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By Emma Calin
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Interpol cop, Anna Leyton, spirals down into a hopeless vortex of sexual and emotional passion as she fights to keep her professional cool. Who is deceiving who in this fast moving ride across continents? What motivates her art loving prize-bull of a lover Freddie La Salle? The power of love and trust stands against greed and crime as conflicting forces grapple for that knockout punch.
Anna Leyton pushed purposefully through the revolving doors. The swish of wheels on the wet London streets, the clack and shuffle of anonymous feet on Victoria Street hardly caught her attention. She looked across at St James’s Tube Station, past the constantly turning triangular sign that proclaimed “New Scotland Yard.”
Ten years ago the very sight of the tall office block behind her would have filled her with pride. This evening it seemed no more than any other building in London. Even the city itself had lost the charisma that had filled her heart and soul with excitement as a young police recruit at the age of twenty one. Now the great animal which was the city shrugged off its joys and sorrows and ploughed on through time without a care for any flea on its back.
The afternoon had been tough. As a mere Inspector she had been a junior in a room filled with older and more senior men. The days had long gone when they would have asked why she wasn’t at home with the babies. All the same, she was a woman in a macho world. Her career was back on track although too damaged to think of the very top. Her personal life - well - she was a cop ok. She had already lived out a decade of her youth at a broken bottle edge of society - where the sharpest cuts had been to herself.
The evening was cold and pitiless. She pulled up the collar of her raincoat, tightening the belt around her slim waist. Rain began to dampen her long dark hair. As an Interpol officer, she had the freedom to wear her hair as she wanted. She cursed not having brought her umbrella. At the same time her mind jangled with the responsibilities of her new assignment. When she had graduated with a degree in modern languages and had turned her back on her family’s famous luxury motor-yacht business, her mother had declared that she was about to waste her life. Like her mother was a wasted life expert.
At the entrance to the tube station there was a growing crowd. The lattice shutters were being closed while an harassed official explained that there was a wild-cat strike. She turned away. Ahead of her lay a nightmare journey by bus to her empty flat in Kilburn. Suddenly the cold politics of the meeting, the gray loneliness of the street, the crowds of uncaring strangers, filled her with a longing for warmth and intimacy. The break from her lover, police Commander Beaumont Locke had seemed clean but had left a jagged gap of loneliness - like an exit wound. A gap where another rainy evening briefly played over and over again in her mind.
She stood on the edge of the pavement. Perhaps she could get a taxi - but with a tube strike there was small chance of that! Several black cabs beetled along, already filled. She kept her hand raised and as if by magic she saw the amber “For Hire” light of a London taxi pulling in at her side. She felt a movement from behind and heard an accented male voice:
“Zee ‘eelton ‘otel, Park Lane.”
She turned to see a tall rock of a man, moving past her into the taxi. This guy was going to have to back off. She grabbed the door. Even as she did so she saw his deep brown eyes, the dark eyebrows, one of which only partly disguised a long scar. She could never explain - even to herself - why in that instant she wanted to touch it and know how it had been caused. Her heart raced with indignation and a sense of excitement she had never expected to feel again… not since… well, just not since everything.
“This cab stopped for me!” she snapped.
“Possiblement,” growled the stranger, but smiling with slow gentle eyes, a Gallic down-turn of the mouth and a shrug of his wide shoulders.
“We can be - ‘ow you say - in the same sheep?”
“I think you mean boat - unless you do mean sheep.” she replied, unable to stop herself returning his smile. The accent was pure Clouseau. This guy just had to be some kind of fake. So much fake that any cop would hitch up for a ride just to keep in practice.
The cabbie had already started his meter.
“Anyone gettin’ in - there’s plenty of takers?”
Anna watched the stranger’s face, the thick short cut hair, the tough broad bridge of his nose. His strong hand remained on the door. Gently he brought his other hand around to her back and eased her forward into the cab. She was breathless, as if she had become merely a note in a melody that had always been playing in her head. This could not be her life. OK girl - get real, this is just some arrogant man. Just one more. He regarded her with a look that reached deep into her and stroked a sweet spot in the base of her stomach. She didn’t want this… but he was still doing it.
He indicated with his powerful hand that she should sit opposite him. Against all instincts she found herself complying. The cab moved off, nosing out into the London traffic. The wipers tapped rhythmically, the lights from the department stores spilled out melting into the gray flowing river of road and pavement.
“So - yes - we are in the same sheep,” he smiled gently, “but I must say ‘boat’ yes?”
“If you’re into sheep it’s ok with me,” she returned, wondering why she was smiling and feeling a sensation of warmth. Sure - this was some kind of grease but for a few moments it was nice to slide along.
He smiled again, showing even white teeth behind the full wide lips that pouted forward as he spoke in such a way that just possibly he really was French.
Sitting opposite him, she could take in the full presence of this stranger. It was as if he transmitted a force - an aura of danger and a sardonic humorous innocence. She attempted to re-assert her normal senses - her ability to appraise a man, threat or situation in the blink of an eye - a skill she had honed on the streets of South London - in a world of gangs, drugs and murder. And yet - here she was, tripping over the bags that some stupid girl had left in the entrance to her brain.
“Luckily Park Lane is on the way to Kilburn,” she said with deliberate plainness.
He looked back at her, holding her eyes, then making a slow upward sweep of her whole body, like a lick of cool flame that swept through the centre line of her thighs, her belly, her breasts. He shrugged.
“It would not matter Madame - I would be your knight in sighing armor.”
Anna shook her head in disbelief at his clumsy deliberate mistake and glanced quickly at his smiling brown eyes. This guy was larger than two lives. This was pure panto.
“You laugh at a poor little French boy?”
“Not laugh - you just kinda trowel it on don’t you?”
“OK - you got me,” he drawled in relaxed Californian,“you’re a cop right. Outside Scotland Yard - you must think I’m pretty dumb.”
She scrambled for grip. This was a moment - a turning point. Why could she not, at least for a few delicious minutes, be Anna Leyton, service number - zero, rank - woman of this Earth, no police record, no medals, no blood?
“A cop - for God’s sake - do I look like a cop?” she spat at him - hoping he would accept the question as a denial. Any detective knew that a suspect answering a question with a question is beginning to struggle. He nodded seriously.
“Please forgive - I mustn’t tease! So, anyhow, what do you do?”
“I sell boats,” she stated plainly. Tie a truth to a lie - you can even believe it yourself.
“Ah yes - the London rain is very famous - did you sell a boat today?”
“Yeah - I sold two arks to a Jewish guy with four elephants.”
He threw back his head with a deep genuine laugh. She was on top now. She’d follow through the advantage.
“Have you heard of Leyton Marine Sports Yachts?”
“Of course - I saw your new models at the Cannes Boat Show last year - The Nereus 74.” Bingo! She knew this model inside out.
“That’s top of the range. Evidently you didn’t buy?”
“I just did - if you can close the deal.”
She smiled at his smoothness. He was deceiving her, she was sure of that. She was paying him back in kind. But just for a few minutes she had been free. She was out and away in a world without flashback - running in childhood meadows, not running from - just running free.
The cab pushed and swished on towards Buckingham Palace. She saw him studying the famous landmark, as if he were checking out the architecture. In profile his face looked even more male - handsome yet warm - the scar above his right eye constantly attracting her gaze. He was a brute of some kind but he could lie even with his eyes. Once again she found herself responding to him and wanting to touch that scar. In this new world of a few out of reality moments with a gorgeous stranger she could let go, becoming aware of the pulse of life in her breasts and a sense of warmth and longing deep in her stomach. She bit her lip as she consciously allowed these feelings to sweep over her. She took in his striped linen jacket, dark trousers and hand stitched leather shoes. His crisp white shirt accentuated the tanned olive tone of his skin. His shoulders were broad with hard muscular upper arms while his beautifully cut clothes proclaimed the body of an athlete or sportsman.
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