A Romantic Crime Thriller Ch. 03byshandal©
This is a five chapter romantic crime thriller about Michael and Libby and how they find out who set Michael up to take the rap for a murder he didn't do and get the information to prove Libby's dad innocent of theft.
Michael forked up a swirl of the pasta and ate it whilst sitting opposite Libby at the small table in the lounge. "This is great; you really made this pasta sauce from scratch? You're perfect, a woman that can cook and is great in the bedroom, I think I've died and gone to heaven."
"Another of your corny lines Michael." But inside Libby was basking in pleasure. She sat opposite him eating her own meal, watching him as he ate, taking in the man she had earlier had wonderful sex with. He seemed so relaxed and laid back, giving her the occasional grin as he consumed the pasta,
After he had scooped up the last forkful he sat back, glass of red wine in his hand and said, "The man that called himself Smith that I met up with was about late thirties, five eleven, dark sandy coloured hair styled short around a narrow face. He had a slight northern accent, maybe Yorkshire, wore a suit, carried a laptop case, ring any bells?"
"Not to me. Maybe my dad will recognise the description."
"Maybe......but I've been thinking. Whoever tried to set me up and has set your dad up would probably be doing it because he is the one who really has done the fraud, possibly in conjunction with McMasters, therefore he would have access to the same stuff as your dad and work with him, or in the same office."
"Just stating the facts. So tomorrow we go sit outside the building where your dad worked, watch people arriving and leaving and see if I recognise him and then follow him to see where he goes."
Libby nodded, "OK, and then what?"
"Then you come home whilst I do what I'm good at." Michael's face took on that hard look, a little frightening to see, and his eyes went flat as he said, "What I've been trained to do. I'll get him to give me the file and then bring it back to you. You can do whatever you want to do with the file to help clear your dad, and let the cops know where I've left the bastard."
Libby's hand shot across the table to grab Michaels, "You won't kill him."
"Of course not......what do you take me for?"
"Sorry.......And then what?"
"What do you mean?"
"What will you do then? Will you go back to London?"
Michael picked up the fork he had been using to eat his pasta and twirled it in his fingers in a nervous manner and avoided looking at Libby as he shrugged, "I was only doing this job because I was between assignments. When I get back I'll contact the agency and see if there's any job I can hook up with. Some contract or other."
"Fighting for money."
Defensively he replied "Yeah fighting for money.......protection and security. Whatever."
Standing up Libby started to clear up the plates and cutlery. Michael gently grabbed her wrist and pulled her around and down onto his lap, "But until then we have tonight and three more nights once I've retrieved the file for you." Pulling her head down to his he kissed her, his hands holding her still on his lap.
After the long slow drugging kiss he told her, "Let's go back up, screw around and mess the bed up some more."
"That's a very romantic offer Michael." She told him sarcastically, "you certainly know how to woo a girl."
"If you want romance Libby you're sitting on the wrong mans lap." She started to wriggle off of him, but his hands held her still, "I'm not offering happy ever afters sugar, but I'm here for you, I'll help you get things sorted out so your dad is freed. I don't take shit from anyone, and I'll protect you and make sure your safe while I'm here. I may be rough around the edges, but I'm solid, and honest in my own way. No I'm not romantic, but I know I can make your body sing with pleasure, and I won't hurt you. I promise."
Libby looked at him, into his deep brown eyes and lowered her head to take his mouth in a kiss. "OK, good enough for me......so my big bad warrior lets go screw and mess up the sheets some more."
Later that night Michael drifted awake, his body curled protectively around Libby's, their legs tangled, his arms holding her, his face buried into the sweet smelling silk of her hair. He lay there quietly feeling her breath as it stroked across the skin of his shoulder where her head lay, and he absorbed the marvel of the last twenty four hours.
Lying on her soft bed, the quietness of the deep of the night, the wonder of the woman in his arms he felt at peace, real deep peace for the first time in his life. Almost spiritual.
Softly stroking the palm of his hand up her back so as not to waken her he thought about what he had said earlier about romance. He had never had anyone in his life to show him how to be romantic, never had a normal home life. In care he was one of many that underpaid social workers with too many children to look after left to get on with it. Violence from the older boys towards the younger ones made him toughen up, and he learnt to fight his corner from a very early age.
The army had continued to increase his toughness and feeling of aloneness. He learnt to be part of a team and look after other men's backs, but always felt a little apart from them, especially when they went on leave to visit families and he just went on leave to get drunk, find a cheap woman and let loose. Leaving the army four years ago and getting his own place didn't make him feel as if he belonged somewhere, his small flat was just somewhere he slept when not on assignment.
But here, with Libby in his arms, in her small cottage with the stuffed cushions, plants in pots, lace curtains he felt somehow more settled, more peaceful, more attached to someone then he had ever felt. And it scared him.
Kissing the top of her head as she slept he knew he was totally wrong for someone like her. She had called him her warrior, but he wasn't a warrior, more of a mongrel that just knew one thing, how to fight. She was a fiercely loyal daughter, willing to do anything for someone she loved. He was a taker, she a giver.
He wished he was different. He wished he could offer her romance, but all he could offer her was getting the file to help her and then disappear from her life.
All he could offer himself was loneliness, even though what he craved was love.
At eight o'clock in the morning, the sky starting to cloud over, Michael and Libby sat by the window of a coffee bar sipping at some frothy concoction that cost the earth and watched the revolving doors of the office block opposite. A sprinkle of men and women came into the coffee bar, bought their morning coffee to take with them into the modern building of steel and glass and up to their little boxes of offices to earn their daily crust.
Each man that entered Michael sussed out, each man that walked on up the road past the window he checked, every man that walked through the door into the big building opposite he gave his attention to. Libby watched him as he sat there alert and looking out of place, wearing jeans and the leather jacket with every other man in a suit or smart casual clothes. But to her he looked the most handsome, the sexiest and the toughest man there was. His hair, always slightly messy and his dark stubble gave him an almost piratical air, his big hands held the small white cup, almost swallowing it, and her mind went back to last night and what those wonderful big hands did to her and how they made her feel.
Squirming in her chair as she became aroused at the thoughts running through her head she asked him, "What if he doesn't appear this morning?"
"Then we wait all day until he does, and if not today, again tomorrow."
"But what if he doesn't work here..........."
Michael put down his cup, "Shhh......there he is."
"The one with the briefcase walking over there." And Michael pointed to across the road, "Walking up to the entrance right now."
Libby watched as the man in the raincoat disappeared through the big revolving door of the office block. "What do we do next Michael?" she asked him, excited to have found Mr Smith so quickly.
"We come back later and wait to see when he leaves and follow him to wherever he goes, without him seeing us." And getting up Michael strode out of the coffee bar, Libby trotting out behind him.
Michael stood pushing the supermarket trolley following Libby as she spent time perusing the shelves for what she wanted. Bored he marvelled at the length of time she took over choosing each vegetable before she put it in the trolley. "Just put it in Libby, let's get going."
"Shut up Michael, just have a little patience."
"We've been here for over ten minutes and all we've got to show for it is a bag of carrots and a damn lettuce."
"I want to buy a decent aubergine."
"They're all the same."
"No they're not......stop complaining, you'll like my Moussaka once you eat it."
"It has aubergine in it? Aubergine is a vegetable right?"
"Of course it has aubergine in it."
"I don't like vegetables'."
Turning around and giving him a scowl she told him, "You'll like these." And she threw three large aubergines into the trolley and moved further up the aisle to look at the onions.
Michael continued to follow her around the supermarket, bored, and then he noticed other men pushing trolleys, following women around. One of the men looked up and exchanged a roll of eyes with Michael along with a shrug as if to say, what the hell are we doing here? Michael nodded back and stood quietly as Libby held up two packs of lamb mince, both looking identical to him, but obviously different to her as she compared them.
The man that he had exchanged looks with pushed his trolley alongside Michaels and said. "Women shopping.....they're all the same.....whether its shoes or food........I see your wife has got you well trained!"
Michael was just about to tell the man that Libby wasn't his wife, when she looked over at him and held up one of the packs of meat. Looking back at the man Michael said, "She makes a mean Moussaka......she cooks, I eat.....and it all makes her happy."
Agreeing the man said, "Know what you mean....." and he wandered off after his wife as Libby came and placed the pack of meat with the rest of the shopping."
Michael stood in the kitchen chopping onions. They were working together companionably and Libby had insisted that they eat the meal before leaving to sit and wait outside the office as she pointed out that he didn't know when he would have time to eat later on and she didn't want him to be hungry later.
Michael felt himself glow with happiness that she seemed to show concern about whether he would eat or not. He didn't like to tell her he was used to going hungry for long periods when working, existing on just small basic rations grabbed whenever he could. This was sure turning into a new experience for him.
Libby worked preparing the Moussaka and sneaked a peek at Michael as he stood chopping onions, eyes watering from them, laughing she picked up a tea towel and dabbed at his eyes, and then kissed his nose telling him, "Big strong man.....brought to tears by an onion. The kiss should make it better."
Michael stood shocked, the throwaway kiss on the end of his nose, and her laughter undid another layer of protection around his heart, and he gruffly told her, "It would have been quicker to just order a pizza."
"Live a little Michael. Expand your repertoire.......and experiment."
"You want me to experiment? Wait for later tonight. I'll show you experiment."
Sitting on the back of the bike behind Libby, Michael sat intently watching the revolving doors, his belly full of the lovely Moussaka. He even admitted to Libby that he had enjoyed the aubergines in the dish, much to his surprise.
The plan was for them to follow Smith when he left the office, and if he got in a car they would follow on the bike, Libby dropping him off and going home when he got to where ever he stopped. Or if he got a bus, Michael would follow on foot and Libby go on home.
She had argued over the meal about leaving him with Smith, but Michael had insisted telling her he did not want her anywhere near in case there were problems either with the police or some other bad outcome.
Libby fretted and worried. She knew Michael could take care of himself, but what if Smith did call the police. What if there were other hard men there and Michael got hurt. What if he got shot? After all Smith probably killed McMasters, he might still have the gun.
All Michael would say is he could handle it and to go back to the cottage and wait once she had dropped him off.
After a while the man streamed out of the office along with crowds of other people and walked down the road towards a bus stop where he stood along with others queuing. Michael slipped off the back of the bike further up the road, and never taking his eyes of the man told Libby to go on home and wait for him. Biting her lip with worry she sat there a minute before Michael growled at her, "Scat....." and he walked over to lean against the wall of the building, head looking down and away from Smith. Libby rode off, her mind full of worry for the man she knew she was falling in love with and shouldn't be.
The drizzle started a few minutes later and everyone in the queue seemed to huddle and hunch over, glancing up the road looking for the bus. This worked in Michaels favour as Smith did the same, and meant that he was unlikely to look around to where Michael stood, and possibly notice and recognise him. Five minutes later the bus appeared coming up the road and Michael moved to the back of the queue, keeping his head down, and finally when it stopped followed Smith on, then moved to the back, well away from where Smith sat, looking out the window.
The bus moved slowly through the heavy evening traffic, picking up more people at each stop until it was packed. Michael relaxed a bit as this meant that he was well hidden from view from were Smith sat, and as the bus made its way out of town, through suburban streets, at each stop Michael checked to make sure Smith wasn't getting off.
When Smith stood up getting ready to alight at the next stop, Michael bent over as if to tie up his shoe so he wouldn't see him, and when the bus stopped and the doors opened he got up and pushed past the other commuters, getting off just as the doors were about to close, and at a distance followed Smith as he walked up the road.
After a few minutes the heavens opened up and the rain started to come down in heavy sheets, and Smith quickened his pace, trotting up the road and turning left into another road. Michael turned up the collar of his jacket and felt the water run down the back of his neck. His hair became plastered to his head and his jeans were damp and clingy on his skin, but he never stopped his stalking of his prey. At the end of the road Smith turned right into a road with larger detached properties, trees and hedges, larger front gardens with more privacy. Perfect for what Michael had in mind.
Smith turned into a driveway, Michael ran to catch up and was at the edge of the hedge that framed the entrance to the driveway when he saw the door open and Smith walk in. Framed inside past the open door was a woman, short brown hair holding in her arms a child of about four who leaned forward and hugged the wet Smith, laughing at the sight of his obviously very wet father.
Michael stood where he was, the rain coming down on his unprotected head and face. He hadn't figured into the equation a woman and child. He had planned to break in, tie up Smith, do a little hard arm techniques to make him reveal where the file was, and the whole story about the fraud, take the file back to Libby, make an anonymous phone call to the police on where to find the true culprit, and then spend the next three days with Libby, hardly getting out of bed, except to eat.
Damn, damn, damn....this changed his plans.
Turning around, dripping wet he made his way back to the main road, a bus back to the centre of the city, and then a cab back to Libby's.
Libby rushed to open the door at the first knock and stepped back to let a very damp, very grumpy Michael enter. "That was fast.....where's the file......did you get it.....is he alright.....are you alright?"
Storming past her Michael went straight into the kitchen, opened the fridge, pulled out a can of beer they had bought at the supermarket that morning, pulled off the tab and took a very long deep drink before scowling and growling at her, "Fucking bastard has a family. Fucking wife and kid. Witnesses. I don't terrorize women and children."
"You don't have the file?"
Shouting at her, "NO I DON'T HAVE THE FUCKING FILE......"
Libby sank back a step at his anger.
".....WHAT I HAVE IS SOAKING WET CLOTHES AND NO FUCKING FILE......"
"But you know where he lives?"
Running his hand through his wet hair making it spike up, "Yeah I know where he lives....and I have another plan......as soon as I get changed and dry we need to talk and set it up." And still drinking the beer he walked past her, ran upstairs to the bathroom, leaving Libby standing there having witnessed another side of Michael.
His temper when he was frustrated, his code of honour about women and children.
Michael pulled off the soaking wet clothes, dropped them on the floor, stepped into the shower and stood under the scorching hot water. He was pissed off, both at himself for failing on his mission, and for losing it in front of Libby.
He didn't mean to shout at her, it just happened, and now he was angry with himself all over again. Turning off the water he stepped out the shower, grabbed a towel and dried himself off, wrapped it around his hips, before scooping up his wet clothes and going into the bedroom where he found Libby standing waiting for him.
"What?.....I need to get dressed.......why don't you go down and wait for me there."
"I've seen you naked remember.....it's not going to be a shock to me to watch you get dressed."
Nonchalantly he removed the gun from the holster on the belt of his wet jeans, placed it in the bedside drawer and threw the jeans down on the floor where he had dropped the other wet clothes in a challenging manner.
Libby looked down at the wet clothes and the puddle of water starting to form around it on her polished oak floor. "Pick them up Michael......" "Pick them up yourself...." and he folded his arms across his bare chest.
Sighing Libby sat down on the edge of the bed, "I know you're frustrated, and it's going to mean planning another idea, but don't take it out on me. I'm just as upset.....probably more as it means we still don't have the file to prove my dad's innocence. But I'm not taking it out on you......so don't take it out on me.......pick up the fucking clothes Michael before they ruin my floor.....and grow up." And Libby got up and started to walk out of the room.
Michael moved quickly, grabbing her arm before she got to the door and turning her around to face him said, "I'm sorry.....forgive me."
Her hands went up to his chest and lightly rested on his damp warm skin there, "I forgive you." And then her hands slipped up around his neck and she kissed him, a soft forgiving kiss that calmed him down. His hands snaked around her waist and pulled her up hard against him as he deepened the kiss, slanting his mouth to fit better against hers.
Breaking the kiss slowly, mouth inches from his, her green eyes looking into his deep brown eyes she whispered, "Pick up your clothes Michael, hang them up over the shower rail and come on down and I'll make you a hot cup of coffee." and her hands fell slowly from around his neck, down over the skin of his chest as she stepped back and left the room leaving him tasting her taste still in his mouth and his head a complete mushy mess.