The Standalones

Chapter Twenty-Four

Ken Preston

21 June 2024

Silhouette of a rock band against a spotlight and the words The Standalones

Returning to the band’s disgusting bedsit was the last thing Chloe had wanted to do, but Chris and Scarlett were determined. They’d left Max in the capable hands of the garage mechanic and caught a bus back into central London. Now they were walking down Goodge Street, and butterflies were tap dancing their way through Chloe’s stomach. And they were wearing hob-nailed boots.

None of the others seemed to know much about Danny and Fred, and Chloe’s questions about how willing they would be to give up the money were met with shrugs from Chris and Scarlett.

As always, though, Matt was on Chloe’s side, and had agreed that any attempt to get the money back was a bad idea. But Chloe got the sense that Matt actually refusing to go with Chris and Scarlett might tear the band apart, and so he had reluctantly agreed to accompany them.

Now here they were, approaching the grand old Victorian building, its paint peeling, windows dirty, and the creeping vines run wild over the brickwork.

As they approached the front door, it swung open and two identical looking men stepped outside. Chloe shivered at the sight of them; they looked thuggish and mean.

They pushed past Chloe, almost knocking her to the ground, without bothering to look at her or say sorry.

Matt took her by the arm. “Are you alright?”

Chloe nodded, looking at the two men as they strode away. “They look like trouble.”

Matt nodded. “Just the sort I’d expect to be hanging around with Danny Lamb and his mate Fred.”

Chris was knocking on the front door, Scarlett standing next to him.

Chloe shook her head. “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“I’ll look after you,” Matt said. “The first sign of trouble and I’m getting us both out of there.”

Chloe smiled up at Matt. Whatever his reservations had been last night when they had been talking, and his reasons for drawing away, he was certainly sticking by her today. He was looking after her. But, Chloe had to admit to herself, she wasn’t sure how useful he would be if things got rough. With his slight, almost slender figure, he didn’t exactly look like he could handle himself in a fight.

Looking into his eyes, Chloe knew she didn’t care much about that. Just the fact that he was willing to try to keep her from harm had her stomach fluttering, not with nerves, but with—

“Hey, you two, quit staring at each other like a pair of lovebirds!” Chris snapped.

Scarlett was pushing the front door wide open. “Those two thugs didn’t bother shutting the door properly.”

“You’re not going in there, are you?” Matt said.

“Why not?” Scarlett said. “You’re not scared of Danny Lamb, are you?”

Writing in the Shadows is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.