Nicole had drunk an awful lot of Bollinger. She could take her drink, but champagne has a habit of catching people unawares, particularly women. Under normal circumstances, she would have passed out earlier. But such is sex and the drugs the body itself generates internally when aroused, she kept on going. Paolo more than satisfied her, then himself, for which she stayed wide awake... an active participant.
But when it was over, her body ordered her to stop, to crash. The sparkle she’d been exhibiting was reduced to the glint of the diamond below as she lay naked and unconscious.
She didn’t realise it but her offer had given Paolo an idea. He planned to plagiarise.
But before that, his tongue was too busy to talk. Slapper. she might be, but Nicole’s body was stunning and she knew just what to do with it. So did Paolo, who was attending to her needs before any of his own. He couldn’t resist tickling his tongue on the diamond. That would have made a good story to recount in the pub sometime, but in view of what he had planned for later that Saturday evening, his activities would definitely not be broadcast.
Paolo couldn’t help his reaction. “Wow!” he exclaimed. Nicole giggled.
Removing her little lace knickers had revealed more than he was expecting. What met his eyes was perfectly groomed as might befiit the setting for a very large diamond, Flaherty’s diamond. Paolo had seen intimate piercings before, but none so stunning as this one. The large stone must have cost many, many thousands and it sat proud at the top of her divide. This was ‘later’ and he had well and truly found out.
“Like it?” Nicole asked proudly.
“Mmmmm! Ronan must like you a helluva lot”
“Wanna polish it?”
At that point, Nicole put the knife back under her pillow, and then, kneeling on the bed, she slowly removed her blouse, then her pretty black lace bra, to reveal her magnificent breasts. Then she laid back on the pillow and beckoned to Paolo to complete the task, which he was more than happy to do. Her shoes had already been discarded in her living room. What she was still wearing had been specially selected for Paolo’s benefit, and in particular for him to remove.
Skirt, black stockings, suspender belt first. Then, after a pause, her tiny black lace knickers.
“I’ll show you!” Nicole grabbed Paolo’s hand and dragged him after her to the bedroom. He didn’t take much dragging though, and she wasn’t exactly walking straight either. But inside the bedroom, she somehow leapt onto the king-sized bed and, slipping her right hand under her pillow, withdrew a long, sharp kitchen knife and swept it about menacingly.
“Fucking hell, Nik, I’m not sure I’m comfortable being around you tonight!”
“You’ve got nothing to worry about Paolo. I’ve a soft spot for you y’know! You’re a gent. But my soft spot’s getting kinda itchy. You know what that means!”
“Does Ronan ever lose his temper with you? I’ve heard he can sometimes go a bit mental.” In asking this, Paolo was trying to establish not so much what Flaherty would do to him if he found him ‘in flagrante delicto’ with his woman - Paolo already knew that - but rather what he would do to Nicole as well. Her answer might affect things later on.
“He hasn’t yet,” replied Nicole, as seriously as her inebriation would allow. “But if he did, I’d kill the bastard, no matter who he is!”
“And how would you manage that?” asked Paolo, genuinely interested.
While Nicole was getting even more giggly, and silly, Paolo’s thoughts strayed to Livia. By now Tony would have collected her from Southampton, sat next to her for the journey back and breathed in her perfume. He might have put an arm round her to comfort her... and, Paolo allowed himself to imagine, one thing might have led to another and he might be in her bed right now.
He didn’t seem to consider that he, Paolo, was now on the verge of a very dirty night with Nicole, and was sharing Tony’s wife Marcia too.
Soon to be widow.
Paolo was intrigued. Nicole’s response sounded saucy. He didn’t dwell on it though, he would wait to see what ‘later’ meant. They talked briefly about her relationship with Flaherty. She said he treated her well and was very attentive when with her. But she admitted that she was glad that he wasn’t around all the time.
“He’s pretty old after all!” she declared. “Old enough to be my father... or even grandfather!” More giggles.
Then she got serious. “Of course, he stupidly thinks we’re ‘exclusive’. He’s very jealous... but also very married!... That’s not fair play...
...and he’d kill you!”
Paolo deliberately took things slowly. After all, Bolly’s not cheap, and it needed to do its trick. His challenge was to refill Nicole’s glass without giving the game away that his own glass wasn’t getting the same treatment. After all, he needed his wits about him later, and before then, as a red-blooded male, the last thing he wanted was ‘brewer’s droop’.
An hour in, Nicole was getting nicely mellow when Paolo said, “Word on the street is that Ronan’s been splashing out on diamonds for you!”
“Just one!” she giggled.
“Later!” she promised, prompting more giggles.
Paolo parked outside Nicole’s flat in Dagenham half an hour early. He wanted to remind himself of the lie of the land and also to double-check that Flaherty or any of his thugs, whom Paolo expected to recognise, weren’t around.
Satisfied that all was well, he buzzed her doorbell and the voice on the intercom told him where to go as she opened the door for him.
He bounded up the stairs to her top floor flat, carrying the bottles of Bolly, together with his secret stash of weaponry. Standing in her doorway, she flung her arms round him.
Paolo knew Nicole would be very glad to see him... and show it in a very physical way. They were both taking a chance that Flaherty would stay away, but so far he had never visited the flat on a weekend. Nonetheless, Paolo made sure he was prepared, with knife and gun, not that he let on to Nicole that he was armed. But Paolo wasn’t taking any more chances.
He did, however, let her know that he was armed with a couple of bottles of Bollinger. Paolo wasn’t taking any chances that he wouldn’t get into her knickers either.
Paolo saw his opportunity. Tomorrow was Saturday. Time for a message. Destination Nicole.
’RU free tomorrow? Takeaway? Can come east. Or whatever. Will bring bubbles if u like? Secret luvva!x’
Paolo didn’t have to wait long for a reply.
’Hi secret. Sounds nice. Chinese goes with bubbles.... goes to my head. Here at 8? Max schtum! OK? Nxxxxxxxx’
Things were looking good again... and a whole day to plan. Paolo started out with no plan but a burning need to dispose of Flaherty... and a promise. Instinct, flexibility and only if absolutely necessary, the gun. But Paolo preferred the knife.
Flaherty had to be careful. He was married to a quite formidable Irishwoman, Mary, with some pretty unpleasant connections of her own... her own family, vicious thugs... but Catholic ones, who publicly took a dim view of adultery. There would be no chance of Flaherty actually living openly with Nicole. She had a flat of her own in Basildon, far enough away to be out of Mary and her family’s sight, and away from Flaherty’s operation centre in Limehouse.
The word was he could see her weekdays, but that he had to be a family man at weekends. Or else!
It’s perhaps ironic that Paolo, a highly sexed individual, wasn’t bothered about Nicole taking up with the Irish lad. There was no fight, no scene, no recriminations. Paolo effectively gave his blessing. That made Nicole want him even more, telling him she would always have a soft spot and more for him. That knowledge was reassuring to Paolo. One day he might want to call it in.
But then Nicole got noticed by one of the Irish lad’s dad, Ronan Flaherty, and that was it... nobody else would get a look in... or anything else!
But Paolo was unfinished business...
Whilst Nicole had been very attracted to Paolo, she wasn’t really his type. Attractive in an obvious and unsubtle way, she was much too ‘available’.
After going out with her once or twice, Paolo took her to a pub in West Ham frequented by a cross-section of London ne’er-do-wells, villains in the making. Among them was a group of Irish lads, one of whom took a particular fancy to Nicole. Trying to get Paolo to take more notice of her, Nicole flirted outrageously with them, and because Paolo didn’t react, she danced off with one of them.
Nicole was pure Romford English. A true Essex Girl. Long blonded hair plus pretty face in a common, Page 3, way and a generous curvy coastline to her 5-foot 4-inch frame. Her voice cried electro rather than elo-cution and she was very easy. She hated her nickname, Nicoleasy, based upon the ease with which she was prepared to remove her knickers.
Paolo had met Nicole a couple of years ago in a Romford club. She really liked Paolo because, unlike most of her previous conquests, he treated her with respect... and shagged her how she liked it.
Franco had asserted that Tony didn't do dirty work like killing people, but Paolo wasn't going to take Franco's word for it. He wanted to get out of Tony's office as fast as possible, with the gun if necessary, and do some serious thinking.
Paolo had no problem with the killing bit, he'd already proved that, although Tony didn't know, but he did have a problem devising how to get Flaherty alone without arousing suspicion and getting himself either killed, or tortured or, if successful, arrested.
Luckily though, he knew how to get to Flaherty's girlfriend. Paolo had been there!
"Kill someone?" spluttered Paolo. "I wouldn't know where to start." Tony may have believed Paolo's lie, but he wasn't letting him off the hook.
"Well the fucking time to start is now! I want Flaherty dead in 24 hours!" Tony handed Paolo a police issue pistol and clip. He didn't want anyone else, least of all Franco, to know about this mission, given the fact that as far as Franco knew, he had already killed Terry's killer, Shawn, and then been suspected himself. Any more any mores, and Franco might get his own ideas.
"Or I'll kill you both myself!"
Paolo was hugely buoyed by this Friday chat with Tony. He allowed himself to think big.
'The nasty old shit is lapping it up. He's putty in my hands. I can take on Tony Monelli... and win. Franco can take all the risks and I can be puppet-master while he wipes out Tony's competition. And then I kill them both. Then I can deal with Sofia... and Livia, who owes me a shag'. Paolo was getting way ahead of himself until Tony brought him down to earth with a bang.
"Fuck Franco. I want you to get Flaherty, Paolo."
"So that's the Irish fuckwit Flaherty! Who else is on the list?" Tony was interested in Paolo's thoughts and whilst his blood was boiling, he allowed some warmth to go Paolo's way.
Paolo reeled off four more names he knew Tony would recognise and react to. Tony was convinced that one of them, probably Flaherty, was Terry's murderer.
"How do we get to them Paolo?"
"Well," replied Paolo, suddenly bothered that 'we' might mean 'he', Paolo, "They've all got muscle surrounding them... but I can't see that stopping Franco!"
'At best, problem solved, at worst, fuck-rival removed,' thought Paolo.