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Authors: Martina Cole

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Hard Girls

BOOK: Hard Girls
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Hard Girls

 

 
MARTINA COLE

 
 
headline

www.headline.co.uk

 
Copyright © 2009 Martina Cole

 

 
The right of Martina Cole to be identified as the Author
of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

 

 
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication
may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any
means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of
reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued
by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

 

 
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2009

 

 
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

eISBN : 978 0 7553 7154 9

 

 
This Ebook produced by Jouve Digitalisation des Informations

 

 
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette Livre UK Company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH

 

 
www.headline.co.uk
www.hachette.co.uk

Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication
if his life depended on it.ou btr

 

Book One

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

 

Book Two

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

 

Book Three

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

 

For Gavin.
Always remembered.

For my lovely family.
And for all my lovely friends.

 

 

 

For Darley Anderson.
With all my love her whole life ahead of herou btr, and all my thanks.
It’s been twenty years, and I have loved every minute of
them.

 

 

 

 

Prologue

Danielle Crosby was very pretty, there was no doubt about that, but she wasn’t exactly beautiful. This was mainly because of her constant frown. It was a habit that she had acquired as a child and now it was part of her make-up. She looked miserable, and she was miserable. It was just her nature.

Her mother always said she looked like the orphan of the storm and, as a kid, thanks to her mother’s laziness, she certainly looked the part. Her nickname at school had been ‘Scruff-bag’, and even she had accepted the truth of it. Like most truths, it had hurt.

Fortunately, her attitude didn’t interfere with her chosen occupation. Men, she found, were not too bothered about how she felt inside, they were more interested in how she looked on the outside. She had a body to die for, as her mother had often remarked to her during her short sojourns from the care system. She had learned at an early age how to fight off men, and distract other women. Along with the drinking and the drug-taking, she was pretty much immune to most things these days. She felt she had already lived a lifetime by most people’s standards.

Now, at nineteen, she was a professional, and though she might not enjoy the actuality of her job, she loved the money, so it worked out quite well for her.

As she applied more deep-red lipstick, and touched up her Bobbi Brown blusher, she was more than satisfied with her appearance. Her hair was long and thick, a deep auburn with natural red highlights, and her wide-spaced blue eyes gave her an exotic appeal that the older men seemed to go for. Her skin wasn’t that good, but a thick coating of expensive foundation soon put paid to that. She made the best of what God had given her, and she used it to further her career.

She rearranged her heavy breasts, showing them off to their full advantage which, in her case, meant spilling out of a tight top, and stepped back to appraise her handiwork.

She was pleased, though you would not have known that: as per usual she looked dissatisfied, completely unaffected by her own appearance. But she knew her own value, knew what she was worth down to the last penny, even if she did end up giving over most of her take to her boyfriend Jimmy. Though
she
was pleased with her appearance, she still looked like she had the weight of the world on her slim shoulders. In many ways, her demeanour actually worked in her favour because it allowed her to do her job without too much thought, and without any kind of real involvement, the main prerequisites for anyone who sold their assets to the highest bidder. Sex meant nothing to her, the men she engaged with were beneath her radar, she just wanted to earn her wedge, no more and no less. She fucked them, sucked them, and forgot about them.

 

Danielle heard the doorbell go and sighed, she knew she had to p was quiet for a few momentsencllay the game as usual. Slipping on her impossibly high heels she walked awkwardly from the room and answered the front door, secure in the knowledge that her legs and her cleavage would more than compensate for her lack of joviality, personality or interest in the person she was about to meet. Sad bastards with a few quid and the determination to get laid. She hated them all.

 

Retired DCI Kate Burrows was smiling as she walked into Grantley Police Station. She loved coming back here, relished the feel of working again. It was supposed to be only two days a week, but she liked the fact she was keeping her hand in, that she was still making a small difference to the world. And in truth she usually worked much more.

‘Hiya, Kate.’ Annie Carr was genuinely pleased to see her. Despite the difference in their ages, as the only other female DCI she had forged a close friendship with Kate and often turned to her for advice. Though Kate was now only part-time, she still had a lot of sway where her colleagues were concerned, not least because she had up and taken notorious hardened criminal Patrick Kelly into her bed and, more surprisingly, kept the bugger there even though they had never married, but also because she had worked two of the most high-profile murder cases in living memory, as well as breaking the biggest ever paedophile ring in the South East. Kate had her creds and she knew it, she was also aware of the fact that she was kept on because she had a working knowledge of everyone and everything in her orbit. It was her nature, and it was why she had always been so good at her job. The grey that now salted her brown hair, and the wise look in her eyes were visual testament to her experience.

Kate came in twice a week in an advisory capacity. She helped out in any way she was needed. This could be anything from giving her opinion on pending cases to clearing a pile of filing. She wasn’t proud in that respect. There was so much paperwork involved with the job nowadays it was a wonder any of them had the time to get out and investigate actual crimes. It amazed and disturbed Kate that old-style policing was fast becoming obsolete.

Kate knew that, in many respects, she was considered a dinosaur as most police work was now done on a computer. Personally, she thought that was half the problem, but she was shrewd enough to keep her opinion to herself. After all, she just liked to keep her hand in.

‘Hiya. I’m bloody freezing, shall I put the kettle on?’

Annie could never really understand how Kate was so normal. She was a legend in her own lunchtime, yet she never acted the big I am, and that was why she was so well loved. A few of the men in the station may have had a problem with her success, but they were not worth the proverbial wank, and she knew Kate didn’t let them bother her. But Annie was aware that Kate missed the daily grind, and she also knew that only someone who felt the same way could really understand the attraction a dump like Grantley Police Station could hold. She felt it, and she knew that Kate understood that, it was why they got on so well.

‘Sit down, Kate, I’ll get the coffee. It’s so quiet here I feel like a spare part.’

Kate grinned. ‘Don’t knock it, Annie. One thing I’ll give Grantley, when it does finally kick off, it kicks off big time. I can vouch for that.’

 

They both laughed. Grantley had been without any real crime for so long no one in the force thought it would change at any time in the near future. It was a nice place to live, people came there because of that, and no one wanted it to change. It had the usual bit of vand the sharpest knife in the drawer, ">Kate because alism of a weekend, and the usual domestics. A pub might go off occasionally after a football match, and burglary was not unheard of. But in the grand scheme of things, Grantley seemed these days to be immune to the greater sins of the world. In recent years it had fallen into a time warp of prosaic normality.

‘Oh, that reminds me, Kate, it’s the memorial service on Friday for Alec Salter. His wife Miriam will expect us all there.’

 

Kate nodded. She had expected to hear about that at some point. She sighed heavily. ‘I really don’t think I can face it. How is she? They were so close those two, a bit too close if you ask me. Is she coming back to work then? She’ll find it hard without him. And they had all that church stuff together as well.’

Annie nodded and tossing back her short blond hair she said in a whisper, ‘God forgive me, Kate, but she is so bloody boring. I know I sound like a bitch but she’s such hard work.’

Kate knew how she felt, but she was also aware that it was the Miriams of the world who made their jobs easier.

‘You’re preaching to the converted but, in fairness, she is good at what she does. God knows why, but she really seems to be loved by the people she helps. Though in all honesty if I was a victim of a crime, she’s the last person I would want hanging round.’

Annie loved that Kate would say that to her; everyone else spoke about Miriam in hushed tones. It was awful she had lost her husband, but there was no getting away from the fact she was bloody difficult to be around.

‘I do feel bad about finding her so dull, but I can’t seem to help myself.’

Kate grinned. ‘Look, Annie, if someone’s burgled your house, or mugged you, Victim Support is just what you need, but I know what you’re saying, she’s not exactly a live wire as such. She’s lost her husband, and she’s a part of the team, so I’m afraid we’ll just have to be nice to her. God love her, she means well.’

Annie rolled her eyes in annoyance. ‘Which is more than you can say for me, Kate! She drives me up the wall. The trouble is she’s such a holy Joe, I feel like she is judging me all the time, don’t you?’

‘That’s because she is, love. She has never really liked me because of Patrick. She is incapable of seeing the big picture.’

Annie grinned. ‘Why do you think she gives me the evil eye then?’

Kate shook her head in mock despair. ‘I think it’s because you’re a loner. You’re only in your thirties but you’re married to your job already. I understand that, I was like you, still am in some respects. That’s why I keep on coming in here. Whereas she’s like a lot of women. She defined herself and her life by her husband. He was everything to her, and she was everything to him. Women like us are beyond her comprehension, she thinks we are a pair of sad old bags. She wouldn’t put it like that though, she’s too nice. Now she’s been widowed she’s going to have to join the real world, and that will be hard for her.’

 

Annie nodded in agreement. ‘She still gets on my tits.’

‘Well, get over it. She is a civilian worker who somehow clears up the mess after a crime has been committed. She also takes the onus off us so we can get on with our job.’

They both laughed, con behind the steering wheel. . cspirators together. They would never have said any of that to an outsider. Victim Support had become a big part of the job nowadays, whereas they both believed that it was more important to catch the villains responsible. So do-gooders like Miriam were worth the aggro because they left the police free to do their job.

Kate was aware that her presence was a boon to Annie and the other detectives, she was able to override the new practices and she didn’t have to bow down to anyone. She was there to give her valued opinion and let them make use of her expertise. But it was laughable really, how much the times had changed. She hated that police work was now more about keeping the public happy, and less about actually catching criminals. She hated that the criminals they collared had more rights than they could deal with. She hated that they were treated with kid gloves. She saw how difficult it was for anyone in the service to do their job without worrying if they were going to be accused of all sorts. Criminals were being treated like fucking visiting royalty - the politically correct brigade had seen to that. Kate believed in being fair and working within the law. But that was all out the window now. Annie was like her, she just wanted to do her job. It was not easy any more. People watched too much TV, knew too much about the system, demanded far too much from the police, and they expected it far too quickly. The trust was gone. The papers and the news channels had seen to that. It was like working in a vacuum. Despite everything, Kate still loved it, still needed it. She was not young any more, she had fought long and hard to become a name, a Face, in her world. And she had had to work harder, and longer, than her male counterparts to earn her promotion. She had always been proud of that, proud that she had been better than all the men around her, and yet it felt as if it had all been for nothing.

BOOK: Hard Girls
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