Sample from The Adila Arrangement
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Andrew, a government agent and one of the good guys, is working undercover with his father, a notorious criminal. Things aren't going well...
Andrew expected his father to be angry when he finally returned after twenty-four hours of unexplained absence. Lawrence was angry, but not with him. The cause of his fury was his car, which wouldn’t start. It was nothing serious, just a flat battery, but Lawrence took it as a personal affront. A minion was sent out to obtain a new battery, and another minion tasked with installing it.
“Damn it, Andrew, we could have been in Sydney by now. There are things we have to do, you and I.”
Andrew’s uneasiness grew.
“Just the two of us? Aren’t we taking any enforcers with us?”
“We don’t need them, they’ll just slow us down. We’re going to show them how things should be done. How they have always been done. Where the hell have you been, anyway? Not shaming your family name with that pervert again?”
Andrew kept his temper with an effort and embarked on some creative half-truths.
“No, I’ve been getting married to Joanne. We didn’t want to wait any longer. And we didn’t want a big fuss, so we did it the night before last.”
He thought Lawrence would criticise, but instead, he was delighted.
“My boy! Well done!” He clasped his hands around Andrew’s elbows, his arms stiff and strong. “Very well done! You have my sincerest congratulations. You didn’t leave her alone, did you? It’s important to consummate a marriage, maybe the most important part. Certainly the best part, if I remember correctly.”
He winked, a horrible leering parody of humour.
“It’s definitely consummated, father. But I didn’t want to stay away from you for too long.”
“I appreciate that, Andrew. That’s what I’ve always liked about you, your enthusiasm. Have you got that list of people we’re going to visit?”
“The customs officials. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten to do it.”
“No, no, it’s inside. Sorry, I was thinking about something else. I’ll get it now. Shall I bring out some coffee? It’s a nice morning.”
“Yes, do that. And hurry up, the car will be ready soon.”
Andrew raced inside, up the stairs and as far from listening ears as he could get, pulling out his phone as he went.
“Gideon, thank God. Tell me you arrested all those Customs people. We’re about to head off and browbeat them into submission the old-fashioned way.”
“In my spare time, I did manage to arrange that, yes. All but two of them, they were on holidays or something.”
“Give me their names, quick. And please try again, will you? I don’t want to have to hurt them.”
Gideon gave him the names and rang off.
Andrew took out the coffee, and gave Lawrence the list to look at. Two people, calmly sitting in the sun, preparing to go out and hurt other people for profit. Andrew wasn’t sure he could do it. His thoughts turned inwards, reviewing ways of making a beating look worse than it actually was.
He became aware of Lawrence’s eyes on him, cold and bleak. The friendly cheer of a few moments ago was gone.
“What happened to your ring, boy? Are you really married? That looks like cheap tack.”
“It’s not cheap, it’s platinum. I got rid of the other one, obviously. You wouldn’t expect me to marry Joanne with a second-hand ring, would you?”
“Ah, I see. Well done, my boy.”
The cheeriness was back. His father’s moods were unpredictable and potentially deadly. He couldn’t afford to let his guard down for a single second. And to think he nearly hadn’t bothered with replacing the ring, sure that it was too trivial a detail for Lawrence to notice. Andrew was enrolled in an examination without end, and to fail would be fatal.
His father was off on a new trail.
“Tell me about these brothels of yours, Andrew. How are the profits? Maybe we could bring in some cheap labour from overseas and do better?”
“Well, they aren’t really mine, remember. They’re just a snare to catch criminals. Profit isn’t all that critical. We’d have to set up new businesses for that.”
“Of course, of course. Just testing.”
Clearly Lawrence was having trouble separating reality from whatever world he lived in inside his head. Or, a disquieting thought, was testing Andrew for truthfulness, and was as acute as ever. How could he tell which it was? If his father was really senile, he should abandon the operation immediately. And if he wasn’t, the danger was far greater than he had expected. He should never have agreed to take part in this farce at all.