Extract from 'Good Investigations'

Well, you wouldn’t really expect me to make you wait for a little sniff of my first adventure, would you now? So, to whet your appetite, here’s a little something to be getting along with.

 

David Good

taxi old woman with gun bagel and coffee woman on phone

God, summer 1983’s been boring. I can't stand dosing around the office with nothing happening, so I keep shooting out: to the pub; to see a mate; to buy some bread; anything that gets me out of this place. That ain't good for business, as I'm not around if anyone with a case does call and some of the punters don't like leaving a message on the answerphone. Bored if I stay, out a pocket if I don't.

 

It was just good luck I was in when my next case walked in the office. Who knows what grief and joy I would've missed out on if I'd been AWOL when she turned up.

 

“Mr Good,” she purred like a hungry cat meeting a blind mouse, “and I do hope you will be.” She slid beautifully, effortlessly in to the knackered old punter’s chair, and I swear the thing wrapped itself lovingly around her sexy, lithe frame. Then she tempted me with those dark bewitching eyes, calling me closer, closer, closer until I leant slowly forward and my nose settled sweetly on the soft, warm, silk-like flesh that dipped invitingly between her gently rising breasts. My time had come, little mouse, and I was ready and willing to go quietly. Then I jumped up from my chair and snapped myself out of the fantasy; at least I think it was a fantasy, for she looked at me with a dangerously knowing smile, just wide enough to work its magic yet not so wide as to show the world her fangs. Shit, I was in trouble this time.

 

“OK babe, so what’s a classy bird like you doing in a joint like this?” Where the bloody hell did that one come from? Bogart meets Trotter.

 

“Tut, tut, Mr Good. I may not be as classy as you think.” Now she did Monroe.

 

I relaxed, a little. God those legs looked good, and so long I wondered how many days would pass if I was to run a finger from the heal of one foot all the way up to her belly button, not stopping for refreshment along the way. All the same, she was right, of course. I had no way of knowing whether she was the real McCoy or a complete sham, so I’d better put my tongue back in my mouth and get down to some serious work.

 

“There’s some things I’m none too sure of, but you sure as heck look all class to me,” I flattered to deceive.

 

“Mrs Tempting, Mr Good. Mrs Pamela Tempting.”

 

“Pleased to meet you Pamela, or do you prefer Mrs Tempting?” Somehow I thought she wouldn’t.

 

“Pamela will do very nicely, Mr Good.”

 

I didn’t volunteer my Christian name and, interestingly, she didn’t ask for it. She looked across at the coffee machine, then back at me.

 

“Coffee, Pamela?”

 

“Black, strong, and four sugars please, Mr Good.” I could have guessed.

 

I did the business at my expensively acquired, top of the range espresso machine, one of the few luxuries I had bought with my earnings over the years, and we each set about a cup of strong Italian coffee.

 

So, how the bloody heck can she make drinking a cup of coffee a sexually arousing experience, for God’s sake? But there I was, watching her lips caressing the rim of the cup, the coffee sliding down her throat in the way only a man can really appreciate. Sod this for a game of soldiers, I was going to need a cold shower after this one.

 

I took a drink myself, then moved on. “So, what’s your problem Pamela?”

 

“I’m being blackmailed. I would pay the man if I thought it would bring an end to the matter, but somehow I doubt this particularly nasty individual could resist coming back for more, time and again, until there is nothing left to take.” You could hear the disgust in her voice and see it ripple through her body as she spoke. I couldn’t imagine this woman giving away too many clues in words or actions, so she must really wanna get this guy out from under her skin. I felt the urge to put my fee up.

 

“What’s the asking price?” I guessed at twenty, maybe be twenty-five grand; she’d got it, so he’d go for it.

 

“Ten thousand pounds. All cash, of course.” Her eyes flickered angrily. He’d really got to her. I wondered what he’d managed to dig up.

 

“Do you know the bloke well?” Not that it made much difference. Even someone you’ve only met once, if they’re any good, can dig all the dirt they need.

 

“I’ve no idea, Mr Good. He certainly seems to know a great deal about me, but I have only ever spoken to him over the phone and it’s obvious he disguises his voice, so I’ve no way of knowing if he is one of my closest friends or someone I have never even set eyes on.”

 

Her fingers played along the edge of the table as she spoke. She was nervous now and I guessed she was anticipating a couple of questions she knew I ought to ask. Already I didn’t need to ask the second of these: whatever he was hanging over her head it was for real. I lingered a little before I asked her the question she was waiting for. Nasty, I know, but I liked the tension in her body as she sat there waiting: it gave her an edge, something extra to go with all that beauty.

 

“What’s he got on you that’s worth ten grand?”

 

She waited a moment. I didn’t know if this was instant revenge, or if she really found it hard to come clean to a stranger like me.

 

“I used to be a prostitute, Mr Good.” No messing around with this one. Let’s get straight in there.

 

Now she caught my eye with a lethal stare. “I had a little over six years on the game, here in London. That was how long it took me to save up enough money to pack it all in and start afresh. For some women, this type of a past coming to light might be a little inconvenient, or even embarrassing, but for me it would be disastrous. Since I gave up that particular life I’ve managed to work my way up the social ladder into the kind of circles where paying your dress maker late can turn you in to an outcast. You can imagine the reaction from my circle of friends and acquaintances if they were to find out what I’ve done for a living in the past’. Still the stare. She wasn’t nervous any more, just back in control.

 

“May be they ain’t the type friends you should be looking for, Pamela, if they’re not prepared to forget about a few years on the game.” How badly did she want this?

 

“You’re probably correct, Mr Good, but I like the world I live in. I like the concerts, the restaurants, the theatre, the galleries, and I like the educated, cultured, sophisticated people I meet; men and women who can talk to me about something other than football or the latest storyline in a soap opera. I know not everyone would care for the lifestyle, but I do and I’ve worked hard to get there. Hard enough not to want to lose it all now.” She swept a lock of blonde hair back into place.

 

There was just enough intensity in her voice for it to be obvious she really meant what she said and I liked that because it meant that, at least on this point, she was being honest, and that mattered because I liked her already.

 

“So this guy must have done some digging to come up with something after six years.”

 

“Unfortunately, I got picked up once by the police and I happened to be with a local politician at the time, so the local paper wrote a few lines about me.”

 

“And he found that?” I was bloody amazed.

 

We spent the next ten minutes trading questions for answers as I looked to sweep up anything even remotely useful, but there wasn’t much there, which meant I was going to have to work for my money. But there was one last thing I needed to know before she left.

 

“Pamela, if I told you that, if you didn’t want to, then you didn’t have to bring the law in on this one, when I find this guy that is, would you be interested?”

 

“I’m not clear what you mean by that.” Maybe I’d gone round one too many houses.

 

“I’ve some mates who know a few people who could sort this tosser out for you, if you don’t wanna call the law in.”

 

Shit, she suddenly looked confused and I shifted in my chair thinking I’d screwed things  up by offering her another way out. A little colour appeared out of nowhere on the side of her neck and her eyes flicked quickly across to the coffee machine, then the window and finally back to me.

 

“That is a very tempting offer. If you don’t mind, I would like to think about that for a while.” There was no sign of horror or offence there and, even as she spoke, the colour in her neck began to fade. “But we have not yet spoken about money, Mr Good.”

 

Ah, yes, now was I going to charge her extra or not? I wanted to have another look at those joyous legs or the silky smooth sweeping cleavage, but that would be so obvious even I would be embarrassed. So I settled for a quick glance at those soft lush lips, flame red and made for nothing else but kissing. Did she really run the tip of her tongue slowly along her top lip or am I just dreaming, hopefully? I settled for the usual fee.

 

“I charge £100 a day, plus any costs I pick up along the way. Cheque means you pay the VAT man, cash means you don’t.”

 

She opened her handbag, from which she lifted a small wad of twenty pounds notes, all of which she placed gently on the table in front of me. I swear I licked my lips.

 

“Five hundred pounds, Mr Good, as an advance for whatever you need to do. I assume you realise that money is no object here. If you need to spend to find this man then spend whatever you need to and I will pay the bill as soon as you care to send it to me.”

 

Diamond. Now I could have another chat with my friendly bank manager, and who’s gonna be making all the jokes this time. I tried to impress by playing it cool and left the cash sitting there on the edge of the table as if it was an everyday experience to see a client hand over so many notes. ‘I’ll do my best to see you get some change out of that’, I quipped.

 

She smiled forgivingly. “Is there anything else that you want from me, Mr Good?”

 

Of course there was, but I wasn’t going to tell her that. “Nope, we’re all done for now, thanks Pamela. If you leave me a phone number I'll give you a call when I've something worth hearing, good or bad. It could take a day, it could take a week, but I’ll find this bloke and then it’s up to you.”

 

She lifted a small silver box from her bag, opened the lid and produced a contact card, just like a business card only this one contained her private contact details, and slipped it on top of the stash. “You should feel free to call me whenever you like, Mr Good.”

 

“No problem.”

 

She rose effortlessly from her chair, like she’d practised it a hundred times for effect, and clutched her handbag. “Thank you Mr Good. I hope we get to speak again soon.”

 

She held out a hand, which I resisted the thought of kissing passionately and settled for shaking. “So long, Pamela.”

 

She headed for the door and I wondered how long it would be before I could bring myself to wash the lipstick off her coffee cup.

 

 

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