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Okay folks, as promised, here are the first two chapters of SECRET SHEPHERD. Hope you enjoy it enough to find your way back here to this link to the Amazon listing (www.amazon.com/dp/1730955630) who will treat you with the utmost kindness and respect while you buy your very own copy of this award-winning novel, in paperback or ebook.
September 9, 1994
Life was good… really good!
Paul Winston hung up the phone and leaned back from his huge antique oak desk, a happy man.
Oh, wow! he thought.We’re pregnant! At last!
Affection and excitement coursed through his athletic body.
Paul turned his leather high-back chair to gaze at a picture on the wall beside his desk: their wedding, two and a half years earlier.
What a gorgeous bride you are, my lovely Anne! he thought, admiring his young wife dressed in her resplendent bridal gown.
Above the picture hung an aerial photo of the ranch in Colorado where he grew up. Beneath their wedding picture was a framed photo of his investiture three years earlier as Lord Paul Winston, the 12thEarl of Prescott.
His intercom buzzed.
“Excuse me, My Lord,” boomed the voice of Clementine Shackleford, his executive assistant. “There’s a young man here to see you. Won’t give his name. Doesn’t have an appointment. Shall I tell him to come back?”
American-born Paul chuckled to himself. His notion of protocol was more casual than his matronly executive assistant’s, once described by a visitor as ‘having the combativeness of a Sumo wrestler, merged with the heart of Florence Nightingale’.
He started to ask Ms. Shackleford to show the young man in when he heard her shout,
“Stop! You can’t go in there! Stop right now!”
A loud bang startled Paul. Experience left no doubt it was a gunshot.
Good Grief!he thought. I hope Mrs. Shackleford’s okay!
Paul leapt from his high-back chair and sprinted across the enormous office toward the door. Halfway there the door flew open. A young man rushed in. He pointed a handgun at Paul’s chest.
“Back up!” the intruder shouted.
“Easy now,” Paul said as he lifted his hands away from his body, open palms toward the intruder. “What can I do for you?”
“Where is it?” the gunman demanded.
“Where’s what?” Paul replied.
“The safe, asshole! I know there’s a bloody safe in here somewhere!” the intruder shouted. “Behind one of those pictures? Show me!”
The agitated young man waved his left hand toward more than a dozen portraits and landscapes that adorned the oak-paneled walls, some priceless, dating back centuries
“There’s no safe in here that I know of,” Paul replied.
He was surprised to see the young man’s dark brown eyes scan the oil paintings with appreciation.
Is this his first attempt at an armed robbery?Paul wondered.
He looked closer. The younger man, a head shorter, wore faded black jeans and a stained sweatshirt with a football (soccer) logo. His eyes darted around uneasily. The features were Middle Eastern, his long black hair unkept and overdue for a trim.
“It’s behind one of those, right?” the skinny young intruder demanded. “Show me or I’ll slice up every friggin’ one of them until I find it.”
He pulled out a combat knife and held it poised to slice something… or someone.
Paul stepped toward the nearest painting, an original sixteenth century portrait of King Henry VI. The gunman moved back warily. Paul could see the smaller man was intimidated by his height and fit two hundred pound physique. That was encouraging. He grabbed the sides of the portrait frame with both hands. It didn’t move.
“It’s secured to the wall, just like all the rest.”
Paul started toward to the next painting intending to do the same.
“I told you, show me the bloody safe!” the intruder repeated. “Hurry up, goddamnit!”
Paul sensed the gunman was feeling pressed for time.
Mounted on the wall beside that painting was a souvenir stone axe a First Nation friend from Canada had given Paul. The axe, called a temahikan, was a replica of axes used by the Algonquin peoples before Europeans began their colonization of North America.
Suddenly, Paul sensed movement behind him. He ducked and whirled, instinctively grabbing the intruder’s right hand with the gun. His attacker’s other hand held the combat knife with a razor-sharp blade.
Over his shoulder, Paul caught a glimpse of the knife streaking toward his lower back. He was off-balance, with just a split second to react.
In the outer office, Clementine Shackleford struggled to her knees. Her right arm would not respond properly to her wishes. She looked down at the searing pain in her right chest. A large bloodstain surrounded a hole in her dress.
My word, she thought. How am I ever going to fix that hole?
Realizing the irony of that thought helped keep her alert long enough to direct her attention to the security panic button on her desk. The middle-aged executive assistant managed to push the button with her left hand, and then felt herself losing consciousness. She fought hard but couldn’t stop the darkness from coming over her… that annoyed her to no end.
“Okay, fella,” Paul said, tightening a knot on the restraints while pressing his knee down firmly on the back of the gunman’s neck, forcing his face into the carpet. “This ought to hold you.”
The assailant was belly-down, his nose and mouth bleeding onto the deep pile of Paul’s beige carpet, arms tied behind his back and feet lashed together.
“Damn!” Paul said looking down at the blood smears. “That was a really nice carpet before you made such a mess of it.”
Moments earlier, he had realized just in time the intruder was about to stab him from behind with a combat knife. He’d caught the young man’s gun hand and forced it behind the intruder’s back sending the gun flying, allowing Paul to twist his body, seize the other hand and shake the knife loose. He’d leveraged the assailant’s arm into a hip-check, slamming the disarmed youngster’s face to the floor.
While kneeling on the stunned intruder’s back, Paul had removed the young man’s bootlaces and used them to bind his arms and feet.
“Lucky for me, I learned to wrestle calves on my parents’ ranch in Colorado,” Paul chuckled. “You picked the wrong guy, fella.”
He realized the gunman probably thought he was going to use the stone axe to defend himself. The kid didn’t know the artifact was attached securely to the wall.
Paul checked his captive’s pockets for ID.
Hmmm, he thought.Just £13 and some small change… and a pass to the Underground… nothing else? No wallet or other ID? Shit!
Paul grabbed the slender young man by the belt and collar, lifting him easily up into an upholstered leather chair.
“Okay,” Paul said. “Let’s have it. Who the hell are you? Who sent you? What in the world were you looking for?”
“Bugger you!” the young man said, looking away, his eyes glistening. Blood oozed from one nostril and the corner of his mouth.
Paul looked closely at his prisoner.
This kid’s no thug, he thought. What the hell is he doing here?
The enigma piqued his curiosity.
It surprised Paul to realize he was feeling sorry for the young man. His instinct was telling him to be angry, but his intuition instructed him to help the kid, if he could.
His office door burst open.
In stormed a six-man assault team. They spread out, automatic rifles poised. One of them shouted: “Drop your weapons! Hands up! Down on the floor!”
Paul raised his arms and knelt, clasping his hands behind his head.
Behind the assault team came a man wearing civilian clothes.
“Looks like you have everything under control here,” the man said, chuckling as he offered Paul a hand to help him up. The man surveyed Paul’s handiwork.
“Where did you get your training? Special forces?”
“I grew up on a ranch in Colorado,” Paul replied, smiling. “Used to rope calves. I have to admit this was pure instinct. Paul Winston.” He extended his hand to the authoritative, well-dressed man.
“Yes, sir,” the man said. “Lord Winston, I presume.”
It was more a statement than a question.
Paul nodded self-consciously. “Please call me Paul, if you don’t mind.”
The man hesitated. “As you wish.” He introduced himself as Chief Superintendent Kenneth Hagerman from the Metropolitan Police Service (a.k.a., Scotland Yard). Paul guessed Hagerman was in his early forties, a decade older than he. Paul’s assessment of the cop’s seniority was reinforced by salt and pepper streaks in Hagerman’s professionally styled dark hair and meticulously trimmed gray moustache.
“This intruder shot your secretary when she tried to stop him,” Hagerman added. “The guy’s an amateur… poor shot. That probably saved her from more serious harm.”
“Is she okay?” Paul asked, alarmed.
“Yes,” Hagerman said. “No need to worry. I’m sure she’ll be fine… hit in the upper chest… the bullet missed bones and major arteries. A bit of luck, I must say. I would imagine by now she’ll be under care en route to St. Mary’s Hospital.
Fifteen minutes later, Hagerman closed his notebook and said, “I should think that wraps it up for the moment. I’ll ring you with any further questions. That kid’s known to us,” he added. “His name’s Ahmed Mousavi. He showed up on surveillance recently… recruited just a few months ago by a local gang called The Peckham Boys. They’re linked to a Turkish crime syndicate. Father’s in jail, and he’s been living on the street. The gang distributes drugs in this part of London for the syndicate. They both have nasty reputations… been on our radar for a while and on MI5’s.”
“MI5?” Paul asked. “Is there a national security issue here?”
“Just a precaution, sir,” Hagerman said. His voice was vague and non-committal. “Just a precaution.”
“Any idea what might have brought him to my office?” Paul asked.
“Not at the moment,” Hagerman replied. “It’s quite possible he was being initiated. Gangs often force new members to commit crimes. He’s new enough.”
Paul glanced at a business card Hagerman had handed him. It identified Hagerman as being in charge of the Counter Terrorism Command. That sparked Paul’s curiosity even more—why someone so senior and in counterterrorism was personally investigating a routine crime.
“Before I go, there’s one other matter we should discuss, Milord… ah, Paul,” Hagerman said. “It’s rather awkward, sir. Am I correct that’s your wife, Lady Anne in the picture?”
He pointed at their wedding photograph.
“Why, yes, that’s her,” Paul replied. “May I inquire as to why you want to know?”
“Would she be the daughter of Richard and Agnes Meriwether?” Hagerman asked.
“That’s correct,” Paul replied, feeling mild irritation. “Before we go any further, I think you’d better tell me what this all about.”
“What I am going to tell you, sir, is highly classified,” Hagerman said. “However, since you recently were appointed to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, I should imagine you’ll become privy to this information in the next few days.”
“What information?” Paul said.
“Our surveillance of Mr. Mousavi’s gang also revealed something else, that is to say, ‘someone’ else, and that surprised us,” Hagerman said.
“Someone, you said?” Paul asked.
“Quite,” Hagerman said. “A middle-aged woman has been seen frequently with the leader of Mousavi’s gang, perhaps a lover. That woman has been identified as Mrs. Agnes Meriwether.”
“What?” Paul said. “You can’t be serious! Are you absolutely sure? Does her husband, Richard, know?”
“Yes, it is indeed her and, no, Mr. Meriwether does not know,” Hagerman replied. “We must keep it that way for the time being. And, Paul, under no circumstances can this information go beyond the two of us. With respect, sir, you may not share this with Lady Anne until you are authorized to do so, nor with Mr. Meriwether.”
“Good grief,” Paul said. “When will that be?”
“We have no way of knowing,” Hagerman said.
“Shit!” Paul said. “Anne and I, and our son Douglas, are having dinner this Friday at my in-laws’ house. We’re planning to tell Anne’s parents that we’re expecting a baby.”
“I’m terribly sorry, sir,” Ken said. “But I must advise you that disclosing to anyone what I’ve just revealed would be illegal. We suspect Mrs. Meriwether may very well be in violation of national security laws.”
“Really?” Paul said. “How could that be?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Ken replied. “I’m not at liberty to discuss that further.”
Paul felt deeply sorry for Richard. He knew Agnes to be an obsessive and unrepentant social climber but she was Anne’s mother; he’d chosen to overlook her behavior as best he could. Her outspoken yearning for another grandchild, however, was also irritating since her primary interest was in the bragging rights it would give her with her society friends. Now this… it was over the top!
Paul wasn’t looking forward to what would have been a joyous dinner.
“One last thing,” Hagerman said. “I’ve assigned a security detail to you. Just a precaution you understand, until we sort things out with this intruder.”
After Hagerman left, Paul called Anne to tell her about the intruder, about Ms. Shackleford’s injuries, and to reassure her that he was all right.
Paul felt both relieved and deeply troubled by the news of his mother-in-law’s apparent infidelity… relieved the secrecy would prevent dampening Anne’s delight with being pregnant, but troubled by having to break their solemn vow to each other, to be honest no matter what!
He paused to collect his thoughts and snuck out the back door, evading the interim security detail, to check on Mrs. Shackleford at St. Mary’s Hospital.
A Week Later
The Law Offices of
“Please arrange for me to meet him,” Paul said. “There’s something about that kid. I can feel it.”
“With respect, Milord, I would not recommend that!” his solicitor Malcolm Witherspoon replied. “That young hoodlum is not worth it. You’d be wasting your time. In fact, I understand young Mousavi is being belligerent and uncooperative with police. He’s one nasty little son of a bitch, if you’ll pardon my language, Milord.”
“I intend to see him,” Paul replied firmly, “First, I want to find why he barged into my office and shot Ms. Shackleford. What did that gang send him to get? Second, something doesn’t add up, Malcolm. Most of those paintings are priceless… worth more than anything he may have been told to get. Maybe the gang was just testing him. Who knows? I’m curious.”
Malcolm made little effort to hide a disapproving look from crossing his craggy face.
“Does he have family here?” Paul asked.
“No and yes,” the portly solicitor replied. “His mother died a few years ago under suspicious circumstances… a fall down stairs at her home. His father is a suspect… but not enough evidence to bring charges. Anyway, his father is doing six years for manslaughter; killed someone in a pub fight.”
“Have you found a good barrister for young Mousavi?” Paul asked.
“Yes, Milord,” Malcolm said. “I called in one of the best criminal defense lawyers in the UK. Joan Hamilton. She interned with me.”
“A woman,” Paul said. “That’s good! Mousavi is young. Perhaps he’ll relate better to a woman than he seems to have been doing with the police.”
“I’m not so certain about that, Milord,” Malcolm said. “Mrs. Hamilton has seen him once. Mousavi agreed to meet but refused to talk. There’s one other item of note, sir. Mrs. Hamilton’s investigator has learned Mousavi was getting top marks in school in math and science. That is, until he began running afoul of the law. A former teacher told the investigator the kid was bored, thinks he’s gifted. After his mother died Mousavi seems to have lost interest in school… dropped out… been living on the street for a year or so.”
“That’s promising,” Paul said looking at Malcolm, who raised a bushy, inquiring eyebrow. “He sure looks like a bright kid. Don’t you think it’s a good idea to keep someone intelligent away from crime?”
“Yes, Milord,” Malcolm replied, frowning. “As you wish.”
The Old Bailey
The young man sat upright, dressed in baggy prison clothing, his wrists handcuffed to a stainless steel table.
“I don’t need your bloody help!” he snarled at the two people sitting across from him.
Paul calmly returned the young man’s angry glare.
Until then, Ahmed Mousavi had maintained stoic silence for almost ten minutes, ignoring questions from both Paul and Joan Hamilton.
Paul nodded toward the handcuffs.
“Yeah, I can see you’re in control,” he said. “Right now, you’re facing five to seven years for attempted murder and for assaulting me with a deadly weapon.”
“Why don’t you just bugger off and leave me alone?” Mousavi snapped back, turning his head away.
“Listen here, Mr. Mousavi,” Joan said. “As your legal counsel, I strongly advise you to listen to this gentleman. He can help you. Do you really want to spend the next five or more years in jail?”
“You’re not my friggin’ lawyer!” Ahmed shot back at her. “I didn’t ask for you. You can bugger off too!”
“Well, you miserable little ingrate, you’re stuck with me!” Joan snapped, glaring at Ahmed. Her normally gentle eyes filled with annoyance. “The court ordered me to represent you. This is my second and final attempt to talk some sense into you. Quite frankly, shit head, I’ve better things to do than waste my valuable time on a useless little prick like you! Go screw yourself!”
Joan stood, straightening the skirt of her dark blue custom tailored suit, adding, “And you can forget about me trying to get bail for you. I had arranged for someone to post so you could get your miserable hide out of here! Now you can shove that up your ass, along with the big dicks your prison lovers are going to be sticking in there real soon! Good luck with that!”
Paul noticed Ahmed was as startled as he by Joan’s profane outburst.
“Mrs. Hamilton,” Paul said calmly to the angry middle-aged woman. “Would you excuse us for a few minutes, please?”
“With pleasure!” Joan replied. She stomped out, exchanging knowing glances with him.
Joan had barely left the room when Ahmed blurted out, “What the hell did that old bitch mean about ‘prison lovers’?”
Paul looked hard into Ahmed’s angry brown eyes.
“Right now you’re being kept in a youth holding cell,” he replied. “Ms. Hamilton was referring to what you can expect in prison. Did she not mention that earlier?”
“Mention what?” Ahmed said. He looked down at his hands. His long black hair tumbled over his lowered face.
“What the hell is she talkin’ about?” he mumbled from behind the thick screen of unkept hair.
“Prisons are full of bullies,” Paul said. “They use new young prisoners to relieve their sexual urges. To be blunt, they rape young guys like you. They force new prisoners to become their whores.”
“Jeez!” Ahmed said flipping his hair back from his face with a shake of his head. “Jeez Christ!” He instinctively tried to stand. The shackles on his wrists stopped him abruptly, forcing him to sit down hard. “You’re shittin’ me man, right? They wouldn’t try pulling that on me. Would they?”
“Of course they will, Ahmed,” Paul replied. “You’re young and you’re new… and that makes you a prime target… a pretty juicy one I’d say.”
“No! Jeez, man! I want protection!” Ahmed said. Paul could see he was visibly frightened. “I have a right to be protected… don’t I?”
“Good luck with that,” Paul said. “Guards have no sympathy for arrogant youngsters like you. Fact is seasoned prisoners buy off guards. Some get paid to steer new guys like you to them. They look the other way when the prisoners rape you. You’ll get used to it… after a while.”
“I gotta get the hell outta here! Right now!” Ahmed said, almost shouting. He instinctively tried to stand again, yanking his handcuffs against the heavy eyebolt securing them to the steel table, forcing him to sit back down heavily once more.
“Can you help me? Please?”
“Ms. Hamilton might be able to get you released on bail,” Paul replied. “You’ll have to ask her. But frankly, I’m not so sure she’ll want anything to do with you now, after the way you cursed her.”
“Get her in here!” Ahmed said. He hesitated before mumbling, “Please, sir.”
Paul looked hard at Ahmed. He stood, walked to the door and knocked, nodding at the guard.
When Joan returned, her slender face had an annoyed look.
Ahmed’s tone was conciliatory, “How do I get out of this shithole?”
“Oh, we’ve had a change of heart, have we now?” she said.
Joan’s stern expression contradicted the kindly look in her eyes. “Not such a big shot, all of a sudden? What happened?”
Ahmed looked down at his cuffed wrists. He said nothing.
“A dose of reality,” Paul said.
“Well, tough guy,” Joan said. “You need bail and you’ll need a responsible person to vouch for you, to provide surety. You’ll also need somewhere to stay. With your mom deceased and your dad in jail, do you have a place to live?”
“No,” Ahmed replied quietly, shaking his still lowered head. He looked up defiantly. “And I’m not going back with those dickheads in that bloody gang, no matter what! No way! They got me into this mess. What do I have to do?”
“Paul?” Joan said.
“If Mrs. Hamilton is willing to arrange bail, I know someone who has a flat with a spare room,” Paul said. “That will take care of a place to stay. As for someone to vouch for you, well, that’s up to you.”
“Shit, I don’t know anybody like that,” Ahmed said. “Those pricks in the gang promised to help if any of us got arrested. They’ve done nothing… bugger all… so screw ‘em. I don’t want their help anyway… and I don’t want them coming anywhere near me, ever! They’re bad news.
“How about you?” Ahmed said, looking at Paul. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
“I’m not sure,” Paul said evasively. “And I’m not sure about providing surety for you. I’ll have to think about it. If I did that for you, it would come with conditions.”
He watched the expression on Ahmed’s youthful face fall and fear return to his eyes.
“What conditions?” Ahmed said.
“School,” Paul replied. “I may be willing to vouch for you but only if you agree to return to school and stay in school.”
“Aw shit!” Ahmed said. He was visibly disappointed by the condition. “I hated school! It’s just too boring, man! Can’t I do something else?”
“No!” Paul said. “It’s school or jail.”
The fear in Ahmed’s eyes intensified. Paul was confident the defiant young man was coming around.
“Tell you what,” he continued. “You agree to an alternative school I’ve heard about and I’ll consider surety. The school accepts people in trouble with the law. Students can choose what they want to study. A few are groomed for higher education. If you get in, they’ll work your ass off with schoolwork and with physical activities. One slip up and your back in here… got it?”
“Is there another condition?” Ahmed asked, nodding. “Uh, sir?”
“Yes,” Paul said. “You must agree to a curfew when not in school. Do you read me?”
“Yes sir,” Ahmed said, in his first real display of genuine humility. “If you will do this for me, sir, I agree to your conditions and I promise to work hard. I really mean it, sir! I don’t like my life very much right now.”
Paul felt reassured watching Ahmed plead his case.
“Are you sure about this, Paul?” Joan asked. “Frankly, I think he’s just shitting you. He’s nothing but a no-account punk. Why bother?”
“If he screws up,” Paul said, shifting his gaze directly into Ahmed’s eyes: “If you screw up, you’ll go right back to jail and become a whore for a bunch of sex-crazed prisoners. Do you hear me?”
“Yes sir!” Ahmed said looking down, unable to stifle a shudder. “Sir, can I ask you a question?”
“I guess so,” Paul said. “What is it?”
“Why would you do this for me?” Ahmed said. “All you know about me is that I tried to rob you, and I might even have shot or stabbed you. For what it’s worth now, sir, I wish I hadn’t done that. I… I apologize, sir. I mean it! I didn’t mean to attack you… I thought you were going to attack me with that stone axe.”
“I appreciate your apology,” Paul replied, reassured by the earnest look in Ahmed’s eyes. To be quite frank, people will think I’m crazy to help you out.”
“You got that right!” Joan interjected.
“I have one more condition,” Paul said.
“Yes sir?” Ahmed replied.
“This may be your chance,” Paul said. “Your one chance to become the kind of person your mother wanted you to be. So my other condition is you behave in a manner that would have made your mother proud of you. Do you understand?”
Ahmed nodded, looking down.
Paul noticed the reference to his mother had deeply affected Ahmed. Moisture had appeared in the young man’s eyes.
“Yes sir,” Ahmed replied, staring at his hands, his long hair falling back down, shielding his flushed face.
Ahmed was silent for a moment. Then the young man looked up. He shook his hair aside, met Paul’s eyes and cleared his throat:
“Look sir. Since you’re willing to help me its only fair to warn you about something before you do anything.”
“Warn me about what?” Paul said.
“The Peckham Boys and the syndicate will be outraged when they find out that you helped me get away… and they will find out.”
“I expect so,” Paul said. “We’ll deal with that, as necessary.”
“I’m serious, sir!” Ahmed said. “You need to hear me out! This will be a huge insult to them… they will be humiliated, they’ll be looking for revenge. They will track you down, track both of us down, and try to kill us, and your family. I mean it! Those bastards have long tentacles… they have people everywhere. They never give up. They’re worse than the Russian Mafia.
“Are you sure that you want to do this for me?” he added. “You’ll be putting yourself and your family in a lot of danger. I’m serious.”
Fear returned to Ahmed’s eyes.
“So am I, Ahmed,” he said firmly. “So am I.”
The Law Offices of
“Thank you Joan for setting things up so well for me yesterday,” Paul said.
“You’re welcome, Milord,” she replied.
“Our ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine worked well,” he said. “There’s a good chance we may bring him around.”
“I wish I shared your confidence,” she replied. “Do you mind me asking, what did you say to Mr. Mousavi while I was out? When I came back his attitude had swung 180 degrees.”
“We had a frank conversation,” Paul said. “Guy talk.”
Paul and Joan were meeting with Malcolm Witherspoon, Paul’s personal and business solicitor.
“Are you absolutely certain you wish to proceed with this, Milord?” Malcolm asked. “I needn’t remind you that sponsoring Mr. Mousavi is a big responsibility, and could be a risky one. Organized crime doesn’t take kindly to losing recruits. That Peckham Boys gang is ruthless!”
Malcolm’s back was to an impressive expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows on the twenty-sixth floor of a high-rise overlooking downtown London. A third of the glass expanse formed part of his large private office.
The architecturally designed suite housing his prominent law firm was halfway up an office building Paul had inherited four years earlier from his uncle, along with other real estate, a massive fortune and the title, Earl of Prescott. Malcolm had been his late Uncle Percy’s solicitor, and now was his and Anne’s.
“I have a good feeling about this young man.” Paul replied. “It’ll be an interesting venture… to vouch for someone, maybe even mentor him.”
“With respect, My Lord,” Joan said. “I was willing to play along with you at The Old Bailey yesterday but to be honest I don’t share your optimism. Are you quite certain you want to take this hoodlum under your wing, risks and all?”
Malcolm’s law firm didn’t handle criminal cases. He’d asked Joan Hamilton, a former protégé and a barrister now with her own firm, to take the case. Paul was paying her fees secretly through Malcolm’s firm.
“Listen you two,” Paul replied firmly. He made certain Malcolm and Joan could read the determination in his eyes, and the touch of annoyance he was feeling. “I need both of you to support me on this. Look, I’ve been sitting around on my butt like a spoiled rich kid for too damned long. Its high time for me to give something back to society.”
“But, Milord,” Malcolm interrupted. “There are much better ways to help others, if that’s what you wish to do. I would be deeply honored to assist you. Sticking your neck out for some no-account kid with a chip on his shoulder, much less risking the wrath of criminals… is that a good idea, sir?”
“Maybe we can turn this kid around,” Paul insisted. “I’m convinced he’s very bright… maybe all he needs is a break. I intend to ‘give this a go’, as my fine English friends would say!”
Malcolm and Joan smiled indulgently, while exchanging worried glances.