Coming Home – Lily
“Well, Mrs Harmond?”
Gill Harmond smiled as she picked up the baby girl and handed her back over to the young mother. “Another pound – she’s certainly picking the weight up now Rhena.”
“Must be all the good feeding she gets off her mother,” Rhena said as she put the young girl back into her romper suit. “So no worries?”
“No worries – see you in four weeks’ time.”
As she showed her out, the receptionist looked over and smiled. “That’s the last one for the day, Gill – got any plans for the weekend?”
“Yup – my daughter’s coming up to visit.”
“Lily? I saw her in the papers last week, at the film premiere – she’s doing well for herself, isn’t she?”
“Oh yes – she certainly has,” Gill said with a smile as she wrote in the notes, and then handed them over. “I’ll see you Monday…”
As she stepped down from the train, Lily looked round and smiled. Despite living in London, and going to some of the events she did, she still felt a strong affinity to this town. Not quite love, but still…
She was wearing a long grey greatcoat over a white blouse and a pair of grey trousers, her feet nestled in a pair of Italian leather stiletto heels, as she put her small case down on the platform and pulled the handle up. It was cold, but at least dry, as she made her way through the exit and then out to the taxi rank.
“Where to love,” the driver said as Lily opened the rear door, put her case in first and then sat herself down.
“Holmfirth Road,” she said with a smile, sitting back and watching as he moved off.
Gill heard the sound of a car pulling up, and stood up to look out of her living room window as a tall, blonde haired woman got out from the back of the car, the driver handing her a case. Smiling, she went and opened the front door, saying “there you are – good trip up” as Lily came towards her.
“Can’t complain,” Lily said as she hugged and kissed the older woman, “you’re looking good mum.”
“Flatterer,” Gill said as she looked at her daughter. The older woman was wearing a grey wool jersey dress, with grey tights and black knee length boots. “What do you say to a cup of tea?”
“Hello and thank you,” Lily said with a smile as she came in, Gill closing the door as she took her coat off and hung it on the rack. “Nothing beats a proper cup of tea at home.”
“How’s the job – keeping you busy,” Gill said as they made their way into the kitchen.
“I can’t complain – and it pays well. How are things in the midwifery service?”
“We could always use more money – but I’d like you to thank your boss for the donation to the young mothers’ center.”
“Well, it’s one of the things Xavier International have no problem supporting,” Lily said with a smile. “Family connections also helped.” She watched as her mother poured the tea into two mugs, and then handed them over.
“So – have you spoken to him?”
“Talked to him earlier in the week – he’s sent me some things over for you,” Lily said before she took a drink. “Oh now that is better.”
“Too much coffee?”
“I get spoiled – but this is wonderful,” Lily said with a smile. “Anyway, he is happy and keeping busy.”
“You know, I never thought I’d see the day when George would be seen as respectable,” Gill said as she sat down.
“Well, it helped he’s not really know over there,” Lily said with a smile, “but yes, George Saunders is becoming as well-known as his boss in the security world. He’s also something of an older uncle for Susan’s daughter.”
“I can imagine,” Gill said with a smile. “He suits the beard as well.”
“I know he would come and visit if he could,” Lily said, “but…”
“I know – even with Grayson retired, it’s still not a safe place for him to visit,” Gill said with a sad smile. “So what do you have from him?”
Lily stood up and went to the hallway, returning with a bag and removing from it a parcel wrapped in gold paper, as well as an envelope. “What the…” Gill said as she took the parcel and opened it, removing the large pashmina shawl from it as well as the small box. Looking at the brooch inside the smaller box, she smiled and then read the card.
“Happy birthday Mum,” Lily said with a smile, “I’ll give you my present later. So, ready for a shopping trip?”
Gill wrapped the grey tiger print scarf round her neck and then pulled on the long black padded coat, while Lily put her own coat back on, before they stepped out. As she locked the front door, Lily heard a voice say “hey Gill – is this your daughter?”
“Yeah – Lily, meet Ida Gray and her daughter Jojo.”
Lily smiled at the older woman, who was wearing a grey coat over a knee length dress, dark tights and knee length black suede boots. Her blonde hair was pulled back, while her daughter had hers falling loose, a butterfly hair clip on one side. Jojo was wearing a blue coat over a white dress, white tights and silver slippers.
“Pleasure,” she said as she looked at the younger girl. “How old are you?”
“Eleven,” she said as she held her mother’s hand, “I’ve been to dance class.”
“We moved in six months ago,” Ida said, “anyway, we won’t keep you from your business.”
“Nice to meet you anyway,” Lily said as she followed her mother down the path. “What happened to Mrs Peacock?”
“Moved to be with her sister – they moved in just after. They’re very quiet, keep themselves to themselves.”
Lily nodded as they headed down the street, not noticing the grey car that pulled up outside the house…
“Okay, I have to admit, that was a good meal,” Gill said as she and Lily got out of the car, and walked towards the front door. As they did so, Lily saw the curtains drawn over the windows of the front room next door – and then she noticed out of the corner of her eye a twitch in the curtains, and a man looking out.
“Yeah – it was recommended to me,” Lily said as they went in, Gill heading to the front room as Lily went to the kitchen. “Tea or coffee,” she called out.
“Coffee please – perhaps with something in it?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Lily said as she switched on the coffee machine. As she went to the sink to put some water into the jug, she looked out of the window – and was surprised to see Jojo sitting on the lawn, talking to a doll.
Filling the coffee machine, she unlocked the front door and walked out. “Hey,” she said as she looked at the young girl, “is everything all right Jojo?”
“I don’t know,” the young girl said, “when we got home, Mum looked out of the window, then told me to come and play with my dolls here until Mrs Harmond came home.”
Lily looked over into the garden next door, and nodded as she said “okay then – would you like to come in and have a drink? My mother can keep you company and let you watch the television if you want?”
Jojo nodded as she took Lily’s hand and went into her house, smiling as Lily poured her a glass of squash, and coffee into two mugs. “Take your coat off,” Lily said, taking the young girl’s coat and putting it on the back of the chair as Jojo held the glass, and they walked through to the front room.
“Oh – hello Jojo,” Gill said as they came in, “is everything all right?”
“Her mum said she could come and say hello,” Lily said as she handed her mother a mug of coffee, and took a drink from her own. “She was wondering if she could watch some television, while I nip next door and make sure Ida is all right.”
Gill nodded as she said “come and sit down here Jojo – you can choose the channel,” handing the young girl the remote as Lily put her mug down.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she said, Jojo smiling as she went into the kitchen. Slipping out of the back door and into the other garden, she slowly placed her hand on the kitchen door handle and tried to open it.
“she locked it – smart move,” Lily said as she took a small leather pouch and some leather gloves from her pocket, putting on the gloves and taking a pair of metal tools from inside the pouch, and squatting down as she worked on the lock, until she heard a soft click. Standing up, she put her hand on the handle and slowly pulled it down, opening the door and slipping her shoes off as she walked in.
“How long before he gets here?”
“Another hour,” Lily heard a second man said, “any sign of the kid?”
“No – she must have been telling the truth about her been at a friend’s house.”
“Well, he can wait until she gets back as well – he wants them both back.”
Lily slowly made her way through the kitchen, and along the corridor, before she looked in the door. Two men were standing in the front room, wearing leather jackets and dark jeans, but her attention was caught by Ida. She was sitting on the couch, her arms pulled behind her back, and Lily could see the bands of rope around her ankles, legs and upper body. Several strips of silver tape were pressed firmly over her mouth and jaw.
“Want to see if she’s got any beers? She’s not going to need them when he gets here.”
Lily made her way quickly down to the kitchen again, hiding behind the door as she heard the heavy footsteps, and then the man came in. He walked over to the fridge, and opened it, looking inside and shaking his head before he closed it again.
He had no idea of what was happening before Lily wrapped her slim arm round his throat, pressing on it and pulling him against her as she clamped her gloved hand over his mouth. “If I was you,” she whispered, “I’d stop struggling and go to sleep – you really do not want to see what’s coming next.”
He reached up and tried to pull her arm away, but her grip was too strong, as his eyelids flickered and slowly closed. Lily held the armhold for a few moments, and then let him drop to the floor, checking his pulse before she grabbed some tea towels, and rolled him onto his stomach.
As she looked back in the room, she saw Ida look at her. Lily put her finger to her lips and shook her head slightly from side to side, Ida doing nothing as the first man looked at her.
“Don’t move,” he said as he turned round, and then let out a gasp as Lily hit him in the gut with the heel of her foot. As his head dropped, she drove her other knee up into his chin, sending him sprawling on the floor as Lily walked over, driving her foot in between his legs.
“Hey,” she said as Ida stared at her, “I have no fucking idea what’s going on here, but I don’t like what I’m hearing. Questions?”
He only groaned as she picked up the roll of duct tape, rolled him onto his stomach and folded his arms behind his back, before he taped her forearms together from wrist to wrist. “Be with you in a minute,” she said to Ida as she turned round and taped his ankles and legs, before she sat him up and wrapped the tape tightly round his head.
Hooking her hands under his arms, she dragged him out into the hallway, before she came back and peeled the tape away from Ida’s mouth. She took several deep breaths, and then said “Jojo?”
“Safe next door with my mum – want to tell me what’s going on here?”
“You don’t want to know…”
“Try me,” Lily said as she started to untie her arms.
“Jojo and I – we’re under witness protection,” Ida said, “my former partner works for… Well, for a gangster.”
“Hmm – and he wanted you back?”
Ida nodded as she rubbed her arms. “I saw the car outside, and barely had time to get Jojo into your mum’s garden and lock the back door before they broke in. Thank the lord I got her out in time – but where did you learn to do that?”
“Trade secret,” Lily said as she helped Ida to stand up. “Who does the scumbag of an ex-partner work for?”
“Someone called Parker – why?”
“Hmm,” Lily said quietly, “go and clean yourself up, then I’m taking you next door – I guarantee your safety. Leave him to me…”
He pulled up outside the house and got out of the car, looking round as he walked up to the house of the door and walking in without knocking. “Okay,” he said as he looked round, “where are they?”
Getting no reply, he walked into the front room – only to find Lily sitting there, smiling as she stood up.
“Who the fuck are you?” he said quietly, “and where are my men?”
“They’re in the kitchen,” Lily said quietly, “my friends will be along to collect them – and you – in a little while, but I wanted to make sure you got my message first.”
“Oh yeah – and what’s that,” he sneered as he looked at her, “you don’t look so tough.”
“Looks can be deceptive,” Lily said with a smile as she walked over, “but I speak with the authority of my employer, when I say if you approach this family again, you will not survive the experience.”
“Oh – and who is…”
Lily smiled as he stopped and looked at her, before she stroked his cheek with her gloved hand – and then drove her fist into his stomach, making him double over. “So, as I said,” she whispered as she dropped to the floor, “this house, this family are under her protection, and you can tell the Parkers that as well. I’m sure they will understand.”
She looked over to see two women standing in the doorway.
“Two in the kitchen – and him,” she said quietly, “then clean this place up. Text me when you’re done.” She stepped over the groaning man, and walked past the two bound and gagged men in the kitchen, before she went back into her own house.
“There you are,” Gill said as she sat with Ida and Jojo, “what kept you?”
“I had to make sure the cleaners I hired came,” Lily said as she sat down, “everything will be tidied up in an hour or so. The leak has been fixed however – the plumber I called for had done a first class job.”
“Thank you,” Ida said quietly as Lily’s mobile phone rang. “Excuse me a minute – the office,” she said as she walked into the kitchen.
“Lily – what happened?”
“An over-enthusiastic underling of the Parker gang threatening innocents – thanks for sending the crew.”
“No problem,” Penny said, “but we have another issue to discuss. There was a raid in Ealing today – on a place George wanted us to watch. Any idea why he would do that?”
“Knowing Uncle George, he would have had a good reason – but he hasn’t told me.”
“Okay – we’re getting Dom to talk to him, find out what’s going on. But watch out – Grayson may be retired, but Wayne is still active.”
“Lovely – I’ll expect a visit from her during the week. Thanks for the heads up Pen.”
“Enjoy the break,” Penny said as Lily looked at her phone, and then walked back in with a tub of ice cream and four spoons.
“Right – let’s dig in…”