The Hawkes Fortune
I lived with Jane in a small but comfortable flat in London for over two years. She was then the personal assistant to Bernard Bryant, chief executive officer of just one of several companies owned by the billionaire magnate Robert Hawkes, who was reckoned to be the wealthiest man in the world with businesses in the UK, USA, Australia and the Far East. He was also one whose business methods were considered to be questionable. I was still a struggling writer at the time so Jane was the main breadwinner, which sometimes rankled with me. Nevertheless, she was always supportive of me when she read my manuscripts and convinced me that I would some day be a success. Apart from that we were truly a couple in love, with so much to look forward to.
But it all began to fall apart after we were invited, along with Mr Bryant and his wife, to Hawkes' 60th birthday bash at his opulent mansion in Kent. It was considered a rare privilege amongst Hawkes' underlings to receive such an invite from him, because he seldom asked the same personnel to his parties more than once. Halfway through the night's proceedings, and despite his wife's and my own presence, it became clear that Hawkes had his eyes set on Jane. I soon found out for myself just how ruthless he could be in his dealings as I was unceremoniously ushered away from her side. Which is putting it mildly. To my utter dismay, Jane actually revelled in the attention Hawkes lavished upon her. Humiliated and forgotten, I slipped away and travelled back to London alone.
She returned to the flat the next day, but only to collect her belongings. Two of Hawkes' personal bodyguards, both of them about seven feet tall and broad with it, were also there and stood between us, preventing me from approaching her. As Jane packed her bags, she deliberately refused to acknowledge me and didn't even say goodbye as she left our flat for the last time.
Seven months later she was Hawkes' new wife. By then she was helping him to run his companies and rose rapidly up the ranks, and was considered an astute and glamorous young businesswoman in the world of commerce. She travelled everywhere with her husband on his private jet, and was constantly photographed for the tabloids and magazines as they holidayed on his yacht in Key West, Florida, or in diverse locations such as the south of France, Greece, Hawaii and Mexico.
Three years after their marriage, Hawkes died suddenly following a cardiac arrest. As you may have gathered, I felt no sympathy on hearing of his passing but, to his credit, he did provide generously for his ex-wife and children in his will. However, most of his vast wealth and the running of his companies were passed on to Jane. This caused some disquiet in the family and there were vague threats of lawsuits. Nothing came of these in the end. The Hawkes empire continued to go from strength to strength under Jane's leadership. Indeed, she became the more acceptable face of that organisation after decades of negative publicity surrounding the founder's dubious practices.
Meanwhile, my own star was also on the rise, even if not quite to the same extent as Jane's. My murder mystery novels were selling well and all were serialised in the best Sunday newspapers. Several became TV series, and one had just been commissioned for a film. I won a few awards and was now financially secure if not yet overly wealthy. But I was content enough with my own successes.
And then, some five years after our parting, Jane and I met again when we were guests on a BBC television chat show. The sparks, as the tabloids would report the following morning, were flying once again between us. Some days later she invited me to coffee in her office. We made love there and then, and agreed to resume our relationship.
We've since been married for eighteen months.
In my books, my stories are about perfect murders which are never traced back to the perpetrators. I like to tease the readers with several twists and turns in every chapter, dangling baits as to who they believe committed the ghastly deeds. My endings are always unexpected ones as I reveal the least likely characters to have been the murderers. As I've already said, my stories sell well so my style of writing must be pleasing to my readership.
I'm working now on my latest plot, which I believe to be my best yet. This time, however, it's a plot with a difference. This time it's not for a book. This is for REAL. Yes, I'm planning to commit the perfect murder for myself, which will finally rid me of Jane. In her delusion, she still believes I love her unconditionally in spite of her betrayal of me. What she doesn't know is that I detest her for what she did, and neither have I forgiven her. But I hide my feelings well.
Revenge is not my only motive for wanting to kill her. She came home recently after a particularly hectic day at the office, and carelessly left a confidential file on the desk as she jumped into the shower. This was so unlike her but fortuitous for me, because a document had slipped a little out of the folder. I saw immediately that it was her will: I was to inherit everything should she predecease me. It wasn't for my perusal, of course, so I slipped it back inside and feigned my ignorance. I am determined, however, not to wait too long for her demise.
For the truth is I want to get my hands on the Hawkes fortune, as tainted as it is.
(c) Eddie Larkin 2012. All Rights Reserved.