CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
Brian tucked Sammy safely into bed with Rocky.
“Night, daddy,” Sammy replied, sleepily.
Brian smiled slightly and turned the light off. Then he left the room, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Back downstairs, Brian flicked the T.V on, looking for something interesting to watch. He settled for a game show and put his feet up on the couch. Suddenly, the phone began to ring. Brian snatched it up quickly before it could disturb Sammy.
“Hello?” he asked.
“Hey Rok! How’s it going?”
“Hi AJ!” Brian replied, cheerfully. “I’m great! What about you?”
“I’m okay. Just thought I’d give you a quick call to see how Sammy was doing. Everything all right?”
“Yeah, he’s just gone to bed now. He’s doing brilliantly.”
“That’s great then! What about you? You coping okay? I mean, it’s gotta be different having a kid around the place.”
“Yeah, it’s a lot messier around here nowadays!”
“Can’t be much worse than usual!”
“Hey, I’m not that bad!”
“I know. But everything’s going okay?”
“Sure. Sammy’s really sweet and he helps me out around the house and everything.”
“Good, I’m glad it’s all working out for you. I know how much you wanted to keep him. What’s going to happen when we go back on tour?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Brian said. “”He’ll have to come with us and I’ll need to get him a tutor.”
“We’ll sort something out and work our schedule around it – Oh, I gotta go now. I’ve got a date with Ann. Catch ya later, Rok! Byeee!”
“Yeah, see ya AJ!”
Brian put the phone down and turned back to the T.V. What was he going to do when they went back on tour? Would Sammy cope all right with all of the travelling? If all else failed then Brian was sure that his mother would help him out. She adored Sammy.
The phone rang again. Brian sighed and picked it up. Sammy wouldn’t get any sleep at this rate.
“Hello?” he said.
There was still nothing. Brian tapped his fingers against the table, irritably.
“AJ, is that you?” he said. “Come on, Sammy’s trying to sleep!”
The phone suddenly went dead.
“Fine,” Brian said, replacing the receiver. He hated idiots who played prank calls.
He resettled himself back upon the couch and closed his eyes. The noise from the T.V began to be blanked out as his eyelids grew heavier…
Sammy was on tour with them. He was laughing and playing with a microphone. He looked so happy…
… He opened his eyes with a shock. He had fallen asleep, he realised. But something had woken him up.
He stared at the T.V. The screen was full of static. Programmes had finished. Definitely time for bed.
He used the remote to turn the T.V off and made his way to the stairs.
He froze. Something had fallen in the kitchen.
“Sammy?” he asked, wondering if the kid had come down for a drink. He crossed over to the kitchen. “Sammy? Tyke?”
He flicked the light on. There was a smashed glass upon the floor and the window of the back door was broken. He looked out of the window and saw Tyke lying on the path. He looked up at Brian and barked.
“Tyke?” he said in confusion.
Then something smacked him around the back of his head. He crumpled to the floor and moaned in pain. His vision blurred and he felt sick and dizzy. His head the corner of a sideboard and he felt the thin trickles of blood dribbling down his face.
A hand suddenly closed about his neck. Brian couldn’t help a slight cry of fear escape from his lips. What was going on?
“Where is he?” a rough voice demanded.
Shaking with terror, Brian focused on the huge man before him as his vision cleared. He was huge and his arms were as big as tree trunks. His black T-shirt could barely hold all of his muscles in.
Brian said nothing. He could feel his whole body trembling and there was an icy coldness of fear sat in his stomach.
“The little kid! Where is he?”
‘God, please help me! Don’t let them hurt Sammy!’ Brian begged, closing his eyes so that his attacker wouldn’t see the tears and terror within them.
“Tell me or I’ll throttle the life out of you, you pathetic bastard!” The force around Brian’s neck increased. He could barely breathe. He gave another slight cry.
“Quit it, Dustin!” another voice ordered. “He wants them both alive, remember? The little brat’s gotta be around here somewhere!”
The hand was withdrawn. Brian breathed in thankful gulps of air and stared in fear at the two men. The second of them was much smaller than Dustin but there was a look in his eyes that filled Brian with dread. These guys meant serious business.
“Go look upstairs, Carl,” Dustin said. “I’ll watch this one.”
Brian put his hand to his head and winced. Then he slowly stood up. He had to stop them. He had to stop them from hurting Sammy!
Dustin clapped a monstrous hand on his shoulder and shoved him roughly back down to the floor. “You stay there!” he shouted, kicking Brian’s legs.
“Do sovmething about that damn cut!” Carl said. “We don’t want him to bleed to death on us! I don’t want him getting a concussion either!”
“Chill! I didn’t hit him that hard!”
“I’m not taking any chances! You know how much we’re getting paid for this! Just get him sorted out! I’ll get the kid!”
Dustin muttered threats under his breath while he shoved a towel under a tap.
Brian, carefully, grabbed hold of a worktop and pulled himself quietly to his feet. Then he closed his trembling, sweaty hands about the sugar jar and smacked Dustin over the head with it.
The big man howled with rage and Brian stumbled out of the kitchen. He had to get Sammy. He had to call the police… Sammy would be so scared… He had to protect him…
The sound of a bullet being fired stopped him dead in his tracks.