pig’s blood they’d brought specifically for this purpose.
First they attacked the car with the hammers, smashing every piece of glass and putting dents in it the best garage would be hard pressed to fix. They finished it off by throwing the buckets of blood all over it.
Eight hours after they left, Bruce was found by his father lying in a pool of vomit and urine.
Danny snuck out early while Rachel was still sleeping to pick up a pregnancy test. He was so excited, praying this time it would happen for them. They’d been at it like rabbits and even though it was extremely enjoyable all the checking of dates and taking temperatures was draining the romance out of their sex life.
He returned home full of enthusiasm, clutching a little paper bag to find Rachel curled up on the couch in her pyjamas sipping a mug of tea.
“Look what I picked up,” he grinned.
“My period started this morning,” she replied quietly.
Sheepishly he put down the test and pulled her into his arms.
“I’m sorry,” she croaked.
“It’s not your fault. It’ll happen for us soon, I’m sure of it.”
She buried her face in his chest. “Maybe there’s something wrong with me?”
“You got pregnant once, you can do it again.”
The guilt almost paralysed him. The baby they lost would have been about four months old by now. If he hadn’t stressed her out so much when she was pregnant then the three of them would be together now, a real family and Rachel wouldn’t be beating herself up like this.
“What if I can’t carry a child full term? I couldn’t go through another miscarriage.”
“That won’t happen,” he told her firmly. “Anyway it might be my fault you’re not pregnant yet. Why don’t we book an appointment with the doctor just to make sure?”
“I’ll ring the surgery tomorrow.”
She smiled and nodded, feeling a little better for voicing her concerns.
Richard Spencer stared down at his son in his hospital bed and was filled with wrath. He knew this was retribution for what he’d done to that little girl but he was still his son and he wanted to kill the people who had hurt him.
When a man he didn’t recognise entered the room, Richard rounded on him angrily.
“Who the hell are you to just stroll in here?”
The man held out his hand. “Superintendent Benton. I’m investigating the attack on your son.”
“Oh,” he replied, relaxing and shaking the man’s proffered hand. “Richard Spencer.”
“How is he?”
“He’ll walk again, eventually, but they broke his spirit when they broke his legs. He’s a shadow of what he was.”
“Has he said who attacked him?”
“Two masked men, that’s all he knows. He had to write down what happened because they broke his jaw.”
“Have you any idea who would want to hurt your son?”
“Only nearly everyone in the city. There was a lot of bad feeling after he knocked down that little girl. It’s clear this is about her after what they did to his car.”
“I think I know who the culprits are Mr Spencer. The problem will be proving it.”
“Ever heard of the Maguire family?”
“I know of them. A bunch of criminals.”
“Precisely. Witnesses say they saw two large muscular men enter your son’s house. Their descriptions match two of the Maguire’s heavies.”
“What has it got to do with them?”
“The Maguires like to do good deeds, give a lot to charity, that sort of thing, to try and make themselves look respectable. No doubt this is all some stunt to ingratiate themselves into the local community. Sally-Ann’s family were given twenty grand yesterday by an anonymous donor. No doubt that was them too.”
“I want them prosecuted,” snarled Richard, shaking with indignation.
“Like I said, we’ve got nothing.”
“Then why aren’t you out there finding a way to bring them down?”
Benton regarded him thoughtfully. “I know some people who share the same interest in the Maguires as ourselves. You should meet them. Between us I’m sure we can come up with a solution.”
Richard gazed down at his son, beaten beyond all recognition. “Alright. I’m in.”
Benton smiled. He’d been after the Maguires for years, especially Rachel. She killed his mentor and predecessor, Superintendent Jarvis, and he was more determined than ever to make her pay in whatever way he could. Despite what the Maguires thought, The Coalition was far from finished, Davenport‘s death was just a temporary setback. They’d been waiting in the shadows, biding their time until another powerful benefactor came along. And he just had.
Janine Wareing flew into the office of the Wherry Tavern clutching a huge bouquet of lilies.
“Thank you,” she cried, embracing a surprised Rachel. “Thank you for what you did to that scumbag. Now he’ll know what my baby goes through every day. These are for you,” she said, handing Rachel the flowers.
“Thank you Janine, they’re lovely. Lilies are my favourites.”
“I know. I just wish I could do more for you.”
“I don’t want any reward.”
“The Council have found us a new home too. It’s a lovely ground floor flat in the suburbs. It’s close to the hospital and has its own garden. Plus they’re going to kit it all out for Sally-Ann. You should see her little face, she’s so happy.”
“That was you too, wasn’t it? The Council didn’t want to know before and now they’re falling over themselves to help us. I can’t find the words,” she said, eyes filling with tears.
“There’s no need,” replied Rachel, clasping her hands.
“I swear if you ever need anything and it’s in my power to give it then please just ask.”
“I couldn’t ask for more. Get yourself off home Janine and don’t think about it again.”
At that moment Danny entered the room and Janine grabbed his face in both hands and kissed him full on the lips. Rachel laughed at his startled expression.
“Thank you, you lovely man,” she grinned before leaving.
“Who was that?” he asked Rachel.
“Sally-Ann’s mum. She’s very grateful.”
“So I see.” He closed the door, pulled Rachel to him and kissed her hard. They were interrupted by a knock at the door.
“What?” snapped Danny, annoyed by the interruption.