Novel Name : Masters & Lovers Box Set Three

Chapter 29

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Twenty-Six Years Ago

A cop in blue uniform enters the bar. “Would you be Angelo?”

The barman pauses in swiping a towel through a glass, brow wrinkling. “That’s me, yes. Something I
can do for you?”

“I’m looking for a woman who frequents here. Goes by the name of Mitch.”

The brow uncreases, his expression flattening. “Mitch? Barely seen her the last few weeks.”

“When did you last see her?”

Angelo pays strict attention to his polishing. “Couldn’t say.” His cloth works tight circles over the glass.

Taking off his sunglasses, the cop props elbows on the bar. “We know that she hangs out here,

The circles slow. “She never did any soliciting that I saw. I mean, she knew how to pull a guy, but that’s
different altogether isn’t it? Nothing illegal there.” The barman bends to his work again, concentrating
on some ingrained speck on perfectly polished glass.

The cop drums fingers on the bar-top, saying nothing; the kind of silence that sucks out the words.
After a minute, the drumming morphs to a single fingernail tap-tapping…

Angelo places the glass on a high shelf; reaches for another. “Look… however Mitch earned her living
before, I think she’s off it. I’m pretty sure she’s met a guy that… Well, I think they’re an item. Y’know
what I mean?”

“I’m not here about her soliciting. We’ve had word that she’s pushing.”

The glass drops, smashing as it hits hard tiles.

Angelo curses, flushes, then stoops under the bar to reappear with brush and dustpan. As he sweeps
up splinters, “Mitch? A pusher? Nah… She has no time for drugs. She stays clean herself and she
wouldn’t touch anyone else who went near them either.”

Lazy-eyed, the cop drawls, “That’s not what we’re being told.”

“You’re being told wrong. You’ve got the wrong woman.”

“In that case, she has nothing to worry about, has she? Where do we find her?”

“Couldn’t say.”

The cop leans forward, lowering his voice. “Tell me, does the hotel management know about your little
arrangement with her? Using their premises?” Crouched down by the floor, Angelo stiffens. “How does
it work? You cover for her, give her a safe environment, point her to empty rooms, and she gives you a
cut…? Am I on the right track here?”

The barman says nothing, straightening up to tip broken glass into the trash.

“I thought so. I’m guessing your bosses wouldn’t be too happy if they knew about your little sideline on
their premises eh?” The cop leans in further. “Look, I’m not interested in you. It’s her we’re looking for.
All I want is her address. After that, my interest in you is exhausted. You understand me?”

Angelo’s face sets then falls. Blinking, he snags a notepad from under the counter, scrawling a couple
of lines, then pushes it at the cop.

“Phone number too.”

Angelo scribbles another line…

“And her full name.”

… and then another.

“That will do nicely.” The cop scans the note; points with a yellowed fingernail. “Is that an eight or a

“A three.”

“Thank you.” The cop touches his cap... “Have a good day.” … and leaves.

Angelo stares after him, then down at the bar. After a moment he reaches for a bottle, pours a stiff
measure and knocks it back.



He heads for the phone, dials, waits…

… then curses as it clicks to ansaphone…

His voice low, “Mitch, it’s Angelo. If you’re listening, pick up the phone… Mitch are you there? Pick up
the phone. It’s urgent…”


He curses under his breath then, “Mitch, I don’t know what’s happening, but the police are looking for
you. They say you’re dealing in drugs…. I’m… I’m sorry. I had to give them your address.”

He hangs up the receiver, then resting his forehead against the wall, closes his eyes.


Twenty-Six Years Ago

In her apartment…

… Her old apartment…

… Her own apartment…

… Mitch paces endlessly.

Returning to the new apartment, the one he says is hers, is not to be considered.

Is that how he traps them?

Tempts them in?


Why bother?

Surely there’re easier ways?

Pain stabs through her temples.

The girls…




Her stomach tumbles. Vomit threatens to rise.

The police?

Would they believe her?



He’s important… Powerful…

He must have connections…

Someone must know….


She wants to tremble, to quake; to surrender to the panic that threatens to engulf her.


The cloud of pain behind her eyes swells. Nausea rises again.

Take a couple of paracetamols?

No… Sticking plaster over the wound…

She goes to the kitchen, makes peppermint tea. Back in the lounge, cradling the mug in her hands, she
sips at the tea. It doesn’t help.

Would wine be better?

And a hot bath…

Clear her head, then decide what to do.

How to get them out…

In her small bathroom, she sets hot water running, pours in oil, choosing her favourites to relax with;
lavender-scented steam billows.

While the water runs, she turns on some music. Soft enough to settle her. Loud enough to block out the
world. Back in the kitchen, she hovers between two bottles:

Red or white?


Glass in hand, she retreats to her warm refuge, closes the door to keep in the heat and the scent.
Sinking into warm foam, holding her wine, she closes her eyes, lets the music drift over her.

In the lounge, her phone rings…


The bath helps. The wine helps.

Mitch is still jittery, uncertain; but the panic that threatened to overwhelm her is under control again.

Who can she talk to?

Who would believe her?

Her gaze sliding sidelong to her desk, she eyes the under-cupboard.

The key turns smoothly, and she extracts a card-file, heavy and well-used.

Who does she know?

Who is more than just a client?

And who has enough influence that people have to pay attention?

She stands, pours herself another small glass of the wine, then opens the file, flicking through a card at
a time.




Government official - low down the hierarchy…

She pauses at one…


Then swings her head…

… Small time… Family practice…

… and replaces it.


Circuit judge… Jay… Nice. Likes her. He’ll believe her…

No phone number…

Expelling air, she slots the card back.

The next card she takes, she stares at, considering…

The Police Commissioner…

Klempner must know someone… Someone who keeps it hushed…

Could it be?

Too risky…

Blinking, she replaces the card.



Just the man.

She copies down the phone number then replaces the card in its place in the file; replaces the file in its
spot under the desk…

There’s a bang on the door; loud, more than a knock; the thump of a fist. “Police! Open up!”

She shrieks, jerking back, wine spilling over couch and carpet.

The banging comes again; the hammering of knuckles on timber. “Open up! Michelle Kimberley. We
know you’re in there.”

Shrinking back against the wall, the farthest corner of the room...

Is it really the police?

The banging continues. “Open up or we’ll break the door down.”

Shaking, she huddles further into the corner. Within seconds, the hammer of knuckles turns to the
crash of boots. With the wrenching of tortured metal and splintered wood, the door caves in on the end
of the foot of a man in blue uniform.

He steps inside, strides towards her, followed by others. “Michelle Kimberley. You are under arrest on
suspicion of the possession and distribution of narcotics. You have the right to remain silent…”

She screams and cries, protesting innocence as her wrists are cuffed. No-one listens to her protests as
she is dragged from her home. In the corridor, faces watch from doorways; the dead eyes of the
curious following the two officers restraining her, manhandling her away and out.

No-one speaks up.

Hey… That’s Mitch. Known her for years….

No-one tries to help.

In the hall to the stairwell, another officer stands looking out of the window, his back turned as the
weeping Mitch is taken. The doors to the stairs swing closed behind them. The sound fades. He turns,
nudging his cap back with his knuckles, then ambles to the apartment. There’s no urgency now.

One man remains, methodically going through drawers and cupboards. “Hi, Corby. How’re ya doin’?
Didn’t know you were in on this? Thought it was just Drugs involved.”

“Hi Jack. Yeah, but it was one of mine put the word on her. And there could be an overlap with Vice.
Mind if I take a look around?”

“Not at all. Help yourself. Looking for anything particular?”

“Not really. I’ll know it if I see it. You know how it is…”

“Yeah, I know. Let me know if you come up with anything.”


Bech moves casually around, watching under his brows where Jack rummages through cupboards and

Jack’s radio crackles. He straightens up. “Can you hold the fort for five?”


Bech watches him out then, moving briskly, goes through to the bedroom, pushing an envelope under
the mattress, fat with contents. Then though to the kitchen; a brief inspection of drawers containing
cutlery, wash rags, greaseproof and foil. He slips a collection of small plastic packets, stapled and each
containing a single tablet, between drying cloths. Then he relaxes.

Strolling through the apartment, his eyes graze surfaces, the bookshelves…

He pauses by the telephone, perched on a small cabinet, flips through a stack of directories and then
checks the drawer underneath, combing through notepads, knick-knacks, and odd and ends.

With a grunt of satisfaction, he finds a filofax, quickly riffling through the pages before slipping the book
into his pocket. Then, straightening up, he scans the apartment again.

The desk…

He opens the top drawer, fingering through postcards and pens, stapler and sticky-tape, paperclips and
postage stamps.

Nothing interesting…

He stoops, opens the cabinet below.


Quickly, he scoops up the index file and heads out. Jack is still speaking into his radio. Bech tucks the
index close, twisting so it’s out of sight; hails Jack with an arm. “Had a call. Gotta go.”

“Sure. Catch you later. Beer?”

“Yeah… see you at Marco’s.”

Lips pressed in a tight smirk, Bech leaves.


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