Lord of London Town - Tillie Cole Page 0,1

sister had breathed their last breath as our Cotswolds cottage fell down around them.

My dad pulled back from me, searching my face. I wouldn’t cry. I didn’t want to cry. I wasn’t sad; I was fucking enraged. Anger ran thick in my blood. I wanted to find whoever was responsible and kill them. Both the fire brigade and police investigation had said it was an electrical fault—a common issue with such old country cottages. Ours had been over five hundred years old.

It wasn’t enough. I didn’t care who, but someone needed to pay for my losing my mum and sister. I needed someone to blame. I couldn’t take it being an accident.

I needed someone to die … slowly … painfully.

“Arthur,” my dad said, pulling me back from darkness. “It’s only us now. Us and our firm—they’re our only family now. You’ve got Charlie, Vinnie, Eric and Freddie. They’re your brothers. Always have been. They’ll be with you all your life, just like their dads have been beside me in mine.”

Dad put his hand on my shoulder, clutching it tightly. “We’ve got to keep going, Arthur. No looking back. We’ve got a firm to run. We can’t afford anything to make us weak.” Dad got to his feet. I dropped the bag of frozen peas on the table beside me. I wanted to feel my scalding skin. I wanted the fire’s scars to remind me of what and who I’d lost. Dad looked at the discarded peas and his lips curled in a proud smile—my old man loved any display of strength, especially if it was from me. “Get your coat. I’ve got a meeting. You’re coming.”

I followed my dad to the hallway and grabbed my thick black overcoat. We stepped out of our old converted church in Bethnal Green and toward the car that waited for us. The night was freezing cold, my warm breath turning to white smoke as it hit the frigid air. I climbed into the back of the Rolls Royce. My dad sat beside me.

Wordlessly, we pulled out of our drive and onto the roads of our kingdom—East London. I stared out of the window as the streets that we owned passed by. I kept my focus outside, the views moving from battered warehouses with boarded-up windows, terraced council houses and run-down pubs to upscale restaurants and bars, mansions and one-hundred-thousand-pound cars.

Motherfucking Chelsea.

Jack, my dad’s personal driver, stopped in front of a mansion in SW3. Jack kept the engine running. Rain had started to pour outside, the heavy drops thundering on the car windows and roof like bombs. Jack got out of the car and opened my dad’s door. He opened a black golf umbrella to protect him from the rain. Alfie Adley always had to look pristine. I followed him from the car, and Dad took the umbrella off Jack. “We won’t be long,” he said to Jack.

We walked to the house, and Dad knocked on the door. A fucking butler of some type answered. Dad pushed past him, knocking him backwards into some no doubt expensive but ugly-as-fuck vase. “I’m here to see George.”

“But, sir, wait!” the butler argued. Dad opened the hallway door, and I shut the front door, locking us inside. A man about my dad’s age came rushing down a huge central staircase and stopped on a landing.

“Wait here, Arthur. I won’t be long,” Dad said, his eyes locking on the fucker who was glaring at him with wide and fearful eyes. My dad cut a deadly look to the butler. “Make sure Alfred here doesn’t do something stupid like call the Old Bill.” Dad cracked his neck, never taking his glare off the butler. “This is a friendly meeting, right, George? No need for things to go south.”

“It’s okay, James,” the man—George, I guessed—on the landing said to the butler, and my father followed him up the stairs. Putting my hands in my pockets, I moved to the wall in the hallway and the pictures that hung there, keeping the butler in my peripheral. I cleaned my glasses on my shirt, rubbing the rain from the lenses so I could bloody see. When I put them back on, I was in front of a picture of a girl about my age. She had dark hair and dark eyes and olive skin. I passed pictures of a brunette woman and George.

Done browsing, I sat on the ornate red sofa in the foyer and looked around the house. Money. Whoever this George