How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 10

Martine’s taxi was waiting for her at Edinburgh airport in the pouring rain. Luckily, the walk from the terminal to the car park was under cover most of the way so she didn’t get too wet. She thought back to the last few days spent at Bradley’s in the beautiful sunshine and warmth of Spain. Why would she want to stay permanently in Scotland for the rest of her life? Sure, it was a beautiful country with breath-taking scenery and nice people, but she had no roots there and to be honest, had fallen out of love with the place since her boozy antics and lustful encounters had become hot stories in the tabloids.

Not that she particularly wanted to return to Essex; that wasn’t the greatest place on earth and any remaining family and friends she had there had long since dropped her after what she did. No, that wasn’t going to be an option either. She would have to weigh up what was keeping her here, which was Sam, and what was the alternative?

She definitely had some feelings for Carlos, although it was far too early to commit to anything more serious than just enjoying his company, but there was a spark there.

As the taxi made its way over the Forth Road Bridge in the persistent drizzle, her mind wandered off to how it be living in Spain with Carlos. Endlessly sunny weather, lovely food, quality pace of life; all things that had to be taken seriously. Of course, she didn’t even have to move in with Carlos. She could afford to buy her own place in Mijas or nearby and just socialise with Carlos. Yes, that sounded like a decent plan, she thought as they pulled up at her house.

She paid the driver and ran up the drive to avoid getting too wet, her mind racing and full of positive thoughts. No need for the wine to get her happy any more, she had been given a second chance and she wasn’t going to let this one pass her by.

Once she had unpacked and made herself a cup of tea, she put the TV on to find it was still on the channel Sam had left it on the last time he was around. She didn’t mind leaving it on the Sports Channel, she secretly enjoyed seeing how Hearts and Arsenal had fared, imagining what it was like when her son played there. She was surprised to see both teams had lost; something she blamed on Bradley for not staying with them, she smiled.

Those same results had spelt a mini disaster for McNair who was glued to the same channel watching his money disappear, along with any chance of a nice bonus from McInally. He had only managed one winning bet out of four, and the odds on his winner were only 15/8. McInally would not be pleased, he thought. There was no point in not answering the phone when he rang, he would only drive round to his place and things could get much more messier if that happened. He would have to take it on the chin, probably literally.

When he hadn’t heard from McInally three days later, he started to get concerned. It was like he was tormenting him; keeping McNair waiting and expecting something to happen. It made him constantly look over his shoulder when he was out, and that made him uncomfortable.

After a week of silence, he decided to bite the bullet and phone McInally with that week’s tips. He didn’t recognise the voice of the person who answered McInally’s phone though.

‘Yes?’ Came the reply in a thick accent.

‘It’s Kevin McNair. I need to speak to Mr McInally.’

‘Not here. What is your number?’

McNair was puzzled. It sounded like Ludo or Marek, he couldn’t be sure which one, and they sounded a bit guarded in their response. Where was McInally? Why were his goons answering his phone?

He gave them his number and was told someone would call back soon then hung up, giving McNair no chance to reply. Thirty minutes later, his phone rang. It was McInally’s number.

‘Mr McInally?’ McNair asked.

‘No. This is Ludo. We need to talk. I will be at your house in fifteen minutes.’

‘What’s happened to Mr McInally? Is he okay?’ McNair enquired, secretly hoping that he wasn’t.

‘No speak on phone. I come and see you.’ Ludo replied tersely.

The line went dead as McNair looked in desperation at his phone. Something has gone badly wrong and he wasn’t feeling positive about this. All would be revealed hopefully when Ludo paid him a visit. In the meantime, he made himself a coffee and looked out of his window watching for McInally’s black Land Rover. He didn’t have long to wait. It parked just along the street from McNair’s house and he watched as Ludo got out of the car alone.

His face was serious and worried McNair noticed as he walked up the drive and rang the doorbell.

Ludo didn’t waste time on politeness and just entered the house as soon as McNair opened the front door. McNair took a quick glance up and down his street making sure there was nobody watching his house, and then closing the door behind him.

‘Mr McNair. I am Ludo. We have met before.’ Ludo said as he held out his hand for McNair to shake.

He had a strong grip, thought McNair, one which has probably caused a lot of damage to people over the years. Still, he might be wrong, but Ludo seemed to be acting quite friendly towards him. This made the meeting even more intriguing.

‘Hello Ludo. Nice to be properly introduced.’ McNair replied with a hint of sarcasm that was wasted on Ludo. ‘What can I do for you? What has happened to Mr McInally?’

‘May I sit down? I have some bad news.’ Ludo told him.

They both sat in the lounge overlooking McNair’s unkempt back garden. He didn’t care for gardening so it had been left to grow wild which upset the neighbours. At least he had managed to clear up the house before his guest arrived.

‘Mr McInally is dead. He was hit by a car two days ago which didn’t stop. It is possible that this was done by one of his business associates, but we do not know who. Marek and I are running things now and I would like to know what you did for him.’ Ludo explained.

This was a bombshell for McNair. He hadn’t seen any local news for days, preferring to keep the TV on the sports news as he wasn’t much interested in anything real. How was this going to leave him? Would Ludo and Marek want to continue his little arrangement going? Was he a suspect in the killing?

‘I’m sorry to hear about Mr McInally. I’m guessing you and Marek were close to him.’ McNair offered.

‘Yes, we were. He looked after us well since we arrived here from Prague some years ago. He was like a father to us and treated us like the sons he never had. Now, we must find out who did this and make them pay. What do you know about it?’

McNair started to sweat profusely. Obviously, he hadn’t had anything to do with his murder, but he was clearly a suspect.

‘I don’t know anything about it, Ludo, honestly. I didn’t know Mr McInally that well anyway and there was no animosity between us at all.’ McNair told him.

‘What about some of the people he knew? Did you know any of his contacts?’

‘No. Nobody. I just had an arrangement with him to provide him with football tips so he could make some money laying off some big bets with his other bookie friends. Maybe he crossed one of them or took him for too much money that they couldn’t afford.’

‘Yes, quite possibly Kevin. We are looking into this. In the meantime, any information you get must be passed on to me, do you understand?’ Ludo threatened.

‘I understand. I will let you know if I hear anything, but I don’t move in those circles, so it’s quite unlikely.’

Ludo just stared at McNair with a steely gaze for a few seconds then let himself out into the cold evening. McNair was shaking like a leaf after his encounter and poured himself a stiff whisky to calm him down.

He thought about the outcome of his meeting. With any luck, he wouldn’t hear a thing and Ludo and Marek would leave him alone; he wouldn’t even have to provide any betting tips. This could be a lucky escape for him, after all.

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