Read The Ties That Bind Online

Authors: Erin Kelly

Tags: #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Fiction

The Ties That Bind

Also by Erin Kelly

 

The Poison Tree

The Sick Rose

The Burning Air

 

 

Erin Kelly is a freelance journalist and lives in London.

 

www.erinkelly.co.uk

www.twitter.com/mserinkelly

www.facebook.com/Erin-Kelly-Author

The Ties That Bind

 

 

Erin Kelly

 

 

 

 

www.hodder.co.uk

First published in Great Britain in 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton

An Hachette UK company

 

Copyright © ES Moylan Ltd 2014

 

The right of Erin Kelly to be identified as the Author of the

Work has been asserted by her in accordance with

the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any

means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be

otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that

in which it is published and without a similar condition being

imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance

to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library

 

eBook ISBN 978 1 444 72838 5

Hardback ISBN 978 1 444 72836 1

Trade paperback ISBN 978 1 444 72837 8

 

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

338 Euston Road

London NW1 3BH

 

www.hodder.co.uk

For Michael, again

‘Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.’
W.H. Auden

 

‘Brighton, my burglar bride!’
Julie Burchill,
I Knew I Was Right

Contents

Prologue

 

One Week Earlier

Chapter 1

 

One Year Earlier

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Epilogue

 

Author’s Note

Acknowledgements

Crime Lines

Prologue

When Luke came round, he knew two things. Firstly, that he was still alive and secondly, that he was still in Brighton. In the initial seconds of consciousness he was more sure about the second thing than the first. It was the falling caw of the gulls, that seaside constant, that told him where he was, and the pain that told him
that
he was.

Think. Remember.
Think
.

There were too many obstacles to thought. The seared skin at his wrists and ankles, the thirst, the cold, his bursting bladder, the muscle cramps, the stifling press of the bag over his head and the rough dry rasp of the gag between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. These agonies took it in turns to manifest themselves, circling relentlessly like horses on a beachside carousel. He had been hit on the back of the head, but the wound itself was strangely numb; he was more bothered by the itch where something sticky had dripped down the back of his neck, then cooled and dried.

For all that Luke had read, thought and written about other people’s pain, he had had only glancing experience of it himself. He was astonished by how much energy suffering consumed, and dismayed at how the essential powers of logic, reason and memory were obliterated.

He had always been proud of his memory – for a writer, recall is everything – yet now he was unable even to bring to mind the last place he had been conscious. He could remember the weeks that had led up to this moment, but not the hours. He didn’t know what he had done the previous day. He could remember the people who were currently in his life, but not when he had last seen any of them.

Think. Remember.
Try
.

If only he knew where he was. The cold and the stench of damp suggested that he was underground, but he could not even be sure of that. He would focus then on what he did know, or what he could feel, which was much the same thing. Coarse thin rope bound together his wrists and ankles, then caught them both behind his back so that his spine was bent backwards in a C-shape. He could not see it but guessed that it was a single length of cord that held him like this, secured by three knots. Luke took a perverse comfort in the fact that he could identify the method of his restraint. Joss Grand had devised this prison of knots as a torture device over fifty years ago, but he would not be capable of administering it now, or at least, not alone. Even with Luke’s limited recall, he knew exactly who would have helped him.

They had warned Luke not to write the book, to leave Grand alone. But no: he had known better, he
was
better. Or so he had believed. But why would they do this to him, or rather, why now? As far as Luke could remember, the book had finally begun to take shape. After a shaky start, the interviews were going well; their last session had been the best yet. Had Grand changed his mind? Was this his way of taking back his words? If anything, it was Luke who should be angry with Grand, the way he had . . .

Oh, shit.
Sandy
. If Grand had found out about Luke’s connection with Sandy, then of
course
he would be angry. He would be furious. Luke felt sick. He had promised to protect her, and he had failed. He could not bear to think what kind of punishment they would give her, and hoped desperately that some vestige of chivalry prevailed and they would not be torturing
her
like this. Luke thought that he could take twice this pain if it meant that she suffered none and, like all atheists in time of crisis, offered up this bargain in the form of a prayer. He rolled gently to the left to test for the press of the phone in his pocket. It was missing, but the action caused a fresh wave of pain that threw him onto his side and left him panting with the shock of it.

Something precious – a memory – slithered through the gaps between breaths. Grand wasn’t the only person who knew about this truss. Jem had seen the drawings Luke had made, and had been disgusted and confused by them. Was Jem capable of doing this just to teach Luke a lesson? Once he would have said not, but now nothing would surprise him. Jem had always said that Luke was out of his depth and perhaps this was his way of proving it. Jem . . . Luke found that despite everything, he longed to see him. At least if it was Jem’s doing, it would mean that Sandy was not at risk, and there was a chance that Luke could free himself with sweet lies and hollow apology. Was this professional violence or a personal punishment? And which was worse?

Think. Remember.
Think
.

He tried again to retrace the steps he had made earlier in the day, but it was no good. He had the feeling that there was something important, like a forgotten essential on a shopping list, something vital just out of his reach. Images of metal glimmered in and out of his mind’s eye, as though seen by candlelight. A dull gold bar, a spinning silver wheel, crucial images that he could not put into context. The faster his mind chased those thoughts, the more distant they became.

He was weakening by the second. Even under the hood, his vision was failing. A new, deeper darkness seemed to be closing in on him. In terror, he focused on the one sense that could still serve him, straining to hear through the cloth that covered his ears.
Listen
. No voices, no footsteps, no slamming car doors. No one was near.

The sounds of civilisation fell away one by one. Somewhere, a screaming siren was silenced. Then through deep ground came faint vibrations as though from a passing lorry or train. Then only a shrieking wind rattled a window. Then only the slow falling cry of the gulls. And then not even that.

One Week Earlier

Chapter 1

 

From:
[email protected]
To:
[email protected]
Date:
Tuesday 5 November 2013 15:52
Subject:
New book

 

Dear Maggie,
Hope all’s well. As requested, I’m attaching the opening pages of the story I’ve been working on down here in Brighton. Of course, I haven’t got the ‘money shot’ yet, and it’s still very much a work in progress at this stage. But I’m days away from getting a confession from him, I can feel it. Once he’s talked, we can decide how best to pitch this to publishers. In the meantime, I’m keen (nervous!) to hear what you think.
All best,
Luke

 

Attached document: GRAND_Chapter1
*

 

Joss Grand is nothing to do with Brighton’s most prestigious hotel although when, occasionally, a connection is assumed he does little to dispel the assumption. The Grand Hotel has long stood for much that Joss Grand values: it is genteel, respectable, civilised, world-renowned, its lacy Regency façade redolent of white gloves and parasols, afternoon tea and evening promenades. More recently it has become associated with weddings, conferences and spa days. There are liveried porters on the door and a Steinway piano nestles amid the potted palms of the atrium.
Behind the hotel, the city crawls uphill from the sea. These back streets are the ones that Grand and his partner in crime, Jacky Nye, ruled with free fists and promises of terror for the best part of a decade. In the early sixties their firm was founded on illicit drinking and gambling dens, protectioneering and violence.
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