|Primary Characters:||Barbara Havers, Peter Lynley, Thomas Lynley, Deborah St James, Winston Nkata|
|Warning:||violence, non-consenting m/m sex, adult themes|
|Description:||An old enemy shows up, intent on revenge. Will Barbara be able to save her boyfriend and her former boss in time?|
Deborah St James – or Cotter – as she now liked to call herself, settled into her new job and found that she very much enjoyed it. For the first time in her life – or close enough – she was working for a living and that turned out to be even more satisfying than she had expected.
The evenings at Barbara Havers’ house could be a little awkward at times. With three adults, a dog and a cat, it inevitably became crowded.
Barbara’s little neighbour and friend Haddiya, who didn’t show up nearly as much as before, now that she had a stepmoter and a baby sister, caught sight of Peach one day and was delighted. Despite numerous admonitions from her father, she couldn’t resist sneaking back over to Barbara’s place to see the dog. It wasn’t long until she discovered there was a cat as well.
She had pestered her new stepmother endlessly about being allowed to keep a pet and in the end, her father and Rachel had agreed that she could keep two guinea pigs in her room, as long as Rachel kept an eye on their care. That turned out to be needless. Haddiya borrowed books from the school library and studied every aspect of guinea pig care, then turned the theory into practice.
Those two pets might well have been the best kept ones in their entire area. But the delights of playing with a dog and a cat held a certain allure for a child of Haddiya’s age. So she kept returning, knowing that she was being naughty, but still couldn’t resist.
For a while, Barbara was afraid Deborah, who couldn’t have children of her own, might be upset at meeting a child, but that fear turned out to be groundless. Deborah ended up falling for the girl’s charm just like Barbara had and later Peter.
Peter found a new job in a second hand book shop, and eventually, Barbara began to hope that her boyfriend would finally be able to stay away from the drugs that had blighted most of his adult life.
In the mornings, Barbara and Deborah went in to work together, leaving Peter to walk to the book shop, close to an hour later.
Deborah finished at lunch, went home and tried to make herself useful around the house. Since Barbara herself barely managed to vacuum the place over the weekends and usually called for takeout, so there wouldn’t be too many dishes to wash up, didn’t mind the extra help.
Peter tried his hand at cooking and together, he and Deborah were able to introduce simple home cooking in their little household.
Most of the police officers had heard about Deborah’s husband, but there was very little talk about her divorce. For one thing, their work kept them busy. Whatever talk there was never reached Deborah’s ears.
Winston Nkata, who was now working almost exclusively with Barbara Havers, ended up seeing rather more of their new secretary than the other police officers, but Barbara didn’t make much of that. So it was a total surprise to her when one day Deborah announced that she would be moving out.
It was on a Friday night, when Barbara for once had been able to leave work early, that the revelation came.
Peter had been looking through the video rental ads to decide on which movies they’d watch over the weekend, Barbara was just finishing her tea, while Alaska lay on the radiator and Peach tried to look inconspicuous on the couch, where she knew very well she wasn’t allowed, when Deborah began to speak.
“Listen, I have some news.”
Peter looked up from the newspaper and Barbara put her tea cup down. Peach opened her eyes and glanced warily at her mistress and their hosts. No, no one seemed to be paying attention to her. She might as well get some more rest.
When her hosts didn’t say anything, Deborah went on.
“I’m moving out.”
Barbara and Peter exchanged a glance. This was news to them.
“Did you find a flat?”
“In a way. I’ll be moving in with Winnie – Winston.”
Barbara had to press her lips shut so her mouth wouldn’t drop open. That was about the last thing she had expected to hear.
“What? Did you say Winnie?”
“Yes. Remember I’ve been going out with a friend a few times?”
“Yes, but I assumed it would be Mavis or Connie.”
“Why not? Winnie has been sweet. I don’t know if it’s because we’re closer in age or if he’s simply a more laidback fellow, but he doesn’t boss me around like Simon always did. And anyway, he has a nice flat of his own and I can rent one of the rooms.”
“So you’re just going to be living there as his room mate?”
Peter had known Deborah for years, just like everyone else in the Lynley family, and this was sensational news.
“Well, you have to admit it’s ideal. But -”
Peter wasn’t sure, but he thought Deborah’s rosy face turned a shade rosier. So that was it.
“He’s absolutely wonderful.”
Barbara smiled, delighted at this news, even if she was stunned as much as pleased.
“That’s our Winnie, alright. Mr Wonderful. This is fantastic, Deborah.”
“I’m glad you think so. So I – Winnie’s picking me up in an hour or so. I’d better finish packing.”
“And you’ll be bringing the kids too?”
“Of course. Winnie says he loves dogs and he doesn’t have anything against cats.”
“Alright then. I’ll come along and keep you company. Peter will carry your bags out to the car, won’t you?”
“No problem. Congratulations, Deb. I wish you all the best.”
“Thanks. I want you to know that you’ve been absolute angels, both of you.”
Deborah again hugged Barbara, then Peter.
Just over an hour later, Peter put the last of Deborah’s bags into the trunk of Winston’s car. Barbara carried the cat carrier and put it on Deborah’s lap. Winston picked Peach up and deposited her on the backseat of his car.
As they drove off, Barbara and Peter stood at the kerb, waving at the receding car. When they’d seen the last of it, they returned inside.
Barbara shook her head in amazement.
“Well, that was totally unexpected. Winnie’s a sly one. He never as much as hinted at this. And we work together twelve hours a day.”
“And Deb never mentioned it either. Hm. I wonder how Simon will feel about this. And Tommy.”
“That’s right. He and Deborah used to be an item before Helen. I’d forgotten. How do you think they’ll take this?”
“Tommy knows Winston, right? Hm. I don’t know. You probably know Tommy better than I do.”
Sensing that Peter’s mood had changed, Barbara reached up and ruffled his hair. It might have been a condescending gesture, given that Peter was younger than she was, but Peter didn’t take it that way. Instead, his face split into a wide grin.
“How about going to see a movie?”
“To the cinema? I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be nicer to just curl up on the couch and watch something at home?”
“You’re reading my mind. I’ll go to the video shop and I’ll pick up some groceries on the way back.”
“Chinese takeout? Italian?”
“No, no. I’ll fix us something. It’s fun and probably healthier.”
Barbara rolled her eyes exaggeratedly.
“Healthier? That’s what I get for living with a toff.”
“Toff? Me? You must have me confused with someone else, love.”
“Off you go then. I’ll have a packet of crisps and a coca cola while you’re gone. Just so you know.”
“No, you won’t. You know I’ll fix you something much tastier. Besides, you can’t wait to have me back, so you’ll just be waiting by the window.”
When she heard the door close behind Peter, Barbara couldn’t help laughing. It was so much better to have someone waiting for you. Especially someone like Peter. She couldn’t remember anyone treating her better than this. No one could make her happier.
Peter’s job at the book shop was part time too, so he ended up spending quite a lot of time alone in the flat. Especially now that Deborah had moved out. Barbara’s work usually kept her away from home until late in the evenings and even sometimes during the nights and weekends.
Trying to take advantage of the extra time, Peter decided to take up one of his courses again. This time at the University of London. He only studied part time, but when he had time off from work, he used it to catch up on his reading.
Now that he wasn’t constantly craving a drug, his mind had no trouble grasping the theoretical concepts of his textbooks. He actually found that he enjoyed it.
One afternoon, he was sitting at the table in the living room, when he thought he heard one of the bedroom windows slamming against the wall. He got up to close it, but before he reached even halfway to the window, someone slammed into him and pushed him over.
After a few minutes of wrestling, a fist made contact with Peter’s chin and he blacked out. When he came to, he was lying on the bed, securely tied to the bed posts. A familiar face was hovering above him.
This was far too much like the nightmares he’d suffered from while undergoing treatment for his drug addiction, but this time, he knew he was wide awake.
Trevor. His mind raced, trying to figure out how Trevor had discovered where he lived. Peter’s next thought was for Barbara. What if she came home – what time was it? When could he expect her back? If she walked into this – whatever it was Trevor had in mind – That simply couldn’t be allowed to happen. But he didn’t have any idea of how to stop Trevor.
“Oh, you’re awake. Good. I wouldn’t want you to miss anything of what I have to – show you. But first things first. You’re having a little reunion, Peter, darling. A reunion of friends and loved ones. Hold on a moment while I ring your big brother.”
He couldn’t be serious. With startling clarity, Peter recalled just how much he’d once dreaded having his brother find out about his situation. Trevor had used it to threaten him. Somehow, he had to find a way of keeping Tommy safe.
“Trevor, please. You don’t need Tommy. Whatever you want to do, leave him out of it. He’s never done anything to you.”
“Tommy? Ah, yes. Lord Asherton. But I’m afraid I must insist.”
Trevor busied himself with the telephone. Peter was straining against the clothes line that was eating into his wrists and ankles. He recognized it. It was blue, not white. He and Barbara had bought it only last week, because the old one had worn out and some of their washing had fallen to the muddy ground.
“Hello. You don’t know me, but we have a mutual friend. Peter. Your brother. That’s right. in fact, I have an invitation for you. Now. I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sure dear Peter will be even sorrier. No, you listen to me. if you don’t get here right away, I will – let’s just say you’ll hardly recognize your little brother when I’m through with him. So you’d better get here fast. How do you know he’s here? I could tell you to take my word for it. Can you afford to take the chance? Perhaps. Something tells me you and your little brother aren’t as close as one might expect. But alright. Hold on a moment. Peter. Say something to big brother.”
Trevor held the receiver over Peter’s face.
“Tommy, don’t come here.”
“Of course, you’ll do as you like, but unless you’d like that to be the last words you hear from your little brother – Where? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t say, did I?”
Trevor told Lynley the address, then hung up.
Lynley remained standing with the phone in his hand, a puzzled look on his face. That was Barbara Havers’ address. The caller had refused to give his name. Could it be someone Peter had got to know while he was a drugg addict?
It never occurred to Lynley to contact the police. Instead, he called for a taxi and gave Barbara’s address.
Lynley rang the doorbell and waited. There was no reply. If the phone call had been a hoax – Peter would hear from him. He raised his hand and knocked. Still no reply. Eventually, fed up with waiting, Lynley tried the door handle. The door opened easily.
“Hello. Anyone there?”
All was quiet in the pocket-sized flat. This was getting annoying. He continued inside. The kitchen was empty, just like the tiny hallway. He glanced into the living room, which was empty too.
There he stopped, hesitating. It felt rather awkward, bursting into someone’s bedroom, but on the other hand, he might as well make sure.
The door to the bedroom was closed, but not locked, so he took one step inside. His brother was lying on the bed, tied to the bedposts. What was going on? Peter was making frantic faces to him, but he didn’t have time to reply. Something hit him on the temple and he folded up and hit the floor.
When he came to, he was tied to the bed, with Peter beside him.
A man was sitting at the foot of the bed, gazing at them, an odd look on his face.
Lynley still felt more angry than afraid.
“Now, listen here. Whoever you are -”
“Oh, dear. I must have forgotten to make the introductions. My name is Trevor Burns. I’m surprised Peter never mentioned me. After all, once we were close. Intimate in fact. How quickly they forget. And you are Lord Asherton. Thomas Lynley. Tommy. Peter’s big brother. How nice to finally meet you.”
Lynley glanced at Peter, who looked as if he was barely there. His eyes were glazed over in a way that suggested to Lynley that his brother was high again. So much for his good intentions.
“What? You have nothing to say to me? Well. Good manners don’t seem to be part of the aristocratic upbringing.”
“Let us go at once. If you don’t, this place will be swarming with police before long. You’d better get out of here right now.”
“Impressive. But I don’t think anyone knows you’re here. And Peter’s little tart won’t be back until much later. She never is, is she? Besides, I’ve made sure. I called and asked for her, didn’t I? She’ll be busy until all hours, so we have all the time in the world. I brought you something. Peter, love. Look what I have for you.”
Trevor brandished a syringe.
“Prime stuff. Direct import from Holland. And there’s plenty. Enough for both of you.”
Now Lynley noticed that the man – Burns – had lined up all the paraphernalia for drug use.
Lynley began to squirm and strain against the clothes line that tied him to the bed. It was no use.
Burns bent over Lynley and despite his frantic efforts to twist out of the way, injected him with a dose of something – Lynley thought it might be heroin, but he was by no means an expert.
He then proceeded to the same to Peter.
It occurred to Lynley that Peter hadn’t been strung out before, just terrified. A memory stirred at the back of Lynley’s mind. Trevor Burns. The man who had –
Burns pulled out a chair and waited for a few minutes, studying his prisoners intently. Once he deemed the drug had taken effect, he untied Peter’s legs, then released him from the bed, but instead tied his hands behind his back.
“There. Much more comfortable.”
To Lynley’s horror, the man now began to touch Peter’s face, then moved on further down his body. He tore Peter’s shirt open and began to fondle his chest. Peter’s face began to twitch oddly and Lynley realized his brother was trying not to burst into tears, just as when he was a child.
Knowing there was nothing he could do to stop this man Burns, from exacting his revenge, Lynley closed his eyes, but when he heard Peter gasp and begin to babble, he opened them again. Burns had Peter kneeling in front of him.
Despite everything, Lynley couldn’t keep quiet anymore.
“Leave him alone.”
“Don’t be jealous. I’ll get to you in a moment. Ah. That’s better. Peter’s a pro, but you knew that didn’t you, my lord?”
Lynley had to bite his lower lip to stop himself from crying out. He didn’t want to watch this, so again, he closed his eyes, wondering how long it would be until someone missed him. It hit him that no one would. He was living alone in his house these days and he only kept in touch with mother and Judy sporadically. When Helen had died, he’d distanced himself from Barbara.
Barbara. When would she be back? Late in the evening? Time enough for Burns to get his revenge and kill them both. No good.
Burns was leaning against the dresser behind him, and apparently wasn’t paying attention to anything but the young man on his knees before him. A resounding crash made Lynley open his eyes. The telephone was lying on the floor, the receiver off its rest.
Burns was holding on to Peter’s head, but apparently the outrage was over for the time being. After a few more minutes, Burns pushed Peter back onto the bed. He unbuttoned Peter’s jeans and began to pull them down.
Idly, he fondled Peter for a few minutes, but there was no reaction of the kind he might have been hoping for. With a sneer, he turned to Lynley.
“Mm. You never told me your brother was such a smasher, did you, Peter? I’ll bet you had a big crush on him, growing up? Can’t say I blame you. Tommy, you went to one of those posh schools, didn’t you? This kind of thing must be nothing new to you. Good. That will save us some time.”
To Lynley’s horror, Burns got on the bed and straddled his face. Peter began to sob loudly.
“Leave Tommy alone. I’ll – do it.”
“Aw, how sweet. You are jealous, but there’s no need for that. There’s enough of me for both of you.”
He raised his hand in the air and began to slap Lynley’s face repeatedly. When that didn’t have the desired effect, he made a fist and began again.
“Hm. You’re not frightened enough. Or I’m not your type. Will this help?”
Now Burns had a knife in his hand. He pointed it against Lynley’s right eye and moved it about, tickling the skin.
Convinced by now, that Burns was fully capable of making good his threat, Lynley complied to the accompaniment of Peter’s sobs.
This soon after the last time, it wasn’t long before Burns lost interest and began to fondle Lynley, the same way he’d touched his brother moments before.
He retreated to the foot of the bed, and appeared to be considering the situation.
“I never knew you and your brother were so – attached to each other. Let’s see how partial you are.”
He grabbed Peter by the neck and shoved his face against Lynley’s groin. By now, Peter was crying openly and his face was a mess of tears and nasal mucus. He looked so much like the little boy he’d once been, Lynley had to fight to keep his own tears at bay. This was a nightmare beyond his comprehension.
Studying his victims dispassionately, Burns seemed to come to a decision. He placed the knife against Lynley’s neck and nicked the skin hard enough to draw blood. It was just a scratch, but Lynley had no doubts he was serious.
“Alright. Let’s build up to it. Up you go.”
He again grabbed Peter by the neck and this time shoved his face up against his brother’s. Burns moved the knife slightly, so it touched both men’s necks.
Shaking with sobs, Peter didn’t dare not to obey. Lynley closed his eyes when he felt his brother’s lips brush his.
“Do it properly.”
Again, Burns wriggled the knife blade a little, to show he was serious.
For a second, Peter’s tongue penetrated Lynley’s lips. At this point, the terror that held them in thrall made the sensation strangely irrelevant.
“That’s better. Just a little more feeling. I know you can do better than that, Peter and I’m sure brother dear can too.”
They tried again, hoping that this time, their tormentor would be content. It seemed he was, but that was no improvement. Once again, he pushed Peter down to his brother’s groin and left him there.
“I’m waiting. Let me tell you, Tommy, your Lordship, you won’t be sorry. Like I told you before, Peter’s a pro. The best head I’ve had in years.”
Lynley felt Peter scramble away, as if he’d been burned, and saw him turn and face Trevor, a look of such submission on his face, Lynley wanted to roar out his rage against their torturer.
“Trevor, please. I’ll do anything. Just not that.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll find a way. Or you’ll be watching your brother die. What’s it going to be?”
Breathlessly, Lynley awaited Peter’s reply.
An unexpected turn of events made it possible for Barbara to return hours ahead of schedule. It was nothing less than the return of the suspected victim, alive and well. A crime had still been committed, but now it seemed an other department would be handling the case.
So Barbara and Winston found themselves back at headquarters hours earlier than expected. Deborah had already left, and Barbara told Winston to go on too.
He grinned happily at her.
“Thanks, Barb. I owe you.”
“Don’t you forget it. I’ll just have a quick look at my desk and if there’s nothing really urgent, I’ll be going home too. See you tomorrow.”
“No, I’ll wait for you. Go on.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I’ll drop you off at home.”
“Does that mean we’re even?”
“I suppose so.”
Barbara looked over her desk. As usual there were untidy piles of paperwork, bearing little or no resemblance to most officers’ tidy desktops.
Just as she was about to go, Barbara caught sight of a post-it note, in Deborah’s handwriting. Barbara squinted at it. While Deborah wrote in a beautiful script, it was also just a bit hard to make out. Someone had called and asked for her, not giving a name. This person wanted to know how long she’d be out.
It wouldn’t be Peter, because if that was the case, Deborah would have used his name. The same could be said about Lynley or anyone else that Deborah knew personally. It was odd. But since there was nothing more to the message, Barbara shrugged and let it go, crumbling up the note and tossing it into the wastebasket.
Winston was waiting for her by the coffee machine.
“That was quick. Nothing interesting?”
“No. Just a note from Deborah. Someone had called and asked for me, but didn’t give his name.”
“That was odd.”
“I know. Never mind. Let’s go.”
Winston dropped her off at the kerb, and was about to pull out again, when he saw a vaguely familar figure skipping in their direction. It was the little girl who lived in the house next to Barbara’s.
“Hello, Barbara. You’re a police officer, aren’t you?”
“Is your friend one too?”
She pointed at Winston, who grinned and waved at her. She waved back, but the serious look on her face was still there.
“Yes. What is it? Has someone been bullying you in school?”
“No. A man came to your house.”
A vague feeling of unease settled over Barbara. Someone had asked about her. Someone who wanted to make sure she would be away from home until late?
“Yes. I see. What did the man do?”
“He broke a window on the back of the house. The window into your bedroom.”
Barbara suddenly felt cold. Peter had been planning on being in all day, studying. What if – In her line of work, you invariably became the target of threats. Some more serious than others. She couldn’t recall anything like that in the past three or four months, but that was no guarantee. Someone might have been released from prison or come back into the city from somewhere else.
She turned and nodded at Winston. He had watched the exchange with interest and had already turned off the engine. When Barbara gestured for him to approach her and the girl, he jumped out of the car, lithe as a cat.
“Anything the matter?”
“I’m not sure. Haddiya says someone has broken into my house.”
“Oh. Was this long ago?”
“I think about two hours ago. Almost.”
“Right. Anything else?”
Barbara gazed somberly at her little friend.
“Yes. Peter’s brother, your boss, came here too.”
“Tommy? I think he said his name was Tommy. Your boss.”
“Before or after this other man broke in?”
“And they’re still in there?”
“I think so. I didn’t see them leave.”
“Thank you, Haddiya. You’ve been very helpful. Now go on home again. Is Rachel in?”
“Yes. So is the baby.”
“Stay there. Tell Rachel to call the police. Tell her to say a crime might be in progress here, at my address. Can you do that?”
“Don’t go out again. Not you, or Rachel and the baby. Or your dad if he comes home. You’re all to stay in your house until someone comes to tell you it’s safe to go outside again. Me or Winston here or some other police officer. Can you remember all that?”
“Yes, of course. Barbara? Is Peter in danger?”
A shiver went down Barbara’s spine. Yes, what if he was? And Lynley too.
“We’ll do our best to make sure he’s safe, and his brother too. Remember, we don’t know anything yet. That man might be gone already and nothing’s wrong. But just to be on the safe side, go inside now and tell Rachel what I told you.”
“Bye, Barbara. Bye, Winston.”
They watched the girl vanish into her home, then turned to face each other. Winston already looked more like a police officer than her laidback friend.
“I’ll go round the back.”
“But stay out of sight until you hear me call you. I’ll try to get in through the front door.”
“Shouldn’t you wait for backup?”
She shot him a look that silenced him. With her boyfriend and their former gov in there, possibly at the mercy of some sadistic killer, she wasn’t going to wait around. Every second counted.
“You have something I could use as a weapon? A spade? An axe?”
“Nothing like that.”
“Right. I’ll get the wrench from the car.”
“Do you have anything for me?”
“There’s my cricket bat.”
Barbara watched Winston disappear around the corner of her house, then walked up the front steps. The door wasn’t locked, so she opened it as quietly as she could. She was grateful the hinges were kept well-oiled. All service included in the rent. No wonder she’d been pleased when she’d finally found the flat.
She made her way through the hallway, straining her ears for any sound. The door to the kitchen was standing open and so did the one into the living room. There was no one in either room.
The sound of voices came from the bedroom and she tiptoed over there and pressed her ear to the door, which was standing partially open. Someone was whimpering in pain or fear. Another voice was speaking, ordering someone to do something. She dared to look inside.
A man was standing over her bed, his back to her. Two men were lying on it, one tied to the bedposts, the other –
The man who was standing over the bed had a knife to Lynley’s neck. There was no way Winston could get inside in time and the backup, when it came, would be too late. It would be up to her.
She estimated that she would be able to squeeze through the doorway, without causing the door to move. If she was able to get close enough to the man with the knife, she might be able to knock him out or at least push him away from the bed. That might give Winston time to get here. If not, she’d deal with him herself, somehow.
She’d estimated correctly and as far as she could tell, she hadn’t made any noise, but at the last moment, the man, who looked vaguely familiar, turned. Not waiting for him to react, she tackled him. Caught off guard, the man hit the ground, with Barbara on top. She didn’t give him a chance to fight back. The cricket bat in her hand moved as if of its own volition.
What she’d seen on the bed – Peter partially undressed, just like his brother, that man with a hand on Peter’s neck, commanding him to – and who knew what else that sick bastard had put them through? Someone was going to pay for that and she had the man responsible right here.
Barbara hardly noticed the sound of footsteps approaching, until Winston was behind her, speaking urgently into her ear.
“Barb. That’s enough. He’s down.”
She heard his voice, but not a word of what he was saying got through to her. The cricket bat danced on the creep’s back and arms.
As if from far away, another voice reached her. Someone familiar. She was used to obeying that voice.
“Barbara. Put the bat down. He’s had enough. It’s over.”
Not until now, did she feel hot tears flowing down her face.
“No. He – deserves to -”
“It’s not worth it. Look at me, Barbara. Peter needs you.”
She couldn’t not look. Peter was curled up at the foot of the bed, rocking slowly back and forth, seemingly not aware of his surroundings. Lynley. Her gov, her former gov – was in no better shape. There was an odd look in his eyes, as if they were glazed over. In pain? Shock? Drugged? Now that she’d noticed, she remembered that his voice had sounded strangely slurry. Not at all his usual self.
The bat fell from her fingers, unnoticed and she barely registered that Winston picked it up, then handcuffed the suspect.
She smothered a sob and got onto the bed, to hold Peter. Only now did she notice that his hands were tied behind his back.
Winston’s calm voice came through to her again.
“Barb – give me your cuffs, and I’ll secure this bastard to the wall somewhere.”
She reached into her pocket, brought the handcuffs out and handed them to Winston.
He grabbed the wall radiator and pulled. It seemed sturdy enough. Adding Barbara’s cuffs to the ones the suspect was already wearing, he managed to secure him to the wall. In any case, he was unconscious. Not badly injured, Winston guessed. Barbara wouldn’t hit him over the head. There was no sign of blood anywhere on his head or neck. She must have been aiming at his back and arms.
Now that he took a closer look, he realized that the suspect’s pants were open and partially down. So were – bloody hell. His former gov and his younger brother. What had that sicko done to them?
Turning to more practical matters, he studied the bonds, tying them to the bed. He wouldn’t be able to work them loose on his own. There should be something in the kitchen.
Barbara was sitting on the bed, rocking her boyfriend in her arms. Not wanting to see more, Winston fled into the kitchen.
He returned with a knife to cut the clothes line. Lynley’s wrists were alternately red and white, where the thin line had eaten into his skin.
Handing the knife to Barbara, Winston waited while she cut her boyfriend free, then took the knife back. He’d probably contaminated the crime scene, but what else could he have done?
Another thing struck him. There was a syringe lying on the dresser by the window. All the paraphernalia needed for drug use. His eyes found the telltale red mark on Lynley’s arm and he assumed there was one on the brother’s too. He was hoping that creep hadn’t used a soiled needle.
The whole scene was too – private – too intimate. Winston knew Lynley wouldn’t have wanted him to witness any of it. And what seemed to have been going on – would a police officer, or for that matter, any man wish his humiliation to be known? Winston decided that whatever story the three people in the room – not counting the culprit – decided to tell, he’d back them up.
That reminded him. He returned to the suspect and unlocked the handcuffs holding him in place, then dragged him into the hallway. There was another radiator there. Besides, he could already hear the sounds of sirens approaching.
When Barbara looked up, Winston and the bastard who had done this to Peter were both gone. Her gov had straightened out his clothes. That reminded her. Peter’s pants were partially down. She needed to make a decision. Fast.
Recalling how Peter had reacted to her finding out about his degradation, helped her make the decision. Hastily, before any of her colleagues should arrive on the scene, she pulled up his pants and zipped them. She felt Lynley’s gaze on her.
“Barbara – please – don’t -”
She nodded, as the humiliating tears kept flowing down her face. Not trusting her voice at the moment, she nodded again. That seemed to satisfy Lynley.
It went against all her instincts as a police officer, but this – this was her boyfriend and his family. If they didn’t want the world to know what had happened to them, she would back them up. Whatever happened, their welfare had to come first.
She had a feeling the suspect would be convicted anyway. Only now did his name reappear in her mind. Trevor. Trevor Burns. The sick bastard who had exploited and taken advantage of Peter while he was still dependent on drugs. This time, he wouldn’t get away with what he’d done.
Her front door opened and suddenly, the house was a whirl of people coming and going. Sounds came and went, but Barbara only half noticed. For once, other people could do the work. Peter had to be her first priority.
As she held him, tears streaming down her face, sobs shaking her, all she could think of was that this shouldn’t have happened. Somehow, she should have kept Peter safe and she’d failed. If only she could go back and make things right. But with a numbing certainty, she knew that wasn’t possible. From now on, she vowed to herself, as the paramedics swarmed around them, she would watch over Peter. Nothing else must happen to him. She’d lost her brother, but she wouldn’t lose Peter.