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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2. Sun Upon The Dunes

The painting hung in Jack's surprisingly small, but sumptuously comfortable sitting room. In the days when it the house had been used by some Lord or other it would have made a large study. Now, however, the wall facing the garden had been knocked down and replaced with floor to ceiling sliding doors that led out onto a small patio raised a couple of steps above the lawn. Flower beds lined it, built up to waist height out of brown and orange bricks. The smell from the flowers was gorgeous and the bees buzzed around happily. It was these touches to the house that brought Jack a sense of peace. For him to allow the bees to merely pollenate the plants brought him a great sense of satisfaction. But to Emma Hardcliffe they merely confused her.

She was especially confused by the painting hanging over the fireplace. It was a desert scene, the sun hitting the dunes and reflecting back off. In essence it was relatively harmless, but Emma had inspected the signature in the bottom right hand corner; it had been painted by Jack Holliday. She studied it with a slight pout to her lips. It was very good. What worried her was that everything she knew about Jack told her that this was not copied from a book or a memory of a holiday spent in the sun. This was the desert in which Jack had almost been killed when he was serving in the Special Forces.

She squinted at the painting as though trying to read some secret in it's brushstrokes. 

'It's Egypt.'

Emma jumped. She hadn't seen Jack enter the room. He was lounging against the frame of one of the sliding doors. 

'I...' Emma stopped, unsure what to say. Jack raised an eyebrow at her. 'Sorry. My name is...'

'A Miss Emma Hardcliffe, B.Sc, M.Sc and PhD.'

'Oh! I...' Emma cleared her throat and gave herself a mental shake. Jack's swift appearance had wrong-footed her but she was not going to be made to feel inferior. 'I am...'

But again Jack interrupted. 'Not a journalist. Clearly.' He pushed himself off the frame, slid the door closed and took a seat in an armchair.

To her annoyance Emma felt her face flush. 

'No. I mentioned it...'

'To get my attention.'

Seriously! Would he stop doing that! Emma thought, have annoyed and half impressed. Whatever she had thought about this man painting wishy washy pictures, he certainly knew how to make a strong first impression.

'Yes... A low blow.' Jack opened up a cigar case, removed one and sniffed it. Emma opened her mouth several times to speak but found herself intrigued by Jack's actions. He picked up a pair of silver cigar cutters and began gently clipping the end of the cigar.

'So what are you here for?' He asked without looking up.

Emma took a deep breath. 'I've come here to ask for your help.'

Silence punctuated only by the gentle clipping.

'My sister was kidnapped by a terrorist organisation and brutally murdered three weeks ago.'

Jack paused in his clipping and looked up at her. He held the cigar in one hand and the cutters in another. Slowly he leant back in the chair and studied Emma's face.

'Why have you come to me?'

'Because the authority's aren't doing anything.'

'Why?'

'They have no leads... they have nothing.'

Jack frowned. 'And how am I to help?'

Emma came forwards eagerly. Her hands gripped the back of another chair and her voice dropped low.

'You can do things.... Things the authority's can't...won't do. All the police are trying to do is catch these bastards.'

Jack's face was a mask, but Emma knew he couldn't miss her meaning. She walked around the chair and sank into it. She leant forward.

'I don't want these people caught and sentenced. I want them dead. I want their corpses rotting in the ground.'

For a second Jack looked something like scared, but a moment later the expression had gone. He stood up.

'I can't help you.'

Emma looked up at him. He was clutching the mantlepiece with one hand, head bowed.

'What? You can't or won't?'

'I won't.' He spun round. His eyes were on fire. 'How dare you come into my house with such an absurd proposition.'

Emma rose. 'I know about you Mr Holliday. I know what you've done, I know what happened to you and I know about the book.'

Jack's face expressed nothing but contempt. 'If the publishers are letting any Tom, Dick or Harry have access to the manuscript then I might as well drop the lawsuit against them. No point in my fighting it's publication if anyone,' he waved dismissively at Emma, 'can get their hands on it. Get out.' He turned back to face his painting.

'I can stop the book.'

Silence again.

'My brother, he is the chairman of the company. He has enough sway over the directors. They will drop it. Burn it. I don't know. But it will never bother you again. Please. Help me find the people responsible for killing my sister.'

'I said get out.' Came the low, growl like reply.

Emma felt tears sting her eyes. She left without another word. 

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