The Man in the Buff Breeches

The Man in the Buff Breeches by Susan Lodge Read Free Book Online

Book: The Man in the Buff Breeches by Susan Lodge Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Lodge
soon,” I say.
    He smiles, and my hopes are smashed.
    “Oh, those two calls I made—pity no one was at the other end. I’ve also got Salter’s mobile and radio to deal with any enquires to his whereabouts. Although I believe from his last text, he was visiting you on his way home. So now he is probably officially off duty.”
    A vision of the unfortunate detective lying in my hall makes my heart contract. “He needs help. He could bleed to death. You will be a murderer.”
    “And you my accomplice. So for everyone’s health stop wasting time.”
    I can’t stop shivering. What an idiot . Why couldn’t I see that something grotesque lurked behind that perfect facade? “What is inside this elephant—drugs?”
    “Not your concern, Shona. Now where is it?”
    “I don’t know,” I shout. “Perhaps someone else has taken it. My flat seems to be open house, despite the upgrade of the locks.” My eyes fill with tears at the thought of Stephen using me and then this bastard. Duped by two Adonis’s—how gullible did that make me?
    The pressure on my neck increases again, and I start to gag a little before he eases up. What did I do with the damn thing? I have to remember. My mind feels like it is about to explode, and then I have a thought.
    “Yes, I remember now. In the garden there’s a shed. I share it with the flat below. I’ve some boxes stored there. It must be in one of them .” I’m 99% sure the elephant is not there, as I have not been down to the shed since I moved in, but it is the only place I can think of which will get him away from me for a while and his hand from my throat.
    He releases me roughly, causing my head to jerk back against the pillow. I gulp in a huge breath of air as he checks that my restraints are secure. Then he takes a linen handkerchief from his pocket and stuffs it in my mouth. “Just to keep you nice and quiet,” he warns as he turns towards the door. “I’ll be back, and if it isn’t there I will have to start hurting you. I don’t intend to leave without it, Shona, no matter what it takes. And I’m guessing your pain threshold is not too high.”
    I’m guessing he is right . I sniff as the tears course down my cheeks. I don’t know where the bloody elephant is. I wish I did. But there is serious pain to come if I don’t remember.
    I wonder how DS Salter is doing. Please, God, don’t let him die. Those lazy brown eyes and sultry mouth are stuck in my brain. How could I believe he was a stalker? But then again, what sort of judge am I? An hour ago I thought Nick, aka Mr. Hyde, was the most desirable man on earth. My throat constricts, and I think I will choke on this gag. I take a steadying breath through my nose. Think! Where is that stupid elephant? If he has already murdered DS Salter to get it, he isn’t going to spare me.
    How long will it take him to go through my boxes? Ten minutes at the most. I strain my ears for the awful sound of him returning. It is a slow torture, and the damp satin patch on the front of my dress expands as the tears roll down unchecked. Damn you! DS Salter, why didn’t you warn me—or did he? Was he watching over me or just waiting to trap me? I don’t know. But he could be bleeding to death out there and somehow elephants, con men, and my guilt are all unimportant. I need to get help for the man in the hall!
    I bite down on the linen in my mouth and with every ounce of energy pull on the twine. The sound of my heart thudding is crashing in my ears along with the frantic creaking of my bedstead. I prepare myself for a second attempt when I hear the terrifying sound of footsteps in the hall.
    He’s back.
    The door swings open, and my heart stops for a few seconds as DS Salter stumbles in. His head is bleeding, and he is holding his ribs with his right hand. He walks awkwardly to the side of the bed and blinks down at me swaying slightly. Thank God he’s alive . He stands before me frowning and my eyes bore into him. For heaven’s

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