June 3rd, 1918 Thomas Estate Birmingham, England
“Afterwards did you drag her back to your bed and ravage her like the animal you are?” Byron wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. He couldn’t hold back the barking laugh that followed his comment, clutching his stomach in hysterics.
“Fuck off, you pig.” Mackenzie sneered back but a small grin tugged the corners of his lips upwards. He flung one of the thick books that sat on his desk towards Byron. Lifting his glass to his lips, he took a small swig of the amber liquid while he watched as his friend tried to furiously dodge the flying object.
“What?” Byron asked as innocently as he could, shrugging his shoulders. “It was a reasonable question. You can’t tell us that you finally pulled a move on the woman you’ve been pining over for months and never followed through with it.” His lips never dropped the mischievous smile.
“I can, and I will.” Mackenzie grumbled before tossing his bowlers cap onto his oak desk. “It’s truthfully none of your business, however if you must know I don’t think I’ve ever had so much self control as I did last night. She didn’t have much to say, or should I say, couldn’t say much.” A slight smirk crossed his lips as he thought about their encounter. It didn’t take long for Blythe’s body to respond to his exactly how he wanted. She had eagerly returned his kiss even going so far as to wrap her delicate hand around the back of his neck pulling him even closer. But the moment hadn’t lasted long. Mackenzie could feel Blythe subconsciously pulling away when her mind had processed the events occurring. Not wanting to push things too far, Mackenzie let her have her space and broke the contact between them. He remembered sitting back on his knees and reveling in the dazed look on her face. After a while he had stood up offering her his hand. She took it cautiously, eyeing him as if he were an unpredictable wild creature. Mackenzie gingerly tucked a strand of hair away from her face and leaned in close enough to brush his lips against her ear. He whispered his goodnight’s to Blythe before leaving a lingering kiss on her cheek. The image of her swaying her hips unconsciously as she slowly made her way out of his office but not before turning and glancing at him from under those thick eyelashes was burned into his mind forever.
Slamming back the rest of his favorite liquor, he let the glass teeter in between his fingers. “Remi. Give me the latest news so I can block out this moron.” Mackenzie grinned as he shot a look over to Byron who threw him the middle finger. He gave a hearty laugh before turning to his other comrade.
“Bids are doing better than ever. It seems the spring weather has everyone out and about trying to make a shilling.” Remi answered in his quiet voice though he didn’t try to hide the smile that appeared as he watched the two in front of him bicker. “The firm hit a slow patch after the last case of Fergus vs. the courts. That loss hit us pretty hard. However, we did receive some interesting offers on merging the company after that, but none that we should consider seriously.” He paused in thought. Suddenly, Remi sprang forward nearly throwing the glass of his own off the small end table that was situated near him. Byron and Mackenzie both jumped in surprise at their pal’s actions. “I can’t believe I forgot!”
“Forgot what?” Byron raised his brow in confusion.
“You boys remember that bloke John Thornton?” Remi glanced back and forth between Byron and Mackenzie frantically.
Instantly Mackenzie’s mood darkened. How could he forget? If it were up to him, that night that Thornton had put his hands on Blythe would have been the last night he had hands entirely. He had seriously considered taking off every finger from that scum’s hand before burning down every building Thornton owned with him inside.
Remi took Mackenzie’s silent grovel as an answer before continuing. “That piece of shit’s been buying the judges.”
Byron’s mouth dropped open wide enough to catch any flies within a 3km distance. “You’ve got to be fucking with us.”
Mackenzie’s entire body tensed. His hand gripped his glass with alarming strength lending the delicate matter to shatter sending shards flying across his desk. “Elaborate.” He demanded.
Remi didn’t so much as grimace as he watched Mackenzie but instead continued with the information he had weeded out from those weak enough to spill gossip at the bat of an eye. “Word has it that Thornton paid off all three of them. They’re living in luxury while all of Thorntons horses sweep the competition. I did some digging and it turns out that Newark recently bought a new estate on the North side, Clarke took on a suspiciously attractive foreign bride,” Remi rolled his eyes. “Mail order for sure, and that old hag Carter posted her daughter up in Dunning Secondary.”
A long, low whistle blew from Byron’s mouth as he shook his head. Mackenzie pursed his lips together before looking at Remi. “That’s a pretty prestigious school for someone on that salary.” Both men nodded in agreement in Mackenzie’s comment.
The playful mood from earlier had vanished as easily as it had come. All three sat in silence as they processed this information before Byron and Remi looked to Mackenzie. “What are we going to do? If he’s paying off the judges our stocks and clientele will plummet. We’ll do alright for a while, but it’s only a matter of time before all of our buyers slowly transition from us to him.” Byron sneered his last word, his lips turning down in disgust. There was a small piece of Byron’s brain that knew what was going to happen. Mackenzie wasn’t one to sit down and take what others gave him. Instead, he was one to take what he wanted whether it was given to him or not.
“You know what to do boys. Call Antonio. Let him know we need two men to be inside of Thornton’s operations.” Mackenzie stroked his beard in careful consideration. He knew he needed to tread lightly to carry out the plan he was slowly piecing together. He had to reach out to several of his connections to make his intentions not as distinguishable. There were plenty he could call on as many owed him favors but he needed to choose them wisely in order not to draw too much attention. Of course he could just off Thornton but that would be at the risk of leading the coppers straight to his door step and forfeiting everything he had worked so hard for. “Then I want you to set up a meeting with Murphy.”
Even Remi’s eyes bulged. “Murphy? That son of a bitch is one loose leaf away from shooting off Ireland entirely. Are you sure you want his help?” Remi questioned Mackenzie, looking to Byron for backup. Byron’s eyes cautiously shifted from Remi back to Mackenzie awaiting his answer.
“We’re going to need him if we are going to pull this off.” Mackenzie stood and straightened his black dress shirt before running both hands over his slicked back hair, smoothing strays into position. He made his way through his office before stopping shortly at Byron and Remi’s side. “One more thing.”
The men looked quizzically at their long time friend, but remaining silent and waiting for him to finish. Mackenzie clapped them both on the shoulder with a stern hand. “Get me Ramona.”
“The gal who we rented out Blythe’s stables to?” Byron’s brows furrowed in confusion. Since they had offered Ramona Covington the stables to situate her own small group of race horses to in order to put away money for Blythe in a secreted account, Mackenzie hadn’t mentioned a single thing about her.
Nodding, Mackenzie continued his way to the large double doors that led out of his office. “We’ll need her too.”
“What the hell do you have planned?” Remi slowly stood from the leather chair he was sitting on, turning to face Mackenzie.
A slow wicked grin crossed Mackenzie’s face. He placed his hands slowly palms up on his wooden doors before throwing them open with purpose. “We’re rigging the races, men; taking back what is ours.”