CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32EPILOGUE

His phone beeps. It’s Reece.

‘How’d the meeting go?’ the message says.

Judd groans as he remembers exactly how well the meeting with Mr Big went. He lost his temper, yet again, and it’s really very possible that they’ve completely lost any chance that they may have had at doing a deal. Then again Mr Big really does seem to like him, Judd realises, it’s unlikely that the guy goes around giving advice to everyone he meets with. Either that or Mr Big sees some real potential in Judd to become a serious competitor in their world. Judd sighs, heavily, and finally starts the car.

The traffic is quiet as he drives through the streets towards Emmet’s flat. When he gets there he beeps his horn twice and the two guys come rolling out. They’re dressed warm, thick coats and gloves. Reece has the black scarf that his gran knitted for him wrapped tightly around his neck.

“Nice scarf.” Judd says as the guys climb in.

“Hey, it’s warm!” Reece says defensively, “You’re going to wish you had one just like it when you’re freezing your arse off waiting for Obo,”

“Whatever,” Judd says dismissively.

He peels away from the pavement and enters in to the traffic. The way to Bush Fair is a little busier than Judd expected but his nimble car has no trouble negotiating the twists and turns of the traffic. He darts in and out of cars, tyres rolling and eating up the tarmac. Emmet leans forward between the two seats in the front and looks at Judd.

“So… how’d the meeting go?” he asks.

“It went as well as can be expected,” Judd says quietly, his eyes locked on the road.

“Oh man,” Emmet groans, “You lost your temper again didn’t you?!”

“No!” Judd says sharply, glancing at Emmet quickly, “Mr Big doesn’t like to be rushed. He’s going to call me later and tell us his decision,”

“That’s it?” Reece asked, his voice thick with disbelief, “You took over an hour to get that little bit of info.”

“Well he gave me some advice I didn’t really give a shit about,” Judd says. Then he sighs, “And I called Sally,”

He leaves the sentence hanging, not saying anything else. Reece and Emmet share a glance, he sees it in the rear view mirror. Emmet sits back in his seat and the two boys say nothing. They travel in silence for a while longer.

“So… it’s not good news?” Reece eventually says, breaking the silence, “Did they reach a decision already?”

“Couldn’t have,” Emmet says harshly, “That would be way to fast,”

“Dad went on one of his rants,” Judd says.

The two boys groan. They know all too well what Asif’s rants could get like if he is allowed to keep going once he gets fired up. They lapse back in to silence.

“So what are you going to do then?” Reece asks, “I mean, will you need to go and run the shop for him if he gets found guilty?”

“No, I think Sally’s got that under control,” Judd says, “But she asked me to come to the trial. At the courthouse,”

“I hate that place,” Emmet mutters from the back, “It just seems really creepy.”

“It’s old mate,” Reece says, “All old places seem creepy to you.” He turns back to Judd, “So are you going to go to the trial then?”

“I don’t know,” Judd says after thinking it through for a moment. The admission feels like he’s having to force it through his teeth, like it doesn’t want to come out at all, “I really hate the courthouse. I keep thinking I’m going to get arrested at any moment or something.”

“Yeah but mate…” Reece says, “It’s your dad. It’s Asif. Isn’t that reason enough to go?”

Judd sighs and looks at Emmet in the rear view mirror. Emmet nods in agreement with Reece’s words.

“Yeah,” Judd sighs, “I suppose you’re right. I’ll let Sally know tomorrow,”

“Good man,” Emmet says, clapping his friend on the shoulder. “Go there and stand up for good old Asif. Do you want us to come too?”

“God no!” Judd cries out. Then he laughs, “The last thing we need is you going to the courthouse. You’ll probably burst into flames or something.”

The three friends laugh together at the image in their minds. Then they lapse in to silence, companionable and relaxed. Judd keeps driving, street light after street light flashing by. The car is filled from time to time with the bright lights of oncoming cars that fade away quickly into red as the cars pass.

“Aren’t we going to be really early?” Reece eventually asks. “I mean we’re meeting Obo at what? Half seven? It’s only six now,”

“Better to be early,” Judd says. “It gives you two time to get in to position and knowing Obo he’ll try to get there early so he can have the power. We get there first and he doesn’t have the chance to do that,”

Judd pulls in to the car park near Bush Fair and the two boys climb out before Judd even gets the keys out. He climbs out and pulls his coat’s collar up around his neck. The wind is blowing hard and still has flakes of snow in it. He can practically feel the flecks of ice biting into his skin. He kind of wishes that he did have a scarf like Reece’s. Reece and Emmet stand on either side of him. They walk down the paths, further and further in to Bush Fair. The trees and bushes close in around them and for a moment they are protected from the wind.

They finally reach the meeting point. Judd can see the lights of the estate glittering off in the distance, through the trees as their branches sway from side to side. There’s no one else around and the entire area is filled with orange light from one of the nearby streetlights.

“Ok,” Judd says as he looks around. “Looks like we’re alone. Reece, you go over there, Emmet, you go over that side.”

“Yes Boss,” Emmet says, nodding happily.

He disappears in to the trees, fading away amongst the dark leaves and shadows. Reece hangs back though, standing close to Judd.

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