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Emmet counts the money in his hand when he climbs in to the car. All seven boxes are gone and according to his counting, if it’s accurate which it usually is, then he’s now got £1,400 in hard cash. He smiles to himself, the satisfaction of a job done well, and done legally at that, warming him from the inside out. It wasn’t as hard as he’d thought to sell those people the boxes. Once they’d seen them, even those who had been more reluctant had happily handed over the money without reservation.

He’s encouraged them all to spread the word and tell their friends about the boxes if they like them too. He’s always happy to get more clients and the customers that he’s just finished serving might know people who like television but don’t do drugs so Emmet’s never met them. He sighs, glances in the backseat and smiles widely when he sees it empty. £1,400 in one afternoon. Who knew it could be so easy.

He starts the car, the sounds of one of his CDs filling the small space. The words don’t fade away like they do sometimes as he drives along. They are all as clear as day while he listens to them and he can completely agree with everything that is being said on the tape. He’s following a plan, keeping his goal in mind as he keeps going and it’s serving him well.

His attention is grabbed though while he drives off the estate. He passes a car and for a moment he’s sure that it’s Damian. He can’t deal with the guy right now, he’s in no mood and it’s all Terry’s fault anyway. Emmet has had enough of clearing up Terry’s messes. He glances in the rear view mirror and he’s sure that it is Damian’s car. He pushes down harder on the accelerator. It’s going to be a while before Damian can turn around safely, if he even saw Emmet at all that is.

Emmet isn’t taking any chances though. He can’t go straight home; Damian will just follow him there. He needs to go somewhere else, somewhere to wait for Damian to lose interest and go somewhere else. It’s annoying that Damian’s decided to look for him, Emmet thinks to himself as he keeps driving, but it’s going to be easier to avoid him on this side of Baslow, not the other one where the flat is. At least here there are plenty of places where he can sit and wait.

He sees a turn off for an industrial estate. It’s perfect. This time of night no one will be there. He can pull in, wait and head home in a while. He takes the turn and heads slowly in to the industrial estate. He’s almost convinced that he saw the flash of headlights behind him but that’s impossible. Damian was alone and he got left far behind when Emmet sped up. Emmet shrugs and carries on in to the car park.

He stops his car and turns off the engine with a heavy sigh. That was a close one. He relaxes, listening to words on the CD again and really taking them in. It’s soothing and encouraging. He loses himself in the words and almost forgets everything.

The screech of tires and brakes breaks him out of the trance that he was falling in to. Another car appears, racing through the car park and ignoring all of the signs and road markings. It screeches to a halt right in front of him. The bumper of the other car is pressed up against the bumper of his own. He scrambles for the keys, trying to turn them in the engine so he can get away. This doesn’t look good at all. All he does is knock the keys out and he scrambles around on the floor for them, eyes locked on the car in front of him while he does.

Another car quickly appears behind the other one. It’s driving slower and as it passes the window of Emmet’s car, he looks inside and sees Damian. Damian pulls up behind Emmet’s car, almost completely pressed up against the back bumper. Emmet sighs, sits up straight and relaxes back, trying to be casual. One sniff of fear and Damian’s going to be all over him. He watches as Damian gets out and heads towards his car. A look ahead shows a bunch of massive guys, practically walking tanks, climbing out of the first car to surround him. Damian stops in front of the driver’s side window and swirls his finger around.

Emmet sighs and rolls the window down. He leans out and attempts a cocky grin that comes out more like a grimace.

“All right Damian?” he says.

“Not really,” Damian snaps. His arms are crossed over his chest and from this angle he looks freakishly tall. “Get out the car, I want to have a chat to you.”

Emmet knows that it’s a bad idea. He glances at the lads that Damian’s brought with him. A couple of them crack their knuckles. One of them looks at him and smirks. They’re itching for a fight and they don’t care who they beat the crap out of. They’d easily drag him out of the car if they wanted to. He sighs and climbs out the car, leaning on the door once he’s shut it behind him.

“So what’s the problem?” Emmet asks. “I was wondering what you were doing this side of down?”

“Oh you know what I’m doing here,” Damian says. “Why else would you drive off like that? Trying to run away before I can catch up with you?”

“No,” Emmet says with a shrug. “You were driving kind of quick though, thought you were going somewhere else in a hurry. You ok? You look kind of pissed.”

“Oh you have no idea,” Damian hisses. “You really have no idea.”

“I think I might,” Emmet says. He has to fight the urge to wipe his face clean of spit that Damian sprayed all over him. “I did hear you were pissed at Terry though, I thought I’d wait here to chat to you. Didn’t want anyone sticking their nose in after all.”

“Oh I’m pissed alright,” Damian snarls, getting up in Emmet’s face. “But not just at Terry. You’re the one who sorted the deal out. You’re the one who tried to screw me. Now you’re trying to throw your little mate under the bus and let him take the fall.”

“It was Terry’s fault!” Emmet shouts back. “Besides! You said he was cool to come and sell to you.”

Damian’s eyes narrow and Emmet glances at his hands. They’re clenching and unclenching, like Damian’s getting ready to punch something. Probably Emmet.

“Doesn’t matter,” Emmet says quickly. “Anyway, I spoke to Terry. The dud’s are all on him, I checked mine and they were all good. Besides, he’s the one who had all the money you paid. I never saw a penny of it. He’s still got it.”

“I don’t give a fuck,” Damian snarls.

“Well you should,” Emmet snaps back. “I spoke to Terry Damian, I didn’t know he was going to sell his pills as well but either way all the money you gave him? Half of that was supposed to come to me but it never did. He said he was going to sort it out with you. I told him to contact you to sort it out. So why have you got a problem with me?”

“50% dud,” Damian says quietly, suddenly too still, too calm. “Almost 50% of those pills that you and your mate sold me are dud.”

“Not my half they weren’t,” Emmet says firmly. “I checked every single one, they were all the same. Not one was a dud. It must have come from Terry’s lot.”

“I don’t give a fuck whose they came from,” Damian snaps. He grabs Emmet by the front of his jacket and hauls him away from the car. “I don’t give a fuck what you think. You and Terry are partners, business partners. What one of you earns, the other one earns. What one of you owes, the other owes. It’s all fair and equal, right? Isn’t that how you two do things? So I want my £700 back, now!”

“Terry has it,” Emmet gasps out, struggling to breath.

His heart is racing and his bladder is tingling like he needs to take a piss. He really hopes he can hold it in. The last thing he needs is to piss all over the grand plus that he’s got in his pocket. And that realisation makes him want to get rid of Damian very, very quickly.

“Again…” Damian says. “I don’t give a fuck. One of you is going to give me my money back and seeing as you’re the one right in front of me, you’re the one who’s going to pay me.”

“I don’t have it.” Emmet says, “Terry had the £700, he was supposed to give me £350 but screwed me over as well.”

“Don’t. Give. A. Fuck.” Damian says slowly. He shoves Emmet away, sending him bashing against the side of his car. Emmet scrambles to keep his balance but manages it. “Besides, I know you’ve got money on you. I stopped by your place, had a little chat with the missus. Very fit girl, practically begged me to let her suck my dick.” He smirks as Emmet growls at him. “Anyway… she told me something interesting. That you were up on the estate. Selling. And if she’s right, which I think she is, then you’re going to have money on you.”

“I wasn’t selling that sort of stuff,” Emmet says. “She doesn’t know what I was doing.”

“Something about television boxes?” Damian asks, cutting Emmet off.

He smirks when Emmet stops talking and his jaw goes up and down without making a sound. He’s got the younger guy, caught him good and proper and there’s no way that he can talk his way out of this one. He glances at the blokes that he’s brought with him and nods his head toward Emmet.

Emmet stumbles back from the guys as they walk towards him. Their hands are reaching out to him and he steps back again and again trying to avoid their grasp. He bumps against the car though and realises he’s trapped himself. He looks around quickly, trying to find a way to get out. He’s surrounded.

Big meaty hands grab him, pulling at his arms. There’s a moment of weightlessness as he’s tossed up in the air, a sick lurch as he starts to go down again and the pain of the ground slamming in to him as he hits it. He groans and tries to roll over but the guys are too quick. One of them grabs his arms, pins them to the tarmac. The other grabs his legs and pins those down as well, crushing the bones against the cold ground and making him cry out in pain. He twists and turns in place, trying to break free but those meaty hands are too strong.

Another set of hands runs over his entire body. They slide inside his clothes, searching each and every opening. He gives a surprised yelp as they slide up his leg and shove against his dick. They all laugh at him. He gives another yelp when the hands dive in to the pockets of his jeans and grab him through the pocket lining. He can see Damian laughing his head off over the guy’s shoulder, watching it all with a kind of sick enjoyment.

“Aha!” the guy searching his body says. He holds up the wad of cash. “Found it.”

The guys laugh and let him go. The other guy stands and hands the money over to Damian who counts through it. His eyes widen as he keeps flicking through the notes. Emmet tries to get to his feet but one of the guys puts a foot on his shoulder and shoves him back down.

“Tut, tut, tut Emmet,” Damian says, walking over and crouching in front of him. He shakes his head in mockery. “Why on earth did you say you haven’t got my £700 when we both know now that you had way more than that?”

Emmet doesn’t say anything. He looks at the ground, blinking his eyes fast which are burning hot with anger and shame.

“What am I going to do with you?” Damian says. He gets to his feet and walks away. “First you sell me shit. Then you lie and say you’ve not got the money to pay me back. Do you know what that makes you?”

Emmet doesn’t say anything still. He just stares sullenly at Damian, not even trying to get up any more. He knows where this is going. Damian whirls around.

“It makes you scum.” He snarls. His face is distorted, like a vicious animal. “And I hate scum. I think you need to be taught a lesson. Boys… sort him out.”

Emmet doesn’t have time to blink. Suddenly there’s legs all around him, swinging feet and flying fist. His entire body is in pain, swarms of blows landing everywhere. He tries to curl up, tries to crawl away. A boot to the stomach lifts him off the ground, sends him falling on to his side. A boot in the elbow hits his arms away from his head and sends it falling to the earth, leaving his face unprotected. They kick him and punch him everywhere. In the stomach, on the back, on the arms, on the legs. They stamp on his feet and hands, tear at his clothes and hair. They slap him around the face and Emmet decides that’s the worst. It doesn’t hurt as much but it’s worse. Slapping is what girls do; it’s what girls do to each other because they don’t think the other girl can take it. It’s the easy way of hurting someone, the lazy way.

Then the boots and fists are gone. He’s left lying on the ground gasping for breath and barely able to move. His entire body aches, he can feel blood running down his face and other parts of his body. His hands sting where they scraped on the ground, taking off the top layer of skin.

“Mind if I call my boss?” one of the big guys asks Damian. “He’s looking for this guy too.”

“Not a problem,” Damian says, waving a hand as he counts through the money again.

They stand around in silence while Emmet lies on the ground and one guy dials on the phone. Emmet spits blood on to the ground and wiggles one of his teeth with his tongue. It’s come loose from the beating. The phone appears beside him.

“I’ve been looking for you,” a voice says over the loudspeaker.

It sends a jolt of shock running through Emmet, making him jump. He groans as more pain runs through him at the sudden movement.

“Chris?” he groans out.

“Ah Emmet,” Chris says smugly. “Pleasure to talk to you again. Do me a favour will you? Tell your good friend Terry that I’m looking for him will you? There’s a good chap. Knowing my boys I’d say you and me are even. But I still want to talk to Terry. So pass on that message.”

The phone is taken away and put back in to a pocket. Emmet lays on the ground and watches Damian pocket the whole £1,400. He tries to argue but he’s too weak and defeated. He tries to reach up and grab the money but he’s in too much pain. His hand just falls back to the ground.

“Ah, ah, ah,” Damian scolds. “Fair’s fair. You owed me £700 and I took it. The extra £700 is a debt collection fee. After all …” he stops and holds his hands out at the guys he’s brought with him. “Muscle doesn’t come for free does it Emmet?”

They all laugh.

“Come along boys,” Damian says, turning and walking away. “Let’s leave him to think about what he’s done. I’ll get you all a drink for your hard work.”

Emmet watches them walk away and climb in to their cars. He listens as the engines start up, the wheels crunch on the loose tarmac and the cars peel away and drive out of the car park. Damian narrowly misses running over one of Emmet’s legs as he drives past.

Emmet is left alone, no money and only pain to show for all the trouble that he’s gone through. He doesn’t know how he’s going to sort this all out now. That £1,400 was his only chance. And Sam’s jewellery is at stake too. He groans and lays there for a while longer, letting the pain wash over him.

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