Charlie and Samantha spent the next morning at the police station in Dover with detectives making statements about the deaths in the manor house in Westcliffe. The police found the registration number Samantha had taken of the black Audi to be false and the forensics’ team was still checking the murder scene for any incriminating evidence. Charlie argued that the hit men involved could also have been responsible for his brother’s death, a possibility that appeared to be lost on the plods. He finished his statement and waiting in the reception for Samantha to finish, took out his phone and called the police in Southampton for anything further on James. It was not good news as they were calling off the search. Despite his understandable protests, they told Charlie there was no hope of his brother still being alive and nothing would be gained by continuing to look for him. The police advised him to get a court order directing the local registrar in Southampton to issue a death certificate, as because of the absence of a body, a doctor’s certification could not be given under the circumstances and funeral would not be possible. Charlie realised he would have to prepare for a memorial service for James. He used the rest of the time to check out Lord Westcliffe and even found his address in London. As the detectives had shown little interest when Charlie had told them that Westcliffe could be the ringleader, he decided it was time to take the law into his own hands. He paced up and down the reception, growing impatient, until Samantha came out and they walked out to the car park, got in the Jaguar and drove off. Charlie’s phone rang and taking it out of his pocket, he glanced at the display. Not recognising the number, he nearly didn’t take the call, but passed it to Samantha to answer.
‘James!’ shrieked Samantha.
‘Shit!’ swore Charlie in surprise, almost ramming a van in front that had stopped for traffic on a roundabout.
‘Where are you?’ they both shouted in unison.
‘Here Sam, give me the phone.’
‘Jimbo, it’s Charlie.’
‘Hi bro, I’m here in Dover.’
‘What the bloody hell’s going on? You’re supposed to be dead!’
‘I can’t stay on the phone long. Can you pick me up and I’ll explain everything to you?’
‘Where are you?’
‘Outside the Co-op next to Lloyds bank.’
‘Be there in five.’ said Charlie, speeding on to the roundabout.
Less than five minutes later, Charlie pulled the Jag up outside with a screech of tyres and Samantha leapt out and flung her arms round James.
‘Oh James. It’s so good to see you again.’
‘Come on, let’s get going.’ shouted Charlie and she jumped in the back of the sports car as James leapt in the front, slamming the door.
‘Oy, mind the door!’ shouted Charlie as a chunk of rusty metal fell off. He put the Jag in gear and roared away with James looking behind for any tails.
‘I’ll drop you off first, Sam.’
‘No you won’t Charlie. I’ve been in this from the start and I want to be there at the finish.’
Before Charlie could reply, Samantha said, ‘I can’t believe your safe James.’
‘It’s good to see you again, Sam!’ replied James, looking over his shoulder at her with a reassuring smile.
‘OK, Sam, but you’re not getting involved if it gets heavy up there.’ insisted Charlie.
‘Where are we off to then, Bro?’
‘London, to see the guy who tried to kill you. We’ve got a score to settle and on the way you can tell us how the hell you survived that boat explosion.’
Charlie powered the Jag up the hill out of Dover and began putting James in the picture.
‘We’ve both been busy in your absence, Jimbo.’ Charlie informed his brother, gesturing to Samantha squeezed in the back.
‘We’ve found out who the character is running this Link, the secret society the deputy prime minister mentioned in his last speech before his untimely death, which is going around knocking people off.’
‘You have? Who?’
‘One Lord Thomas Westcliffe. If you hadn’t just surfaced, James, I would have killed the bastard with my own bare hands.’
‘Charlie, you’ve got to stay out of this, these sound like ruthless and dangerous men.’
‘Bugger that, James! They went too far when they tried to take you out. They’ve made it personal and besides, I’ve got a story to write!’
Charlie dropped it down a gear and accelerated onto the M20 heading for London He wondered if the capital’s traffic would be heavier than normal, as he knew it was the last day of the US president’s state visit.
‘So, Jimbo, tell me.’ prompted Charlie as they sped along the motorway. James started to explain the events that had so nearly killed him.
‘I got on the boat to sort out the engine problem and found a time bomb strapped to the fuel tank. The bomb’s timer was ticking so I didn’t have much time and I couldn’t just scarper off the boat and let it explode. It would have been a bloody disaster if it had gone off in the marina with so many people around. There was enough explosive to blow a hole in the Titanic!’
‘So what did you do?’ exclaimed Samantha, listening anxiously.
‘I cut the mooring lines, started the engine and motored her out of the marina, praying that the engine would keep going and not stop.’
‘But how did you escape the explosion?’ asked Charlie.
‘I pulled on my wetsuit, grabbed my spook survival kit in a plastic waterproof wallet I’d hidden on board for just that kind of emergency, and dived overboard. I just swam far enough away before it went up, but it was a close call.’
‘James, I’m so proud of you.’ praised Samantha. ‘You saved many lives, including mine.’
‘All in a day’s work, you know.’
‘But why did you go into hiding?’
‘I went underground to draw the heat off whoever’s trying to kill me.’
‘So, you could say you’ve surfaced again!’ joked Charlie, relieved and happy that Jimbo was alive and well.
‘Nice one, if it wasn’t so serious!’ laughed James as Samantha groaned aloud at Charlie’s wit.
‘I’ve kept a survival kit on board for ages and it sure came in useful. I used the documents to give me a new identity, and the cash and a couple of burner phones to keep me going. Like I said before, Charlie, something big’s brewing up in London, and this lead you two have found could get us to the bottom of it.’
‘So why didn’t you let us know you were safe. Jimbo? I’ve been worried stiff.’
’Sorry Charlie, I thought it was best not to as I didn’t want to involve you until I had an idea of what was going down.
Charlie grunted and glanced at his watch.
‘Shouldn’t take long now, depending on the traffic.’
‘Good. After the explosion, I took the chance of contacting my boss, Michael Allerton, the head of MI5. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him, because he could be involved in whatever’s going down. Anyway, when he heard about the bomb, he agreed I should stay under the radar and find out what I could. I think he’s kosher, as he’s not sure who can be trusted in MI6 or, come to that, in our own agency.’
Charlie put his foot down, intent on his confrontation with Westcliffe, as James used his phone.