The Mak Collection, страница 1
The Mak Collection
5 books in one
Table of Contents
About the Author
For Janni Moss
Table of Contents
She wore stilettos—burnished, black and stylish, with thin straps that bit into her pale, slender ankles. Her heels clicked on the winter pavement as she made her way up the street alone. He strained to capture the sound they made, the beguiling music pulling him in like the Pied Piper’s song.
Click, click, click…
Slowly he drove past, observing the girl through the hungry eyes of a predator. She was young, raven-haired and seductive, wearing a short black skirt to reveal willowy bare legs. A winter jacket fell to her thighs but wasn’t enough to keep her slim legs warm; he could see goose bumps, and the bluish hue of cold, bare skin.
He passed her again minutes later. The street was nearly empty, but still she did not acknowledge his presence. She continued instead on her misguided course, her pretty face set with determination.
The clouds above her were leaden-heavy with the threat of rain. He could see no umbrella. How far would she be willing to walk once the skies began to cry? Surely she didn’t want to get wet. Surely her feet were tired. It was inevitable that she would need him.
Patiently, he watched her remove a map from her heavy shoulder bag. Jet, silken hair fell over her face as she unfolded it and struggled to make sense of the intricate web of streets, roads and lanes. She squinted with concentration, and when the clouds finally opened, showering her with cold droplets, she shot an irritated look at the lowering sky, before scanning the street for shelter. There were no taxis, no telephone booths, no open cafés or corner stores. Nothing for blocks.
The rain began to fall more heavily.
The girl set off again, walking faster, aimlessly. Her black bag weighed upon her shoulder, the map scrunched in frustration in her hand. Raindrops made slick, shimmering lines down her soft, hairless legs.
He pulled up beside her.
Now is the time.
He unwound his window. “Are you OK?” he asked. “You look lost.”
“I’m fine,” the girl replied, and glanced nervously up the street. Her accent was foreign, American, or perhaps Canadian.
“Are you sure? This isn’t a safe area for you to be walking alone.” He made a show of checking his watch. “My wife is expecting me home for dinner, but I could spare a few moments to drive you where you need to be.” A gold band shone on his left ring finger. He’d polished it specially for occasions like these.
Her eyes rested on it for an instant. “Oh, no…I’m all right, I think…” Her face was beautiful; youthful and achingly flawless, and her pale complexion was rosy with exertion, radiating warm light like a soft porcelain lamp. “Do you know where Cleveland Street is?” she asked.
“Oh dear. You’re nowhere near Cleveland Street. We’re on Philip now. Here, let me show you on your map.” He beckoned her closer, and she slowly walked over to lean against the passenger side door. He could smell the odour of sweet, young sweat. Her face was glistening, now only a foot from his.
“Here, hop in for a sec’. You’re getting all wet.” He pushed the passenger door open for her.
She stepped back and watched the van door open, uncertainty etched on her face. For a moment she didn’t move, and he wondered if she would accept his help. He smiled harmlessly, not allowing his impatience to betray him. Then, with raindrops rolling down her forehead, the girl shrugged and slid onto his dry passenger seat.
Sheltered from the rain, she looked relieved. She passed him the map, offering a wide, friendly smile that revealed a set of perfect white teeth. She left the passenger door open, with one slender leg stretched down to touch the wet pavement.
He forced his eyes away. “We’re here.” He pointed to the map. “You need Cleveland Street, which is here. You’ve got to walk up this way, then…”
Her scent overwhelmed him; honeyed, wet smells, musky and damp between her legs. He sensed that her heartbeat was slowing. She was relaxing for him, trusting him. He kept talking, explaining in soothing, paternal tones. It looked impossibly far on her map, indeed the distance sounded inconceivable as he spoke.
In reality it would have been a short walk.
Night coated the city with an impenetrable, inky blanket. The clouds had shed their rain and had rolled away, and the sleepy streets glistened with moisture as the van passed quietly over them. With eyes well adjusted to the dark, he drove to a large isolated parking lot, turned off his headlights, and coasted towards his chosen spot under some tall, overhanging figtrees.
His beautiful girl whimpered softly behind him as she had from time to time during their drive together. He fetched a pair of gloves and put them on. After checking that the driver and passenger doors were both locked, he made his way to her, carefully closing the heavy curtains which separated the cab from the rear of the van. He switched on a battery-powered lamp, blinking for a moment while his eyes adjusted. The thick black blanket had fallen down to the girl’s stomach during the drive. Her arms were still held straight up above her head, wrists secured to shackles on the wall, her body lying flat against the van’s floor. Her thin, pale blue, knitted top was decorated with haphazard splat
Impervious to her weeping and plaintive struggles, he reached for his supplies. He would have to gag her now. She had remained placid since he hit her, but she might become noisy, and even in their isolated spot, he couldn’t risk that. Her eyes followed his movements as he brought the gag close to her face, and widened at the sight of the red rubber ball and its long leather straps. She was becoming lucid. The timing was good. He had long ago lost interest in unconscious victims.
“It’s all right. I won’t hurt you,” he lied. There was no sense in getting her excited until she was fully secured.
He yanked her jaw open with both hands and shoved the rubber ball inside. The girl’s watery eyes became huge saucers of shocked blue and she choked out a stifled protest. He pulled the straps around her head and fastened the buckles at the back, his fingers running through the gummy blood oozing from her crown.
One day he would have his own soundproof room. Oh, how the reactions, the screams excited him. But for now he had to do without that particular luxury.
Gagged and bound, the girl began struggling with surprising strength; swiftly he straddled her and punched her square in the jaw with one gloved fist. Her eyes snapped shut and she let out a muffled cry, the tears coming harder. Her body convulsed with sobs, and he felt himself become more fully aroused. He ripped the blanket off her—diminutive breasts jiggled under her thin top, her miniskirt was riding up around her hips, but the black stilettos were in place on the girl’s dainty feet.
He moved down her body and removed her right shoe. Lovely. Perfect. Her toes were smooth and delicately formed; he was very pleased. He slipped the stiletto back on, enjoying the look of it more knowing what perfect digits it housed. He reached for his blade and moved back up his latest possession. She was bleeding but conscious, blue eyes open again and rolling wildly with panic. With one long, graceful movement he sliced through her flimsy top, splitting it open from waist to neck. She wore a plain, cream-coloured bra. He cut through the centre clasp and it snapped open, leaving her pale chest exposed. He cut through her skirt and cotton panties, and placed them in a neat pile with her other clothing.
She was naked for him.
Immune to her stifled pleading and now desperate flood of tears, he continued.
At daybreak, the man decided it was time to leave the parking lot. Although he hadn’t slept a single wink, he wasn’t tired. Sitting beside the girl’s silent body, he felt calm and powerful. Curious, he looked through the girl’s things before disposing of them. He opened the large black bag she had been carrying and found a heavy, ten-by-twelve-inch book—a model’s portfolio. He flipped through it. The photos inside showed the girl in several benign poses; smiling, walking, or standing. Boring. He also found a wallet with a Canadian passport, an address book and a crinkled letter addressed to a “Catherine Gerber”. He unfolded the letter and read:
I really look forward to seeing you. Six months is too long apart! Thanks for coming back for my mom’s funeral. She would have wanted you there. She always said you were daughter number three. I doubt I could have survived it without you, and Dad appreciated you being there, too.
Enough depressing stuff! As I told you on the phone, I will arrive Thursday morning at 7.45 on Japan Airlines flight JL771 from Tokyo. If you aren’t in when I arrive, don’t forget to leave a key for me somewhere. The agency has already booked me for a shoot at La Perouse on Friday. Talk about no time for jet lag! Thanks for letting me stay with you. We have so much to talk about. See you soon…
Your best friend always,
A skerrick of a smile infected his lips. It would make a good souvenir. He checked through the wallet, which held little interest for him, until he found a compartment with photos. Girl with family. Girl with man. Girl with blonde.
He stared transfixed at the photo.
Girl with blonde.
She was intriguing. Tall, with beautiful, thick platinum hair that cascaded down past her shoulders. Who was she? The photo looked like it had been taken in a foreign city. He turned it over and read the smudged writing: Me ’n’ Mak making it big in Munich! He stared captivated for a while and then lovingly placed the photo in his wallet, beside one of his mother.
He read the letter again.
That wasn’t far away.
He took the letter and address book and stowed them in his briefcase. He gathered up the girl’s clothes, put them in a big garbage bag, and when he was ready, climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away unseen into the crisp, dewy morning.
“Sorry, I’m tied up at the moment,” the giggling voice on the answering machine announced. “But leave a message, and if you’re lucky I’ll call you back.”
Makedde Vanderwall shook her head and waited for the tone. “Hey Cat, I just got in. I’m about to jump in a taxi. I know you’re there.” She gave Cat a few seconds to pick up the phone. “Hmm. If you’re really not there, I trust you’ve left a key in a self-explanatory location…”
Mak looked forward to seeing her friend. Almost as much, she looked forward to getting out of her slept-in clothes and into a hot shower. Her black turtleneck top felt a bit too travelled-in and her favourite Levi’s had been stained by weak coffee. The coffee’s target had been the cup of a business man seated in 34J, but the apologetic steward missed due to a sudden change in altitude. Or perhaps attitude, Mak was unsure.
She strode across the airport terminal, bags in tow, and inadvertently turned a few heads. As a six-foot blonde, Makedde attracted attention wherever she went, though she barely noticed these days. Old jeans and morning hair made little difference to the rubber-neck effect.
The flight from Canada was excruciatingly long, and she again wondered whether the five hundred dollars saved by taking the roundabout route had been really worth it. The lengthy wait at customs would have been unbearable if she had known that Catherine wasn’t going to be at the airport. Nonetheless, after more than a day of travel she was a mere thirty minutes away from a happy reunion. She dragged herself to the taxi stand outside and joined the long queue of tired and bedraggled international travellers.
Winter rain had made the roads and footpaths shine. Perhaps July was not the best time to visit Australia, but it was between psychology courses for Mak, so she had to take the opportunity when it came. Her modelling days were numbered and she could still count the figures of her bank balance on six fingers, including the decimal point. She hoped it would be a working holiday with lots of working, and a much needed cash injection. A taxi pulled up and popped its boot, and in no time Mak was hurtling through the rain towards Bondi Beach.
Twenty minutes later the taxi crested the rise on Bondi Road, passing Waverley Oval as the clouds parted. Golden rays of sunlight reflected on the twinkling, green grass of the cricket oval, and by the time they reached the top of Campbell Parade the clouds had completely disappeared, as if Bondi had a special arrangement with the gods of weather. It lifted her spirits to take in the spectacular stretch of shimmering sand and surf. Two whole months to enjoy the beautiful coastline and catch up with her best friend. Perhaps a bit of travel and a revived modelling career was just what she needed to invigorate her lagging spirits.
Makedde stood outside a weatherworn, three-storey, red-brick block of flats on Campbell Parade and checked the address again as the taxi pulled away. She buzzed the intercom for number six and waited. And waited. She tried the door. Must’ve had a late night, she thought with slight irritation. The lock was broken, and the outside door opened to reveal a shabby, rickety timber staircase. It appeared she’d have to drag the bags in herself, and knock until Catherine woke up.
Makedde lugged the suitc
“Urrrrr…” she growled with growing frustration.
She left her bags at the top of the stairs and ventured to the mailbox outside to search for a note or a key. When she found box number six empty, save for a Thai delivery menu, she felt the first twinge of a headache. She groped around inside the box, hoping her eyes were deceiving her. No luck. Empty.
It was after 9 a.m. on a Thursday morning and surely most of the building’s inhabitants would be working or surfing, so she walked back up to number six and laid into the door with a fierce and futile burst of pounding.
The flat was unresponsive.
She slumped against the door and rested her aching head in her hands. Chill, she thought. Chill, and find a phone.
Hoping no one would bother to drag her cumbersome baggage away, she stepped onto the street and spotted an orange hooded public phone booth a block away. She walked briskly over to it, pulling a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket. The phone ingested her coins in a hurried, metallic gurgle, and rang several times before someone answered.
“Book Model Agency.” The greeting was monotonous and disinterested.
“Hi, this is Makedde Vanderwall. Could I speak with Charles Swinton, please?”
“He’s busy right now.”
“How long will he be?”
“Can I take a message?”
Mak closed her eyes. “Look, I just flew in from Canada and I’m standing outside one of your model’s flats with my suitcases, and there’s no one here to let me in or give me a key. I really need to speak with Charles.”
“Just a moment.”