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The Limit: Chapter 18

After putting the frighteners on the man who is trying to take over the Rossetti’s family business, hard-man Maudie and Toni Rossetti unwind in a safe house. Though the presence of a couple of bull terriers leave Maudie somewhat on edge.

Peter Lacey continues his crime story which is set in Blackpool.

Maudie drove the hire car to the terraced safe house and put it in a garage at the rear. Toni had left the Mercedes there earlier, and they switched cars. This time Toni drove.

At the Rossetti house, the front garden was lit by two lamps, one over the front door and the other over the double garage. Maudie got out and unlocked the garage doors, fol¬lowed the car in and locked them behind him. They went directly into the house from the garage.

"Set it," Maudie said.

Toni walked through to the cloakroom and switched on the burglar alarm system. Maudie remained in the kitchen, exchanging looks with Jane, the white bull terrier. When Toni came back she laughed.

"Dogs are not funny," he said.

"You've been introduced. She knows you're a friend."

"I hope so."

He moved cautiously as she led the way to the study. Jane watched them go past and then trotted along behind.

There was a second bull terrier, a brindle called Paolo, at large in the extensive back garden. The house was big, but with the alarm, the dogs and high walls out back, along with floodlighting if necessary, Maudie felt reasonably safe.

He had cased the house and made the acquaintance of the dogs that afternoon. The house had impressed him. The dogs had impressed him, too, but in a different way.

There was no arguing with dogs. They didn't understand reason or threat and they were impossible to fight. All you could do in a confrontation was kill them. Alsatians and dobermans were frightening, but bull terriers were more vi-cious. They fought to the finish.

Toni had pointed out where there was a gap in Jane's teeth.

"She got out one day and a taxi hit her. She bit its bumper bar and tried to shake it. Mario had a hell of a job to make her let go. The driver had to switch off his engine so that she thought she'd killed it."

Paolo, in the garden, was quieter. His hobby, Toni said, was chewing house bricks. No joke.

He hoped they would both remember he was on their side if there was a disturbance.

During the journey from Riley's, Maudie had replayed snatches of the action in his mind. He would dwell on it at length later, but for now, bits came back unbidden like a disconnected trailer.

He had been nervous. Not of getting hurt but of cocking it up. But as soon as he had started up the stairs, the adrena¬line had begun to flow, the old feeling had returned.

And, for Christ's sake, it had gone well. Bloody well.

Toni had kept her cool admirably. He could tell after¬wards, when they were driving away, that she had been full to bursting with the excitement.

He had seen men whoop, punch, swear and scream away some of the pent-up energy after a successful job. But Toni had bottled it, remained in control of herself.

The bedroom scene had been unexpected and was an¬other eye-opener. Seeing Steven Dyson naked had angered him. He hadn't considered Toni in that way, and the fact that she had shared his bed to obtain what she wanted had upset him.

Her morals were not his business and it shouldn't have upset him. Anyway, it hadn't been a question of morals. What she had done had been necessary. She was a multifaceted lady, but he wondered just how tough she really was.

"I think we deserve a drink," she said.

"Just one. It's no night to get tiddly."


He nodded and she poured a double.

"No more," he said, taking the glass from her.

"How did we do, Maudie?" Her eyes shone. The excess was just below the surface. It made him feel calmer. Re¬minded him that he was the pro. "Tell me. Was it good? Was it as good as it seemed?"

"It went all right. I think Mr. Dyson got the message."

She laughed.

"It was worth it just to see his face. All of it. I didn't realise what it would be like. I was surprised. It was ... I don't know what it was like. It was like stepping outside yourself and taking charge. And when you shot the bed ..."

She poured herself a vodka and tonic and stopped talking. He smiled. She had realised she was too voluble, she was allowing too much to spill out. The image had to be pro-tected, but really she would like to let loose and shout her triumph.

"You did all right, gel."

He raised his glass.

"So did you, Maudie. Thank you."

They drank to each other and she walked across, put her arms round him and held him.

"Thank you," she said again.

After a while, he pushed her away gently.

"It went better than we could have expected. But now it's a waiting game. If they hit back, I don't think it'll be here, tonight. But I'm taking no chances."

He kissed her on the forehead.

"Go to bed, gel. I'll make myself a pot of tea and listen to the world service."

She drained the remainder of the vodka.

"You're right. I'll go to bed but I doubt if I'll sleep. We should have organised a party."

At the door she turned back.

"There are tapes by the television if you get fed up of the radio."

"Goodnight, Toni."

"Goodnight, Maudie. Thanks."


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