“Are you sure Byron is going to be alright?” Blythe questioned for the millionth time as she pulled a brush through her thick brown hair absentmindedly.
“He can handle himself, Love. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s found himself in this situation.” Mackenzie’s vague answer only succeeded in stressing her out more. It didn’t necessarily surprise her that he had been taken to the police station before, but it didn’t make her feel any better either. Byron was such an off-the-handle kind of guy and if he didn’t watch what he was doing they wouldn’t hesitate to throw him away and lock away the key. Mackenzie’s hands came down on Blythe’s shoulder with a gentle squeeze. His fingertips played with the thin straps of her nightgown. “I promise. He’ll be back before you know it.”
She nodded, attempting to accept his answer but only feeling the truths eat away at her. Placing the brush on her vanity, she took the hand he held out for her and together they made their way to the bed. Like the gentleman he was, Mackenzie pulled the covers back and waited patiently for her to crawl in. The bed felt like it was made of one thousand feathers on the lightest cloud after the long day she had. A sigh escaped her lips once she had been pulled close and snuggled into Mackenzie’s embrace. His lips found their way to the top of her head and just like that she felt peace. It was a wonder how one small gesture from him could soothe her entire world. Still, it felt wrong that they were both laid up cozy in bed while Byron rotted away in a jail cell. It was next to impossible to keep the events of the day replying in her mind, so with that she let her thoughts drift off about what had happened after they found the body in the cellar.
The police didn’t waste any time making their way to the Thomas Estate. The moment they stepped foot into Mackenzie’s cellar they noticed the blood stains on Byron’s hands. When Byron heard the old creaky doors that lead directly to outside, he knew that he was in trouble. Mackenzie had instructed him to clean this mess up, which entailed carefully peeling the bloodied letter from the dead man’s bloodied fingers. Everything on the corpse was soaked in fresh fluids. The sight was horrendous but the smell was even worse. The police had barged in when Byron was midway through wiping his hands on a towel. He had seriously underestimated their response time.
Naturally, the police immediately attempted to apprehend Byron and accuse him of committing the crime and covering up the evidence. But being the fighter he was, Byron wasn’t going down easily. One fist connected with the first officer that grabbed him. Then a swift kick to both kneecaps of the second officer. Both men were debilitated on the cellar floor when a third tackled Byron and landed them both on the ground.
“It wasn’t me, you blokes!” He yelled over and over again at the coppers but of course no one would listen to a crime suspect. Mackenzie had already left to return to the party and keep the guests oblivious to what was happening. Blythe listened, terrified and hiding on the staircase.
It took all 3 policemen to hunker down and restrain Byron which honestly impressed Blythe. While Byron wasn’t necessarily a small man, she never expected him to be able to take on more than one grown man at a time. One eye was all she needed to peek around the corner and watch as two of them hauled Byron out the cellar doors while the third stayed behind to investigate the murder scene.
Once Byron had been delivered to the police station he was promptly thrown into the most dingy and disgusting cell possible. The mildew wafted though both of his nostrils and threatened to retch the pastries he had gorged himself with before they had discovered the body. There was a small leak dripping from the cracks of the old stones, bringing him closer to psychosis with every drip.
What felt like hours had passed before a large burly cop pulled him from his cell only to place him in an even worse smelling, if that were possible, holding room. In the room there was a single chair to which both wrists had been strapped down to. It brought a whole new meaning to begin held hostage. On the wall in front of him there was a large glass window that he could faintly see three other bodies behind, no doubt the chief and his monkeys. Again, he was left there alone. Finally, after he had counted what he thought had to have been every stone in the room, a slender cop sauntered into the room. His crisp white shirt was tucked into the waistband of his black slacks. A weapons belt was tightened around his waist with a holster on his right side. The clean shaven face of the officer held a sinister smile on his face as he stared at Byron from across the room. There wasn’t a single blonde hair out of place in his slicked back hair. While he analyzed Byron, Byron analyzed him.
“It seems we finally have one of Mr. Thomas’ minions in our throes.” His voice echoed in the cold room. “Shouldn’t you just make it easier on yourself and tell us how you killed him?”
Byron spit on the floor next to the officers shoes. With that as his only response the offer lunged forward and landed a solid hit right on Byron’s jaw. Spots formed in his eyes from how hard the hit was. This guy wasn’t starting off lightly. “Let’s try that again, shall we?” He cracked his knuckles. “What connection does the victim have with Mr. Thomas? I know he is behind this, so if you just tell me what I want to hear I’ll put in a plea deal with the prosecutor.”
The sound of Byron’s chuckle sent flashes of lightening through the officers eyes. “You don’t get it, do you? You’ll never be able to pin this on me. You’ll never get what you want.” His tongue ran over his split lip, catching the droplets of blood that had been let loose. “You’re just another piece of trash under his shoe.” The officer didn’t like this answer very much. Another punch connecting with Byron’s temple, and several side kicks to his ribs later, the officer took a couple of steps backwards attempting to regain his control.
“Listen. I don’t want you. I could even care less about you. All I want is that arrogant asshole locked away so I can throw the key away and be done with it.”
“Well, it looks like you can shove that key right up your backside because you’ll never touch him.”
“I think your sorely mistaken, Mr. Scullion. I have plenty of evidence to convict you, and you have plenty of connections to Mr. Thomas. I’ll have you both buried so far that even the bones in the catacombs can’t hear you.”
“You know what I think? I think you’re a poor sop who is fucking terrible at his job so he resorts to violence and pressuring those into saying what you want to hear so that at the end of the day you look like a hero. Let me guess? You’re the picture perfect man. Big house. Smokin’ hot wife. Couple of children. Nothing could be better for you. But nothing is ever like how it looks on the outside, is it? So, what’s your vice? Prostitutes? Pedophilia? Gambling?” The entire time, Byron watched the officer get visibly more and more agitated. The veins in his forehead began to pop and his fists tightened so much his knuckles began to turn white. But when Byron uttered ‘gambling’ he saw a crack in the officers façade. “Ah, so that’s what it is. Gambling. How much do you owe? Hundreds?” Little by little he was breaking the man down. When the officer didn’t reply, he raised his eyebrows. “More? Holy shit. Thousands? You have your dick in the dirt, don’t you my friend?”
“I’m not your fucking friend, and it’s none of your fucking business!”
“Of course it’s my business. Mackenzie is my business. It’s a little odd to me that I’ve never heard of you before. Trust me, many have come after Mackenzie, but none have ever come close to touching his empire. It’s almost like you’ve never had a reason to take him down. Almost like you’ve come out of nowhere. Almost like you’ve been paid to carry out a vendetta against him.”
There it was. The final crack in the officers armor. A sweat broke out on his brow and he wrung his hands nervously. Never had anyone bulldozed his barriers so quickly and infiltrated every inch of his life like the man sitting in the chair before him. Was he really so easily readable? That couldn’t be it. He had spent years on the force back in London and been the top officer in his precinct to boot. No body could take a man down like he could. Before he was dragged to Birmingham, he was the top dog. If only he had realized sooner there is always someone higher up on the food chain. He licked his lips cautiously before quickly crossing the room and standing right before Byron. The officer leaned down and rested his hands painfully on Byron’s wrists. “You don’t know shit.”
“How much? How much do you owe? I’m guessing it’s a pretty substantial amount for someone to be able to buy the chief of police and transfer them to God know’s where on their dime.” Byron could tell he was getting closer to getting the answers he wanted. “You really want to have your debt paid off and be able to return to your cutesy little family without having to check over your shoulder?”
The officer pondered it for longer than he should have. His brow furrowed. “What are you insinuating here?”
“Mackenzie will take care of it. Of all of it. You’ll never see another thug in your life, so long as you tell me what I need to know.”
“And what exactly do you want to know.”
“Who really killed that man in Mackenzie’s cellar?” Byron’s question was nothing but a whisper.
“You’ll never fuckin’ guess.” Byron yelled as he barged in the door to Mackenzie’s office the next morning. By the time the sun had crested over the horizon and shed light on Birmingham, Remi had all charges dropped on Byron and had him released the very same moment. But not before Byron could theoretically squeeze the information out of the weak police chief.
“Fill me in.” Mackenzie didn’t even react to Byron’s obnoxious entrance. Mrs. Layton, however, that had been there to serve Mackenzie some late morning tea had nearly jumped out of her skin at the loud noise. With a scolding look thrown towards Byron, she quietly excused herself from the room.
“Thornton. He paid that slimy bastard to frame you for the murder. He already had police officers on standby just outside the property waiting for the phone call. Only it wasn’t you they found in the cellar, but me. The police chief owed a lot of money to those scum dealers in London. Found himself in a lot of trouble over there before Thornton got his hands on him. He bribed him with paying off his debt, then threatened him with killing his family if he declined. I’ve sent Theo, Jackie, and Rob to deal with it. Had to tell the moron that we would fix his little problem if he ratted.”
“So, he never did leave the country.” Mackenzie hummed thoughtfully, stroking his dark beard. “What a stubborn man. I guess it’s up to us to teach him personally that he can’t pay off everyone to do his biddings and get away with it. No one sits on top, unless it’s us.” Byron would be lying if he said the glint in Mackenzie’s eyes sent a chill straight up his back. It had been a long, long time since he had seen that look. The last time he had seen it, Byron had lost all memory and it had taken him nearly a year to get them back.
Oooo! Thornton’s barking up the wrong tree! Thanks so much for the reads everyone! Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought! As always, stay safe and don’t forget to vote/review!