Fighting for Survival (The Estate, Book 3)

BOOK: Fighting for Survival (The Estate, Book 3)
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FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL

Book 3, The Estate Series

MEL SHERRATT

 

Fighting for Survival © Mel Sherratt

E-edition published worldwide 2012

Kindle edition Copyright 2012 © Mel Sherratt

 

All characters and events featured in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are entirely fictitious and any resemblance to any person, organisation, place or thing living or dead, or event or place, is purely coincidental and completely unintentional.

 

All rights reserved in all media. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form other than that which it was purchased and without the written permission of the author. This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the author.

 

Cover image by © Miroslaw Dziadkowiec

 

PROLOGUE

 

Ruth Millington covered her ears with her hands, the screams around her getting louder. She tucked herself into the corner of the kitchen and pulled her knees up to her chest.

Shut up. Shut UP. SHUT UP!

But Mason and Jamie Millington continued with their games, screaming as one stabbed the other, squealing as one grabbed the other in a rugby tackle. Down Mason went onto the floor with his brother; play but with real meaning.

‘Shut up,’ Ruth whispered. She banged her head on the wall behind her, again and again, but the noise didn’t lessen.

As Jamie ran past her he took a biscuit from the open packet, knocking a carton of milk over in the process. Liquid ran off the worktop, drip, drip, dripping down the kitchen unit and onto the cheap, scratched flooring. Turning back to glance at his mother, Jamie covered his mouth with his hand. Then he laughed. It was the sound of an eight-year-old who had the upper hand; evil, cruel, taunting.

His older brother, ignoring the milk pooling on the floor, grabbed for a biscuit too. Then he turned up the dial on the radio. The tinny sound raised dramatically, the beat of the bass reverberating around the walls. He ran back into the living room, screaming as he did, Jamie hot on his heels.

‘I am such a bad mother.’ Ruth grabbed fistfuls of her hair and pulled as hard as she could. ‘I am such a bad mother.’ She banged her head against the wall again. ‘I am such a bad mother. Always have been, always will be. They’ll be better off without me.’

 Ruth knew she could no more control them than she could herself. But she had to do something to stop them from growing up into anti-social thugs.

‘Shut up, shut up, shut up!’ Her voice rose with each word until it turned into a screech. ‘Will you two shut the FUCK UP!’

She jumped to her feet and ran into the living room after them. Grabbing for Mason, he avoided her in the nick of time, quickly following his brother back through the kitchen and out into the garden.

Neither of them were laughing as their mother tore after them.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Gina Bradley swallowed two tablets with the help of a mouthful of water, knocking back the rest afterwards. It spilt over the rim and down her chin in her haste to get rid of the pounding inside her head. Bang, bang, bang.

It took her a moment to realise that the noise was actually from someone knocking at the front door. She shuffled through the living room, careful not to trip over Pete’s boots splayed in the middle of the floor, and squeezed around the boxes of knock-off paraphernalia piled up along the narrow hallway.

‘What the fuck do you want?’ she snapped, looking down at Josie Mellor from her vantage point of three steps up.

‘Good morning to you too,’ said Josie. ‘Don’t say that you weren’t expecting me. Are the twins at home? I need to talk to them about –’

‘All right, all right, keep your voice down.’ Gina opened the door and moved to one side. ‘You’d better come in. I don’t want the whole of Stanley Avenue to know my bleeding business.’

Josie moved past her. Before shutting the door, Gina looked up and down the road to see who was nosing at her. She watched for curtains twitching: it was bound to be one of the neighbours who had complained, although for once, it didn’t seem to have anything to do with her and Pete making a racket after a late night argument.

She followed Josie into the living room and dropped onto the settee, not bothering to move the pile of magazines and a pair of men’s jeans. Josie sat down on the armchair next to the gas fire.

‘What do you want to know?’ Gina asked as she reached for a packet of cigarettes from the coffee table.

‘Where were your girls last night?’

‘That depends.’ She lit a cigarette, snapped the lighter shut and took a deep drag.

‘In that case, you can’t be certain that they weren’t involved in the altercation across on the square.’

Gina leaned back and placed her feet onto the dusty coffee table. ‘In that case,’ she mimicked Josie, ‘they were here with me all night.’

Josie sighed. ‘Mrs Bradley, have you any idea of the serious nature of the attack?’

‘Nope.’ In truth, Gina hadn’t a clue what Josie was referring to. She’d fallen asleep on the sofa, long before the twins had come home. They might have mentioned some sort of a fight when they’d nudged her awake and she’d gone up to bed but she couldn’t recall anything now.

‘There were two incidents, in fact,’ said Josie. ‘At half past seven, Rachel and Claire were seen riding like the clappers along Davy Road after a woman was knocked to the floor and her handbag was stolen.’

‘Not my girls,’ said Gina with a slow shake of the head. ‘Besides, they know better than to get caught on CCTV.’

Josie frowned: damn the government cutbacks. Manning the cameras on the Mitchell Estate had been the first thing to suffer after the local council cut their staff by twenty per cent. Since then, things had started to slide again; people realised they couldn’t be seen as much as before.

‘The woman suffered a broken nose and a dislocated shoulder, Gina,’ she said.

‘And you think my girls are capable of that?’ Gina stared back at her.

‘They’re not girls anymore, they’re sixteen. And the mess they made of Melissa Riley last year, I dare say they are more than capable.’

‘That was a teenage misunderstanding. You know how catfights can start when boys are involved.’

‘Actually, I don’t recall any when I was their age.’

‘No, you would have been Miss Fucking Perfect at school, wouldn’t you? I see you haven’t changed now, apart from becoming a jobsworth.’

‘At least I have a job,’ muttered Josie.

‘What?’

‘Nothing.’

Gina watched as Josie lowered her eyes. Josie hardly ever retaliated, no matter what she spat out at her. What had rattled her cage?

‘You mentioned two episodes?’ she said.

‘Yes.’ Josie tried to regain her professionalism. ‘There was another mugging half an hour later. This one was particularly brutal. A young lad was pushed down the steps on Frazer Terrace. He says he fell but –’

‘He must have fallen if he said he did! Bleeding hell, Josie, can’t you take anything at face value?’

‘Not when I know he’s lying.’

‘And exactly how do you know that?’

‘I just do, that’s all.’

Gina glared at Josie, wondering as she did what she really thought of her – not her professional opinion but deep down inside. Josie was thirty-seven and had been working on the sprawling Mitchell Estate for the past eighteen years. More recently, she’d been splitting her time between the role of housing officer and manager of the new business enterprise centre, The Workshop, that opened the previous month. She was known as a fair, firm person, always offering a word of encouragement. But she wasn’t a pushover; Josie would help for a while, giving anyone the benefit of the doubt until she realised that her advice wouldn’t be taken, and then she’d resort to stronger methods to get things done. All the time, she would try; often she would fail. But she still cared, whatever the outcome. 

There were twelve hundred houses on The Mitchell Estate. Until recently, Josie and her work colleague, Ray, had shared the responsibility of the properties that belonged to Mitchell Housing Association, but since The Workshop had opened, Josie was mostly based there. However, she always liked working out in the community and couldn’t wait to get back to more casework when the time was right. For now, she was keeping old cases open and only visiting when requested to – like today.

Gina put herself in Josie’s place and imagined what she would see. A small, fat woman who had let herself go - someone who looked much older than her thirty-five years, someone who couldn’t be bothered to move her fat ass from the settee. She knew she looked a mess compared to the woman sitting opposite her, with her perfectly-styled bobbed hair, fresh make up, and the waft of perfume filling the room.

‘Give me a break,’ Gina pleaded. ‘You ought to try living my life for a week. I have a lazy bastard for a husband who’s never done a day’s work in his life. My eldest son is heading the same way – either that or he’ll end up inside again. I have daughters who happen to be the bane of everyone’s life. Wherever they go, they cause mayhem. It’s not exactly a barrel of laughs for me.’

‘My life is in no way perfect,’ said Josie, ‘but I do try my best to get things right.’

Gina yawned. ‘I’m bored with this conversation. Have you finished?’

‘No, I haven’t. Your girls are heading for a big come down. You know they think they rule the roost with this stupid gang they’re part of.’

Gina giggled. ‘Yeah. The Mitchell Mob, they call themselves. So funny.’

‘It isn’t funny at all!’ Josie’s voice rose slightly. ‘Do you want them both to be locked up like Danny was last year? Then you’ll be on your own and…’

‘And?’ Gina taunted when Josie had been silent for a few seconds.

‘You know what I mean. They’re heading for meltdown.’

Gina stood up quickly. ‘I think you’d better sling your hook. I’m sick of you poking your nose into my family’s business all the time. Who do you think you are?’

‘I have a file on your family this thick,’ Josie indicated an inch between her thumb and index finger, ‘so you need to be careful. I can’t keep shielding you and your girls from eviction.’

‘Eviction?’

Josie said nothing.

‘You can’t be serious?’ Gina continued. ‘I’ve been a tenant here for seventeen years. You can’t just turf us out.’

‘I – I can,’ said Josie, ‘and I will, if I have to.’

Gina grabbed Josie’s arm and pulled her up roughly. ‘Get out of my house. And don’t come back accusing my family of allsorts until you have the proof that they were involved.’

Josie tried to shrug Gina off but she held on tight. ‘Could you at least try and talk to them?’ she asked. ‘They might listen to you.’

Gina sneered. ‘What makes you think they’ll listen to me? Like you said, they’re sixteen now.’

‘Which means we have more rights to lock them up if they’re caught.’

BOOK: Fighting for Survival (The Estate, Book 3)
13.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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