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Chapter One

Chapter One

Through each frantic arc of the wipers, William anxiously scanned the road ahead. He hated driving in the rain at the best of times, let alone when travelling at almost double the limit along roads that have had so many adhoc repairs that they resemble some drab grey patchwork quilt. William knew that whenever the Highways Agency address an outbreak potholes, they can always be relied upon to leave a few behind and what with the falling rain, they were out there somewhere, camouflaged as innocent, innocuous puddles, ready to puncture a tyre or buckle his suspension. William didn’t want that. He was in a hurry yes, but he also very much loved his Aston Martin. As he made his way from motorway, to main road and then onto the narrow winding lanes of rural England, William kept his right foot planted flat to the floor as much as he dared, ignoring the flashing of headlights from other road users but always aware, always in control. In the distance, sitting atop a wooded hill, could be seen the church spire of a small village. It wasn’t long before William was there, speeding past a sign that said ‘Bishops Hill - Please Drive Carefully’.

Most of Bishops Hill’s inhabitants had heard William approach, as his V12 engine popped, banged and roared along the nearby country roads, serving as an early indicator that the peace was about to be shattered by some marauding invader. As he drove into the heart of the village, William saw people craning their necks out of windows or peering over neatly trimmed garden hedges to oversee his arrival, each one of them eyeing him with a mixture of curiosity, caution and disapproval. Such a frosty reception may have caused a lesser man to cower down inside his car, but not William. When he was behind the wheel of his sports car, he felt invincible.

The sultry female voice of the cars built-in sat-nav called out ‘In one hundred yards, you have reached your destination’ and there it was, with its distinctive teacup shaped sign, swinging in the breeze and jutting out from the front of the red brick building. Peering around eagerly for a place to park and seeing one in the distance just outside the tea room, William failed to spot a gargantuan puddle that ran along the left side curb. He did however briefly steal a glance at the woman on the pavement next to it. She was standing underneath a bright yellow umbrella and wearing a multi-coloured summer dress that, teamed with a pair of shockingly pink heels, made her look distinctly at odds with the rest of the surroundings. The corner of William’s mouth twitched slightly upon seeing the woman. He then felt the car lurch as it hit the huge puddle, sending a wall of water in the woman’s direction.

William swiftly parked up, then immediately jumped out of the car and started to apologize. ‘I’m so sorry’ he said ‘I didn’t see the puddle. I…’ He looked down regretfully at the state of the woman’s dress which was now sodden and spotted with dirt. ‘Please’ William pleaded ‘come into the tea room and dry off. I’ll buy you a hot drink or anything you like to make up for what I did’. The woman eyed him wearily and then looked down at herself considering her options. She had already been feeling a touch cold before being covered in water and was now visibly shivering.

‘OK’ she said timidly through chattering teeth.

‘Thank you’ said William gratefully with a nervous smile, ‘let me just get a few things from my car. You head on in and I’ll join you presently’.

The woman headed into the tea room and William heard a bell jingle as she pushed open the door. William opened his cars passenger side door and sat down inside, ducking out of the rain temporarily. He removed some items from a little cubby hole and placed them in his trouser pocket. He then rotated awkwardly in the seat and grabbed both a briefcase and a suit jacket from the backseat. He slipped his hand into a jacket pocket and pulled out a shiny metal hip flask, giving it a shake before dropping it back in. He then exited the car. Once he was upright and had one arm through the sleeve of his jacket, he heard the jingle of the tea room door again and looked over. A few people were leaving the premises. It was obvious that they were talking about him as William heard snippets of conversation such as ‘lack of consideration’, ‘driving like an idiot’ and ‘poor woman’. These people must have seen what had just happened and considered him to be at fault. ‘A fair, if uneducated assessment’ William thought with a wry smile. He casually strode to the door of the tea room which jingled once again as he pulled it open.

The quiet and relaxing atmosphere of the Bishops Hill tea room meant it was very popular with the locals who prized such qualities above all else. There were a group of pensioners looking out of the fogged up windows mournfully, while a couple of younger woman with pushchairs sat nearby, seemingly ignorant to everything around them as they stared at the screens of their smartphones, thumbs tapping away furiously. On the right, William saw an old man wearing a flat cap in the corner with his back to the room, quietly reading a newspaper. The lone waitress on duty was currently at his table, collecting an empty cup and a dirty plate while over by the counter, was the bedraggled looking woman, her yellow umbrella now collapsed and hanging down loosely at her side.

‘Again, I’m so sorry for splashing you’ William said as he approached the woman hurriedly.

The waitress, who’d started back towards the counter, slowed and gazed unashamedly at William saying ‘Ah it was you what did this to her then’ pointing at the bedraggled woman. ‘Heard it in ‘ere we did. Always happens when it rains around here. It’s the drains see, the council won’t sort out the sodding drains, bloody nightmare.’

’Oh hell, she’s off on one again’ whispered one of the young mums in a low conspiratorial voice to her friend.

‘Why don’t you go and find us a table near the fire’ William said quietly to his companion, while the waitress continued to drone on about the council’s innumerable failings.

The bedraggled woman walked over to the table directly infront of the fire, placed her umbrella on top of it and watched while William tried in vain to extricate himself from conversation with the waitress. She then caught one of the old ladies staring at her while she stood and waited for William. She felt a little bit embarrassed.

William was walking back from the counter but instead of joining the woman at the table she’d selected, he headed to an empty one a little further along, by the front window. Slightly confused by this, the woman picked up her umbrella and moved over to the other table. ‘Maybe he doesn’t want to sit quite that close to the open fire’ she thought to herself.

William removed his jacket and placed it on the back of a chair and then, still standing, started to pick up and read the sugar sachets that lay in a bowl in the middle of the table, until the woman had removed her coat, placed her brolly on the nearby window sill and had sat in the seat opposite.

‘So, err, my name’s William’ William said as he stopped fiddling with the sugar sachets and seated himself down.

‘Penny’ she said in response.

‘Well Penny’ William said and then paused so as to arrange his face with a suitably culpable expression and muster up a sincere sounding tone. ‘Look, I feel dreadful. On reflection I should’ve been a bit more mindful of the driving conditions but can we try to put that behind us?’

William hoped that he’d gauged Penny’s temperament accurately and waited for her reply with expectant optimism.

Penny wasn’t angry, she just felt a bit depressed by the whole situation but before she could answer, the waitress approached and asked ‘You ready to order?’

William looked over at Penny who gave the slightest of nods. ‘I think so’ William said slowly to the waitress but with his eyes still on Penny. He was unsure as to whether the nod was Penny’s acceptance of his apology or just confirmation that she knew what she wanted to order. He put this out of his mind and said ‘Can I have a latte with an extra shot and one of those delicious looking chocolate muffins you have on the counter please? Penny?’

‘Just a cup of tea please’ she said timidly.

‘No cake or pastry?’ asked William

Penny shook her head.

‘OK’ said William ‘that’s all then, thanks’

‘Coming right up’ replied the waitress.

As she walked back to the counter, William picked up a napkin from the table and started wiping away condensation from the front window until the street outside could be seen. Penny assumed that William had done this out of concern for his flash looking sports car and wanted to keep an eye on it, but she didn’t ask. She was too preoccupied with removing her shoes in an effort to let her feet dry out. She also thought that she should probably place her shoes next to the lit fireplace so that when she put them on to leave, they would be all toasty and warm inside.

As Penny stood up and moved over to the fireplace, William gazed around at the tea room, this time taking in his surroundings, as opposed to his fellow patrons. The place looked more like an old library than it did a cafe, what with its exposed beams, wing backed leather chairs, big oak tables and rows of bookshelves. Sure there was the odd painting here and there which injected a bit of culture to the place but aside from that, it was very sedate. Underfoot, the dark wooden floor was mostly covered by ornately patterned rugs which meant that Penny’s feet didn’t get too cold as she walked back to the table.

‘I hope you weren’t on your way anywhere special’ William asked, digging around for a good topic of discussion, ‘I mean, it looks like you might have been, based on your lovely dress. I guess it looked even prettier before…’

‘Before some guy sprayed it with cold muddy water’ she asked but with a slight smirk crossing her lips. She could already feel the warm environment having a positive effect on her mood. ‘My sister’s just had a baby and so I took the afternoon off to visit her. I was waiting for the bus when you, well...’ She paused and then asked ‘Are you here on business?’

As she said this, the bell above the door gave a little jingle, announcing that either someone new had entered or that someone was leaving. William’s eyes darted immediately to the door where a young couple, huddled under an umbrella, had just entered. Then he looked back at Penny. ‘Yes, in the area for a meeting but since it’s likely to drag on a bit I thought I’d pop in here and grab a cup of coffee beforehand. I doubt I’ll get home till late.’

‘And where’s that’ asked Penny inquisitively.

‘Over Oxford way’ William replied. ‘How about you? Are you local?’

‘Yes, I...’

‘Here are your drinks’ said the waitress, interrupting the flow of conversation as she placed a tray containing two chunky mugs and a pot of tea on the table. ‘Oh drat, look at me. I’ve gone and forgotten your muffin. I’ll just go and grab it. Chocolate wasn’t it?’

‘Yes, thank you’ said William, secretly hoping that the waitress wouldn’t start reeling off the number of times she had forgotten to deliver a muffin to someone. He was in luck. The waitress removed the items from the tray and then sauntered off back to the counter.

William’s eyes shot to the door once more as he heard the bells jingle yet again, but this time much quieter. It was the old man from the corner. He’d obviously finished reading his paper and had a mind to get on with the rest of his day, but was having a bit of trouble with the heavy oak door. It had closed on his walking stick, and he was struggling to retrieve it. He was still wearing a flat cap but now also wrapped himself in a large coat with its collar turned up to protect against the rain outside. He seemed really rather old and feeble. William watched him struggle with the heavy oak door for a moment and was just about to get up and help when the waitress, who’d just picked up a muffin for William from behind the counter and was en-route to deliver it, kindly changed direction and went to help.

‘Thank you my dear’ the old man said as he straightened himself up and ambled away.

The waitress watched as he crossed the road and headed towards the bus stop, ensuring he didn’t slip on the wet pavement. William was watching too.

‘Don’t worry, I doubt he’ll steal your car’ remarked Penny, wondering why William was watching the old man so intently out of the rain spotted window.

‘Sorry?’ asked William, looking at her quizzically and then ‘Oh, yes probably not’ chuckling politely.

‘Here’s your muffin, sorry about the delay’ said the waitress as she finally placed the cake onto the table and then disappeared off again back behind the counter.

After watching Penny take some sugar sachets from the bowl on the table, open them and add them to her drink with a stir, William asked whether she wanted a little extra something to help keep the cold out. He pulled the hip flask from his jacket and poured a large helping of its contents into his own cup, then held it out for Penny. She declined the offer, just as any respectable woman would, after all she didn’t know who this guy was. ‘He could be a date rapist’ she thought and a shiver of fear shot down her spine, although it might have been a shiver of excitement. She couldn’t be too sure. She hadn’t thought about sex in a very long time but now, the thought that this man might want to have sex with her was lodged in her head and she couldn’t get it out.

‘So, your sister’s just had a baby has she?’ William asked nonchalantly as he placed the flask back in his jacket pocket ‘What was it?’

Under the table, his knee had started twitching unconsciously.

‘A boy’ she said after collecting her thoughts for a moment. ‘Oliver.’

As she was talking, Penny started to notice something a bit odd. William kept on moving his gaze from her face, up to the top of her head and back down again. Conscious that damp weather always made her hair go frizzy, she started to occasionally pat it down but this didn’t seem to stop him. After discussing what Penny did for a job, she became so un-nerved by the constant upwards flick of his eyes that she excused herself from the table and headed straight to the bathroom to see what her hair was up to. William watched as she wound her way between the tables and through the bathroom door. As soon as the door had shut behind her, he dipped his hand into his pocket.

Penny crossed the room on her return, looking around to see if there was anything which may have distracted William since her hair looked, a bit flat maybe, but otherwise fine. On seeing nothing of note, save for a random painting of some sheep, she sat back down and decided to ask him about it next time it happened. ‘Maybe he’s an art buff’ she thought.

There was now a packet of cigarettes on the table and on seeing them Penny said ‘Oh, are you popping outside for a smoke? You can borrow my umbrella if you like so you don’t get wet.’ As soon as she had said this she thought ‘Maybe he wasn’t looking above my head after all. Maybe he just wanted to go outside for a smoke and was checking to see if it had stopped raining.’

William smiled and said ‘No it’s OK. I only put that pack there just incase I get desperate later. I don’t think I need one just now.’

‘I used to smoke too’ Penny said sympathetically ‘And I must admit I felt pretty close to starting up again earlier.’

Penny noticed that William’s eyes were no longer darting up above her head and felt immediately more relaxed. She even started to vent her frustrations about incompetent work colleagues, unreliable computers and her broken down car. William allowed her to go on for a good fifteen minutes without interruption, which was exactly what Penny needed, a good opportunity to unleash some of the stress that had been building up inside her for days, weeks, even months.

As Penny sat and contemplated how much better it felt now that she had gotten all these things off her chest, the conversation momentarily dropped and William used the break to start on his muffin, which had been tempting him ever since the waitress had brought it over.

The jingling of bells signalled another new customer’s arrival and a man wearing a waterproof sports jacket stepped in out of the rain, causing William to look up and wipe the crumbs from his chin.

The newest customer brushed his feet on the doormat and said to no one in particular ‘this weather, I mean honestly. It’s been hanging around since last week. If it were proper rain I could handle it, but this is worse. Soaks you right through dunnit.’

‘The usual Jerry?’ called the waitress from the counter.

‘Thanks Angela’ the man replied as he seated himself a few tables away from William and Penny.

‘Well?’ Penny said.

‘Sorry?’ replied William, whose attention up until that point had been on the new arrival.

‘I asked how long you had been a lawyer. Quite a while I’m guessing looking at your car, but then again you’re only what, early forties?’

William laughed. ‘It’s not the years Penny, it’s the mileage. That’s what kills you in the end. The law firm I work for is one of the biggest in the country and although the money’s good, the work load isn’t. I never get any time to myself.’

Angela placed a mug and a Danish pastry onto Jerry’s table then walked over towards William and Penny.

‘Was everything OK? Can I get you anything else?’ Angela asked.

William saw that Jerry had just stood up and was making his way to the bathroom.

‘Yes, I’d like another muffin to take away please, the first one was scrumptious. Would you care for a top up Penny?’

‘I’m OK thank you’ she replied. ‘In fact, I really should think about making a move, visiting hours and all that.’ She glanced down at her watch.

‘Just the muffin and the bill then please’ said William with a smile.

As Angela walked back behind the counter, William said to Penny ‘excuse me a moment, I must go and wash the sticky muffin residue from my hands.’

William stood up and left the table, heading towards the bathroom. As he walked he removed some sachets of sugar from his pocket and placed them on top of those on Jerry’s table. The move was so effortless that William barely broke his stride. Nobody saw a thing.

As he went to push the bathroom door open, it swung inwards and William fell forwards slightly, straight into Jerry.

‘Sorry’ William said, straightening himself up and moving out of the way.

‘That’s quite alright chap’ replied Jerry with a smile.

After washing his hands and checking his reflection, William left the bathroom and saw that a couple of his sugar sachets were now lying opened and empty on Jerry’s table. He strode across the room and extracted his wallet before sitting back down opposite Penny.

‘Thanks for the drink. I definitely feel a bit warmer now’ Penny said with a pleasant smile.

‘Well I’m glad I offered, otherwise I wouldn’t have had anyone to talk to during my coffee. Here take this to cover the dry cleaning bill’ William said as he offered her a crisp twenty pound note.

‘Oh no, you’ve done enough and besides’ she said as she grabbed part of her dress, ‘this is machine washable.’

Penny stood up and started walking towards the exit. As she passed by Jerry’s table, she half turned to smile back at William but instead ended up colliding with Angela, who’d been strolling through the room collecting dirty mugs. Angela immediately apologized for causing the collision but it was Jerry who came to the rescue. He’d put his hands out to catch Penny as she fell and ensured that she landed onto something soft, namely his own lap. Penny gave him a coy little smile, brushed a stray bit of hair off her forehead and said shyly ‘thanks.’

‘Any time’ responded Jerry as he relaxed his grip on her but didn’t let go completely.

A little bemused by what had just happened Angela walked over to William, who’d been watching this all unfold with a smirk on his face. He paid the bill and gave Angela a generous tip.

Over on the other table, Penny had moved from Jerry’s lap and was now sat down in the seat next to him. They were both chatting animatedly and had broad smiles on their faces. William looked up at the clock behind the counter. It was time to leave. He wrapped his muffin in a napkin and started to put his jacket on, but as he did so the door crashed open accompanied by the loudest jingle of the day startling everyone, including Penny and Jerry, although they were only momentarily distracted from each other.

A very wet, out of breath man rushed in. He quickly scanned the room and as he spotted Penny and Jerry sitting together talking, all the energy seemed to ebb away from his body. His gaze then drifted past the happy couple and landed on William, which had the immediate effect of causing his body to tense up. He hesitated for a moment and then strode over with a bitter look on his face.

‘Ah Michael, you’re a bit late I’m afraid’ William said glancing towards Jerry and Penny and then beaming at the new arrival with a look of utter smugness on his face. ‘To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if any of your lot would bother coming at all, but never mind eh. Have a seat and let me get you a drink, you look rather parched.’ William then gestured to Angela behind the counter. After he’d been acknowledged with a nod, he turned back to Michael and said ‘I have something to discuss with you which may be of interest.’

Michael was so incredibly exhausted he just flopped onto one of the seats feeling wretched. His clothes were soaked and sticking to his skin, making him exceedingly uncomfortable. Michael had just run all the way from the neighbouring village of Chesterton three miles away because that’s as close to Bishops Hill he could get via bus. He’d run so fast infact that he was still struggling to catch his breath and therefore unable to muster the energy to answer all of the questions being fired at him by William. He just sat and drank the jug of water which Angela had now placed on the table.

‘How long have you been doing this for again? Do you feel like you’ve achieved much since you started? Do you still enjoy living with a bunch of eccentric old men?’

It was this last question which goaded Michael into a response.

‘It’s true that some of my colleagues may be a little set in their ways’ he said between heavy breaths ‘but all of us have something in common. We know that what we’re doing is right and what you’re doing is wrong.’

William smiled, glad that the conversation had at last become a two way affair. Shaking his head, he said ‘My dear boy, you and your colleagues are little more than an antiquated secret society whose power and influence has been rapidly decreasing ever since your monopoly was brought to an end. I agree that you and your geriatric companions may have the right ideals but unfortunately your charitable attitude and lack of business acumen isn’t sustainable. It doesn’t bring in the money you need in order to keep the organization afloat. That’s the major flaw in your operation and that’s why the Arcanum will soon cease to exist. I think you already know this. The question is, what will you do when everything you know comes crashing down around you and you realize you have no plan B?’

William and Michael looked into each other’s eyes for a brief moment, sizing one another up. It was Michael who looked away first. He proceeded to stare out the window at the falling rain.

‘But anyway, enough about all of that, how are things with you?’ asked William, hoping to defuse the tension and move the conversation on. ‘Are you happy?’

Turning to face William again Michael replied ‘Yep.’

‘Fair enough’ William said ‘but you’re still living with all the others at the manor. Your aim surely must be to leave there eventually and build a proper life for yourself somewhere? I mean, you don’t seem the type who would be happy living their whole life under someone else’s wing?’

Michael pondered this before saying with a hint of annoyance ‘As I said, I’m quite happy thanks.’ He was sure that William was just laying the groundwork to a bigger topic. There must’ve been a good reason for him to hang around and Michael was eager to know what that was.

‘The thing is Michael, how long do you think it can continue? Honestly? I’m fully aware that your lot scrape along on the bare minimum of income and that you’re clearly not having much success, so I’ve got to ask, at what point will you guys just give up?’

‘Who says I’m not having much success?’ Michael snapped back while William chortled.

‘I wasn’t meaning just you Michael’ William responded with a smile ‘but the Arcanum as a whole. It’s been ages since your lot last beat my team and that was only because an accident meant my operative was rushed to hospital before he could complete his mission.

‘What happened?’

‘Oh I don’t remember the specifics. Collision with a truck or a bus or something, I don’t remember.’

‘That would’ve been Charlie then, wouldn’t it?’ asked Michael

‘Probably’ replied William nonchalantly.

‘Well I can tell you it was’ Michael spat out venomously. ‘He died a week later and every Arcanum member went to his funeral. He was one of us before he joined the Farthingsworth scum. We all went to show our respects. I can’t remember seeing you there though.’

William batted this comment away with his hand.

‘And for your information’ Michael continued, ‘it was me who succeeded in getting to those targets first and not just because of Charlie’s accident. I worked my ass off to get there that day and I feel confident I would’ve succeeded regardless.’

‘Of course’ said William, ‘I’m not trying to take anything away from you, I just want you to look back over the years you’ve toiled as an Arcanum member and really consider just how many successes you’ve actually had.’

Michael was very uncomfortable now. It felt that, now he’d stopped running, he was sweating a lot more. This was probably due to him drinking pretty much a whole jug of water in under five minutes but it also didn’t help that William was criticizing him. ‘It isn’t my fault’ he told himself subconsciously. ‘How am I supposed to beat guys in sports cars and helicopters when all I have is a clapped out old banger and a pushbike?’

William recognized Michael’s agitation starting to appear through his calm façade. It was this type of reaction which made him the perfect candidate for Williams offer.

‘Look, we both know that the reason you continually fail is not down to a lack of talent or effort on your part. I’ve been watching you for a while now and can tell you that you try harder than anyone else I’ve seen from the Arcanum in the last twenty years. You’ve come incredibly close on a number of occasions to beating us on pure determination alone. For example, none of my team would’ve turned up today pouring sweat and smelling like they’d been at a weeklong music festival just for this…’ he gestured over towards Penny and Jerry who were now exchanging mobile phone numbers. ‘You knew it would be a tall order to beat me here today, but yet still you tried and tried hard from what I can tell. You should be commended for your eagerness to succeed.’ William bowed his head slightly to Michael before continuing ‘The reason you fail is because you’re not being provided with the resources required in this day and age to achieve your goal.’ He paused for breath and took in Michael’s appearance. ‘I gather from the state of you that the old Arcanum love wagon broke down again?’

Michael chortled and said ‘I don’t take that useless piece of shit out anymore...’ but then immediately clammed up, concerned that he was relaxing his guard a bit too much infront of the so-called enemy.

‘Look, I know that when things let you down regularly, you’re bound to get discouraged’ William said solemnly, looking Michael right in the eyes now. ‘You have an exceptional talent for this game and a drive to succeed. As such, I feel that you would be a great asset to Farthingsworth. We would be willing to reward your successes handsomely and provide you with all the tools necessary in order to get the job done.’

Michael leaned in towards William subconsciously, providing William a clear sign that the discussion was starting to interest him.

‘Not only will you be more successful’ William carried on ‘and therefore surely happier in your job, we are able to provide you a way out of the game, a life away from all of this.’ He gestured again towards Penny and Jerry who were now playing footsie with each other under the table. ‘I know how much it hurts to spend your life surrounded by love, only for it to be just out of reach for you but at Farthingsworth, we have a way to solve this. Plus you won’t be forced to live with the rest of the Farthingsworth organization, like you’re forced to live with the rest of the Arcanum at the moment. You’re expected to be self-reliant, using your salary to purchase your own place which doubles your base of operation. We expect you to return to headquarters once a week for reports and the occasional special meeting, but that’s it. The salary you’d receive would enable you to leave this life within a few years, if you so choose. Its performance based pay too, so you should have no concerns about not earning enough, providing you put in the same amount of effort as you do currently.’

Michael looked wistfully over at Penny and Jerry and felt a small personal yearning for some female companionship of his own, a feeling he’d tried to keep suppressed for a long time, but which always seems to bubble just below the surface. He’d long held a burning desire to create a life for himself away from the Arcanum but without any means of financing such a venture he was stuck in a never ending rut.

William picked up his suitcase and placed it on the table.

‘In here is £10,000’ he said. ‘Look at it as an advance, a show of commitment on our part. All I need is your signature on a contract stating that you’ll be willing to work for Farthingsworth sometime in the future.’ He opened the case, intentionally flashing its contents briefly and pulled from it a two page document, gold pen and a mobile phone. ‘I appreciate you probably need time to think it over so I’ll also provide you with this mobile phone too, so we can keep in touch.’

Michael felt apprehensive and this was noticed by William.

‘Regardless of your answer’ he said ‘let me give you a lift back to the outskirts of Sloughly Dossit in my car. I bet you’re knackered after all that running.’ He pointed out the window to the sports car outside.

Michael cleared away some condensation from the window and baulked at the car. It sat there looking like an aggressively styled missile with wheels. As Michael watched, a bus edged slowly past the car on the rain sodden road, riding the kerb on the opposite side in an effort to avoid scraping down the side of the expensive machine.

‘The roads around here are too small’ thought William to himself.

Michael hadn’t noticed the car outside earlier as he was too focused on his task but now that he looked at it, he felt a pang of desire.

‘If I work for you’ Michael said ‘I’m my own man, right. I can do whatever I feel is needed to be successful?’

William pondered this and replied simply ‘within reason.’

Next Chapter: Chapter Two