Kill Chase

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CHAPTER TWENTY

The Commissioner’s Office

New Scotland Yard

Guy opened the velvet pouch to tip its contents onto Jeremy Chambers blotter. A cascade of diamonds tumbled out, flashing blue and silver under the fluorescent lighting. Guy watched Chambers’ eyes flash with them. He had carefully counted the stash. You couldn’t take any chances, even with the Commissioner of Police who exclaimed. “What in blazes..?”

“These are Tolmans. I found them hidden in a shock absorber unit in Holborne Racing’s spares. It’s how the Three Sisters Fund paid off their investors.”

Chambers was agape. “How much is here?”

“Twenty-two million, give or take a carot.”

“The Spanish Police know?”

Guy was vague. “We left in a hurry. Thought Her Majesty’s government would rather have them.”

Henrietta pouted and planted a hand on Guy’s shoulder. “Listen, Guy, my meter’s running, too. At the end of this you’re going to owe me some big bucks.” Her eyes went to the sparkle of diamonds spread across the desktop. “How about one of those?”

Guy scolded. “You get the Yard’s day rate, Miss Fox. Don’t get ideas.” He scooped up the booty back into its velvet bag and Chambers held out his hand to take it.

“Sorry, Commissioner. I’ve got to log them into the evidence book, first.”

He slipped the pouch away. He wanted to say, I wasn’t born yesterday, Commissioner. One of these goes AWOL it’s me they come for.

At the doorway a diminutive figure in jeans and a tee shirt said. “They told me I should come in?”

The man hesitated, looking back up the hallway. Chambers gave him a glare. Henrietta moved to drag him by the arm into the room.

“Commissioner, this is Chaz.”

The cockney paparazzo sniffed loudly. “I shouldn’t be ’ere, really. I got a wicked cold. What’s all this then, princess? I’m made up the Yard’s paying me a day’s work, but what for?” He dug a hand deep into his jeans pocket to fish out a bunched, yellowed handkerchief.

Henrietta said. “You should worry, Chaz. It’s good money in your pocket and you don’t have to stand in the rain for it. Just look at some pictures. See if you can ID them. That’s all you’ve got to do.” She handed him a pack of tissues.

“What pictures, then?” He looked sly.

Guy intoned. “Now, Chaz. This is Police business. You don’t sell on this info to a newspaper. That’s why we hired you.”

He shrugged his shoulders, blowing his nose violently. “Whatever. Show me the piccys.”

Henrietta keyed up a group of thumbnails on her laptop, enlarging them one by one.

“You were at Marie Montague’s Chelsea home all night, yes?”

His eyes brightened. “Ah, it’s the murder story. I was on for the Telegraph and Express. Stayed overnight outside.”

He found a waste bin for the soiled tissue.

“So you saw anybody who went into the house that night?”

“I would ’ave done.”

Henrietta showed him her screen. “Here are some men. Tell us if you recognise them.”

He bent his body over the laptop to peer closely. An image of Raymond Sappiano flashed up. Chaz shook his head.

“No, don’t know ’im.”

She tried Ibrahim Tolman and Jack Holborne together at the soccer match. He shook his head. Then her picture of Sol Coniff Jr at Morton’s in Beverly Hills.

“No, princess. Don’t know none of ’em. The only person I saw go into her gaff that night was a woman. Tall chick, about your size.”

Guy froze. “Chaz, are you positive on this? Could you be wrong?”

Chaz grimaced, wiped his nose, then looked across at Henrietta. “Wos he mean, Foxy? Does he think I’m a pratt or what?”

“No, Chaz,” she placated him. “He’s a policeman. They’re born suspicious. I haven’t pictured any women on this assignment.” She ran all her images in slide show mode and her entire shoots flashed up briefly on screen. Then the paparazzo jerked, his attention held by one.

“Oi, hold it, princess. There she is! Right there. You got her all the time.”

Lady Elizabeth Irewood, holding a pair of red and yellow stilettos, smiled out from the laptop.

Guy said. “Henri? That’s the shoot you did when we interviewed her.”

She turned to the photographer. “Chaz, this is Lady Irewood. You’ve seen her elsewhere. You’re mixing her up, surely?”

Chaz snorted. “Don’t you start, princess. I’ve been snapping celebrities for twenty years. I don’t mix ’em up. This is the skirt that went into the Chelsea house that night. About half twelve.”

Guy shut down her laptop. Now he wanted the man out of the building. He said. “Thanks, Chaz. That’s all. Go home and get to bed. We have work to do here.”

Henrietta turned to Chambers. “Commissioner, I have a sick feeling, here in my stomach, and it’s not Chaz’s cold I’ve caught.” She paused to think. “Elizabeth Irewood told us she supplied the dresses for Marie’s magazine shoot. Took them herself to Claridge’s the night before the shoot.”

Guy said. “I have no doubt, Commissioner, that the proprietor of the Morning Graphic plays away from home. I’m positive he was having an affair with Marie Montague. He was so relieved when he heard Sol Coniff say on tape he could be the father of her baby.”

He flicked his notebook. “Elizabeth Irewood told me, Marie was under the control of the evil men in her life. Why did she want me to think that? What if she went to Claridges with the clothes that night - and found Marie in bed with her husband? What would she think?”

Henrietta’s eyes widened. “That the baby was his! Of course! She would be furious, enraged!”

“Even psychotic?”

“Guy, I’ll swear she was coming on to me. If she could have undressed me there and then, she would have. She said she was an ordinary girl from the streets; worked her way up to marry a Lord worth two hundred million.”

Guy agreed. “What if Irewood wanted to dump her for Marie and the baby? She would lose everything: her title, her money, her business. Was she capable of murder?”

Henrietta added, “if she fancied me – why not Marie? What if she, too, was in love with Marie? Were Lord and Lady Irewood rival lovers? Marie was about to produce the one thing she couldn’t: a baby for her husband.”

The Commissioner studied her. “You think she was bisexual?”

She shrugged and continued. “Lady Irewood, having caught Lord Irewood at it with Marie, storms off home to brood. Then, in the dead of night, goes to Marie’s house in Chelsea to have it out with her. She doesn’t realise that Chaz is outside, watching her go in.”

Guy picked it up. “In a jealous rage, maybe after a furious argument, she grabs a pair of scissors, or a fork or something in the kitchen - and wallop!” He swung a fist in the air and crashed it onto the Commissioner’s desktop. Henrietta jolted with the impact. Her picture of the dead star, eyes filled with blood, came flashing back into her mind.

“Oh my God, Guy. That poor woman. That’s how it happened.”

He slipped a hand on her shoulder. “Women, Foxy. They both went through hell. Elizabeth Irewood killed Marie. Ibrahim Tolman only had Marie’s sister, Nikki killed. Marko did that on his orders.”

The Commissioner took a deep breath, trying to keep up and a muscle on his cheek ticked. “So Nikki is dead, too?”

“Killed by a dog owned by one of his enforcers. He’s also now dead in Catalunya.”

Henrietta added. “He tried to kill me, too. The Wapping river police know all about it.”

Commissioner Chambers closed his eyes. “How on earth I’m going to tell Marcus Barclay all this is beyond me.”

Guy thought. If it were me, I’d write him a letter – and go on holiday.

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