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CHAMELEON

A City of London Thriller

J Jackson Bentley

©Fidus Publishing 2013

All rights reserved.

Second Edition (Formatted for Tablets)

First published on Smashwords by Fidus Publishing in the United Kingdom 2011

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places and events are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Write to Fidus Publishing at: Fidus Publishing, PO Box 304, Rossendale, BB4 0FP

Email us at: info@fidusbooks.co.uk

Visit the company website below for information on current and future publications

http://www.fidusbooks.co.uk

Cover Design by Altered Images, photo by Tom Soper Photography altered and used under Creative Commons License Deed/ attribution and with written permission. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsoperphotography/

Acknowledgements & Authors Note

For authenticity, I have kept locations and places exactly where they appear in reality. Obviously, in any work of fiction, it is necessary to have fictional locations but, where this has been done, the fictional locations are situated in real places. If buildings or places are given a historic background then they exist and can be seen by walking around the city in which they are sited.

I have taken very few liberties with the transport arrangements mentioned in the book, and most journeys can be travelled as described.

I am grateful to the experts in gems, firearms, physical combat and security who freely and enthusiastically give their time to allow us authors to maintain authenticity.

I reserve my most grateful thanks for Sue W, my editor, who has proof read and improved all of my books since Macmillan published my first book in 1994. She also re-read the book and formatted the text for tablets in 2013.

Finally I acknowledge the assistance given by Fidus Books on taking the City of London Thrillers into electronic format for the Kindle.

If you have a comment, criticism or just want to email me about this specific book you can also email me at jjacksonbentley@london.com

J Jackson Bentley, London.

August 2013

Prologue

Vastrick Security, No 1, Poultry, London, Monday 10 th January 9am.

Dee exited Bank tube station and was immediately assailed by the bitingly cold wind. Banked snow still lay on the edges of roads and pavements, after many weeks of severe winter weather, but it was now deep frozen and granite hard. The ground underfoot was slippery where the occasional light rain had speckled the ground with water droplets which turned to ice on contact. She could feel the crunch of ice and frost under her boots.

Luckily, Dee didn’t have far to walk. The office block accommodating Vastrick Security was less than a hundred yards away, but even that distance was a challenge in this, the coldest January since records began. Almost everyone was wearing scarves across their faces, and those that weren’t had frost forming on their cheeks where their expelled breath had frozen onto their skin before it could evaporate.

The sky was dark grey and heavy laden with clouds the colour of granite. The winter solstice had passed just a couple of weeks earlier, and there seemed very little difference between the level of daylight today and that of the shortest day. At nine in the morning it was just beginning to grow light, and yet it would be dark again by four. The grey clouds meant that the light levels would remain subdued all day, keeping the streetlights illuminated almost constantly. Grey skies, grey weather, grey world.

Dee looked both ways before crossing the street, and whichever way she looked it was as if Ansel Adams had taken a monochrome photograph of a city in winter. Most of the commuters looked as though they were wearing dark colours to match their dark moods. The occasional colourful outfit stood out like a beacon in this conservative area where neon was rare and the colours used for shop fronts were subdued.

Dee entered the office building through the rotating doors and felt the immediate heat of the door curtain scorch her head. In the summer the door curtain would blow a wall of cool air across the entrance to stop the heat penetrating into the working areas. Today it was a wall of radiant heat that could have cooked a chicken. She passed through the invisible wall of heat and into the lobby area, which felt several degrees cooler than it was designed to be. Glass atria may be great to look at, but they don’t keep much heat in.

Dee took the lift to the Vastrick Security offices. She had officially become a Vice President of Vastrick on the first day of January this year - mainly, she suspected, because she had managed to get herself shot three times on her last big case.

When she stepped into the lobby she noticed that Andy was on reception duty. Andy was an investigator and so he was usually in the back office, but Dee guessed that the disruption to the roads and trains meant that some of their people would be working from home again. She was right; there were four backroom staff in the office, as well as one investigator and one close protection operative, other than Dee herself.

Geordie, the other close protection operative, had been stuck in London since yesterday due to the failure of the trains to run from Kings Cross up to Newcastle, where he lived, and from which region he took his nickname. Everyone had called him Geordie for so long it was rare for anyone to refer to him by his real name, Pete Lowden, but everyone in the business knew who Geordie was, and as he didn’t mind, it really didn’t matter too much.

Dee removed her coat, scarf, boots and other sundry outerwear. Replacing her boots with sensible flat shoes, she was dressed in grey trousers, red roll neck sweater and a black tailored jacket. If anyone had seen what she was wearing for underwear they would have found it amusing. She was wearing her new husband’s thermals, and had to admit that they kept her warm. At five feet eight inches tall, she was approximately the same height as Josh, her husband, and so the full-length leg of the white thermal leggings tucked nicely underneath her socks.

The attractive young woman both missed and envied her new husband. He had been sitting by the pool at his five star hotel in Dubai enjoying Mediterranean style temperatures yesterday, when they spoke using the video service provided by Skype. He appeared to be enjoying himself far too much for her liking. But Josh wouldn’t be back for another three weeks. He was assessing the value of the damage incurred when a small shopping mall on Sheikh Zayed Road had been severely damaged by fire. The insurers were insistent that Dyson Brecht send out a senior loss adjuster, and Josh’s boss Toby had picked him. Dee would have gone along, too, if she hadn’t recently taken three weeks’ leave to go on honeymoon, and get shot.

Dee was just settling into her desk and booting up the computer when Geordie came into the room. He was over six feet tall, muscular without an ounce of fat on him, with close-cropped dark hair. He was quite striking in his way. He had the rugged good looks that most women found appealing. He was dressed in his usual Chinos and Vastrick Polo top. Yesterday someone had asked him how he managed in the cold weather with just a polo shirt and a padded jacket. He looked at them with his piercing blue eyes and joked that he had encountered worse weather than this in the summer in Newcastle, which he then assured the London staff was just inside the Arctic Circle. He had said it with a straight face, and found it amusing that some of them actually believed it.

     

 

2011 - 2015

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