'You, Missus, owe me one.' Gill pointed her finger emphatically with her word even though Julie, on the other end of the phone, couldn't see her.
'And you'll never let me forget it, I know.'
'Jeez, if that's the best you can do, you really must be desperate.'
'Trust me love – I am. And you can wipe that smirk off your face. Wait till you've had a week of him. You'll be begging for mercy from above.'
'Are you calling me an angel now?' Gill's bitten-in smirk broke into a full smug grin.
'Ha! I may be going doolally here but I'm not that far gone. Call me later, let me know how it goes.'
DC Kevin Lumb sauntered through the entrance of Oldham Police Station at five minutes to nine on Monday morning. He nodded to the officer on the desk as he swiped his shiny new access card. The door clunked satisfyingly behind him.
He checked his watch as he hot-footed it up the stairs. Just on time.
He allowed himself a little pat on the back for checking out the layout of the station when he came in to sort out his paperwork last Friday. At least he was confident of finding his way to the briefing room without any bother. He instructions had been to be in first thing Monday morning for briefing, to get caught up on the big case that Syndicate 9 were working at the moment. He wouldn't want to be late.
The briefing room was empty when Kevin opened the door but it was clearly set up for a meeting. Kevin's eyes lit up at the plates of biscuits dotted about the table. Nice one. No biccies over at Syndicate 3. It probably would have bust Dodson's guts to be that nice.
It boded well for life with the new boss though, Kevin mused, helping himself to a custard cream and dropping into the nearest chair. DCI Murray, wasn't she? Frankly, he didn't know what the feminists had to moan about – there seemed to be women bosses all over the place these days. He could barely avoid them. Still, Murray had seemed ok from what he'd seen of her on Friday. Bit sharp but pretty fit for her age and biscuits definitely put her in his good books.
Kevin broke off thinking to reach for another. He leaned back, nibbling the edge of a jammy one and glanced at his watch. Ten past. Tut tut, things were a bit slack round here. Kevin smirked. He wished he could have seen the look on Dodson's face at him being the only one on time for briefing. It was almost worth phoning her up to tell her except that he'd get his balls bitten off and she'd probably ring up his new boss to complain. Have him up for insubordination or something. He wasn't going to give her the satisfaction. He wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, but Kevin had been thoroughly shaken by his last run in with DCI Dodson. It still gave him little chills, thinking about how close he had come to losing his job, never mind the things she had had to say about him. Kevin shrugged his shoulders inside his jacket a couple of times, to remind himself it was still there. He had only been having a bit of a joke. A laugh. It was nothing to get so worked up about. No need to get personal.
Kevin's comfortable mood was disturbed by all this thinking. He wriggled in the chair, rooted in his pockets but found them disappointingly empty. Oh yeah, he'd got everything washed and cleaned for his new start. New job, new start. The refrain brought a smile to his face. No point dwelling on the past. In fact, he could make a start on the present by having a flick through one of the files on the table. It was the case that DC Scott had mentioned on Friday, he recognised the name. Jack Weston. Kevin took another peak at the time – twenty past nine now. Oh well, they had to turn up sooner or later and if he got a head start on the case details then he would look even more like the model employee.
Kevin was deeply engrossed in page two of the report when, ten minutes later, the door swung open. He raised his head to be confronted by a barrage of dress uniforms. Kevin's jaw dropped.
Two seconds later his copper reflexes kicked in and he leapt to his feet.
'Sir.' Biscuits crumbs sifted softly to the carpet all around him. Kevin stared, starstruck, at Manchester Metropolitan Police Service's Chief Constable.
'The... Weston Case?' The Chief Con. looked a little puzzled, his eyes drifting to the rumpled file at the head of the table, the half-empty plates and this slightly scruffy young man in front of him.
'Yes Sir.' Kevin jerked into action, offering his seat to the senior officer, the far far senior officer. Only now did Kevin realise that he had accidentally picked the top chair to plonk himself in. Feeling his ears go red, he scuttled to the bottom of the table as the other officers seated themselves.
Mr Rutterford tried to discreetly brush the crumbs from in front of him then looked around enquiringly.
'Is DCI Murray...?'
'She's due any moment now, Sir.' Kevin rushed in. Covering for the boss, before he'd even gotten started. Kevin tried to swallow the sense of importance mixed with horror that swelled up in him.
'So...' Mr Chief Constable Rutterford was still looking at him. Kevin smoothed his face out to his most helpful expression.
'So you're talking us through it then, DC...?'
'DC Lumb, Sir.' There was an uncomfortable pause while the rest of the sentence sank into Kevin's head.
Talk them through it. Through what? The case? This case? But he didn't know anything about it. He'd only just started. But everyone was looking at him, the whole table of smart uniforms. This was obviously what was expected of him. Whoah. What an honour, actually. The new boss must really trust him if she wanted him to handle this, first thing on his first day. Good job he had thought to have a look at the file while he was waiting.
Kevin picked up said file and cleared his throat.
'Well, Jack Weston was murdered.'
He looked up. The table of suits were still staring. He fixed his eyes down quickly.
'Err... his body was found in, on a piece of waste ground in the, on the ummm, on the Waldon estate, errr last Tuesday.'
He could feel himself sweating now, hotly aware of the eyes, even without looking up. This was harder than he'd realised.
'The body was identified by...' Kevin's hand slipped. He fumbled frantically for his page. 'By... err by...'
The door snapped open. A slight, electric woman clipped into the room, already talking smoothly, authoritatively as she scrutinised her watch.
'I am so sorry to keep you waiting Sir. A potential lead came up in the team briefing'
Her head jerked and her eyes honed in on Kevin. He found himself floundering to his feet.
'Kevin!' Her entire body exuded righteous indignation.
'DC Lumb here was just filling us in on the background details.' Mr Rutterford gave Gill a significant look.
'Right. Well.' Kevin could see her reining herself in. 'Thank you DC Lumb. If you will excuse us, I think we can manage without you now.'
Late that evening, the tinny sound of laughter down a phone line rattled round Gill Murray's office.
'Have you quite finished?' She kept the phone at arm's length until she heard the mutter of words.
'You nearly took me ear off there.'
'Well you did ask for it.' Julie cackled unrepentantly. Gill rested her forehead on her hand.
'Oh my God slap it was a nightmare. And then, you won't believe what he said when I carpeted the daft bugger.'
'Oh I probably will. I've had more than my share of Kevin's genius.'
'I don't even know where to start. He was all, "you said briefing first thing Monday". To any normal officer on MIT that means 8am in the office, not gate-crashing a bloody GOLD meeting.'
Julie went off into further chuckles again.
'You poor old thing,' she purred in mock sympathy. 'D'you want to go for a drink?'
'Ohh yes.' Gill slammed her desk drawer shut. 'You know, it's only Monday and I want to get hammered,' she continued as she reached for her coat. 'And you, lady, owe me a whole vineyard for taking this one on.' She paused to fiddle with her computer, persuading it to shut down nicely. 'Unless...'
'Hmm?' Julie sounded suspicious.
'Unless you want him back.'