Synopsis : The book centres around two characters called Casey Alder and Jodie Flynn. Casey is a mid-twenties cycle courier in London and lives in the area of Finsbury Park which is in the North end of London. She rents a first floor flat from an older lady, who lives in the ground floor of the house. The lady insists that Casey calls her Aunt Essie and she treats her like another grand-daughter. Casey is known as a player though out the gay scene, and is happy with that. That way it is easier to be safe. A childhood in care can make you uneasy of relationships.
Aunt Essie, though feels that Casey could do with being in a relationship, and would love for her to meet her grand-daughter Jodie. This proves harder than she thought and the two girls keep missing each other. Then Casey is shot and sees another person killed as she does a late night pick up for her job.
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Jodie woke up thinking she had heard something. Trying not to disturb Casey she moved her head to get a look at the clock. 4.30am. God why I'm I awake she thought. Jodie then froze as she heard footsteps in the kitchen. The only person with a key to the flat was Aunt Essie. Why on earth would she be here at this time of the morning? She felt Casey begin to stir beneath her, and she looked down to see her looking at her quizzically “what's wro..” Before she could finish the word, Jodie covered her mouth and motioned for her to be quiet. They both watched with horror as the bedroom door began to open and a man stepped into the room and turned the light on.
Jodie and Casey squinted with the light, which gave the man enough time to cross the room and grab the quilt of them. “Well well what do we have here? A couple of dykes. Heh. I think I could enjoy this'.He looked down at the floor where Casey's dildo lay. “ Oh yes my day has just looked up”. As he moved closer to the bed, Casey angled herself so she was in front of Jodie. “What do you want?” she said feeling more braver then she must have looked at that point. “What do I want?' said the stranger. 'Well apart from the fact I could really want the both of you doing me at the same time, I unfortunately don't have the time, so just hand it over”
Casey looked at him in confusion, “Hand what over? I don't know what you mean, who are you?”
The man moved quickly to the bed and backhanded Casey across the face hard. He reached behind Casey and grabbed Jodie and pulled her from the bed. Holding her against the front of him, with his hand across her mouth, he asked again “Hand over the package or I will do this one some damage. Casey watched as he pulled her higher so Jodie's feet were barely touching the floor. “What package? I don't know what you are taking about, just don't hurt her” Casey pleaded with him. He moved again and punched Casey in the side of the head, “You think you're clever dyke. Well you're not.' Casey fell back on the bed stunned by the punch. He then turned his attention to Jodie and taking her by the throat he pushed her up against the wall. “Maybe you know where it is, seeing as you seem to be looking after her so well. Let me see if I can refresh your memory'. Holding her up by the throat he punched her in the stomach, Jodie unable to stand from the pain found herself choking as the only thing holding her up was the guys hand which was still wrapped round her throat, gagging for breath she began to struggle. Casey leapt of the bed and charged the man. He casually turned to her and held his hand up and pushed her back on the bed. Casey watched in shock as he pulled a gun out from behind his back. Looking back at Jodie who was desperately trying to get her feet on the ground, he simply grunted and threw her to the side where she hit the wardrobe and slide to the floor. Casey went towards her tears running down her cheeks. She was stopped when she felt the muzzle of the gun pressed against the back of her head. “I really don't know what you want, if I did I would give it to you'. she spluttered through her tears”
He moved so he was stood in front of Casey, reached down and gripped her jaw. 'You need to go back a couple of months and think what do you have that you shouldn't. What do you have that don't belong to you? When you come up with the answer, which for both your sakes I hope is quickly, you hand it back and you will know where you need to do that.' Stroking Casey down the side of her face he added 'Be quick or I'm coming back and I won't be as nice as I have been today'. With that, he grabbed Casey on the shoulder where she had been shot and pushed his thumb into the healing wound. As Casey went white with the pain, he asked if she understood. Casey nodded. Giving one last push, he strolled from the room. Casey gritted her teeth against the pain and crawled of the bed to Jodie.
Shaking Jodie frantically she called her name over and over till Jodie moved her head towards her. “Hey baby, it's ok he's gone, he's gone. Stay there” Casey held onto the wardrobe to help her stand up. She then staggered slightly as she went in search of some clothes. Grabbing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt she quickly dressed then grabbed a pair of pyjamas for Jodie. Kneeling down beside her, she lifted Jodie's head and pulled the top down over her, she then helped her shuffle into the bottoms. Jodie got hold of her waist as Casey went to move again. “Apart from your face where did he hurt you?” She asked.
Casey shook her head “only my face, only my face” she replied.
Jodie held her tighter and said don't make me ask you again baby, I'll only find out in the long run and you know that'. Casey sighed, “He pushed his thumb into my shoulder, hurt like hell when he did it and it still hurts like hell now” Jodie lifted the t-shirt and told Casey to take it off.
Casey gingerly removed the top and watched as Jodie's eyes took in the top half of her body. Seeing her eyes narrow as she saw the blood that had seeped through the dressing and was running down her chest, she felt scared that if they ever saw the man again, there was the distinct possibility that Jodie would go at him all guns blazing with no regard for her safety.
Casey moved away from Jodie and put her top back on. “Stay there while I get the phone we need to ring the police. Find out what the hell this is all about” she said as she went in search of the phone.
Casey and Jodie sat beside each other on the sofa as a paramedic worked on Casey's shoulder, Jodie could feel her wincing beside her as she tried not to let the pain show.
Detective Defoe who was perched on the coffee table looked at the two young women sitting in front of him. They both looked scared but also confused they seemed to honestly have no idea what the man had wanted. John Defoe knew though, and he hated to put more fear into their lives but he had not option.
“Casey, I know you say you have no idea what package he wanted, but I need you to calm down, Jodie is safe she is sat beside you, a bit bruised and battered but ok” he said this while looking straight at Casey. He kept looking at her, waiting patiently. Casey dropped her head and breathed deeply for a minute or two, then her head snapped up eyes blazing. “There we go', thought the detective.
“Shit shit shit it's the Dempsey's isn't it, they know where we live. They know about Jodie' she shouted, 'You promised we would be safe. And what package do they think I have that belongs to them. The only thing I have is a picture clear photo in my head of the guy that shot me, and unless they want my head on a platter, that is it” Casey moved even closer to Jodie and took hold of her hand, she felt Jodie tighten her grip.
Detective moved to his feet and moved to the door, “Walk me out Ms Alder please, Ms Flynn I promise that we will get to the bottom of this. Are you sure you don't want to go to the hospital for a check up?” Jodie shook her head, “I'm fine its only bruises and a huge headache, I'm more worried about Casey”
Detective Defoe, nodded at Jodie and walked to the front door, Casey followed in his wake.
“Ms Alder, if you think of anything, please call me” He passed her a business card, “It has my mobile number on it, I would also think about changing the locks on all doors' As he said that, he heard a muffled curse behind him, turning he saw Jodie stood by the kitchen, “Everything ok?” Jodie took a deep breathe and said “At the moment no, but it will be I can guarantee that.” With that she got hold of her phone and rang her brother Sean.
Casey said her goodbyes to the police and the paramedics thanking them and saying that she would head to the doctors to have them check out her shoulder. She shut the door and leaned back against it and watched Jodie as she paced back and forth in front of the kitchen table, her voice low on the phone. Oh boy she looks pissed thought Casey, I really hope Sean can attempt to calm her down. The nervous energy that was radiating from Jodie was scary, Casey moved closer to her wondering if she could actually get her to stop pacing, as Jodie passed by her yet again, by now shouting into the phone that she was a fuck up and why had she thought that just her being there was enough to keep Casey safe. Casey grabbed her from behind and then leaned back against the kitchen table holding her flush against her with her arms around her middle, she felt her struggle but she just held her tighter, slowly Jodie relaxed. At that point, Casey reached up, took the phone from her hand and spoke to Sean.
Hey Sean, its Casey, its probably better if you came here and maybe you could bring Nicky?” Listening as Sean said they would be there in about 30 minutes and hung up. Putting the phone behind her she kissed the side of Jodie's neck and held her just that bit closer.
As he put the phone down, Sean rubbed his face not quite believing what his baby sister had just told him. Luckily from what he could tell neither of them were seriously hurt, but even still if he got his hands on the guy who had laid his hands on Jodie, he wouldn't be responsible for his actions and he didn't care about the outcome. He went to the front door of the offices and called to Nicky who was checking paperwork to come over. Sean explained what had happened to Jodie and Casey, and that Casey wanted them both to come over.
Nicky stood open mouthed, God how is this going to play out. “Sean are you sure she wanted me to come over to? I mean why would she want me?”
Sean muttered 'I don't know, but she did so come on, lock up the van and I'll drive us over”.
Jodie hung her head feeling as if she had let Casey and her Aunt down. Muttering to herself, “What type of security consultant am I? Why did I think that I was enough, why didn't I think about this.
Casey could feel the despair coming of Jodie in waves. She moved them so that Jodie was against the table, bracing her arms on either side of her so she couldn't move. She waited till Jodie looked her in the eyes, she groaned as she saw the pain swimming in her green eyes.
“Jodie none of this is your fault, it just happened. I really don't think we could have stopped this. He had a gun for fucks sake, no amount of locks was going to keep him out. And it's my fault that you got hurt. My god look at your face, your throat is going to be purple before the day is out, as is the side of your face. It's not safe for you to be here, it's me they want not you, I think you should go”
Jodie motioned for Casey to be quiet “Shut up you idiot, what makes you think that at the first sign of trouble I will just up and leave. Do you think that less of me? Am I only here so you can have sex, because we all know that is what you spend most of your life doing. Or am I just another pick up?” Jodie's voice was getting louder as she started to lose the plot at Casey and she tried to push Casey out of the way.
Casey refused to move or let Jodie move. “Do you really think I just want you for sex? If you think that then you don't know me at all Jodie. I wanted you to leave as I can't face seeing some bastard hurt you again. I thought he was going to kill you, and now you are stood there looking at me like people have looked at me my whole life, like what I think or know isn't important, I thought you were different, Casey moved away from the table, tears pooling in her eyes, “ I guess I was wrong”.
They both stood there looking at each other the air heavy with misunderstanding and hurt. They jumped as the doorbell sounded. Wiping her eyes, Casey went to the door and looked through the eye-hole to see Sean and Nicky. Well this should be fun she thought, taking a deep breath she opened the door to let them in.
Jodie fell into her big brothers arms, loving the safe feeling he invoked.
Nicky gently cleared her throat and looked at the floor.
Casey waited till she looked up again. “Hey, thanks for coming I know this is probably awkward. But I thought that Jodie could do with her best friend here. And I am sorry if I treated you bad, but please don't let that get in the way of you being here for her” Casey held her breath while she waited for Nicky's reaction.
Nicky looked at Casey and thought to herself 'Why is she apologising to me? I'm the one who ran out of her like a cheap lay.' She looked again at Casey and realised that she didn't look to good. She took Casey's arm “Where's the lounge Casey?”
Casey blinked at her as if she just remembered who she was. “Over there” She muttered.
Nicky led Casey over to the sofa and sat her down. She ran her hand over Casey's forehead, frowning with concern as it came away wet. “No need to be sorry Casey. If anything it was mostly my fault anyway, but you don't look so good, you sure the doctor said you were Ok?”
Casey grimaced as she felt pain ripping though her shoulder gritting her teeth “I'm ok, honest. It's Jodie I am worried about. Can she stay with you for a bit? I don't want her on her own, and she can't stay here at the moment”
Nicky not quite understanding said “Of course she can. You only have to ask, but can I ask why?”
They both jumped as Jodie said from the doorway “Yes. Why can't I stay here? Casey unable to speak as the tears threatened to fall, and her throat clenched up, just looked at Jodie pleading with her eyes.
Silently, Jodie, with tears spilling down her face, turned and walked into the bedroom and began throwing clothes into a bag. Casey unable to deal with the situation, got of the sofa and ran out of the flat, the door banging shut behind her. Leaving Sean and Nicky looking at each other in amazement. “What the fuck just happened there, Nicky? asked Sean.
Nicky slowly walked across to the bedroom door and watched Jodie close the bag with tears running down her face, she cleared her throat
“Jesus Jodie, what the hell happened here and why are you and Casey screaming at each other?”
Jodie took a deep breathe “Casey is in trouble, but seems to think that she can handle it on her own. Obviously I thought I meant more to her, that we were actually together and would deal with it as a couple. I was wrong! I'm an idiot for thinking I meant something to her, other than just another bimbo to shag, because that's all they are every last one of them.” Jodie was spitting out the words at this point and turned to look at Nicky, she then realised what she had just said. “Oh my god Nicky I didn't mean you, God not you” Jodie moved towards Nicky, but Nicky moved backwards into the lounge. Nicky looked at Jodie, “Yeah you did Jodie and you would be right, I was a one night stand. Nice to know how friends perceive you” With that Nicky turned and looked at Sean “She's all yours, your family you have to listen to her shit, I don't” Nicky turned and slammed out the door just the same as Casey had done.
Aunt Essie stood at the bottom of the stairs unsure as whether to go up or not. She had just watched the back of Casey slamming out the front door. Just as she turned to go up, she heard Casey's flat door slam and a young woman came thundering down the stairs straight at Essie.
Nicky with tears clouding her eyes realised just in time there was someone in front of her, she held her arms out to steady the lady in front of her, she then realised it was the same person she had nearly ran over last time she had left Casey's flat.
“I'm really sorry she stuttered, I seem to be making a habit of this. Are you ok? Nicky asked.
“I'm fine pet, but there would seem to be something happening upstairs. First Casey and now you. Am I going to have anyone else slamming doors” asked Essie.
Nicky looked back up the stairs and sighed “ I don't think so. Sorry I really have to go, are you sure I didn't hurt you?”
Essie nodded at Nicky and moved to the side to let Nicky pass, hearing the flat door open, they both turned and looked up to see Jodie. Nicky shook her head and ran to the front door, fumbling as she tried to open it. Essie moved to her and helped to get it open, Nicky smiled at her with tears running down her cheeks “Thank you” she mouthed as she jumped down the front steps and began to run up the street.
Letting the door shut Essie leant her back against it and looked up the stairs to where Jodie sat on the top stair with her head in her hands and Sean stood behind her. With questions in her eyes Essie looked at Sean then nodded her head in Jodie's direction. Sean shrugged as he was unsure of what had happened and he had been there.
Gathering her wits about her Essie walked up the stairs, got a hold of Jodie's shoulder and pulled her upright then gently pushed her into Casey's flat.
“Sean put the kettle on I think we need a good old cup of tea. Jodie. Sit” Essie moved a chair from the table and put Jodie in it. “Now talk and don't you be giving me the run around my girl. I have you sitting in front of me with bruises and cuts over your face and neck and I have Casey and Nicky
running out my front door crying so hard I am not sure they are safe to be out there!”
Jodie looked up at both Sean and Aunt Essie, took a deep breath and told them what had happened. When she had finished Sean was livid and was ready to go searching for whoever had hurt his little sister. Where do they get of coming in here and assaulting you and Casey” he shouted. Aunt Essie shushed him “Jodie how badly hurt is Casey is she ok out there on her own?”
Jodie's tone turned bitter, “No she's not alright, but she has made it clear she doesn't need my help so that's what she will get. Sorry aunt Essie. I guess leopards really don't change their spots.”
Jodie went to the lounge got her bag, right I'm off. I think I need to be on my own and my flats the place to do that, I'll speak to you both later” Jodie kissed Essie and Sean and left the flat.
Not sure what to do, Sean washed up the tea mugs, then walked Aunt Essie downstairs. “Will you let me know If Casey gets home ok” he asked.
Aunt Essie gave Sean a hug, “Course I will, give my love to the little ones and Lindy for me”
Aunt Essie sat by the window drinking a cup of tea. Every so often she pulled the curtains out a bit to get a closer look at the road, sighing she looked at the clock. It had been nearly 24 hours since she had seen Casey crash out the front door. One more hour and if she's not home by then I am ringing the police Essie told herself, she took another sip, grimaced as she realised she had let another cup of tea go cold. Looking out again, she nearly dropped the cup as she saw Casey sitting on the wall across the street. 'Where in God's name did that child just appear from?' she muttered as she hurried to the front door. Opening it wide she stood with her hands on her hips and a stern expression on her face. “Casey Alder, get in here this minute! Don't make me come over there and have to drag your good for nothing backside in this front door. Do you hear me girl?” Casey looked up at Aunt Essie screaming at her from the front door. Giving a big sigh, she pushed herself of the wall and started to cross the street, which was a good job as she looked at Aunt Essie again, and realised if she hadn't then she had a feeling Essie would have her by the arm and be quick marching her home. “I'm coming, keep your hat on woman” she mumbled as she started up the front steps, she was rewarded with a clip to the back of her head as she passed “Ow! What was that for” she whined. “I may be old but I can still hear well, and you'd best remember that. Now in, come on stop dawdling, kitchen now!”
Casey knew when she had a choice and a chance with Aunt Essie and it looked like this wasn't the time, so she quickly moved to the kitchen and stood with her back to the kitchen sink and holding on to the sides for dear life. This was going to be a nightmare.
Aunt Essie came in to the kitchen and took stock of the sorry state in front of her, Oh Casey she thought, why you? Why when something good was happening, did fate step in and say, oh I know, lets cause Casey more pain,its not as if she's had enough yet. Casey watched as Essie opened the fridge, get out a bottle of water and throw it towards her.
Enjoying the coldness of the bottled water, Casey held it against her shoulder and it seemed to ease the burning that was happening there.
Aunt Essie watched Casey, but kept her distance, if she got any closer all she would want to do was hold Casey in her arms.
Essie looked up to the ceiling as if for inspiration, “Ok I know what happened. Jodie told me what she thought Sean and I needed to know, but not before she managed to send Nicky barrelling down the stairs, crying her heart out, so...'
Casey nearly dropped the bottle, “Woah! Hold on, is Jodie not with Nicky? What happened? Is she safe? Why is she so pig headed? I told her to stay close to Nicky.”
Essie made a face, “Well it would seem she called Nicky a bimbo. A one night stand shag, and that didn't go down to well shall we say. I think it may take a bit of time before Nicky is even talking to Jodie let alone letting her stay over”
“God this just gets worse, Its all my fault. It was me that seduced Nicky. It's not her fault, For fucks sake it should be me that Jodie is screaming at, not her best friend. Has she lost the plot? At least tell me she is staying with Sean? Casey looked at Essie with a tiny bit of hope in her eyes.
Essie cursed under her breath as she knew she was about to extinguish that hope and replace it with fear. “No she's not at Sean's. She said she wanted to be alone and went back to her flat. She rang me last night when she got home, and a quick call this morning to say she was fine, but that is as much as I know Casey. Now can you tell me why you thought running out and away from the people who love you was a good idea? And why there is blood on your top, and why you are such an idiot?”
Essie watched as Casey screwed up her face and rolled the bottle of water between her hands. Casey she shouted, I don't have the patience to stand here while you quickly try to think of something that might pacify me, so spit it out, answer what I asked you, and do it now”
Casey opened one eye and looked at Essie, realising there was no way out. She repeated much the same story as Jodie had the night before. She pleaded with her eyes 'So you see that was why I couldn't have her here, it's not safe and I don't want you here either. I want you to go and stay with Sean, I am not worth any of you getting hurt, please Aunt Essie, just go!”
Essie looked at Casey with disbelief on her face 'Ok Casey. Could you jump to question three, the one where I asked why you are such an idiot? Because that is what you are, if you think that I am just going to walk away from you” Essie walked across the kitchen, grabbed hold of Casey's hand and gently pulled her to the front room, she stood her in front of the fireplace and then stood behind her, holding her gently but firmly in place. “What do you see Casey?”
“Casey looked up, a clock she muttered”. That comment earned her another clip around the ear. I can see the events of last night didn't take the sarcasm out of you. Try again Casey”
“Ok I see photos of your family, happy now, Casey said as she tried to walk away.
Essie held on tight, “Not yet, I want you to name them for me one at a time”
“Oh for f...,' Casey stopped as she sensed rather than feel Essie's arm lift to deliver more damage to her ears, Ok I can see Sean with his wife Lindy and the kids Seamus and Rory, I see.. 'Casey paused, raising her hand to touch the photo, I see Jodie. Casey turned to look at Essie. 'Happy now?”
“Not quite, said Essie as she gently turned Casey's attention back to the photos, who else?”
With tears running down her face, Casey stuttered out, “ I see me”.
Essie then turned and held Casey in her arms as she cried”
“That's right' she murmured into Casey's hair 'You see you. You are family, always', Essie said fiercely.
Essie then made Casey lie down on the sofa and pulled a throw over her, “Sleep now and when you waken we are off to the doctors to check on your shoulder” Sensing Casey was going to resist, Essie gave Casey her best stern look. She knew it had worked when Casey seemed to try to get inside the sofa, Essie turned and smiled to herself, as she walked out the door she mumbled under her breath, “Well it looks like I still have it”.
After making a phone call to Sean to let him know Casey was safe and asked him if he could let Jodie know as she wasn't picking up for Essie's number, she then sat down in the armchair and watched Casey as she tossed and turned in her sleep.
Casey was in a foul mood, she'd woken up with a headache and that was before Essie had dragged her to the doctors and now the silly woman would just not listen to her. She had even tried the 'if you loved me you would' routine, but only succeeded in getting another clip around the ear.
Casey made Essie listen “Ok then if you won't move out, I will. I'll sleep at work that will keep you safe.' Satisfied at her plan Casey got up to leave.
Essie cleared her throat “If you do that I will ring the appropriate people and let them know someone is sleeping there illegally and Craig just might loose his licence, do you want that to happen Casey?”
Casey threw her good arm up in frustration “Why are you so stubborn. Can't you see you are at risk here? What is it with you and Jodie?'. She looked hard at Essie, but deep down knew that she would win, she always did. At least let Sean put more security on the house?” Essie nodded
“At last a compromise' said Casey, “Right. I'm going out, Not sure when I will be back” Casey kissed Essie and quickly jumped out of her way and as she walked out the front door, she could hear Essie asking where she was going “Where am I going? Casey thought, 'Anywhere where I can drink until I don't feel the need to think of that damm Jodie Flynn.
To be continued in Part 6
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