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The Limit: Chapter 16

Toni Rossetti gets in close with the horrid Steve Dyson, the man who is trying to "steal'' her family's business interests in Blackpool.

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

"You seem to be miles away."

"What?"

Steven Dyson reached across the restaurant table and put his hand over hers.
"Don't take it so badly. This was meant as a celebration."

She attempted to hide the revulsion she felt at his touch, and laughed.

"I'm sorry. I was wondering where Uncle Emilio was."

"Listen. It's business. That's all. Don't make it into more than it is. There's no need for family drama. Emilio will get in touch and when he does Mario will tell him he's forgiven. Maybe they'll open a new club. In Malta. Or Italy."

"I don't know. Emilio is an old man. Age carries a lot of pride."

"You know, family rows are the worst. A partner or a friend can make a mistake and be forgiven. But family? Somehow it seems to mean more. It shouldn't. A mistake is a mistake, no matter who makes it. Emilio was a little too fond of the horses. I've known people with worse faults. But he'll come back. Don't worry about it. You and Mario are doing the right thing."

She retrieved her hand to light a cigarette. It was hard even to be civil to Steven Dyson. But she had to be much more than that.

Her behaviour at their first dinner date had been designed to encourage his attentions. She had wanted to manipulate him, to discover where the books were kept and to convince him she and her brother were no longer a threat. She had been almost too persuasive.

The books, as she had told Maudie, were kept in the conference room at Riley's. But she had also discovered Steven had an adjoining bedroom. It had taken all her experience to stay out of it. Tonight, he obviously thought his luck would change. It was an expectation she had to encourage.

"I'm sorry, Steven." She smiled. "You're right. Emilio will come back. Perhaps a fresh start will be good for Mario."

"Of course I'm right."

She allowed him to hold her hand again, before excusing herself.

Inside a cubicle in the ladies', she leaned against the wall and opened her handbag. The gun nestled in a side compartment beneath a pair of tan leather dress gloves.
At this moment she could willingly shoot Steven Dyson. His assurance, calculation and dishonesty were offensive, but his presumption was abhorrent.

She closed the handbag, left the cubicle and checked her face in the mirror.

"Come on, silly bitch. Smile."

She eased the tension out of her features and relaxed her mouth. Two pouts at herself and she was able to smile professionally, convincingly. Two drops of Murine and her eyes sparkled again.

Right, she told herself. The show's back on the road.

Three nights ago they had negotiated the sale of Rossetti Entertainments for 250,000, which was still half price. The deal was supposed to go ahead in Mario's hospital room. This dinner date was confirmation to the Dysons that Mario had capitulated.

Toni was flirtatious throughout the meal. She touched Steven's hand frequently, let him catch her looking at him with lustful eyes and smiled approvingly at his innuendos.

My God. What did he really think of her?

Afterwards, he drove towards The Life of Riley.

"Nightcap?" he said.

"Of course."

She stroked his thigh and felt his muscles react. He stroked her leg and began to pull up her skirt. He was very confident. She squirmed, breathed heavily, and dropped her handbag.

"Damn. Things have spilled out."

He stopped fumbling while she bent to pick up the bag and its contents. To maintain his ego and impatience, she rested her hand on his thigh.

They drove past the brightly lit frontage of The Life of Riley. He went down the side street, past the two-storey extension at the rear that contained the offices and his apartment, and parked. She delayed him getting out.

"Don't be so impatient. We have all night."

She kissed him on the lips, then opened her door before it could develop.

The street was quiet. The silence roared in her ears. Her nerves were exposed and she felt light enough to fly.

Steven unlocked the street door of the offices, they went in and he locked it behind them. They went upstairs and he unlocked the conference room and, once inside, his impatience boiled over.

He grabbed her from behind, kissing her neck with his open mouth. His hands roamed possessively over her body, his erection pressed into her buttocks.

"Steven!"

She attempted to break away but he only allowed her to turn to face him so that he could kiss her properly. The loathing rose like bile but she fought it back and forced herself to respond. Her pretence at passion assuaged his and he calmed down.

"Steven. Let's take it slowly."

"I don't think I can."

She pulled away.

"How about a drink?"

He was taking off his jacket.

"I don't want a drink. I want you."

"Don't rush things. There's all night. Look, I have a present for you." She opened her handbag, rummaged, and feigned surprise. "Damn. It must have fallen out in the car. I'll go and get it."

"Toni. I want you now."

"It will only take a minute ..."

She knew she had miscalculated. On the first dinner date she had promised much without giving a great deal, to get inside information. Tonight she had played the temptress again, but too well. If she didn't give in to the inevitable, he would rape her. He would probably think that was what she wanted. Her pulse pounded. The loathing was mixed with other things. Perhaps she did.

He took her in his arms and kissed her forcefully, his tongue digging into her mouth, his hands pulling up her skirt.

She half resisted, attempting to push him away, pulling her mouth free so that his tongue trailed to her neck and ear.

"The bedroom." He started to push her. "I want you in the bedroom. Now."

She was quivering. Her senses building to screaming pitch.

"No." She pushed back. "No."

It was not resistance. It was encouragement. The situation was now beyond her control and she wanted to be taken.

He twisted her arms so that she was forced to walk past the bar, along a short corridor and into the bedroom. His hips were hard against her buttocks and she squirmed against them, fighting and exciting him. He threw her at the bed and she sprawled across it. Her skirt was high, exposing her stockinged legs. The buttons of her silk blouse had opened.

He pulled off his clothes and she lay watching, making no move to cover herself. Their breath came in gasps, rattling hoarsely in their throats. It was animalistic.

Finally, he was naked. In the dim light she could see that his erection visibly throbbed.

"Come on, you bastard," she whispered.

He climbed on to the bed. It didn't take long. The lust was too intense to be maintained for long. Ten minutes at the most.

He didn't undress her but pulled her clothes aside. He covered her mouth with his and she raked his back with her nails. The pain made him twist away and he pushed her arms above her head, holding both her wrists in one hand, while he manoeuvred himself with the other.

"Come on then.''

It was a command. He obeyed.

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