Lipstick On His Collar

by Liss Webster

She stands by the laundry basket, a pile of whites at her feet, and holds the shirt up so the late afternoon light streams through the bathroom window, haloing Gene's very unangelic shirt in a golden glow. The lipstick is red, bold, and very definitely not hers. She fishes out the vest Gene was wearing last night, and her left eyebrow lifts slightly. There is lipstick on that as well. She considers making an educated guess as to which pants he was wearing, but decides against it.

The door bangs downstairs. She checks the clock on the chest-of-drawers: half past four. Gene's back early.

"I'm home," he calls out, as if his heavy-handed slamming of the front door hadn't been enough to alert her to this fact.

"I'm upstairs," she replies in kind, and stands still and listening as he strides up the stairs, kissing her soundly on the cheek. He's in a good mood – must have caught the man murdering those poor girls, then. Gene doesn't tell her much about work – about the people and politics, yes, but not often about the actual cases – but she'd read about this one in the papers, and Gene had warned her not to go out alone in the dark.

"Have a nice day?" she asks mildly, looking up at her husband, but his eyes are fixed on the shirt in her hands, and there's – yes, there's something that in another man might be termed a blush, rising strong and vivid on his cheeks.

"Now, look here," he starts uneasily, then gaining confidence in bluster, "we were undertaking surveillance, all right? Undercover, like."

"Oh, aye?" she says, that left eyebrow again proving its worth. "Undercover in a brothel, were you?" She wouldn't be surprised about the brothel part, though the undercover part was new. The Gene she knows tended to roar in, guns blazing. Not literally, fortunately. Gene just shrugs, however.

"Something like that." He sits down and starts pulling off his shoes and tie, and she decides to take it further. She doesn't for one moment think that he's been unfaithful: the very concept is foreign to her. Gene's many things – and she'll be the first to admit that he's a bit of a liability when it comes to the WI, though he gets away with a lot of things by being a DCI, which the other women seem to find very glamorous, even in her very unglamorous husband – but an adulterer is not one of them. But he was blushing, and that sort of opportunity is too good to pass up. She shakes her head sorrowfully.

"Ee, Gene, they didn't have you dressing up as one of those rent boys, did they? Because that's above and beyond the call of duty." He sits up, bolt upright, indignant to the core.

"A rent boy! Bloody hell, woman, where have you been hearing about things like that?" She shrugs airily, and resumes the laundry sorting.

"Oh, you hear things you wouldn't believe down at the church hall. Gigolos, that's what they're called, you know." She picks up the shirt again, even as Gene makes a futile grab for it. "I wouldn't call this very undercover though, love. You should have had someone down at the station sort something out for you. A bit jazzier, like some of those lads down by the canal." She throws it on top of the rest of the laundry, and scoops the whole lot into her arms. A sideways glance shows her that Gene looks about ready to explode, and she can't resist a smile. "Still, you should be more careful about people leaving lipstick all over your smalls." He stands up, unbuttons his shirt, and points to the collar.

"Go on, then." She smiles again, demurely, and presses a light kiss to the spot, leaving behind the faintest smudge of pink lipstick. Gene pulls off the shirt, and adds it to her pile.

"Swingers party, all right? Bloody ridiculous. I almost got eaten alive. All Tyler's idea. Surveillance," he sneers, and she smiles, because she hears more about Sam Tyler than all the rest put together these days.

"Swingers, eh? I've heard about them."

"Well, don't go getting any ideas." He leans in, kisses her again, hard, on the mouth this time, and she kisses him back, then fends him off with her armful of laundry.

"Give over! I'm busy." She sashays out of the bedroom, and is half way down the stairs when she hears Gene's voice raised in plaintive lament.

"What's for tea?" She smiles, and ignores him, and carries on with the laundry.