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Authors: Charlotte Link

Tags: #Fiction, #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #General

The Watcher (60 page)

BOOK: The Watcher
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John got out and took a few tentative steps towards the two women. By the light of the moon and the headlights, he could see everything with almost brutal clarity. Tara was holding a serrated knife in her hand. He could also see why Gillian’s neck was angled back and her head so motionless: she had a wire noose around her neck. Tara was holding it tight. He could imagine how deeply the wire was cutting into the skin, forcing Gillian to remain completely immobile. She was completely at Tara Caine’s mercy. She had no chance to free herself.

However, the pistol that Tara had shot Thomas Ward with did not seem to be to hand. She could not just shoot him.

‘Not a step closer, Burton,’ said Tara. Her voice was clear and commanding. She was used to giving orders. She had everything under control. At least, she thought so. John could suddenly imagine her in a courtroom. She probably acted just like this in court: assured of her own success. He wondered whether she had any reason to feel so sure. It did seem like she had the upper hand right now.

He stopped.

‘What do you want?’ he asked.

‘Why do you think I
want
something?’ Tara retorted.

‘We can stand here for hours. But that isn’t likely to help you at all.’

‘I can kill your friend right now. Believe me, you won’t be able to stop me.’

‘Of course. And how would that help you? A second later I would overpower you and then that would be it for you. Not a great outlook, I’d say.’

Gillian let out a small cry of pain. John had noticed the movement: Tara had tugged on the noose. It was clear to him that for every argument he won, Gillian would suffer. He felt his fists clench involuntarily. Caine was brutal and unscrupulous. A real danger.

He looked at her, waiting for her reply.

‘The car key,’ said Tara. ‘I want you to throw it over to me. So it is within reach of my foot.’

‘The car key?’

‘The car key and your mobile. No idea if there’s any reception out here, but I don’t want you to call the cops as soon as I’ve turned my back on you.’

He could see what she was planning. ‘You want to take my car. And Gillian. And leave me here.’

‘Clever boy. You’ll have my car, giving you some protection from the wind. Of course you won’t have the key. I’ve got it now. It’s a bloody long way to Manchester on foot, and you’d probably get lost too. But someone might come by who could give you a lift. Although at this time of year this area is a pretty godforsaken place.’

He said in a low voice, ‘You really believe you can get away with it? The police are looking for you all over the country. They found your mother. You are a prime suspect. You know that it will be better for you if you give yourself up voluntarily. If you let Gillian go.’

‘That won’t help me at all,’ Tara said coldly. ‘After all the things I’ve done. I’ve not been as lucky as you, Burton. No one could prove anything against you and your case was given to a complete idiot in the CPS. So
you
got away scot-free. It will turn out differently for me.’

‘I didn’t do anything.’

‘Repetition doesn’t make your statement any more true.’

He thought for a minute. ‘Let me make a suggestion, Ms Caine. You obviously realise that you need a hostage, if there is to be the slightest chance of escaping your precarious situation. Gillian has a little girl who has already lost her father. Please don’t take her mother too. Let her go free and take me instead.’

It was something to try, but he held out little hope that it would work. Tara was clever. Just the switch here on this road at night was too risky for her. And she could control Gillian better than she could John, who was a whole foot taller. He had police training and was a sportsman. He was not half as exhausted or frightened as Gillian. He was a much more dangerous opponent and Tara knew it.

‘Your mobile,’ she said by way of answer. ‘And your key!’

He took his mobile out of his trouser pocket, crouched down and slid it along the road towards the two women. It skidded along the flat, frozen snow and stopped just in front of Tara’s right foot.

‘Well done. Now the key!’

John stood up again. ‘I left it in the ignition.’

‘Then fetch it. I’m not going to get into your bloody car just to find out that you’ve tricked me. I want to
hold
the key!’

He walked backwards to his car.

She hasn’t noticed that I’ve got a passenger, he thought, or else she would have asked him to get out or bring her the key. Of course. The headlights are blinding her. She can’t see anything behind them.

He wondered whether he could turn this to his advantage. The fact that Tara Caine thought she just had one opponent, when in fact there were two, could have been an ace up his sleeve. If the ace was not Samson Segal of all people.

When he got to his car, he turned around to open the door. As he did so, he only just managed to stifle a surprised gasp. The passenger seat was empty.

The back seat too, and the boot, as a quick glance showed him.

Samson Segal had got out of the car. No doubt through the boot. John would not have thought he had it in him. He must have found and pressed the release catch next to the steering wheel, then wriggled his way back and slipped out on to the road by opening the boot lid a crack.

And now? What was he planning to do?

John was worried. There were a few bushes to the left and right. They were leafless at this time of year, but the snow had turned them into big, fat white balls. Samson must be hiding somewhere behind them. Nothing else was humanly possible.

This could all go terribly wrong.

He had told him not to move, he thought angrily. When I catch him, he’s going to get it.

‘Ready?’ said Tara.

He took out the key.

He hoped that Samson was not planning something crazy. It was a terrible moment to start to play the hero. Samson was hopelessly in love with Gillian and no doubt he was desperate to save her, but that could only end in disaster.

I shouldn’t have brought him with me. It was a bad idea, right from the start.

He slowly approached the two women, holding the key in his hand. He would have liked to look around, to try to see where Samson was and work out what he was planning, but he did not dare. Tara Caine would have noticed that he was looking for something or someone. If there was one mistake he must not make, it was to underestimate her.

‘Right,’ he said. ‘Here’s the key.’

‘Give it to me. Just like your mobile.’

He slid the key across the snow. He aimed it so that it stopped a good distance from the mobile. He did not need to make things easy for her.

‘You don’t happen to have a pistol, do you, a souvenir from your copper days?’ asked Tara.

‘No.’

‘Take off your coat and throw it far away.’

He did as she told him to. She frisked his jumper with her eyes, but could not see a bulge betraying the holster of a pistol. She would have to be content with that. The circumstances did not allow for a more thorough inspection.

John saw that Tara was bending down slowly. Using the noose, she forced Gillian to do as she did. The knife remained at Gillian’s throat. But a critical moment was coming up. Tara only had two hands. She had to hold the noose with one. She would need to reach for the mobile with the other and put it in her pocket. And then she would have to stretch to reach the key. Would she put the knife between her teeth? Or in her other hand? John knew that was the moment when she could be overpowered, because she would not be able to stab him. It might be the only chance he would have. He gauged the distance between himself and the two women. It was too far. He would not be there fast enough.

As if Tara could read his thoughts, she suddenly stopped, before reaching for the mobile.

‘Back further,’ she said. ‘Back to the car, right now!’

She accompanied her order with a tug on the noose. Gillian moaned, grabbing involuntarily at her neck with both hands. She could not get a finger between the wire and her skin. The noose was too tight.

John had no option but to obey. He stepped slowly backwards.

‘Good,’ said Tara, when he was beside the car. Carefully she transferred the knife to the hand that was holding the noose. With her other hand, she grabbed the phone and put it in her coat pocket.

Then she tried to reach the key. She did not manage; it was too far away.

At that moment John saw Samson appear behind the Jaguar. He had managed to creep past the women behind the bushes, go round the car and was now behind them. He was just a few steps away from them. He was in the perfect position to overpower Tara; he was close enough to her, and most importantly, she did not know he was there. With a little skill, he could get even closer without her noticing him.

With a little skill . . .

The idea seemed absurd in relation to Samson, but John clung to this tiny hope, which did exist, after all. He could do nothing but obey Tara’s orders. He was forced to stand there and see what would happen next. Samson had used the time to put himself in a good position. The man was showing potential. He just could not waste this chance too.

Tara had to stand up again, pulling Gillian with her.

She would have to take about two steps to the side in order to reach the key. John could see the anger in her expression. She knew that he had aimed badly on purpose.

Now
, thought John,
now!

Perhaps the telepathy worked. Samson, who had always acted so hesitantly and fearfully, suddenly shot forward. He reached the two women in under a second, just as Tara heard or felt the movement behind her and spun around. He smacked into her so forcefully that she could not think of defending herself. She let Gillian go and fell to the floor. She still held the knife in her hand and it would only be a moment before she would thrust it between the ribs of Samson, who, overwhelmed by his own courage, was now standing there paralysed.

But now John was there too. He pushed Samson aside and knelt on Tara’s chest, disarming her with one quick, skilful movement. Then he got up and forced Tara to get up slowly too, holding her arm behind her back in a half nelson.

‘No sudden movements,’ he warned her, ‘else it’s going to hurt.’

She seemed suddenly to be in a daze. She did not say anything or try to resist. She had been beaten and for the moment she had no idea how to get out of it.

Yet John did not relax for a second. She was still a dangerous opponent. And she had nothing to lose.

‘We’re going to walk over to my car,’ he said. ‘Slowly. Step by step. Do everything I say and then I won’t have to hurt you. OK?’

She nodded.

He would have liked to take care of Gillian, but that would have to wait. Their safety had to come first. From the corner of his eye he could see her crouching on the road, no doubt just as shocked as Tara. But she had someone taking care of her already: Samson was sitting next to her and had his arm around her. He stroked her hair awkwardly. She was not crying, but she had leant her head on his shoulder. The gesture suggested not so much a need for protection as utter exhaustion.

Samson looked light-headed. Moved.

John did not begrudge him it at all.

It might be the greatest moment of Samson Segal’s life. And he had really earned it.

Wednesday, 20 January

When he turned into Thorpe Hall Avenue, John felt how a load had lifted from his soul. He had to grin when he realised that he – of all people – was enjoying the sight of the tidy detached houses, the pretty gardens, homely streets and parks dotted with trees. The pavements had been cleared, though there were snowmen in some of the front gardens and thick layers of snow on the bare bushes and the garden fences. There had not been any new snow for days now, but the cold north wind had turned what remained to ice. It was supposed to warm up over the course of the next week. Then the snow in all its dazzling glory would melt away. What was left would just be a dirty slush at the side of the roads as February arrived with its miserable weather. But today the whole area looked like a winter fairy tale.

He hoped that Gillian would not have a go at him for turning up unannounced. She had told him that she wanted to take an afternoon train to Norwich and that she would be here until about half past two. He was hoping to be allowed to take her to the station. He had called her the day before and told her that he wanted to talk to his former colleague, DS McMarrow, at Scotland Yard. Gillian had asked him to call her if he heard any news about Tara, who had been transferred to London. He had been only too happy to promise her that he would. He welcomed any opportunity to talk to her.

The main reason he was meeting Christy was to apologise to her, but Gillian did not need to know that. Of course he also talked to her about all manner of things, including Samson.

‘I can’t promise that you won’t get into trouble,’ she had said. ‘We were looking for Segal and you harboured him. No matter how things ended, I don’t need to tell you that—’

‘Of course,’ he had interrupted. ‘I know.’

‘I’ll put in a good word for you. And for Segal. If I’ve understood everything right, he saved your bacon up in the Peak District.’

‘He did. I really don’t know what would have happened without him.’

Her eyes narrowed. ‘As I said recently, John, you were damn well informed. Unless you’ve got some supernatural powers I don’t know about, then it looks like you obtained information you shouldn’t have had access to. I don’t suppose you’re going to enlighten me?’

‘No.’

‘I thought so,’ she admitted.

‘What about Caine?’ he asked.

‘She’s being questioned. We’ve got a statement from Gillian Ward that details everything Tara Caine told her. But she has also made a confession now.’

‘That can’t have been short.’

‘You can say that again.’ Christy counted the crimes on her fingers: ‘Lucy Caine-Roslin’s murder. Carla Roberts’s murder. Dr Anne Westley’s murder. Thomas Ward’s murder. Abduction and attempted murder of Gillian Ward. That’s enough for multiple life sentences. Crazy, isn’t it? The woman always seemed so self-controlled, so serious. But that must have made things easy for her. Carla Roberts didn’t know her personally, but she probably opened the door for her because she looked so trustworthy.’

BOOK: The Watcher
10.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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