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By Conn Iggulden

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Sample text

My brother was my single extra card, my one advantage that no one else knew about. He’d parked a mile from the house and walked. No one had a clue where he was and no one would ever be able to connect him to anything that happened. For a few days at least, he was going to enjoy himself. No guilt, no conscience. We sat at the kitchen table and he swore when I told him there wasn’t anything left to drink in the house. I’d thrown the empty bottle of Laphroaig into the sea before he came, a better splash in imagination than it actually was.

I had to work to keep my voice level and steady as I put the phone back in its cradle, gripping it hard enough to make my hand shake. As I put it down, it rang, making me jump. I could hear Carol breathing, fast and shallow. ‘I told Denis Tanter to leave us alone,’ she said, without even a hello. ’ I replied, shoving the phone against my ear as if I could press her closer on the other end of the line. ‘I need a few days away, Davey. ’ I asked, knowing she wouldn’t tell me. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Denis bloody Tanter had lost her and I was filled with a savage joy.

While he was bending Carol over a bed somewhere plush, I actually opened the door with a piece of buttered toast in my hand. Can you imagine anything more middle class and harmless? I had a mouthful of bread and Marmite as I recognized Michael and I was in the middle of trying to say something when he took a step forward and shoved me onto my back. I think he trod on one of my feet first, but I didn’t take much in as I smacked my head on the hall floor. If it had been carpeted I might have been a little sharper for the next few minutes.

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