Authors: Steve Robinson
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Historical, #Suspense & Thrillers
Copyright © 2012 Steve Robinson
The right of Steve Robinson to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author.
The characters in this publication are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Other books in this series
In the Blood (June 2011)
To the Grave (June 2012)
Table of Contents
Three months ago.
ulian Davenport owned a penthouse apartment in Bermondsey, overlooking Tower Bridge.
He drove any one of three expensive cars and had a second home in Aspen where he spent most of his winters.
His London-based real estate business was lucrative, his trophy wife was a surgically enhanced conversation stopper and their two spoiled-brat teenage daughters doted on him, if only for their generous weekly allowance.
Davenport must have thought he had it all, but his dark-haired visitor in the smart grey suit knew he was about to deny him everything.
“Let’s get this over with,” Davenport said, avoiding eye contact as he invited the man in.
“My wife’s due home.”
Davenport was a short, skinny man with a quick manner and a curt tone.
He wore leather slippers and a plush white dressing gown that he was still tying.
He turned away from the door and shuffled across a spacious lounge of white leather furnishings and exposed floorboards.
“Don’t touch anything you can’t afford,” he added.
“Which means don’t touch a damn thing!”
The visitor wore thin leather driving gloves, which he removed and slipped into his pocket as he followed Davenport into the room.
He didn’t once take his eyes off the back of the man’s head: a tangle of long, mousy threads that looked wet, like he’d just taken a shower.
Davenport slumped into an armchair.
“Have a seat.”
“I’d prefer to stand.
Do you have the item?”
Davenport made eye contact at last.
He nodded and reached down beside him.
“Here,” he said as he brought a slim oak case into view.
He placed it on the coffee table and slid it towards his visitor.
“It’s all original,” Davenport added.
On seeing the case for the first time, the visitor rushed to it and picked it up, studying the unremarkable object as though it were something of exquisite beauty.
“Take it easy,” Davenport said.
“It’s three hundred years old.”
The visitor knew exactly how old it was.
He flung the lid back and caught his breath as his eyes fell on the contents: a parallel ruler, a sector and a pair of callipers, which were among several other mathematical instruments set into a green velvet inlay.
He traced his fingertips over the cool brass-work and the hint of a smile twitched at the corner of his mouth.
“Is it there?” Davenport asked.
The visitor returned the case to the table and removed one of the items: a rectangular protractor.
He studied it closely then put it back and moved on to the callipers.
“Can you hurry it up?” Davenport said.
“I already told you, my wife’s due home.”
The visitor ignored him.
He would not be rushed.
He removed the parallel ruler and turned it slowly in his hands.
Then he paused, eyes narrowing as he brought it closer.
“Can you see it?” Davenport asked.
“I had no idea what I was sitting on until I got your call.”
“Some heirloom, eh?
Dad never told me anything about all this.”
“That was careless of him.”
“You’re telling me.”
Davenport was on the edge of his seat, rubbing his palms together.
“So that’s it, right?
It’s what you’re looking for?”
The visitor nodded.
The digits were engraved on the brass, small but visible to his keen eyes: four binary numbers, one decimal.
They were a reminder to him that his life had purpose, and now that it was time to fulfil that purpose he felt something primeval stir within him.
He tensed to suppress the feeling and placed the item carefully back into the case.
“So when will you have the rest?” Davenport asked.
“Soon,” the visitor replied, closing the case as he flourished a handgun from beneath his jacket and shot Davenport twice in the chest.
efferson Tayte was in London, sitting on the pavement somewhere near Covent Garden, waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
It was the middle of a wet Sunday afternoon in September and the frightened faces that had previously scattered now formed into a concerned crowd around him, despite the rain that made the blood on his tan linen suit spread like dye.
It was not his blood, but he would have traded places with the man in his arms in a heartbeat.
Tayte had very few friends - maybe only one true friend if he were honest with himself - and judging from the seemingly impossible amount of blood Marcus Brown was losing, Tayte was mournfully aware that unless help arrived soon, his friend was not going to make it.
Jean was there too, no more than a blur in his periphery.
Marcus had only just introduced them.
Two hours ago they were sitting in a restaurant enjoying a very British Sunday lunch, chatting and laughing over roast rib of beef and fine wine as Tayte got to know Jean and he and Marcus continued to play catch-up on all the years that had passed since they last saw each other.
All Tayte could think about now was the blood and his friend, and why anyone would want to shoot him.
What were you working on, Marcus?
Who did this?