Steps To The Clifftop – Part 3 . . .

Sunday 30 June – Monday 1 July 2019

‘He specifically asked for you, Ms. Herrison-Malone.’ The junior constable ushered Alex into an office on the CID floor. ‘The boss . . . ’

‘The boss what? Constable Myers? What did your boss say?’ Alex snapped.

‘Boss said she wants to speak with you before you speak to – ’ The constable pointed towards the interview rooms.

‘Right. And how long will I have to wait for your boss to appear?’ The words had barely left Alex’s lips when Myers’ boss came storming into the room.

She thrust out her right hand towards Alex. ‘Ms. Herrison-Malone, QC, I take it.’

Alex accepted the woman’s hand. Her vice-like grip took Alex by surprise, and she quickly pulled her hand back.

‘And you are?’ Alex asked.

‘Detective Inspector Jane Hobbs. Please, take a seat.’ She stepped forward forcing Alex to take a step back, almost bumping into one of the two well used seats on this side of the DI’s desk. She spun around and sat.

‘What is it exactly that you wanted to speak to me about, DI Hobbs?’

Hobbs meandered around the desk and sat in her own chair. Although she was not a heavy set woman, it squeaked under her weight. She leaned forward on the desk, pushed a few files around, and briefly considered how best to say what she needed to say.

‘We have a suspect in custody, and he’s specifically asked for you as his brief.’

‘Nothing out of the ordinary,’ Alex replied, annoyed that the DI was wasting her time.

‘We’re looking at charging him with murder. We offered him a duty brief. He laughed and insisted we put a call in to you. He asked for you. By name. Said you’d had some sort relationship with him in the past.’

Alex chuckled. ‘Trust me, DI Hobbs, I’ve not had a relationship with a man in years. Stop arsing about and tell me why you’ve really brought me in here.’

Hobbs rapped her fingers on one of the files. Years of experience told Alex that the DI was going to drop a bombshell.

‘Just spit it out, Hobbs.’

‘Duncan Burch.’

Alex almost vomited. ‘Bastard.’

‘And that’s why I called you in,’ Hobbs declared. ‘What are your intentions?’

‘I’m obliged to accept it if he has the finances,’ Alex replied.

‘What? Even though you have history?’

‘Unfortunately, yes. I’ll have to speak with a colleague before I see him, though. There may be some grounds for my refusal of his case.’ She rubbed her temples but the throbbing in her head didn’t abate.

The DI sighed. It was an unenviable position the QC found herself in. Who in their right mind would agree to represent a man who had almost killed her sister?

‘You take all the time you need to contact your colleague. I’ll keep him on ice until you’ve got a position on this. Feel free to use my office.’ Hobbs stood up and quickly made her way out of her office, leaving Alex alone and despairing the situation she found herself in.

* * * * *

When the door of the interview room opened, Duncan smirked. The idea of having Louise’s little sister at his legal back and call amused and excited him.

‘What a joy!’ he exclaimed as Hobbs brought in his brief. The DI wore a smirk that matched his.

‘I’m so glad you think so, Mr. Burch, because I have the great delight of introducing you to your brief.’

Appearing in the room behind DI Hobbs was a woman he was not expecting.

‘That’s not Alex Malone!’ he snarled.

‘No, Mr. Burch, it’s not. This is Mrs. Margo Wallace, your solicitor.’

Wallace stretched out her hand but Duncan refuse to shake hands.

‘What are you playing at, DI Hobbs? I asked for Alex Herrison-Malone to be my brief.’

Hobbs watched with glee as Burch began to boil with rage. Margo Wallace sat down opposite her client. She rifled around in her briefcase for a pen and paper, disregarding Burch’s anger.

‘Would you like to explain it to him, Mrs. Wallace, or shall I?’ Hobbs asked.

‘Please, go ahead,’ Wallace replied.

Hobbs smirked again. ‘Well, the short version of it is that Ms. Herrison-Malone has been instructed by both members of her firm, and a sitting judge that she is to walk away from this case because the history between the two of you is so . . . what was the word they used, Mrs. Wallace?’

‘Inflammatory.’

‘Inflammatory, that’s it. Thank you.’ Hobbs waited for the information to sink in.

‘What?’ Burch snapped.

‘Oh, come on! You beat her sister to a pulp. No judge or bar official would force her to represent you. The judicial system might be lacking in some ways, but its members aren’t stupid. You only want Alex Herrison-Malone so you can bait and provoke her. Bad news for you, you don’t get to do that. However, you have been appointed Mrs. Wallace, and by all accounts, she’s a fantastic solicitor.’

Burch thumped his fists down on the table. ‘I want Alex. Now!

The noise brought an officer from outside into the room at a quick pace.

‘Everything alright, boss?’ he asked.

‘Indeed, Constable Smith. Mr. Burch is just having a hissy fit because he can’t get what he wants. Mrs. Wallace, Constable Smith will be right outside the door should you require assistance. Emergency strip is on the wall beside you. Just press it if Mr. Burch tries anything. Let us know when you want to proceed with the interview.’

Dragging Smith with her, Hobbs left the solicitor and Burch in the interview room to conduct their business.

‘Looked a bit pissed, guv, that Burch,’ Smith whispered.

‘Mmm, there’s a joy in shitting off blokes like him, Smith. Cocky little fucker, he is. I’m heading back to my office. Call me when she’s done with that twat in there, will you?’

Smith nodded and stood in position guarding the door in the event the solicitor needed him.

Hobbs made her way back to her office, and Alex Herrison-Malone.

‘You were right,’ Hobbs said, ‘he was definitely pissed off.’

‘Margo will put him in his place. She doesn’t take shit from anyone,’ Alex replied. ‘Incidentally, why does he need legal representation? What’s he being charged with?’

‘Off the record?’ Hobbs asked. Alex nodded. ‘We think he murdered his girlfriend. Threw her off Whitetop Cliff.’

Alex felt her stomach churn. ‘Shit. When?’

‘Couple of days ago. She was reported missing by a local café owner. She’d stop by the café every day. Hasn’t been in for a few days. Then some hikers discovered her body at the bottom of the cliff. Preliminary forensics all point to him. And given what he did to your sister . . . well, think it’s pretty safe to say the leopard hasn’t changed his spots.’

‘I saw him up there a few days ago. He caught me by surprise. Shit. I wonder if he was planning it then . . . ’

. . . To be continued . . .

About Danielle

I like to write. What more is there to know?
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