"The job's yours, if you want it."

He glances at me, chewing his lip, that fucking stupid hairy caterpillar on his chin jiggling – a couple of thousand bucks would make a lot of difference to someone who has to peddle his talent on the street to eat.

"Of course … I'd expect a small favour in return." I know he'll get that – just because he looks like an idiot doesn't mean he is one.

I can see the conflict in his dark eyes; he wants the money, wants to grab the publicity; but is he tempted enough to bite?

I up the ante and smile.

He blinks and clutches his violin case against his scruffy coat like shield. He swallows hard and then nods suddenly. "What did you have in mind?"

Bingo. God, I'm good.


I run up the stairs, glad to be out of the wind. It's been unusually cold for late March with even some flurries of sleety snow. My eyes are watering and I'm looking forward to unwinding with a hot drink before Brian gets home.

I drag back the heavy door and step into the Loft. I can already hear the sounds, the moans.

Oh Christ. Just what I need.

I'm about to turn round and walk straight back out – I figure I'll go to the diner until Brian's finished entertaining – when I see something lying on the coffee table. A violin case.

A fucking VIOLIN CASE?

I make my way slowly towards the bedroom, blood pounding in my head, hearing the noises getting louder and louder and thinking no God, oh no God, and Brian looks straight at me and smirks.

"You're home early, Sunshine. I believe you know Ian?"

I don't think I say anything. I don't think so. I just run, hearing Ethan yelling after me; I half bolt, half fall down the stairs, out of the door, and run and run and run until I can't breath anymore.

"Fuck! Fuck!"

He's scrambling off the bed, grabbing for his clothes. "You bastard! You fucking bastard!"

I watch as he bends over, struggling to get his foot into his pants, and I find myself reflecting that whatever attraction Justin might have seen in him, it certainly wasn't the guy's ass.

"You planned this … you knew he was going to walk in on us!" His eyes are wild.

"No," I tell him calmly. "Just a lucky coincidence."

Ian pulls on his coat and takes off at a run. I hear the Loft door yanked back and then his feet pounding down the stairs.

I get up, padding over to close the door behind him and then head back to bed, grabbing a bottle of Jim Beam en route. I lay back on the pillows and take a swallow, feeling it burn all the way down.

It was actually true, I hadn't known Justin would be home early. Although I can't deny the possibility had occurred to me.

At the time, it had seemed like fate – walking to the diner for lunch, hearing the violin music, realising that the guy playing was actually Justin's little boyfriend – Ian Gold or whatever-the-fuck. And then I had one of my genius inspirations to find out how much of a gold-digger the little fucker was, so to speak. And when I'd looked up from ploughing Ian, when I'd seen that small blond figure facing the reality of what a hypocritical sack of shit his adoring lover actually was, it had seemed like a positively brilliant idea.

Only now, remembering the look of devastation on Justin's face for that stunned second before he turned and ran; only now that my pleasure in that particularly dirty little victory has faded; now I realise that I recognise that expression. It's the same one he was wearing the instant before Hobbs hit him with a baseball bat.