Taking Care of Business
by J. D. De Roeck
When Paul Smith travels to the south of France for a sales conference, events conspire to drag him into a world of kidnappings, blackmail and murder.
Following a violent incident, Paul instinctively offers refuge to a girl he believes to be a vulnerable lost soul in a desperate situation, only to find that all is not as it appears. Unwittingly, he finds himself caught between competing international crime syndicates as they go to war, and two powerful Russian families as they fight for control of a vast Russian conglomerate.
What begins as a routine business trip to Nice, turns into a journey of self-discovery that takes him to some of the most glamorous locations on the Cote d’Azur. Paul is compelled to confront each new escalating threat in turn, while his neatly ordered world spirals relentlessly out of control.
As events unfold, he is forced to challenge everything he thought he knew about himself, before finally embracing the danger and brutal violence he encounters along the way.
Can Paul get to the truth, and does he have what it takes to keep those he cares about safe, and himself alive?
THREE YEARS AGO (JANUARY 2011)
ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
It was dark, the modest chamber lit only by the flicker of a roaring fire that did little to warm him. He knew it was time and dismissed them all. He would do this alone.
The study was sparsely furnished, a large desk at its heart, aged and scarred from years of wear. His old chair was set behind it, as it had been for so many years, now dusty from lack of use. There was a Chesterfield and a small table, both from a previous life yet still treasured for the history he shared with them. The heavy curtains were drawn against a Russian winter’s night, but still the cold bit deeply into his failing frame.
It was a small room, lost among the vast halls and suites of the old palace that had been his home for so many years. It was his most private place, a refuge, pared back and simple.
The hour was late; the ornate clock on the mantelpiece recorded the passing of time relentlessly, its inevitability a stark echo of the life that was now ebbing from him.
He had achieved many things in his life, but, like so many great men in his country, he too knew regrets, the legacy of each tormenting him over the years, exacting a heavy toll.
There were many things he’d done in the early days that he knew would haunt him for the rest of his life. Now that the end was drawing near, he took some comfort in knowing that they did. At least he’d endeavoured to put things right, long ago accepting the full burden of his own guilt. He’d been complicit in all that took place, yet even now he only ever truly embraced the shame of it in private. He knew he could never be fully reconciled, and as the minutes ticked inexorably by, the torment that had plagued him for a lifetime troubled him more deeply than ever.
Over the years, Valentine had laboured to balance the scales, his philanthropy a price he was all too willing to pay. If there was a God, and, surely, he would have his answer soon, there would be a reckoning. He doubted that any God of worth would value such belated acts of kindness as fully paying down the debt. A debt stained with the blood of his enemies and those who stood in his way. That was how it was back then; surely any judgement would take such a context into account. But that was not his concern for now, at least not yet.
He’d done all he could to make his peace, and now one task remained. He clawed at the document on his lap, a pen painfully gripped between his trembling fingers. His eyes were failing; in the firelight no text was legible to him, but he knew where to sign. Now, with a shattering certainty, he accepted it was the right thing to do, the only responsible course of action and perhaps his last mortal act. He was resolved, and with the last vestige of his fading strength he would set this one remaining matter straight. It would define his legacy, and it would break the old man’s weary heart.
The pen tumbled from his grasp, the ink spilling viscous from the nib and forming a black pool on the oak floor. It was an unsettling image for the old man. He made no attempt to recover the pen, but stared, transfixed. There had been so much blood in those early days, as dark and indelible as the ink that now spilled from the broken tip. The pen was a treasured gift from a wife taken from him so long ago, but now it was nothing more than a shattered instrument, a mere device, complicit in one last moment of defiance.
Valentine had done the right thing, and although he knew there could be no redemption in this life, he slowly closed his eyes one final time, to face his judgement in the next.
Information about the Book
Title: Taking Care of Business
Author: J. D. De Roeck
Release Date: 3rd July 2018
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40749142-taking-care-of-business
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Taking-Care-Business-J-Roeck/dp/1912562170
Residing in the East Midlands, J. D. de Roeck is a career hotelier and company directory. He loves travel and regularly visits the South of France, Nice, Monaco and Cannes. Taking Care of Business is his first novel. The inspiration for this novel came from one of his many trips abroad.
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