Sunday 17 December 2017
From the folly at Wakefield Manor, Gina could just see St. Stephen’s spire as it rose above the woodland tree line. It hadn’t always been that way. The Great War had destroyed the original spire, and the church had stood derelict for twenty-four years before the village had been able to raise the funds to repair the building. Replacing the once grand spire had been the greatest achievement of the village, according to its oldest landowner, Gina’s grandfather, Braithwaite Kelly. The spire had since stood as the crowning glory of St. Stephen’s.
‘Thought you said it was really impressive? That spire.’
Gina was annoyed at his flippancy. ‘It is really impressive, Ciaran. How can you say it’s not?’
‘Not into churches, I guess.’ He flicked his head so that his fringe momentarily slid away from his eyes.
‘No, of course you’re not. We all know what you are into though, don’t we?’
‘Now, now, let’s not forget that you were a willing participant in it as well.’
She let out a sarcastic laugh, and sneered at him. ‘You can be a right bastard sometimes, you know that, don’t you?’
Ciaran glanced at the screen of his phone.
‘Expecting a call?’
‘Actually, yes, I am,’ he replied. He moved away from Gina to take the call. She stood watching, tinged with just a little jealousy despite having no idea who Ciaran was talking to.
‘Bastard,’ she snipped.
Before she realised he’d ended the call, Ciaran was standing beside her.
‘Hope that wasn’t about me,’ he said.
‘And what would you say if it was about you?’ she replied.
‘I’d probably agree with you. I was born out of wedlock, after all.’
‘Bit old fashioned, isn’t it? Born out of wedlock,’ Gina imitated his voice, a mischievous grin on her lips.
‘I’m an old-fashioned bloke. But I’ve got to go. Got a bit of business to attend to.’ Without so much as a look back at Gina, Ciaran left the folly and wandered off through the woods towards St. Stephen’s church.
* * * * *
‘That’s your third cuppa,’ McCormack whined.
‘So? What’s it to you?’ Having spent the last two and a half hours in Brennan’s transit van listening to him incessantly drone on and on about bullshit, three cups of tea on Brennan’s tab was a cheap payback.
‘We don’t have time to keep stopping for you to take a leak.’
‘Got a bladder like a, a, dunno . . . something with a really big bladder,’ Jeremy replied. He smiled, and took a mouthful of tea from the mug in front of him.
‘What are we supposed to do when we get there?’ McCormack changed the subject. He was irritated, annoyed by O’Fallon’s smugness.
‘Well,’ Jeremy replied, ‘he’ll contact us with the rendezvous point and time, and then when we get there, he’ll let us know what needs to be done.’
‘That’s all you know?’
O’Fallon nodded. ‘That’s all I know, so just stop talking, stop worrying, have another cuppa, and relax a bit.’
‘Relax a bit?’ McCormack parroted. ‘Relax a bit? We could end up dead for all you know.’
‘Quieten down, will you?’ O’Fallon ordered. ‘We won’t end up dead. It’s not that sort of job.’
‘How do you know?’ McCormack could feel the panic rising in his body. O’Fallon looked around the café to see if anyone took any notice of McCormack’s outburst. No one was looking in their direction. He dropped his voice to a whisper.
‘He’s not that sort of bloke. There won’t be any danger involved in the job. He likes things neat and tidy and clean. Always has. Trust me, Brennan. I wouldn’t do jobs for him if there was any danger involved. I’ve got a family to consider. Think about it. Would I risk them to do a job for him?’
McCormack was silent as he considered what Jeremy had said.
‘No, I guess you’re right.’
O’Fallon glanced at his wristwatch. ‘Good. Now order another cuppa so we can get back on the road within the next fifteen minutes.’
* * * * *
Sweat dripped from Anthony Groban’s brow onto his blue silk shirt. He mopped his face with the garish yellow tie he’d chosen to wear that morning.
‘Who dressed you?’
‘Sorry?’ Groban’s voice was weak. He was frightened.
‘Who dressed you? This tie. It is hideous with this shirt. Woman would not have chosen this for you to wear. So, I ask again, who dressed you?’ Dmitri Korsakov’s Russian accent was thick, and Groban found it difficult to understand.
‘I did. I dressed myself. I chose what I’m wearing.’
‘Hmmm.’ Korsakov reclined in his chair and stared at the sweating mess before him. ‘Now tell me why your Mr. Hennessey does not want to pay for what he’s purchased.’
Groban desperately thought of the right words that wouldn’t inflame the situation any more than it already was. ‘Well, it’s not, um, it’s not that he doesn’t want to pay, Mr. Korsakov. It’s just that one of the diamonds, it has, um, a flaw. In it. In the middle.’
Korsakov squinted and pursed his lips tighter than they already naturally were. ‘What do you mean a flaw? My diamonds are perfect. No flaws. If there is a flaw it is not my diamond.’
‘But there is – a flaw. And Hennessey wants it fixed.’
‘He wants the flawed diamond replaced.’
‘Does he now? Your Mr. Hennessey.’
Terrified of the Russian, Groban nodded and beads of sweat fell from his head. ‘Y-y-yes.’
‘Tell your Mr. Hennessey that he can go to hell, and if I don’t get my payment, I will come after him. And everyone he loves.’ Korsakov grunted something in Russian, and with a flick of his wrist, two huge bodyguards grabbed Groban under his arms, and dragged him from Korsakov’s sight.
‘What did he say? In Russian?’ Groban pleaded with the bodyguards.
It was the man on Groban’s right who spoke in near perfect English. ‘He told us to cut off one of your fingers as a warning to your boss. Which one will you not miss?’
‘You’re not serious,’ Groban whined.
‘Mr. Korsakov is not known for his sense of humour.’ He looked at the second bodyguard when he spoke. ‘Hold out his hand.’
Korsakov stared out of his study window as Groban’s scream carried through the house from the kitchen.
. . . To be continued . . .