Authors: Mel Comley
By Mel Comley
Published by Mel Comley at Amazon Kindle
Copyright 2011 Mel Comley
Kindle Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is dedicated to my rock, Jean.
Thanks to Tania for the wonderful cover, you’re a talented lady.
Other books by Mel Comley are.
A Time For Change
A Time To Heal
A Twist in The Tale
Keep in touch with the author at
A Chateau in Normandy
A smug satisfied smile stretched across Baldwin’s handsome but menacing features as he surveyed his lavish surroundings,
self-congratulation exuding from every pore. Tonight would be all about him, his ability to manipulate others, as months of meticulous planning came to fruition.
A couple of the scantily clad girls, all of Eastern-European extraction, giggled in the corner. He scowled at them when he realised they’d been helping themselves to the potent punch, intended for his esteemed guests.
With its final tune-up complete the band drifted off to get changed. Meanwhile, the experienced agency waiting staff tinkered, adding the finishing touches to the thirty-foot table laden with some of the world’s finest food, specially imported for tonight’s soiree.
His gaze drifted out over the large terrace and he took in the incredible view; the view that had sold the chateau to him. A view that took in thirty acres of manicured lawns, bordered by hedges shaped like animals; luxurious surroundings more suited to royalty than a lad brought up, or rather dragged up, in the boarded-up slums of Salford, Manchester. A lad with a rap sheet longer than the Seine.
Most of his men were already standing in position, their weapons safely concealed beneath their smart tuxedos. They would be joined by the others once the limos arrived.
Baldwin glanced at his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes, his irritation bubbling just below the surface. The guests should have arrived at seven, a full ten minutes ago; where the bloody hell were they? He marched over to the window and craned his neck to look up the long tree-lined drive. Nothing, not a limo in sight, nothing but the grey gravel, glistening in the evening sun. It didn’t bode well, not in his book, anyway. His blood pumped harder, faster, so much so that the vein in his temple jutted out, just as it always did when something didn’t go according to plan.
‘Well?’ he asked, when Julio his second in command, joined him at the window.
‘Nothing as yet, boss. Everything’s ready though.’
‘That much I can see, you bloody moron. Now go and see what the fucking hold-up is. I want this evening to go smoothly. You understand, Julio, no cock-ups.’
‘Yes, boss. I’ll get onto it straight away.’
‘Never mind, I’ll see for myself, I know how those guys can twist you round their fingers.’
Baldwin stormed into the communications room next door. The room was littered with pizza boxes and a bottle of scotch was sitting on the desk in front of his men. The three men, all built like bouncers, leapt to their feet.
‘Look at the bloody mess in here. Did I say you could drink on duty? This is supposed to be serious business tonight. I’m warning you, fuck this up and you’ll pay for it, with your
. You got that? Now, what’s the bloody hold-up?’ His glare unnerved the men, they nodded like toy dogs in the back of a car.
Baldwin stepped forward, a menacing look in his eyes. He stopped in front of the youngest of the three men, their noses a few inches apart. ‘I said, have you got that, Benji?’
The man gulped, his eyes bulging with fear, he nodded again. ‘Yes, boss, I got it.’
‘This is your final warning, Benji. Screw this up and …’ Baldwin left the sentence unfinished on purpose.
The new recruit backed away and Baldwin let him go, for the time being. He’d had his eye on him for a while, and had come to the conclusion that the man’s attitude stank. It hadn’t escaped him that the man thought highly of himself and enjoyed strutting around as if he owned the place.
‘Now, let’s start again, shall we? Tell me, what the hell is going on?’ He sat on the corner of the desk, looking at the ten TV screens attached to the wall in front of him, each showing a different area of the chateau and its grounds.
‘The limos called in a few minutes ago. They got held up a couple of miles up the road. They should be here any minute,’ Benji said.
‘Make sure they are. I’m getting anxious and I don’t need to tell you what that means, do I?’
The men nodded their understanding of the unspoken threat. His anxiety was notorious, and often resulted in bouts of violence. Despite his men having muscles ten times larger than their IQs, when Baldwin went on the rampage, they all turned into quivering wrecks.
With the threat still lingering in the air, Benji pointed to one of the screens, as a car pulled into the drive. ‘Here comes the first lamb now.’
Relieved, Baldwin headed for the door, but stopped in the doorway, turned and issued a final warning, ‘Remember what I said … any fuck-ups, and I’ll personally cut off your balls and serve them to the pigs.’
Re-entering the Great Room, Baldwin clicked his fingers and the band brought the room to life with one of his all-time favourite Jazz numbers.
Julio gathered the girls together to make sure they understood their roles for the evening. Several of the girls noisily smacked on their gum, no doubt bored of hearing the same instructions for the fifth time since arriving mid-afternoon. The plans were embedded in their minds already. Baldwin made a mental note which of the girls he would punish later for showing him attitude.
An English butler announced the arrival of the guests as they entered through the main doors. ‘Mr Chang Foo, representing the Chinese Government.’
As each guest was announced Baldwin stepped forward, a false welcoming smile lighting up his handsome face. His annoyance at their lateness forgotten for now, at least.
‘Mr Yashicotin, representing the Japanese Government,’ the butler announced, one of the young girls latched onto the dignitary after he’d shaken hands with Baldwin, and guided him in the direction of the free bar at the rear of the room.
When everyone was assembled, and the room was buzzing with excited chattering, Julio gave the signal for his men to take up their positions. The men who’d accompanied the limos drifted through the crowd and slotted into their allotted places around the room, roughly six foot apart, with their weapons still concealed.
As per their instructions, the band stopped playing as soon as Baldwin appeared on the makeshift stage. The room erupted with loud applause as he stepped up to the microphone. ‘Good evening, Gentlemen, first of all let me tell you what a great honour it is to welcome you into my humble home.’ Baldwin paused to accept the rapturous applause generously given by the audience, before continuing with his sucker-punch. ‘It has always been my ambition to become the world’s richest man, and now, with the help of you and your respective governments, I’m in a position to achieve that ambition.’
As his eyes surveyed the crowd, he noticed several of the brighter men in the group eyeing him with caution, their unease changed to alarm as his men took out their guns. ‘Now, now, gentlemen, settle down. There really is no need to be alarmed,’ Baldwin addressed the audience in a singsong voice, ‘Providing, of course, you co-operate.’
The Russian Finance Minister, his face flushed and contorted with rage, approached the stage, he gesticulated with his hands and shouted in his native tongue.
Outraged by the man’s rudeness, and mistimed outburst, Baldwin nodded to one of his men standing a few feet from the Russian and signalled for him to be silenced.
Three shots echoed around the room and the Russian groaned.
Again, the Great Room fell silent.
The Russian clutched his chest, and fell to the floor, his blood quickly making a pool beside him.
Several guests tried to escape out onto the terrace, but the armed men herded them back into the centre of the room.
Baldwin’s calm, yet assertive voice rose above the commotion. ‘Gentlemen, you disappoint me. I thought we were all getting along so well. It’s unfortunate that our Russian friend chose to disrespect me, but I hope the rest of you will learn from his mistake. The ball, as they say, gentlemen, is in your court. Now, what is your decision, gentlemen? Am I to take it from your silence the rest of you have no objections to helping me fulfill my ambition or—’
This time the Chinese Finance Minister chose to interrupt his speech. Yet another communist with balls, Baldwin thought, as the man approached the stage and mumbled, ‘Robert, we are all friends here, we should discuss your ambition openly and frankly.’
Baldwin’s smile vanished. The Chinese Minister, whose position gave him great power, shrivelled in front of him. ‘And what do you foresee the outcome being, Mr Foo?’ Baldwin asked, through clenched teeth.
Foo’s body trembled, he tried to take a step back and bumped into the pretty blonde Baldwin had supplied him for the evening. Julio’s colt dug into the base of his back. Panicked the man ran, but three shots from Julio’s gun prevented him from going more than a few paces. Foo cried out in agony and slumped as the impact of the bullets sent him sprawling to the newly-polished floor, like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
‘Is anyone else going to interrupt me? Speak now, my patience is wearing thinner by the minute.’
The room remained silent.
Baldwin’s triumphant laughter echoed round the enormous room, as he sensed his long awaited objective about to finally materialise.
Lorne stretched and turned over to cuddle Henry, her border collie. ‘Time to get up, lazy bones.’
Henry raised his head, stuck out his tongue and licked the side of her face.
‘What woman needs a man when a dog can give kisses as good as that?’ she said, gently nudging the dog off the side of the bed. Before going downstairs she walked into the bathroom and let out an agonised moan. ‘Christ, look at the state of me, what bloody man would consider sleeping with me anyway?’ she said, studying her reflection in the mirror and seeing the state of her make-up smudged face and the way her shoulder-length brown hair was sticking out.
Her eight-year-old dog whimpered in response, she suspected more out of desperation to relieve himself, than in reply to her daft question. ‘Okay, mate, come on.’
She led the way down the stairs of her tiny two-bed terraced house in Highbury, with Henry trailing behind her. As Lorne unlocked the back door, to let her faithful companion out, her eyes drifted up to the Arsenal wall clock hanging in her galley kitchen eleven-fifteen. ‘Bloody hell, where the heck did the morning go?’ she mumbled, looking at the clock her dead partner had given her several years before.
Detective Sergeant Pete Childs had been Starsky to her Hutch, back in the days when she’d been a successful Detective Inspector in the Met, and he was her partner, a friend whom she still missed daily. Now he was gone, gunned down in an alley by The Unicorn, the terrorist who’d become her arch-enemy over the eight years she’d hunted him. She’d come close to capturing him several times, only to have him escape when she thought he’d been cornered. She blamed The Unicorn for ruining her life. A man who had intentionally set out to teach her a lesson, by kidnapping and raping her beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter, and putting her to work in one of his seedy brothels alongside dozens of Eastern-European teenagers, smuggled into England in the backs of lorries. He’d also robbed her of the man she had intended leaving her husband Tom for.
Within days of burying her partner, she’d been forced to endure the unenviable task of repatriating pathologist, Jacques Arnaud’s body back to France, so his loving family could bury him. It was a job that had left her with a gaping hole in her heart.
That had taken place a little over a year ago, and the farewell to Jacques proved to be the final straw in tearing apart her career. After watching The Unicorn’s boat blow-up in a massive explosion, Lorne’s DCI had insisted the criminal had carried out his last evil deed. But her instincts came into play and, as they watched the smoke billowing over the marina, she remained convinced The Unicorn, otherwise known as Baldwin, had managed to escape the blaze.