‘Never in my life have I heard of such behaviour in the May family. Its almost a disgrace to the very name that has been in this village for years!’ Thomas May was not a happy man. After Jenny punched Saville Row Suit square in the jaw, causing no more than light bruising, the police were called away from their usual position of feet on desks and took everyone involved straight to Granddad Tom’s office in the Council Chamber to be dealt with so they wouldn’t have to type up the paperwork. Pacing up and down his vast office, Granddad Tom’s moustache was twitching uncontrollably with every sentence that left his mouth. Pip and Alex merely observed as Jenny and Jamie caught the full brunt of their grandfather’s lecture. The office was commanding enough with his impressive oak desk, leather chair and the portraits of Mayors past adorning the walls around the bookcases and trophy cabinet, the Tweed County Cricket Trophy taking pride of place.
‘He deserved it!’ Jenny protested. ‘You heard what he did to Pip!’
‘Enough of your yelling young lady.’ Granddad Tom chastised. ‘I will not have it in this office.’
‘Come on Tom, she’s not exactly yelling.’ Alex defended. ‘And besides she’s right. That guy had it coming; he practically mowed down our Pip and then laughed about it. Tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing.’
‘As Mayor of this village my boy I will not condone this type of behaviour towards strangers.’ Granddad Tom stopped pacing and faced the gang of four head on. ‘But, as your Grandfather… I say, you should have hit him harder.’ With those words Jenny knew that Granddad Tom was indeed on her side and merely putting up the façade for those outside to hear.
‘I knew you weren’t really that mad.’ Alex smiled as Granddad Tom signalled for them all to take a seat.
‘Of course not.’ The old man replied. ‘Now that those lot out there are satisfied that I have ticked you off so to speak, the next thing on the agenda to find out who the devil this man was and what he wants in our village.’ Granddad Tom sat in his dark red leather chair and linked his hands in front of him on the desk.
‘So we are definitely sure that he is the devil then?’ Jamie said as he and Alex gathered chairs for everyone to sit down.
‘Absolutely my boy!’ Granddad Tom’s moustache twitched slightly. ‘I mean driving a car through my village and at high speed I might add. Unbelievable!’
‘Not to mention what happened to Pip.’ Jenny interjected with a raised eyebrow.
‘Well quite.’ Granddad Tom nodded in his grandson-in-law’s direction. ‘The first thing we need to find out is why is he here.’
‘Could he be from a new restaurant in London maybe? I mean don’t they open one every day in the city.’ Alex offered up an idea. ‘He could just be testing the waters so to speak.’
‘Would explain why he was so cocky.’ Pip nodded. ‘And why he didn’t know the rules of the place.’
‘An interesting theory chaps but I’m afraid quite wrong.’ Granddad Tom shook his head. ‘If anyone from the city visits then I know about it first hand. No, this chap whoever he is certainly doesn’t come from the fishing trade. No, no he is something else entirely.’
‘I don’t get it Granddad. For the first time I simply don’t get it.’ Jenny shook her head. Jenny suddenly felt four sets of eyes upon her. Her being vulnerable and not getting them all out of a situation was unheard of and it was obvious to everyone in the room that someone else was going to need to step up. And as ever, it was a May.
‘Hang on…’ Jamie piped up, his eyes wide and half a grin spreading across his face. ‘Someone surely would have got the number plate of the car when it was parked outside or when that thing tried to run Pip over.’
‘Why would we need the number plate?’ Alex asked, still really not knowing how the May Brain actually worked.
‘Because brother in law of mine, if we can get the number plate then we can find out who the owner is. Even if it’s rented or something it will still be traceable back to Idiot Face. You get me?’ Granddad Tom banged the table and yelped in delight causing everyone around him to jump slightly.
‘I knew that expensive education of yours would be worth it in the end dear boy.’ He said, the pride almost visible. ‘Go to the police station and see what they gleaned, if anything. I know it will be a long shot but it will still it will be more than we have now. Go to it my boy.’
‘Yes Granddad.’ Jamie smiled, jumping from his chair and almost skipping out of the room only stopping when Pip caught his arm.
‘Do you want me to come with you?’ his partner asked.
‘No I don’t.’ Jamie said gently. ‘For once will you please just listen to me and rest like the doctors told you to.’ Pip’s reply wasn’t exactly audible and Jamie wasn’t sure whether he wanted to hear it or not.
‘I’ll make sure he does don’t worry, you just get us that number plate.’ Jenny said, gaining another rare smile from her brother who then left the room with a spring in his step that she hadn’t seen for years.
‘Do you think we will be able to gain anything?’ Alex asked looking concerned.
‘Well, if the good men of our law enforcement actually paid head to my warning that all paperwork must be in order in case of say, a random inspection then yes.’
‘Granddad… you didn’t.’ Jenny tilted her head knowingly and Granddad Tom merely smirked in response.
Jenny, Alex and Pip were released with a slight show for the benefit of the Council members but no further punishment from Granddad Tom. Alex was back at C&C just in time to salvage some of the last minute customers whilst Jenny escorted Pip back to his shop. She was happy to see that her clean up job has lasted quite possibly because Pip was in no fit state to actually move anything around. When the store was in order, it was the perfect example of what a second hand bookshop should look like, at least in Jenny’s world. All the shelves were now alphabetically organised according to Pip’s system and the tiny sofa and chair set in the corner next to a table where customers could sit and take five minutes with their favourite book was now clearly visible. It was the physical embodiment of the inside of Pip’s head and Jenny loved it as much as she loved him.
‘Jamie will murder you for bringing me here.’ Pip said, as he sunk into the chair behind his desk. ’Aren’t I supposed to be resting?’ Jenny rolled her eyes at Pip’s air quotations as she shrugged off her handbag and placed it on the desk.
‘I am supervising you aren’t I.’ she answered. ‘Besides, I can’t go back to work, Mac will be shutting up shop in a minute and I have to stay invisible.’
‘You shouldn’t have been a naughty girl should you?’ Pip grinned. Jenny would have smacked him if he wasn’t in pain but instead she narrowed her eyes.
‘I was defending you, you little shit.’ She said. ‘Besides, I had permission to hit him harder from Granddad.’ Jenny perched herself on the edge of Pip’s desk and started playing with the small pile of books that lived there.
‘You overprotective harpy.’ Pip laughed before wincing slightly.
‘I’m not overprotective, I just care too much.’ Jenny retaliated. ‘The overprotective one is playing Sherlock Holmes right now.’ Pip nodded and smiled affectionately biting his lip as he did so.
‘He is being so sweet right now, I have to be honest. Even offered to re-do my highlights.’
‘Ok, who is he and what have you done with my brother?’ Jenny jumped down off the desk and started browsing through the shelves, picking up a book at random, reading the blurb and then replacing it. Pip tilted his head and pursed his lips.
‘Are you alright?’ he asked, noticing the change in his sister-in-law’s demeanour. Jenny turned to face him with raised eyebrows.
‘I’m fine, what would make you think I wasn’t?’ she replied.
‘Because…’ Pip began altering his seating position slightly. ‘You only come in here and fiddle with the Jane Austin’s when there is something big on your mind.’
‘I’m just looking through that’s all.’ Jenny replied, with a slight defensiveness in her voice. Pip laughed and shook his head.
‘You’ve been the same since we were kids.’ He said. ‘The first thing you would do after a fight with your parents would be to run to the library and bury your head in a book.’
‘Am I that predictable?’ Jenny asked, seemingly acknowledging defeat.
‘Not predictable.’ Pip shrugged. ‘I just know you that’s all. So, come on tell me what’s wrong.’ Jenny could really put into words how she actually felt. Helpless wasn’t a word she wanted to use but that’s what her brain was telling her to say. She knew in her heart that she could have dealt with the situation in the coffee shop a lot better and Alex would probably be quietly seething over a loss of business for a while without actually ever telling her. Jenny decided to blame Mrs Claymore for mentioning her parents and grinding her gears to begin with. But instead of saying all this to Pip, Jenny merely smiled.
‘I’m fine.’ She said replacing the final book. ‘Honestly, I’m good.’
‘If you insist.’ Pip said, leaning forward and picking up a pencil. ‘I just know you better that’s all.’ Jenny side-eyed Pip who was now buried in overdue paperwork and allowed herself a sly grin. And that’s how they stayed for a blissful half hour; Pip not exactly exerting himself looking through the orders and new classical publications for the next month and Jenny finally sitting in the armchair, book in hand losing herself in the world of H.G. Wells. The peace however was shattered when a flustered looking Jamie came crashing through the door, a grin as wide as the Cheshire Cat.
‘Got him!’ he said, waving a piece of paper around. ‘Now, its time to kick some London arse.’
The coffee shop was closed and quiet; the only light in the building illuminated the four people sat around a table, staring at a laptop screen clutching mugs of various hot liquids to starve off the chilly night air. Since Jamie’s discovery, Pip’s laptop had been running red hot on the tiny table in the corner by the bookshelf in C&C. Jamie wouldn’t divulge exactly what he said to the good men of Boroughford’s law enforcement but Jenny did have a strong feeling that it had something to do with Granddad Tom’s thinly veiled threat. Jenny had de-camped herself and Pip over to Alex’s who, despite Jenny thinking that he would internally punish her for the remainder of their marriage, had seemingly forgotten about the earlier physical incident. All they had so far was a name and a company, but now they had the best weapon of all; Google!
‘Ok people…’ Pip said, pushing up the sleeves of his jacket, revealing some of the bruising that was now starting to appear. ‘Lets get this fuckwit. Give me a name baby.’
‘Simian Sweeney, Director of Sweeney Properties Limited.’ Jamie waved the paper in his hand looking triumphant. With narrow eyes and a determined look, Pip started typing into his keyboard. Within seconds numerous results came up and the quartet all gathered in that little bit closer to read what they had found.
‘Ok, so we are dealing with a big fish, literally.’ Alex said, biting his lip.
‘Youngest ever developer to secure a multi-million contract in 2014… Owner of several high-class hotels… Smug git by the sounds of it.’ Jenny nodded. ‘Likes to big himself up doesn’t he? I am taking it that the car was his.’
‘Oh yes.’ Jamie leaned back. ‘He is not only the registered owner according to the police record but has been for a while. An Aston Martin no less.’
‘Nice to know I could have been killed in style.’ Pip acknowledged gaining a seemingly annoyed look from Jamie.
‘So now what do we do?’ Alex asked, instinctively turning to Jenny. She leaned back, feeling all eyes on her. She did admit to herself that now that she had this as ammunition there was more she could do but more information was needed and her energy was sapping fast due to the killer day. Jenny took a long sip of her latte and for a brief second she enjoyed the silence of the coffee shop with the hum of the laptop and the ticking of clock on the wall, the only sounds. She took another sip before leaning forward again.
‘Pip, see if you can get details of his last purchase.’ She suggested. ‘Maybe we can find out what kind of tactics this guys uses to get his own way.’
‘Your wish, my command etc. etc.’ Pip said as he began typing. Jenny cracked her neck from side to side before getting up and walking to the kitchen, mug in hand. Alex narrowed his eyes in confusion before leaving Jamie and Pip, who were now arguing over the way to spell certain words, to their own devices to follow his wife.
‘Are you ok?’ Alex asked as he noticed Jenny leaning on the counter, rubbing her eyes. She looked over to him and sighed.
‘Can I be truthful and honest?’ she asked, knowing full well that she could be. Alex walked a little closer and placed his hands on her hips.
‘If you can’t be honest with me, who can you be honest with?’ he replied with a smile. Jenny sighed and leaned her head on her husband’s shoulder.
‘I am so tired you have no idea. And I have no clue what to do about all of this crap going on, apart from give Pip a few painkillers now and then.’ Jenny spilled her true feelings for the first time in the last two days. She had no idea who this person was beyond a name and a business or what the Hell he wanted with her village, she was constantly worrying about Pip even though there was no reason to and the truth was she was just plain exhausted.
‘I don’t know how to deal with this one.’ She admitted. ‘I’m so… tired.’ Alex pulled her in closer and held her as tightly as he could.
‘You don’t have to sweetheart.’ He said in the most soothing voice he could muster. ‘Just this once, you could let us do the work.’ Jenny raised her head and looked at Alex with a smile.
‘How is it you always know the right things to say?’ she asked placing a hand on his cheek.
‘I just do.’ He shrugged. ‘Think it’s a skill I’ve perfected over the years.’
‘Don’t ever lose it will you.’ Jenny smiled just as Alex’s lips met with hers.
‘Ahem…’ Jenny and Alex broke apart swiftly upon hearing Jamie clearing his throat rather loudly. ‘I hate interrupt whatever it is you’re doing but the person that I usually do what you are doing with, may have just hit the jackpot.’ And the grin across her brother’s face told Jenny that he was joking.
Tuesday was definitely a better day for Jenny May-Hill. As she began her walk to work, the sun decided to peer from behind the ominous grey cloud that had been lurking since the early morning and highlight her tied back blonde hair so that it shimmered slightly. Alex had left her a take away coffee in the kitchen before he disappeared to open up so Jenny blew him a kiss through the window as a thank you, causing his cheeks to turn a shade of red normally associated with the bottle of wine Jenny kept on the rack. Giggling, she walked past the Purple Rinse Brigade Office and kept her head down, not because she was embarrassed by the previous day, simply because she did not want to go another round with Mrs Claymore. And besides she wanted to get to Mac as soon as possible and give him the information she was now armed with. Jenny hadn’t been this excited since her wedding day and night but she was practically bouncing on air, skipping over puddles even in her heels. She was still exhausted but an evening of complete pampering from Alex once again helped her relax and unwind slightly before she had to take on the onslaught of the day. Just before she entered the office, she craned her neck to see just beyond the Council Office and over the Harbour Wall. The Point was standing proud against a now blazing late winter sun and Jenny couldn’t help but smile.
‘Joining the fight Grandma.’ She said. ‘I like it.’ And with that she walked into her familiar workplace and into the weekly Three Legged Championship, determined to be held onto by the Sports Reporters for reasons that were beyond Jenny. She just wanted to speak to the boss. So she did, but she never expected him to come up with the idea that had seemed totally obvious from the start.
‘Why is it every time we come in here it smells of old beer stains.’ Jenny and the boys had barely set foot over the door of their local before Jamie started complaining. The Mariners wasn’t exactly the Ritz and not even Jenny really made the effort, just threw on a pair of jeans alongside her pink work blouse and boots and let her hair down, but it had been their local since they were old enough to drink and maybe a few years before that. It was the typical fisherman’s pub, all dark wood, tankards and glasses hanging on hooks above the bar with tattered stools proudly bosting the individual indentations of every ship’s captain that had sat on them. The brass coloured round tables and mismatched chairs were strewn around making the way to the booth in the corner more like an obstacle course. The smell coming from the kitchen was the usual fried chips and whatever accompaniment the Ray the Landlord had picked up from the shops that day. Alex stopped off at the bar whilst Jenny, Pip and Jamie found their usual corner and sat down, not before Jamie complained once again that he already had beer stains on his new Levi’s.
‘Oh will you shut up.’ Jenny said pulling him down to sit next to her. ‘We won’t be here long.’
‘What time did Mac say it would all be kicking off?’ Pip asked, shrugging off his jacket.
‘About now.’ Jenny said, fluffing her hair up. ‘Said that he would be in contact with who he needed and arrange the meeting. Wish I’d thought of it.’
‘If you had thought of it we would be bailing you out of jail right now.’ Jamie said with a snort. ‘I mean, they might let you off once but twice. People would say that the thin blue line is slacking.’
‘Shut up and go put a proper song on please.’ Jenny ordered, pointing to the Jukebox a few steps away. Jamie rolled his eyes but did as he was told.
‘Oh tune!’ Alex complemented as he arrived back at table, tray of drinks in hand as the strains Hotel California blasting through the speakers.
‘I aim to please.’ Jamie smiled, picking his G&T from the tray.
‘Where’s mine?’ Pip asked, narrowing his eyebrows. Alex took a long gulp of his pint before sitting down and answering.
‘You’re on painkillers, so its OJ for you young man.’ He said, passing the glass of orange liquid to a disappointed looking Pip.
‘Fuck my life right now.’ He said, shaking his head right now. Jenny giggled under her breath before letting the House Red slip down her throat like honey. It was only when they started to relax that the awkward human silence fell, Don Henley’s voice surrounding the shocked looking room.
‘That’s him.’ Jamie said, putting his glass down with a little bit of force. Simian Sweeney was indeed in the pub and sticking out like a sore thumb. Amongst the regulars and Boroughford’s salty sea boys, the Saville Row suit and gelled back curls simply didn’t fit in.
‘Good evening everyone.’ He said, taking out his wallet. ‘Glass of Pinot Blanc please barman.’
‘Excuse me?’ Ray answered, as though the man before him had arrived on a spaceship.
‘He means House White, Ray.’ Jenny shouted over to the bar. ‘And put some arsenic in it while you’re at it.’
‘Well if it isn’t the town’s answer to Tyson.’ Sweeney’s face turned into a sarcastic grin. Alex, Pip and Jamie were already poised to get up off their stools to protect their girl, but Jenny had already made it clear that she didn’t need protecting when she placed her glass on the table after taking a purposeful sip, and then folded her arms.
‘Shouldn’t you be in a shop window somewhere?’ Jenny asked, causing giggles amongst the patrons. ‘I mean I’m sure the boutique could use another mannequin.’
‘Ooo come back from that one son.’ Captain Archie raised his glass to Jenny who nodded in acknowledgement. Sweeney looked around, placed his wallet in his back pocket and pulled at his shirtsleeves.
‘You know why I am here Mrs Hill.’ He said, addressing Jenny directly. ‘Your employer was kind enough to fill me in and what you have heard about me.’
‘What? That you’re a tyrannical arsehole who picks on little villages to get his own way? Won’t work with us mate.’ Jenny answered, knowing nods coming from around the room. Sweeney shook his head and laughed.
‘Young lady, I do believe that you have no real idea about who you are dealing with.’ He said, walking closer to the table. Alex turned around on his stool, arms folded, eyeing up Sweeney in case he wanted to make a move. Jamie wasn’t as suitable…
‘You nearly killed my boyfriend!’ he screamed, jumping from his chair, cries of “bat him one J” coming from Ray and the barmaid.
‘And I apologised.’ Sweeney waved his hand.
‘Not to me you didn’t.’ Pip interjected.
‘No, I apologised to the poor law men who had to deal with it all.’ Sweeney replied. ‘I mean come on, up a ladder in a busy high street. Really? Should have got your little pussy cat here to do it for you.’
‘Ok, that’s enough.’ Alex said getting up. ‘What the Hell do you actually want and make it quick because I don’t know how long I can hold my brother in law back.’ Jamie was now frothing at the mouth but Pip had managed to pull him back down as Jenny made her way around the table to join Alex.
‘Well its simple really.’ Sweeney began, as he started pacing up and down the pub, running his fingers along the tables. ‘Every single little bit of unused land here can be bought. For a reasonable price of course.’
‘Like Hell it can.’ Jenny’s voiced betrayed her calm exterior. She wasn’t tired anymore; she was angry.
‘Of course it can Mrs Hill.’ Sweeney continued with a huff. ‘I know all about your little village as you call it. I make it my duty to thoroughly research all my acquisitions before I go in for the kill as it were. And there is a prime piece of land right beyond the Harbour that is begging me to take it on…’
‘You stay well away from there do you understand me!’ Jenny’s voice was louder than she had intended but knowing Sweeney’s intentions, she couldn’t help it.
‘And why would I?’ Sweeney grinned. ‘My lady, that piece of land will be mine sentimental value or not. Don’t mess with me Mrs Hill, you will regret it.’
‘Not as much as you’ll regret it if you so much as remove a stone from that clifftop.’ Jenny answered, venom in her voice. ‘You will be eating through a tube for weeks.’
‘Then the game is on Mrs Hill. To the victor the spoils.’ Sweeney nodded and turned on his heel before making a swift exit from the pub amidst jeers and boos leaving Jenny boiling with rage and more determined than ever.
Did you enjoy my ongoing story so far? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Gemma HarrisWrite a Review