Jack Holliday Saga - The Long Road To Revenge - Book One

When someone you love is torn away from you... When something you believe in is threatened... When your life depends on one decision... What would you do?

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1. Watercolours

Her hair was unwashed and hung down in straggles around her thin face. Her hands, veins standing out against he pale skin, clutched at the bathroom sink. She looked down at her body, it had always been leaner than her sister's but now it was practically skeletal. Her white cami hung off her, her nails were bitten to the quicks and the bags under her eyes were like two dark bruises.

Her stomach contracted and she wretched again bringing up nothing but mucus. Shaking, she ran the taps and splashed some water on her face. As she closed her eyes scenes from the police tape played in front of her.

 

"For the crimes you have committed against God's creatures and the torturing you have bestowed upon those that are innocent I hereby sentence you to the same fate."

The knives. The evil looking instruments of torture. Her sister's never ending screaming. 

 

Emma Hardcliffe felt the tears trickle down her face. 

'I'm so sorry... Becca... I am so sorry...'

 

 

Anchor's Lodge

 

The paintbrush hovered eagerly over the palette urging the hand that hed it to lower it enough so it could taste the watercolours laying temptingly below it.

The hand retracted and should the paintbrush have been a living thing it would have sighed audibly and folded it's arms. 

Jack Holliday was contemplating the blank canvas with a air of bemusement. He could see the picture. Oh, he could see it perfectly. The wheat, blowing in the wind, the sun casting it's autumnal glow down upon the field and and a little bird clutching the stem of one of the crops and looking straight at the viewer. It would be camouflaged nicely enough so at first glance you might not see it, but a good look would reveal it's presence.

He sighed and placed the brush down on the table. He stretched, his white t-shirt pulled tight against his muscular chest. He stood up and shook his legs out. 

He always painting in the converted barn outside the mansion. The long windows that lined the tops of the walls let in so much light and the space, it had previously been for keeping cows and was huge, allowed his mind to wander. He found that being restricted by walls stifled his creativity. 

Very artistic, one might say to that. But Jack had never considered himself artistic and he would certainly never call himself an artist. He was just a man with a large, empty, barn that liked to paint. And paint he did. The mansion was filled with his work. Normally he would keep his creations hidden away in a study or an office, but the staff of the household had insisted on them being hung proudly for everyone, especially the oldies as they were fondly referred to, to see.

Jack had no particular qualms about showing his paintings to people, they were of generic, happy things. Should he have painted something that was a true reflection of how he felt inside... Well that would be a different matter and something that very few people would wish to see.

He methodically packed away his equipment. He placed the unused canvas under a tarpaulin sheet with the others that were stood up against the wall. His brushes were placed in the draw of the little table that stood in the middle of the barn. There was a tap in the corner that he washed his palette clean under and then packed that away in the table too.

After that he removed his dungarees that he wore whilst painting and put on his brown swede trousers. His t-shirt was removed and a light summer shirt buttoned up instead. 

He walked out of the barn, closing the padlock behind him. That was to keep the animals and not the neighbours out. There was a variety of different animals that he had found in his barn. The weirdest, and most worrying, had been an alligator. Not native to those parts he had had it removed by a specialist from the mainland. They suspected it had been a pet but as no one ever came forward to claim it it now lived in a zoo. Jack had dubbed it Brian and had sponsored it at it's new home and received quarterly updates on his progress. His staff thought he was mad. He thought it was cool.

He walked up to his house, his mansion and surveyed it proudly. It was beautiful. 

'Alright George?' He shouted at a resident sitting on the veranda with a book. George started and raised a liver spotted hand in greeting. 

'Aye... Not too bad, laddie.'

'Good to hear it!' 

Jack entered the house and walked up to the reception. The house may have been built like a victorian but had been modified to keep its quirky charm but optimised it's usefulness.

'Good morning, Sir.' Valerie, his tall, severe looking secretary said.

'Morning, Val.'

Her lips tightened at this shortened form of her name but Jack pretended not to notice and bent over the desk to look at the diary. 

'Nothing today?'

'No, Sir. Nothing...booked.'

Jack looked up at her hesitation.

'Something unbooked?'

Valerie sniffed, her displeasure evident. 'I had a young woman phone up three times this morning whilst you were in your...gallery.' Jack couldn't help grinning to himself. The idea of sitting in a barn was repulsive to the refined Valerie. 'She most insistent upon talking to you, and you alone.'

'Did she say what she wanted? Has she got a relative she wants to come here?'

'She didn't say so.' Another sniff.

'What is it Val? What did she say?'

'Its... Well! It's all very irregular!'

'Yes?' Jack prompted.

'She said to mention Anglian Publishers to you and that you'd- Sir?'

Jack's face had contorted in fury. 'Another bloody journalist? If she rings again, Val, you tell her I will talk to her. You come and get me. I don't care what I'm doing.'

'I see. Of course, Sir. Just one last thing.' She said as he turned to leave.

'Yes?'

'She said her name was Emma Hardcliffe. I don't know if that rings any bells?'

'Emma Hardcliffe? No,' he shook his head, 'I've never heard of her before.'

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