“Babe, only a month to go. Thirty short days, and then you’ll be Mrs Pippa Peters!” said Mike Peters as he stroked her bare muscled back.
“Are you trying to sing?” asked Pippa.
“I can’t sing, but if I could, I’d sing for you.”
“You are sweet, are you murdering my favourite Johnny Winter song? ‘Gonna give you thirty days to get back home. Gonna talk to the gypsy woman gonna tell her so, She gonna put out a worldwide voodoo, That'll be the very thing that'll suit you, Gonna see that you be back home in thirty days’. Is that the one you mean? Am I a gipsy with the power to entrance you?” she laughed.
“You’ve got me wound around your little finger, is that what you mean, even if I can’t sing?”
“Even if you are full of cliches, and can’t sing! I can’t wait to be your wife.”
The duvet pulled over their naked bodies once more.
“Mrs P to be, and no, that is not the first line of a new song. I’ve work to do, and so do you.”
“I’m ticking off the days, soon we’ll be together every night. Don’t hate my Dad, I know he’s old-fashioned,” said Pippa as she stuffed her overnight bag.
“He is my boss, I can’t afford to upset him, and he accepted me as a son-in-law,” they laughed together.
“I’m sure he knows I spend the weekends with you. But he has to keep up appearances.”
“What would they say in the House of Lords?” said Mike.
“They would have something to chatter about if they spied my hen night!” she giggled.
“Why are you having it so long before the wedding?” he asked.
“Because I want to look wonderful on the big day. No ugly bags under my eyes. Don’t forget the press will be there, and they would love it if Lord ‘The Most Hated’ lawyer’s daughter looked like a dragon,” she answered.
“I try to forget the following you father’s cases attract. Thank God I don’t have to deal with gangsters, murderers and heaven forbid, pop stars.”
On Thursday night the ‘hens’ gathered at their favourite Soho pub.
“Hello girls, you all look simply spectacular,” the barman minced.
High fives all around, deciding on whose skirt was shortest.
“A couple more here then we move to Xplode, okay girls?” called Pippa.
Samantha, the maid of honour grinned and winked a secret to the bubbly gang of professional girls. Taxis dropped them outside London’s famous club.
“Rainbow slammers for ten,” Samantha ordered. The bar only offered five colours, two of each shade were downed, the girls weren’t fussy about what colour they got.
The vodka slammers knocked back as soon as they hit the bar.
“Ah, ha, now the show starts,” screamed Samantha. They shoved a leather office recliner to the centre of the dance floor, muscly dancers circled the chair, soon their discarded clothes draped the chair arms.
The hens carried and shoved their friend to the hot seat. The lead dancer dressed only in clingfilm started his performance. He discarded sheets of thin film as more vodka tipped down Pippa’s throat. Screams and wails of delight followed the dancers' nimble moves.
Pippa turned away from the show’s star and fought hard not to throw up. She gagged. The experienced showman grabbed her upper arm and pulled her to a door at the back.
“Do not spew on my props,” he said, leading Pippa to the toilets.
The hens carried on dancing, laughing and slamming.
“Where is Pippa?” asked one, “She’s been out of sight a while.”
“Last chance for a bit on the side?” laughed the girls.
Samantha knew her friend better. She disappeared through the door at the back.
“Pippa?” she called at the door to the ‘ladies’. Opening door after door, knocking on the locked ones, “Pippa, are you okay?” No sign of her. She went to the men’s toilet.
“Sorry guys, don't wish to disturb your pee, is my girlfriend in here?” she asked.
“No, we'd love a few young ladies in here, darling. You can stay and join us for a snort?” grinned the well-dressed banker. As he kicked aside sheets of clingfilm. “Who left this rubbish in here?” he asked.
Samantha suddenly sober, ran to a bouncer.
“Mike, did Pippa come to your place?” asked Samantha.
“Christ, what time is it?” he said, disturbing the sleep from his eyes.
“I’ve called her dad’s place, the butler said she hasn’t come home,” said Samantha.
“She’s not here,” said Mike, “Where the hell is she, it was your job to look after her?”
Samantha told Mike what happened.
“Fancy a coffee?” she asked.
“I’ll meet you at the Starbucks near the club.”
As Mike sat opposite Samantha, his phone bleeped.
“We don’t want to disturb his Lordship’s slumber, you can pass a message.”
Mike drove the short distance to Mayfair.
“Come in Sir, I’m afraid Pippa is not here,” said the butler.
“It’s his Lordship I need to see, can you wake him?”
“It is very early.”
“I well know the time, this concerns his daughter, oh never mind.” Mike pushed past the man and bounded up the stairs.
“Sir, sorry to wake you. They have kidnapped Pippa.”
Lord Greyson-Tonkin instantly awake pressed a button by his bed, “Toast, honey and two teas, thank you.”
He swept his November cloud coloured hair behind his ears, “Tell me, full story,” he ordered.
Mike finished his report and handed the unruffled lord a burner phone.
“You’ll have a full minute only to listen to the kidnapper, the number will be untraceable.”
“Yes, I am aware of how they work, thank you.”
He snatched the mobile and tapped in the number.
“Tell me who you are, and what you want.”
“Dear lord, listen only. We have your daughter. If you care at all for her, you will lose the rape case. We want Mr Jordan Jacobs put away for good. Simple enough? We will return your charming girl unharmed. Just in time for her wedding.”
The phone was dead.
“They want me to throw a case. Impossible!”
“What case, sir?”
“The idiot, Jacobs, better known as Laughing Lobo. The police charged him with the rape and battery of a young girl, sadly she took it badly.”
“Took it badly? She is now a vegetable, all the papers are full of it. Everyone thinks he is guilty.”
“Yes, but I’m his lawyer. They will find him not guilty.”
“I don’t care what happens to him, I want Pippa back safely.”
“I have never lost a case. I am not willing to start now. You have a job to go to, I suggest you get to the office. Good day.”
Mike trudged slowly to his car. His fists hammered the roof as tears fell.
“What now?” he called silently as he drove home.
Shaved, showered and suited, he sat at his office desk and stared at the ceiling.
“Coffee, sir?” his secretary asked.
An unknown man stared through the office window. He had seen this person from time to time outside the Lord’s office. He came in unannounced.
“I trust you are not considering something stupid? The Lord has it under control. Leave it.”
“Who are you? And what has it to do with you? I’ll call security,” said Mike.
The man laughed, “I am security.”
Mike checked Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, he built a file on the defendant, information that would not get revealed in the case. The daily papers covered the case at length, the Lord’s underlings, pictured smiling broadly. The press opinion had changed during the week, from stone bang guilty, to not so sure. The rape victim had become a ‘possible’ rape victim. She of course could not speak for herself.
“Who is that girl?” Mike asked Google.
“She has a sister named Samantha? Different surnames, how come?” he muttered.
Mike grabbed his phone, “Samantha, have you heard anything from Pippa?”
“No. Have you?” she answered calmly.
“Are you in court today?” asked Mike.
“Why would I be?”
Mike’s Google search continued, now he was looking for a Samantha.
His phone signalled an incoming video.
“Oh, my God, Pippa!”
The message read, ‘Pippa’s jail, life gets worse as the case rolls on. Now show her esteemed father’. The film showed a skinny girl in torn underwear, bruises and a blood-covered face and body. They had chained her inside a cage. Dog’s bowls with slops and water next to her filthy legs.
Mike ran to the vast office on the top floor.
“Where is he?”
“In court, where do you think?”
“I must speak to him, now!”
The middle-aged secretary dialled a number, "You’re lucky they are breaking for a short recess," she handed the receiver.
“My Lord, they are torturing Pippa. We must get her out.”
“Calm down, boy. I thought I made myself clear? I do not give in to threats, particularly from kidnappers. I have a case to win.”
Mike stared at the phone before returning it to the secretary. He walked back to his room feeling like a child spanked.
He scratched his head as he went through everything he’d read. Then he watched the frightening clip over and over.
“What is that?” as he zoomed in. “Is that an Akita puppy?” He could see the white and gold hair in the background as Mike fiddled with the enlarger.
“You crafty cow,” breathed Mike as he slipped on his jacket.
Neighbours could hear police sirens as Mike pulled up outside Samantha’s mews cottage.
“Open up, or we’ll break the door down,” bellowed the bullet-proofed officer. His colleagues pulled Mike away from the entrance steps as they prepared to smash the door in and blocked any escape.
The slowly opening door revealed a pair of scruffily dressed girls.
“Mike, what have you done?” said Samantha as both women turned and went indoors, leaving the door gaping.
The police piled in, Mike sheepishly followed.
Pippa’s carpet slipper hit him on the head. A police officer’s pistol followed Pippa’s movement as she broke down in tears. Samantha, hands-on-hips glared at the police then heatedly stared at Mike. If her eyes could burn, Mike would be ablaze. The officers checked each room. The only danger they found was a yapping blonde and gold puppy.
Two officers remained to take statements, the rest filed back to the station. Mike elated at seeing his fiancé safe, turned to shock then puzzlement as what the girls were doing dawned on him.
Samantha and Pippa were honest with the police officer, then pleading with him to lock up the rapist.
“Sorry, ma’am, that is not my case,” answered the senior man. “They will charge you with some serious crimes, no doubt your father will get you both off with a warning,” sneered the police officer as he went to the door.
Mike desperate to hear what happened and why?
“Thanks to you, Mike, a hideous low-life, so-called entertainer Laughing Lobo, will get away with a rape that has left Samantha’s step-sister permanently mentally scarred. How do you feel?”
Mike shook his head slowly. “Your father has no intention of throwing the case. Whatever happened to you. How do you feel about that?”
Wedding preparations continued, not exactly as either imagined and much cooler than expected. The wedding would go ahead without the lord, he was no longer invited. Mike’s search for a new position would wait until after the honeymoon.
On the Friday before the big day, Pippa needed to go through last-minute plans with Samantha. She tried calling.
A message blinked on her mobile, “My wedding present to you both is my adorable puppy.”
“Mike, get in the car, now. We must go to Samantha’s!”
They raced across London, Samantha did not answer the door.
“She’s gone to court!” screamed Pippa as a thought hit like a cannonball.
Mr Laughing Lobo, star to the young, only managed a sneer. He was laying in a spreading pool of blood; the press were snapping shots, the court police were holding Samantha, whose smile grew each second the entertainer remained motionless as his life faded.