New Guard (CHERUB) - Robert Muchamore


10 minutes late. Traffic nightmare!!!!!

No worries. Mum won’t be back for hours.

Getting XXX cited. You wearing the cut-offs, like in that pic?

As agreed, you old perv ☺☺☺

Leon heard the BMW roll on to a driveway strewn with brown leaves. The fourteen-year-old bounded two steps at a time, coming down to the front door as the car flashed to show it was locked. Its driver approached, his bulky outline shimmering through frosted glass.

Leon wore frayed denim shorts a size too small, grubby trainer socks and a black muscle vest. His hair was bleached and tight-cropped, showing a silver cross in his right earlobe.

‘Hey,’ Leon said, grabbing the latch and staring down, embarrassed.

The BMW on the drive was a year old. Nigel was forty-two, wearing bottle-green slacks, Ralph Lauren short-sleeve tight around the gut and four grand’s worth of Carrera watch. The expensive look was spoiled by twisted teeth and choking aftershave.

‘Finally here,’ Nigel said, as he crossed the threshold and made a little clap. ‘You look really nice.’

Leon smiled coyly, then looked alarmed. ‘Take your shoes off. My ma is a carpet Nazi.’

‘Of course,’ Nigel said, peeling slip-on brogues as he glanced around the little hallway, at family pics and a coatstand. ‘Your parents?’

‘Don’t worry, old man,’ Leon said, smiling and resting one hand on the wooden knob at the bottom of the stair rail. ‘My sister is at uni. Mum’s at the Trafford Centre, and she’s left me dinner to heat up.’

‘Cool beans.’

‘Drink?’ Leon asked. ‘Tea, Coke, water?’

‘I’m OK.’

Leon shrugged. ‘You got something for me?’

‘Absolutely.’ Nigel pulled out a roll of twenties. ‘Three hundred, as agreed.’

Leon pinged off an elastic band, then quickly counted the notes before shoving them into his front pocket.

‘I’ll have enough to go to V-Fest with my besties. And get my Xbox fixed.’

‘I can’t believe I’m here after all the messages we’ve sent each other.’

‘Me too. Hang on a sec while I grab myself a Coke.’ Leon backed through a door into the kitchen, seeing his twin Daniel, plus a larger man in a smart suit. As soon as Leon gave the thumbs-up, the pair hurried out into the hallway, pursued by a stocky woman with a pro camcorder balanced on her shoulder.

‘Nigel Kinney,’ the suited man announced. ‘I’m Jason Nolan from the Paedophile Hunting Network. Would you like to tell me why you came here this afternoon?’

Twins Leon and Daniel watched through the doorway as the camera operator zoomed on Nigel, who held hands in front of his face.

‘Mr Kinney,’ Jason Nolan demanded. ‘PHN has been tracking your behaviour. What have you got to say for yourself?’

Nigel spluttered. ‘I didn’t lay a finger on him. I didn’t plan on doing anything illegal.’

‘But we have hundreds of messages, Mr Kinney,’ the presenter pushed. ‘You sent and requested sexually explicit images. Our hidden camera just filmed you paying Leon three hundred pounds.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Nigel said, backing up behind the coatstand but pursued by the camera operator. ‘You’re not the police?’

‘No we are not the police,’ Jason explained. ‘We are a totally independent organisation that tracks the vile behaviour of people like yourself. We will send all of our evidence to the police and you may face prosecution. We will also put a video about your activity on our Paedophile Hunting YouTube channel.’

‘I didn’t touch him,’ Nigel shouted. ‘I just came here to hang out and play Xbox with the boy.’

Leon shook his head at his twin Daniel, as Nigel and the camera operator continued their dance around the swaying coatstand.

‘If you’re not police you can’t arrest me,’ Nigel blurted.

‘We’re not stopping you leaving,’ Jason said, aiming a hand towards the exit. ‘But we will make sure that your wife sees all the evidence, for the sake of your twelve-year-old son. And we’ll also be notifying your employer.’

‘I’m leaving,’ Nigel shouted, hands over face as he barged the camera operator and made for the door.

‘What do you think your eighty-two-year-old mother will think about this when she finds out?’ Jason demanded. ‘Are you ashamed of yourself?’

‘I never laid a hand on him,’ Nigel said tearfully, as he fumbled with the door catch.

‘But you were convicted of two sex offences in 1998, while doing a summer job at a holiday camp,’ the presenter noted. ‘Have you got anything to say to those victims? And how many other boys are there that we don’t know about, Mr Kinney?’

Nigel spun around in the hallway, then pounded the wall. ‘You’ve stolen my shoes. Where are my shoes?’

‘Nice knowing you, pervert,’ Leon