Read Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger Online

Authors: Stella Rimington

Tags: #Mystery, #Espionage, #England, #Memoir

Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger (18 page)

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
2.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Liz nodded; as usual, she found herself sharing Edward’s views. Having originally thought she was going to a backwater when she’d been posted to Belfast, she now knew how much was stirring underneath the surface calm. And in the case of Jimmy Fergus the surface had been broken.

Susan suddenly said, ‘Oh, I know what I meant to tell you, Liz. We’ve been seeing that nice friend of yours from work.’

‘Oh,’ said Liz. She was curious, but felt no need to press, since Susan would tell her who the friend was whether she wanted to know or not.

‘Charles Wetherby,’ Susan declared, and Liz felt the blood rising in her cheeks. There was a momentary pause.

Then Liz said, ‘Oh yes. Of course. You knew Joanne, didn’t you Edward?’

‘That’s right,’ said Edward, sounding less animated than Susan.

‘We had dinner with him the other night,’ said Susan chirpily. ‘With his friend Alison.’

‘His neighbour,’ said Liz. ‘I met her at the funeral.’

‘Well yes, but she’s clearly also his friend.’

Liz saw Edward’s eyes on her. They looked understanding and a little regretful. In their unexpressed sympathy they confirmed her fears.

She made a show of looking at her watch. ‘Golly, I’d better get a move on,’ she said, and swallowed the last of her coffee. As she got up to put on her coat, she wondered whether, if Charles hadn’t had to dash off, he would have said anything to her about Alison.

But later, as she stood in the crowded underground on her way to Heathrow, she found her thoughts drifting back to the bistro in Paris and pondering the tantalising question of what would have happened if she had stayed on for dinner.

29

 

‘Liz. Thank God you’re back,’ said Judith, coming out from her flat into the hall as soon as Liz opened the front door. ‘Have you heard from Dave?’

 

‘No. Should I have? What’s happened?’

‘He’s gone missing.’

‘What do you mean, missing? Tell me. Let’s go upstairs.’

‘No, I can’t leave Daisy. Mrs Ryan’s gone home. Come in here.’

So dumping her bag in the hall, Liz went into Judith’s sitting room. It looked unusually untidy. Daisy’s toys were still spread out all over the floor and there were papers, an empty wine glass and a coffee mug on the table. Now that she could see Judith clearly in the light of the room, she saw that her eyes were two dark pools of worry and her hair, normally smoothly tied back, was flopping loosely in her eyes. This was not the fastidious, unflappable Judith Liz had always known.

‘Tell me what’s wrong while I put the kettle on,’ said Liz, going into the kitchen.

Judith sighed, and her shoulders slumped. ‘I can’t reach Dave.’

‘Since when?’ Liz put tea bags in two mugs and poured out the boiling water. What she really needed was a strong drink, but tea might be better to calm Judith down.

‘Since this afternoon. Yesterday, while you were in Paris, he had a meeting with Milraud. He went to his shop.’

‘Really?’ Liz looked at Judith sharply. She had assumed Dave would wait for her to come back and report what she’d found out before taking any action. ‘I hope he had good back-up.’

Judith shook her head. ‘No, he said he didn’t need it. But that was okay; I mean to say, he just met Milraud in his shop and then came back. He was pretending to be a collector of some sort of gun. He’d researched it all on the internet. He was fine – but absolutely certain Milraud was dodgy.’

‘He
is
dodgy. I found out a lot about him in Paris. I was going to tell Dave all about it and make sure he had plenty of cover before he met the man. Milraud is ex-DGSE and a gun runner. Dave’s lucky he didn’t see straight through him.’

‘That’s just it, Liz. I think he probably did. But Dave insisted on seeing him again. He was planning to proposition him. He said Milraud was going back to France later today and he couldn’t afford to miss his chance.’

‘Oh God. What happened? And where is he now? Surely he had police back up, A4 … ?’

She saw at once from Judith’s face that he hadn’t. ‘Couldn’t you stop him, Judith? That was crazy.’

‘I know. He wouldn’t listen to me. I’m not his boss,’ she added.

‘No, but Binding is. Why didn’t you bring Michael in on this?’

‘I tried. But he was tied up at Stormont. He’d left word with his secretary that he wasn’t to be disturbed. By the time he was free, Dave had gone to his meet. I even tried reaching you over in London, but no one knew where you were.’

Of course Liz’s mobile had been switched off in the US Embassy and in Thames House and at the restaurant, and she had never switched it on again.

Judith said quietly, ‘I’m sorry.’

Liz sighed. ‘It’s not your fault, Judith. I just don’t understand what’s got into Dave. It was bad enough him seeing Milraud the first time without waiting to hear what I’d learned, but then to go back again? And without back-up.’ She shook her head in exasperation. What had Dave been thinking of? He could be impetuous, but this went beyond that; this was mad.

‘He wasn’t thinking clearly. He was upset.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s Lucy, I think. He rang her last night and she told him she was having doubts. She wasn’t sure she fancied being an MI5 officer’s wife. She said she wanted to think about their relationship and cool things down for a bit. He told me all this yesterday morning.’

‘So his girlfriend has a wobble and he throws all caution out the window? That doesn’t sound like Dave.’

‘I think it was more than a wobble. He seemed to think she was telling him it was all over.’

‘You mean that’s it for them?’ She looked at Judith with surprise. When Judith nodded, Liz said, ‘I thought they were engaged to be married.’

‘They practically were.’

‘So Lucy broke it off?’

Judith nodded again and Liz groaned. She said, ‘I know Dave – he wouldn’t have said much, just plunged himself into work.’ She thought for a second. ‘Did he say he was coming back to the office after meeting Milraud?’

‘Yes, he did. And I made him promise to ring me if for any reason he got delayed. I got that much out of him.’

‘And you’ve tried ringing him?’

‘Only about a hundred times,’ Judith said. ‘On his mobile, at his flat and I’ve got everyone alerted at the office to let me know if he shows up anywhere.’

‘I’m going to phone Binding,’ said Liz, putting down her mug. Now she was worried too.

Over the phone at Michael Binding’s house, Liz could hear the clink of cutlery and glasses and the sound of conversation – he must be having a dinner party. He seemed reluctant to leave his guests and speak in private – Liz had to shout to make herself heard. ‘Yes, he’s missing,’ she found herself saying for the third time. ‘I’m going to alert the police.’

‘Hang on a minute,’ Binding said. She heard him talking in the background, then after a pause his voice came again more clearly and she heard a phone being put down. He must have moved into his study.

‘Okay. Now tell me exactly what’s happened.’

She gave him a quick summary of what she’d learned in Paris about Milraud, explaining that Dave had gone to see him for a second time, with the intention of propositioning him and without any back up. ‘Milraud would have seen Dave coming a mile off. He’s a trained intelligence officer. And now Dave’s disappeared. We’ve got to do something, Michael. We can’t just leave it.’

‘Why wasn’t A4 brought in on this meeting? Didn’t you insist on that before you swanned off to France?’ he said irritably, making it sound as if she’d been on holiday.

‘We can deal with that later. Right now I want to find out where Dave is, and make sure he’s okay.’

‘Have you any reason to think this Milraud character would do Dave any harm, even if he did see him coming? He’s not a terrorist, is he, or a murderer? Stop panicking, Liz. I expect you’re just tired. Have a strong drink and go to bed. You may not have heard, but Dave’s had a bit of a setback in his private life and he’s probably just gone off to lick his wounds. Leave it now. And you do not have my authority to bring in the police. He’ll turn up tomorrow right as rain, you mark my words.’

And before Liz could say any more, he rang off, leaving her angry and more worried than ever.

Later, back in her own flat, she toyed with the idea of ringing Martin Seurat in Paris to ask his advice. But it seemed so over the top to bring in the French, late at night, when her own boss had forbidden her to contact the police in Northern Ireland, that in the end she did nothing. But she was awake all night reproaching herself that she hadn’t sent an immediate message from Paris or even from London, reporting what she had learned about Milraud and Piggott. Dave might not have walked into danger if she had.

30

 

Through the cloth bag over his head Dave couldn’t see a thing. But he knew where he was, and that scared him.

 

During the drive from Milraud’s shop, as he lay in the boot of the car, with his hands tied, he had concentrated hard on the sounds of the vehicle on the road. The journey took about an hour by his reckoning, first on fast roads, then for about twenty minutes on smaller ones, where the car stopped and started at junctions or traffic lights. Then they’d turned onto a rougher surface – some sort of track.

They could have been anywhere in the countryside of Northern Ireland. But then, just before the car stopped and he was bundled out, he heard a sound that he recognised – a noise he’d heard before when he was with Liz Carlyle. It was the squeak and bang of an electronic gate, the gate on the National Trust estate.

So he must be in Piggott’s house in County Down – the house of the man who, as Brown Fox had told him, wanted to kill an MI5 officer. Until then Dave had thought he was either the victim of a kidnapping, or of a mistake. Now he realised he could be about to die.

He’d been lifted out of the boot of the car, put on his two feet and led into a house, bumping his shoulder against what felt like a door frame. Then he’d been walked down a flight of stairs and deposited unceremoniously on a hard chair. He’d been sitting there for a minute or two, not sure who was around him, trying to get his bearings and cope with the fear that was growing with each second he waited.

Suddenly, rough hands removed the bag from his head. He looked up into the dark face of the man who had walked into Milraud’s shop and pulled a gun on him, the same man he had seen here, outside this house, when he and Liz had walked on the headland. Piggott’s foreign-looking henchman.

Dave blinked in the sudden light and looked around the room, taking in the comfortable furnishings, the large desk, the leatherbound books in the bookcases and, incongruously, the camp bed in the corner. This must be Piggott’s study, but why the bed?

Dave cursed himself for having gone to see Milraud without any back-up. Not just once, but twice. How could he have been so stupid, acting like a complete amateur? He should have listened to Judith and waited for Liz to get back. He had always known that danger was part of his job, and he liked to think that he conducted himself professionally, and without fear. No, that wasn’t right – only a fool never felt fear. But he had learned to ignore the fear, and never to let it get in the way of doing his job. So it seemed a bitter irony that he had fallen into a trap he’d set for other people, as a result of his own foolishness.

But it was too late for regrets. They hadn’t killed him yet – could they believe he was just a harmless collector? Maybe the dark-faced thug had not recognised him from their earlier encounter?

For a moment he nursed these seedlings of hope, but he was too much of a realist to let them take root. If they really did see him as harmless, then why had he been held at gunpoint, then taken forcibly from the shop? He thought gloomily about what they were going to do to him (just let it be quick, he prayed), when he suddenly felt agonising pain splay across his face – the foreign man had ripped the tape roughly from his mouth. Then, pulling a flick knife from his pocket, the man reached down and swiftly cut the cords binding Dave’s arms.

The blood rushing back into Dave’s joints hurt a lot, and his arms and muscles ached from his cramped position in the boot of the car. He gingerly moved his legs, but he stayed sitting in the chair while the dark face watched him expressionlessly, holding a gun pointed directly at his head.

He heard footsteps behind him and the tall, spare figure of Seamus Piggott appeared with another man. Dave recognised his face from the A4 surveillance – Malone. Malone was carrying an old-fashioned doctors’ bag. Turning his head, Dave saw for the first time that Milraud was also in the room, standing in the corner, looking studiously detached, like a surgeon called in to witness a colleague’s operation. Dave was tempted to ask the Frenchman what the price of a derringer was now, but realised sarcasm might simply accelerate whatever they planned to do to him. So he kept quiet.

Piggott said nothing, and didn’t even look at Dave as he walked over to the desk. Malone put the bag down and Piggott rummaged in it for a moment, then his hands emerged holding a rubber tube in one hand and a syringe in the other. He handed the tube to Malone, who walked over and grabbed hold of Dave’s right arm from the side – keeping out of the line of fire from the Spaniard’s gun.

Now Dave panicked: this was how they were going to kill him. He hated needles, which made the prospect of a lethal injection even more terrifying. He shouted ‘No!’ and tried to wriggle free from the strong grip on his arms, but his legs felt like jelly and he hadn’t the strength even to try and stand up. His shirt sleeve was swiftly forced up above his elbow and Malone tied the rubber tube tightly around his upper arm. Dave struggled frantically but Malone stood to one side and the Spaniard stepped forward, sticking the gun frighteningly close to Dave’s face.

As Dave sank back in his chair, Piggott walked briskly from the desk and before Dave could move, plunged the syringe directly into the bulging vein of his bicep. Dave felt a cold sensation in his arm as the liquid moved into his bloodstream, followed almost immediately by a gentle lethargy that seemed to take him over. He was only partly aware of being stood up and frogmarched over to the bed, then put prone on the mattress, and strapped to the frame. He found himself incapable of resisting, and he didn’t even want to.

BOOK: Liz Carlyle - 05 - Present Danger
2.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Enticement by Madelynn Ellis
Lord Melchior by Varian Krylov
Fallen Too Far by Mia Moore
A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere
The Proving by Brosky, Ken
Robin Hood, el proscrito by Angus Donald
Taken by H.M. McQueen