As the grandfather clock in the foyer struck two, Stephen Sanderson closed his eyes and stifled a yawn. He was exhausted. Nodding at the night manager, he held up the cloth bag. “I’m going to lock this up, then head to bed. I’d better try and get a few hours before the joy begins again.” He had no idea he would never know joy again.
Sanderson had done the rounds. The dining room was ready for the breakfast service, a few stragglers remained in the bar, and two of the waiters brought in for the event had almost finished clearing the debris collected from the marquee.
“Yep. Take the bugger’s money. Just make sure Phillip clears up before he clocks off.”
“Will do. Night.”
Sanderson opened the door to his office and frowned. The lamp on his desk was on. He was sure he’d switched it off. He was after all on yet another economy drive. Shrugging away his failure he headed for the safe, but spun around as a movement behind him caught his attention. He stared in disbelief.
“What are you doing here, do you know what the time is? Is there anything more to say? Actually, don’t bother answering that, you’ll only lie and prattle on again.”
Sanderson rolled his eyes at the bitter laugh spluttered in response, and the slow shaking of their head as they pointed out that when it came to lying he took the gold medal. Their smirk remained as he turned back to the safe.
“Glad I’m amusing you. I’m guessing you’ve made your point, whatever that might have been, you can leave. I won’t change my mind.” He shoved the coat that had been slung over the sofa towards them.
Ignoring the snort of derision, he dropped onto one knee and spun the dial on the safe, angling his body to block their view. Swinging in the bag containing the days takings, he slammed the door and span the dial to a random setting.
“Look, what’s the point of you being here? There’s nothing left to say. What does this achieve? Nothing. Please don’t make me kick you out, because I will, I kid you not. But, as I’m absolutely knackered, and in just a few hours I have another long day ahead of me. I’m going to ask nicely. Please leave.”
The reply was a slow shake of the head, and seeing what, determination or amusement, perhaps both, in their eyes, Sanderson walked to his desk. It was neat and tidy as it always was, it didn’t appear they had been snooping. Wondering what they hoped to gain as he wouldn’t change his mind, he pulled his cigarettes from the top drawer, and opened the French doors onto the small patio. He blew smoke towards the crisp night sky. Turning back, he pointed the cigarette at them. “You have five minutes. I don’t want another pointless conversation. I just
want to go to bed. If you’re not gone by the time the big hand hits ten, I will call for help to eject you if necessary.”
Stepping out onto the Patio, he noticed the temperature had plummeted, the lawn was already a blanket of white, and the webs on the ornamental fountain in the pond were decorated with flakes of frost. He watched the contractor’s silhouettes working inside the marquee on the other side of the lawn until he’d finished his cigarette. If this mob were as good as they promised, the tent would be gone before breakfast. Pushing the cigarette deep into the planter to his left, Sanderson walked back into his office a shiver ran up his spine as the warmth welcomed him. The sight that greeted him caused him to laugh.
“Give me a break and spare me the dramatics.”
His laughter died on his lips as the knife was thrust forward. His assailant wouldn’t have known, but that first stab did enough damage to kill Sanderson. But to be sure, the knife was pulled out and thrust into his stomach twice more.
Sanderson didn’t speak again, he was too busy making a futile effort to stop the blood pumping out of his body at an alarming rate. He fell to his knees, and as his body crumpled, his head hit the corner of his desk with a thud. Any damage that caused was irrelevant, Stephen Sanderson was already as good as dead.
Removing the shirt worn over their clothes, Sanderson’s murderer first wiped away a tear, then the knife, and dropped both into a carrier bag. Wet wipes were used to remove the spots of blood which had hit their skin, these were also added to the bag. Pulling on their coat, final checks were made. All clear. The lamp switched off, the hood on their coat pulled up, and the patio door closed quietly behind them as they left.
A little taster for you. It’s done. Web of Deceit is with the editor. It’s available for PREORDER and will be live on 1st December. The paperback and hardcover covers are being made ready. They might even be ready on 1st December too. Now, that would be a first.
Have a wonderful weekend one and all, I’m off to start work on the next project, just have to decide what.