The Widow’s Shadow - Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Palladium theatre.

“There you are, Susan.  How was the journey?”

“Hectic,” Susan Holderness said as she walked up the street towards the theatre entrance.  She was wearing a beige linen coat, with the hem of her blue and green peasant skirt visible underneath, and a pair of modestly heeled black leather shoes.  Her red tightly curled hair was falling around her neck as she greeted her mother in law with a kiss.

“Well, you are here now - and here come Anne and Angela.”

Anne Bowden was coming from the Underground station, wearing a sleeveless jerkin over a grey v-necked jumper, matching slacks and short ankle boots.  The bump was barely visible under the jumper, showing how well she had recovered from the recent birth.

Angela, her oldest daughter, was walking beside her, and Lucinda once again realised how much she looked like a younger version of herself.  When she was Angela’s age, it was the mid 60’s, and the area they were standing in had been the centre of the fashion world.  Angela reflected that in her short green dress, lighter green leggings and knee length green suede boots.

“Well, we’re all here,” Anne said as she hugged Susan, “Where is the guest of honour and the others?”

“Right here,” Miranda said as she walked up to them, followed by Jennifer, Connie and Cassie.  She was wearing a white blouse under a black silk waistcoat, a knee length black skirt and felt boots, while her other daughter was attired in a baggy white jumper, long flowing skirt and brown suede boots.

“Well, we’re all here now,” Lucinda said as she fished a black wallet from her handbag.  “Shall we?”  They walked up to the entrance of the theatre, and as she handed the tickets over the steward bowed slightly.

“This way to your boxes, your ladyship,” he said as the party went in.



Holderness Police Station

The desk sergeant looked up as the door opened and the party of four came in.  He looked at each of them in turn - the tall, thin blonde dressed in a black trouser suit and white blouse; the young woman, casually yet smartly dressed; the tall, broad shouldered man; and finally the other blonde, dressed in dusky pink.

He smiled as they approached his desk - something about the lady in pink was calling to him, but he wasn’t quite sure what.  As they stopped in front of him, however, she looked at him and he saw her shiver - why he was not quite sure.

“Good morning,” the tall woman said, “my name is Anne Duncombe - my friends and I have an appointment with a DCI Hammond.”

“DCI Hammond?”  The officer looked at her, then at a book on his desk.  “Oh, you mean DCI Hampton - I will call and ask him to come and meet you.  If you could wait over there?”  He indicated a set of chairs against a far wall, which they walked over to.

“This is so different from the station houses in our town,” Chloe said as she looked round, “It seems so old and quaint.”

“Yeah, well,” Brian said as he looked round, “That’s the old country for you.  I mean, this must be at least - Sara, are you all right?”

Anne turned to look at Sara, who was staring into space, focusing on something.

“The smell,” she whispered, “there is a smell here that is bringing back memories of the Scorpions...”

“Agent Duncombe?”

The group turned to see a tall, well built man standing there in a grey suit.  His dark hair was greying at the temples, but his smile was genuine.

“I’m Barry Hampton - I understand you wish to see me?”

“Yes - yes we do,” Anne said as she showed the officer her badge.  “These are my colleagues - Chloe Badelaine, Sara Smite and Barry Carter.  Is there somewhere we can talk privately - it is a rather delicate matter.”

“So I am led to believe,” he said as he indicated a door, “Why don’t we go through here?”  The four followed him in, Barry supporting Sara as she looked again at the desk sergeant.

“We can talk in here,” Barry said as he held the door to an interview room open.  As they four came in, he closed the door and said “Now, what is so important that a US Federal agent flies all the way to our quiet little area with three friends, and asks to meet with me?”

“It’s a rather delicate matter...”  Anne started to say, before Sara suddenly said “We think someone called Holderness is in grave peril - even deadly.”

Barry Hampton leaned back against the wall and folded his arms.  “Miss Smite, you speak as if you know something that you should tell us.  Do you have firm evidence that something is going to happen?”

“It is a little difficult to explain,” Anne said, “Let me start by saying that I know Lady Holderness - I met her last October when she visited my home town to visit some friends.”

“Oh - so you know Amy Strong and her family?  I had the pleasure of meeting them last Christmas when they visited and attended a party at Holderness Manor - a delightful woman.  Also, if you know Lucinda Holderness, then you will be aware that if there is a threat against her or her family, she is a more than formidable opponent.”

“From what I saw of her, I can well believe that,” Anne said with a smile.  “I would agree,” Chloe said, “she is tres formidable.  But my friend Sara has had...”

“Yes?”

Barry Hampton looked at the woman, who was starting to shiver and sweat, and said “Are you all right, Miss Smite?”

“No,” Sara said, “I am most definitely not - Brian, Chloe, help me, quickly.  Anne, get him out of here.”

“What the hell,” Barry said as Brian and Chloe pulled lengths of strong rope from bags, and started to bind Sara, Chloe crossing and securing her wrists behind her back while Barry started to work on her legs.

“Can we talk outside,” Anne said as she took Barry by the arm.  ”It will be safer, I promise you.”  Barry looked at Sara, and then started to walk towards her, before Anne grabbed him by the arm and literally pulled him out of the room.

“Wha... What the hell is happening,” Barry said as Anne closed the door, and then sprayed a chemical on both of them, “For a moment I was getting an irresistible urge to...”

“I know,” Anne said as she helped the officer to sit down.  “Tell me, Inspector, do you have anyone in custody in the station that is under suspicion, but will not confess, of a major crime?”

Barry shook his head and said “One person - we think he conducted a series of attacks on young women in the area, but we have no proof, so without a confession from him we may have to let him go.”

Anne nodded as Chloe came out.  “We have her secured, Anne, but even Brian is finding it difficult to...”

“DCI Hampton,” Anne said, “I know this is unorthodox, but will you allow an experiment?  Bring the man here.”

“Why?”

“We need to show you something.”


Twenty minutes later, the sergeant brought up a thick set, unshaven man in his late forties.  He was six foot tall, and dressed in a torn shirt and jeans.  “What’s this about, Hampton,” he said as he looked at the group watching him.

“What do you want me to do with him?”

“Just open the door, let Brian out and let him in - and then do nothing,” Anne said.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt,” Barry said.  He opened the door and as Brian came out he pushed the prisoner in, saying “get in there Rhodes.”

As the door closed, the man saw Sara sat in the chair.  Her arms were bound to her chest with bands of rope, emphasising her chest as her jumper was pulled tightly over her breasts, the top buttons of her top open.  

Sara looked at the new arrival, and an animal growl escaped from under the thick band of white cloth that had been pulled between her teeth.  Rhodes stood for a moment, looking at Sara and licking his lips, before saying “You look so beautiful miss - and you’re so helpless...”

Barry Hampton looked in the window, and then turned to Anne.  “Your friends have left her in the room with a suspected sex attacker, bound and gagged?  Why the hell would they do that?”

“Because it is what Sara wants,” Chloe said as she sat down.  “She has a - a gift.”

“A gift?  What sort of gift?”

“A very dangerous one,” Anne said, “as you are about to see.”

In the room, Sara let her head roll back and another groan escape from her lips as Rhodes sat across her lap, his lips roughly caressing her neck as his hands pressed firmly into her chest.  She allowed herself to let her emotions take full control of her body as she strained against the ropes holding her so tightly, but they only groaned under the strain.

She could feel the heat brining between her loins as Rhodes lifted her off the chair and laid her on the floor.  “These need to be untied,” he said as he removed the ropes around her legs, but left her ankles tied as he unfastened and pulled her pants down, his hand roughly stroking over her panties as he felt the dampness.  “And you need to have me inside you.”

“YSSSSS” Sara screamed as she felt him pull down her panties next, his lips kissing her belly and then her crotch, and as his tongue passed over the lips of her clit she felt the fire burning more brightly inside her.  She looked at him, his face in a fixed and menacing grin as he started to pull his own pants down.

“That’s right,” she thought as he used his finger to test how moist and ready she was, “Come to me, my little pet...”


“What the hell - you’re allowing him to rape your friend?”

Barry Hampton stared incredulously at the trio as animal sounds came from the room.

“She is allowing him to do this,” Anne said as a loud muffled scream came from the room, “But when he has finished - well....”

The group looked to the door, as a silence fell over the room.  A few minutes later, they could all hear Rhodes as he started to say “No...  Oh dear god no.... For the love of all that is holy, get me out of here!!!!”

The door flung open and Rhodes fell out, scooting back on his bottom with his hands, his white face quivering as he said “Get that monster away from me - I’ll tell you everything, all the details, I’ll sign the confession, just get that man-eater away from me.”

“Take him back to the cells,” Hampton shouted, but as he went to enter the room Brian stopped him.  “I need to be the one who goes in,” he said as he pricked his finger, and let the blood drip on a slice of cooked beef he had in a bag, “Just leave her with me for a few minutes.”

Brian went into the room, closing the door behind him as Rhodes was dragged screaming to the cells.  “Agent Drummond,” DCI Hampton eventually said “What just happened?”

“Have you heard of the Pink Widow?”

He looked at Anne, then Chloe, then to the door to the room.  “No - should I have?”

“No,” Anne said with a smile, “But that is who Sara is.  We can explain in your office - Brian will be safe, and they will join us later.  We need to talk about the Holderness family - and I need to ask you a question.”

“What question is that?”

“Have there been a series of serious crimes in the area recently?”

He looked at the two women, and then said “We’d better start at the beginning - come with me.”

London

“Now that was a show,” Miranda Craig said as the party left the theatre.  “How on earth did you manage to secure the boxes anyway?”

“Desmond has some connections with the trustees,” Lady Holderness said as they walked the short distance to the road, where Mr Bridges was waiting with the SUV.  “Now, back to the manor house for dinner, and after that we can have some entertainment of our own.”

The party of eight climbed in as Mr Bridges held the car door open, and then climbed behind the wheel, heading down into Soho as the crowds mingled round.


Holderness Police Station, DCI Hammond’s Office

Barry Hampton opened a cupboard door, and poured himself a large scotch.

“Can I get you something,” he said as he looked at Anne and Chloe, who politely declined.  He sat at his desk, his face still a little white as he took a sip.

“What we have to tell you,” Anne said eventually, “is in the strictest confidence.  I have to ask that you keep the full details of what happened to your suspect to yourself.”

“That won’t be difficult,” Barry said with a wry smile, “I’m not sure I believe what happened either - and I have to keep my fair share of secrets, but this...  You do know if he said what happened in a court of law, the case would be thrown out.”

“He will not, Monsieur Hammond,” Chloe said, “What he experienced will haunt him the rest of his life.”

“All right, Agent Duncombe...”

“Please, call me Anne.”

“All right, Anne - what is going on?”

Anne Duncombe took a deep breath, and said “I cannot give the full details of what really happened, but some time ago Sara was exposed to an experimental drug.  The drug contained genetic material from a black widow spider, and for some unknown reason it bonded with her own DNA and - well, changed her.”

Barry sat forward.  “A black widow spider?  Isn’t that one of those breeds where the female kills and eats the male after mating?”

Anne nodded.  “Soon after she was exposed, there were some - incidents, where Sara was attacked physically and - well, sexually.  Each time, the person who carried out the attack suddenly developed what was thought to be an irrational fear that Sara was going to kill them and eat them.”

“Mademoiselle Duncombe speaks the truth,” Chloe continued, “I witnessed the effect myself.  Whenever someone has - relationships with Sara, she gives off a chemical signal that makes her partner believe they are going to die.  She also gives off another chemical signal which makes her irresistibly attractive to men and women.”

“Hang on a minute,” Barry Hampton said.  “Are you telling me that woman is a walking, literal - and I apologise for saying this - sex bomb?”

“A rather crude term, but yes,” Anne said.  “Normally she uses a chemical to control the signals, but recently she has been having strange dreams, and her control has slipped a little.  That is why we had to get you out of the room - Brian is the only person who can control her naturally when that happens.”

“Why - was he bitten by a spider as well?”  Barry looked at Chloe and Anne, and shook his head.  “Never mind - so when Rhodes went into the room and saw her...”

“He could not help himself,” Anne said, finishing his sentence.  “Officially, Sara is dead - killed in a fire in the laboratory she was exposed to the drug in.  Unofficially, she helps our agency from time to time in hostage and other situations - by her own choice.”

“And this name - the Pink Widow?  Has she watched too many comic book films?”

“I regret to say I am responsible for that, monsieur,” Chloe said with a smile, “Sara likes to wear pink - nothing more than that.”

“Two things,” Barry said.  “First, I need another drink.  Second - do these dreams have anything to do with why you are here?”

“Very much so,” Anne said, “she insists someone called Holderness is in desperate danger, and I know only one person of that name.

“My turn - I asked earlier if you had any major unsolved crimes in this area or around here.  You did not answer.”



Holderness Manor

“Lucinda, that was a truly wonderful meal.”

Miranda pushed back her dinner plate and smiled at her old friend, as the rest of the party nodded in agreement.

“I’m glad you liked it, Miranda,” Lady Holderness said as she looked round the room, “I asked Mrs Bridges to do something particular for you, and as always she has come up trumps.  We will take coffee in the main room, I think.”

The eight women rose and made their way into the large front room of the manor house, as Mrs Bridges rolled in a trolley with the coffee cups and mints.  As she poured and handed the cups round, Angela said “This makes a nice change - although it seems quiet without any of the younger ones around.”

“Quiet, but nice,” Jennifer said as she took a sip from her cup.  “I don’t know about Connie or Anne, but I for one appreciate every moment I can get.”

Anne Bowden smiled as she put her cup down.  “You would think I would find it easier, with the girls older now, but I had forgotten just how tiring waking up at two in the morning can be.”

“You never forget,” Miranda said, and the whole room started laughing.  “So, how are we going to pass the time between now and bed?”

“Well,” Lucinda said as she looked round the room, “I wonder if we can take this opportunity, with none of the younger generation - Angela excepted - around to have a little fun time ourselves.  How would you feel about a little escape challenge?”

“Mum,” Connie said “I’m not exactly up for...”

“Don’t worry, Connie - I have a plan.  Two teams of three - new mothers versus the others.  First team to free each other picks the next game.”

“How are you going to do this,” Susan said with a glint in her eye.

“I would like the new mothers,” Lucinda said as she stood up and opened a box, “to sit on the long couch, hands in front of them, and I will prepare them.  The other three, stand in front of Miranda and put your hands behind your back.”



Holderness Police Station

The door to the office opened as Brian escorted Sara in.  She looked at the others, and said “I am so sorry - I do not know why I’m having such trouble keeping...”

“It’s all right, Sara,” DCI Hampton said as he offered her a chair, “Your friends explained everything.  What I need to know about is these dreams you have been having - when was the last one?”

“On the flight over,” Sara said as Brian put his hand on her shoulder.  “It was so real, so vivid - I was standing in a clearing, looking over a lake at a white building, and then I walked up a path through a wood.   I came out on a lawn, and walked up to a big old house, but when I looked in the window I saw women in danger.

“Anyway, I went in, and I met this - well, this man who told me he knew why I was here, and it was time.  I knew I was there to rescue these women, and I knew something terrible would happen if I did not.”

Barry Hampton sat up in his chair as Sara finished.  “Sara,” he said quietly, “When you were walking through the forest, did you see anything?”

“Yes,” Sara said as she looked up, “There was a white cross in a patch of bare ground.”

“And this lawn - it went up a hill to an old house made of red brick?”

“Yes,” Sara said again, “Do you know the house?”



Holderness Manor

“All right, I can cope with this,” Jennifer said as she sat next to Anne and Connie.  The three women had their wrist bound together in front of them, and then tied down to the ropes that held their legs together above their knees.  Ropes also encircled their upper bodies and arms, holding them tightly to their sides, and were wrapped around their ankles.  To make things more difficult, each of them had their fore and middle fingers, and their third and fourth fingers, taped together and a thin length of cord around their thumbs.

The other three were no better off on their teams.  Angela, Susan and Cassie were sat on the floor, their wrists tightly bound behind their backs and their fingers secured in the same way, and their arms tightly bound to their sides.  Their ankles and legs were tightly secured, and their thighs had a length of rope running under them and around their backs.

“As we said,” Miranda told them as she folded six large headsquares into bands and tied knots in the middle, “Once we have gagged you, you will have an hour to try and free each other.  Now, open wide.”

One by one the six captives opened their mouths, allowing Lucinda to push a folded handkerchief in before the knotted bands were pulled between their lips and the scarves tied around their heads.  Lucinda then went round with a roll of white micropore tape, wrapping it around their heads to further muffle their talking.

“Now then ladies,” Lucinda said as she turned an hourglass over, “Begin.”


Holderness Police Station

DCI Hampton opened a large file.

“Over the last six months, there have been a total of five very violent home invasions across England,” he said to the other four.  “Nobody has seen the gang, and often the crimes are not discovered for a few days.  They always strike when the menfolk are away, secure any women they find there and strip the place bare of valuables.”

“Sounds ruthless enough,” Anne said, “Now what are the public not told.”

“The gang tightly bind the women, and then - well, they tape their noses as well as their mouths shut.  The media has been told bodies have been discovered, but...”

“It sounds like the Scorpion gang,” Sara said with a shiver.  “Do we know any details about them?”

“The only clue seems to be a black transit van that has been seen in the area - we have the licence plate, and an alert has gone out for it, but so far...”

A knock on the door interrupted the talk, and a uniformed officer handed Barry a note.  As he looked at it, his face paled and he said “Shit.”

“DCI Hampton?”

“The black van - it has been seen locally.  My big worry is this - Sara, for someone who has never been here, you just described the grounds around Holderness Manor perfectly.”

Holderness Manor

Mrs Bridges was loading the dishwasher when she heard the door opening behind her.

“Is that everything that needs to go out taken care of, George,” she said without turning her back, thinking it was her husband.  Her mistake was evident when a leather gloved hand was clamped over her mouth, and she heard a voice literally hiss in her ear “Shut up” as the blade of a large knife was pressed against her throat.

“huru,” Mrs Bridges mumbled as she stayed perfectly still, “ndwhrsmhsbnd?”

“The old man?  Never you mind about him,” the voice hissed as she was dragged backwards away from the sink.  She could now see three other men, as well as the one holding her, in the kitchen, all dressed in black overalls with stockings over their heads and gloves on their hands.  One of them took a rucksack off his back and thumped it down on the table, opening it to reveal a mass of coils of rope and rolls of tape.

“Sit down,” the voice hissed once more as one of the men moved a wooden chair from the table, “and don’t move a muscle.”



Holderness Police Station.

“I see - well, keep trying.”

Barry Hampton put the phone down and looked at the other four.  “We can’t get through to the Manor house - the line is dead.  We’re trying to raise Lord Holderness on one of his London numbers, but so far no joy.  Agent Duncombe...”

“Please, call me Anne,” Anne said as she smiled across the desk at him.

“Agent Duncombe, you know and have met Lady Holderness.  Do you know something of her past?”

“Enough,” Anne said, “to know we cannot discuss it even here.  Why do you ask?”

“If something is wrong, then she will know what to do, but...”  His speech was interrupted by a ringing from the phone on the desk.  “Excuse me,” he said as he picked up the receiver.  

“Yes?

“Ah - good evening Your Lordship.  My apologies for disturbing you, but I was wondering if you could tell me where Lady Holderness is this evening.

“I see - and is she alone in this?”

Sara and Chloe watched as the colour drained slightly from the senior officer’s face.  “I see - Your Lordship, I must ask you to return to Holderness by the earliest possible convenience.

“No, not to the Manor House - come to the station.  I pray my suspicions are wrong, but if you arrive and I am not here then please wait for my return.

“Thank you,” he said finally before replacing the receiver, and looking at his guests.

“DCI Hampton - Barry,” Anne said as she sat forward, “What’s wrong?”

“Lady Holderness is entertaining at the Manor House tonight - a birthday dinner for one of her oldest friends, Miranda Craig.”

“Madame Craig?” Chloe said quietly.  “Who else is there, Monsieur?”



Holderness Manor

“It would appear, my dear Miranda, that we have a case of stalemate here.”

Miranda Craig laughed as she and Lucinda Holderness sat in two comfy armchairs, watching the two teams of women try to free themselves.  Jennifer, Anne and Connie had decided after a while not to try and exert themselves too much, instead sitting and adding muted encouragement to the other three in their endeavours.

Not that they were making much progress either - Angela had turned herself with her back to her Aunt Susan, and the two of them were trying to find some way of untying the ropes around their wrists, while Cassie was trying to move her arms in a futile attempt to loosen the ropes holding them firmly in place.

“Well,” Lucinda finally said, “I think the hour has passed, so...”  Her words were interrupted by the doors to the room flying open, and four masked and armed men running in, one of them saying “Nobody move a muscle!”

“Hey,” another one said as he looked at the six bound and gagged women, “Looks like we interrupted something.”

“Makes our job easier,” the first man said, before looking at Miranda and Lucinda and saying “Which one of you two old ones is the lady of the manor?”

“That would be me,” Lucinda said as she turned and looked at the quartet.  “I am Lady Lucinda Holderness - who are you, and why have you made such an obviously threatening entrance.”

Susan in particular was staring at the four armed and masked men, and Cassie could see she was starting to shake.  She turned and moved herself next to Susan, nudging her and saying “Tslrt, stclm - wrhr” as she did so.

“I said nobody moves,” the man called again as he pointed his gun at Susan and Cassie, making her yelp again.”

“Young man,” Miranda said, “my daughter is looking to comfort one of Lucinda’s family.  Some of us have been robbed and threatened before - she has not.  I presume that is your intention - to rob the home of my old friend?”

“That’s for us to know and you to find out,” he said as he looked round the room.  “Unite their legs, but keep their arms and wrists bound and the gags in place - it makes our job so much easier.”

“All right,” Miranda said as she turned round, “We’re going to do what you say, and we will not cause you any trouble.”  As she started to unite Cassie’s legs, she caught a look in her daughter’s eye and shook her head slightly.  As Captain Cassandra Craig, former special forces officer, Miranda knew her daughter could possibly take all four down, but not without raising the possibility of harming the others.

“And what have you done with Mister and Mrs Bridges,” Lucinda said as she looked coldly over the armed and masked quartet.   “If you have harmed them...”

“You are not in a position to issue threats,” the masked man, who to Lucinda was the leader of the group, said as one by one Miranda released the legs of the other six and helped them to sit on the seats.  “They are safe and secure, for now.”

“Listen,” Miranda said as she helped Angela to sit down, “Three of these women are new mothers - be as strict as you want to me and Lucinda, but show them some mercy.”

“Which three,” the man said as he watched Anne, Connie and Jennifer raise their bound hands.  He looked at them, a smile on his face under the nylon covering, before he said “We’ve got two families here, haven’t we - which are related to you, Your Ladyship?”

“Anne, Angela, Susan - stand up please,” Lucinda said as she turned and looked at them.  The three young women looked at each other, Anne standing next to the quietly sobbing Susan, as the leader of the gang turned to two of the masked men.  “Take these two upstairs, find a big room, and tie them up fully in there.  Make sure they cannot escape or raise the alarm - understood?”

“I wish to accompany them,” Lucinda said as she stepped forward, but the leader merely pointed his gun at her.

“No - I need you to show me round after we are finished here.  You can start,” he said as he dropped the bag he had on the floor and opened it, taking out a coil of rough brown rope, “by tying your dear old friend here up, just the way I tell you to.  You can start,” he then said to Miranda, “by taking off your skirt and boots.”

Miranda looked at the man, then her daughters, before she sat down and slowly started to unzip her boots.  As she did so, she saw Anne stumble a little at the foot of the stairs, and use the banister at the bottom of the staircase to stop herself falling.  She briefly looked at Lucinda, as the man said “Hurry up - we haven’t got all night.”


Holderness Police Station

Brian put his hand on Sara’s shoulder as Barry Hampton finished explaining what Lord Holderness had said to him.

“Mon Dieu,” Chloe whispered, “Three generations - and if this indeed the gang you speak of...  Monsieur Hampton, what can we do?”

“Pray that it is not them,” was his reply as a buzzing sound filled the air.  Anne instinctively looked to her mobile phone, then back at Barry.

“Brian,” Sara whispered as DCI Hampton opened a drawer in his desk, “Did you bring it in your bag?”

“I did,” Brian whispered back, “Why do you ask?”

“I think it is time - give me the bag,” she said, and as Brian handed her the holdall she stood up and said “I need to visit the ladies restroom - it is...”

“Turn left, second door on the left,” Barry said as he opened a second drawer, and brought out a small square of plastic which was vibrating, a red light flashing.  As Sara stepped out, Anne looked at it and said “Let me guess - trouble?”

Barry slowly nodded as he said “This... This is a private security alarm - an arrangement between myself and the Holderness family.  It means, I fear, that the gang was indeed at the Manor house, and...”  He stood up and said “I need to get a response team together and send officers there right now.”

“And if you arrive all guns blazing,” Anne said as she too stood up, “What will this gang, if they are as ruthless as you say they are, going to do?  You mentioned people have died at their hands - do you think anyone would survive that?”

Barry stopped and looked at her, before saying “What do you suggest?”

“By all means, have your men ready at the entrance to the Manor house, but we need to move in quietly and carefully - and it needs to be someone who can work that way.  I have no official jurisdiction here, but I know the Holderness and Craig family - well some of them anyway.  I have the training and the expertise.”

Barry looked at Anne as if for the first time, and then said “It’s one of you against who knows how many of them - I can’t let you go in alone.”

“She won’t be going in alone.”

Chloe and Brian turned to see Sara standing at the doorway, in a completely different outfit.  Her blonde hair had been pulled back in a ponytail, but that as not the most striking thing about her.

It was her outfit - a tight fitting leather jacket, zipped up the front with a hint of cleavage visible at the top, a leather miniskirt, tights and over the knee leather boots with a two inch heel.  She was pulling a pair of leather gloves over her hands, as Barry looked at her.

“So this is why you mentioned the Pink Widow,” he said quietly as he took in the dusky pink hue of her entire outfit.  “But I cannot allow it - you are a civilian, and I will not take that risk.”

“You have no choice - and neither do I,” Sara said quietly.  “It’s almost as if I have been led to this place, at this time - and it appears for this moment.  Now, what's the plan?”

 

 

 

 

 

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