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connectionsbooks by Paul Stuart

Your entry to the Connections series

The twists and turns continue apace as John Lomax and DCI Lane carry on their bitter feud. They both have secrets and they both have women in their lives. For Lomax, his life is changing as the women in his life close in on him and start to take control. Many of the women in DCI Lane's life have an increasing influence despite the fact that most of them are dead. 


The Biker is an extremely careful man, meticulous in all he does, and he leaves nothing to chance as he takes more of an important role. The plot continues at a breakneck speed.


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Leanne’s mobile was set to vibrate. She didn’t notice it at first, but its non-stop insistence became gradually more intrusive.  She rolled over onto her side and quietly picked up her phone from the bedside table.  She tried to move slowly and gently in an effort not to wake John.

She was very pleased that she had taken such care when she read the text message.

“Must meet. No choice. Tell nobody. White Hart. Midday.  Come alone.”

She didn’t recognise the number and there was no clue as to who had sent it.  She slipped out from under the duvet, looked back to make sure John was still asleep, and closed the bedroom door behind her.  She took a quick shower, dressed and moved on to the kitchen to make coffee and toast.  She hoped Lomax would sleep on because she needed time to think and try to find out what was going on.

The phone buzzed again and the same message arrived, with an addition that warned “if you don’t come, you’ll regret it.”

Lomax appeared in the kitchen later that morning.  Leanne said that she needed to go into town to do some shopping and convinced him that he would be bored, so she set out on her own.

She chose a seat at a corner table in the pub which allowed her to face the entrance.  The pub was not crowded and she scrutinised everybody almost to the point of rudeness, but she didn’t recognise anybody.  She sipped a chilled white wine and nervously looked at her mobile which lay inert, silent and threatening on the table.

She realised gradually that her nervousness had produced a need to go to the toilet.  When she returned there was a woman sat at her table smiling at her and beckoning.

“Hello, Leanne.”

“I’m sorry.  Do I know you?”

“No.  We haven’t met, but we have a mutual interest.”

“How do you know my name?  Who are you?”

Leanne’s defences were on alert and she sensed danger.

“My name is Susan Lomax.  I am John Lomax’s wife.  The man you are living with, I believe.  It’s a long story so I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve come to warn you that you should be very careful about trusting him. He cannot be trusted for one moment.  He can be loving and kind and treat you well, but once he gets an idea in his head nothing gets in his way.  That can be a good trait in a man, but in him it’s not.  I’m not speaking as the woman scorned.  I’m simply letting you know that you must never let your guard down.”

 The pub had become more crowded and noisy with lunchtime trade, so nobody paid any attention to Leanne and Susan at their corner table.

“I’ve learned that you really should be very careful,” she continued.  “Watch your back and make sure you have a way out.”

-1-

The realisation that the woman had called herself Susan Lomax gradually formed in Leanne’s brain. John’s wife was named Karen.  So was this woman really her, using another name, or was it somebody else?  If so what was her agenda?

She had warned that he was not to be trusted, but could Leanne trust this woman?  Had John sent her as a test?  What did this woman know? Who else would appear out of the woodwork?  What else would come to light?  Could she trust John?

 Leanne was now utterly confused. She just didn’t know what to think.  They had been through a great deal and each had been devious with the other along the way, but surely things had settled down and they would be able to get on with their lives without constant crises.

“I’m sorry if what I’ve said has worried you,” continued the woman, “but I know him inside out and, believe me when I tell you, he just cannot be trusted. When we split it was because I found out he had been seeing another woman.  There may have been more than one.  I asked him to leave and he was just about to go when the police arrived and arrested him on suspicion of murder.  I know he got off that and I know some of the things that have happened to him since.  You may have real feelings for him, I have to admit I did once, but you must realise that not only is he devious, he is also weak when it comes to being tempted by a woman, as well as having a very determined and hard streak. The only person he really looks after, when push comes to shove, is himself.”

Leanne stared intently at the woman as she spoke and began going through things in her own mind.  She was trying to argue inwardly against what the woman was telling her, but couldn’t help recalling issues and events that told her she was right.  Little things, small pointers, which on their own were insignificant, now became crucial.  She was so deeply lost in thought she didn’t realise that the woman had stopped talking and was staring fixedly at her, awaiting a response.

“Why are you taking this trouble?”  Leanne asked.

“Before I tell you I need your promise that it will remain between the two of us.”

“I don’t know.  I realise things may have happened between you that you resent and that you may want revenge for the way you have been treated and even deceived, but I don’t know how I can help.”

“I’m not asking for your help,” answered Mrs Lomax, “I’m trying to help you.  It’s just that you should take great care and don’t put yourself in situations where you can be exploited.  He really is not to be trusted.”

“I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself,” said Leanne, “and I’m quite offended that you see me as a weak and vulnerable woman. I won’t make promises I can’t keep.”

“OK, fine, but please remember you have been warned. I won’t contact you again.  If you need me at any time, my number is on your mobile.”

With those words Mrs Lomax took her leave.

Leanne stayed put and, with the help of a second chilled white wine, concentrated on recalling the details of her relationship with John Lomax.  Half an hour later she shook herself from her reverie.  She had concluded that she should dismiss most of what she had been told as it could only be based on the woman’s hurt feelings and an obvious desire for revenge.  Besides, she thought John Lomax loved her deeply.  He had said as much many times.  She did, however, think that perhaps there may have been some kernel of truth in what she had just heard, so she decided to be more wary all round, especially where John Lomax was concerned. The problem was that by becoming more careful, she knew she may just be doing what Mrs Lomax wanted by spoiling her own relationship with John. She was left with the nagging feeling that this was what was intended all along.  The woman had subtly planted a seed of doubt in her mind and it would be difficult to ignore, despite the fact that the woman had deliberately used the wrong name.

-2-

 Susan Lomax tapped out the number she had been given and waited.  She did not have to wait long before the expected voice answered.


“How did it go?”


“Well, I told her, and she listened. I think she was confused by the name.  She didn’t want to accept what I said, but I think she will have the message in her brain now and it will come back to her at various times.”


“Good.  That’s all I wanted.  Thank you.  I’ll be in touch.”


Sandy Lane smiled to himself as he disconnected.  He inwardly congratulated himself on using Karen Lomax to warn Leanne.  Leanne might suspect that the woman she had met who had called herself Susan Lomax, was, in fact, Karen Lomax, John’s wife.  It was she who Lomax had called from his mobile phone on the train on that fateful day when DCI Sandy Lane had overheard their conversation and put the information to good use.   


Having finished her brief phone call she was overcome by a feeling of emptiness.  She sat down and began to recall the events that had preceded it.


Her husband, John Lomax, had been acting strangely even before that fateful day when the police had arrived to arrest him just as he was about to leave her, suitcase in hand.  She had followed subsequent events, of course, and had become increasingly inured to their twists and turns.  She knew he was clever but had never realised just how ingenious he really was.  His affair had irretrievably changed her feelings towards him and had helped ease her heartache.  His arrest and then his release, however, had the opposite effect. It angered her.  That emotion became fury when she discovered that he was living with another woman.  Karen realised that it was more than coincidence that the latest woman was Leanne Lane.


She had not told Sandy Lane her reasons for agreeing to meet Leanne because she wanted him to believe that good old fashioned revenge was her motive.  If DCI Lane thought he was using her, then let him.  She would make her own move when she was ready.


Her life had been so completely shattered that her motivation was much, much more deeply rooted than mere revenge. She wanted, actually needed, John Lomax to be totally destroyed and stop at nothing and use anybody to that end.  If both Lane and Lomax could be devious, then she could be more so. Hell hath no fury....


Karen Lomax made two phone calls.  When they had been completed she walked to her kitchen, opened a bottle of red wine and poured herself glass.  The sunlight caught the crystal and its contents and sprayed blood red reflections, surrounding her where she stood.  She raised the glass and drank deeply.