Part Two. Foxglove.
A young girl and her mother jumped onto the grass bank just in time, as the black Aston Martin Vantage tore down the tightly winding country lane, narrowly missing them.
Jack looked behind him from the passenger seat to see if the ramblers were okay. They were already dots around the bend. Next to him, Leo laughed as he steered, the V8 shaking leaves off a hedgerow. It was a fine day, and the English countryside was at it’s greenest.
“They should know whose land they’re walking across,” the heir said.
“You own the road?” asked Jack.
“We own the county,” said Leo. “All this for fifty miles around is the Winchester farming belt. Not that we use it for real farming, just claim it as that and the government pays us per acre. Nice easy earner.”
When Hennessy had called, Jack had expected the right hand man to pick him up, not the boss himself. Leo had been surprisingly amiable though, hugging Jack and offering a nip from his family crested silver hip flask. Jack had to remember Hennessy’s third rule of the game. They’re not really your friends, no matter the act.
Leo was eager to hear Jack relate his journey back to England with the bear, although his brow had briefly furrowed in disappointment when Jack told him he hadn’t actually travelled with the carcass in the cargo hold on the plane. They had allowed him a seat instead, and even served water for the flight.
HOME, SWEET HOME
He was glad to be away from the stinking cadaver for a while, it’s empty accusing eyes evoked only guilt. An addition to the Winchester family’s countless victims, needlessly extinguished by avarice, spite or pleasure, and he had helped them. He eventually saw the bear off at a London taxidermist, wandering off into the night shaking, aching and alone.
It had taken a few weeks for Jack’s ribs to mend and his bruises to fade. In those weeks he wondered if he was ever going to hear from his one time employers again, or if he was just another of the many discarded by the family firm. Then the call came, and he was wanted once more.
Jack didn’t know for what purpose, as the gruff Scot just gave him a pick up time and place in Kensington, although stated it would be worth his while. As with everything Leo’s fixer said, there was a hint of menace in the order, as though no-one ever refused them. Now, Jack was fast approaching the family manor, the heart of the empire, chauffeured by the prodigal son himself.
“Home, sweet home.” The outer walls of the estate swung into view. It was with irony that Jack noted that Carmina Burana was playing on the stereo as his own little Damian steered the Aston through the wide gargoyle topped stone gates of the Winchester family pile.