Novel Name : Hot Revenge Box Set 2

Chapter 8

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Back on the rear stairwell, we descend one level…

Another landing, again with a corridor to both sides, flanked by the ‘cells’ we saw on the security feed.

“Next one down,” murmurs Klempner. “This should be it.”

We pass under a single camera at the top of the next staircase, but it remains reassuringly off, its
indicator light dark. Still, it’s unsettling to have the empty black eye follow us as we descend into the
dank scent of basements everywhere.

At the bottom, the same single corridor, running right and left, doors off either side. Underfoot, slab
floors are slippery with damp.

There’s no sound other than our own footsteps and, as I realise after a moment, my own heartbeat
pulsing behind my ears. Down here, even the bass thump of the music doesn’t carry.

It’s cold. Not the iced night of outdoors, but a moist chill that creeps into lungs and turns breath to grey

Klempner draws a fingertip through droplets hanging onto the brickwork, making a shining trail that
trickles from the base, trailing fingers of water to the ground. “Looks like we're down to the river level.”

“Below it, I’d say. It's canalised here.” I try to get bearings in my head. “Could be it's just on the other
side of that wall.”

And this is where they’ve kept her…

Klempner thumbs left along the corridor. “You try the doors that way. I’ll try these.”

He turns right, trying one door after another. None are locked and as doors open then close, the sound
creaks, clanks then echoes away.

At the first room I try, rusted hinges complain as I turn the handle, then push. Resisting me all the way,
the door opens. I already know she’s not here. This door’s not been opened since god-knows-when.
Inside, all I find are stacks and files of papers; many mildewed, all yellowed, curling in the damp;
battered ledgers, and ancient floppy discs, aged well past any possibility of there being a drive able to
read them.

Finchby’s old business records?

The legal stuff presumably. He’s not going to keep hard copies of the kind of dealings he has…

… is he?

I pick up a ledger at random, checking the title. Winsbury Mill Inc. Purchase Ledger Y/E Dec ‘83

Not even cleaned the place out from the previous owners…

I enter the second room more easily. The door hinges are corroded, squeaking a protest as I enter. It’s
a paint store: shelves stacked with tins and cans, brushes, bottles of cleaner and solvent, stepladders
leaning against the wall. The walls run with damp and many of the tins are rusty or leaking.

As I back out, Klempner’s with me again. “She’s not down that way.”

“Only one door left, then.”

It’s solid. Nothing like the previous rotting remnants of a bygone time, this is new: bolts drawn at top
and bottom, constructed in steel, set heavy into the wall, and with a high-grade security lock.

I run fingers over hinges and locks. “They weren’t taking any chances with her getting out.”

Klempner scratches at his scalp. “That may be my fault. I did mention to Baxter one time that Jenny
had a talent for escape when she was younger.”

What do I say to that?

I have no idea.

So, I say nothing.

The bolts draw smoothly, and I try the handle, just on the off chance. Of course, it doesn’t open. “Got
those keys?”

But they’re in his hand already, offered out to me. “I think you should be the one to go in first. That she
sees first.”

The keyring is heavy, jingling as I work my way through Yales, skeleton keys, what could be filing
cabinet or padlock keys, brass deadlock actions… and…

That’s the one…

I insert, turn, then turn again as the internal levers clunk. Then I try the handle once more.

Without a sound, the door swings smoothly open.

I thought I was ready for it.

I saw the ransom video. I saw the security feed in Finchby’s office.

I thought I was ready.

I’m not.

The stench hits me like an assault; a reek of damp and rot and filth left unattended; the stink of drains
and raw sewers and that sickly-sweet smell of rotten blood and flesh.

All unmeaning, I recoil.

Don’t be a fool…

And she's there, Charlotte: kneeling up from the concrete floor, supporting herself against the bare
brickwork with her hands, without so much as a blanket or a towel. Her manacled ankle is swollen red,
the flesh puffed and shiny where the metal cuff bites. Her beautiful hair is dark with Christ-knows-what,
hanging in rank rats-tails to her waist.

The cardboard she’d used to protect herself is a foul mush which she’s pushed towards the drain
where it seeps green-brown. I’m fighting the urge to gag. Beside me, Klempner hisses.

Face twisting to us as we enter, tear-streaked, eyes swollen, Charlotte’s foetid hospital robe is pulled
up around her waist as she screams through a contraction.

“Oh, God it's you. Michael… Oh, God… It’s you.” Her gaze passes to Klempner. Her eyes widen, then,
her voice rising in pitch. “They left me here. Left me alone. Just dumped me in here. And the baby's

Klempner nudges me. “I’ll watch the corridor. You see to her.” He casts an eye above the door to where
a camera sits dead and black, then semi-turns away, standing in the doorway, looking out.

I barge forward, swinging the pack from my shoulders, tugging out blankets and towels. I drop to my
knees beside her, cradling her in my arms. “Oh, God, Babe, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.”

Then cupping her cheeks in my palms, pressing my lips to hers. “Let’s get you off the ground and into
something warm before we do anything else.”

“I knew you'd come.” Then her eyes flick to Klempner. “Father? How…?”

His answering nod is brief, as he looks at her ‘without looking’ at her semi-nakedness. “Jenny.”

She creases up again, gasping and clutching at her stomach. Reflexively I support her at the
shoulders, holding her as close as I can while the contraction passes, then tugging at the putrid robe,
“Let’s get this off you for a start. We’ll clean you up later. Let’s get you warmed up for now.” I pull the
disgusting thing away, tossing into the far corner

Charlotte snatches at the fleece blanket I bundle around her shoulders, tightening it around herself.
Then I wrap a space blanket around that; the silvery surface reflecting oddly in the light.

“Here, drink some of this. It’ll help warm you up.”

I was careful to heat the soup enough to warm, but not to boiling, and she gulps it down.

What has she eaten?


Around her on the floor, a scatter of empty packets: peanuts, jerky, chips… Bar crap that’s fine as a
snack with a beer, but as food for a pregnant woman at term? And to one side, the collection of bottles
we saw her filling from the dripping faucet.

Standing by the door, Klempner looks outward, constantly glancing up to where the security camera
indicator remains a dull black. “We need to get out of here. And fast. It’s only a matter of time before
they notice the dead feed.”

Charlotte’s more or less covered now, ‘decent’ as they say…

Who’s the indecent one here?

Not her…

… and Klempner, gun in hand, watching through the half-open door, looks back, taking her in properly
this time. His face is a carefully schooled blank. “Jenny, can you stand? Can you walk?”

Nodding vigorously. “I'll try.”

She struggles to rise, and I help her upright, a hand under each armpit. She tries to step, then cries out,
collapsing on herself. “I can't. I'm sorry. I’m sorry. I can't.”

I catch her, helping her down again. “Shh… It's alright. It's alright. We're here now. It'll be fine…”

“Why are they doing this? Why do they want to hurt me and Cara?”

“It’s not you they want. It’s your father they’re after. They took you as bait. They demanded ransom, but
it’s him they want.”

Her eyes pass beyond Klempner and out. “Where’s…?”

I press a finger to her lips, speaking softly. “Shhh… I’ll tell you everything later…” I roll eyes up to the
camera, still blacked-out… “James had to do something else. We’ve come to get you out of here.”

A contraction ripples over Charlotte's belly. She tries to suppress the groan, then breaks into a hacking

I gesture Klempner over. “Hold her upright, would you. Support her for a moment.”

He grunts, taking her from my arms, supporting her against himself. Charlotte’s expression is non-
committal as I unpack the bubble-wrap from my pack then, choosing a dry area, well off the reeking
drain, unroll it to the floor. “It’s not luxury accommodation Babe, but it gets you off the ground.” A
blanket over the plastic and she should be relatively comfortable…



“Klempner, Hold her away from the wall, as far as you can. Pull that chain tight against the ground.”

Charlotte, in her father’s embrace for the first time in her life, “What are you going to do?”

Axe in hand, “Stand clear. Turn your face away.”

“I won’t flinch.”

“I know you won’t. But there might be flying splinters.”

Klempner turns her face into his chest, cupping rank and filthy hair with a palm, then nudges at her foot
with his boot, drawing the chain tight.

How close can I go?

I want as much of the chain as possible removed from her. With a brief practice swing, I check my
clearance overhead, test my striking point and settle on the fourth link away from her ankle. Settled flat
to the ground, the concrete floor is my anvil.

Then swinging for real, I bring the axe-head in a smooth arc down on the link. With a sharp Crack! it
splits into two, the shattered halves skidding across the concrete to bounce from the walls with a ping.

Charlotte stoops, trying to rub at her leg, but can’t bend properly.

“That’s all I can do for now, Babe. We’ll get that cuff off you once we’re out of here. Now, lie down
again. Let's take a look at how you’re doing.”

Klempner helps. Between us, we lie her down onto the ‘bed’ I laid out for her. Then he resumes his
watch over corridor and camera.

Charlotte tries to lie flat but then curls up in on herself again as another contraction ripples across her
stomach. And all I can do is hold her until it passes. After a minute or so, she relaxes, lying back.

“Charlotte, Babe… Open up. I need to see what’s happening.” She parts her knees, giving me a view.

Klempner, his gaze shifting between the corridor and up to the camera, says, “I don't want to seem
unsympathetic, but is there any chance this can be speeded up? We're sitting ducks if we stay here.”

I kneel up again, then back on my thighs, exhaling. “I’d say that’s a No. We’re going to have to stay

Klempner holds up hands, his expression disbelieving. “Here? You’re sure?”

“I’m sure. I’m looking at the top of a baby’s head. Cara's on her way.”

Klempner jerks a glance at me, then down at Charlotte. “You have got to be fucking kidding.” He rubs
at his forehead. Blows air. “Right… If that’s what we have…” Machine gun in hand, poised, he resumes
his vigil.

Charlotte’s eyes widen. “Father…”

He turns back to her, his gaze level. “Let me worry about this end of things. You have a job to do.” His
lips twitch.

And briefly, so do hers. Then her face crumples as the next contraction takes her.

Screaming and crying, it’s more than just the pain. I know Charlotte can handle pain. And she’s hard to
frighten… But she’s hard-pressed to cope with feeling helpless.

Panic marches over her face. “Oh, God… Michael, Father. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’re both in danger
because of me… What are we going to do? I can’t…”

Klempner watches, apparently impassive, then striding over, he hunkers down beside her

Gripping her chin, he forces her face to his. “Jenny, this isn’t you speaking. This isn’t Jennifer. I’ve
known you all your life, even when you didn’t know me. And I’ve seen you in action...”

He jolts her chin between his fingers. It’s gentle, but it’s a jolt. “… You don’t give in to pain or fear. You
never have. You’re not going to start now…”

Her eyes, green and wide, stay locked on his, pupils shrinking then dilating…

“If you’re afraid…” He jerks her chin once more… “… then use the adrenaline. If you’re in pain, then
make the pain work for you. We’re here now. Our task, mine and…” He thumbs to me. “… your
Michael’s, is to protect you and your baby. Your task is to get her out into the world. And after that…”

He releases her and stands, looking down…” … After that, whatever Baxter or Finchby might think, we
will be leaving. You understand me?”

Charlotte heaves breath, her gaze still locked to his.

“You understand me?” he repeats.

She nods. Her breathing is rapid, her face streaming sweat. Her eyes shift to meet mine then squeeze
closed as a muscular ripple flows over her stomach. Lips peeling back, teeth bared, face flushing

scarlet, she grips me, groaning, fingers biting into my arm.

But the fear has left her face.

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