But sleep wouldn't come - the more he craved unconsciousness the faster his mind raced. Now he realised he was sweating and his heart was pounding. He desperately needed to relax and calm himself. Rolling over, he started fondling his wife's semi-naked body, feeling first her buttocks, then her breasts - sensing a hardening nipple he slid an exploratory finger inside the tiny knickers that was all she wore in bed - towards the area between her legs where he hoped to find or perhaps stimulate some encouraging and welcoming moistness.
'Go back to sleep,' she muttered, less than half awake, 'it's the middle of the bloody night.'
'I need to relax,' he pleaded, wondering why sex so often reduced successful men to beggars, 'I'm getting up soon. Please let me start the day right.'
'Piss off you sex maniac - go back to sleep,' Sara was being unladylike, 'It's too bloody early.'
Now the kettle took forever to boil, but he had plenty of time. Lack of sleep had dulled his brain leaving him with a slight headache that slowed his thinking. A good rest, followed by a shave and a bath would have been better. His ritual prelude to these rare expeditions beginning in the middle of the night.
He put the extra time to good use, checking first his rifle - clean and bright in its lambs wool lined case. Then the ammunition belt - holding twenty-five brass cases, each tipped with a shining metal-jacketed bullet. He wouldn't need them all - just one if his aim was true, but the extra shells comforted him.
The inspection helped to calm his growing nervousness. At last, his lingering fatigue was displaced by a swelling trickle of adrenalin. It was always this way - something he never quite accepted as an everyday event - at least for a respectable businessman, who most days drove to Colchester, taking a train to Liverpool Street station, then the short walk to his office in London's financial district.
That was the normal day for Mark Lomax, the man his friends and colleagues knew and understood - not this one dressed like a terrorist in green and brown, a peaked hat to break up the shape of his face, clothes providing camouflage amongst the hedges and copses of the countryside.
Few would understand why the quiet businessman crept from his expensive house, at dead of night, gun in hand, working himself into a dizzy feast of adrenalin - to drive fifty-two miles northeast.
For a pre-dawn assignation in a remote corner of Norfolk.
© Peter Hunter
Extracted from Peter Hunter's: Time Of The Spider On Kindle