“I think a name change should be the first point of order,” suggested the bailiff Colette as she led The Cappy into his newly acquired auction house.
“The name is already established. It might be a better idea to keep it as is,” suggested Ronnie Owen.
Chick agreed with the bailiff. “It’s a well-known name but I want the people to know that this hall has well and truly fallen.”
Ronnie had meant that it would be a better chance of a fresh start. It would keep already established clients of the auction house sweetened until they got used to the new management. His brother was determined to put his stamp on City Main, starting with the toppling of their king – figuratively and literally.
“The archives list,” Jeremy passed the list of items the Auction House had available. Chick Owen couldn’t disguise his excitement. He had seen Captain Henry Owen’s compass once as a boy. His father had been so proud of it. He had been too. The compass had led Hen to making Coldford what it was. The people owed a lot to that compass, including the so-called King of Main.
The Cappy sat down a box. It was a small, mahogany box that had housed the compass on that fateful expedition. The compass had been lost after the vicious divorce of Bobby from his second wife. Chick kept the box, waiting for the day it would be returned. Ronnie had never seen his brother so giddy.
Chick beamed. “Smile, Ron, you miserable son a bitch,” he cheered. “It’s a good day. When the compass is back in its box, we’ll have the reporters right down here.”
Ronnie laughed. He too was pleased to have such an heirloom returned. Even if it took 4.5 million and the restructure of a Shady City institution to do it. He read the list.
“The compass,” he began. He didn’t know how to break the news. “It was sold on.”
Charles stopped wiping the interior velvet of the box. He closed the box lid over. Embossed in the mahogany was the image of Hen’s ship.
The Cappy turned to Colette. “I apologise ma’am for what I’m about to say.”
Colette frowned. She was a Coldford City Law Maker. She had heard curse words before.
“Where the fuck is my compass?” he growled at Jeremy. “You, your thieving employer and his three crotch demons better hope I get it back.”
Ronnie laid his hand on his brother’s shoulder. Colette said nothing. Jeremy found himself edging towards the door.
Ronnie read on, “It says here it was sold on to Ernest Beckingridge.”
The Cappy looked to Jeremy. His facial expression showed fury but his vocal tone had calmed again.
“It seems mighty impolite that this information was not disclosed prior to auction. Slipped your mind did it, sir?”
“I’ll talk to Elizabeth,” Ronnie offered.
The Cappy shook his head. “It’s no use,” he said. “She knew exactly what she was doing and she’s tougher than a two-dollar steak. I have mind to watch this place burn to the ground if it were not for the Penn mother. Elizabeth on the other hand, we’re not at auction anymore.” Again, he addressed Jeremy, “You are going nowhere until your little deception is put right.”
Elizabeth had asked her driver to take a route home to Beckingridge Manor via Pettiwick. She wanted to look upon it. Hopefully it would spur some ideas on how she was going to get it back. The bidding war had left her exhausted. Maybe an exchange? She could return The Cappy’s precious compass if he agreed on the resale of the school.
The limousine stopped. Elizabeth leaned forward and lowered her window into the driver’s seat.
“What’s wrong, Thomas?” she asked.
“The road’s blocked off miss,” he replied. “I can’t get any further. I have to turn around.”
“Blocked off?” They had driven into the school’s drop off point. The area where she had waved goodbye to Gramps on many a morning and skipped off to her lessons. It should not have been blocked off.
“Construction, miss,” explained the driver.
“No!” Elizabeth barked. “Not happening.”
She climbed out of the car to a bright and dry but frosty day. Just as the driver had said, fencing had been erected around the surrounding area.
FULLERTON – BUILDING BRIDGES. DEMOLITION IN PROGRESS.
“Building bridges, huh?” Elizabeth growled.
Thomas was now by her side.
“In the car, Thomas. I don’t plan on staying long.” Thomas obeyed.
She could see a man through the fence. He must have been a site manager.
“You!” Elizabeth called to him. “You there!”
He either ignored her or couldn’t hear her over the site noise. She collected a stone and threw it over the fence. It hit his hard hat with a clunk. He looked up.
“You!” Elizabeth uttered again.
The manager approached the fence. “Can I help you?”
Boards were up. She was unable to see what was behind them.
“You can start by telling me what’s going on here?”
The site manager was disinterested.
“Demolition,” he said. “We’re busy so clear off.”
Elizabeth scoffed. “Clear off?! You better tell me what you’re pulling down or I’m going to drag you through this fence by your testicles.”
“The Beckingridge Wing.”
Elizabeth shook her head. She thought so. Chick, you bastard.
“You can’t do that,” Elizabeth protested.
“What is it to you?” the site manager asked.
“Because it’s my name that’s on the bloody building.”
Ernest had donated the wing.
“Pettiwick did us well, Liz,” he had said. “Gramps would have wanted it.”
It was one of the best things Ernest had done during his tenure as head of the family. “I’m not here to speak to a minion. Send out whichever Fullerton fucker is heading this up.”
The site manager shook his head.
“Jenna!” he called. “Jenna, you had better come see to this.”
Fullerton contracts were split between the Fullerton siblings. Caleb had gone off somewhere without notice and the eldest, Jake, was serving time in The Boss so it was up to the sisters to hold the fort. No bridges being built that day, they were being burned.
Jenna had other pursuits in mind. She had her production company to worry about. It produced adult films but since it was her family money that was mostly funding it, she had to take her fair share of the Fullerton work. More than her fair share really. She had accepted what would have been most of Caleb’s contracts.
“Elizabeth?” she sounded surprised. “I thought you lost out on the school.”
Elizabeth clutched the fence. “You have no right to pull that building down.”
Jenna looked to the boards. “I don’t, but the new owner does and he wants it down. I’m just fulfilling a contract.”
Elizabeth growled. “I’ll sue you. Not Owen, you personally. Pull that construction missy.”
Jenna pursed her lips and folded her arms. “No can do. You know I have all the papers in place, right? I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
“Pull this construction now,” Elizabeth ordered.
Jenna removed her hat. “Not a chance, Liz. We’ve already been paid and that building is coming down. Your name may have been on it but it was a gift to the school. It’s up to whoever owns the school what they want to do with it.”
“What reason were you given for it to come down? It was a perfectly fine building. Ernest was good to you.”
Jenna agreed. “Ernest was a little sweetie, he was, but It’s business, Innit? We’ve got a job to do and I’d tell him the very same thing. I do have something for you though. I kept it. I thought you might like it.”
Elizabeth thought about Ernest’s memorial plaque. Maybe she could at least hang that in the manor until she got the school back. It had Gramps’ name on it too. Jenna nodded to her site manager. He ran to the office to fetch like a good puppy. When he re-emerged, he wasn’t carrying the plaque. He was carrying a newspaper – a Coldford Daily. He passed it through the fence to Elizabeth.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“This morning’s news. Open it to page 2.”
The headline read:
SMASHING TO SUCCESS.
The story detailed The Cappy’s plan for what was going to be standing in place of the Beckingridge Wing. The image showed Chick Owen and Jenna Fullerton shaking hands in front of the building.
“I thought you might like to keep it and remember the building as it was. You can frame it or something.”
Elizabeth threw the paper down. “Don’t do me any favours,” she snapped.
Jenna shook her head but she was smiling. “I’m just doing my job. It was Caleb who built it in the first place. I’m not happy about it either.”
Elizabeth had turned back to her limo. She stopped. “I wouldn’t know,” she spat. “Your face is so full of collagen that it’s difficult to tell.”
Jenna scoffed. Demolition was already set. There was no stopping it. Elizabeth could still elicit some damage of her own.
When Elizabeth reached Chick, he had been hosting Buddy and his bros at Owen Estate.
“Elizabeth,” Chick had been waiting for her. “I thought I’d be hearing from you.”
Elizabeth smiled but her lips were drained of colour and her fire was now resting in her eyes. The video call gave a good clear view of her expression. Elizabeth could see Buddy and his bros standing behind him. Billy was out of frame.
“I was passing Pettiwick this morning and you can imagine my disappointment when I was informed by Fullerton that my brother’s donated building was to be pulled down.”
The Cappy continued to speak calmly but the icy temperatures of his words made Buddy shudder.
“Imagine my disappointment when, after spending a generous amount on the Auction House, I find out you had my compass all along.”
On screen Elizabeth had set a golden compass on the table.
“You mean my compass? Bought and paid for fair and square.”
Chick frowned. “It is mine and you know it. Those oddballs had no right to sell it in the first place. I am a reasonable man. I will offer you a fair price for it.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “I like it. It’s a very nice piece.”
“Tread carefully Liz,” The Cappy warned.
Elizabeth brought a hammer onto her table.
“Oh! Back the fuck off!” yelled Buddy when he saw what she was about to do.
Elizabeth ignored him. “If you’re going to wreck property of mine then I guess I’ll do the same. How dare you pull down that wing.”
“I don’t really need a compass after all. I’m quite good at finding my way about.”
Elizabeth lifted the hammer. “Hen Owen, wasn’t it? There is an inscription.” She brought the hammer down as heavily as she could.
“Stop!” Buddy warned.
The Cappy kept his focus on the screen saying nothing.
Elizabeth brought the hammer down again.
The Compass, despite its study build, was damaged beyond repair. Elizabeth stopped for a breath and smoothed her hair.
“Are you finished?” The Cappy asked.
Elizabeth smiled. “I’ll be in touch.”
The call ended. Buddy rested his hands on his head. “Holy Mary that fucked an angel!”
“Charles,” Ronnie warned. “Don’t be rash.”
The Cappy paid no attention to his brother. Instead, he turned to Billy.
“Do you still have the rat boy?”
Billy nodded. He too was quietened by what had just happened.
“Then it’s time for Reginald Penn to see what happens when someone toys with something that belongs to me.”
Ronnie pleaded again. “Chick, please think this through.”
“I have thought about it. I have thought about it long and hard. He murdered our father, he humiliated my boy, and now our heirloom is passed around like a common whore. My fucking compass is destroyed because he sold it away, property that did not belong to him.”
Ronnie knew there was no use arguing with Chick. Heirlooms were precious to most. They were especially precious to Charles ‘Chick’ Owen, better known as The Cappy.
Having made their presence felt in the Mid-West village, at a small Kappa So outpost used for registrations and the occasional meetings, they had skipped across the city to the Mid-East.
Reginald was overlooking the area they had taken. They had been met with some resistance, more than they expected. The combined Fleet and Loyalist groups took a moment to catch their breath.
“We’ve got them on the back foot,” Reginald was observing, speaking to Paddy Mack.
Kieran Mack was busy scrubbing blood stains from his jacket.
Paddy agreed, “We’ve been smooth so far but the resistance is getting heavier and heavier each time. We need to move back towards the south before one final push into City Main.”
Reginald nodded in agreement. They had been so successful so far because their attacks didn’t follow any particular pattern, but Billy Owen had been manoeuvring CPD and success was becoming more and more difficult.
“Reg!” one of the loyalists cried. “They have junior. They’ve got junior!”
Immediately Reginald’s attention diverted. The loyalist passed him a phone. That’s when the screen showed the youngest triplet, Reggie, in pain, screaming and calling for the eldest triplet, Marcus.
“Woooh boy! This whore here likes her ass pounded!” Cheering could be heard. “King Daddy ought to see this.”
The screen showed Marcus held helpless. His support inside The Boss had been gunned down. Simon was flat on the ground with guns to his head.
“Say goodbye to your brother boys. It’s the last time you’re gonna see him.”
Kieran and Paddy shared a look. Reginald’s lip curled.
“Reg…” Paddy warned. “Think about this.”
Reginald shook his head. “Our next stop is City Main.”
Paddy continued to plead, “That’s why they wanted you to see that. They hope you’ll do something fecking stupid.”
Reginald was not to be consoled. “Those cunts have my boys!”
Paddy, still trying to stay level headed, said, “If it were any of my family, I’d feel the same way but we’re so close, so fecking close Reg, you can’t lose it now. For all our sakes you need to stick to the plan.”
Reginald’s fury was still throwing a tension on his facial expression and across his broad shoulders.
“We’ll get Reggie back. We’ll get all of them to safety I promise ya, but we need to stick to the plan.”
Not particularly friendly to begin with, Reginald Penn and Paddy Mack had managed to put their differences aside for the sake of lost friends like Tawny and Tabitha, lost strongholds like the distillery and the Auction House, and for the sake of the people they wanted to prevent the Owens steam rolling over.
Reginald found his centre. He found his calm. Junior’s screams and pleads would be the battle cry that spurred him on. But then the phone rang again. Reginald answered.
“Rita?” he said.
Kieran and Paddy shared another angst-ridden look.
“Rita? My love you need to calm down.”
“My baby! They raped my baby!”
“I’m going for junior right now. I’m going to get him right now.”
“Don’t let them kill him Reginald, please! You can’t let them hurt him anymore. He’s so scared. My baby!”
It was then that Reginald heard a voice over a speaker. It was in French. Flight 10SS to Coldford City was now boarding. She was at the airport.
“Rita! Rita do not come to Coldford. I’ll bring Reggie to you. I’ll bring your baby to you.”
It was too late. The phone signal was lost. Rita Penn was to board a flight to Coldford. Coldford City airport, owned by Owen Inc.
Paddy sighed. He leaned his head back. Kieran shook his head. “Feck,” he muttered.
Reginald may have been able to use Junior’s cries to spur him into battle but Rita’s sobs for her baby? Those would signal the end for his enemies no matter the cost.
“My wife has just had to see that. She has had to see what they did to her baby,” said Reginald to Paddy.
“I’m sorry,” said the Mack in charge. “But my point still stands.”
Reginald addressed his loyalists.
“We’re going to City Main. If any of those Fleet cunts choose not to follow, then leave them behind.”
There was little I could do as events unfolded. I tried to get a statement from Elizabeth Beckingridge but she had locked herself in the Tower. The exchange continued to accumulate. There was still no word from the distillery. Its gates were firmly closed. It was now a race against time for Lydia and her agency team to find any evidence they could on Buddy Owen or once again he would walk away after committing the most horrific crimes.
As I worked to leak the true information to the city, Rita Penn wandered toward danger. Her love for her children had blinded her to the Owen Inc. logos that were darted all over flight arrivals. The plane she had taken from Luen even stopped close to The Cappy’s own Boeing – Dynasty.
“Welcome to Coldford City,” the attendant greeted. Her blue uniform and carefully made-up face was glamorous, inviting.
“Thank you for choosing Luen Air. May I see your passport?”
Rita was in a hurry. She fished into her bag and produced a passport. The check arrivals agent scanned the name Penn and she compared the photo.
“Business or pleasure, Mrs Penn?”
Rita was distracted. She knew Reginald was busy. She knew he had troubles so if she could talk to The Cappy, maybe they could reach an understanding. He had a son. She had a son. They could see eye to eye. Perhaps she could speak to Ida Owen. Surely they could speak mother to mother. Buddy was her baby just as Reggie was Rita’s. If the women could just talk a while, they could find a solution and maybe then the men would make sense. There had been so much harm done already. Reginald would be angry she had come to Coldford but she couldn’t sit at their estate in Luen when the next time she saw one of her boys it could be dressing him on The Tailor’s table.
If Reggie managed to get to safety, he would want to come home. Someone had to be home. Mother would wait for him.
“I live here. I’ve come home to stay for a while,” she told the arrivals agent. The agent smiled. Rita tapped her fingers nervously on the desk.
“That’s lovely,” she said. “Well, you’re all set.”
Rita took her passport and was sent to baggage claim.
Reggie, poor Reggie. He was such a little boy at heart. It was bad enough with Marcus behind bars. Marcus was her big boy. He was ready to take his father’s place one day. He could take the heat. Simon was physically strong. He fought, he trained and he focused. Her boxer boy would be fine. But Reggie? He was sensitive, inquisitive, nothing without his brothers. They were a whole when they were together. Apart, Reggie was the most delicate piece.
She saw her bag, an old-fashioned trunk she had packed in a hurry. She hadn’t even given security time to collect her and escort her. She just needed to be closer to her boys. She heaved her bag from the conveyor belt. The exit was so close. The transport to City Main would be waiting.
She felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Mrs Penn?” an airport staff member asked. “Come with me.”
With that she was guided to safety by Agent Franklin.
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