Revenge Ritual

He opened the car door, hoping to make a quick dash into the hostel so that Mr T wouldn’t come inside, but he hurt all over from the kicking. Mr T supported him to the door and rang the bell. No response, Micki knew the place was empty. He got out his key muttering, ‘I’m fine. You go now Mr T,’ and noticed how sad his teacher looked.

‘I should really wait until your father comes back from work.’

‘No need Mr T. I’m good.’ Then as an afterthought, ‘I’ll see you tonight.’ Micki had no intention of turning up at Kidpower but only said it to encourage his teacher to leave.

Mr T gave a weary smile, ‘No Micki. You don’t need to come tonight. In fact I don’t want you to come to Kidpower anymore.’ He reached into his pocket for a pen and notebook and wrote something out, ‘Here’s my home address. I live in a house called Brathcol in Otterford, it’s between Ladram Heights and Sidmouth. I think our mentoring sessions should be held there in future.’

Micki watched Mr T head back to his car, curious to know what his house would be like and grateful that his visits to Kidpower were at an end.

 4

When Kate had been asked to manage The Centre for Criminal Research’s West Country office she was delighted, she felt ready for some downtime. She spent the last couple of years working in the country’s poorest communities investigating the causes of crime. It was exciting work and dangerous at times and had provided the material for her thesis and then her postdoctoral research post at Oxford, but she needed a break. She’d always loved Sidmouth, the jewel of the East Devon Jurassic coast. The building stood out from its neighbours in the middle of a Georgian terrace overlooking the cricket ground: the only house in the row that hadn’t been given the pastel Portobello paint job. Beyond the glossy green door, the severe black striped carpet and tubular metal office furniture contrasted sharply with the gentle opulence of the building’s exterior.

The pace of the working day here was tortoise like compared to London, but she loved her new office overlooking the sea with its high ceiling and original cornices. Here the other researchers left her alone to get on with her work unlike the incessant interruptions of The CCR’s London office. Kate like to escape the communal kitchen downstairs and bring her coffee back to her office where she would sit at the window and imagine Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet looking out at the bathing machines on the beach, eager to go in for a swim.

Returning to work in Devon had triggered lots of memories of Kate’s childhood. How Nan would be waiting for her after school on Fridays when the two of them browsed the Sidmouth gift shops and boutiques, finishing off at the Mocca Cafe for cakes and ice cream. The Mocca had survived but many of the old family businesses like the cafe had closed, although the place still retained its Victorian elegance and charm. Especially at this time of year, before the rush of the holiday season started.

Kate’s eagerness to see her grandmother again was heightened by her father’s moodiness at breakfast. He still hadn’t forgiven her for being rude to Elaine Pierce, but as usual, he’d avoid saying it. He’d hardly spoken to her since Elaine Pierce had left last night. Of course, it could be the prospect of Nan’s visit. They hadn’t got on that well when Kate was a child. She’d often fled to her bedroom to avoid the raised voices between her father and grandmother when Nan lived with them. Still, she hated hurting her father and had tried to kiss him goodbye as he left for community school, but he pulled away from her. She’d shouted sorry after him but he hadn’t replied. To make up for parting on a sour note she had taken a detour to Ladram Heights, intending to call in and see him at the community school, but his secretary said he was in an important meeting and couldn’t be disturbed. Now she was late for Jake’s regional briefing.

As she made her way towards the meeting room her thoughts about her father were interrupted by the sound of shouting on a soundtrack being played at maximum volume. She wondered which of the Sidmouth researchers was risking Jake’s disapproval. But Jake was the one holding the remote control in his hand, even turning up the volume.

He acknowledged her arrival with a brief nod and paused the recording long enough to say, ‘So you are going to join us this morning? I thought you’d better things to do now you’ve become an international criminologist.’

Kate ignored the sarcasm and sat down next to him. ‘Sorry, just a bit of a spat with my father. Nothing for you to worry about.’ Then looking round at the rest of the team gathered round the video screen she shrugged, ‘Sorry everyone, I didn’t realise you’d started the team briefing.’

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