Scott and Cheryl chatted animatedly as they drove back home. They only lived about ten minutes away, and they were still excited as they opened the front door and walked in. Cheryl dropped her handbag on the kitchen counter and put the kettle on to make coffee. Scott went through to the bedroom and kicked off his shoes.
‘Scott. Have you seen my cell phone?’ Cheryl called from the kitchen. Scott sighed. Cheryl could be such a scatterbrain sometimes. She was always losing keys and jewellery, and lipstick and cell phones.
‘Isn’t it in your bag?’ he called back.
‘No, it isn’t. Won’t you call it please, I’ll go stick my head in the car and see if it rings. I may have dropped it.’
Scott smiled to himself as he walked back to the lounge where he had dropped his phone. He dialled Cheryl’s number without bothering to put the phone to his ear, knowing it would probably be lying under the passenger seat. He saw her coming back to the house, and ended the call.
‘Nope. Not there. Didn’t it ring in here?’
‘Nah. You must have left it at Jenny’s place. I’ll call again.’ He redialled Cheryl’s number, trusting that Jenny or Annetjie would pick it up. No answer.
Frowning, Scott tried Jenny’s home number and waited as the line on the other end rang and rang, finally giving up.
‘This is odd. Maybe they’ve gone out?’
‘No Scott, they can’t have. Annetjie had the oven on when we left, and I clearly remember Jenny saying she was going to make some calls to catch up with relatives and friends. They should be there. I mean, Pieter had just gotten home himself.’
‘Maybe they went out for pizza or something?’
‘Scott, I just told you; Annetjie had the oven on! They didn’t go for pizza!’
Scott sighed. ‘Okay, grab your bag. Let’s go back and see if your phone’s there.’
They jumped back in the car, and made their way back to the Venter home. Cheryl noticed the strange car in the driveway first.
‘Probably a friend or relative,’ Scott observed.
‘I don’t know, Scott. That car has rental plates. Who else knows Jenny’s alive?’
Scott paused before reaching under his seat and taking out his service pistol. He was still an active detective with the SA police, and kept a backup firearm under his seat as a precaution. He kept his primary weapon locked in the safe at home when off duty, and Scott quickly checked that the gun was loaded.
‘Stay in the car, Cheryl. It’s probably nothing, but I’d rather you stayed out here for now. I’ll leave my cell with you just in case something goes wrong.’
He slipped the gun into the pocket of his jacket and walked up to the front door without knocking. He pressed his ear to the door and listened. Silence. He had an idea, and signalling Cheryl, he motioned for her to call the house again. She nodded from within the car, and Scott saw her pick up his phone and start dialling.
He pressed his ear to the door again and clearly heard the phone start ringing. To his shock, he heard a male voice with a distinct American drawl.
‘Ignore the phone, my dear. They can call again later.’ Scott was sure he also heard a muffled sob, and his nerves went taut as he realised there was a serious problem inside. He moved quickly back to the car and whispered to Cheryl.
‘There an American male inside there, and he’s in control.’ He didn’t have to say anything more. Cheryl was a highly trained agent herself, and understood what the stakes were.
‘Call Zola at HQ,’ Scott said. ‘Tell him what’s going on, and get him to send back up here pronto. I’m going in.’ Cheryl tried to protest, but Scott was already halfway up the drive, and she composed herself and did as he had asked.
Zola Mphule was Scott’s immediate superior, and a family friend. They had known each other for decades, and trusted each other with their lives. Cheryl knew Zola would drop everything to respond.
‘Zola. It’s Cheryl. We need help,’ she spoke quickly into the phone, outlining the details, and giving him the address.
She had watched Scott as she spoke to Zola, and had seen him vault the white picket fence that divided the front garden from the rear of the property. Unable to contain herself, she left the car and followed suite. She crept quietly around the back of the house and found the rear door open. As she stepped through, a loud crash from within halted her, and her heart stopped as she realised that Scott was in mortal combat with some unknown foe. She ran into the kitchen, grabbed a long knife from the counter, and crept into the lounge.
The two men were rolling around on the floor, straining at each other, but Cheryl could see quite clearly that Scott was outmatched. His opponent was gaining ascendancy rapidly, and before Cheryl could react, Scott was pinned to the ground by a powerful hand, while the other lifted the gun and pointed it slowly at his face. Scott used both free hands trying to stop it, but his face was red with exertion, and his hands slick with sweat. He fought back with all his might, but his arms trembled with fatigue, and he saw his own death coming inexorably closer.
Jenny cowered in the corner, sobbing into her hands, and Cheryl only now noticed the dead figures of Annetjie and Pieter on the floor, and with a shock, she realised that this man was going to kill Scott.
With an incoherent cry of rage, Cheryl launched herself at Scott’s attacker, and he spun around to face this new threat. Time seemed to slow down. With a start, Cheryl realised she knew this man. As she came down at him, knife raised, his face registered surprise, then grim determination. Cheryl slashed down at his unprotected neck with all her might and furious rage, and she buried the knife to the hilt. Graham collapsed on the floor, blood haemorrhaging all over the carpet, his mouth open in a silent scream, and his eyes rolled back in his sockets as his life drained out of him.
Scott sat up, still trembling and panting, and looked at Cheryl. She sat on the floor with a peculiar expression on her face. Surprise and shock, and Scott’s first thought was that she had never killed a man before, but then he saw the blood. It seeped through the fingers of her hands as they clutched at her belly.
‘I’m hit Scott,’ she whispered. She closed her eyes, and with a whimper that tore at Scott’s heartstrings, Cheryl fell back on the carpet, her legs curled up in the foetal position.
‘Cheryl!’ Scott screamed in anguish. He knelt down beside her and examined the wound. Cheryl was gut-shot, and Scott knew that unless she received critical medical attention immediately, she wouldn’t stand a chance.
‘Stay with me, baby,’ he pleaded quietly. ‘Help’s on the way. Stay with me.’
‘Oh Scott,’ she whispered, ‘it hurts. It hurts so bad.’
Scott buried his head in her hair and kissed her softly.
‘You saved me, Cheryl. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, baby.’
‘I love you Scott. Thank you for loving me too,’ she whispered.
He was still holding her when the sound of sirens echoed down the street, and the front door burst open as uniformed police stormed the house, but Cheryl was no longer there. She had flown, and would never come back.
Scott looked up as a soft hand touched his shoulder. Jenny stood over him with bloodshot eyes, pain and grief etched into her face.
‘I’m so sorry, Scott. I’m so sorry I didn’t do anything. I was so scared.’
Scott shook his head. ‘There’s no blame, Jenny.’ Tears streamed down his face. ‘You’ve lost your entire family. I can’t even begin to imagine what you must be going through,’ he choked through the tears.
Jenny collapsed into his arms, sobbing pitifully, and the two found solace in each other as the medics wheeled the shrouded bodies out into the bright sunlight.
Published Titles in the Johnny Roberts Series:
Book Two: Johnny Roberts and the Gods of Eden
Andrew Noble © 2013
Cover artwork: John Killin © 2013
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or
other means, including photocopying and recording, or in
any information storage or retrieval system, without
permission from the author.
© 2013 Andrew Noble All Rights Reserved