Authors: Dreda Say Mitchell
Delaney checked the nanny’s bedroom and found the secret door which had been professionally designed and installed and had been missed by his boys on the initial search. The prime object of the raid had been to catch Garcia rather than look for anything else so he wasn’t surprised the room had been missed. Delaney then ordered the house sealed while his suspect, the ‘wife’ and the nanny were taken into custody. He also arranged for the baby to be taken into hospital for a thorough check-up. When he handed the kid over to a WPC to be taken in, he warned her, ‘I want this child kept under guard at all times. Tell the doctors I want a swab of his saliva taken to get his DNA. Get it straight down to the lab and then run it through the system to see if we can find a match. Alert me immediately if something turns up.’
The WPC’s eyes melted slightly when she took the baby from Phil. ‘Beautiful isn’t he?’
Phil didn’t smile back. ‘I know. That’s why we need to find his parents as fast as possible. They must be in pieces without him . . .’
Detective Chief Inspector John ‘Mac’ MacDonagh sat at the desk in the Office Research Unit, staring out of the window. On his computer was a live feed from Garcia’s house as the raid took place. The speakers on his PC vibrated as information came in, orders were barked out at the scene and the unexpected discovery of the baby was relayed back. But Mac took no notice of any of it.
Delaney had told him before the raid that his work as office coordinator for the operation was a vital role. But he knew that was a lie.
There was nothing vital about this non-job he’d been given or any of the other non-jobs he’d been given in the previous eighteen months. He was a glorified office boy who Delaney usually got to do ‘file maintenance’. What Mac wanted – needed – was to be back in the field; undercover work ran deep in his blood. But every time he raised the issue with his superior the answer was always the same:
‘You’re lucky you’ve still got a job Mac. After what had happened a year and a half back, you should really be in prison or on the dole. You broke rule number one – never, ever get emotionally attached to someone you’re investigating. And that includes fucking them. But you couldn’t keep it in your boxers. Your gang-banger girlfriend ends up playing you like a violin, implicating you in murder after murder. Do you know how much fancy footwork it took to cover it all up? And believe me I don’t like dancing to anyone else’s tune. Do you know how many favours I owe to the likes of self-appointed super cop Rio Wray and that devil’s disciple Calum Burns for not breaking my balls over it? Lucky for you Elena Romanov fell to her death from a bridge; if she hadn’t it would be you who’d have had to play the fall guy.’
He let Phil Delaney run his mouth, knowing his superior would blow to kingdom come if he knew the facts of the story that Mac was keeping from him.
Fact 1: Elena had been pregnant.
Fact 2: He suspected lying, murderous Elena was still alive.
Fact 3: . . .
He still wouldn’t allow himself to believe that fact 3 was really true. But the photo he’d received six months ago told another story.
The phone on Mac’s desk went dragging him from the past and back to his present. The caller was Phil Delaney in a good mood. ‘Did you see the feed? We’ve got Garcia. And there’s a bonus. Garcia was hiding a kid in the house, so if our American colleagues have messed up the extradition warrants, we can get him for child abduction. So, a good day’s work – in which you played a vital role of course.’
Mac sighed. ‘If you like . . .’
It was Phil’s turn to sigh. ‘Come on, drum up some enthusiasm. We’re supposed to be professionals here.’
‘Sure.’ Mac hesitated for a moment before adding, ‘Listen Phil, I’ve got something I need to talk to you about . . .’ He felt an envelope in his jacket pocket. ‘It won’t take long.’
‘What’s it about?’
‘I’d prefer to speak to you in person.’
‘Well, it can’t be today, I’ve got all the Garcia paperwork to sort out and we need to start trying to trace the parents of this kid we’ve recovered, so there are DNA tests to run and checks to be made. Come into my office first thing tomorrow morning and we’ll talk then.’
Mac wasn’t bothered about having to wait another twenty-four hours. He’d waited eighteen months already and knew another day wouldn’t make any difference.
He was kept waiting outside Phil’s office for an hour the following morning before finally being allowed to go in. Delaney sat at his desk, arms folded flat on the table, one elbow touching a report file, staring into space. He took no notice when Mac smiled and wished him good morning, nor did he offer him a seat.
Mac loitered in front of the desk before his boss finally seemed to notice he was standing there. With a stony gesture, he indicated with his finger that Mac should sit. There was a long chilly silence before Mac pulled his envelope from his pocket and held it his hand waiting to give it to the man who had taught him everything he knew about undercover work. He could tell from Phil’s manner that he knew why he was there and what his letter said. His resignation had been a long time coming. He passed the envelope over to Phil but he didn’t take it. Instead his superior’s stare turned to something approaching hatred.
Uncomfortable, Mac continued to hold the envelope out as he said, ‘You need to take this.’
Delaney made no move for a few moments, then leaned across his desk and, whispering like an angry lover, said. ‘Never mind your fucking envelope. How about you answer a few questions for me?’
Mac frowned. ‘Is there a problem?’
‘Oh yeah, there’s a bloody problem alright.’ He picked up the report that was lying on his desk. He waved it in the air and asked, ‘Do you know what this is?’
Mac didn’t answer. He wasn’t in the mood for guessing games.
Phil flipped the file open and explained, ‘That kid we picked up at Garcia’s house yesterday. We’ve taken him down the hospital and run some checks on him. He’s in good shape. He’s been well looked after, which is good news. But obviously, we need to track his parents down as fast as possible. So we took a swab of the little chap’s saliva and we ran his DNA through our records to see if we could find a match. And it’s more good news. We think we’ve found his mother and father. This is the report. Do you know what it says?’
Mac knew this line of questioning. It was the method used by detectives to present damning evidence to a suspect. He grasped his envelope more tightly in his fingers before saying, ‘Phil if you’ve got something to say just—’
‘The baby’s mother is Elena Romanov.’
Mac sucked in his breath as Phil continued. ‘No doubt you’ll recall the name? You certainly should. She was the communications officer in that arms trafficking gang – the one you got cosy between the sheets with. A woman who is meant to be dead in a very watery grave somewhere.’
Mac said nothing. The envelope between his fingers was bent, twisted and damp with sweat. He heard Delaney say, ‘Of course now we’ve established who the mother of this boy is, it raises some problems for us. But not as many as the identity of the father does. You know who the proud papa is?’
Mac swayed in his chair like a hanged man in the breeze.
‘Are you alright? Do you want me to call a doctor?’
Mac realised that Phil was standing over him, gently shaking his shoulders.
He took a deep breath and said, ‘No, I’m OK. I just need to see my son – where is he?’
‘He’s in hospital at the moment being checked over. He’s fine. We’ll arrange for you to see him when the doctors think it’s appropriate.’ Delaney went back to his desk and then added, ‘Of course there’ll be other participants in that who will want a say.’
The anger Mac felt at these words helped him recover his mettle and he stopped being a crumpled heap in his chair and sat bolt upright. ‘What do you mean – other participants?’
Phil picked up the file with the DNA results and pretended to examine it. ‘I expect social services will want to get involved and they will want to supervise any visits.’
Mac exploded. ‘I don’t need to be supervised when I go to see my own child. And I’ll tell you something else; I’ll be taking him straight home with me. I’m his father; I’ll be looking after him from now on.’
Delaney put the file down again. ‘It’s not going to be that simple I’m afraid. There are procedures to be followed. Social services will have to decide if you’re well enough to take custody of the child.’
‘Well, let’s face it, your behaviour in the past hardly suggests you’d be the ideal parent . . .’
Mac rose out of his chair in fury. ‘What’s that supposed to mean? I’m not fucking mad. Sure I got a bit low when Stevie . . .’
He still found it hard to say the name of his young son who had died – his other young son. That gave Mac the strength he needed to control his anger and retake his seat. ‘He’s my kid. I want to see my boy. He’s coming home with me and I’ll fucking kill anyone who tries to stop me.’
Phil Delaney considered him for a few seconds. ‘I’ll see what I can do. But it will have to be supervised – you understand?’
Then Phil asked that Mac had been dreading to hear. ‘Did you have any knowledge that Elena Romanov was still alive?’
Mac didn’t answer. ‘No wonder we never recovered her body. Were you aware that Miss Romanov was pregnant with your child?’
Mac didn’t answer that one either. Phil paused before saying, ‘OK Mac, I understand, this must have come as something of a shock. But I’ll need to speak you to about this later. In the meantime, why don’t you take the rest of the day off?’
But Mac was already thinking ahead. ‘I’m fine. You’re right, it’s a shock to discover she’s alive and had my child and I apologise for my outburst. I was holding her hand when she fell from that bridge.’ Mac shivered as if back in the frigid wind that had encased him and Elena that night. ‘There was no way I thought she could survive that. As for being pregnant . . . she told me when we were on the bridge.’ He shook his head. ‘But I thought it was a last ditch attempt by her to save her skin. Even though . . .’
Mac yanked the rest of the words back.
Phil leaned across the table. ‘Even though what, Mac?’
‘Mac if I find you aren’t telling me the whole story—‘
‘You know as much as I do.’
‘So you’ve had no contact with her? You don’t know where she is?’
Phil nodded. ‘OK. If you think you’re well enough, go back to your desk.’ But as Mac was leaving, his boss called after him, ‘There is one thing though. Don’t fuck around here. Don’t do anything stupid with the kid. And don’t, whatever you do, use this delicate situation to pursue any kind of vendetta against Elena Romanov or try and track her down. Do you understand?’
‘Yes, of course I do.’
Mac pulled out the photo as soon as he got back to his desk: a snap of a smiling baby with his and (his dead son) Stevie’s blue eyes. He turned the photo over and read the message written in careful, black-point writing:
‘I named him after you. His name is John Mac.’
The picture had arrived six months ago. He hadn’t wanted to believe it – couldn’t believe that Elena had come back to haunt him from the black waters of London Docks. Thought it must be someone close to Elena, who knew their history, planning some dirty trick on him. So he’d done nothing; kept on track with getting his life back into some type of working order. Now his life was shattered again by another son. Living. Within touching distance: a child who connected a thread to Elena.
Mac pushed his shock back as he turned back to his computer. It still showed a live image of the house where Garcia had been holed up. Mac cursed himself for not following the Garcia case more seriously. The mysterious Mr Garcia would be able to answer all the questions he needed answering. Like what was Elena doing back in London? What was she doing entrusting her son – his son – to a Latin American money launderer? And most importantly of all, where could he track her down?
She’d made a fool of him. Lied to him. Manipulated and used him, nearly got him killed in her attempt to take her own personal revenge on her hated enemy. And worst of all, she’d stolen his son. And he wasn’t prepared to let that stand. The thought of his blood being bought up by that murderous bitch made him almost throw up. But why had she left the child with some Latin American crook?
Firstly, he had to get Garcia. No way would Phil give him access and he also knew Delaney would be keeping a close eye on him now, watching his behaviour. He bitterly regretted his outburst in Phil’s office. That had really given the game away. There was only one other way to get to Garcia without breaking the law and that was via his lawyer. Mac checked the case files to see if Garcia’s lawyer had been logged on the system. He quickly scanned the notes.
The lawyer despised by the top brass within the Met Police Service.
Mac pursed his lips. That Foster was entangled with Garcia raised all kinds of intriguing possibilities, but first he had to find him. Mac picked up his phone to call Foster’s office but then thought better of it. All calls from the office were logged and Phil would soon find out he’d contacted Foster. And why. Mac slipped out of his office and peered through the glass partition into Delaney’s room where his boss was holding a meeting with his team from the Garcia raid. Mac knew those meetings – they lasted forever. He went downstairs and checked out at the front desk, telling the receptionist that he was going for an early lunch.