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The Limit: Chapter 28

Hardman Maudie is about to have his endurance tested to the limits by thugs hired by the Dysons.

Peter Lacey's tough crime novel set in England's premier seaside resort continues to deliver the goods. To read earlier chapters please click on The Limit in the menu on this page.

Over breakfast they made fun of the rubber gloves he wore, suggesting he did so because of a fetish rather than professionalism.

When he had finished, they tied him again but thankfully didn't return him to the oven-ready position. He was left to sit against the wall with his hands in front of him. At least he could see his watch. Melvyn or Graham remained with him in turn, sitting in a canvas garden chair. No chance presented itself.

"I want to pee," he said to Melvyn, when the two of them were alone.

"So pee."

The Dyson brothers came at eleven thirty. There was no mistaking Eric. He was plump and exuded all the charm of a bent accountant. Paul Unsworth and another man were with them.

The new man was stacked with muscles that his suit struggled to contain. His hair was shaved to a close crop, his nose broken, and Maudie bet he had hate and love tattooed on his knuckles. He had the glare of a psychopath and Maudie speculated that this was Carl Curtis, the other security import from Manchester, who had served a five for manslaughter.

What was wrong with today's parole boards? One look should have been enough for them to have thrown away the key. Graham and Melvyn looked definitely third division in this company.

The group of four walked over to inspect him silently. Eric pursed his lips and Maudie wondered whether he might be bent the other way, too. Curtis simply glared, impersonal and deadly. Maudie had seen his kind before. They were a liability in the long run, just like Ronnie Kray had been. There was only one way to deal with them. Take them off at the knees. Then at the neck.

Steven Dyson smiled maliciously.

"We meet again."

Maudie said nothing. Verbal heroics were for mugs and amateurs. He kept his eyes lowered.

Steven went on. "Tell me. I'm curious. Why did you come? You're too old. What made you try? It couldn't have been the money. Perhaps you were getting fringe benefits. Were you? Tom Rossetti letting you screw her?"

He kept looking at his feet. There was no point getting angry. They were only words.

Steven laughed.

I must admit, she is good. She's so good, I've decided to share her with Melvyn and Graham here. And Carl. I think Carl will like her. After being inside he has peculiar habits. I'm sure she'll appreciate them."

Maudie slowly looked up and locked his eyes on those of Steven Dyson. Looks can't kill and he kept his face neutral. But it was a diversion that made Dyson change tack.

"God knows what she sees in you. She's so eager to get you back she's ready to sell. But do you know something? That's not enough. I want more. We want more."
He smiled. "You're going to hurt. You're going to hurt a lot. And Miss Toni Rossetti is going to hurt, too. We'll enjoy her before we give her back to her brother. When he's finally agreed to a deal."

Dyson looked at Graham.

"Unfasten his ankles," he said, his voice now harsh and impatient.

Graham and Melvyn released the rope and held his ankles to keep him from moving.

"Open his legs."

The two men took a leg each, as if Maudie was a wishbone.

"You're a has-been, Morgan. Out of your class. I almost feel sorry for you."

He stepped forward and kicked Maudie in the crotch. The pain convulsed him, even with his legs being held, and he retched.

"He's yours," Steven said. "But no knives and no broken bones."

Through the nausea, he heard the four leaving. Eric was laughing. It was a light and genteel laugh that would not have been out of place at a Rotarian lunch.

"Right," Graham said. "And now, grandad, the fun starts."


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