Saturday 3 February 2018
‘Are you sure this is going to work?’ Ciaran wanted to have faith in Jeremy’s plan, but it seemed nothing short of utter stupidity. Jeremy paused, stilled his mind, and tried to sound as if he wasn’t pissed off by Ciaran’s array of increasingly inane questions.
‘I have no fucking idea, Ciaran. I’ve never had to mount a rescue mission before. But rest assured, we’ll soon find out if it’s going to work or not.’
‘And if it doesn’t?’
‘If it doesn’t, you, me, Brennan, Caroline, none of us will have to worry about anything anymore because Korsakov will kill us. Does that just about cover everything you need to know, Ciaran?’
Brennan added, ‘And if Korsakov doesn’t kill us, Hennessey will because we’re supposed to be doing his job, not rescuing Groban’s piece of arse.’
Gina watched the three men argue back and forth for the better part of twenty minutes. She’d taken herself off to the sitting room, and with both the kitchen and sitting room doors open, she had the perfect view of Jeremy, Ciaran, and Brennan discussing whatever the hell they were arguing about. From his expression, she could tell that Jeremy had had enough of Ciaran talking, and it pained her to watch as the older man rather obviously cut her boyfriend down to size. But she dared not intervene. Jeremy looked like the sort of bloke who’d knife you as soon as look at you. And Brennan, well, she thought he’d just go along with Jeremy for the ride.
‘Probably scared shitless of the wiry shit.’
Jeremy looked back at Gina. She wondered if he’d heard her talking to herself. Not that it mattered. He was nothing to her, and once Ciaran was done with this job, he’d promised her he’d go straight. She didn’t care if he was a toilet cleaner, or a cab driver, just as long as it was a legitimate, legal way to make a living, and not this larking about for Hennessey.
‘We leave at five thirty,’ Jeremy ordered. ‘Get the van ready. I need to make a call, and then we’ll have to go pick some stuff up from a bloke I know.’
* * * * *
It was five o’clock. Caroline could hear the bells of St. Stephen somewhere outside. She’d counted the hours every time the bells rang. Hearing the bells ring each hour was torturous. It felt like a slow death to her. She didn’t know when they’d end her life, just that they’d do it.
‘Sooner rather than later,’ she wished.
She heard the door behind her swing open and hit the wall. The footsteps were unmistakably Korsakov’s.
‘Just kill me. Get it over and done with.’
He stood in front of her, resplendent in an Armani suit. A peacock displaying his prowess. He smoothed the arms of his jacket, straightened his tie, and adjusted the collar of his shirt. Caroline focussed on his gold cufflinks rather than his face. She didn’t want to cry in front of him, and looking at his cufflinks was a good way to avoid that.
‘My dear, I’ve no intention of killing you. No, no, no. that would be such a waste of a beautiful, young woman.’
‘What are you going to do then?’
‘I’m going to take you apart, piece by piece, and I’m going to send those pieces to your Mr. Groban. And then he, your Mr. Groban, is going to convince his boss, Mr. Hennessey, to pay for the goods that he has entered into a contract with me to purchase. But I certainly won’t let you die. Not until I get what I want. After that, who knows?’
He walked away from her, and back out of the room. When she was sure he’d gone, Caroline released the tiniest sigh, followed by a whimper. If she let go, if she allowed herself to really react to Korsakov, she was afraid she’d scream out a guttural, agonised cry. She could hear it in her head, and it was akin to the sound she’d heard on nature documentaries when animals were in excruciating pain or on their death beds. She wasn’t going to be one of those animals. She’d never give Korsakov the satisfaction of seeing her like that.
* * * * *
With stops made, gear collected, and information gathered, Jeremy, Brennan, and Ciaran were on their way to rescue Caroline.
‘Do you trust that guy?’
‘Ciaran,’ Jeremy said, ‘can you stop asking questions, please? This is one for you to think about, not speak to. Do you really think I’d go to a guy for information if I didn’t trust the guy or the information he was giving me? Remember, it’s a rhetorical question. I don’t want you to speak.’ He turned his attention to Brennan. ‘You stay in the van. Be ready to go because we’re going to come out like a bullet, and we’ll probably have Korsakov or his idiots right behind us, shooting. I want you in the side street. As soon as you hear gunfire, as soon as you hear it, I want you round the front of the building, and ready to get hell out of there. Understood?’
‘Understood,’ Brennan replied, his eyes on the road ahead in sheer concentration.
‘I’ll go through this one last time, just to make sure everyone’s on the same page. We’ll pull up round the side, and Ciaran, you and I will go in through the cellar window. It’s going to be a tight squeeze, but if Rollo’s right, Korsakov won’t have bothered to put anyone on guard down there. We’ll go straight to the third floor and work down. Brennan, you stay alert and ready for us to get out. We’ll have the girl with us, and she probably won’t be moving very fast, so you do need to move quickly. Pull around to the front and be ready to hightail it out of there. When we go, we’ll head straight to Hennessey’s. He owes me one or two favours, so sanctuary’s on him. Especially given it’s because of him that we’re having to rescue her. No, Ciaran, I’m not going to ask if anyone has any questions because I don’t want to hear anything from you. We go in at six.’
‘We’re here.’ Brennan manoeuvred the transit van to the side of the building and waited for Jeremy and Ciaran to tool up.
Ciaran stepped out of the van, and looked directly across to the looming spire of St. Stephen’s.
‘So, the cheeky, Russian bastard’s in the rectory of the church?’
Jeremy nodded. It was all the response Ciaran was going to get. He looked up at the clock on the spire. A minute to go. At six they would ingress. At six, he prayed they wouldn’t die, as the bells of St. Stephen signalled their ingress.
. . . The end . . .