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Born Bad

Blood Ties









A Gangster’s Grip

Danger by Association









The Mark





Heather Burnside



First published in the United Kingdom in 2019 by Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus Ltd

Copyright © Heather Burnside, 2019

The moral right of Heather Burnside to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

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, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 9781789542080

Cover Design © Heike Schüssler


c/o Head of Zeus

First Floor East

5–8 Hardwick Street

London EC1R 4RG



Welcome Page



Prologue: July 2011

Chapter 1: August 1991

Chapter 2: August 1991

Chapter 3: August 1991

Chapter 4: September 1991

Chapter 5: February 2005

Chapter 6: February 2005

Chapter 7: October 1991

Chapter 8: December 1991

Chapter 9: December 1991

Chapter 10: October 2006

Chapter 11: November 2006

Chapter 12: December 1991

Chapter 13: February 1992

Chapter 14: February 1992

Chapter 15: April 1992

Chapter 16: November 2006

Chapter 17: May 2007

Chapter 18: May 2007

Chapter 19: September 1993

Chapter 20: August 1994

Chapter 21: August 1996

Chapter 22: June 2007

Chapter 23: June 2007

Chapter 24: December 1996

Chapter 25: September 1997

Chapter 26: April 1998

Chapter 27: April 1998

Chapter 28: April–May 1998

Chapter 29: July 2007

Chapter 30: September 2007

Chapter 31: September 2007

Chapter 32: May 1998

Chapter 33: May 1998

Chapter 34: June 1998

Chapter 35: June 1998

Chapter 36: July 1998

Chapter 37: November 2007

Chapter 38: March 2008

Chapter 39: August 2008

Chapter 40: August 1998

Chapter 41: August 1998

Chapter 42: October 1998

Chapter 43: December 1998

Chapter 44: January 2009

Chapter 45: April 2011

Chapter 46: April 2011

Chapter 47: April 2011

Chapter 48: June 2011

Chapter 49: June 2011

Chapter 50: June 2011

Chapter 51: July 2011

Chapter 52: July 2011

Chapter 53: July 2011

Chapter 54: July 2011

Chapter 55: July 2011

Chapter 56: July 2011

Chapter 57: July 2011

Chapter 58: August 2011

Chapter 59: August 2011

Chapter 60: August 2011

Chapter 61: August 2011


About Heather Burnside

Become an Aria Addict

For Dave


July 2011

Kyle was soon standing at the reception desk ready for his pre-arranged meeting with Ruby. As she looked at him, she felt a tug of repulsion. There was no way she could go through with this, and the meeting with her cousins had given her the courage to put him off even though she was still fearful of his reaction.

‘I’m not doing it,’ said Ruby.

‘You what?’ he asked, glaring at her.

‘I can’t. I thought I could, but I can’t.’

‘What the fuck’s wrong with you? You’re not some innocent fuckin’ virgin, y’know. I know for a fact you’ve had plenty of customers in the past; I’ve been asking around. And now, just cos you’re the fuckin’ madam, you think you’re too good for the customers.’

Ruby could feel her heart racing and her hands were sweating as she saw the look of fury on his face, but she tried to keep her voice even. ‘It’s up to me whether I take customers or not, so if I say I don’t want to do it then I won’t do it.’

Kyle swiped angrily at her, catching the attention of two of her girls and a customer who were in the waiting area, but she dodged away quickly. He then leaned over the reception counter, his head poking forward.

‘If it wasn’t for the fact that that lot might call the cops, I’d drag you into one of those fuckin’ rooms now!’ he threatened. ‘I’m having no fuckin’ tart thinking she’s too good for me. You’re lucky to get a decent looking bloke after some of the fuckin’ weirdos you’re used to shaggin’ so you’d better have a rethink and fuckin’ quick if you know what’s good for you. I’ll be in touch.’

Then he was gone and Ruby felt her shoulders slump in relief. She saw one of the girls in the waiting area look across at her but she quickly raised her hand palm outwards to stop her coming over. ‘It’s OK,’ she said. ‘Just a troublesome customer, nothing to worry about.’

Ruby looked down at her computer screen, refusing to maintain eye contact with the girl. She’d tried her best to play it down, but was worried that if her staff saw the fearful expression on her face they would realise the threat that Kyle really posed.


August 1991

Nine-year-old Trina was helping her mother, Daisy, with the housework. As they worked, they both sang along to Tracy Chapman while two of Trina’s younger brothers were playing noisily, drowning out the sound of the stereo.

‘Shut up your noise!’ shouted Daisy, her Jamaican accent still pronounced after more than twenty years in the UK. ‘I can’t hear meself think.’

The two boys stopped their play-fighting, looked at each other and giggled.

‘Get up the stairs,’ said Daisy, clicking her tongue in annoyance.

‘No, we want to play out,’ said Ellis, the older of the two boys.

‘Go on, and take Tyler with you,’ said Daisy.

Trina looked across at her youngest brother, Tyler, quietly playing with his battered toy cars in a corner of the room. He was so different from the other two, Ellis and Jarell, who could be such a handful.

‘Go on, hurry up,’ said Daisy. ‘Let me get me work done.’

Trina put down the duster she was using and walked over to Tyler, ready to take him by the hand.

‘No! Not you, Trina,’ said her mother. ‘I need your help.’

‘But who’s gonna look after him?’ asked Trina.

‘Them two can,’ said Daisy.

Catching the expression on her mother’s face, Trina knew she wasn’t in the mood for arguments. She picked her duster back up and carried on with what she was doing, despite her qualms about the ability of Ellis and Jarell

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