The Bus Route: Final instalment of a brand new KDG story

The Bus Route: Part VII of a brand new KDG story

I hope all of you’ve all enjoyed this brand new KDG story. It’s been my pleasure to bring it to you. I hope it has helped you survive and thrive during lockdown. Please stay safe.

If you’ve missed any of The Bus Route up until now, just flip back through the blog. All seven episodes are still up, at least for the moment. So enjoy, and happy reading whatever else you are reading.

 

Sex in derelict buses. Who knew it was a thing?

A money-making thing for Seth Allen, who blackmails enthusiasts stepping out on their other half by catching the deed on cameras he’s rigged at a public transport scrap yard known by frequenters as the Bus Route. Sadly the paydays aren’t as regular as Seth would like until con artist, Jon Knight, suggests they team up. With Seth’s tech and Jon’s charm, the money rolls in and the future looks bright until their marks start disappearing mysteriously.

 

 

 

 

The Bus Route: Final Instalment

I lurched to the kitchen and tossed the bakery bag in the trash. Even if he wasn’t drugging me, I wasn’t taking any more chances. In ten minutes I had a bag packed. I was just about to leave the flat when my phone rang, and I froze. I knew it was Jon. I knew he’d be suspicious if I didn’t answer, but I waited, taking two deep breaths and then mumbled a hello I hope sounded like I just woke up.

“You all right?” His voice dripped concern. “I was worried when you weren’t at the suite.”

“I feel like shit.” It wasn’t hard to sound ill when it was the truth.

“Shall I send a limo?” He asked.

“Just let me sleep. I don’t want to move right now. I’ll come when I feel a little better.”

There was an uncertain pause. “All right. Go back to bed, then, but I’m sending the limo first thing in the morning. You don’t need to be alone right now. Then he added, “I’ve already picked out our next mark, so I need my partner well and strong.”

Oh I knew all about the next fucking mark, I thought. I white-knuckled the phone and forced a reply. “Thanks. I’ll be here.”

“And Seth, don’t worry about anything. I’ve got this.” The line went dead.

I fumbled my device into into my pocket. The last thing I did was to stuff the cash from our efforts down deep in my bag. I’d need it if I were to survive. I couldn’t take a flight without some sort of ID, but I could easily enough buy a train ticket, and cash was my new best friend.

I took the tube to Euston Station, all the while my skin crawled with the sensation of being watched. I was already hanging on the meat hook and had been for a while. I’d just been too stupid to figure it out. I was at the Bus Stop the night Eleanor disappeared. And when the police finally discovered the body of Claire Richardson, I’d be implicated too. After I left, Jon would have laid her out beautifully for the police to find, just like the Incubus Killer always did. If it was him. And how could I possibly still hold out hope that it wasn’t? Surely that was why he sent me away, and now I was next on his list.

I bought an overnight ticket to Glasgow on the Caledonian Sleeper. I even shelled out the extra dosh for a private couchette. I grabbed a couple sandwiches and a bottle of water from the M&S and ate as though I were starving, feeling better with each bite. The drug seemed to be wearing off.  Surely I’d be okay once I was away from him.

I had hours to kill before I could board at 21:15, so I hid out in a little mom and pop café, the kind that served breakfast and, deli sandwiches and little else. I drank tea until my kidneys floated and the staff began to look at me suspiciously. Then I went to a Costas around the corner. Time stretched interminably with me incessantly checking for updates on Eleanor. But there were none.

It was just getting dark when I got a text from Jon.

Feeling better?

I didn’t answer. I was supposed to be sleeping, after all. A follow-up text came almost immediately.

Pleasant dreams.

I dropped the phone and it skittered across the floor under the neighboring table where a woman behind a laptop and a stack of books picked it up and handed it back to me, text still taunting me on the backlit screen. Thanking her, I turned the device off and stuffed it in my bag.

I waited another endless hour at the train station, heart going into free fall every time I saw a tall dark man in the crowd, who might have been Jon. But no one paid me any attention.

I was only able to relax when I was safely locked inside my couchette, watching the lights of London fall away outside my window. I ate my last sandwich then turned out the lamp and crawled into the bed falling instantly into an exhausted sleep.

Conscious thought returned to me slowly some indeterminate time later lulled by the hypnotic rocking of the train. For a time, with no sense of anything amiss, I watched the familiar silhouette limned in the moonlight streaming through the window. Then Jon’s whisky-smooth voice came out of the darkness. “Did you sleep well, Seth? I was worried about you. Oh don’t get up,” he said without turning away from the window. “Just rest. We’re still a long way from Glasgow, and you’ll need your strength.”

Even as fear dried the back of my throat, I had little desire to move, nor was I sure I could. I wondered if I was I still only dreaming. “Did you think I wouldn’t find out?” I mumbled as though speech was something new to me.

“On the contrary, I was hoping you would. I left you enough clues.”

“So you are the Incubus Killer then.” Whether it was fear or the drug, the words didn’t slide easily over my tongue.

He huffed a laugh that steamed the window. “I like that appellation, don’t you? It’s so very evocative.”

“How did you drug me? You at least owe me an explanation.”

The muscles of his shoulders bunched and relaxed in a shrug, and just like that, the crawling of goose flesh over my skin became something more tetchy, and my cock stiffened.

“Oh Seth, do you really want to waste our time together with drawn out explanations of details that would only bore you and can hardly matter now anyway. What does matter is that you were always going to be my masterpiece, from the moment I saw you eking out a living at the Bus Stop, from the moment I saw you watching me, so much like me and yet so different. After you, I’ll leave this country sated and begin anew, just as I’d planned.” He trailed a finger across the fogged window, and then he turned to face me. “But you, my dear Seth, you will be my fondest memory, and oh how I’ll miss you.”

I shoved to my feet, and in my muddled efforts to walk stumbled right into his arms, which closed around me. He took my face in his hands and pressed his lips to mine breathing deep like I was fresh air.

I flailed and jerked, feeling like I was falling, and as the kiss deepened, I curled fists in the back of his shirt, just like poor Eleanor had done. Just like her I was no longer trying to push Jon away.

He eased me gently, carefully toward the bed, where he lay me down and looked me over, him the artist, me the work yet unfinished needing to be complete. Than he settled next to me pulling me close, the feel of him against me summer heat lightning and ozone before a storm. “Are you going to kill me now?” Somewhere deep in me there must have been fear, terror even, but the drug kept it far away.

“Does it matter, Seth?” He trailed kisses textured with teeth and tongue and breath over my throat, patiently cupping and stroking like we had all the time in the world. “Does it matter?”

“Not really, no.” I might have said the words, or maybe I just thought them, but the fear slipped still farther away along with the Bus Route and the smell of stale take aways and the rent overdue. My fists had fallen open, gone seeking, needing, touching. The sheets were clean. The space was warm. Ages later, I opened my eyes just enough to see his face haloed in moonlight, all soft and out of focus. And I was certain. It really didn’t matter. Not at all.

 

 

The Bus Route: Part VI

The Bus Route: Part VI of a brand new KDG story

I hope all of you are staying safe during lockdown. For me and many others, it feels like an opportunity to press the restart button in a world gone mad. For me this has been a time of intense writing and reading. Anyone who follows my blog loves to read or they wouldn’t be here. So I’m choosing this time to share a brand new KDG story that has never been made public before.

Be warned, this is a different kind of KDG story, a hybrid of erotica, crime and paranormal with a pinch of horror thrown in for good measure. I am sending you an instalment of The Bus Route once a week for seven weeks, so be sure to check in every Friday for a new instalment.

 

Sex in derelict buses. Who knew it was a thing?

A money-making thing for Seth Allen, who blackmails enthusiasts stepping out on their other half by catching the deed on cameras he’s rigged at a public transport scrap yard known by frequenters as the Bus Route. Sadly the paydays aren’t as regular as Seth would like until con artist, Jon Knight, suggests they team up. With Seth’s tech and Jon’s charm, the money rolls in and the future looks bright until their marks start disappearing mysteriously.

 

 

 

 

The Bus Route: Part VI

 

I didn’t go to Jon’s suite. I went home instead. I’d not been there in several days. I wasn’t sure how many. The place was cold and smelled like stale take aways. I took three nighttime cold tablets and crawled into bed, but my sleep was riddled with nightmares, a heaviness in my chest, a pillow pressed against my face. Then my soul was leaving my body, looking down from above only to discover that it was Claire Richardson’s body below me displayed like sleeping beauty on satin sheets. And then I was trapped inside Eleanor’s corpse, and there was no escape from her decaying flesh, and no one knew where I was.

I woke unrested, tangled in sweaty sheets. My head pounded and everything ached. I crawled into a tracksuit I taken off days ago and sat bleary-eyed looking at a text from Jon.

You were asleep when I found you. I left you to it. Breakfast on the counter. Eat something. You look thin. 

I ignored the bakery bag in the kitchen. The thought of food nauseated me. I took more cold tablets instead. The TV droned background noise as I leaned against the counter making tea. There was no milk in the fridge and I didn’t feel like getting any.

“The body of missing mining heiress, Eleanor Willis St. Charles was found early this morning at a scrap yard in greater London,” the announcer said.

I burnt my tongue on the tea and slopped the cup on the counter as I fumbled to turn up the volume.

“Authorities have released no further details at present,” the announcer went on.

It had to be the Bus Route. It was too much of a coincidence not to be.

When no more information was forthcoming, I pulled up my laptop. With no illusions about being a good citizen, I never paid much attention to current events, until now. The news of Eleanor’s death was all over the web. There were no new details, but lots of stories about the woman’s past and her unhappy relationships with hubby and daddy. And then there were the comments.

You can’t tell me this isn’t another Incubus killing.

Got to be the Incubus Killer. Willis St. Charles was a looker.

In spite of police efforts to keep things quiet, most commenters suspected the Bus Route was the crime scene.

Honestly,one comment said, who would even risk a hook up at a place like that with the Incubus Killer out there?

I didn’t live in a vacuum, but I had little time for news when I was busy trying to keep a roof over my head. I never even looked at a newspaper before I met Jon, but clearly I had missed the bigger picture.

When I Googled Incubus, there were dozens of hits, some giving definitions varying in length and detail, of the mythological male demon who came to people in their dreams and drained them of their life force while impregnating the women who survived. Most of the hits, however, were about the serial killer who had been plaguing the more sleazy bars and meat markets in Greater London for almost a year.

Autopsies always showed that there had been sex not long before the time of death, which as far as coroners could tell was consensual. Any sign of struggle was more in line with kink rather than rape. The truly strange thing about the deaths was that there were never any visible causes. Police suspected the killer might be a chemist or a doctor who knew how to cover his tracks. So far there was no real evidence other than the rising body count of people who shouldn’t be dead.

It was when I saw the images of the victims that my stomach gave up the battle for containment, and I spent the next ten minutes on the bathroom floor hugging the toilet. When there was nothing left to puke and my legs would finally support me again, I forced myself back to the laptop. While I didn’t recognize them all, there were at least four victims I was certain I’d seen and several more that looked familiar. All of them had passed through the Bus Stop. All of them had been with Jon. I had watched him seduce them, I had admired his finesse, his grace. I had even considered studying his technique and trying it myself. But I had none of his charm and good looks, none of his skill at seduction.

According to the articles, the victims of the Incubus Killer were always found displayed in some cross between strange funeral rites and works of art, always with a great deal of care and tenderness and lots of symbolism that baffled police. I recalled the strange way Jon had behaved when we found Claire Richardson dead, almost like he wasn’t surprised. But bloody hell, if it was Jon, why did he bring me there? If it was him. But it had to be him, didn’t it? There were too many coincidences.

An update popped up on the site I was reading. Police were interviewing people who frequented the Bus Stop. Just like that, all doubt disappeared. Surely that explained why Jon had come to me when he certainly didn’t need my help. Were my videos trophies? Did he want to capture the act for posterity? Was that the only reason Jon had involved me? It hurt that he used me like a fool when I thought he admired me. I thought we had a bond, even if it was just the bond between thieves. When the light bulb finally went on, it was all I could do not to puke again. He was toying with me. Had been all along, and the only plausible reason he had sought me out was that I was his next victim! Christ! Had he been drugging me all along? I thought back over the few weeks I’d known him. I wasn’t fond of wine, and I never drank when I was working. I couldn’t afford to. And yet somehow, even after Eleanor disappeared, I had convinced myself I’d celebrated our successes a little too hard and was hung over. Then there were the flu symptoms that only went away when I was feeling drunk and euphoric, only when Jon was around. And the nightmares – me who never remembered dreams! With a shiver I recalled last night’s horror fest. This couldn’t be happening. I thought he was my friend.

 

The Bus Route: Part V

The Bus Route: Part V of a brand new KDG story

I hope all of you are staying safe during lockdown. For me and many others, it feels like an opportunity to press the restart button in a world gone mad. For me this has been a time of intense writing and reading. Anyone who follows my blog loves to read or they wouldn’t be here. So I’m choosing this time to share a brand new KDG story that has never been made public before.

Be warned, this is a different kind of KDG story, a hybrid of erotica, crime and paranormal with a pinch of horror thrown in for good measure. I am sending you an instalment of The Bus Route once a week for seven weeks, so be sure to check in every Friday for a new instalment.

 

Sex in derelict buses. Who knew it was a thing?

A money-making thing for Seth Allen, who blackmails enthusiasts stepping out on their other half by catching the deed on cameras he’s rigged at a public transport scrap yard known by frequenters as the Bus Route. Sadly the paydays aren’t as regular as Seth would like until con artist, Jon Knight, suggests they team up. With Seth’s tech and Jon’s charm, the money rolls in and the future looks bright until their marks start disappearing mysteriously.

 

 

 

 

The Bus Route: Part V

 

“This her fuck pad?” I asked.

“It’s for when she needs to stay over in the city, so probably, yes.”

He’d told me she was a banker or a broker or some such. He poured me a whisky and we drank in silence. I glanced back at her room. “How long do you think she’ll be?”

“Why?” He eyed me wickedly. “Someone make you a better offer?”

I chuckled, trying for suave, but just sounding nervous. “For this,” I patted the envelope tucked inside my jacket, “I’ll stay all night if she wants.”

“Half the fun is the dance, Seth, and you and I are doing the tango.”

“She has been in there a long time though.”

He shrugged it off. “You know women with their makeup, especially if a camera’s involved.”

I sat on the sofa and leafed through a copy of the day’s Telegraph. “Looks like they still haven’t found Eleanor.” I tossed the paper aside. “She was a nice lady.”

Jon came and sat next to me. “I’m sorry it upsets you so.”

“Doesn’t it upset you?”

“Of course it does, but all we can do is hope she’s all right.” He laid an unsolicited hand on my forehead. “You feel feverish again. Seth, you’ve got to let go of this misplaced sense of guilt over something we have no control over. Oh it’s natural under the circumstances, but it’s making you ill, and I don’t want you ill. I want you to enjoy the ride.” He stood and offered me his hand, pulling me up off the sofa. “Come on, let’s go check on our porn star, then after, I’ll take you back to my suite and see that you take care of yourself.”

He knocked softly on the bedroom door. “Claire, darling, are you all right? She’s probably passed out cold, and you’ll still have time for that better offer,” he whispered over his shoulder to me.

Sure enough, Mrs. Richardson lay sprawled across her bed. She’d stripped out of the power suit leaving only silky black knickers with a matching bra and dark stockings with suspenders. A few tendrils of expensive blond hair escaped her chignon and curled around her face.

“Isn’t she lovely?” Jon sounded like he was admiring the Mona Lisa rather than an aging executive fighting to hold on to her beauty in a world that devalued her more every minute she aged. With a guilty start, I realized that Jon didn’t devalue her. He really meant it.

“Yeah, she is,” I replied.

“Well come on then, my darling, let’s get you tucked in.” Jon sat on the edge of the bed, pulled her to him and then froze.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” The hair on my neck stiffened, and I knew when I saw the pallor of her skin, the blue tinge around her lips. “She’s dead, isn’t she?” I swallowed bile and stepped back toward the door. “Bloody hell, Jon, she’s dead! What the fuck are we gonna do?”

“First of all, we’re not going to panic.” To my surprise, he leaned forward, pressing a kiss to the woman’s lips before he settled her tenderly onto the mound of pillows. Then he carefully lifted her into his arms and rearranged her so he could pull the duvet up over her, gently tugging and tucking as he did so. For an eternity he sat silently stroking her cheek. All the while I fought not to panic or be sick, or both. I mean respect for the dead was one thing, but we had just conned this woman, and Jon’s behavior was kind of creepy. “Pleasant dreams my darling,” he said at last.

“Surely we can’t just leave her. Besides our fingerprints are all over, Jesus, Jon, at the very least we’re implicated.”

Still he didn’t move, only sat there stroking the dead woman’s face. The longer he didn’t move, the more I wanted to run away. At last he spoke. “Go back to the suite Seth. You’re not well. I’ll take care of her.”

When I didn’t move, he took in a deep breath, then stood slowly, as though the act itself took a great deal of control. When he turned to me, his face was set in hard angles, his eyes cold like I’d never seen them. Maybe it was just the shit situation, but the fight or flight instinct kicked in, and I turned to run, but I stumble over my own feet suddenly dizzy. And then he was there, gripping me around the arm, the hard lines softening, his gaze once more warm, filled with sympathy. “Go back to the suite,” he said again. And when I still didn’t move, he cupped my face in cool hands. “Listen to me, Seth, you’re not well. I shouldn’t have pushed you to this job so soon. I should have let you recover a little more thoroughly. He slipped an arm around me and walked me to the door. “I’ll call a cab to take you home. Just get some rest and don’t worry. I’ll be there soon.”

 

 

The Bus Route: Part IV

The Bus Route: Part IV of a brand new KDG story

I hope all of you are staying safe during lockdown. For me and many others, it feels like an opportunity to press the restart button in a world gone mad. For me this has been a time of intense writing and reading. Anyone who follows my blog loves to read or they wouldn’t be here. So I’m choosing this time to share a brand new KDG story that has never been made public before.

Be warned, this is a different kind of KDG story, a hybrid of erotica, crime and paranormal with a pinch of horror thrown in for good measure. I am sending you an instalment of The Bus Route once a week for seven weeks, so be sure to check in every Friday for a new instalment.

 

Sex in derelict buses. Who knew it was a thing?

A money-making thing for Seth Allen, who blackmails enthusiasts stepping out on their other half by catching the deed on cameras he’s rigged at a public transport scrap yard known by frequenters as the Bus Route. Sadly the paydays aren’t as regular as Seth would like until con artist, Jon Knight, suggests they team up. With Seth’s tech and Jon’s charm, the money rolls in and the future looks bright until their marks start disappearing mysteriously.

 

 

 

The Bus Route: Part IV

My hangover turned out to be a recurrence of whatever bug I had, and Jon insisted I stay in his suite until I was better. Three days later, we took a cab to the Bus Stop. Within minutes we were squeezing through the gap in the fence. I pointed out to Jon all the buses I’d equipped with cameras so we could choose together.

Inside the scrap yard Jon marched over to the double decker he’d done Eleanor in, pulled out his keys and scratched a deep, spine-shivering scrape in the paint next to the collection of slashes left by others who had done the deed in this bus. “Didn’t get a chance to leave my mark the other night,” he said with a smug smile.

“Christ, you’re like a dog pissing in the corners of his patch.”

Jon only chuckled. “Too bad we didn’t make it upstairs the other night. I could use it again, I suppose. I’ll be with someone different, so it’d still count for a new mark, maybe we’ll do it on the stairs. Something about a blow job on the spiral steps of a double decker sort of gets you right in the sac, doesn’t it?”

“I have a better one in mind,” I said.

Why this bus was so popular, I had no idea. There wasn’t much of it left, but it had made me more money than any other. The back of the bus was a raised row of seats up over the engine; all the other seats had been removed. The rear window was missing and the metal paneling on the driver’s side looked like it had been peeled back with a tin opener. There was nothing inviting about it, but it was well kitted with cameras, and Jon said he quite fancied a fuck across the back seats.

This time I waited in the bus. The night was clear and cool and the moon was a thin crescent. I was freezing my balls off by the time I heard drunken laughter, but I forgot all about the cold as Jon appeared with a well preserved middle aged blond, hair done up in a chic chignon. She wore a dark pencil skirt and jacket and had no-nonsense glasses balanced on her nose. The high-powered female exec look suited her, but then she was one, according to Jon. They stumbled right past me and practically fell up the steps leading to the remaining row of seats. I pulled out my phone and began recording as I tiptoed closer to the huffs and grunts that accompanied the slip and slide of clothing. Utility bulbs bathed pale skin stippled with goose bumps in rusty light.

I had just maneuvered into an unobtrusive position, when Claire Richardson looked up and beckoned me over. “There’s no need to hide. I think it’s hot watching you film us. Don’t be shy. Get in tight. I want lots of close-ups, and lots of Jon. Lots of Jon.” She gave him a solicitous grope.

“You heard the lady,” Jon said as he shoved Mrs. Richardson’s skirt up and positioned himself behind her for a bit of action doggie style. All the while she groped and grabbed for him from her awkward position on her hands and knees in the seat. But Jon dominated the scene, and just when I was about to signal him to move so I could video Mrs. Richardson’s face, Jon mantled her and turned her head with a brutal twist of her neck until her every ecstatic expression was camera front and center. Then he made a huge production of freeing the equipment and plunging deep. Mrs. Richardson cried out. I was sure it was pain, but when she reached around and grabbed Jon’s ass to draw him still deeper, I figured she was one of those who liked pain just fine. As tension rose, Jon’s fingers stroking her throat curled in against her trachea and tightened. When her struggle for breath was beginning to scare me, Mrs. Richardson came in a strangled desperate gasp. But it was the look on Jon’s face that made me lose it like a boy who’d just discovered his cock. Jon looked like he’d heard the angel chorus singing hallelujah. Wherever he was, it sure as hell wasn’t the back of a gutted bus fucking a stranger.

Jon had told Mrs. Richardson I directed artsy porn films and videoed at the Bus Route just for inspiration. He told her I’d hit on hard times and had to pawn my expensive equipment to pay the rent, but if she could come up with the cash, I would be happy to go to her flat and record the two of them in their own little porn film.

Afterwards, she was all over Jon in the limo, breathlessly mumbling that we could start the porno right there in the back seat, but before I could record anything on my phone, she passed out, head in Jon’s lap.

“You sure she’s all right?” I said to Jon, who sat stroking her hair. “She looks a little pale.”

“She’s fine. She did a few lines before we hooked up, for nerves, she said. Don’t worry.”

By the time the limo dropped us in front of a Mrs. Richardson’s building in Soho, she was awake and all but bouncing off the seat. With Jon at her elbow, she all but fell into an entryway of polished parquet and marble.

“I was thinking maybe in front of the fireplace on that white rug,” she said, battling not to tangle her words. “Wait right here.” She disappeared into the bedroom room and came out with a bulging C4 manila envelope, which she handed to me. “I hope it’s enough for you to buy back your equipment. That’s all the cash I have in the safe, but I can get you more tomorrow when the banks are open. Now,” she said, pausing long enough to give Jon a tonsillectomy of a kiss that had me hard again. “Stay right here, help yourself to drinks,” she waved to the full bar in the corner, “and I’ll go change into something a little more porny. She shuffled to the bedroom giggling as she went. I found the washroom and cleaned up as best I could. When I came back Jon was standing by the bar pouring whisky from a crystal decanter.

 

The Bus Route: Part III

The Bus Route: Part III of a brand new KDG story

I hope all of you are staying safe during lockdown. For me and many others, it feels like an opportunity to press the restart button in a world gone mad. For me this has been a time of intense writing and reading. Anyone who follows my blog loves to read or they wouldn’t be here. So I’m choosing this time to share a brand new KDG story that has never been made public before.

Be warned, this is a different kind of KDG story, a hybrid of erotica, crime and paranormal with a pinch of horror thrown in for good measure. I am sending you an instalment of The Bus Route once a week for seven weeks, so be sure to check in every Friday for a new instalment.

 

Sex in derelict buses. Who knew it was a thing?

A money-making thing for Seth Allen, who blackmails enthusiasts stepping out on their other half by catching the deed on cameras he’s rigged at a public transport scrap yard known by frequenters as the Bus Route. Sadly the paydays aren’t as regular as Seth would like until con artist, Jon Knight, suggests they team up. With Seth’s tech and Jon’s charm, the money rolls in and the future looks bright until their marks start disappearing mysteriously.

 

 

 

 

The Bus Route: Part 3

 

I met Jon for brunch at a posh suite in the Ritz chuckling at the cliché of it all. “Wow! You must have given Eleanor one helluva ride if she coughed up for this.”

“Oh this is all my own money,” he said with a dismissive sweep of his palm, and before I could ask, he added, “what you and I do, I do for the chase, for the challenge of it.” He led me to a table set with what was surely breakfast for six complete with a bottle of Moet & Chandon on ice. “The payoff it was good?”

“Are you kidding,” I said as he motioned me to sit. “The earrings alone were worth a mint, and all that dosh to help our poor dear mum.”

“Why yes, darling brother, a rare tropical disease that can only be treated in America.” He opened the fizz and gave a dismissive shrug. “Transparent as hell, I know, but in all fairness, dear Eleanor was rather distracted.”

It was a week after we’d scored. We were supposed to meet for brunch the next day, but I came down with some strange bug. I felt like shit for nearly a week, fever, shakes, bad dreams. Then, strangely enough, I woke up feeling just fine. We demolished breakfast along with a second bottle of fizz. I was slouched at the table thumbing through Jon’s copy of the Times when I came face to face with an image of our Eleanor, dripping diamonds and pearls. An over-sized headline read, Mining Heiress Missing. “Bloody hell, did you see this?” I shoved the paper over to him.

“Oh my God,” he said, staring at the image. “This is terrible.”

“You did see her home okay, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did, and everything was,” he swallowed a chuckle, “more than fine when I left her.”

When he simply handed the paper back and refilled his coffee cup, I sat in silence for a moment, then I said. “Do you remember anything, anything out of the ordinary?”

“Nothing. She was just fine.” He thought about it for a moment. “Pretty drunk, but you knew that.”

“Creepy coincidence though, don’t you think?” I said nodding down to the paper. “Don’t they say the police won’t even pursue a missing persons report until they’ve been gone twenty-four hours? It must have happened not long after she was with us. And the woman is an heiress. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Look,” Jon brushed his hand across my wrist, and his voice took on the tone you’d use with an ignorant kid, “the fact that she is an heiress is why dear mum will get her medical treatment and you can afford a new wardrobe,” he gave my aging hoodie a disapproving look. “Besides, she could very well be hiding out at some friend’s house, a little comeuppance for daddy and boring hubby. What happened to her after she left us is not our business, Seth. Don’t let it ruin our celebration of a brilliant team.” And that was the end of it. He flashed me a bright smile and said, “if you think our last job was lucrative, wait till you hear what I have lined up next. There’s an art to what we do, Seth. You’ve just never had the liquidity to enjoy the creative aspects of your work, until now.”

Before I knew it, most of the day had passed, and after lots of scheming and plotting and a lovely dinner delivered to the suite we hadn’t yet left, I was raising a glass of expensive French red, toasting us and toasting Jon’s brilliant plan for our next mark. I suppose when I was drunk enough, the question was bound to come up. “Does it bother you, another bloke filming you fucking a stranger?” Those slurred words must have sounded naïve to someone as sophisticated as Jon. A love life was at the top of the long list of things my impoverished condition did not allow for.

“Of course not. It’s business. I’m playing a role, just like in the movies. And now you’re the director.” His face took on the look of an adolescent boy with a great porn stash. “What about you, does it bother you that I’m doing the dirty with someone else?” When I didn’t answer immediately, he brought his ankle up against mine under the table. “Or do you rather enjoy it?”

“We should sort the money situation,” I said changing the subject, which felt pretty irrelevant considering Jon’s finances.

“Not now,” he said refilling my glass. I wondered when we’d started another bottle. “I trust you. I know you won’t cheat me. Besides,” he said, lifting his glass and holding me in a vice grip gaze. “I know where you live.” And then he laughed when I startled at his words and spilled wine on the white tablecloth.

I woke with the sun streaming through the curtains of the guest room in Jon’s suite. I was tucked into a mound of fluffy bedding on a cushy mattress with a seriously pounding head. “Couldn’t let you go home in your condition,” Jon said. He was sitting in the chair at the foot of the bed reading the paper. “You drank a lot.”

“Tell me you were not watching me sleep?” I mumbled, to the protest of my hangover.

“You were having bad dreams. I didn’t like leaving you alone.” He came to my bedside and poured me a big glass of water, standing over me until I forced it all down. Then he glanced at his watch. “I have a lunch meeting, but the suite is yours. Stay as long as you want. I left a spare card key on the dressing table if you need to go out and come back. Oh, and there are some clothes for you in the closet in much better condition than your old ones.”

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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