(Adult sexual situations)
The rain poured down as I neared Paragon, the premier detective agency in London. I approached with a foreboding from the reputation that preceded it. Even the building itself appeared stoic and unyielding. The granite blocks they sculpted it from and the darkened glass of its front door and windows was, if anything, unrevealing. I stood on the street, thinking about who I was and where I came from. Then, of what I would become.
An insurance adjuster, young, up and coming, and maybe a bit of a loudmouth, now that I look back. A headhunter, she called herself, looking for the best, and I thought I was. It didn’t take me long to bite. I was on my way to the top, and Paragon was at the top.
I reached for the handle of the dark glass door that buzzed upon me, nearing it. The electronic lock clicked, releasing itself. The door swung open, premeditated and effortless as on air, perfectly balanced.
Once inside, I removed my mac, shook it, and draped it over my arm. An attendant quickly approached and took it from me.
“April showers bring May flowers.” He sang the words in a melody. “Fielding?” Then squeezed the coat in between others on a wooden coat stand that threatened to tip.
“Yes, Andrew Fielding.”
He turned with a smile, clearing his throat. “Come this way,” he waved a hand to the left. “I’m Terrence, by the way. You are to meet Robin Merryweather. He’s the best in the business. They call him the Butler.”
“The Butler, why?”
Terrence shrugged. His eyes evaded me. We went into a long corridor.
He ushered me into Merryweather’s office. The young man knocked, pushed the half-opened door and swung it wide. “Fielding.”
A suited gentleman of thirty-ish rose to his feet from behind a desk. “Good morning, Andrew.” His hand outstretched as he came around his desk. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
His handshake was gentle. I noted his medium height, slender torso and arms, short crew cut hair, and large almond-shaped eyes. Most noticeable was his smile. His front teeth were oddly rotated, appearing jagged with a pronounced overbite. He nodded with approval as he held my hand.
“Robin Merryweather at your service. Your picture doesn’t do you justice. We like handsome men around here… Let’s just say it opens doors that might otherwise be closed.” He waggled his eyebrows, then winked at Terrence.
Terrence robotically turned and strode away, shutting the door behind him. Robin sat behind his desk.
I hesitated to answer, creating an odd silence. He smiled cordially as he focused on my face. “Welcome to the gang. We’ve heard some good things about you. Down the hall is your office. I’ll introduce you around, but first I would like to ‘on-board’ you in my fashion.”
I felt my head slide subtly sideways in curiosity. He stopped and studied me for a moment. Leaning forward on his elbows, he picked up a piece of paper, scanning it.
“Your resume is short, but your last position was an insurance adjuster with Hargrove, correct?”
“Yes, that is true, a year and a half… I assure you I was quite thorough in my work.”
“I would expect nothing less.” His eyes widened. “I understand you worked on the Wainwright claim.”
I paused. “Yes, that’s correct, how?—”
Robin interrupted, “We’re the leading detective agency in London.” His eyes batted slowly. “We know quite a bit.”
He picked up a pencil and rolled it in his fingers. “Do you recall the name of the undisclosed beneficiary in the trust agreement?” He dropped the pencil on his desk.
My stomach contracted as a strange feeling came over me. I was sworn to a fiduciary duty of what I learned at my previous employer, and though Paragon was not another insurance company, I had to consider my non-compete agreement that could put me in legal trouble.
“Uh, uh, I can’t say…”
Robin turned pale. A haughty smile spread across face, showcasing his crooked teeth.
“Of course, you are worried about any conflicts you have. Your secrets are safe with me.” He whispered as he leaned back.
Using a normal tone of voice, he continued, “You understand, however, it would save us a great deal of time in putting a piece of a minor puzzle together. Perhaps down the road you may see it differently.”
“Mister Merryweather, I—”
“Call me Robin.” He interrupted, then picked the pencil up. “Don’t think for a minute that we can’t uncover these things, or that your job is in danger from not giving it to me. Quite the contrary. But… you can’t blame me for asking.”
“You see… I just can’t.” I squirmed in my chair.
Robin smiled. “You have a duty to your former clients, just as you will have here.” He pointed a finger at me as his eyes narrowed. “I commend you on your honesty.”
“Thank you for understanding.” I felt at ease after that brief struggle with my past and present loyalties. I attempted to change the subject. “Your man, Terrence, mentioned they call you the Butler.”
“Ah, yes…” Robin gazed upward. “We won’t go into that right now.”
Quietly, we sat. Unsure of what direction he was going next, I observed him. He glanced around at the things on his desk, odd trinkets and a set of steel marbles suspended by wires. Raising one from its end, he let it go. The balls bounced repeatedly back and forth in a pendulum manner. He then looked at me as the clacking balls persisted.
“Have you played the honey trap before?” A mischievous smile grew on his face. “It’s a special manoeuvre you must come to grips with in the spring of your detective career.”
“Actually… No.” I felt my brows knit.
“Well, it is something that has taken me a long way here at Paragon,” He said, leaning back in his leather chair, seeming to enjoy the repetitive clack while looking upward.
He held the pencil by its ends and twirled it gently, stroked its length, then wobbled it between his right index finger and thumb. He patted himself on the lips with it. I waited for him to speak. He seemed to choose his words carefully, giving me a bold stare.
“I have a special job for you.” He leaned forward. “It requires you to play the honey trap.”
A lump formed in my throat. “I’m to be the bait in a scheme?”
Robin smiled. “Yes, in fewer words, but it’s more than that. You’re a perfect specimen for my plan, Fielding. Your chiselled jaw, flawless skin, that swatch of dirty blonde hair that hangs over your bedroom eyes and your aquiline nose.”
Robin peered at a calendar on his wall and then back at me. “You are everything that April Spencer adores.”
I steeped in his compliment and smiled. “April Spencer?”
“You haven’t heard of her?” He asked.
I only wagged my head.
“She is the wealthy heiress of the late Josephine Spencer, the pharmaceutical magnate.”
Still, I drew a blank.
He slapped the pencil to the desk. “You are the perfect honey trap for that eccentric and kinky, miss Spencer. I may call you this afternoon if things play-out. It’s something more like spy work than accounting. But… I’ll have to teach you what I know myself.” His lips puckered sensually as his eyes narrowed. “You’ll be learning from the best.”
Robin raised one eyebrow. “You could say it’s…” He then twirled a finger in the air, speaking with a French accent, “ma spécialité.” He laughed at his quip.
Robin then grew serious. “An insurance company thinks she is defrauding them and this is right up your alley. They asked me to look into it. They can’t prove it, but a man on the inside could, and by the inside, I mean… A back-door man, if you know what I’m trying to say?”
A few ideas popped into my mind.
Robin sighed. “Let me start here, Andrew. Miss Spencer, or April, as you will get to know her, likes young handsome men and she’s willing to pay for them. She plays a very low-key game by which she calls an escort service to have rent boys meet her in her private car. She usually hooks up with each for only three occasions and then moves on to the next. I have made connections with the escort service, but have gotten nothing out of the few men that I’ve interviewed, except that she meets only thrice. You have got to be working on that woman from the start. However, it can’t be so obvious that she smells a rat.”
“You want me to pose as an escort?” I stared at him.
“You catch on quick. Are you up for it?”
Looking across at him, astounded by the abrupt questioning, I hesitated. “Well, I… I guess, but can I have some time to think about it?”
“The quick fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Robin replied.
“How is that?” I asked.
“The quick fox. Do you know it?”
My eyes searched the room and then Robin’s face, which concentrated squarely on me. I strained to answer as some historic meaning came to me. “The alphabet… All the letters in the English alphabet. Correct?”
“Partly. A quick fox or a lazy dog. Which one are you?”
I knew there could be only one answer. “The quick fox. What else?” I replied rhetorically.
“Good.” Robin answered with a sharp nod. “And, like this sentence, we use every letter at our disposal. Understand? Every tool is as utilised, clean and oiled, hanging ready to put into action. Are you ready for action, Andrew?”
This time, I did not hesitate. “Absolutely,” I answered, but my expression said otherwise. I felt my lip twitch, a peculiar, involuntary spasm, along with a dry-throated swallow.
“It’s ok to be nervous.” Robin leaned back in his chair. “In fact, it will be more authentic and arousing for her.”
“So, you want me to go on a date and possibly be romantically involved with this mysterious woman?” I wrung my hands. Then a feeling of commitment blanketed me. It felt liberating. I then sat up straighter. “What does she look like?”
Robin noticed and smirked with approval. “She’s an attractive woman, they say. There are no known photographs of her. She likes to stay out of the public eye. I can only tell you she is slender with auburn hair and is a hell of a good kisser. Oh, one more thing, she has a penchant for perversity… So, be ready. Just do as I say, and everything will go well.” He gave a quick nod. “Let’s take a walk.”
Robin took me for a tour of the building while mentioning minor aspects of his plan. He then left me in my office, which was barren except for a phone on the desk.
I stood near the water cooler shortly after 4 p.m. Robin stepped into my view at the far end of the hall. He held up his thumb and pinky finger like a telephone to the side of his head, and mouthed the word “call,” with a look of urgency. He then disappeared from view.
As I entered my office, the phone rang. I watched it with a sense of foreboding, knowing it was Robin.
“Hello?” My stomach knotted as I picked up the receiver.
“It’s Robin, tonight’s the night. You are to meet April Spencer. Be on the roundabout in Piccadilly Circus at 9 p.m. A black limo will pick you up. Wear a red scarf. She’ll know it’s you. Oh, and wear loose clothing, you’ll understand later.”
At eight-thirty, I took the tube from South Kingston to Piccadilly Circus, the entire time wondering what I had gotten myself into. At least I was doing something other than sitting in my flat watching the telly. It was strangely titillating.
I exited the station. A light rain had fallen. The smell of wet asphalt filled my nostrils. It was dark, except for the yellow glow of the street lamps that reflected upon everything wet like molten glass, clean and sterile. The buildings appeared skeletal, washed of any colour, only contrasted by light and dark. The rain had emptied the roundabout of bystanders.
In the cool air, I wrapped a red and yellow scarf tight around my neck as I dashed across Coventry Street, then stood on the bottom step of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. There, I walked clockwise around until headlights beamed at me, approaching fast along Coventry. A black limousine screeched to a halt. The side door opened, showing only a dark interior. A voice from inside called me to enter.
I climbed in cautiously. In the large space at the rear, a woman sat in a short tan raincoat. Her long pale legs stretched out, ending in black stiletto heels. A large black veiled hat hid her face. I sat on the same seat, against the other side.
At the front of the cabin, a dark glass window slid shut with a click as the car drove away slowly.
She pulled me next to her. I tried to make small talk when a silk-gloved hand covered my lips. A retractable liquor bar was open in front of her. She withdrew a narrow metal spoon from a pre-made drink after giving it one last stir. Then handed me the broad crystal glass and gently lifted its bottom upward as I consumed it entirely. I exhaled with complete relaxation as she set the glass down. A fleeting thought of being poisoned entered my mind. The vehicle turned right. Through the window, I recognized the statue of the Horses of Helios. I knew exactly where we were.
I felt my scarf loosen and trained my attention back to her as she rummaged her hands over my chest. The hat and veil hid her face as she leaned close and kissed my neck. Naturally, I reached for her, but she pushed my hands away.
She spread my raincoat open past my shoulders. I felt restrained. Then I heard the buttons on my shirt pop as she pulled it apart. She bathed my chest in wet kisses, then nibbled at me, as her fingernails clawed my ribs, sending chills through my skin. My imagination swirled with erotic thoughts of where this was going.
One of her hands left my body, and from her movements, I knew she was touching herself. I felt compelled to give her the pleasure she was giving me, but again, she forced my hands away. Before long, her body convulsed, and she fell exhausted, her face against my bare chest. We lay there together, our breathing in unison, our sweat mixing.
She lifted her head slowly and deliberately and adjusted her veiled hat. She withdrew a small mirror from her bag while turning away from me. In the dim reflection of her cosmetic mirror, I could see her grotesque lips smeared with red lipstick. For a moment, I thought it was blood. She wiped them clean, said nothing, then motioned with her finger to exit as she withdrew to her side of the seat.
I paused, confused, then opened the door and stood from the car. I leaned down to look back in. Her hand reached for the handle and pulled it shut. The car sped away, blending with the lights and sounds of the other passing vehicles.
I stood in the exact spot they picked me up. The gentle rain still sprinkled as the few passersby hurried about. I joined them and walked back to the tube, as confused as before I arrived.
In my office the next morning, my phone rang within minutes of my entering. I knew it was Robin and picked it up. “Hello?”
“Come see me,” was all I heard, then a click.
I walked down the long hall to Robin’s office. His door was open, and I entered slowly.
“Sit, my boy, and close the door,” he said. “So?” He paused as a smile grew on his face. “Tell me everything. Was it hot? Or, what?”
I must have become red-faced.
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said. “This is what we do in genuine detective work. It’s not like in the theatre.”
“Well, how do you know anything happened?”
“You’re forgetting, Paragon is the premier detective agency in London,” He said with a smirk.
“Right,” I answered with uncertainty. “Wait a minute, the driver, that’s who told you. Somehow, you know the driver.” I looked around suspiciously. My imagination splintered into many incongruous thoughts. “I bet you have this room bugged. You’re up to something.”
“Don’t be silly.” He dismissed the notion with a waving hand. “Why would I bug my own office?” He asked rhetorically. “Look, don’t get paranoid. Whatever driver there was didn’t tell me anything. It’s what I know to be her modus operandi.”
I shrugged off that first impulse of paranoia.”Ok, ok,” I said and took a deep breath.
“Relax, Fielding. You’re my man on the inside, remember? Now, start from the beginning and tell me everything.”
I took another deep breath and told him the story. Robin licked his lips with every detail.
“I’m glad you were satisfied,” Robin said affirmatively. “Now, if she was satisfied, and it sounds like she was, April will call again and I’ll bet a thousand pounds she’s going to take it to the next level. So, don’t lose your nerve, ok, Fielding.”
“Ok, ok,” I answered. My palms began sweating, and I wiped them on my trouser legs.
“You’re nervous,” Robin said quickly. “Or, turned on?”
Again I blushed.
Robin watched and smiled. He then leaned back in his chair, patting his lips with a pencil. “There’s much more for us to do… Just work on those accounting records Terrence gave you and wait for my call.”
At 4.p.m., again my phone rang. I watched it, knowing it could only be one person, and for one reason. I hesitated, then picked it up on the fourth ring.
“9. p. m., Piccadilly Circus, and don’t cry off,” Robin ordered with a soft but persuasive voice. A click quickly followed that left me feeling off-balance.
That night again, the car arrived. Again, I climbed in and she handed me a drink. The routine was the same. I waited for her to advance, and she closed the gap between us, nuzzling my neck below my ear. She was someone who needed complete control, or a sense of security, or both. I let her have it, but felt she wanted to trust me. Once again, I reached for her, but she pushed my hand away.
This made it easy.
I decided to just go for the ride, but I had to get at something. I had tonight and then possibly another to give Robin what he wanted.
“You’re a very wealthy woman,” I said as she nibbled my neck. “I bet you could use a guy like me to help you with your tough work, huh?”
She put a finger to my mouth. “Shush,” she said, then reached for me once again and I knew this escapade would soon draw to a close.
“Miss Spencer,” I interrupted. “Can I call you April?”
Her hands stopped. There was a long silence, and she whispered, “I never told you my name. You’re here to spy on me, aren’t you?”
I didn’t know what to say, and struggled to speak as I felt her hand clench me. I feared for my safety from a primordial place within me. I could not push away and felt a complete loss of control. And, since it was entirely true, a hesitation lingered in me that I felt was a dead giveaway.
What if she has a knife, or worse, a gun?
Any moment I thought she might lash out in a rage and the driver would appear with his fists swinging.
“You, you, you were in the news.” I blurted. “That’s how I knew. Your family owns a pharmaceutical company, Right?”
“Your cover’s blown, spy boy,” she said. Now, you prepare to get yours.
“Really. I… I know nothing.”
“Know nothing about what?”
I froze as every thought that came to mind was an admission of guilt.
Instantly, her hands went to my raincoat and then the shirt, tearing it open. She stared at my chest. Then, groped me with her silk gloved hands.”
It would be a lie to say I did not enjoy it. There was something deviant and fearfully exciting about the encounter. Immediately, I was aroused. Miss Spencer cooed with pleasure as she held me, as if reading my mind. The moment was intense and regretfully over as quickly as it started. Perhaps it was fear mixed with pleasure, but she launched me into complete ecstasy before a few minutes had passed. I caught my breath for only a moment as the car rounded two more corners. I pulled myself together as her arm reached over me, opening the door.
“Ok, now, get out.” She whispered harshly. “Next time, you better give me something.”
The next morning, I marched into Robin’s office. He quickly spoke into his phone, “I’ll call you back.” Then hung it up abruptly and glared at me. “Who do you think you are, stomping in here uninvited?”
Instantly I felt ashamed. “Sorry, but last night was a disaster.”
“How so?” Robin inquired. “You got your knackers off, I suppose.”
I stuttered, searching for words, “Well, I… I might have ruined the entire operation. She knows I’m spying on her, or at the very least, she thinks so.”
“How can you be sure? Did she provide evidence of it? Perhaps you heard the rantings of a paranoid nymphomaniac, a sex fiend who may have been acting on her own delusions to increase her hyper-sexual state and that her assumption was a mere coincidence. Besides, she thinks everyone is spying on her. That’s why she’s so secretive. If you think about it, it’s just more proof that she is up to something.”
“I don’t know… Maybe?”
My mind spun with confusion as Robin stepped closer and put his hand on my shoulder.
“My gut tells me your last night is going to be tonight.”
“I don’t know if I can go through with it,” I answered. “For a moment, she terrified me, like she might slash me with a knife or something.”
Robin wagged his head dismissively. “Don’t worry.” He stepped back and sat on the corner of his desk. “I’ve never known her to be violent. If she was capable of something like that, she’d already be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Now, get a hold of yourself. We have one more night to make this work. Our only chance is to get her to open up to you. That means whatever she wants, you do. Whatever she asks, you answer, and I mean honestly. There is a chance that she smelled a rat, and she might just be close to certain.”
“What do I do if she confronts me, you know? Tries to nobble me.”
“Well, since you have nothing to lose, tell the truth.” Robin shrugged. “Make her think you are falling in love despite this.”
“In love? How do I do that?”
“You don’t know? My, you are naïve.” Robin sighed. “Show some tenderness and especially, don’t question her motives… Just give yourself freely. She’ll see that as a sign of trust.”
“She said she wanted me to give her something.”
Robin pumped his eyebrows up and down. “That sounds like one thing to me.”
I smiled nervously, “I don’t know… She already.—”
Robin interrupted, “oh, another thing. A big part of her M.O. is that she wears a red dress when she expects to go all the way… If you know what I mean.”
I paused. “Isn’t that what we did last night?”
“Oh, no, my dear boy, that was only a snog. You’ve barely scored a try against that rugby player. That manky mink wants more of you. Trust me.”
“Keep in mind, Fielding,” Robin’s tone turned serious, “she’s still a powerful woman with connections, despite her private desires. She has her hands in a lot of biscuit tins, and you don’t want that hand in yours. If she wants to uncover who you really are, she’ll find it. My suggestion is to play along.”
“What have you gotten me into?” I desperately asked, while putting my hand over my brow and looking downward. “I don’t need wealthy psychos mutilating me.”
“Trust me,” Robin exuded a calm presence “You won’t get mutilated. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be nearby.”
I glanced at him.
He inspected me with a reassuring smile. “You didn’t know it, but I’ve been there the whole time.”
“Wait a minute. Were you—”
Robin held his palm in the air. “Stop. Now, go to your office and review those financial records from Bradford and Bingley.” He raised one eyebrow. “I’ll call you if something is up.”
At a quarter to four, I looked at my watch, then the clock on the wall. Every minute I looked again. Oddly, I wanted it now and as that thought entered my head; I pondered what it meant.
Was I becoming like her?
My heart pounded, my palms sweated, and for a moment I felt a panic and thought I might walk out of here right now and give it all up.
Why am I doing this? Maybe it won’t ring. She figured me out. It’s too risky for her.
Like clockwork, the phone rang at 4pm. With a reflex, I picked it up before a full ring had finished.
“Piccadilly 9 p.m.,” Robin’s voice whispered, then he hung up before I could speak.
I set the phone down. Immediately, a feeling of sexual arousal waved over me, and a need to see Robin. It took me ten minutes to put the accounting records of Bradford and Bingley back in the vault. I grabbed my briefcase, walked quickly to Robin’s office. He locked the door. No light shone from beneath it. A feeling of no turning back came over me and again that sense of panic.
At home, I showered and dressed in loose-fitting clothing, as before. I tried to watch the telly, but my mind replayed the previous two nights, her touch, her smell, how she rarely spoke and the impact of what little she did had such power over me.
Did I want this to continue or end?
I only knew that I was going through with it one more time, the last time.
Upon this rendezvous, the car waited for me on the roundabout. This alone told me she wanted me more than before. I stood alone on the other side of Coventry and waited for a few passersby, who hurried beneath the slight drizzle that chilled the air. Still, I felt a sense of guilty pleasure that required the utmost secrecy. I turned my head at their passing to hide my guilty, salacious eyes.
After a few automobiles had passed, I wrapped my coat tight with my arms and dashed across, directly to the door. As I reached for the handle, the door swung open. The scent of her perfume wafted out toward me. I noticed the smell of a cigarette in the air. I turned my head to see smoke pouring from the chauffeur’s window that was cracked just a smidgen at the top.
I could not discern whether I felt uncomfortable by his direct knowledge of our encounters, or confident that someone was keeping an eye out.
I stooped and climbed in, taking the same seat. All was as it had been, except this time she wore a tight fitting red evening gown. The same veiled hat covered her face. I felt at ease as she handed me my drink, which I now craved like a desert traveller, and swallowed in one gulp. The entire scene was as surreal as stepping into a noir film with a bad girl and a naïve detective in over his head. And though I knew I was at a tremendous disadvantage, I could not resist, for by all accounts, this was our last date.
“Have you got something for me?” She whipped at me as she set my empty glass down on the small bar.
“I don’t know what you mean?”
There was a momentary pause. She inched closer. Nervous twitches fluttered through my body as she neared. She had some kind of lustful power over me that I now had a corruptible yen for. Part of this strange desire was to go with whatever happened, regardless of the unknown physical or psychological consequences.
My arms relaxed as I waited for her to tear my shirt open once more… She did, and I gasped with the appeal of, at last. She sat poised, ready to strike like a cobra as she stared at me. She took a deep breath and buried her face in my chest, my abdomen, and lower. I felt I was being attacked by a giant lamprey that sucked ferociously. I became paralyzed, torn between pain and pleasure, her teeth almost cutting into me.
Miss Spencer possessed the strength and cunning of a succubus. I was at her mercy. My head spun, and I watched myself flail under her control. Regardless of how my arms and legs straightened and contracted, she never relented.
I heard a click. My eyes darted to the dark sliding window that had just opened and shut.
The driver’s watching.
My arms reached for her body, but she drove them away, refusing to be touched. This continued until I felt something cold against my groyne.
“Now, my little twink,” she hissed.
It was sharp, and I tensed up as it pressed between my legs. My breathing seized and my hands grabbed onto her, pushing away in reflex.
“Who was the undisclosed beneficiary in the Wainwright claim?” Her now wretched voice beckoned.
My heart pounded, and I felt dizzy from lack of oxygen.
“Who? Say it!”
A survival instinct washed over me; a fight-or-flight mechanism of sorts.
“Or, God help me! I will—”
Suddenly, the words welled up in my throat like pigeons flying from a rooftop. Then, the words popped from my mouth, like bread from a toaster. “Miles Mason!” I shouted.
Her hands relaxed. Exhausted, I sunk into the leather seat. Miss Spencer sat up. She turned and pulled off her veiled hat that came off with a wig.
A jagged tooth grin and crazed eyes stared back at me.
“See, Fielding… I have my ways.”
This evil clownish version of Robin with smeared makeup laughed open-mouthed. He pulled himself into the front seat of the limo next to the sliding glass window, holding that narrow metal spoon in his hand. Robin Merryweather’s head bobbed with laughter atop a red dress that now looked like a Satan worshipper’s robe. His crooked teeth appeared longer, more hideous and jagged than before as his mouth gaped wide like a laughing, crying Nosferatu. I gasped from the shock of it. A nauseous feeling waved over me. He had made me a fool and worse, seduced me in a vile, wicked game. There was no limit to his perversions. And like that vampire of old, he sucked the truth out of me.
He continued to laugh as the driver’s window opened. Terrence’s face peered out, filling the window frame. “That’s why they call ‘im the Butler.” Terrence chuckled. “Ee opens doors,” Terrence said with a thick cockney accent.
The two of them fell apart with laughter, and I almost felt compelled to join them from the sheer insanity of it.
Terrence’s eyes shifted right, looking toward Robin, who caught his breath in between bouts. “Shall I give your date a ride home, sir?” Terrence tee-heed.
Robin answered with a nod and a waving finger as he tried to contain his laughter.
“Ya take the piss out of me, sir,” Terrence said and then continued to cackle.
A panic rose within me and I clumsily grabbed for the door of the limousine and stumbled out. I stood in the street beside the car, emotionally wrecked. The limo engine had been running the entire time, and the exhaust plumed into my face as the engine revved and drove off with a start.
“See you bright and early tomorrow,” Robin’s voice faded away behind a closing window.
The heavy motor chugged with a sarcastic growl, full of its power and confidence, an extension of Robin Merryweather. Cars rushed past, honking as I stood in their path, uncaring if I was run-over. The bright lights of a bus raced toward me like a freight train, and I was standing on the track.
Wasn’t I all along?
This time, at last, I jumped to the curb and stood on the roundabout, not knowing where to go. My mind went round and round, as did the cars, seemingly unable to find direction; the minds of us all detouring.
Passersby watched, some walked and some hurried. They all glared in confusion. Or was it, you got what you asked for, or I told you so. All of them stared back at me with what I knew was true. Either way, I read my conscience on their faces.
I got my bearing and rushed to the underground rail, not looking back and wanting to get as far away as possible.
A month later, I sat in my office at paragon. The door creaked open as Terrence entered.
“The young woman from the courier service, Robin, wants you to interview. Shall I escort her in, Sir?”
“Right away, Terrence.”
“Good morning,” I said as the young woman took off her hat to show a mop of short, curled hair. She wasn’t timid, and strode in with a heavy step with shoulders back, demonstrating her physical nature.
“Kendra, it is, correct?”
“Yes, sir, Kendra Parsons.”
“Sit down please, and I’ll get right to it.”
She interrupted, “First, I want to say thank you. I’ve alway dreamed of being in the detective business. It was an absolute prize to have one of my deliveries recommend me for this position.”
“It’s fascinating how these things work out sometimes, Kendra…” I looked around the room, then directly at her. She possessed something of the tomboy, a projecting chin, and scrutinising eyes. “You currently work for Talbot’s Courier Services, correct?”
“Yes, sir, but I’m ready to leave as soon as you need me.”
“That’s good to know. You seem in good physical condition, riding that bicycle about London making those deliveries, aye?”
“That I am, sir, that I am. The only female that stands up to the boys in this business.” Kendra said with a stiff lip.
I leaned forward over my desk. “Good, good, because I need someone who can do some legwork.”
“Well, I’m the girl for the job,” she nodded.
“Look at this,” I said as I retrieved a photograph of a Victorian brooch.
Kendra looked on with curiosity. “Why is that the jewellery pinched from the museum?”
“That it is,” I answered. “And we have a hunch as to where it is.”
“Then why don’t you call on the constabulary?”
“True, Kendra… We could, but Paragon is the premier detective agency of London. If we run to the police every time… Well, then they get the credit. Besides, if we’re wrong, then we lose their trust. What we want is to be certain.”
“Now, if you want a future here at Paragon, I must know that I can trust you, understand?”
“Absolutely, sir. I’ve been studying up on detective methods and I’m a fast learner.”
“Good then. I’ll get right to it. We think your boss Forbes Talbot has that brooch in his safe and I need you to help me find it.”
“The big safe in his office?” Kenda asked.
“That’s right, the big safe. Can you help us?”
“Why, I can’t go crackin’ me bosses safe. It just wouldn’t be right.”
Relax, Kendra. We just want to know the combination. Then, we’ll send a specialist around to… make an inspection of it.”
“I can’t allow you to steal from him, Sir.”
“We’re not going to steal anything, we only want to DETECT it,” I said with a pointing finger.
Well, I don’t know it, but I know how to get it. I know where he keeps a paper taped to the bottom of a hidden drawer.”
“I see.” I answered calmly, not wanting to alarm.
Kendra hummed and hawed. “I really would like to work as a detective, but I just can’t help you crack me boss’s safe, especially when I take-it you are not even sure it’s in there.”
“Quite right, Kendra, quite right.” I glanced around my office, thinking of a plan. “Well, there is another piece of work I think we can scrum-up against, a woman we are investigating. She’s part of a counterfeit ring and uses couriers to distribute the currency. This is right up your alley and further…” I paused, looking at Kendra one last time to be certain my instincts about her were correct. “She likes to spend time with young athletic women. Her name is… May Flowers.”
“May Flowers?” Kendra’s eyes danced about the room. “I’ve never heard of her.”
“That’s because she likes to stay on the low-down. Tell me… Are you familiar with a technique known as the honey trap?”