Shredder by Niall Leonard

Book: Shredder by Niall Leonard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Niall Leonard
    In fact, that sounded like Victoria’s voice next door, in Richard’s bedroom….
    At this time of the night, when the rest of the house was asleep, that could only mean one thing. She must have had enough of the wistful looks and the smutty giggles and sneaked down to Richard’s room. Yes, the Guvnor had told Richard to keep his pecker to himself, but if a girl as beautiful as Victoria slipped into my bedroom in the middle of the night, I too might have forgotten my orders.
    Great, I sighed. In that other mansion there’d been two doors and a corridor between my room and Victoria’s. Here there was nothing but a thin partition, and I was going to hear everything. I was about to go find some loo paper to make earplugs when I realized there was something off.
    I couldn’t hear what the two lovebirds were saying, but I could hear tension in their voices: Victoria’s was pitching higher and higher, Richard’s sinking into a lower murmur—were they having a tiff? I knew it was creepy to listen, but I couldn’t help hearing. Victoria’s voice grew more and moreshrill, and abruptly there was a thump of footsteps, then a door opening and almost immediately being slammed again. Then a scuffle, and a squeak—or a gasp—and then…silence.
    I pulled back the bedclothes, slipped silently out of bed and tugged on my jeans.
    I opened the door to my room as quietly as I could and peered out along the landing. The only light came from a halogen spotlight recessed into the ceiling over the stairs. I caught the tail end of a movement there—someone heading up to the next floor where the kids slept. Victoria flouncing out on Richard? But I felt sure that what I’d heard had been more than a lovers’ squabble. There was no point in me just hanging around wondering what was going on; I stepped out into the hall, clicked my door softly shut behind me and padded along to Richard’s. From the other side I heard a faint scratching, soft and subtle as a mouse gnawing on woodwork. Gingerly I tried the handle, composing an excuse in my head about going to find something to eat, and getting the rooms mixed up—but the door was locked. The scratching grew louder, becoming a frantic scrabbling, and I realized someone was fumbling at the lock from inside. I could sense their desperation,and I was just about to barge my shoulder into the woodwork when the lock clicked and the handle turned.
    Victoria was standing there, clutching her head and looking up at me, dazed and pale with shock. Blood was trickling through her fingers and soaking into the sleeve of her white cotton nightdress. On the floor lay a heavy marble ashtray stained with red. Richard had bludgeoned her with it. She staggered as if she was about to pass out, and I dashed forward to catch her and help her back towards the bed—but weak as she was, she resisted, plucking at the bare skin of my chest as if to grab the shirt I wasn’t wearing, and muttered something.
    “The k—” Her lips worked as if she was forgetting how to speak. “The kids—”
    I stopped and watched her eyes roll back into her head as she lost consciousness. I eased her onto the bed as gently as I could, then turned and bolted through the doorway, heading for the stairs. I took them two a time, praying I was wrong about what was happening, praying I wasn’t too late if I was right. None of McGovern’s heavies were around now that I needed them—had Richard told them to stand down? How long had he been planning this?
    There were low-level nightlights along the wall of the landing that led to the master bedroom where Cherry was sleeping. Halfway down was the bedroom Kelly and his sister shared, and Richard was the slim dark silhouette slipping through their door, something hard and narrow glinting in his hand. For an instant, absurdly, I worried about waking the kids—then I yelled, “Richard!” as loud as I could. I had to wake the children—they’d be terrified, but at least they’d

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