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The Limit: Chapter 11

...He grinned. He was a pools winner who'd just had a heart transplant. There was nothing he couldn't do, and putting a look of amazement on some East End faces was one of them...

Toni Rossetti gives ageing hardman Maudi a new lease on life - and also cash to buy shooters to protect her northern business interests.

To read earlier chapters of Peter Lacey's novel please click on The Limit in the menu on this page.

They left the restaurant and got back in the car.

"How about a drink now?" she said.

"I was hoping you'd say that, gel. There's a couple of boozers I'd love to be seen in, with you. Do my pride the world of good."

"There's nothing wrong with your pride, Maudie."

He grinned. He was a pools winner who'd just had a heart transplant. There was nothing he couldn't do, and putting a look of amazement on some East End faces was one of them.

"Before we go for a drink, there's more business to discuss. Ill need some cash up front. For ... equipment."


They exchanged a look. She was the guvnor. She had a right to know.


She nodded. She accepted the need.

"How much?"

"I don't know exactly, but it'll cost. I saw a man earlier and told him what I wanted. It depends what he can get. A grand, maybe more."

She reached for her handbag, which was on the back seat of the car, and opened it. From an inner zippered compartment she took two packets of notes that were still in their bank wrappers. She hesitated for an instant before handing them over. Perhaps this was the real moment of decision.

"Two thousand. Expenses. You keep an account, Maudie, and tell me when you need more."

Two grand in fifties. It felt like hardly anything at all but it had been an act of faith for her to hand it over. He wanted to tell her that he wouldn't abuse her faith, that the money would be spent correctly.

"The bloke I'm seeing. He's called the Chinaman. I said I'd phone him, if it's on, and see him at one o'clock. You can come if you want. See what you're buying." He was putting it clumsily, damaging their trust by putting it into words. "I mean, it might be interesting for you. A visit to the underworld."

"No thanks, Maudie. You're the professional. You sort it out. But one thing. Buy me a gun, too. In case."

He was shocked at the request. Guns were serious. People who used them had to accept the risks involved. He didn't want Toni to carry.

"Would you use it?"

Her face was serious.

"If necessary."

"If it meant killing someone?"

She hesitated. Then nodded.

"I think so."

At this moment she meant it. Whether she would be able to pull the trigger if the circumstances arose, was something else.

"What did they do, Toni?"

"Don't you think they've done enough?"

He nodded.

"Perhaps. But is there something you haven't told me?"

She stared ahead, as if remembering, then took a cigarette from her bag and depressed the dashboard lighter.

"I've told you everything else, but this is personal. It makes no difference to how we fight the Dysons. It makes no difference to our deal. It's just something that helped me make up my mind as to how far I was prepared to go."

She lit the cigarette.

Maudie nodded. Perhaps he would be able to talk her out of it later.

"Now," she said, and grinned to lighten the mood. "Let's go for that drink. Show me the East End."

He laughed.

"With pleasure, gel. The full ten-bob tour. But mind the falling bodies. People round here don't believe in miracles. Lazarus in a new whistle and with a stunner on his arm could cause a few coronaries. At least, I bleeding hope so."


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