‘Fucking hell!’ Robert mutters, and pulls out a handkerchief to wipe dry his face, but then he smiles – he’s sure going to enjoy putting a bullet through the fucker’s head.
A luxury taxi slows to a halt in front of the Matthew’s family home, and Alan slowly steps out of the taxi – he’s incredibly exhausted. He leans back into the car to Derek, who’s splayed out on the back seat, and says, ‘Tomorrow, 8 AM. Prompt, okay? We need to sort some shit out.’
Derek nods, and Alan closes the door and watches the taxi drive off.
Alan turns around to walk into his driveway and immediately stops in stride as he stares at his Mercedes parked ahead in the driveway. He is visibly elated and walks quickly to the car.
He strokes the car as he walks alongside it and sees the key on the bonnet. He excitedly grabs it and smiles proudly – he knows Jay got it back, but how … His phone begins to ring, interrupting his pondering. He pulls it out and stares at the caller ID – it’s an unknown number.
He answers the phone and quietly listens for a response from the other end of the line, but there is just silence.
Impatient, he questions, ‘Yes?’
‘Alan?’ is the response from Natalia’s sultry voice.
‘Yes,’ Alan says, excited. ‘Yes … Natalia?’
‘Yes. How’s Stephen?’
‘He’s doing fine,’ he answers with nonchalance, and begins to pace along the driveway.
‘That’s very good,’ she says, attempting to bury his nonchalance with evident enthusiasm. ‘Are you with him?’
‘No … I just left him actually. His wife’s with him now.’
‘Oh,’ she blurts, oozing empathy. ‘How is she? How is she handling it?’
‘Err … I dunno … good, fine … she seemed fine. He’s doing fine.’
‘That’s good, really good. What about you? Jay?’
‘I’m all right, considering.’
There is a beat of silence.
‘Good. Although he’s not here right now.’
‘Are you alone?’
‘Yeah. Yes, I am.’
‘I could come over if you need someone right now.’
He smiles to himself and takes a moment to contemplate. He glances at the house, wondering if Jay is home, and then sniffs his armpits.
‘I’m not home. I could come to you though.’
‘That would be lovely, Alan. I’m at the restaurant. We’re just closing for the night.’
‘I’m on my way,’ he says, and unlocks his car.
‘Good. See you soon.’
He ends the call and quickly steps into the car. He quietly reverses of the driveway and slowly drives off – hoping not to alert Jay, if Jay’s home.
Daylight fades as Natalia walks out of the back entrance of the restaurant – Sophia’s Place – and into its small car park, where her Mini Cooper and a couple luxury cars are parked. She watches with a smile as Alan’s Silver Mercedes rounds the corner into the car park and parks beside her Mini.
Alan steps out of the car and walks to her with a gleeful smile. She reaches out for a hug as he approaches and they hug affectionately. He kisses her on the cheek, just missing her lips, and she leads him towards the back door.
‘That was fast,’ she says.
‘I know,’ he says, and gestures backwards to his car. ‘It’s pretty fast.’
She taps the back door twice and they wait. She turns to him with a soft smile and he smiles back – she’s even hotter dressed casually, he’s thinking. In the next moment, the door swiftly opens and Gennady grabs him and aggressively pulls him into the restaurant. She calmly walks in after them and shuts the door behind her.
A short distance away and across the street from the semi-detached safe house, Jay hides in the shadows, watching the house intently. The house is nondescript, similar in everyway to the neighbouring houses on the quiet residential street. He glances at his wristwatch – it reads “20:16”.
The signal ought to have come a minute ago, but these things are never prompt, it’s the nature of the business. He’ll give it an hour … but just then the light in one of the upstairs rooms facing the street switches on, and then immediately off. Back on. Off. On. Off. On. Off. Then it stays off.
He takes a deep breath and walks away – it’s on now.