An #FF Tale – Chapter 15

Kate Harney stood at the charge desk and explained to Doug what would happen whilst the alibi was verified. Doug was then escorted down the wing back to his cell. Kate turned to Sgt Harris. “Darren. I’m not staying here all night. I need to know if you get a charge decision so I can be in court in the morning. If he’s bailed I would oppose any conditions. He is of previous good character, has a suitable address, will answer bail, nobody is at risk from him and there are no grounds to suspect he will commit further offences. Can you note my rep’s on the custody record and I’ll go home.” Darren agreed so Kate made her goodbyes and was released through the air lock into reception. A lady sat waiting. She had a clipboard folder, a legal aid form and a copy of a custody record in her lap and was busy writing. “Hello Kim” said Kate. “What are you being punished with?” Kim Evans felt like she had spent her life in custody. She looked up and smiled. “A domestic assault. The officers were coming down 25 minutes ago!” The situation was one Kate knew only too well. She put her hand on Kim’s shoulder. “Why do we put ourselves through this?”

DS Bruce was short on staff. The nearest detective on night cover was DC Spain. He was tied up on the far side of the division dealing with an aggravated burglary. With no other options he had given in to sending a response bobby who was currently enroute.

Supt Payne thanked Lisa for her candid information and climbed into the drivers seat of his car. He fired the engine and drove out of the courtyard and onto the driveway. A pair of headlights were approaching at speed and he pulled to the side putting his nearside wheels into the grass. A silver Range Rover streaked past him without easing up and continued in the direction of the hall. He shook his head at the poor driving display then using voice control he called the Deputy Chief Constable. He needed to be briefed on the document Pink had found, Lord Scholes-Fogg’s reaction and now the information provided by Lisa. He could then head home and snatch some sleep. The DCC listened to Marks update carefully. “Very good Mark. I agree. Get everything in place immediately and take Pink with you. Bruce can keep a lid on things here.” Mark made several further calls on his way home and the last was to Pink as he pulled on his driveway. “Pack a bag for two days and find your passport” he told her. “I’ll pick you up at 7 in the morning.”

Peter always went to bed early and was fast asleep under a Hungarian duck down duvet when the phone rang. He reached out blindly for the phone and pulled it back under the duvet. “Hello” he said groggily. “Peter. It’s time. Come home now. The plane is already on its way.” He was awake instantly and a well rehearsed plan kicked into gear. He didn’t need to pack, just grab his phone, MacBook and passport and get a car to the airport.

Response Bobby had sat with Anthony for about 45 minutes taking a statement. He then rang DS Bruce. “Yes Sarge. He’s signing the statement now. He was with Doug Beattie all afternoon and evening and slept over at the caravan as they were both drunk. He’s a merchant navy type and they always meet up when he’s in the UK.” DS Bruce thanked him and then rang custody. Doug was to be bailed pending further enquiries.

On arriving at London City airport Peter was informed that the family jet had landed and needed 30 mins to turnaround and meet a departure slot. He was at the private aviation centre reception. Through the windows he had a view onto the apron and could see the Learjet 45 parked on the ramp. The captain and co-pilot were in the cockpit making preparations. After a short wait he was escorted out to the aircraft and settled into the soft leather upholstery for the relatively short flight home.

At 5.30am Pink dragged herself out of bed, threw a bag of clothes together, showered and managed a quick bowl of cereal and some juice before there was a knock at the door. Mark Payne stood there in a civilian suit. “Ready?” Pink handed her bag to him, locked the door and followed him to the car. Mark put the bag in the boot then joined her in the car. “Would you now like to tell me what on earth is going on?” asked Pink. “We are following up an enquiry that is taking us to France. We have a flight from Bristol at 10am. I have spoken to a chap called Matthew at “Le Château Jeane” which is our destination. They are expecting us and will send the helicopter to meet us at the airport.” Pink was speechless. Things were moving too fast and not everything made sense. There were too many holes. “Care to fill in a few blanks Sir?”

Jane Hamilton sat on the terrace at the hotel. the sun was beaming down and the warmth felt good after all the recent rain back home. She had fresh orange juice, croissants, butter and a thick strawberry preserve. She had called Evan’s but he had nothing to say except that he believed Tom Scholes-Fogg had returned to Calder Hall overnight. Her intention was to visit Le Château Jeane today. She mulled over some of the links Rob Preece had hinted at and some of the coincidences with the papers and the will she had seen but after a while concluded that her first priority was to enjoy her breakfast and the glorious sunshine.

Peter climbed out of bed for the second time of the night. He had flown home in the dark and was then collected by the helicopter and transferred to the estate. The château was floodlit on arrival but he could see nothing else. He pulled on a cord by the window and the curtains opened to a vista of green fields, wooded hillside on the valley opposite, the river flowing south twinkling and flashing in the sunlight and before him row upon row of neatly tended vines. He smiled. This was going to be a difficult day but he was always glad to be home. He opened the large floor to ceiling windows and just listened to the peace, the birds singing and the gentle hum of a tractor on the estate somewhere. He took a deep breath and enjoyed the pleasure of clean, fresh air. He hated living in the London apartment. The peace was suddenly shattered as the Augusta 109, whose sound had been masked by the château, lifted and passed overhead and down the valley. Peter watched as it disappeared out of sight and the tranquility of the valley returned. His reverie was then disturbed by a delicate knock on the door which then opened and Matthew came in with a breakfast tray. “Good morning Sir. Welcome home. After your disturbed night I thought you may prefer breakfast up here this morning.” Peter sat in a chair by the window as Matthew placed the tray on a side table. “Matthew. You know me too well” said Peter with the grin of someone delighted to be home.

“What is this rubbish father and where did it come from?” demanded Tom. “You told me this cache was likely to be jewels Edward bestowed on this Renners woman. I’ve done everything I can on the information you’ve provided but I’ve found nothing. Then as if by chance some nosey police officer uncovers this manufactured document making all sorts of claims of secret marriages and children shipped off to France.” Tom was pacing up and down the room as he ranted. “This is intolerable. Somebody is trying to undermine my inheritance and I will not allow it.” Lord Scholes-Fogg hadn’t moved from his chair. “Tom. Sit down you are making me dizzy. I have my legal people looking at this. You’re overreacting. I’m sure this document has no legal standing. We don’t know if it’s true and we don’t know of this family line even exists. You need to focus your energy on the cache.” Tom had stopped by the window overlooking the garden. “I’ve called off Royston’s men. They were making no progress. This fishing expedition has no legs. Seems it will be easier to sit back and wait for my inheritance doesn’t it?” Lord Scholes-Fogg was becoming angry but on the outside remained calm and impassive. “Tom. So you have abandoned the option of the cache and decided to sit back and wait for me to die so your inheritance is handed to you on a silver platter along with Calder Hall and the peerage. When will you do something for yourself?” Tom stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him. Lord Scholes-Fogg picked up the phone and placed a call. “Yes. He fell back to his default position of being bone idle and holding his hand out. Please proceed as planned.”

Supt Payne and Pink cleared customs and entered the arrivals hall. “What next?” asked Pink. Mark looked around thinking then pointed saying “Maybe he can help.” Pink looked in the direction he was pointing to see a slight male in a dark suit holding a card with “Supt Mark Payne” emblazoned upon it. They walked over and introduced themselves. “Bonjour Monsieur Payne. Bienvenue en France. Monsieur Renier extends his hospitality to you. I have a car outside to take you to the business aviation hangar and the helicopter. Please follow me.”

Pink almost floated to the car and then through the private aviation centre. The experience was somewhat surreal. They eventually crossed a section of asphalt toward a sleek navy blue helicopter. The rotors were turning and she ducked down as she was shown into a plush beige leather seat and shown how to strap in. Mark sat next to her and the door was closed. The pilot turned to them and indicated they should put the headsets on. They did as instructed and heard his voice “Good morning. Welcome onboard. Flying time to Le Château Jeane is 25 minutes. It’s a beautiful day. Sit back and enjoy the view.” The helicopter then powered up and gracefully lifted from the floor to about 100ft then turned to the west, dipped its nose and headed into a vast panorama of rolling hills and verdant countryside. Pink had experienced some odd situations whilst in the police but this was unprecedented. She decided to do exactly what the pilot said.

Jane Hamilton drove slowly through the rural French countryside. The scenery was breathtaking and she made a mental note to come back when not on business. Vineyards stretched off in every direction and the workers could be seen working with the vines. The grand entrance to Le Château Jeane came up on her left and she turned through the gates and along the driveway. The château appeared as she rounded a wooded area and the drive opened into a wide gravelled forecourt where she could park. A smartly dressed man was waiting at the door and as she approached he came down the few steps to meet her. “My name is Matthew. Can I help you?” Jane was cold calling and bluff was her best tactic. “My name is Jane Hamilton. I’m an investigative journalist from England. In looking into reports that the Renier family have links to an Amylou Renners who died 200 years ago in England. Her remains were recently stolen from… ” She realised that Matthew appeared totally disinterested. “Bluff” she said to herself. “Stolen from the grave and I believe the Scholes-Fogg family may be involved.” There she’d done it. A little white lie to try and elicit a reaction. Matthew raised his eyebrows. “Really Madam? I’m afraid Monsieur Renier is otherwise engaged and cannot see you.” At that moment Peter walked out of the main entrance. “Can I help Matthew?” he asked. Matthew explained the claims by Jane and that she would have to leave. Jane looked up at a very attractive blond man dressed in fine clothes. He flashed a bright smile at her. “Gay” she thought to herself instantly. “No bloke is ever that good looking and straight.” Peter reached out and shook her hand. “Nice to meet you. I think I’ve seen some of your work in…” His conversation was cut off as a baby blue helicopter descended over the roof of the house toward the rear garden area. “…the UK” he finished. Please come in. My father is busy but I can spare you 10 minutes.” They walked into the house and Matthew seemed to just vapourise. Peter showed her into a room and asked her to wait for a moment.

The Augusta touched down on an expansive and impressively manicured lawn at the rear of the château. The rotors were cut immediately and a male approached the helicopter and opened the door. “Officers. Welcome to Le Château Jeane. I hope you had a good journey. Monsieur Renier is expecting you. Please follow me.” At that he turned and escorted them across the lawn to the rear entrance of the house.

Peter returned to Jane. “I am so very sorry. It seems some important guests arrived on the helicopter and I must be with them. Would it be possible to meet you tomorrow around 11am?” Jane knew she had bluffed her way into this and couldn’t push it any further. “Of course” she replied with a smile. “I look forward to it.” Peter escorted her out toward the front entrance. As they walked Jane’s attention was drawn to the sound of footsteps and voices behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to see Supt Payne and the constable she had met at Lock Cottage being shown into a room by Matthew. Pink was also aware of the other people in the entrance lobby and as she looked toward them she made direct eye contact with Jane. Both of them immediately recognised each other as they were ushered in and out of the château.

Mark and Pink were led into a large room with high ceilings and huge windows opening onto the vineyard with views to the opposite side of the valley and the river. Monsieur Renier was sat in a chair by the window. He invited them both to take a seat and introduced them to Clive Chamberlain. “I trust you had a pleasant journey” he said. “It is a beautiful morning to fly up the valley. Please make yourselves comfortable. We have a lot to discuss.

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