Revenge Ritual

‘In your dreams,’ she replied but was secretly pleased. ‘Come on then tell me more. When is it?’

‘They want you to start straight away. Attend the conference then spend some time in the housing projects. You’ll be away for a year. But don’t worry, there’ll be time for you to enjoy a few more days in Devon first, although I got the impression you weren’t really enjoying the Sidmouth office.’

But Kate was hardly listening. She was already working out what to include in her speech. Chicago, the windy city, one of the most exciting places in the world. Home of the founding fathers of urban criminology – somewhere she had wanted to work for ages.

‘What kind of research?’ she said, keeping her voice non-committal. She’d be damned if she’d show him how excited she really was.

Jake turned and gave her one of his infuriating grins that showed she was back in his good books. ‘Come back to the office and find out. But I’d sneak in the back door if I were you.’


The shower could wait. All Kate wanted to do now was share her news. Dad’s old Mercedes was parked in the drive of Brathcol, her old home. The old house looked magnificent in the sunlight with its timbered front and art deco windows, even if it could do with a coat of paint. Beyond her father’s car she was disappointed to see a gleaming yellow Ferrari parked. She’d been hoping he’d be alone so she could tell him all about her trip to the States. Apart from Jake, there had been no one left at the office to share her excitement.

From the information waiting for her at the Sidmouth office, it looked like she’d be away for at least a year. She knew her father would be disappointed. Each of the three mornings since she’d arrived he told her how much he was enjoying having her to stay as if he expected her to suddenly leave – and now she was going to. She wanted to break the news to him gradually: it wasn’t the sort of conversation she wanted to have in front of a stranger. In fact, she didn’t want to meet a stranger at all when she felt such a mess from her steamy night with Jake – especially one who owned a Ferrari.

She found her father sitting outside in the garden on the swing seat next to an elegant woman with a designer top, white jeans and bright red lipstick. From her laughter, it sounded like they’d been sharing a joke and Dad looked rather startled at Kate’s appearance. The red lipped woman on the other hand appeared totally unphased and immediately jumped to her feet and held out a perfectly manicured hand.

‘Hello, you must be Kate. I’ve been dying to meet you. I’ve heard all about your prize for working with prostitutes from your father. He’s so proud of you.’

Kate’s ebullient mood dipped. Dad didn’t go in for small talk. Who was this woman who seemed to have persuaded her father to share some details of her life she’d prefer to remain private? She looked familiar but Kate couldn’t quite place her.

She remained where she was with her arm held rigidly by her side and said, ‘You seem to have an advantage over me then.’

The woman was still smiling, ‘Of course, what am I thinking. You don’t know who I am. Why should you? I’m Elaine Pierce. Your father has been helping with Kidpower, one of my charities. I called round to tell him about one of his mentees, a boy called Micki. He’s doing so well with your father’s help that the Youth Offending Team is shortening his attendance order.’

Kate gave her father a quizzical look. Dad looked flustered, uneasy at the praise. ‘Well, it’s not down to me really. Everyone at Kidpower does their best and young Micki is a grand kid. It’s not his fault he’s been uprooted from his family and friends in Poland. If he was still living at home I doubt he would ever have started stealing.’


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