Authors: Roberta Kray
Through her marriage to Reggie Kray, Roberta Kray has a unique and authentic insight into London’s East End. Born in Southport, Roberta met Reggie in early 1996 and they married the following year; they were together until Reggie’s death in 2000.
The Villain’s Daughter
Nothing But Trouble
Reg Kray: A Man Apart
Published by Sphere
All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © Roberta Kray 2015
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
Little, Brown Book Group
50 Victoria Embankment
London, EC4Y 0DZ
Table of Contents
Sadie Wise was a girl on a mission. She tapped her feet impatiently against the floor and beat out a rhythm on the table with her fingertips. Unfortunately the 3.45 from Liverpool Street didn’t share her sense of urgency. Could the train go any slower? It was crawling along the tracks, stopping and starting as if it couldn’t make up its mind as to what to do next. ‘Come on, come on,’ she murmured. At this rate it would be dark before she even got to Kellston.
She stared through the window at the slums of London’s East End, her gaze taking in the derelict warehouses, the high-rise blocks and the depressing rows of old brick terraces. A pall of despair hung over the area, a greyness that was down to more than the fading light. She began to wonder if this was yet another wild goose chase. Eddie was as slippery as an eel. If he got so much as an inkling that she was on to him, he’d be on his toes and out the door before she could even say the word ‘divorce’.
Sadie gave a sigh, determined not to give up before she’d properly begun. In another fifteen minutes – if they ever managed to get going again – she’d be there. She refocused her gaze, staring briefly at her reflection in the glass: an oval face framed by pale blonde hair, a pair of wide hazel eyes and an expression that was perhaps stupidly hopeful.
Don’t wish for too much
, she told herself, trying to stay grounded. After all these years, the chances of catching up with her husband were slim.
Sadie pulled her coat around her. The heating wasn’t working properly and a blast of cold air swirled around her feet. She felt the train give another jolt as it continued its slow progress along the line. At that very moment a girl came walking up the aisle, her eyes darting left and right as if searching for a spare seat even though the compartment was almost empty. In her early twenties, she was small and slim, elfin-faced with short black spiky hair. She was wearing jeans and a black suede jacket with a fur collar. Stopping by Sadie, she threw her a smile and slid into the seat on the opposite side of the table.
‘Sodding train! At this rate we’re never going to get there.’
‘I know,’ Sadie said. ‘What’s wrong with it? There was some kind of announcement, but I couldn’t hear a word.’
‘Signals,’ the girl said. ‘Something to do with signal failure.’ She sat back and immediately sat forward again. ‘Where are you going, then?’
‘Oh, right. I’m the stop after.’ She glanced at her watch. ‘God, my dad’s going to do his nut. He’s waiting to pick me up.’
‘It’s not your fault if the train’s late.’
‘He won’t see it like that. He’ll have a go. He always does. He’s the type who expects you to get out and push if the damn thing isn’t going to get there on time. You’ve got no idea what he’s like. He’s a pig, a complete bastard.’ She paused and then added, ‘He’s a huge fan of Thatcher,’ as if this political allegiance was the final nail in the coffin when it came to his damnation.
Sadie’s eyebrows shifted up a fraction. Unsure as to how to respond, she decided to say nothing. Her silence, however, didn’t put the girl off.
‘Not that he actually is my dad. I don’t reckon so, anyway. Knowing my mother, it could be any number of blokes. She was never the faithful sort. Bit of a slapper, if you get my drift. Can’t blame her for it, though. Being married to
is enough to drive anyone to drink – and the rest.’ She stopped to take a breath and smiled again. ‘I’m Mona, by the way, Mona Farrell. May as well introduce myself as we seem to be stuck on this nightmare journey together.’
Sadie reflected that they wouldn’t actually be there together if Mona hadn’t deliberately sat down opposite to her, but there was little she could do about it now. The girl was definitely odd, hyped up, but it was difficult to tell whether this was her natural personality or if she was under the influence of something. ‘Sadie.’
‘Hi, Sadie.’ She glanced at Sadie’s holdall that was sitting on the seat next to her. ‘Do you live in Kellston, then?’
‘No, just visiting.’
‘Strange place to visit.’
‘Is it?’ Sadie studied the girl’s face, the very pale skin and the small rosebud mouth that had been painted bright red. She wasn’t pretty exactly, but there was something striking about her, a certain force behind the eyes. A whiff of perfume floated in the air – it might have been Chanel – accompanied by the faint smell of alcohol. ‘I don’t think I’ll be there for long.’
‘Nobody stays in Kellston for long, not if they can help it.’ Mona glanced down at the file that was lying open in front of Sadie. ‘Sorry, are you trying to work? I know I can go on a bit. Just tell me to shut up if I’m disturbing you.’
Although Sadie thought the girl strange, she was also a distraction, and anything was better than her own company at the moment. ‘It’s okay,’ she said, placing her hand on the private investigator’s report. She’d read it so many times she virtually knew it off by heart. ‘I’m finished here. I’m all done.’
Mona’s gaze settled on the photo that was clipped to the top page. She leaned in to get a closer look. ‘Who’s that then?’
‘His name’s Eddie Wise. He’s my husband. Although I’m hoping he won’t be for too much longer. I’m trying to track him down, sort out a divorce.’
‘What, done a disappearing act, has he?’
‘Yes, well, he did that years ago – and cleaned me out while he was about it.’ Sadie wasn’t sure why she told the girl this. It was just an impulse, a combination of anger and frustration. Sometimes the mere thought of Eddie was enough to make her hackles rise. ‘He emptied our joint bank account, every last penny, and then cleared off without a word.’
Mona gave a snort. ‘No way! What a bastard!’
The last private detective Sadie had employed had traced Eddie to Southampton, to Portsmouth and then to East London, where the trail had finally gone cold. Or had it? She wasn’t completely convinced. The investigator had been a sly, patronising sort of man and perhaps not entirely trustworthy. It was possible that Eddie had bunged him a few quid to keep his mouth shut. ‘I think he may be in Kellston. It’s where he grew up.’
‘Can I have I look?’ Mona asked, pointing to the upside-down photo. ‘I may have seen him around.’
Sadie glanced at the picture, finding it hard to believe that this was the face she’d woken up to every morning for seven years. A handsome face – there was no denying it – but not an honest one. The photo had been taken a few weeks before Eddie had done a bunk. That had been almost five years ago, on New Year’s Day, 1981; the date was forever engraved on her memory. She turned the file around and pushed it across the table. ‘Help yourself.’
Mona inclined her head and stared hard at the photograph. ‘No,’ she said after a while. ‘Can’t say I recognise him.’ Her eyes skimmed through some of the other information on the top sheet of paper before rising to meet Sadie’s again. ‘How long were you married for?’
‘Too long,’ Sadie said. They called it the seven-year itch, didn’t they? Except Eddie had always been scratching, right from the moment they’d exchanged their wedding vows.
‘So when did you start looking for him?’
‘Ages ago, but he’s always been one step ahead. He’s probably worried that I’ll want my money back, but I don’t. I don’t care about it any more. I just want to be free of him.’
‘Maybe he doesn’t want to be free of you.’
‘No, I’m sure he doesn’t.’ Sadie gave a rueful smile. ‘Although not because he still cares. It’s probably so that no other woman can get her claws into him. I’m the perfect excuse for why he can’t tie the knot with someone else.’
‘That’s the thing about men. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.’
Sadie glanced out of the window again, her thoughts tumbling back to the past. Of course she’d been asking for trouble, rushing into marriage when she was only nineteen. Head over heels in love, young, crazy and blindly romantic. Although she couldn’t deny that it had been fun at the start – one long round of pubs and clubs and concerts – the novelty had soon faded. As she’d started to grow up, things had altered between them. For Eddie, life was a party and that was never going to change. Mention getting a regular job and he’d let out a groan. Paying the monthly rent was always at the bottom of his list of priorities. Ducking and diving was what he was best at, although as it turned out he wasn’t particularly good at that.
Sadie recalled the loan sharks who’d come knocking at the door only days after he’d left. Eddie had been running up debts right, left and centre, leaving her to face the music when his fragile house of cards eventually collapsed. The final straw had come a month later when Theresa Rimmer showed up at the flat, heavily pregnant and looking for the daddy. Sadie might have felt sorry for her if it wasn’t for the fact that the cow had been shagging her husband behind her back. It was at this point that she’d decided she’d had enough, packed her bags and headed up north.
Sadie turned her head to look at Mona again. ‘Sorry, I was miles away.’
‘I was just saying, what about his family? Don’t they know where he is?’
‘I’m sure they do, but they’re not telling me. Covering his back as usual.’ She was maybe revealing too much, but it didn’t really matter, did it? Chances are she’d never see the girl again and it was an opportunity to vent, to get some stuff off her chest. ‘His parents live over in Essex, Romford way, and I’ve told them that all I want is a divorce, but they still keep insisting that they don’t know where he’s living.’
‘I hate men,’ Mona said, worrying on her lower lip. ‘They’re all bastards, the whole damn lot of them.’
‘Not all of them,’ Sadie said, thinking of Joel. He was a gem, sweet and smart and understanding. She still couldn’t believe her luck. After all the miserable years with Eddie, she’d wondered if she would ever be happy again. But she was happy now, except for one small fly in the ointment. She really needed this divorce. Once she’d legally disentangled herself, she could have a fresh start in a marriage that was based on something deeper than a mutual appreciation of real ale and The Clash.