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The Limit: Chapter 17

Toni Rossetti and Maudie succeed in scaring foul Steven Dyson half to death.

Here’s crime writing at its very best in the latest chapter of Peter Lacey’s novel.

To read earlier chapters please click on The Limit in the menu on this page.

She had peaked so high that there was a long way to fall. The loathing started immediately afterwards. She stared at the rectangular shadows on the ceiling made by the light spilling in from the corridor, and wallowed in the revulsion.

Beside her, Steven Dyson stirred and touched her shoul¬der.

"Incredible," he muttered.

She slid off the bed.

"Bathroom," she said.

His bathroom, like his bedroom, had everything. She washed herself and straightened her clothing but avoided the mirror. When she felt she was passable she went to the bar and poured a large vodka and tonic.

It might not be a very meaningful act and it would not solve anything, but what the hell. She drank it in two gulps and pretended she could feel its effect.

She poured another vodka and mixed a gin and tonic and carried both glasses into the bedroom.

He rolled on to his back to take the drink from her, making no attempt to hide his nakedness.

"You are incredible, Toni Rossetti."

"It's been said before."

He reached a hand towards her but she pretended not to see it and walked to the foot of the bed, sipping her drink. When there was distance between them, she turned.

"Your present!"

He grinned.

"I thought I'd just had it.’’

She grinned back.

"Well, let's say it's a reward. For being good."

God. What appalling dialogue. It felt like her brain had seized up in protest at her body.

"It's in the car," she said. "I'll get it. Where are the keys?"

"In my jacket. Left-hand pocket."

The jacket was in the other room. The key ring had two car keys and five other keys. She went back to the door of the bedroom and held them up.

"This place is like Fort Knox. How do I get out?"

"The two keys together. They're for the outside door."

A Yale and a key for a mortice lock were on a separate ring that was linked to the main one.

"I'll only be a minute."

"Lock the door when you come back."

She nodded and left the room. Thankfully, at last, she went back down the stairs.

The mortice lock was stiff and made a noise when she turned it. She unlatched the Yale and pulled open the door, breathing deeply at the night air.

The street was still silent and she took a step half out of the doorway to look both ways. It was five seconds before Maudie emerged from shadows six feet away. He wore dark slacks and windcheater. He moved silently but with a slight limp. Toni told herself it made him look more sinister.

"I'm sorry . . ." she began.

He put a finger over her lips and shook his head. He stepped past her and she closed the door again but didn't lock it. His right hand came out of the windcheater holding a gun. From a pocket he took what looked like a short fat piece of tubing and screwed it on to the barrel. His hands gleamed oddly and she realised he was wearing surgical gloves.

Toni went cold. Before, it had been talk and fantasy. She had lived out revenge in her mind. Now it was happening.

Maudie was waiting, the gun pointing at the floor, his face expressionless, his eyes blank. The revulsion that had filled her to excess a few moments ago was now overshadowed by fear.

He nodded and she nodded back and he climbed the stairs. She followed and halfway up suddenly realised that Steven Dyson was naked. Maudie would be able to see what had happened.

She flushed and turned the shame to anger. Let him. It had had to be done. Another example of her ruthlessness.

He paused outside the conference room and lifted the gun to point it at the ceiling. He flexed his fingers around the butt and pushed open the door.

The room was empty and he moved straight to the other door, pointing the gun at the bar until he was sure no one was behind it.

It was like a film. Except no film could capture the ten¬sion. Her mouth was dry and she saw her glass on top of the bar. She would have loved to have taken a drink but dare not do anything but trail behind the professional. Her profes¬sional.

Maudie looked at her and she pointed and mouthed the words: In the bedroom.

He nodded again, pushed open the door and went down the corridor. The bedroom door was open. He stopped and listened, then stepped inside quickly.

"Jesus Christ!"

Steven Dyson lost his composure.

Toni gulped, licked her lips, and followed.

Maudie was standing at the foot of the bed upon which Dyson still lay naked. He held the gun in two hands and pointed it at the younger man's genitals.

"Put the light on, Toni," Maudie said.

She did so and noticed how small and shrivelled Dyson’s penis had become. His face registered open-mouthed shock as he stared from one to the other. His hands still held the gin and tonic she had given him.

"Toni. What . . . ?"

"Shut up, toerag."

"Who . . . ?"

The gun jerked and coughed in Maudie's hands and the mattress quivered as a bullet hit it, between Dyson's open legs.


He let go of the glass, spilling the drink on to his stomach, and pulled himself back up the bed in a reflex action.

"Don't speak and don't move," Maudie said.

Dyson froze.

"Get the stuff," he said to Toni.

She realised she had frozen, too. It was not the reaction she should be displaying.

The steel filing cabinet was built into the back of the bar. She went through to the other room, fumbling through the keys to find the one she had seen Steven use three nights before. It fitted and she removed the ledgers and documents and carried them back into the bedroom.

There were two ledgers, of real and falsified figures, the last two sets of audited accounts that had been filed with Companies House and a legal transfer, signed by Emilio, witnessed and attested with a wax seal, that assigned his twenty per cent of Rossetti Entertainments Ltd. to the Dysons. The seal would have impressed Emilio.

Among the documents was the loan agreement with the default clause that had trapped him, and there was his note-book that contained lists of contacts and explanations of per-centages and how the fiddles worked. He had been recklessly methodical.

She took them all and put them into a plastic Marks and Spencer carrier bag that she took from her handbag.

Also from the handbag she took a folded document.

"This is a receipt," she said. "It acknowledges the full re-payment of Emilio's loan agreement with £10,000 interest, and the return of his shares that you were holding as surety. You will sign it. I'll have it witnessed later. I'll put an even bigger seal on it than you had."

Steven Dyson's mouth worked but no sound came out. He looked at Maudie and back to Toni.

"You may now talk," she said.

"This isn't real. You can't do this."

"It's real and I'm doing it. You'll sign."

"I'll say it was under duress. I'll call the police. Jesus Christ, he damn near shot me."

"There's still time, toerag," Maudie said.

"You won't call the police," Toni said. "You obtained the shares using duress and gambling debts. You can't afford the mud sticking."

"This is madness. You'll never . . ."

"Oh yes I will." She placed the document on the bedside table with a pen. "Sign."

He looked at Maudie again, then leaned across and signed above his name.

"It means nothing," he said.

"But I do, toerag," Maudie said. "Remember that. The Rossettis have friends who don't like to see them being pushed around. Especially by toerags. From now on, the Ros-settis are a protected species. No harm will come to them or theirs. If it does, I would advise counting your legs on a morning before you try getting out of bed."

Steven was looking more sure of himself, as if he sensed he wouldn't be harmed.

"Who is he?" he asked Toni. "Is this a joke?"

The gun coughed again and the pillow behind Dyson puffed and sighed.

"The firm I work for have no sense of humour. We don't just hurt people. We bury them. Sometimes we kill them first."

"No joke, Steven. My family has connections." She had grown back into the role. She must remember not to end with come up and see me some time. "From now on, just leave us alone."

She picked up the shopping bag and walked to the door.

"Is that it?" Dyson asked.

"No, not quite," she said. "The money you signed the re¬ceipt for. I've withheld it as compensation for Mario's inju¬ries, medical bills, the damage your cowboys did at the club, and my personal expenses."

He shook his head in disbelief.

"But what about . . . this?"

He flexed himself and spread his arms to indicate the bed and what they had done on it.

"Oh yes. 'That'." She put down the shopping bag and rummaged in her handbag. She threw a 50 pence coin on to the bed. "I suppose you deserve something for 'that'." She smiled. "Keep the change."

She picked up the ledgers and walked out. Her heart was beating fast as she went down the stairs. She couldn't work out if it was excitement or triumph.

At the street door she waited until Maudie came a few seconds later, then followed him to the car. She restrained herself from skipping.


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