Mal had been drunk before, but he hadn't been this drunk in a long time. However, Rose's news had sobered him up considerably. He was still worried as hell about his son, and he would continue to suffer until he knew for sure that Jake was going to be all right, but the crushing weight of worrying whether his son was lying dead in a ditch had been lifted. He still didn't feel sober enough to drive, but as it happened, Rose had brought Jake's GTO. They were almost at the car when Rose's phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID, frowned, but picked up.
She listened for a moment. "Tinny?" she questioned. "Where are you?"
"Yes, his right here with me," she cast a look at Mal, "Yes, he's okay. Can you tell me what happened?"
Rose listened for a long time, before she spoke again. "Stay exactly where you are. We'll be there as soon as we can."
Mal had grown increasingly worried while listening to Rose's half of the conversation. Something was up with his grand-daughter.
"What's going on? Is Tinny all right?" he asked as soon as Rose had hung up.
"Get in the car, I'll fill you in on the way," Rose only said. Mal climbed into the passenger side of the car and soon they were on their way.
"First of all, Tinny is going to be okay," Rose began. Mal got the impression he wasn't going to like what came next. "She made me promise not to tell you, but I will, if you promise not to get all worked up."
"What happened?" Mal hissed, any remaining intoxication having been replaced by anger and renewed fear.
"Tinny came to me the other day. She told me that she had a secret admirer and asked me to look into it."
Mal got the impression that this wasn't all there was to it, but he pushed aside the question to be asked later, when he knew exactly what had happened and that Tinny was okay.
"Why did she ask you? Why didn't she come to me with this?" Mal asked, instead seething.
"Probably because she knew that you would react like this," Rose wasn't impressed by his anger. "I managed to get description of the guy, but before I could tell Tinny, I got the call about Jake. In the meantime, she apparently decided to meet up with the guy."
"It figures," Mal muttered. Was he the only member of the Doyle clan with an ounce of common sense? His children, in particular his sons, certainly hadn't inherited it, and he wasn't so sure about how the next generation either.
"Now, I don't know the whole story yet, but apparently, the guy drugged her and took her to some motel."
"He kidnapped her?" Mal echoed, wondering how much worse his week could become.
"Now, she says nothing happened and she was able to call the police from the motel. They took her to hospital, which is where she is right no, waiting for us to pick her up."
"Did they get the guy whom attacked her?" Mal asked wit barely contained fury.
"I don't know. She didn't say. She was saying something about Des, but I couldn't really make out what that was all about. Then she said that she had to hang up because she was running out of money."
For once in his life, Des was glad to hear the sirens which heralded the arrival of the police. Surely, they would have to believe his story. It should be obvious, to everyone except that pink slippered lady that he wasn't a burglar, but was being held prisoner in this creepy hold house.
After the sirens had fallen silent, it didn't take long until the doorbell rang.
"I'm coming," he could hear a woman call out, probably the pink skippered individual. Her footfalls were soon followed by the sound of the door being opened.
He couldn't hear what was being said, out on the doorstep, but he soon heard footfalls approaching once again.
"Is this the man you claim burgled your house?" a male voice asked.
"Yes that's the rascal," the woman's piercing voice replied with no small amount of satisfaction. "You can just tell that he's dangerous," she said in a loud whisper.
"Did you tie him up, Mrs Burgess?"
"Tie him up?" Mrs Burgess questioned. "No I don't think so. I just found him like this, right in my living room."
Des suddenly found his world being righted.
"Ugh," he groaned as a dizziness overcame him with the sudden change in position. "I didn't break in," he managed.
"Don't listen to him, he's a liar!" the woman screeched.
"Why don't we go somewhere quiet so that you can tell me exactly what happened?" One of the two police officers asked the elderly woman, who despite her diminutive appearance had an astoundingly shrill voice. He took the woman by the arm and led her from the room. His partner turned to Des.
"Care to tell me what happened, young man?"
"I didn't break in," Des repeated. "This crazy guy kidnapped me and he's got Tinny."
"You better start from the beginning," the officer advised, "What's your name?"
"Des, Des Courtney. Please you have got to find Tinny," he insisted desperately.
"We'll get to that in a moment," the officer said good humouredly. "Now, how did you get to be here, tied to a chair?"
Des sighed in frustration. "I was at the office, this guy came in and he was pretending to be a client."
"What office would that be?"
"Doyle and Doyle Investigative Services," Des replied, frustrated at the lack of progress.
"You're a private investigator?"
"Yes, I am mean sort of. I work for Jake and Mal, who run the place. Anyway, this guy, he pretended to be client but when I turned my back toward him, which I know I shouldn't have done, he must have stuck me with a syringe and drugged me. Then I woke up here, tied to this chair."
"All right, did the man who say drugged you, give his name?
"He said his name was Philip Reeves, but I think that's not his real name."
"You mentioned a girl before, Tinny? Who is she and how does she come into this?"
"Tinny's a a friend, yes, she's a friend. Nothing more. She's Mal's granddaughter, that's why she's off limits," Des rambled before he caught himself. "Her name is Katrina Doyle. She was here with that Philip guy, or whatever his real name is. He must have taken her. You have to find her. Oh my god, Mal is going to kill me." Des was starting to panic, hyperventilating slightly and struggling to move, forgetting that he was tied to the chair.
"Calm down, Des," the officer instructed, laying a calming hand on Des' shoulder.
"We'll see what we can do about finding Tinny and tracking down this Philip guy. In the meantime, I'll get you out of these bindings and then you can come with us to the station to make statement."
"I'm not going to get charged with burglary, am I?" Des asked.
The second officer who had just entered the room, spoke up: "Not based on what Mrs Burgess has told me. Seems the old lady isn't quite on the up and up."
"Does she live her alone?" the constable who had been questioning Des asked his colleague.
"From what I could gather, she has a son looking after her, one Philip Burgess. Not sure of he lives here though." He looked around. "The place doesn't look very lived in," he finally said, then turning to Des, he added: "Okay let's cut you loose then."
Cursing under her breath, Tinny rummaged inside her pockets for any hidden spare change, but other than some chewing gum and pocket lint, she came up empty. It had taken her three tries to remember Rose's cell phone number, and in the process she had spent all her loose change. She was still a little bit fuzzy from the drug Philip had shot her up with, but the effect had mostly worn off, to the point where the doctors weren't admitting her over night. They had told her what exactly she had been given, apparently some sort of fast acting tranquilizer. The police had found several vials of the drug in the motel room. She had give her statement as best she could and was now waiting for Mal and Rose to pick her up. Mal would likely be furious when he heard what had happened, but she probably had been a little bit careless. She was just trying to figure out how to tell Mal and Rose that, when the two showed up in the hospital lobby.
"Tinny, are you all right?" Mal asked, his tone worried.
"Yes, I'm fine," she replied, and then broke off not sure how to continue.
"What about Des, is he all right and where is he?" Rose asked next, beaten Mal to it.
"Apparently he's down at the police station giving a statement," Tinny replied.
"Maybe you should start at the beginning," Mal advised with a sharp undercurrent to his tone.
Tinny swallowed hard and tried to reign in her chaotic thoughts.
"Can we at least get out of here first," she asked. "This place is giving me the creeps. I promise I'll tell you everything that happened on our way to pick up Des."
"All right," Rose agreed, but Mal hesitated. "The doctors are actually letting you go, aren't they?" Mal asked Tinny.
"Yeah, I'm okay to go," Tinny answered impatiently. She didn't like hospitals and the longer she stayed the more uneasy she grew.
After picking up her temporary car from the impound garage, Leslie still had some time until she had to drive out to her dinner engagement. She dropped by her place to pick up a few things, including something half-way elegant to wear for the evening, then headed over to the flat the police had provided her with for the undercover assignment.
It was spotlessly clean, but nonetheless, there was a somewhat dingy air about it. The furnishings were sparse and utilitarian, with an ugliness that was usually reserved for the cheaper motel rooms. Among the articles she had picked up from her own place were some painkillers and Leslie washed down another tablet with some tab water. She was sure a hot bath would do her aching neck good, but the scrapes on her hands and knees were still rather fresh and would no doubt sting if they were soaking in water. Plus there was the healing gash on her temple to contend with. She didn't recall exactly what the doctor had said, but she was pretty sure that there had been something about not getting it wet.
Well, that was already done as she had showered and washed her hair that morning, but she remembered how the injury had stung and she wasn't really eager for it to scar. A bath thus ruled out, Leslie laid down on top of ugly flower-patterned comforter on the bed and mentally went over her cover story. She had memorized the it fairly easily, but there was a difference between knowing something by heart and actually having lived it, so it wouldn't hurt to make sure she had her life story down pat.
Soon it was time to get ready and with a sigh Leslie got up from the bed and got changed.
The dinner was taking place at a fancy restaurant called Chez Paul. Not only was the cuisine said to be excellent, but it was also owned, at least in part, by the Parker family. Another way to launder the profits of their illegal activities, according to the inspector from organized crime.
Still, an evening of fine dining, even if it was with a bunch of gangsters would make for a nice change of pace. Leslie hadn't realized how high-end the restaurant was until she pulled up and spotted the valet, read to spring into action. She got out of her car, handed her keys to the valet and made for the entrance. The valets were probably used to a lot fancier cars than the one she had picked up from the impound garage, but she was supposed to be an out of work secretary, so she ha to look the part as well.
Indeed, when she stepped inside, she was immediately conscious of the difference in class and income level between her and the average patron of Chez Paul. Idly, she wondered just how many of these people were aware of who the money behind the operation was coming from and if they knew, whether they would even care. Before Leslie could ponder the matter further, she heard her name being called softly in a somewhat familiar voice. Looking around, she spotted Sydney Parker waving toward her from the back of the room. He quickly made his way toward her.
Hello Leslie," he greeted her. "It's okay if I call you Leslie?" he added, with a flirtatious smile.
Privately Leslie thought that Sydney, even if he weren't a gangster was far too young to flirt with her, but if he was really romantically interested in her, it would make the assignment go much more smoothly. Hence, she smiled her most brilliant smile at him and answered: "Of course, if I may call you Sydney?"
"Oh please do. Mr Parker is my father. Makes me feel old," he said and laughed .
"How's your sister Jocelyn doing?" Leslie asked as Parker led the way to a back room.
"She's back home, entirely thanks to you. I'm afraid she won't be joining us though, my father grounded her."
"Oh, I remember those days well," Leslie said lightly.
"Who doesn't?" Sydney laughed. "My father's arranged for a private room back here."
"That's nice," Leslie said
"Wait until you taste the food," Parker promised.
They stepped into a private room, partitioned off from the main room of the restaurant. Leslie recognized Mervin Parker and his wife, June from the pictures she had seen during the briefing with Inspector Manners.
Sydney introduced her to his father and stepmother and they took their seats. Leslie ended up sitting opposite Sydney.
"So, you are the young lady who saved my daughter's life?" Mervin said when they were all seated.
"Yeah, that's me. But anyone else would have done the same," Leslie said, downplaying her actions the other day.
"You don't give yourself enough credit," Sydney interjected.
"I have to agree with my son here," Mervin said emphatically, his wife merely nodded.
There was an uncomfortable silence, which Leslie finally broke by saying: "I was happy to help and I'm very grateful for your invitation tonight."
"That is nothing. After all, hearing Sydney talk about you, I could hardly wait to meet you, Miss...I'm afraid, I don't even know your last name"
"Oh, I'm so sorry, It's Baker, Leslie Baker." Leslie supplied helpfully.
"All right Miss Baker, it's an honor to meet you," Mervin beamed at her with a toothy smile, whereas Sydney's expression soured considerably.
"Thank you, I'm flattered, I really am," In truth, she found the way Mervin was looking at her more than just a little offensive. Especially considering that his wife was sitting right next to him. Mrs Parker, however didn't seem to notice, or else, was used to it. She was considerably younger than Parker himself, maybe Leslie's age, if that. Probably a typical trophy wife, except that she was married to a gangster. Leslie wondered how much she knew. According to Manners, she wasn't involved in any of the business dealings, but that didn't mean that she was oblivious to what her husband did for a living.
Soon after, drinks were ordered. Leslie settled for mineral water, excusing her choice with a remark that she had to drive home afterward.
"I wish my daughter had as much common sense," Mervin commented at that.
"You seem like a sensible young woman," Mervin praised. "May I ask what it is you do for a living?"
"OH, I'm between jobs at the moment," Leslie said with fake embarrassment. "I was working as secretary for a company in Quebec, but they closed down about a month ago. I've only just moved to town and I'm still looking for a job, to be honest." She gave a small laugh.
"Perfectly understandable," Mervin commented. "I'm sure you'll find something soon."
"I sure hope so," Leslie agreed.