Margaret, Commander Anderson's personal assistant, peered over her computer screen at the woman sitting in the waiting room and looked her over curiously before looking to her screen for further information on the mysterious woman.
'12Pm: Ms Harlow.'
Was all she found in the Commanders daily schedule.
'Ms' Harlow was almost 45 minutes late but Margaret assumed, judging by her casual attire, she wasn't visiting in an official capacity. The additional fact that Commander Anderson had blocked out his schedule for the entire afternoon and also had lunch reservations for two, in a very nice restaurant, only made Margaret all the more curious.
Guessing the tall blonde to be in her late twenties or early thirty's, Margaret felt a glimmer of disapproval, surely the commander wasn't dating this woman?
Margaret cast her critical eye over the girl again, taking in every detail, the classic light blue summer dress that revealed her shapely figure and long legs. Margaret noted, with approval, that the girl was just barely tanned. In her opinion young women these days were far too fond of tanning and looked rather ridiculous. Miss Harlow wasn't one of those women.
The older woman was less impressed with Ms Harlow's hair, it was what she would have called 'a mess' although she knew her daughter, of a similar age, would refer to as 'tousled'. It was a cascade of golden honey and cream coloured waves, small bobby pins applied haphazardly at the woman's temples seemed to be the only attempt at styling.
Margaret couldn't fail to notice that the girl was without question classically beautiful, unusually so, and she was certainly well spoken and pleasant when she had arrived, the Commanders assistant finally conceded that such a woman would be a very good match for the commander, but she still thought she was far too young.
The phone on Margaret's desk rang, interrupting her speculations. After a short conversation she hung up and finally spoke to the interesting young woman.
"Ms Harlow, Commander Anderson is ready to see you now. I'll take you through"
Ms Harlow smiled warmly and thanked Margaret politely as she stood, the older woman was slightly taken aback again by her open and friendly warmth.'Definitely not a police officer' she thought.
As the women entered the office, Commander Anderson came forward to greet them.
"Lily!" he exclaimed happily, moving forward to hold out his hand.
Lily took his hand immediately, stepping close to kiss him affectionately on the cheek. "Harry, it's wonderful to see you"
"Well, you look marvellous, it's a pleasure to have you back on home land" Harry smiled, holding her gently at arms length and taking her in.
Anderson's office was large, the walls were lined with windows and glass which only served to make it seem all the more spacious. Margaret noted that Commander Anderson had pulled the blinds across the internal windows of the office, for privacy. "Can I bring you anything?" Margaret asked.
Anderson declined the offer and politely dismissed the curious assistant, Lily thanked her again before she left, once again dazzling her with her easy smile meaning Margaret couldn't help but smile warmly back before closing the door.
Anderson indicated for Lily to sit at his desk as headed to his drinks cabinet."Lets get you a little something"
"I'm so sorry I'm late Harry, I had to get a cab, some cretin has stolen my car!"
Harry turned, surprised. "Good lord! Have you reported it?"
"Yes, this morning" she said, adding sadly, I" can't believe it, I've barely been back in the country two days and Basil only come out of storage last night"
Anderson smiled at the name, Basil the Beetle, he was an original 1960's Beetle, in pastel blue. Lily's pride and joy, she'd had 'him' longer than he'd known her. Basil had often been parked in his driveway during the summer when his large home had become a sort of camp for his nieces, nephews, Joe and their friends during their University breaks.
"Gosh Lily, how awful, just give me a moment to speak to someone lets see if we can get this dealt with quickly"
"Oh really there's no need Harry, I'm sure it's already being dealt with"
Anderson had already picked up his desk phone and was dialling, he shook his head, insisting. "Please, allow me to be of some use".
Lily was embarrassed, she hadn't meant to have Harry throw his weight about but if meant there may be a little more chance of getting Basil back in one piece she was grateful. Lily sat, with her back to the doorway, and leaned into the deceptively comfortable leather chair.
A few moments later Harry had finished his call and taken his seat at his desk opposite her.
"I've asked to be informed immediately should they find anything"
"Thank you Harry"
The commander leant forward, his hand clasped together, resting on the desk. "Lily, since we have much less time than I thought, I'm afraid I'm going to have get straight to the point. I've asked you here on something of a false pretence".
Lily's brows rose but she was mildly amused and very curious "Oh! Well,what is it?" she laughed lightly.
The commander smiled, relieved. Lily was not easy to shock or catch off guard, he liked that about her very much, and that was certainly an advantage given what he was about to throw at her.
"You'll remember, at Frances and Angela's party, we spoke about out the so called 'Monroe' killings. Well, I felt that you made some rather interesting points, I think that you could be an invaluable asset to Joe's team. Would you consider coming to work for us?"
Lily was taken aback, her breath left her with a shocked sigh "Harry" she gasped, her head shaking slightly as if to reject the idea "I'm flattered that you would ask me but, I wont be in London more than a few weeks and, well, don't you already have a profile?"
Harry, surprised that Lily appeared to be horrified at his proposal, also shook his head "The case has changed dramatically Lily, we have good reason to believe that we now have a Copy Cat killing. It could be a one off or we could have duplicate bodies tuning up each month. With your experience and abilities we stand a much better chance of finding and catching these men".
Harry had expected Lily to jump at the opportunity. It was in her area of interest, it was an enormous case and she'd be working with an good friend.
"Lily I realise this is unexpected but there are six women dead and there will undoubtedly be more killings if we don't..."
Lily raised her hands hands for the commander to stop.
"Perhaps I could look over the evidence, you could give me the files?"
"Lily, I need you on the ground on this. You need to see and hear the evidence for yourself, that's how you work best isn't it?"
Lily felt cornered. She would have desperately loved to help, but working with Joe? Why had he even agreed to this? It was then that it dawned on her.
Cautiously she asked, "You haven't spoken to Joe about this yet, have you?"
"Well no, I wanted to ask you first. Why would he object?" Anderson could see Lily's apparent discomfort as she laughed nervously at his question.
"Harry, I really don't think Joe will welcome me onto his team, I wish you'd asked him first"
A firm tapping at Anderson's door interrupted the conversation.
"Well, we can ask him now" Anderson said matter of factly indicating the door as he stood.
Lily's eyes widened, "You invited him".
"Of course" Anderson stood and headed to the door, calling as he went "please, Joe come in"
Lily shot up out of her chair and turned to watch as the door opened seemingly in slow motion and Chandler's tall slender frame appeared from behind it, his eyes fixed on Anderson.
"Commander" Joe addressed Harry formally, holding out his hand to shake, as he did so his eyes flickered to the left finding Lily immediately, their eyes locked together in stunned silence.
After what felt to Lily to be an eternity, but had in fact been barely a second, Chandlers eyes flew away again as he withdrew his hand from Anderson's and looked to him for an explanation
"I had a message that you wanted to speak to me. Sir." he said curtly, his eyes now fixed on Anderson. Lily could see Joe's chest rising and falling slightly more rapidly than was usual as he spoke, her ow breathing was no calmer as she struggled with the desire to flee the room.
Anderson was now painfully aware of the tension between Chandler and Lily but was utterly confused by it. The last time he had seen Lily and Joe together they had been the best of friends, staggering drunkenly around his garden at Adams Birthday party. However, since neither seemed pleased to see the other, he decided to dispense with pleasantries and cut to the chase.
"Joe I've asked Lily to honour us with her unique talents and aid your team in building a clearer profile of this Monroe killer and his apparent Copy Cat. Lily has some concerns that you may be uncomfortable with that, is it going to be a problem?" He asked frowning slightly at the unpleasant atmosphere.
Chandler answered coolly "There is no problem sir, however, it's unnecessary. DI Mundy had a profile commissioned two months ago"
"That was before this latest development, and in any case, the expertise and guidance Lily can provide is beyond comparison"
"I don't doubt Lily's abilities Sir, my concern would be that I have a close team, they're working day and night on this case. They wont appreciate an outsider coming in and changing the dynamics, that's quite apart from the fact that we have neither the time nor resources to integrate another team member"
Chandler looked momentarily in Lily's direction but managed to stop short as actually looking at her. "I'm afraid you've had a wasted journey" he said, coldly turning back to Anderson.
The Commander spoke firmly with authority "DI Chandler, it is for you to smooth over any problems with integrating members to the team, Dr Harlow is highly qualified and respected in her field. You can at the very least give her the opportunity to address the team and gauge their reaction"
Lily, who had been silent for the entire conversation, felt utterly humiliated. It was no surprise to her that Joe didn't want her anywhere near him or his team. The way he had looked at her made her feel worthless but it also made her incredibly angry, she wasn't going to let him dismiss her she was good at her job and she could help.
Finally Lily spoke, surprising both men "I'd like to meet the team. If they're likely to feel so strongly perhaps we should allow them to decide?"
Chandler's eyes flew to Lily, shocked, but now that he made himself look at her he could see that she hadn't hadn't been any more prepared than he was.
Glancing over the feminine dress that barely reached the knees of her bare legs and her loose blonde hair he could imagine only too well what the men of his team would think. Mortified by the thought, and hating himself for it it, it was with that knowledge Chandler realised this was his chance to get out of this hideous situation, he responded.
"Very well, but if we're to do this we can't afford delays. We'll need to speak to them now"
Anderson was staggered "Chandler, Lily needs a little time to prepare"
Lily stopped "Joe's right, his team deserve to be aware of everything" she said, then she added to Harry "I think it would be best if we went alone, If your there Harry it wont feel like an option"
Anderson lifted his arms in a show of defeat, he couldn't quite grasp what was happening but he started to wonder if these old friends could even manage to work together. "Very well" he answered,. Though he now had little hope that Lily would stand a chance, he admired her for he courage.
Despite the knot of fear and tension in Lily's stomach she looked into Chandlers eyes, unflinching and determined "Lets go".