The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 17

At the agreed time, Valjean parked his car in her driveway. he could just about make out her house from the greenery that surrounded it. ‘Fine, if you want to commune with nature,’ He thought, but I am forever a city lover. She seemed to live something of a reclusive existence, was there a reason for that, had she something to hide?

He walked on through the wood until he could see the house clearly. There was a large man in the yard chopping wood, no doubt for the fire, from Fouchet’s description Valjean felt sure this was Bruno, the handyman.

The moment he saw Valjean, he put down the axe and balled his fists, ‘This is private property, do you have business here?’ He bellowed in a surly fashion.

‘I do, but with your mistress, not the hired help, so be a good boy and tell her I am here,’ Valjean had deliberately talked down to him, he wanted to see how far he could push him before he lost his temper completely.

As Valjean had expected, the goading produced results, Bruno bellowed with rage and charged at him like an angry bull. Valjean stood his ground, everything was going to plan. Bruno was head and shoulders taller and heavily built, Valjean waited until the last second, then side-stepped and gave Bruno a right hook to his jaw. Bruno never saw it coming, but it stopped him in his tracks, Bruno grabbed Valjean in a bear hug, but it was a predictable move, Valjean head-butted Bruno on the bridge of his nose.

Bruno’s nose split and poured with blood which enraged him even more, he moved to pick up the axe, the look in his eyes was murderous. He had just hefted the axe into his hands when a woman walked around the side of the house and immediately grasped the situation.

‘Bruno, put down the axe and go and clean yourself up, you had better have a good excuse for your behaviour, I have warned you before you are not indispensable,’ She threatened. Bruno lurched off, but not before giving Valjean a look of pure malevolence. Valjean knew from now on he would have to watch his back.

The woman was all apologies, but in her position, she had to be. She needed a plug for her forthcoming book much more than she needed to back up Bruno.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

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