Kate thought that once her mother died, the pain she had caused would end. Then she discovered that a letter had been sent to a prominent television presenter on her mother’s orders taunting him with the fact that Kate now held photographs which would ruin him and probably lead to his arrest. Suddenly Kate is running for her life. She seeks help from Rob, a much older man whom she has only known for a very short time.
While at his London apartment, she rescues a teenage girl, Vickie, from a street pimp and over the following days finds a bond growing between them that feels like a lot more than friendship; but with both their lives now in danger there is no time for thoughts of anything but escape and survival.
At the edge of an icy pavement, facing the street and bouncing on her toes, Kate almost fell
when a male voice close behind her said quietly, ‘You’re about to get into trouble.’ She spun round and a man in his early forties was smiling at her, holding up a shoebox-sized parcel wrapped in metallic red paper. It was tied with a large bow on top in the same colour ribbon. He offered it saying, ‘I would strongly advise you to take this and smile.’
Kate squawked, ‘What?’
The man inclined his head to the left. ‘The police officer, who’s been sitting in his car watching you, has just zipped his topcoat. So if you stay here, in about five minutes you are going to be arrested for soliciting…don’t look!’
Kate managed to keep her head still and reached for the parcel as she asked, ‘What are you talking about?’
The man said, ‘In weather like this the vice squad allow about fifteen minutes for young women who are new to this scene to generate the courage to walk into that club. More and they start to wonder. Three times that, like the forty-five minutes you’ve been wandering up and down here, and you get nicked.’ Kate took a shuffling pace backwards and the man went on. ‘I’m going to need the parcel back. It’s a pair of Zanotti sneakers for my daughter’s sixteenth and much as I want to help you, at that price my generosity stops.’ He pointed beyond her right shoulder. ‘There’s a café here. We can get out of this weather and have a hot drink. Now it would be a good idea to nod, smile then give me a daughterly peck on the cheek.’
Feeling as if she had entered some kind of alternate reality, Kate leaned in, kissed the man’s cheek then managed not to flinch as he put his arm round her waist.
When the café door closed behind them, the man said, ‘To stop you worrying about GHB or any of the other rapists’ friends’ drugs; I’ll sit at that table in the window and you can get the drinks. I’ll have straight coffee, milk no sugar.’ Kate just stared at him and the man made shooing gestures. ‘It’s not a good idea for me to give you money: that excites the constabulary far too much. If you don’t have any cash, just tell the guy I’ll pay him later. He knows me.’
Kate placed his package on the table and walked towards the counter, mind barely functioning. She ordered their drinks then looked at the man’s reflection in the mirror finish coffee machine, forcing her thoughts to take shape. She registered expertly barbered hair and a topcoat that fitted much too well to be off the peg. However, by his comment, the Zanotti shoes were a serious investment so he wasn’t dripping with money.
Two coffee cups slid across the counter into her line of vision and she picked them up, smiled at the bored looking man facing her then murmured, ‘What am I doing’ and started back across the small room.
Back in the day I was a community mental health counsellor and also wrote self-help books for my employers, often for people who didn’t read from choice. Field testing these was a great apprentisceship for writing novels. I am English, married with three adult sons.