Page 67

‘What about Amanda Baker? What about DI Crawford? They weren’t accidents,’ said Erika.

‘Gerry. It was Gerry… He remembered Oscar and when the time came he cashed in the secret. He got Oscar to represent him when he was charged with attempted murder. Oscar got him off. And then they started this screwed up… association. Gerry would ask for favours, and then Oscar became more and more corrupted by power. He became like his fixer. Doing his dirty work. So when Jessica was found, Oscar had Gerry working for him again. He kept track of what was going on with the case…’

‘And when Amanda Baker got close he made it look like she’d killed herself, and that DI Crawford had slit his wrists, and me?’

Laura looked up at her, her eyes held so much sadness and self-hatred,

‘It was supposed to look like a break in, and the burglar snapped and killed you.’

‘Did they really think they’d get away with it?’

‘They’ve got away with much more in the past,’ said Laura.

‘Do you know where Gerry O’Reilly is headed? He boarded a train to Paris this morning?’ asked Erika.

‘He always said that one day he would make his move, take what’s his, and he would have enough to vanish into a puff of smoke,’ said Laura.

 

 

69

 

 

Oscar Browne QC sat at his desk at the Omnia Chambers Legal Firm, looking down over the city. It was growing dark and had started to rain, slapping against the large floor to ceiling windows in sheets.

He picked up his phone and tried to call Gerry O’Reilly for the fifth time. The number went straight to voicemail. He slammed it down and began to pace up and down his office, feeling sweat and dread prickling his back. There was an email alert tone, and he moved back round to his desk. He didn’t recognise the email address, but it had the title: A CONCERNED CITIZEN

He opened it and read with horror,

 

* * *

 

TOP O’ THE MORNIN’ TO YOU OSCAR,

 

* * *

 

DOSSIER ON ALL YOUR SCALLYWAG BUSINESS DEALINGS WAS EMAILED TO MET POLICE BIGWIGS A COUPLE OF HOURS AGO.

IF THE BOYS IN BLUE ARE DOING THEIR JOB PROPERLY. YOU SHOULD BE HAVING A VISIT FROM THEM ANYTIME NOW.

YOU OWE ME ANOTHER PAYMENT, BUT LET’S CALL IT SORTED. I DIPPED INTO YOUR PIGGY BANK.

I’LL SIGN OFF BY SAYING, GOOD LUCK, AND YOU’RE A CUNT.

 

* * *

 

I ALWAYS SAID I’D VANISH IN A PUFF OF SMOKE.

 

* * *

 

G.

 

* * *

 

Oscar began to really sweat. Then his phone rang. He snatched it up.

‘What?’

‘Sir, I have your account on the line, says its urgent,’ came the voice of his secretary.

‘OK,’ he said weakly. There was a pause and then the booming voice of Bernard his accountant came on the line.

‘What the hell are you doing man? You’ve transferred out almost two million from your account! We agreed you wouldn’t make these decisions without first consulting me! Do you know of the penalties…’

His arm went weak and he dropped the phone back into the cradle. He looked around the office at the main double doors, and the inner office and en suite bathroom. The buzzer went on his desk, ‘Sir,’ came the voice of his secretary. ‘There are a group of police officers here, they won’t… Do you mind, you can’t just barge in…’

The double doors burst open and DCI Foster stood with DI Peterson and three uniformed officers. Before anyone could say anything, Oscar moved round his desk, grabbed his wallet, keys and phone and dashed through the door to the right and locked it.

Erika moved to the door and bashed on it with her fist.

‘Open the door Oscar. It’s over. We know everything. We’ve spoken with Laura. She’s now in custody at the station…’ she bashed on the door again. ‘Open the door!’

The secretary rushed in after them.

‘Where does this door lead?’ asked Erika.

‘Um, I…’

‘Answer the question?’

‘There’s a small bathroom, an area for dressing… and it leads out to a small balcony,’ she said.

Erika looked at one of the uniformed officers and gave him the nod. He moved forward and charged the door. It splintered easily and opened. They moved through into a small elegant bathroom, beyond it was a door to a small room with sink and a fridge, a low sofa and double doors. They were open and the rain was pouring inside.

They moved out onto the balcony, and looked down. The rain fell away in sheets down to the road below, dark and lit up with rush hour traffic. They looked up and saw an iron-rung ladder with protective hoops was on the back wall of the balcony, leading up two storeys to the roof. Oscar was halfway up, climbing toward the edge of the rooftop.

The uniformed officers looked up shielding their eyes from the rain, and back to Erika.

‘It’s slick with rain. We need to do a risk assessment, it’s a sixteen storey drop down to the road below,’ said one.

‘A bloody risk assessment?’ shouted Erika above the rain.

‘Health and safety,’ said the other. Erika looked at Peterson and they went for the ladder, she pulled herself up and he followed behind her.

As Peterson and Erika clung to the iron rungs and climbed the ladder, the city of London stretched out below them, a carpet of lights.

‘Shit, he’s almost at the top,’ shouted Erika, trying to quicken her pace, but the soles of her black shoes had very little grip and she had to climb carefully. There was a crack and a peal of thunder, and a flash lit up the sky.

‘That’s all we need, thunder and lightning when we’re climbing up metal at the top of a skyscraper!’ shouted Peterson.

‘It’s not a skyscraper, it’s an office block,’ shouted Erika down to him.

‘Either way it’s bloody high!’ he shouted back. She looked down at Peterson, he was soaked through. She blinked the water from her eyes and looked up as Oscar made it to the top of the ladder and climbed over onto the roof, vanishing from view.

This spurred Erika on and she reached the top of the ladder moments later and eased herself over the concrete lip of the building.

Oscar was slumped against a fire exit. When he saw Erika he rose to his feet.

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