Finders Keepers (60)

So here we are, the sixtieth and final excerpt of ‘Finders Keepers.’ To all those who have read it, thank you very much and if you would like to continue then please download it here.

From tomorrow, I will be posting excerpts from my third novel, ‘Dance With The Devil,’ which is a sweeping Hollywood epic, full of action and adventure.

Please keep reading my blog and feel free to like, share and spread the word as every little helps.

In the meantime, as promised, here is the last instalment of ‘Finders Keepers’ – however, please be warned as this particular excerpt is somewhat harrowing so proceed with caution.

Thanks for reading!

Finders Keepers (60) 

Arthur span round to see Poppy standing there in her Barbie nightie, holding a teddy bear, almost as big as herself, by the arm. Next to her, in his Buzz Lightyear pyjamas stood her brother Zack.

Both looked confused by the scene that lay before them but it was not until Arthur turned to face them that they were able to see Richard Maddox and the blood streaming from the horrific gouges in his shoulders. They were also able to see Arthur in all his murderous glory; balaclava, skinning knife, a huge pistol holstered under his arm and a long, evil looking machete poised to castrate their step-father. If Freddy Kruger had a brother it was Arthur Khan, covered in blood and looking scarier than any nightmare they had experienced in their short lives.

Angie turned awkwardly, bound to the chair by duct tape, her eyes full of tears and terror. “Don’t hurt them,” she squealed at Khan, “Please don’t hurt them!”

As she said it Poppy started to scream, a long, piercing unrelenting sound. Then Zack started too.

“Shut up!” Arthur barked. “Shut up that noise!”

Scared out of her wits, Poppy dropped her teddy bear and fled back up the cellar steps, screaming hysterically as she went.

Arthur dropped the machete and pulled out the shiny Desert Eagle and fired. The shot hit the wall just to the side of Poppy, blasting away a large chunk of breeze block. She squealed but carried on going, the sound of her mother’s pleading in the background as she begged Arthur Khan to let her children live.

Poppy had nearly made it to the cellar door as Arthur took aim but as he fired Zack flung himself in the way to protect his little sister.

The boy did not stand a chance as he flew backwards onto the cold stone steps, his head exploding like a ripe melon.

Arthur did not skip a beat as he raced over to the stairs, leaping over the dead child’s body in pursuit of the girl who had now made it through the cellar door and was running, terrified, through the kitchen.

Angie Sawyer was manic as she wailed from the basement, deep, harrowing sobs as she fought to be free of the chair, wrestling to be near her son and willing her young daughter to freedom. But then, momentarily silencing her screams there was another loud shot from upstairs. A minute or so passed as Angie prayed – prayed that their attacker had missed and that little Poppy had escaped.

But then her whole world collapsed as Khan re-appeared at the top of the cellar stairs with a small body flung over one shoulder, dressed in a bloody Barbie nightdress.

Arthur placed Poppy’s body down gently on the settee, with the wound in her back facing away from Angie who was now almost paralysed with grief. Unable to speak, move or even think clearly. Her children were dead and she had been powerless to protect them.

Khan knew that it was over. The sound of the gunshots would travel in the silence of the dawn. Trouble would no doubt soon be on its way.

He holstered the Magnum and picked up the machete. Time to end it.

He wandered over to Maddox who had long since passed out from pain and blood loss. His head hung limply and Arthur raised the machete and finished him.

He then walked back to Angie. “You didn’t know anything after all, did you?” He said.

Angie raised her face to him, but she had no words, only sorrow and pain and loss. Arthur raised the machete again. “Sorry,” he said, then swung it sharply downwards, sending her to meet her children in a safer place.

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Angie blacked out shortly afterwards and only came round again after Khan had finished. She was now sitting on the dining chair next to Richard’s and Arthur was busily taping her ankles together. Maddox had slumped forward in his chair in utter despair and was crying softly; mucus dripping from his nose onto the threadbare rug beneath his feet.

Angie felt like she had been through hell. Her body ached and she was shivering violently from the coldness of the cellar.

Arthur looked up at her to see that she had roused. “Ah good, you’re awake. You slipped away before you could tell me anything.”

“But I don’t know anything,” Angie croaked, hoarse from all her screaming and feeling totally defeated. “I haven’t seen Jake in weeks – I promise. I don’t know what trouble he’s got himself into but it’s nothing to do with me or Richard, I swear.”

“But of course it is, my darling,” Khan said. “You’re Sawyer’s wife, those two children upstairs are his children. And you will tell me where he is.”

“But I don’t know. Please, believe me—”

“How can I believe you, my darling, when I know for a fact you are receiving money from him. Money that by rights belongs to me.”

“What money?”

“Please, Angela. Don’t insult my intelligence. I know very well that you have received two large payments into your bank account in the last two months and I know as well as you do who paid them. So I’ll ask you again. Where is your husband? Tell me and this will all become a lot less painful.”

“Look,” Angie was exasperated, not knowing what more she could say, “I’ve already told you. I don’t know anything. I don’t know where Jake is, I don’t know where the money came from – I can’t help you – if I could, I promise I would.”

“Fine,” Arthur said, rising to his feet. “I sense you’re bored and that you are determined not to tell me anything. Admirable. Very admirable indeed. So maybe it’s time I tried a different approach.”

Without any warning, Arthur lifted Richard Maddox’s head up by his hair and suddenly stabbed him in the shoulder, burying the knife right up to the hilt. Maddox squealed in muffled agony, his lips still fastened shut by tape as tears streamed from his eyes.

“Oh my God!” Angie cried, “No, stop it, stop!”

“Tell me, Angie. Tell me where Jake is,” Khan said as he calmly withdrew the knife, causing Maddox to squeal once more.

“Please, I swear – I don’t know—”

Khan then stabbed the knife into Richard’s other shoulder, again burying it to its full length. Richard writhed in agony, crying hysterically.

“Stop, please stop!” Angie yelled, seeing blood pumping from the gaping wounds in her lover’s shoulders and flowing freely down his arms and chest.

“Tell me, Angie.” Khan said again.

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!” Angie roared, her teeth gritted, her face contorted with anguish and rage.

Khan shrugged, unaffected by her anger, then casually pulled the machete on his hip from its sheath. Briefly he admired the shine of the polished stainless steel before placing it between Richard’s legs, lifting up the sack of his testicles with the long flat blade. Maddox, already in an enormous amount of pain let out a muted wail; his mouth clamped shut.

“No!” Angie cried, “Please, no!”

“Tell me, then,” Khan shrugged impassively.

“You monster! You fucking sick, deranged monster – can’t you understand? Can’t you get it through your thick skull?” Angie yelled, “I don’t fucking know!”

Then, from the back of the room, at the bottom of the cellar steps, another voice spoke.

“Mummy?” Poppy Sawyer said. “Are you okay?”

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Finders Keepers (58)

In the cellar, Arthur slipped off his backpack and told Maddox to sit in one of the dining chairs. He then told Angie to open the backpack and take out a thick roll of duct tape. “Tape him to the chair,” he said to her, “and make a good job of it because I’ll be watching.”

“Please, don’t hurt us.” She said again.

“Look, I’ve got money – you can have it,” Maddox begged, “All of it – I promise – but please don’t–”

“Shut up!” Khan snapped. “I don’t want your money. I don’t care about it.” He then turned to Angie, “Now tape him up, before I kill him.”

Angie hurried to Richard and did as she was told. Both of them were crying. Maddox seemed to have aged dramatically in just a few minutes, the terror etched on his face as Angie wound the tape around his wrists and ankles.

“Silence him, too.” Khan instructed. “I don’t want to hear another word out of him.”

Angie looked apologetically into Richard’s eyes as she fastened a thick sheet of tape over her lover’s mouth. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

When she had finished, she turned to face Khan, standing awkwardly as she tried in vain to cover her nakedness.

“Come here, now.” Khan said sharply and she forced herself forward. “Put your hands behind your back and turn round,” he said when she reached him. She did as instructed and Arthur admired her firm backside as he took the tape from her and bound her wrists.

Placing his mouth next to her ear he whispered, “Where’s your husband?”

“What?” Angie said with surprise.

“Where’s your husband?” he asked again.

“I don’t have a husband,” she said, “I mean we’re separated, not together. Richard and me are—”

“I know all that,” Khan growled. “I know you’re separated. But I want to know where your husband is – understand?”

“Yes, yes – I understand,” said Angie, “But he’s not here – he doesn’t live here. This is Richard’s house.”

Arthur holstered his gun then grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her head back, his lips, through the balaclava now on her ear as he spoke, “Stop being stupid and listen to me. Now where, in the world, is your husband?”

Suddenly the penny dropped and Angie at last realised what this was all about. “I don’t know where Jake is – I already told the police—”

“Don’t lie to me, Angela. So far, no one’s been hurt – I can soon change that!”

Arthur felt a surprising rush of excitement as he pressed himself against her; the thrill quite unexpected and a development he had certainly not anticipated.

In Africa he had tortured and raped many women but never a white woman. Never a woman such as this. But now he was here and she was in front of him, nude, desirable and helpless. He could feel a demon taking him over, just as it had many times before in the heat of battle and in the spoils of victory.

“I’m not lying. I promise,” Angie cried.

“No?” Arthur sneered, “Well we’ll soon see.” With that, he dragged her backwards, behind the settee and forced her to bend over it, so  that her round backside was mooning up at him. With her wrists taped behind her she was powerless to resist him. “Will you tell me now?” He asked, kicking her legs apart.

“Please,” Angie was sobbing, “I don’t know. I don’t. Please don’t do this. Please let me go.”

Richard Maddox was grunting madly with the tape over his mouth, writhing about in the chair trying desperately to free himself and stop what he knew was about to happen, unable to avert his eyes from the horror unfolding before them.

“Oh, I think you know, Angela. I think you know only too well and you will tell me,” Khan said, the madness taking over.

Angie screamed with despair as he tugged down his flies and forced himself upon her, tears running in rivers from her eyes, “Stop, please – please don’t do this!” She sobbed.

But Khan ignored her pleas, unable to stop himself as he sought to quench his evil lust, one hand fastened on her hair the other still gripping the knife. “You will tell me what you know, woman,” he growled thickly, “by the end of this night you’ll be begging to tell me. I promise.”

By now the red mist had descended over Arthur’s eyes and he could no longer hear Angie’s cries or the sound of Maddox weeping as he watched, helplessly from just a few feet away.

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Finders Keepers (57)

Chapter Twenty-One 

Arthur pushed the point of the skinning knife firmly under Maddox’s chin, drawing blood, whilst simultaneously clamping a hand over Angie Sawyer’s mouth causing both to wake with a tremendous shock. Their eyes flew wide, with Maddox clearly in pain, as they each stared into the masked face of Arthur Khan.

“Make a sound, either of you and you die,” Khan hissed.

Angie made to scream but Arthur pushed the knife a little harder into Maddox’s throat, causing him to whimper, his head forced backwards in a futile attempt to escape the pain.

“Ah, ah, ah.” Arthur cautioned Angie, gesturing with his head to Richard. “Think about him. Think about your kids.”

Angie’s eyes filled with tears and nodded her compliance.

“I’m going to take my hand away,” he said. “Now no sudden moves, no screaming and you’ll both make it through the rest of this night alive. Understand?”

Angie nodded again. Richard tried to but the point of the knife prevented it.

“Good,” said Khan, releasing his grip on Angie and pulling the knife away from Maddox. “Now get up. We’re going down to the cellar – but quietly does it, you don’t want to wake up those two beautiful children of yours.”

Angie was weeping and shaking like a leaf but slowly got out of bed. She tried to cover her nakedness with one hand whilst reaching for her robe which lay on a chair beside the bed.

Arthur pulled the Magnum from its holster and pointed it at her. “No clothes,” he said. “Let’s have you just as God intended.”

He gestured to Maddox, “You, too, lover boy. Quickly now, we haven’t got all night.” Khan then smiled. “Well, actually we have, but no sense in wasting time, eh?”

Richard Maddox looked terrified. Tears running down his face and a smear of blood under his chin where the knife had nicked him. He climbed out of the bed, also naked, and Khan glanced at his flabby body and smiled. “You know, what, Angela?” he said, “He might have money but he hasn’t got a whole lot else, has he? I think you’ve sold yourself a little short, my darling.”

“Please, don’t hurt us,” Angie pleaded, her voice a whisper. “Please don’t hurt my children – I’ll give you anything but please, don’t hurt them.”

“Oh, you’ll give me what I need, alright,” Arthur replied, casting an eye over her shapely figure. “But I’ve got no interest in hurting children – although I will if you don’t get moving. So move. Get down to that cellar and not another sound.”

Quickly but quietly, Angie and Richard led the way to the cellar, their white bodies almost glowing in the moonlight as they crossed the landing and hurried down the stairs with Khan behind them, skinning knife in one hand his Magnum in the other.

Moments later, Angie and Richard were rushing down the cellar stairs, their bare feet slapping on the cold concrete steps. Arthur closed the door before following them down, blocking any sound that may shortly emanate from the basement room.

There was no sense in waking the whole household unless absolutely necessary.

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Angie Sawyer and her lover, Richard Maddox were spooning. It was sweet, really, but Arthur could not help but think how irritated he would be by it. Why did women always insist on cuddling in bed? Why could they not just stay on their own side and sleep in their own designated space? But Maddox was still probably trying to impress, trying to make a good show of it. He had even fallen asleep with his arms draped around her waist, still in mid-cuddle. Give him a year, Arthur thought, things would be different then.

The woman was snoring slightly. Her breathing heavy and contented. But she was a looker. A stunner, Arthur imagined, with her hair done and make-up on. Good figure too from what he could see at least. Maddox was not up to much though. Balding, skinny. A safety net, Arthur surmised, probably with a bit of money and no financial worries, unlike the missing husband.

Thinking of whom, it was time to wake the happy couple to find out exactly where the errant Mr. Sawyer was.

Arthur silently withdrew the skinning knife from its sheath, the wide stainless steel blade shining murderously in the moonlight, the edge sharp enough to slice through a hair at the merest touch. Then he bent over the bed. It was time to get started.

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Finders Keepers (55)

Once inside, Arthur pulled a small torch from his backpack and shone it around to make sure there was no one downstairs. Then, after making certain it was clear, he made a leisurely inspection of the large, spacious lower level.

He wandered through the lounge and dining room, pausing to look at photographs and paintings and even spent several minutes flicking through Maddox’s CD collection; Elton John, Lionel Ritchie, George Michael, a bit of Queen. Nothing to Arthur’s taste.

Eventually he found his way into the kitchen, completely at home in the darkness. By torchlight he admired the bespoke cabinets and the African slate floor. He opened the big American-style fridge and casually took a swig from a carton of fresh orange juice, quenching the slight thirst he had from his jog across the fields.

Leading off from the kitchen he noticed a bolted door. Immediately curious, Arthur went over to it, silently slipped the bolt and turned the handle. Behind the door he found a flight of concrete steps which fell away into blackness.

Arthur tugged on the pull-cord light just beyond the door to illuminate the staircase then, being careful to mind his footing on the narrow treads, slowly eased down the steps. At the bottom he found a large, brick built cellar with low wooden roof beams. The space was empty except for an enormous chest freezer, an old settee, a couple of dusty dining chairs and a child’s snooker table. An old threadbare rug had been thrown down on the cold concrete floor to make the room more cosy.

Arthur smiled. This would be ideal for his needs.

Minutes later, Arthur was climbing up the main staircase, his big, highly polished combat boots as quiet as an old man’s slippers.

All the members of the household were upstairs, right where he expected them to be.

The first room he came to belonged to the little boy, Zack. He was fast asleep. Nine years old and with the face of an angel. Just like many Arthur remembered. Children, just like this one, with equally angelic faces in circumstances that only the hardest hearted men could not be affected by. But in Africa, Arthur had been hardened. Atrocities were rife; torture, mutilation, rape, murder, they were all everyday occurrences. In many cases, he himself had given the order and, sometimes, he had performed the act. Out there, it was the way things were done. It was a job and Africa, well, it was a different world, a hell that he had forced himself to become immune to in order to survive.

After years of witnessing and taking part in horror, it eventually became as nothing. And so it would be tonight, if needs be. But only as a very last resort. He had no desire to hurt a child unless absolutely necessary.

He quietly closed the door and moved onwards along the landing.

Next was the little girl’s room. Poppy’s room. She was seven. All wrapped up in a Barbie duvet and as cute as a button. Again he quietly closed the door and moved on.

At last, Arthur arrived at the master bedroom and carefully he slipped inside.

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Chapter Twenty 

It was four in the morning when Arthur Khan parked the Range Rover in the small copse close to Richard Maddox’s house. Parking it well out of sight, he chose to travel the rest of the way on foot, unseen, across the fields. Maddox’s house was separated from the rest of the village by a short country lane and backed out onto open fields at the rear, the garden easily accessed over a low fence, which was absolutely perfect for Arthur’s entry and exit.

Arthur was a little out of shape these days, but still fitter than most men in their forties and the short jog across the fields was easy to cope with. Just enough to get his heart rate going and his adrenaline pumping. He was in full commando gear with his face covered by a balaclava, his eyes the only visible feature. He felt good, exhilarated. Excited.

All in black, he had a skinning knife strapped to his ankle, a machete in his belt and his lovingly polished Desert Eagle .357 in the hand-tooled shoulder holster that was the duplicate of his dead brother’s. Very apt as this mission was for Charles.

He also wore a lightweight backpack which contained certain tools which may be of use as the night wore on.

The outfit Arthur was wearing used to be his standard attire in Africa. In the Congo and in Mozambique and Somalia and all the other places Arthur and his brother had fought. But tonight he was in Northamptonshire alone, there would be no more battles fought together. But, if he did not get the answers he wanted tonight, there would be blood spilled in Charles’ name.

Arthur felt alive, completely in his element, his years of training instinctively kicking in. This was what he did. What he had done for more years than he cared to remember. And he was good at it.

The air was still and cool and the night smelt of dew and grass and blossom. It was the end of April now, over two months since Charles’ passing and there had been very little word from Sumpter. Nothing whatsoever on the diamonds. Just one lead on someone who might know something. But he was missing and his family claimed not to know where he had gone. Arthur would see. Tonight he would find out for himself if they knew anything or not. If they had information, he would get it out of them.

For a big man he ran in near silence and he vaulted the fence almost as if it was not there. He landed on the other side with just the slightest thud. Then froze, listening, his breathing only a little more laboured than usual. Waiting and watching for any signs of life.

He checked his watch. Sixteen minutes after four. The house was in darkness, the inhabitants all tucked up in bed, unaware of what was about to unfold.

He was inside the house in less than a minute, again making no sound, the inadequate lock no problem for a man of his skills. They may as well have left the door open for him.

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Chapter Nineteen 

The anonymous call came in at 6.05pm, the caller asking specifically for Detective Chief Inspector Roper Coyle. The voice on the line was tinny, as if it was being synthesized or played through a computer.

“Who is this?” Coyle asked.

“Who I am is not important,” said the metallic voice. “What I’ve got to say is.”

“And that is?” said Coyle.

“Angela Sawyer and her family are not safe.”

“Not safe? What do you mean?”

“I mean exactly that. She and her family are in danger.”

“From whom?” Asked Coyle.

“I can say no more, except that you should take this warning seriously.”

“How can I take it seriously when I don’t even know who you are—”

“That’s of no consequence to me,” the metallic voice interrupted. “Believe what I say or don’t believe it, but you have been warned.”

“Now hold on a sec—” Coyle began, but the line was already dead.

Sergeant Janet Willow had not heard from her boyfriend, Colin, in four days. In fact, she was not sure if he was actually her boyfriend as they had only been out a few times, the last time to a country pub on the outskirts of Northampton.

They had slept together that night and the following morning Colin was gone before she had woken up. He texted later that morning to say thanks for a lovely time and that he would call her later in the week. But so far he had not and she was starting to feel anxious. She really liked him – she had actually fancied him for ages but did not think he knew she existed. Then out of the blue he asked her out and now, just five dates later, she thought she loved him. But he had not called.

Janet was sitting at her desk daydreaming, doodling his name in biro on her desk pad, scrawling a heart shape around it with her name underneath. She glanced at her watch. 6.20pm – just ten minutes to go before she could get home and check if there were any messages from Colin. And she could hardly wait.

Then the phone rang for her boss but he was out so she took the call.

“Could I speak to Jeff Grainy please? This is DCI Coyle from The Met.”

“Sorry, sir, but DI Grainy is not here at the moment, can I take a message?” Said Janet.

“Yes – but it’s important that Grainy gets this as soon as possible – do you understand?”

“Yes, sir,” said Janet, stifling a yawn, “of course.”

“Good. Now listen, I’ve just had an anonymous tip-off saying Angela Sawyer and her family are in grave danger and I have every reason to believe that they are. They are going to need protection.”

“Protection. Yes, sir.”

“Tell Grainy to get a car over there tonight. Tell him it’s important – got that?”

“Important. Got it, sir. I’ll tell him.” Janet said.

“Good,” Coyle replied. “If he’s got any questions ask him to give me a call, would you?”

At that moment, Janet’s mobile phone began buzzing in her handbag and she reached down to grab it. “I’ll be sure to tell him, sir,” she said as she pulled out her phone and saw the caller ID. It was Colin. Janet’s heart skipped a beat, she had to answer, she did not want to miss him. “Thank you, sir,” she said. “Goodbye.”

The moment she put the phone down to Coyle she hit the answer button on her mobile. “Hello, stranger?” she said. “I thought you’d forgotten about me.”

“Now how could I forget about you – especially after what you did the other night – I still don’t know how you did it—”

“Sssh, you naughty boy,” Janet giggled. “I’m still at work and someone might hear. But if you’re lucky, I might do it again.”

“Sounds great. How about tonight – I could pick you up from work and we could go back to your place—”

“Oh, we could, could we?” Janet teased, all thoughts of her previous conversation washed from her brain as it flooded with ideas of seeing Colin in just a few minutes. “And do what, exactly?”

“Well, I thought perhaps you could do that thing again and then when I’ve reciprocated, we could take a shower and then maybe go out for dinner. How does that grab you?”

“It grabs me,” she giggled again, “very much.”

“What time do you get off?”

“Shortly I hope.”

“Now who’s being naughty? I meant what time shall I pick you up?”

“Can you be here in ten minutes?”

“I can be there in five.”

“Good. I can’t wait. See you outside.”

Janet was over the moon as she switched off her computer and grabbed up her bag, already fantasising about what she and Colin were going to get up to in just a short while.

As she walked excitedly through the double doors on the way to the car park, she passed DI Jeff Grainy on the way back to his desk after an afternoon in the field. “Goodnight, sir,” she said.

“Goodnight, Janet.” Replied Grainy. “Have a good evening.”

“Oh, I will,” thought Janet as the door closed behind her. “I will.”

Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here

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Chapter Eighteen 

Roper decided that he should visit Angie Sawyer in person, to see if she could think of anything, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that could help him find her missing husband. So he and Eckhart drove down to Northamptonshire to meet with her.

Angie Sawyer was a very attractive woman in her early thirties with long dark hair, deep brown eyes and a good figure that was disguised by a baggy jumper and comfy jeans. Her new partner, Richard Maddox sat next to her with a protective arm around her shoulders. As a couple they looked somehow mismatched as Maddox was not a particularly attractive man, blonde but balding, lanky but with a slight pot-belly. However, judging by the house and the Jag parked in the driveway he was clearly successful and obviously quite wealthy. Knowing a little about Mrs Sawyer and her estranged husband’s previous circumstances Coyle guessed that the money was probably the attraction.

Roper spent some time with Mrs Sawyer asking her about her husband, about his work, his life, his financial situation, anything to see if she could shed any light on why his rented BMW had been found abandoned in France and why he had gone missing. But she could not. Except to say that Jake was under enormous pressure and suffering from severe stress and possibly clinical depression.

However, what she did say had happened since they had last spoken, was that all her and Jake’s debts had been paid in full and two payments of £2,000 had been deposited into her bank account from an unknown benefactor, once several weeks ago and once more just yesterday.

Again, Coyle was astonished. The money, it seemed, had been wired into Angie’s account from an untraceable source. Why and by whom? Coyle had a good idea as to the whom but as to the why or, more importantly, the how, remained a mystery.

Once again Roper’s thoughts came back to the diamond found at the scene of Charles Khan’s accident and the certainty that it, or possibly others like it, were the key to this case.

Again Sumpter reported his findings to Bearing and Khan and this time was left in no doubt of Arthur’s impatience. Particularly when he revealed what he had just learned through Coyle’s computer, of Angie and Jake Sawyer’s debts being paid by a mysterious benefactor.

Sumpter had felt uneasy about revealing this information but Khan was pushing. He wanted results and Aaron felt that he had to placate him. He now wished he had not as Arthur Khan was likely to take matters into his own hands, which could possibly put the investigation back months.

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Chapter Seventeen

Zeiss Schiller was a very old and established bank sitting in the Paradeplatz in downtown Zurich, a place synonymous with wealth and banking. The austere architecture of the square lent a certain weight to the surroundings, as did the bank itself. Its grey columns, beautiful stonework and ornamental balconies all very imposing as Jake, now dressed in a suit with his beard trimmed and hair tied back in a neat pony tail, stepped into the oak panelled foyer. With him he carried the leather bound briefcase containing the diamonds and the metal one he had been given by Hugo van Elst which contained the money. Had he been mugged on the way to the bank his attacker would have been extremely fortuitous indeed. But thankfully he had not.

He walked up to the pleasant looking young lady at the reception desk and asked to speak with Otto Drescher with whom he had made an appointment the day before.

Drescher appeared within minutes, impeccably dressed and military in bearing but smiley and professional in his manner. He led Jake through to a vast private office, again all oak-panelled with a heavy antique desk in the centre and two comfortable leather bound office chairs either side. Drescher ushered Jake to one of them then sat down opposite. “You wish to open a numbered account, I understand, Mister Sloane, is that correct?”

“It is,” Replied Jake, now using the name printed on one of his counterfeit passports. “If that is possible.”

“Of course.”

“I would also like a safe deposit box, if I may, to store a few items of value. Would that be okay?”

“Certainly, Mister Sloane. Whatever you require, Zeiss Schiller will be more than happy to oblige.”

“Good. I would also like to make several one off payments to various recipients and set up one regular payment on a monthly basis.”

“Of course. I can certainly help you with that, it is very easy.” Said Drescher.

“Thank you. And these payments would be anonymous?”

“Yes, Mister Sloane, that is the benefit of a numbered account. The bank will not reveal your identity to anyone. It will be kept entirely secret. The account will be authorized by a code word known only to you and me, thus ensuring your privacy and our complete discretion.”

“That sounds ideal for my purposes, Mister Drescher. Thank you,” said Jake.

“Not at all,” said Drescher, “Once we have completed the paperwork I will lead you down to the vault where you will be able to access your safety deposit box in complete privacy.”

Forty minutes later, Jake had deposited one-hundred thousand euros into his newly opened account and had made anonymous payments to all his creditors, settling his debts in full. He had also set up a regular monthly payment to Angie and the kids.

Now he was three floors below ground level in the pristine bank vault of Zeiss Schiller. The white polished floor and bright white lighting seeming very modern and clinical in contrast to the more traditional surroundings of Drescher’s office. Drescher had escorted him down to the vault in the private elevator, leading him through two sets of thick iron gates each manned by a security guard and accessed via iris recognition. He had then been led into one of three large rooms within the vault, each one again with its own security guard. Down two of the walls were banks of white doored security boxes, all about eighteen inches square, all with two key slots and a small keypad on the front. At the far end of the room were four curtained booths each containing a small desk and a swivel chair.

Drescher guided Jake to box number 1301 and inserted his own guard key. He then instructed Jake on what to do next. When he was sure that Jake understood, he said, “I will be waiting for you outside. There is no rush. Please take as much time as you need.” With that, he gave a curt nod of his head and walked away.

Jake watched him leave then turned his own access key in the slot, which was given to him upon opening his account. After that, he pressed set on the keypad, punched in his unique pass code and then hit enter. The door clicked open and he pulled out the large plastic box it contained and carried it over to the first booth, drawing the curtain closed behind him. He then set the box on the desk and placed the leather bound briefcase alongside it.

Jake snapped open the case and took one last look at what it contained, randomly picking out a bag or two and studying the contents. He had parted with fourteen diamonds in total but the case still housed hundreds more. However, Jake had sold as many as he needed to and would not sell any more.

Sense and reason had at last caught up with him, the initial rush of adrenaline had passed and his previously fragile state of mind had been given enough time to recuperate. He had finally regained his sanity and his morality. And along with it his guilt.

However, the fact remained that he had stolen the diamonds and he could not alter that now. Yet he had done what he needed to; paid off his debts and set up a fund to help Angie and the kids. But enough was now enough and the madness of the last few weeks had to stop. He would take some time, a few months maybe, just to get his head completely straight – enjoy life without stress or worry for a while. Then, when the time was right, he would return home and face up to life again. Either with or without Angie.

Jake closed the case, placed it into the plastic box and returned it to the drawer. He then went to find Drescher who escorted him back upstairs. The receptionist gave Jake back the metal case of van Elst’s, which he had left with her whilst he was down in the vault. He thanked her and Drescher then left the bank.

Back in the Paradeplatz, Jake flagged down a taxi. “Airport please,” he said to the driver.

As the taxi moved into the flow of traffic leaving the bank and the diamonds far behind, Jake felt the burden of responsibility slip from his shoulders.

Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here