Vendetta - Heather Burnside
About the author
Heather Burnside is a Manchester based author who formerly worked in credit control and is a qualified Member of the Institute of Credit Management. After taking a career break to raise a family, she swapped credit control for writing and decided to study for a writing diploma.
Heather had articles featured in several popular UK magazines before setting up a writing services business, offering copywriting and proofreading services to a range of clients. During that time she also wrote a number of non-fiction books on behalf of clients.
In 2014 Heather published her first Manchester based crime thriller, ‘Slur’, book 1 of the Riverhill Trilogy. She followed 'Slur' with book 2, ‘A Gangster’s Grip’, which focuses on the inter-gang rivalry of 90s Manchester, and the concluding book, 'Danger by Association'.
Twitter handle: @heatherbwriter
About the book
When Adele’s brother, Peter, gets banged up for GBH she reluctantly agrees to run his nightclub, The Golden Bell. Strong opposition from Peter’s thuggish number two, Glynn, who isn’t best pleased about answering to a woman, isn’t the only challenge she faces.
The Manchester club scene of the 1990s is a dangerous place, at the mercy of illicit protection rackets and rampaging gangs, and, despite Adele’s efforts to keep everything legal, the club is beginning to feel like a poisoned chalice.
Meanwhile, Glynn is playing his own ruthless game, and when a savage gang attack has devastating consequences Adele is ready to walk away. But Peter has always stood by her and she owes him big time. Besides, where else would an ex-con find work? And someone has to protect her brother’s empire from his enemies. Right now, Adele knows she is the only one that Peter can trust, but the stakes may soon get too high…
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It was late evening and Adele was walking around the darkened interior of her brother’s Manchester nightclub, the Golden Bell. She smiled as she listened to the lyrics of ‘The Only Way Is Up’ by Yazz and felt the throbbing of the rhythmic disco beat. The revellers seemed to feed off the energy from the music and the blue strobe lighting. Gazing upwards, she noticed the intermittent blasts of illumination from laser beams scudding across the ceiling, and the array of multicoloured overhead spotlights. She never tired of that sight. There was no atmosphere like it.
Adele had only been managing the Golden Bell for a couple of weeks and, despite her initial reservations, she was quite enjoying it. As she carried out her checks she was glad to see that most of the customers seemed happy. The only exception was a group of young women occupying a peripheral table.
It was the second time Adele had passed the young women, who were on a hen night. The first time the table had been full of chatter and laughter, and all had seemed well. But the atmosphere between them had now changed. They were bickering and Adele decided to stick around in case things turned nasty.
As she hovered close to the table she caught snippets of their conversation. It was a dispute over money. One of the women, called Trish, was running a kitty and some of the others felt they’d been short-changed.
‘We should have had at least two fuckin’ drinks out of that!’ shouted a big, busty blonde with a ragged complexion, called Tina. ‘And now you’re asking us for another fiver? You can fuck right off!’
Tina’s tight top clung to her large breasts, emphasising the outline of her ill-fitting bra by the surplus flesh that bulged over the top. Adele watched Trish’s reaction as many of the others sided with Tina. Trish was a tall girl with bobbed hair dyed in a shade of black that was as severe as her acute facial features. Her expression bore a look of anger tinged with guilt.
‘What are you fuckin’ accusing me of?’ she demanded, getting up from her seat and facing Tina head-on.
Then Tina was out of her seat too, her friends holding her back as she let out a verbal onslaught and tried to get at Trish. Adele felt the rapid rhythm of her heartbeat as her fight or flight response kicked in. She stepped forward.
Gazing around her, Adele was relieved to spot one of the bouncers, Barney, racing towards the crowd of girls, who were now yelling at each other. Many of the girls were trying to get at Trish, who responded by waving her fist at them.
Before Barney could reach the table, Trish pulled some money out of her handbag and slammed it down onto the table. ‘Stick your fuckin’ kitty up yer arse!’ she yelled. ‘See if I care.’ Then she upended the table, sending a spray of drinks all over the other girls.
Tina screeched as the cold chill of ice-laden alcohol hit her. Then she looked down at her clothing, which was drenched with drink, forming a large cola-coloured patch on her skirt. ‘You stupid bitch!’ she yelled. ‘This outfit cost me a fuckin’ fortune.’
She dragged herself away from her friends and went for Trish but Barney stepped between them.
‘Calm it, girls!’ he shouted but Tina was beyond pacifying.
Unable to get to Trish, Tina aimed a venom-filled punch straight at Barney. As the force of the blow knocked him temporarily off balance, Adele waded in. She knew Barney was too much of a gentleman to trade blows with a woman.
Within seconds Adele had overpowered Tina and wrenched her arms behind her back, and she was now marching her towards the door. It wasn’t the first time Adele had been grateful for her martial arts skills and the hours of practice she put in at the gym each week. Tina, like many others, had taken one look at Adele and underestimated her fighting ability.
Adele had a sophisticated demeanour, which belied her inner strength. Her attractive face was framed by a mane of dark glossy hair, her skin radiant and her eyes dark and sultry. Only her eyes hinted at the hidden depths within, but most people missed the clue.
Several bouncers ran towards the table of girls. Glancing over at the remaining party, Adele noticed that they were engaged in a full-on fight, dragging at each other’s hair and scratching viciously.
‘Get them all out!’ shouted Adele as she heaved against Tina’s bulky frame.
Barney soon joined her, his bottom lip now spattered with blood where Tina had hit him. Between them they managed to propel Tina towards the exit. While Adele opened the door, Barney pushed the girl out into the street.
‘You can’t fuckin’ do that!’ yelled Tina, hammering on the glass door panels.
‘We just did!’ shouted Adele. ‘And don’t bother coming back,’ she added.
Turning back into the foyer, Adele noticed the bouncers leading several of the other girls towards the exit. ‘Make sure they don’t get back in!’ she ordered the doormen who were standing guard at the doors.
Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the handsome, chiselled features of Glynn, her brother’s number two, her former lover and now her nemesis. ‘What the fuck’s going on?’ he demanded.
‘It’s OK,’ Adele replied coolly. ‘We’ve already sorted it.’
Adele didn’t want Glynn to think she needed his help. He wasn’t at all happy that she was running the club rather than him. Glynn had previously told her she was out of her depth and had vowed that she wouldn’t get any help from him. Since then he’d gone back on his word; he couldn’t resist making his authority felt within the club. But Adele was out to prove that she didn’t need him.
She walked away from Glynn and headed for the sanctuary of her upstairs office, taking the stairs two at a time. Adele locked the door then let out a puff of breath as she leant against the back of it and let her shoulders sag. Thank God that was over!
But as Adele recovered from her brisk walk up the stairs and her breathing steadied, she noticed her heartbeat was still frantic. She looked down at her hands, which were shaking. Perhaps the incident had affected her more than she realised or perhaps it was the constant presence of Glynn that had unnerved her.
Adele strode across the office and pulled out the desk drawer from which she withdrew a half-bottle of brandy. She poured the liquid from the bottle into a mug then sat back and sipped. After a short while relief began to flood through her body, relaxing her primed limbs and calming her mind. It was times like these when she realised the extent of what she had taken on.
When Adele’s brother, Peter, had asked her to take over the running of the Golden Bell while he was serving a stretch for GBH, she had baulked at the idea. She saw it as too big a risk, knowing that the nightclub scene was plagued by protection rackets, drug dealers and God knew what else. But then Peter had reminded her about all he had done for her in the past and she’d reluctantly agreed.
Adele would probably always feel indebted to Peter. He was the one who had helped her try to conceal her father’s killing when she had beaten him to death in a violent rage. After years of abuse his vicious beating of her mother had been the last straw and Adele had just flipped. And with a prison record behind her, no one would employ her until Peter had again come to her rescue and asked her to work for him.
Now, as she was starting to get used to managing the Golden Bell, the task didn’t seem so daunting. In fact, despite the many challenges, it gave her a buzz. She was responsible for the whole of it, until her brother was released anyway. And that level of responsibility gave her a certain kudos that she enjoyed.