Ambition FallsAimee Sharp / Mystery & Detective
First published in Great Britain by Speartip
Copyright © Aimee Sharp 2016
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transferred, in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book was written as part of the Young Author Mentoring Project.
Project Mentor: Lee McGeorge
Cover Artwork: Miguel E. Santillan
For my friends,
Megan, Liv, Amy, Katy and Phoebe
Martin and Nicola Sharp
Miguel E. Santillan
Lee and Fong McGeorge
The first shot sounded like a car backfiring. By the third shot, people knew it was gunfire. Edward Sparks grabbed his wife Maeve and threw her to the floor behind a limo. Further up the road, a man was straddling a motorbike, pointing a revolver. He fired a fourth time. Edward covered Maeve with his own body and noticed city councilman, Jack Jones, falling backwards and clutching his chest. He wasn’t shot, probably fear, possibly a heart attack; but the shots were aimed at Edward. There was no mistake about that. The diners sitting on the restaurant terrace started to run, screams rang out, a table tipped over and the sound of breaking glass and dinnerware resonated.
Edward clutched Maeve tighter until he heard the motorbike rev its engine and the gunman was riding away. He looked up to see the red taillight vanishing at incredible speed. He tried to read the license plate but it was gone too fast.
“Are you okay?” he asked Maeve. “Are you injured? Are you shot? MAEVE!”
“Yes… I’m okay.”
A man’s voice called out, “Somebody call the police… Is anybody hurt?”
There was the sound of a woman crying somewhere from the shock of it all. Edward got to his knees and lifted Maeve. He looked her over for injury then hugged her. “He was shooting at you,” she said.
“We don’t know that.”
“Don’t we? He was shooting at you. He was shooting right at you and he could have hit me.”
Edward looked around. Councillor Jones was leaning against the wall, still clutching his chest, being aided by diners. Councillor Mooney’s dark hair appeared from behind an overturned table. “Sparks,” he shouted. “Were they shooting at you?”
“I don’t know?” he replied.
“Yes,” Maeve said. “Yes they were.”
----- X -----
The police radio in his car crackled, “Despatch to Detective Palmer, over.”
Palmer was off duty, heading home.
Palmer took the radio mic. “Palmer, go ahead.”
“Despatch to Palmer, there’s been a shooting and attempted murder at Brown’s restaurant. Shots fired by an assailant on a motorcycle. The Chief said to give it to you.”
Palmer sighed. He’d just left his desk an hour later than planned. He was heading home to an empty house for an evening of… nothing… there was nothing to do at home. No wife, no kids; he was married to his work. Middle aged, slightly overweight and nothing to do with himself but overtime. He keyed the microphone again. “Palmer to Despatch, Roger your call, en route to Brown’s.”
----- X -----
The bright, flashing blue and red lights of the police cars illuminated Geoffrey Palmer’s view of the scene. Tables were overturned on a garden terrace; plates of spilled spaghetti and broken glasses; not what you expect to see in the finest restaurant the city of Ambition Falls had to offer.
The dining terrace had crime-scene tape around it and police barriers to block the streets. Junior detectives were already taking statements from witnesses.
Further up the street, he noticed the flashes of cameras as passers-by photographed the crime scene. He tapped one of the uniformed officers on the shoulder and tipped his head towards the sightseers. “Tell those people to leave. Control your crime scene. Don’t let the public take pictures of it.”
Watson, one of the junior detectives waved him over. “Edward Sparks and his wife are inside. The assailant waited until they got out the car then began shooting. It looks like Sparks was the target.”
“Any idea on the shooter?”
Watson shook his head. “No. Witnesses said it was over in seconds. Average height guy on a bike, he wore helmet and gloves, they couldn’t even see his skin colour. We’ll check CCTV to see where he went but the witnesses so far have given zip.”
“Any casualties?” Palmer asked as they reached the door. “No, no injuries either. But the Sparks and their guests are a bit shaken.”
He headed into the back dining room where most of the guests were. The restaurant staff were sitting with the city politicians and even the Mayor, all huddled together as witnesses.
“Good to see you, Palmer,” the Mayor said.
Palmer nodded and pulled out his notepad. “Good to see you too, pity about the circumstances. I have just one question for you at the minute. Why would someone want to try and kill you?”
The Mayor shrugged. “Anyone could want to kill me,” he began. “I have as many enemies as friends, but I don’t think he was aiming at me.”
Councillor Mooney nodded in agreement. “Maybe I’m the target, the gunman seemed to be shooting in my direction but I don’t know why anyone would want to kill me. I’m not important, I’ve not done anything to make me a target.”
Councillor Jones was sitting with his collar open wide, a hand still on his chest as he controlled his breathing in and out. “He wasn’t shooting at me but he nearly got me with angina!”
The Mayor turned to Edward. “He seemed to be aiming at you, Sparks. Is there any reason someone would want to kill you?”
Sparks was holding his wife’s hand, his suit jacket over her shoulders. “I have no idea.”
“What about Jacques Arenke?”
“What about him?” Palmer quickly asked before Sparks could respond.
Maeve looked away for a moment, seemingly to collect her thoughts. “I don’t know. I just thought you and he were at each other’s throats.”
“We’re competitors,” Sparks said. “We’ve been competing for a contract… But he’s not a murderer. No… he wouldn’t.”
“You don’t sound so sure when you say that,” Palmer added.
Sparks shrugged. “Things have gone to a dark place recently. But even so… I still can’t imagine him involved in a shooting.”
----- X -----
Jacques Arenke shivered as he swam through the unusually cold water of his rooftop pool. From the far end he could see across to the opposite building. His own building had his name, Arenke, in bold letters on the facade, but from this position that name was reflected in the mirror-like windows of the building across the street. It normally made him feel proud, but it was too cold this morning to feel anything. He stepped out of the water and towelled off, rubbing the cloth through his salt and pepper hair. From the edge of the rooftop there was a beautiful view of the waterfalls after which the city took its name, then around the waterfalls skyscrapers with terraces like his to enjoy the views.
His butler, James, walked to him with a robe in his arms. “The water was utterly freezing,” he sneered.
James just nodded in agreement. “A cup of warm tea to revitalise then, Sir.”
Arenke grunted and picked up the tea cup. “Is this the usual tea? Lady Grey?”
Arenke sipped and turned up his nose slightly. “It smells odd. I don’t want it. Make me Darjeeling instead.”
“Of course, Sir.” The butler motioned towards the newspaper on the tray. “There’s a story you will want to see this morning. A shooting last night at Brown’s. The paper is reporting that Mr. Sparks and his wife’s dinner party were fired upon by a mystery gunman.”
Arenke’s eyes widened. “What?”
----- X -----
The lobby of Arenke Industries was more like an expensive hotel than an office building; luxurious furniture of mahogany and deep burgundy leather. Palmer flashed his badge to the receptionist. “My name is Detective Geoffrey Palmer. I need to see Jacques Arenke.”
She reached for the phone. “Mr Arenke? Detective Palmer, from the police, is here to see you.” There was a moment as the receptionist took telephone instructions. She hung up. “You can go right ahead, Mr Palmer. His office is on the top floor then the door at the end of the corridor.”
The elevator climbed the outside of the building. It was spacious with a high domed ceiling and glass walls that gave a brilliant view of the city the higher it went. At the top you could see the entire skyline and the city