This work is fictitious, and any similarities to any persons, alive or dead, are purely coincidental. Mention is made of persons in public life only for the purposes of realism, and for that reason alone. Certain licence is taken in respect of medical procedures, terms and conditions, and the author does not claim to be the fount of all knowledge.
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This is only a story, and it contains adult material, which includes sex and intimate descriptive details pertaining to genitalia. If this is likely to offend, then don't read it.
Unfortunately no politicians were injured or killed in the writing of this story, and no one else was either.
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I will always welcome contact.
The legal stuff.
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Rob and Pru went back to work on Monday morning, the excitement of the weekend behind them. Tony went back to his farms, and Letty enrolled on a creative writing course.
On the top floor of Tremaine Tower, Michael Hatton was not a happy man. His office was vast, taking almost a quarter of the entire top floor. What wasn't glass was wood panelling, and the desk was slightly smaller than an aircraft carrier. Embedded in the desk were essential pieces of information technology, without which he would find running the vast business empire very hard.
He wasn't a good-looking man, but he exuded an air of power and strength. Almost completely bald, he kept what little hair he had left cropped very short. At fifty-seven, he was overweight and not terribly fit. Preferring to spend his leisure time relaxing with either his wife or his mistress, and rarely undertaking any strenuous exercise.
“What do you mean, you can't find him?” he asked.
“I'm sorry sir, but the trail went cold in Geneva about four weeks ago,” said the man dressed in a black suit.
“Bloody hell, Ryan, what the hell am I paying you for?”
“Sir, with respect, he was onto us as soon as we picked him up.” Ryan Grover was a private investigator. He'd been a detective with the Metropolitan Police. However, he'd undertaken various covert and wholly unauthorised investigations on behalf of a much younger Mike Hatton, resulting in enormous financial advantage for the latter, and a requirement to resign for Ryan.
Mike had looked after the man, and he continued to produce excellent results until now.
“You didn't go to Geneva?” Mike asked.
“He knows me, I had my best team onto him. He's a slippery bastard. I had a man in the Zurich Bank, just in case, and we got lucky. It's the first sighting in six years. I picked him up in New Zealand, to lose him almost immediately, and rumour has it he was in America a few years ago.”
“What about his bloody kids?”
“Nothing. They weren't in Geneva with him, that much we do know.”
“Could they be in the country already?”
“No. I've a contact with Special Branch, and another with the Immigration service. I have the Tremaine name flagged. If anyone tries to enter the country with that name, I'll know. All the airline passenger lists are screened.”
“What about false passports, or ferries and the bloody tunnel?”
“That's always possible. There was a chance they could actually manage to find employment with this company. We've acquired the boy's fingerprints from a house in Adelaide. We've checked all male employees in that age bracket against these prints, and nothing.”
Mike stood up from behind his desk and walked over to the window. Without turning round, he continued speaking.
“We made a mistake not taking care of business twenty five years ago.”
“We thought we had.”
“Yes, but we were too fucking slow. He managed to leave the country.”
“He can't come back, there's the embezzlement charges to face.”
“Which we generated. He's had twenty-five bloody years. What the hell's he been doing in that time?”
“I don't know, sir.”
“Shit! Why now of all times? Just as the Tech -American group are offering the best takeover bid I've ever seen on a table.”
Ryan wisely kept silent.
“What can he do to us?”
“Not a lot, unless he has any of the documents from the original Tremaine Brothers Ltd. Apart from the original accounts we altered to make it look like he'd stolen the money, there isn't anything.”
“I still find it had to believe he just walked in and took the fucking things from under our noses,” Mike said, thinking back to those days when he decided to shift power and wealth in his favour. His cousin Robert had inherited the company and most of the stocks and shares. The bloody Tremaines had always had one over on the Hattons, who, being cousins had always been involved in the running of the company, but never at the top.
It had been in the seventies during the recession. Robert had left the UK to try to find new markets and workforces in the Far East. While he was gone, Mike had used Ryan to dig some dirt on a competitor, and managed to frame his cousin for an embezzlement of £250,000 during the acquisition of said company. When Robert returned he was arrested for the offence and bailed pending further enquiries.
The only evidence that would support Robert's defence was the company accounts. Mike had provided altered accounts as being the genuine article, intending to dispose of the others as soon as possible. However, inexplicably, as they all thought Robert had breached his bail conditions and fled the company, the accounts went missing from the company safe. The only other person, apart from Mike, who knew the combination, was Robert.
The security officers claim that no one looking like Mr Tremaine had gone anywhere near the safe. The only people who'd been in the building were some office cleaners and some typists.
Mike believed that Robert must have disguised himself, but had no concrete evidence. The alternate explanation was that an office worker, unaware of their importance, accidentally disposed of them. As time went by, Mike was less inclined to believe the former story as he thought that Robert would have been anxious to prove his innocence.
“I have to go to Paris at the weekend. I need to know that we're safe for the meeting next week with Tech -American.”
“We're safe. Everyone in the company is screened, and I'm happy I can vouch for all employees. He can't have anyone on the inside.”
“The only other way he can get to us is through the shareholders. I want you to get a list of all the major shareholders, sort out where they are and they are who they say they are. I wouldn't put it past the bastard to buy up as many shares as he can and open a take-over bid at the next meeting.”
“We should have killed him, you know that?”
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, sir.”
“Get on, let's do what we need to do.”
Graham Goodyer was a barrister. He was a good one, and was attached to the Serious Fraud Office in London. As part of the Home Office, the SFO comprised of lawyers and detectives, as well as accountants and other specialists who were experts in the field of business and commerce. It was in this area that multi-million pound swindles took place on a daily basis, and because the perpetrators were highly connected, professional, respectable men and women; tracing and arresting them was exceptionally difficult.
His first appointment of the day was a Colonel Fabio Metatucci of the Italian Carabinieri. The letter had mentioned something about a British Company that may be responsible for high profile bribes in connection with EU contracts.
The man ushered into his office was almost exactly what Graham had expected. Although not tall, the Italian was very distinguished, with an immaculate suit and expensive shoes. He displayed a pent up energy and an air of command if not patrician arrogance. His hair was greying at the temples and his nose was slightly hooked, in the Roman tradition.
Graham stood up, and offered the man his hand. They shook, and the Italian had a firm dry shake. Graham noticed the man wore a Rolex wristwatch.
“Colonel, I am delighted to meet you, please sit down.”
“Thank you, Mr Goodyer.” The Italian sat, holding a manila folder across his knee.
“Now, how can we help each other, as that was what was in your letter?”
The Colonel smiled and opened the folder. Selecting five sheets of paper, he passed them over to Graham.
“You are familiar with the Tremaine Industries?” he asked, his accent distinct, yet his English was impeccable.
“I am, yes. Are they responsible or suspected?”
“Please, just read.”
Graham did, and started to frown. He read all the documents, and looking up appeared confused.
“I don't understand,” he said.
The Colonel handed over three more sheets of paper.
Graham took them, and read them carefully.
“I don't see the connection, Colonel.”
“Mr Goodyer, I have to admit to a small deception. Had I given my real name, you would not have given me your valuable time, and we'd be going through a wearisome procedure involving the boys in blue. You have in your hands the original accounts of Tremaine Brothers Ltd, prior to the acquisition of Stamford and Grant Ltd in 1979. There is also the itinerary and hotel bills showing clearly that at the time of the alleged offence I, Robert Tremaine was not in the country, and had neither the means, motive or opportunity to undertake such that is alleged against me.
“Secondly, I have here a set of photographs, taken by a trusted colleague of mine, showing my cousin Michael Hatton and another man, Ryan Grover whom, I believe, at the time was a Detective in the Metropolitan Police. The first photograph clearly shows Hatton passing an envelope to Grover. The second shows Grover opening the envelope, and one can just see that the contents appear to be a substantial amount of money. The third photograph shows Grover handing over some documents, which I believe are the private accounts of Stamford and Grant, having been removed during a burglary in September 1979.”
Graham looked at his visitor, unaware of how best to proceed. Before he attempted to try, Robert pressed on.
“I have obtained, at some personal cost to myself, an itemised account from a Swiss bank. It is a numbered account, but I can link it directly to Michael Hatton, by these hotel receipts, these photographs and this statement from Karl Schroeder, an account manager at the Banque du Basle. One can see that the exact amount that I am accused of removing from my own company, were paid into this account in January 1980.”
Robert sat back and folded his arms.
Graham read through the papers once more.
“Why did you breach your bail, if you believed you'd been framed?”
“One, no one believed me, they'd done a first class job on me. Two, I needed to be free to obtain my evidence. Three, I couldn't trust anyone, as there was already one Detective Inspector taking money from Hatton, so who else?”
“Where have you been, since leaving the country?”
“All over, old boy. The question should be, where haven't I been?”
“Your wife and child were with you, are they still abroad?”
“Sadly, my wife died in South America, shortly after giving birth to my son. Both my children are now adults and their location is no business of yours.”
“I need to bring someone else in on this one,” Graham said, picking up the phone.
“No problem, old chap. I'm not going anywhere.”
Howard Markham was not giving up that easily. It was several weeks since he'd been kept in police custody for twelve hours, but eventually bailed for the officers to make some further enquiries. It seems that the person reporting the card missing was unobtainable, and it looked like the card had been issued to someone whose details were not verified. He returned to his Chigwell home that he shared with his seventy year old mother.
It was the only real asset his father had left, his house that is, not his wife. The business had gone, as had all the investments, during the stock market crash in the late eighties. The only other item, which was almost an asset, that Howard had left, was the letter written by Sir Charles Greyson. It related to certain product reports pertaining to the pharmaceutical industry, just prior to the launch of an AIDS medication. The shares shot up on launch, to crash back as soon as the medication was deemed to have potentially dangerous side effects.
Sir Charles, armed with the details in the reports, stood to gain a great deal if shares had been bought and sold at key moments. Howard did not actually know whether Sir Charles took that opportunity, and was banking on the fact that the regulators wouldn't care, the fact the information reached the public domain when it shouldn't have would be sufficient.
Howard was also a coward. He wasn't prepared to face Sir Charles, but Letty was a different matter. The scatty girl had no knowledge as to whether the letter was a threat or not, but could be frightened into doing what he told her. He'd deliberately kept his head down for a couple of weeks, and when the letter from the police arrived, releasing him from the bail and telling him there was no further action being taken in respect of the credit card, he decided it was time to act.
He sat and watched the house every morning for several days. Letty went out at eight, returning at about six. She carried a bag containing books, so Howard surmised that she was attending college. He was tempted to follow her, but knew that if she saw him, she'd probably run scared and do something silly. He needed to bide his time.
On the Thursday, he waited for Sir Charles to leave the house, and then rang the front door bell. The butler answered.
“Hello, is Letty at home?”
“Damn! I so wanted to get these articles to her,” he said, holding up a folder containing blank pages of A4 paper.
“She will be home at six this evening, you may leave them if you wish.”
“I hoped to get them to her this morning. She told me she needed them at college.”
“She's at the Covent Garden College, I'm sure you could drop them off at the reception.”
Howard returned to his car, sitting, carefully planning how he would do this. She had to go with him willingly, and once he was married to her, the millions she was due would fall neatly into his hands. He knew there was much that would go wrong, but he was determined to make sure that nothing did.
Driving through the busy London streets, he managed to find the college, and sat up outside.
If he approached her, she'd make a scene and that would be counter-productive. He had to persuade her to meet him, and somewhere that he could have control if she did become difficult. The only way she'd meet him would be if she thought he was willing to part with the letter and let bygones be bygones. There was a time when he knew she fancied him, perhaps he could convince her that he was actually a decent bloke and wasn't as bad as she thought. He cured his temper, for if only he'd kept his cool and allowed her to have her second thoughts, he might still have had a chance.
As he watched the students coming and going, he realised that there was no way she'd go with him willingly. He was not going to be able to marry her, so there had to be another answer.
He could take her and use the letter to keep her quiet. He'd set up a phoney kidnap and then pretend to rescue her. She'd say nothing, he'd be a hero. Her father would be delighted and reward him handsomely. A fiendish plan took shape in his mind. He needed to make some preparations, so he drove quietly away just before Letty walked within feet of where he'd just been parked.
Rob was working on his least favourite type of work, translating a contract full of legal jargon from Arabic into English. He was tucked away in his cubicle, oblivious of everything that was going on around him. As Katie, he had developed a character of a distant but generally sweet girl, who was not interested in romantic entanglements with anyone.
After rebuffing the office Romeos, he was subtly approached by a pleasant young woman called Sheena who worked in HR. Rob had been standing at the photocopier; waiting for it to complete a complex task he had programmed it to do.
“Hi, you're Katie Marriott, aren't you?” she said.
“I'm Sheena, I work in HR.”
“I know, I saw you in there on our first day.”
“Oh, you remembered me?”
“I try to remember everyone, just in case.”
“How are you settling in?”
“Fine, it's okay really. I just wish the fellas would understand what no means.”
“They're a pain, aren't they?” Sheena asked.
“Not so much a pain, more just plain boring. Just because I'm single doesn't mean I'm available.”
Rob was getting impatient with the copier, but understood the first rule of copiers, - leave me and I'll eat your paper and screw everything up.
“You started with your brother, didn't you?”
“Yes, he's in the legal department.”
“I know. I had lunch with him yesterday.”
“Oh yes?” Rob was surprised.
“It's not what you think, it was the only free table, so we shared. He's very nice.”
“Yes, I think so.”
“I don't want you to think I'm forward or nosey, but have you anyone at the moment?”
“Me? Not really, why?”
“I just saw you being pestered by our Jon boy. He really fancies you, were you aware of that?”
“I'd have to be blind and stupid not to. He keeps buying me things, it's so embarrassing.”
“You don't like him, then?”
“Let's just say, he's not my type, okay?”
Sheena seemed to be struggling with something, and Rob started to understand where she was going.
“So, what is your type?” she finally asked.
Rob collected the sheets of paper that had now been sorted, and started putting them in order.
“I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. I think I've yet to find him.”
“Are you sure it may not be a her?”
Cards on the table, Sheena looked expectantly at Rob, believing him to be another girl. This was so complex that Rob started to laugh. Here he was, a male, dressed and pretending to be a girl. He fancied another girl who didn't know he was a boy, but had met him as a boy and didn't know he was a girl, or not. Then here was a girl, who was a lesbian, who also fancied him, believing he was a girl too.
“Sheena, she might be a girl, hell I don't know. I promise, if I get a feeling it's you, I'll let you know.”
“We could go out for a drink and a meal, just to find out?” she asked, hopefully.
Rob looked at her. With what he had between his legs, she'd run a mile. Once this was over, one way or another he was staying as just one gender for the rest of his bloody life.
“Maybe, let's see what happens, in a week or two. Okay?”
Keeping to his policy of never shutting any door, he watched Sheena leave with a smile on her face. Why did everyone he met end up fancying him?
Ever since then, Sheena would seek him out and joined him for lunch. However, he was now stuck in this Arabic contract, so sex was a long way from his mind.
He looked up. It was the MD's PA, Madeline Green.
“Mr Hatton wants to know if you're free this weekend.”
“This weekend? Yes, I think so. I was going shopping with a friend, but I can do that any time. Why?”
“He has a conference in Paris. He needs someone fluent in French German and Italian, so your name immediately came up. Could you accompany him?”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Excellent, here's your ticket. You leave from Heathrow on Friday at two twenty, and return on Monday at noon. Here's his itinerary, and I'll give you a copy of his notes before you go. You'll be staying at the Hotel Splendide in the centre of Paris.”
“Aren't you going?”
“No, I've a wedding to go to. Besides, I'm sure you can cope.”
“Right, what sort of clothes do I need?”
“What you normally wear will be fine.”
Madeline smiled and left him alone with his Arabic. Friday was only two days away. Still, he was so used to being Katie now, he almost felt he was her.
He finished his translation and took it to the legal department. Pru was in her office, pouring over some documents, making marks in the margin with a red pen.
“Hello stranger,” he said.
“Hi Katie, what's up?” Pru answered, just as a colleague walked past the open door.
“I've just brought this back, do you want it or what?”
Pru looked at the translation work.
“Yup, that for me, leave it there and I'll sort it in a minute.”
“I'm off to Paris with the boss on Friday,” Rob said.
“Lucky you, I hope he can keep his hands to himself.”
“I'll be all right. He's married.”
“I hear he's got a mistress as well.”
“Then he'll be too knackered to chase after me.”
“Talking about chasing after you, has Sheena from HR spoken to you yet?”
“Sheena, the ‘I'd like to go to bed with you' girl?”
“She has. What happened?”
“Nothing, what do you expect?”
“I wondered how you handled it, that's all.”
“I let her believe there's always a chance, as I do with all of them. I hear she had lunch with you. Did she twig?”
“No, at least I don't think so. This is getting very complicated, I hope the old man comes soon and puts an end to everything.”
Rob examined one of his nails.
“Fuck, the varnish is chipped.”
Pru smiled, but it was a sad smile. She recognised that Rob was probably more girl than boy now.
“Well, I hope Paris is fun. It should be nice as the weather is warming up a bit.”
“It should be. I might get some shopping done, but I doubt it. I'll see you later.”
He returned to his office and found he had nothing left to do. He popped his head around his boss's door.
“Ronald, if there is nothing else for me, I'd like to go and sort out some stuff for Friday. Mr Hatton wants to take me to Paris for a conference.”
“Katie, I know, his PA has just sent me a memo. Are you okay with this, it is rather short notice?”
“Fine, I just need to rearrange and reschedule some things.”
“Take the rest of the day, and tomorrow if you want.”
Rob smiled sweetly, enjoying watching Ronald blush.
“You're a darling, thanks,” he said, leaving him alone.