Goliath and the Gang, by David Whittet

Goliath and the Gang, by David Whittet (Fiction)

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Aaron was just five years old when they took his mother away …

Raised by his aunt after losing his mother, he’s bullied by his uncle and tormented by his loathsome cousins. His dream of making something of his life, of becoming an entrepreneur like his late father, rapidly disappears in the wake of his miserable childhood.

The sudden appearance of a mysterious Māori diviner sparks hope in Aaron’s heart. Can this wise woman help him find his mother? And when he falls hopelessly in love with the woman’s haughty foster daughter, is he destined for heartbreak?

Everything changes when an anonymous patron sponsors Aaron to attend business school. He’s an exemplary student and, upon graduation, a rising star in the business community. Until a deadly rival from his past threatens to destroy his career and plunges Aaron into another brutal war with the Godzone Gorillas—the Gang that kidnapped
his mother.

IndieReader described Gang Girl, the first novel in the series, as ‘a memorable tale filled with drama, conflict and intrigue ... deftly painted characters, multilayered, and unique ... an extraordinary read.’

Goliath and the Gang, the second book in the Gang Girl series, is equally full of drama and intrigue. Set on New Zealand’s spectacular West Coast, David Whittet’s captivating story of love, rivalry and redemption promises another unforgettable experience. Driven by ambition and revenge, Aaron’s tumultuous journey is no mere rags-to-riches tale—it’s a rollercoaster of emotions that will grip readers from the very first page.

From: Goliath and the Gang, by David Whittet

Chapter One

Kaikōura Coast, New Zealand, July 2000

Aaron was just five years old when they took his mother away.

He felt so safe, tucked up in bed with his mother beside him. Her bedtime stories transported him to a world far away from the Gang and scary Uncle Ben. His horrid cousins, too. Nancy, the oldest of the terrible triplets and by far the meanest, had broken the last of his toy soldiers while Tara and Lucy just watched and giggled.

‘Serves you right, scumbag.’ Nancy raised her fist. ‘Don’t even think of running to Mummy, or you know what will happen.’

He did. Nancy would tell Uncle Ben, and he’d get a hiding. Why did they hate him so much and treat him like an outcast?

Aaron snuggled up even closer to his mother as she began the story. Nobody could harm him while she was beside him.

‘Tonight, I’m going to tell you about David and Goliath,’ his mother said, reaching for a book of Bible stories on the shelf. ‘It’s a story about courage and not giving up.’

Good. Aaron liked those stories best. His mother was a brilliant storyteller, and he loved the grotesque faces she pulled for the villains. Somehow, she always made them look like Nancy or Uncle Ben.

But tonight—tears ran down his mother’s cheeks while she read. Why? ‘David and Goliath’ wasn’t a sad story. It was about good triumphing against all odds.

David ran fearlessly towards the giant Goliath.’ As she read, his mother pointed to the pictures in the book. ‘Look, David put five smooth rocks into his sling. He didn’t take any notice of Goliath taunting him. The giant roared with laughter as the young David took aim carefully. The crowd hushed as David drew back the sling and flung the stones at Goliath. They hit the giant on the forehead. Goliath fell dead to the ground.’

Why wasn’t his mother doing the actions as she read the story? He’d love to have seen her mimic David using the sling and Goliath’s fall. And why did she keep losing her place in the story? That wasn’t like her. Perhaps Uncle Ben and those wretched cousins had got to her too. Aaron had overheard an argument between his mother and Uncle Ben earlier in the day. It sounded nasty, and Aunt Helena had to break it up as usual.

‘Aaron, my darling.’ His mother put down the book and wiped her tears on the sleeve of her dressing gown. ‘You must be brave like David in the story.’

Aaron stared at his mother. She’d never cried in front of him before. And they’d been through some terrible times together in his short life.

His mother dabbed her eyes and continued, ‘If anything happened to me … and I had to go away …’ She broke off and flung her arms around him. ‘Promise me you’ll be strong, and you won’t be afraid.’

‘Mummy!’ Aaron held on to his mother tightly as she clutched him. ‘You can’t leave me! I won’t let you.’

‘Darling,’ she gasped. ‘Mummy can’t breathe!’

Aaron’s fingers dug into his mother as a loud bang on the front door reverberated through the house.

‘Don’t worry,’ his mother said. ‘It’ll just be one of Uncle Ben’s mates coming to take him down to the tavern.’

That happened most nights, but the men didn’t usually bang that fiercely. And if it was just his uncle’s mates, why was his mother shaking?

Raised voices in the hallway. Aaron shuddered. They weren’t the familiar voices of Uncle Ben’s cronies, and they were getting closer. Aaron’s eyes met his mother’s.

‘Remember David in the story,’ she said, almost choking on her words, ‘and how he defeated Goliath.’

Did she know they were coming for her that night? Is that why she chose to read ‘David and Goliath’?

A moment’s hush. Aaron glanced over his shoulder at the bedroom door. He heard Aunt Helena’s voice in the passage. Tell them to go away. Please, Aunty. However much he willed it, Aaron knew the men wouldn’t leave. His heart raced as he heard the wood splinter and a massive crash as they burst through the bedroom door. The men towered above Aaron and his mother like hulks, casting dark shadows across the broken door frame and peeling wallpaper. Uncle Ben was scary enough, but these ruthless thugs with their cold, menacing eyes and bold facial tattoos, were so terrifying he almost threw up.

Aaron held out a trembling hand against the men. You’re not going to hurt my mother. I won’t let you. He scarcely felt the slap on his face as the men shoved him aside. When the men hauled her off the bed, the terror in his mother’s eyes forced him to gasp for air. He knew then that he would never get that image out of his mind.

‘Remember what I told you,’ his mother cried as they dragged her away. ‘Be brave! Don’t give up. Your aunt will look after you. I love you, Aaron. With all my heart.’

‘Mummy …’ Aaron wanted to tell his mother how much he loved her too. But his mouth dried up, and nothing came out. Where were they taking her? What would they do to her?

Uncle Ben followed Aunt Helena into the bedroom and nodded at the men. Had his uncle come to rescue his mother? Uncle Ben always boasted he had the Gang under his thumb. Why wasn’t he doing something now? You can save her! Uncle Ben! Please!

Aaron felt the bedroom walls close in around him when his uncle turned away and left the room.

If you won’t help her, then I will. Aaron staggered to his feet and chased after the men. ‘Let go of her!’

That got Aaron another slap from the men, and he fell to the floor. He raised his head to see his mother disappear into the night.

Aunt Helena helped him up off the ground. ‘It’s all right, Aaron.’

It isn’t. Aaron pulled away from his aunt. ‘I didn’t even get to say goodbye.’

‘You’ll see your mum again soon, Aaron. I promise.’

Why did that sound so empty? Those gangsters were mean. As he sank into his aunt’s bosom, Aaron wondered if he would ever see his mother again.

Months passed. Aaron’s heart still quickened whenever there was a knock at the door. He would jump up and race into the hallway. Could it be his mother? Had she escaped and come back for him? It never was.

By the end of the year, Aaron had given up hope. Now, someone banging on the door just reminded him of the sound of the thugs wrenching his bedroom door off its hinges. He even jumped when his cousins dropped a pencil.

His mother once told him the Gang had stolen her childhood. ‘Be strong,’ she’d urged him, ‘don’t let them destroy your life the way they have mine.’

They already had. Taking his mother away so brutally broke his spirit and destroyed his childhood. Aaron’s life would never be the same again.

More of his mother’s words echoed through his head. You must be brave like David in the story. Promise me you won’t be afraid. Those parting words remained with him wherever he was and whatever he was doing, from tying up his shoelaces to doing his chores. They gave him the courage to face the world. A fresh wave of determination swept over him each time he heard her speak. Aaron would defeat his two sworn enemies—Goliath and the Gang.

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