I'd only been with CI5 a couple of weeks when I first saw Ray Doyle. Hard to describe his looks. Sexy's the best word for him I suppose, but it's the combination of the sensual and the appealing that makes him so attractive. The other girls had told me about him, and his partner, of course, long before I saw him. They'd warned me I was in for a treat, but I wasn't really prepared. Just assumed they were exaggerating about how gorgeous they both were...like you do...till I saw them that is.
They had quite a reputation did Bodie and Doyle. From the stories I'd heard it seemed they'd had every girl who'd ever come in contact with CI5, let alone worked there. But they never seemed to get involved. The gossip machine said there'd been a couple of more serious romances in the past, especially for Doyle--but not now--not in the past year or so anyway. I was warned about that. Not to be stupid enough to fall for either of them. Seemed that was definitely out, and had been for as long as most of the girls could remember. But that makes sense in this particular job, when they're risking their lives practically every day...well I thought it was the obvious reason...but that was before I understood....
The first time I saw them was when I was doing my obligatory six- week stint in Records all admin staff have to go through when they first join CI5. I was asked to take some documents tied in with a case they were working on into Cowley's office.
They were both there--Bodie as well. And the girls hadn't exaggerated for once. They were both gorgeous. But Bodie...Bodie worried me from the start. A little too smooth and dangerous looking for my taste.
I remember Ray was leaning back on the desk in the corner of the room when I came in, staring dreamily out of the window, arms folded, feet crossed. He didn't look in the least bit alert, but I soon learned that was deceptive. Ray never missed a trick.
They both turned to look at me as I came in, and Bodie didn't stand a chance, because when Ray saw me his face softened into a sort of appealing, appreciative smile. Very welcome, considering I was going into George Cowley's presence. I'm terrified of the man like everyone else, with the exception perhaps of Bodie and Doyle. Rumour has it they're very insubordinate on occasions, but everyone knows they're his best agents, so maybe Cowley's decided to let them get away with it.
Bodie was leaning arrogantly on one of the filing cabinets by Cowley's desk, and the way he looked at me made me very uncomfortable. He has very beautiful dark eyes has Bodie, but they're scary at times because they have this habit of boring into you, like they're looking right through you. And that's what he did that morning. Those eyes swept over me from head to foot very objectively, really appraising me...like I was an insect under a microscope. I'm not easily embarrassed either, but that look was so intensely sexual I remember flushing. He really got me confused. Made me feel that whatever his reputation, his real feeling towards women was one of contempt. And, when he saw me flush he smiled knowingly, almost triumphantly, as if he was pleased he'd embarrassed me.
I think that's when I started to dislike him. He's a manipulator is Bodie, and a good-looking one, but I've never gone for that kind of arrogance.
As I made my way to Cowley's desk with the documents I knew Bodie's eyes were following me, and it made me even more uncomfortable. To be honest I was starting to get angry with him.
Cowley took the file I handed to him without even looking up and started to rifle through it, and I just had to stand there like an idiot, waiting to see whether he'd want to keep hold of the file or hand it back to me. And all the time I could sense Bodie's eyes on me.
I glanced over at Ray, more for reassurance than anything else, I suppose, just in time to catch some sort of signal passing between him and Bodie. Doyle was in the middle of a surreptitious nod at him, a huge, cheeky grin on his face. Then Bodie cocked his head on one side at him, questioningly, amused. He was the first to notice I'd seen what the two of them were doing, and those dark eyes moved back to me straightaway, staring hard, challenging.
I heard Ray say, "You don't want to take any notice of him, love," in a kindly sort of way, "he's evil, aren't you Bodie?" He gave Bodie a funny sort of look as if he was warning him to behave. Bodie shifted his gaze back to Ray, completely unperturbed and smiled innocently.
Cowley must have heard what Ray said because he lifted his head from the file just long enough to say, "That'll be enough, you two. I'll not have my female staff embarrassed. That's not what you're here for."
He said it in a very crisp, no-nonsense way, glancing at each of them in turn. Ray looked down at his hands, a bit like a kid who's been told off by a teacher, but looking put out too, but Bodie wasn't bothered at all. He did look down, but that was only to hide the fact he was about ready to burst out laughing.
Cowley handed the file back to me at last and I breathed a sigh of relief, but as I turned to go Bodie lifted his head defiantly and gave me another knowing, dazzling smile, watching my progress all the way to the door. Ray had called him evil, and I was beginning to think that wasn't too strong a word....
After that I passed them a few times in the corridors, either coming or going, but not to speak to. It was always the same between them. Bodie teasing and taunting, Ray holding him in check...like a well-oiled double act...straight man and stooge....
The next time we spoke was a couple of weeks later when I'd been loaned out to the photographic section to cover for sickness absence. It has to be the most boring department of all--so isolated from the main offices. You can spend the whole day there and not see another soul. And the job's so tedious. Mainly filing and then more filing...until it drives you crazy.
So even when it was Bodie's face that appeared round the door, grinning at me, I was more than glad to see him. His reaction was just what I'd have expected too, but I didn't care. I was too busy looking behind him to see if Ray was there--which he was.
"Ah ha," Bodie said triumphantly as he came through the door, eyes lighting up, "so this is where the old man's been hiding you. Wondered where you'd got to." I have to admit he can be amusing, cute too I suppose, in a taunting, little boy way, but it was strange that day because I could tell he wasn't pleased to see me. He was sort of disturbed and uptight about it.
I can't remember exactly what I said but it must have been the usual kind of reply you make to comments like that. Ray gave me a friendly smile and a nod of acknowledgement and put some particulars on the desk, ignoring Bodie. "George Harvey, sweetheart. Got a picture of him?"
I remember he was wearing his leather jacket that day, the one with the furry collar, and a checked shirt, and he looked gorgeous. His hair was all tousled and his eyes were very large and bright. He was so attractive he made me feel ridiculously shy and adolescent, and I could hear my heart pounding so loudly in my ears I was sure he must have been able to hear it too. As I handed him the photo he wanted his hand brushed against mine and he smiled at me again with a definite twinkle in his eye...he's an expert at flirting is Ray....
"So that's him, is it?" Bodie said, coming up close behind him looking over his shoulder, first at me very briefly, and then at the picture Ray held in his hand. "Pleasant looking character."
"Yeah, charming," Ray said sarcastically.
"Right then, Batman, let's get on with it," Bodie said briskly, very businesslike, but I could tell he was irritated too. Ray nodded, pocketed the photo, and smiled at me again. "Thanks."
Bodie had gone on ahead into the corridor very quickly, as if he was eager to get away, but as Ray reached the door he turned back. "Don't even know your name," he said impishly.
I told him.
"I'll remember that," he said just as impishly.
We both looked through the swing doors into the corridor where Bodie was waiting for him none too patiently, shifting restlessly from one foot to the other. Ray gave me another quick smile and then was gone, and I remember being puzzled as I watched them walk off together shoulder to shoulder. If I hadn't known of Bodie's reputation as a ladies' man I'd have sworn he was strangely protective towards Ray...and he'd certainly wanted to get him away as quickly as possible.
A couple of days later I just happened to have lunch with Ann Graham, one of Cowley's personal assistants. She's been with CI5 from the beginning, handpicked by Cowley for the task. I asked her what she knew about Bodie and Doyle, but she didn't have much to tell me that I didn't already know.
"Not a lot," she said matter-of-factly, "only the basic things. Their files are confidential. But even if I DID know anything I wouldn't broadcast it. Don't tell me you're yet another conquest? Haven't fallen for one of them, have you? You wouldn't be the first."
I hadn't technically "fallen" for Ray. I mean, I was interested, and I fancied him, but that was all, so that's what I told her.
Ann looked at me for a minute, studying me. "Don't be fooled by him," she said at last, "he's hard as nails."
I had to admit that hadn't occurred to me. He didn't look hard...very soft and appealing in fact, not at all like the usual CI5 type. I'd automatically assumed Bodie was the hard one in their partnership. He certainly DID look it.
"Oh yes, of course," Ann agreed, "but in a different way...."
She seemed suddenly evasive and didn't elaborate any further on that point but said, "So why all the questions if you're not keen? I admit they're both gorgeous but no woman with any sense would touch either of them with a barge pole."
I asked her how long they'd worked together.
"Oh, a while now. Five years at least. They're good together. High success rate."
I remembered Bodie's air of protectiveness towards Ray when I'd seen them in the photographic section and suggested they seemed very close, but Ann only shrugged. "What do you expect when two men work together so closely? They must have saved each other's skin a hundred times over. It's a very special relationship, and it shows. Be unnatural if it didn't. They're finely tuned to each other. They need to be."
That was true of course, and could account for that strange attitude of Bodie's. Ray was smaller. Maybe he needed more looking after.
I said something about them probably being able to read each other's minds by now.
"Probably," Ann agreed noncommittally. "God, you ARE interested, aren't you?"
I had to admit that I was.
"Well, I'd advise you to direct your attention elsewhere if you don't want to get hurt," she told me. "I've never heard of either of those gentlemen going in for anything other than one-night stands, not recently anyway, and you don't strike me as the type."
I said I knew I was probably playing with fire, but that I'd still like to get to know Ray better. Ann raised her coffee cup to me in a toast, eyes twinkling, and said, "Best of luck. I only hope you don't get more than you bargained for."
Funny, I've always remembered her saying that. Stuck in my mind somehow...very strange...almost prophetic....
A few days later I came across Ray alone for the first time. I bumped into him accidentally in the car park one evening as I was leaving. I was coming out, he was going in.
"Hello," he said, face lighting up, seeming pleased to see me, "I've been looking for you. You're very elusive."
I told him he hadn't looked hard enough, teasing him.
"Obviously," he said, nodding. "No, seriously, I WAS looking for you earlier on today. Wondered if you'd like to make up a foursome tonight."
"Bodie and a girlfriend of his."
Bodie...I remember pausing, taking my time. I'd rather have had him to myself and my first impressions of Bodie hadn't been favourable, but...if it was a chance to go out with Ray.... It wouldn't do to seem too eager though....
"It's very short notice...."
"Yeah, I know," he said appealingly, "but you wouldn't have me sitting there like a lemon all by myself, would you? Go on, I'm all right once you get to know me." He was watching me intently, face earnest, almost pleading, using those soft green eyes of his to try and persuade me. I knew he was giving me the treatment, but I didn't mind one bit. The combination of assurance and vulnerability was irresistible.
"All right," I said, "but don't tell anyone I didn't play hard to get."
"My lips are sealed," he said dramatically, smiling. It was a very sexy smile. "Give me your address and I'll pick you up about eight...."
It was a good night. Away from the pressures of the job both Bodie and Doyle were good company. I remember we had dinner at a quiet but expensive little restaurant, everything very tasteful and understated, and then went back to Ray's flat for coffee. I got the impression the evening had been very carefully planned and that someone had taken a lot of trouble over it.
The thing that surprised me most was how much fun Bodie was. Off duty like this he was very different--softer somehow, and warm and friendly, and very funny, with an endless supply of anecdotes and stories...some of which I suspected weren't entirely true. It was all done for effect--a lot of it directed towards Ray too, as if to gain his approval somehow, and I noticed the way Ray indulgently allowed Bodie to hog centre stage without protest. I guessed he must have heard the stories a dozen times at least, but he still seemed to take pleasure in them, only chipping in now and again with an occasional witty comment of his own. Perhaps when Ann had said Bodie was tough too, but in a different way, this was what she'd been indicating...that Bodie kept the toughness for the job, and was quite different away from it....
I liked Bodie's girlfriend too, which also helped the evening along. Jane was a model--a friendly, good-looking brunette, with the kind of overt, sexual allure I'd somehow imagined would appeal to Bodie.
Once we got back to the flat I was nervous though, not knowing quite what to expect, but it was all very relaxed. When he'd poured us drinks, Ray simply settled himself on the sofa by my side with his arm round my waist and his head on my shoulder. He felt warm and good next to me and I rested my cheek on his hair. It was soft and thick and sweet- smelling.
Bodie and Jane were on the other side of the room sharing an armchair, Jane on his knee, and he was making her laugh, telling her yet more stories I suppose.
It was all very pleasant--a perfect end to the evening. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Jane, giggling, running her fingers through Bodie's hair, kissing his cheek, but I noticed Bodie seemed to be only half paying attention.
After a while Ray sighed and stretched against me, murmured, "You're very warm..." and reached up to kiss me. It was a tentative kiss and he was very gentle, going very slowly.
"Just shows what happens when you accept dates with strange men you meet in car parks," he said softly, kissing me lightly on the cheek.
"It certainly does," I said.
He laughed and settled down again, with my head on his shoulder this time. I could feel the heat of his body through the thin material of his shirt, and I closed my eyes, drinking it in, slipping into a pleasant, dreamy haze as his fingers stroked through my hair.
That didn't last for long though. It was Bodie's voice which broke the mood, jarring on my nerves. "Either of you two lovebirds feel like a coffee?"
I opened my eyes. He was standing over us, looking down, grinning, but that challenging look I'd seen in Cowley's office was back on his face. It was a curious expression. Compounded of fear and apprehension as well as displeasure. And as I looked up at him I had the uncanny feeling he was reading my mind and had realised I'd seen something he'd rather not have revealed.
"Don't tell me YOU'RE going to make it," Ray said sleepily. "I don't believe it."
"Unkind Ray, very unkind," Bodie said, still smiling, but with an edge to his voice now, "you'd think I never do anything for you. Look what I did for you tonight for a start."
He was ignoring me...I might not have been there...staring straight at Ray, eyes piercing, with that cynical grin on his face. This was obviously a private thing between the two of them and I didn't understand the deeper meaning behind the flippant remark, but I didn't like Bodie's manner.
Ray sat up, I remember, unperturbed, still keeping an arm round my shoulder. "Shut up, Bodie," he said mildly, "and go and put the kettle on." He was obviously used to handling Bodie in this kind of mood.
"See how he treats me?" Bodie said resignedly, looking at me now. "I don't know. I'm just a skivvy round here."
Ray's only response to that was a deep-throated chuckle.
Bodie's eyes watched me for a moment longer. Then he turned and made his way to the kitchen.
I looked over at Jane on the other side of the room. She shrugged her shoulders philosophically at me, but all at once I had the unpleasant feeling we were both innocent pawns in a game of Bodie and Doyle's own making. It shocked me to think that, but I just knew I was right.
Ray was holding me close again, arms circling my back and shoulders, sending shivers up and down my spine. "What's wrong?" he asked gently. "You don't want to take any notice of him, you know. He's harmless."
It was just like it was the first time in the office. He was always smoothing the ground...making excuses for Bodie....
I turned to look at him and told him nothing was wrong, but I couldn't help noticing how troubled his eyes were all at once.
"That's good," he whispered, "can I have a kiss then?"
His mouth was all warmth and softness and hardness combined and it was good. It was a passionate kiss, but it somehow lacked any real passion. I remember it left me with a very confused, ambivalent feeling.
We kissed leisurely a few more times. Then he drew back and looked across at the solitary Jane. "I'm forgetting my manners," he whispered, inclining his head towards her.
I agreed that it was a bit awkward and he let go of me, scrambling to his feet and giving me a quick peck on the cheek. "Hang on a tick. I'll be back."
Jane looked as if she was dozing. Her eyes were closed anyway, and after a couple of minutes I followed Ray down the hall, intending to help with the coffee. It was done quite innocently...I had no idea....
I stopped halfway down the hall...looking through the open kitchen door. Bodie was indeed making coffee, pouring water from the kettle into four cups, but Ray had his arm round his shoulder, as if in reassurance, and they were talking together very quietly. I heard Bodie say, "Sorry, sunshine, I seem to have loused up your evening...." His head was turned away and I couldn't see his face, but I could see Ray's and it was full of concern. "No, you haven't..." Ray said, rubbing his hand comfortingly along Bodie's arm, "anyway, it doesn't matter...it was a mistake...we'll call it a day...."
Bodie shook his head. "No...no problem...you go back to her flat. It's OK...really...." He lifted his head then, and turned to Ray with a sweet open smile on his face. I'd never seen him smile like that before...it made him look quite different....
He leaned forward, kissed Ray softly on the mouth and ruffled his hair. Ray was saying something else to him, but I could see they were getting ready to bring the coffee through and I turned and made my way back to the lounge, feeling guilty for my eavesdropping.
Later, when he gave me a lift home, Ray was polite and friendly, but distant, and I knew he wouldn't ask if he could come in, no matter what Bodie had said. But it was OK. I understood his reluctance. I was still haunted by that beautiful smile of Bodie's myself....
And Ray was in a very awkward position. It must have been hard to appear ungracious enough not to want me...and to make a viable excuse when it's obvious the girl's keen. Very embarrassing....
Hope I made it easy for him though. Sounds crazy I know. I should have been angry, but I wasn't somehow. I couldn't have handled it anyway....
That was all several months ago, and when I see him now, well I just smile and say hello, and maybe dream a little about what might have been.
I knew she'd be a problem from the start. I can take the occasional one-night stand--that's OK--I do it myself. But this one was different--she was just Ray's type.
The first time I saw her in Cowley's office the thing that worried me most was that she had more than a touch of the Ann Holly's about her. The same sort of well-bred, touch-me-not classiness, same build, same colour hair even.
Instant antipathy...which was unfair. I mean the girl can't help it if she reminds me of that cruel bitch, but Christ, when I saw Ray's eyes light up with that special look I knew so well, and then he smiled at her, my stomach turned inside out and a wave of panic hit me. I couldn't go through that again--just couldn't, even though it was long before we started sleeping together.
And in the back of my mind I kept thinking if he did get overfond of her there'd be no problem about checking her out this time because she was already working for CI5.
So I suppose I was unfair to the girl. Yeah, no two ways about it, I was. Not proud of it either, but I couldn't help myself. I really gave her the treatment--the staring out routine, and she didn't like it one bit. I can remember her standing by Cowley's desk waiting for him to give her her bloody file back, and she was so tense the air was positively vibrating with it--hands clenched at her sides, shoulders set, knowing how I was looking at her. I make myself sick sometimes....
But when Ray signalled he fancied her it took me all my time to keep control. I mean it was a game we often played--letting each other know which birds we fancied and why, but that was only for fun. It meant we were secure enough with each other to do it. But this one was different- - -he reacted more intensely to her.
Christ, the panic. I knew if he ever got close to this one it'd be no one-night stand.
Crazy--no relationship's ever 50/50. I've accepted that. No two people ever love each other equally, and I know the balance is about 60/40 my way. I've always known when it comes right down to it I care for Ray more than he cares for me. He still needs the birds more than I do for a start. I sometimes think I could happily never sleep with another girl. I have everything I need in Ray. But that's OK--I can handle it. And he's got to have his freedom, or I might lose him. And I don't mind, really I don't, except when it's a girl like this one and he gets that special look in his eyes.
He was protective towards her in the office that day. Said something to her about not taking any notice of me. Told her I was evil. And then the warning look at me. I mean the real warning look. He wasn't playacting. That was when I knew how much he fancied her. I pretended to be amused. Well, what else could I do? But, oh Christ, it hurt. Gotta hide that from him though. Can't come the old possessive act with Ray. He's too good for it anyway. I'll take what he gives me as long as he wants to give it, and if he ever calls it a day, well at least I'll have the memories....
It's pathetic, me feeling like this. A real case of the harder they come the harder they fall. I was supposed to be the self-sufficient one, for Christ's sake. And I am, where everyone else is concerned, but I've loved him for so long, and hidden it for so long before we became lovers, there are times when I still can't believe he's mine.
Anyway, Cowley chipped in then with his elder statesman routine. Telling us to behave, but I couldn't stop myself. I was too scared, so I tried to put her off again as she walked to the door.
Christ, Cowley really let rip at us once she'd gone. It was almost funny because he had no idea what was behind it all.
So did Ray when we got outside. Really took me to task.
"What'd you have to do that for?" he said, eyes blazing. "She's a nice girl."
Real sucker for the ladies, Ray, even now. Always the idealist with the set code of polite behaviour towards the gentler sex.
I was hurt, more by the fact that he didn't understand my feelings on the subject than anything else, but I decided it was best to go for the innocent routine. That's the best way of calming him down. Make him laugh, because he can be a vindictive little sod when he's roused, even with me.
"What did I do?" I asked, giving him the innocent, wide-eyed stare, adding a smile for good measure. But he didn't fall for it.
"Don't give me that," he exploded, "you were deliberately trying to embarrass her. You're warped inside, mate, you know that?"
That hurt, but I don't think I showed it. "Ah ha," I said, still trying to tease, "so you fancy her then, do you?"
He looked a bit unsettled and worried by that, but he was still on his high horse. "Yeah, maybe I do," he said, challenging, "is that a crime? We agreed we'd be honest with each other about girls, didn't we? No reason for you to behave so badly."
There was no answer to that because, yeah, we had made an agreement all those months ago to still see girls if we wanted to. Not that I was happy about it, either then or now, but it was what Ray needed.
"So you gonna ask her out then?" I had to know. It was driving me crazy.
"I don't know yet, Bodie, all right?" he said, really vicious now. "But whether I do or not, it's none of your fuckin' business."
We were in the corridor in full view of anyone who might be passing, but I was so angry I could have hit him. He saved me the trouble though when he turned on his heel and stalked off down the corridor.
I suppose he expected me to follow him, and I was sorely tempted because when we argue he goes off in a mood for days and it saves a lot of time and effort to straighten things out there and then, but not that day. I'd had enough of him, so I went off in the opposite direction.
It was OK though. I mean we patched that up all right, and he didn't mention her again. I think it was gradually dawning on him he'd hurt me. Perhaps he was even beginning to realise himself that she bore more than a passing resemblance to Ann. But it was funny. We couldn't seem to get rid of her. Kept bumping into her and passing her on the corridors over the next couple of weeks. I don't know if she planned any of that herself, but it certainly looked like it to me. But it was still OK. We'd smile and nod and pass the time of day and that was that. Ray still never mentioned her.
Then when we were working on the Harvey case we came across her in the photographic section. I have to admit I wasn't pleased to see her. I'd only just succeeded in putting her out of my mind, and stopped worrying about her and there she was again.
She didn't seem pleased to see me either. I came through the door first, making some suitably inane comment about where had she been hiding herself, putting a brave face on things, you know, like you do, but all the time I was talking I could see she wasn't really looking at me at all. She was looking behind me to see if Ray was there. And, God, did her face light up when she saw him. So did Ray's when he saw her.
Give him his due though. He didn't hide how pleased he was. I would have minded more if he had. At least it was honest, but it didn't make me feel any better.
And he didn't really flirt with her as such--not consciously. He only did what comes naturally. Well, he can be very charming and appealing when he wants to be, can Ray, specially with a pretty girl. He loves it just as much as they do, going through the old flirting routine, and he was really using those eyes of his with her, and all the cute expressions. Designed to bring out any latent maternal instincts in ten seconds flat. Oh yeah, he's a real expert at it, is Ray, even with me, and he knows it too. But I wouldn't have him any other way.
Anyway, not surprisingly, she blushed when she handed him the photo of Harvey that we needed, and I started to get impatient. Damn it, if he wanted to chat her up he could at least have the decency to do it in his own free time and not keep me hanging around. I wasn't having it. You've got to be careful Ray doesn't take advantage. Give him an inch and he'll take a mile.
So I moved up behind him, reminding him of my presence. Made some derogatory comment about Harvey, her eyes watching us both all the time, moving from one to the other, trying to work us out I suppose. But that didn't worry me. Never has. I know we don't give anything away in public.
I said something about it being time for us to get on with it and Ray got the message loud and clear. He knew he was trying my patience. But when I went off through the door into the corridor he didn't follow straightaway. I could see them talking as I waited outside, and for one awful moment I wondered if he was actually making a date with her. Not that I could have done anything about it if he had. I just wished he wouldn't do it while I was around.
He only stayed behind for a few seconds, but I was so uptight by the time he came out I was hardly in control.
He didn't say anything as we walked off down the corridor, but my heart was pounding like a triphammer. He must have known how tense I was, there isn't much we don't sense about each other's moods--like telepathy at times. It was crazy. I wasn't thinking about Harvey and his mates at all, and that's what I should have been concentrating on. All I could think of was Ray and the girl....
Finally I couldn't stand it any longer. "How'd you make out with her?" I asked as casually as I could. But he wasn't fooled. I got the impression he'd been doing a bit of thinking since we'd had our blow-up outside Cowley's office, because he put his hand on my arm and stopped me, turning me to face him, and said, "OK, I like her, but don't worry. I'll never do anything behind your back."
He was being very soft with me, that gentle way he has sometimes that turns my guts to water, and his eyes were very large and bright and full of love. So I was a bit overwhelmed by it all, and just swallowed hard and mumbled something about that being fine.
"Maybe a foursome some time?" he suggested, head on one side, questioning, gauging how I'd take to the idea.
What could I say? It was a reasonable enough suggestion, and he WAS being completely straight with me. "Yeah, why not?" I said shrugging. "I could always drag Jane out of mothballs if you like. They should get on well together."
He smiled, looking happy, pleased with himself. Maybe he'd expected me to blow up at the idea and was glad it'd gone so smoothly.
"I'll work on it then," he said cheekily, and started off down the corridor again. I remember I had to run to catch him up. Ray can move pretty fast when he wants to, and we were late anyway.
And everything was fine again until I saw Murphy a couple of days later and he told me he'd seen our little friend having lunch in the canteen with Ann Graham the day before.
I think he was interested in her himself. Murphy always did have an eye for a nice pair of legs, but it was the fact that the cunning little cat had had lunch with Ann that worried me.
Ann and I were...well still are, very close. She's a tough old bird, has to be 45 if she's a day, and she looks it, but she's all right, is Ann. She took me in and straightened me out during a bad patch years ago, long before CI5 ever saw the light of day. In fact it was partly her recommendation later on that brought me to Cowley's attention when he was forming CI5.
Anyway, the important thing is, she knows a lot about me. Some things no one else except Ray knows. Things not even Cowley knows. And I trust her--she's one of the few people I do trust. But it worried me our little friend from Admin might have been fishing. Ann's not stupid and I've often suspected she's guessed about Ray and I. Not that she'd ever say anything, even if she had proof. And I could hardly go up to her and ask her what they'd talked about, so I left well alone, but it still bothered me....
The crunch came about a week later. It was on a day off I remember. I'd had a lie in, done a bit of shopping, and Ray had gone off to visit his sister, then stopped off at the office to collect his expenses.
He came flying back into the flat about 6 o'clock just as I was sitting down to enjoy the remnants of a bottle of wine I'd found in his fridge. He flopped down on the sofa next to me, gave me about half a dozen kisses one after the other--yeah, well he can be very affectionate when he wants to be--told me he'd missed me and then sat back with an evil grin on his face.
"How do you feel about giving Jane a ring and seeing if she can make it for dinner tonight?" he said, cajoling, running his tongue round the inside of my ear. He knows how much that turns me on and he was doing it with particular thoroughness, so I had no doubt what this was all about.
"So she said yes, did she?" I asked as calmly as I could, detaching him from my ear and holding him at arm's length so I could have a look at him.
"Yeah," he said, nodding, very serious all at once, "bumped into her in the car park today. Thought I'd ask. How do you feel about it?"
I reminded him I'd said I'd do it.
"You don't look too happy about it," he said, running his hand over my cheek. "Want to call it off?"
What could I say? It's a crazy situation anyway. Two basically straight men falling for each other. So complex it's got to have its own crazy set of problems too, specially when they both still fancy the occasional bird now and again....
Well, Ray more than me, like I've said, though I still have my moments.
So of course I said yes and rang Jane, and even though it was such short notice, she agreed, like the sport she is. So we were all set.
Christ, but Ray made such a fuss about where we should take them and what we should wear. He was driving me crazy. I mean, I couldn't have cared less, not really wanting to go in the first place.
Anyway, he set his heart on this very expensive place he knew in Knightsbridge, and as he seemed pretty much determined to blow a week's salary on the evening, wherever we went, I gave in gracefully, only stopping short of asking him if it was somewhere he'd taken Ann Holly in the past....
I was feeling OK though as we got ready. It seemed eminently sensible to take a reasonable attitude. To let him get it out of his system. We'd double-dated like this before, since we'd been sleeping together. And you can't really fight it anyway. When Ray gets a bee in his bonnet about something, female or otherwise--that's it. He's got to have it. He was like that with me as well. Once he'd made up his mind he wanted me I didn't stand a chance. Just as well I wanted him too.
And I suppose till we got back to his flat and the problems started it was a good night as these nights go. On reflection, whatsername was OK too. I have to admit I warmed to her a bit. Pretty really, nice face, but strong with it. She was nobody's fool.
But I didn't like the way Ray was paying so much attention to her in the restaurant, being so solicitous, sitting with his arm draped round her shoulder. And the way she lapped it all up, practically eating him with her eyes.
Suppose I got a bit over voluble to compensate. I know I talked a lot. But they all laughed so I reckon they must have enjoyed it. But, Christ, I was feeling so weirdly insecure, even though Jane was great. She always is--a good friend as well as a gorgeous woman, and she understands my crazy ways and accepts them with no questions asked. She was draped all over me in that restaurant, and I knew that if and when I was expected to sleep with her later on, I could do it and enjoy it too, and hopefully make it good for her, but she wasn't what I wanted. I was playing to an audience of one in that restaurant. Childish, I know, but all I wanted was Ray's attention, and I didn't feel I was getting it.
That set the mood for the rest of the night I suppose, and I was feeling pretty lousy by the time we got back to Ray's flat. I'd had enough if you want the truth. Didn't want to be bothered with any of it anymore. And when the pair of them settled on the sofa with their arms round each other, God, I didn't know what to do with myself.
I showed willing, I really did, but Jane set my nerves on edge when she started trying it on--kissing me, running her fingers through my hair. The other two were doing exactly the same thing on the other side of the room, but Ray seemed to be enjoying it a hell of a lot more than I was.
It got to the stage where I couldn't have sat still if my life depended on it. I had to make a move. There was no way I could carry on. If Ray wanted her that was fine, but he was gonna have to take her home, or Jane and I could leave--one or the other--but I couldn't sit and watch.
I think I apologised to Jane as I got up--at least I hope so. Can't remember. I went over and interrupted them, asked if they wanted some coffee. And I'll swear she knew what I was feeling. The way she looked at me--her pretty grey eyes boring into me, looking right through me, dissecting me...she knew all right....
I was desperately trying to indicate to Ray that I needed to speak to him, and I know he got the message because he signalled he'd follow me through to the kitchen if I went to make the coffee. I'm sure he also knew how upset I was, and he was very flippant about it, making sarcastic comments about me offering to make coffee in the first place.
Christ, I was in such a state I nearly gave the game away, reminding him what I'd done for him that night. She looked angry when I said that, glaring up at me. As if, Jesus, as if I was the one who was doing the hurting.... But she looked puzzled too, so maybe she didn't understand. [missing text] like wildfire. Wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her.
Ray took his time as well. Didn't come through to the kitchen for a good five minutes.
When he did he leaned against the door, which I'd propped open, and breathed out deeply, just watching me for a minute or two without saying anything. I carried on making the coffee, putting the cups on the tray, opening a packet of biscuits. I was glad I had something to do because I'd no idea what to say to him.
"Sorry mate," he said finally, coming up behind me and putting an arm round me, "not working out, is it?"
I shrugged. "Knew it wouldn't. Should never have agreed to a foursome."
"We've done it before though, and you've been OK," he said. "It's her, isn't it?"
I didn't say anything.
He made a funny, aching little sound in his throat. Then he sighed and rested his cheek against mine. "Oh, Bodie, I'm sorry...it's hurt you. I'm so sorry...I wouldn't do that on purpose. I just don't think sometimes, you know?"
"Yeah, well you always were impulsive," I told him.
"And callous and unfeeling too?"
He was starting to get upset, starting one of those moods where he gets so he hates himself and that wasn't on--at least till we'd got rid of the girls and we could talk it out properly, so I had to reassure him.
I told him it was my fault. Said I was sorry for lousing up his evening. He said I hadn't of course, and that the whole evening had been a mistake, that he'd call it a day. But I didn't want that from him, for Christ's sake. I wanted him to feel secure enough with me to do what he wanted without all the possessive, jealous shit of most relationships. I mean I really thought it'd be better for both of us if he took her home and slept with her and got her out of his system. And if he didn't and it turned into something else, well it was a risk that had to be taken....
So I tried to persuade him, told him to go, pretended I wasn't bothered. He didn't seem convinced. I'd poured the coffee and it was getting cold so I picked up the tray to take it through to the girls. He stopped me at the door, smiled at me, shook his head at me in that determined way of his. In other words he had no intention of trying it on with her. I could see he'd made his mind up about that. And you can never shake Ray's resolve when he's come to a decision, so I just shrugged and left him to do what he wanted.
He took her home about half an hour later and I made some excuse or other to Jane and did the same. She wasn't pleased, but then I didn't expect her to be. I wouldn't have been either. Don't suppose I'll see her again. Shame that--she's a nice girl--I like her....
Ray was back before me. I came in to find him lying full length on the sofa, staring into space.
We just looked at each other for a minute or two. Then I said, "That was probably a mistake."
"What? Not staying with her?"
"Yeah, I think you'll regret it," I told him.
"Nah," he said, very sure of himself. But he looked a bit put out, so I wasn't sure I believed him.
I sat on the floor next to him and he reached for my hand, holding it tight. Then he lifted it to his lips and uncurled the fingers and kissed the palm. Turned me to jelly.
"Only thing is," he said, looking up at me, "I think she knows about us."
That didn't surprise me, what with Ann and one thing and another, but I asked why he thought that anyway.
He frowned, thinking hard. "Dunno. Just sensed it. She didn't make any fuss, or ask any questions when I took her home."
"Maybe she didn't fancy you," I said, "you're not perfect, you know."
"As I know all too well," he said pointedly.
"You'll do," I told him.
But of course it wasn't enough to reassure him, so I had to show him as well. Must have been about 4 o'clock before we finally settled down to sleep....
He told me he loved me over and over again that night, and he made love to me so sweetly...the best I've ever known.
And I dunno. Maybe our girl problems are over too. That was all of nine months ago, and no one else has appeared on the horizon yet....
I liked her straightaway. There was something about her that was special. Well I suppose if I'm honest, it gradually dawned on me she wasn't dissimilar to Ann and I've always liked those kind of looks in a girl. Not that she actually looked like Ann. There was no real resemblance--she was just the same type. But she had lovely long hair, and it was the same colour as Ann's too.
The first time I saw her was in Cowley's office. That was the day I was about ready to murder Bodie for the way he behaved towards her. Crazy, insecure idiot--he nearly scared her to death. You'd think I'd suddenly decided I didn't love him anymore or something. All I did was give him the nod to let him know I fancied her, and then smiled at her, because she was so gorgeous she deserved it, and off he went, doing his intimidation routine, really having a go.
Christ, I was so angry with him. He practically had her shaking. I knew he was worried about her though, because when I signalled to him to lay off, he did it all the more. Maybe he saw the resemblance to Ann too. It's something we've never discussed, but I suppose he must have done. Maybe he thought I was bound to go over the top again because she was so like her....
Yeah, well, I understand how he must have felt. That business with Ann hurt him a lot, almost as much as it hurt me. Even now I don't think he's completely forgiven himself for his part in it. He WAS the one who told me I had to start checking her out....
But he was wrong. It was no big deal this time. We've both had girls before since we've been sleeping together. He's probably had more than me if the truth were known. He's always given the impression he has. And we agreed about that right at the start. We both knew it was inevitable we'd still fancy girls. And there've been times in the last year when I've been jealous too. Women love him so much--like bees round a honeypot. He's too bloody good-looking for a start and they go for all that smoothness. Funny, the worse he treats them the better they seem to like it.
He's good with me though. Never really gives me any hassles. He's easy...easy to be with, easy to live with. And he's so genuinely affectionate and loving. That came as a bit of a surprise. Specially when I think of the early days when we were first teamed, when he still had the barriers up, and was giving me a hard time, trying to find out just how tough I was.
But now...yeah, well Bodie's trouble is he's just a big baby underneath, even though he hides it very well from outsiders. Certainly hid it that day. Scared her to death.
Christ, the old man really had a go once she'd gone. Not funny. Asking us what the hell we thought we were playing at. Telling us we were behaving like pimply, randy teenagers. He has a way with words, does old Cowley when he's roused.
I suppose it was Bodie seeming so amused by the whole thing, even the scene with Cowley, that made me have a go at him when we got outside. OK, so he DOES have a vicious temper, and I wouldn't risk anything when he's seriously angry, but that doesn't happen very often, and it's this ultra-casual, cynical attitude to everyone and everything in him that really gets me going sometimes. That's how he was that day, so I let him have it. Probably because I couldn't control my own temper, and I envy his control. The whole bloody world always knows what I'm feeling, and I wanted to get at him and wipe the self-satisfied smile off his face, so I asked him why he'd embarrassed her like that. Told him he had a warped personality. Which was unkind, because Bodie's very sensitive about that sort of thing. But all he did was play the innocent little boy with me, using that cheeky smile--the one that always turns the girls on. Christ, he's such a child in some ways...infuriating....
He was fishing too of course. Wanted to know whether I fancied her. So then I was even more unkind. Told him I might and even if I did it was none of his fuckin' business. Hated myself afterwards. I shouldn't do things like that to Bodie. But he'd got me so uptight I didn't realise half of what I was saying.
But he didn't seem angry even then, just looked at me with that neutral expression of his. The one I call the granite look--the one you couldn't chip with a sledgehammer.
I was getting more and more uptight, so I left before I lost control. Well, we were in the corridor in full view of the office staff. It hurt when he didn't come after me. But that's one of the things I like about Bodie. He never lets me use him, and most of the time he keeps me calm and under control too. More than anyone I've ever known. I suppose what I'm saying is, I respect him.
He was the one who made up that little argument. He laughed me out of it the next day. Well, how can you stay mad at him when he's giving you the treatment? He's irresistible. Trouble is, he knows it.
It was funny how we kept bumping into her around the building after that. She'd pop up when you least expected it and I still fancied her. Lovely face, and she has the most incredible legs.
I wasn't actively looking for her during that time. I mean, I did fancy her--who wouldn't? But I didn't want to rock the boat if Bodie wasn't happy about her.
I'd begun to forget about her actually and then we met up again in the photographic section on the morning of the famous day we finally nabbed George Harvey and his cronies. Great day that--the best. Getting our hands on that slimy bastard.
She looked beautiful. Had on some kind of fluffy white sweater and her hair was all soft round her face. She looked pleased to see me too.
I asked her for a photo of Harvey after Bodie had done a bit of his usual patter, which she didn't seem to appreciate. "Wondered where you'd got to," he said, trying it on.
"Yeah, awful, isn't it?" she told him, playing him at his own game. "Mean of them to stick me in here."
I liked the way she did that, but Bodie didn't. No wonder she didn't like him. He was really coming on strong with her. I could have kicked him for it.
I suppose I tried to reassure her. I know I smiled at her a few times, and she smiled back. She was even doing a bit of flirting--you know the usual stuff--a quick flutter of the eyelashes now and again, long, intense looks, that sort of thing....
I let my hand brush against hers when she handed me Harvey's photo. She seemed to enjoy that too. Then Bodie came up behind me, looking over my shoulder, and he was very tense--I could feel it. But what am I supposed to do? I fancied the girl, and he's done the same thing to me time and again. He knows I've felt the same way when he's been out on the prowl. And we agreed on this, for God's sake.
It seemed the only way to make life bearable. We're neither of us gay. Well, I'm not, and I'm sure Bodie isn't either. I've never fancied another fella in my life and I don't think I ever will--only him. But I can't help the way I feel about women any more than he can.
Bodie went on ahead as soon as we'd got the photo, but I couldn't just leave her like that. I didn't want to either. So I stayed behind for a second and teased her a bit more. I would have liked to ask her out then, but Bodie was acting so neurotic I knew I'd have to speak to him first before I asked her. I couldn't go behind his back if he wasn't happy. Not Bodie. He matters too much.
He was so uptight as we walked off down the corridor. But what could I say? We were going out to grab Harvey for a start and that's the only thing that should have been on my mind, but it wasn't.
Then he asked me how I'd done with her and his voice sounded so uncertain and worried I wanted to do anything I could to reassure him. I wanted to hug him right there in the corridor. That was out of course, so I tried to reassure him with words alone. Told him I'd never do anything behind his back. I think I upset him. He looked a bit choked anyway, and it takes a lot to do that to Bodie.
I wanted him to be sure of me so I asked him what he thought about the idea of a foursome--just testing the ground. That way it'd all be open and above board if I went out with her. And he seemed to quite like the idea. Said he'd ask Jane to make up the numbers, which is fine. She's a nice girl. In fact I've often wondered how fond he is of Jane. He seems to see a lot of her, but never talks about her. That doesn't mean anything, but he's known her for a while, and I reckon he's unfair to her sometimes. She thinks the world of him--well, to be honest, I think she's crazy about him, and always has been. Even lets him treat her like one of the lads and doesn't bat an eyelid. Takes it all.
Anyway, I was pleased. The tension seemed to have gone and he looked genuinely happy about the idea. So I told him I'd work on it. To be honest I was glad I could be straight with him at last. I fancied the girl and he knew I did. So there was no point in hiding it. I've always wanted Bodie to know everything anyway.
He was in a lousy mood the next day though. He didn't tell me what'd caused it, but I think it was something to do with Ann Graham--his old flame. I heard him mention her name to Murphy and he looked really angry. But I don't pry when Bodie's in that sort of mood. That's when he's dangerous. He can tell me if he wants to, but I never ask. He gets a certain glint in his eye and that's when I back off. He's told me about Ann, and I know how much she means to him. How she put him back together when he was close to cracking up when he came back from overseas, and I know he trusts her, so I couldn't believe the anger was directed at her. Come to think of it, he never did tell me about that....
They must have moved her again soon afterwards because she wasn't in the photographic section when I went to look for her. She was back in Records they said, but she was never there when I called. I didn't really want to leave a message either. It's hard enough keeping your private life private when you work for CI5. But then I had a stroke of luck. I bumped into her in the car park about a week later when she was going home. Her face lit up when she saw me, which was a surprise. I thought she must have forgotten me by this time.
I realised I might not get another chance if they were gonna move her around so much...she could have vanished off the face of the earth before I got round to saying anything, and she looked in a receptive mood, so I made up this imaginary date I was supposed to have already planned and asked her if she'd make up the numbers. I didn't feel bad about it. I was sticking to my word, and Bodie had said he'd come.
I suppose I laid it on a bit thick. Well, I really wanted her to say yes, but she didn't look too fazed by it. For a minute, I thought she might refuse though. It was when she asked who we'd be going with and I said, "Bodie, and a girlfriend of his."
Her face sort of changed expression. No, she didn't like Bodie at all. I felt like telling her I'd make sure he behaved, but I couldn't do that. Not with Bodie. It wouldn't make any difference anyway. Bodie being Bodie, he'd do what he wanted.
And her eyes were sort of wary and calculating when I said tonight too, as if she thought she ought to say no and play hard to get.
"It's very short notice," she said. You know...teasing....
But she agreed. I seem to remember we made some joke about playing hard to get and she gave me her address and I said I'd pick her up at eight.
Bodie was just as easy. I got back to the flat prepared to work hard on him, thinking he still might back out. But the lazy sod was stretched out on my sofa, finishing off MY wine, so he was relaxed anyway, and it didn't turn out to be too much of a problem. He looked cute that afternoon. He'd just washed his hair and it goes all fluffy when it's first washed. He hates it because it goes all wavy and won't lie flat. Swears he won't be seen outside with it like that. Well, I'm not surprised. Completely blows his image. Makes him look like a kid. So he was looking very appealing and because he'd had a drink or two his eyes were even darker than usual, and that always turns me on.
I gave him a few welcoming kisses, and he did his usual thing. Sat there looking at me with that air of bored, world-weary resignation on his face, as if he was thinking, "Oh no, Doyle's at it again...."
I know it seems a bit crazy to have to turn your male lover onto the idea of you going out with a girl, but let's face it, Bodie and I have a pretty unusual relationship all round.
Anyway, he knew exactly what I was doing and didn't seem to mind, so I said, "How do you feel about giving Jane a ring and seeing if she can make it for dinner tonight?"
I started tickling his ear with my tongue and it made him laugh--well it always does, that's why I do it. And he was still laughing when he pulled away and said, "So she said yes, did she?"
I told him I'd bumped into her in the car park and asked him how he felt about it.
"I said I'd do it, Ray," he told me. "Come on, it's no big deal."
But he didn't look happy so I checked again. He seemed a bit put out at having to convince me, but kissed me a few times to make sure I understood. Nothing too adventurous, but it was still about half six when we came back to earth and we didn't have much time, so he got up and called Jane.
God, he can lay it on thick when he wants to. Could literally charm the birds out of the trees. No problem anyway. Jane said she was coming, which didn't surprise me in the least.
As he put the phone down he turned to me with a sort of cheeky "told you it was easy" grin on his face. So what could I do, but go over and let him know how irresistible he was?
That made us later still, as I still had to book a table, but I'd already decided we were going to make a real night of it, so I booked that place in Knightsbridge Murphy told me about.
Bodie overdid things a bit in the restaurant, but I couldn't complain--he WAS behaving. He was being very polite in fact. He was on form that night too. He even succeeded in making her laugh. Course he's always more relaxed when he's off duty.
I'm not sure how unhappy he was in the restaurant or whether he was feeling bad even then, and was hiding it well, but I wasn't really aware of it until we got back to my flat.
I could tell he wasn't at ease with Jane for a start. I think he felt very awkward with her physically. Made me wonder if he hadn't kidded me along a bit about some of those girlfriends he's supposed to have had since we've been together. It dawned on me I might be putting him through one hell of an ordeal with this date. It had never happened before, but even so....
Then he came over, teasing, interrupting us, wanting to know if we wanted some coffee, and I knew I HAD hurt him because his eyes were very large and dark and frightened. He can't ever control that like he can the rest of his face. His eyes always give him away.
"Don't tell me you're going to make it," I said, trying to be flippant, because I knew if I didn't I'd probably start crying or something at that helpless look in his eyes.
That hurt him even more and he had a go at me and said, "You'd think I never do anything for you. Look what I did for you tonight for a start."
I felt her suddenly tense by my side, sensing something was wrong, but not knowing what. It was then I realised it had gone on long enough. More than that, I swore I'd never do anything like that to Bodie again.
He wanted me to follow him through to the kitchen, but I couldn't leave straightaway. I mean it would have looked so obvious. So I stayed for a while and did what was expected of me and kissed her a few times. It was awful. I pretended, but I didn't really want to kiss her, and I didn't enjoy it. Didn't even fancy her anymore. Christ, I don't know what she must have thought of me, but all I wanted was Bodie. This must all sound very callous, but I can't help it. That was how I felt.
I made some excuse--used the fact that Jane was sitting there by herself to get myself out of the room.
When I got down to the kitchen I just stood and watched him for a minute or two. God, he even makes coffee beautifully--like poetry in bloody motion. I knew I had to keep it light or I'd start bawling my head off, and there's no way I could have explained that to the girls. After a while I went up to him and put my arms round him and told him I was sorry.
"Yeah, well you always were impulsive," he said, trying to shrug it off, but I knew how he was feeling.
Christ, I was so depressed. When I said I knew how unfeeling I was at times, he disagreed with me like I knew he would. Tried to tell me it was his fault, but I wasn't having that.
"No," I said, "anyway, it doesn't matter. It was a mistake. We'll call it a day."
But he didn't even want that. I genuinely think he wanted me to go back to her flat and I understood why too. He was afraid of appearing possessive. He wanted to let me do what he thought I wanted to do. God, what a mess. I thought HE preferred things that way. That's what he's led me to believe anyway. Given me the impression he's had literally dozens of girls over the past year. And I knew he didn't like this one particularly, but surely that was even better, as he wasn't going to be involved anyway? Of course, there was always the resemblance to Ann...I just hadn't realised that would hit him quite so hard....
All my fault, because I obviously hadn't convinced him I loved him enough all those months ago.
So when we got to the kitchen door I stopped him, shook my head at him, just to let him know where he stood.
I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible, but I didn't want to appear rude so I left it for about half an hour before I suggested I took her home. She seemed in a funny mood all at once--pensive and thoughtful...sort of detached.
We didn't talk much in the car and the difficult bit came when we pulled up outside her house. But I still can't believe how easy it was. Maybe she wasn't keen on me after all. But there was something else too. She was looking at me in a very strange way--as if seeing me for the first time. It occurred to me then that she had to know about us, but I couldn't think how. We neither of us give anything away in public. Or at least I didn't think so....
She was very gentle with me. No recriminations...no questions.
"I don't think I can see you again," I said.
"Oh, that's OK." It was as if she half expected it. I noticed she didn't ask why.
God, it was embarrassing. "But I'll probably see you around the office," I said.
She said all the right things too. Yes, she was sure we'd bump into each other. Some time. And that was it. I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. And then she was gone and it was over and I went back home to Bodie.
We made love very thoroughly that night, and he was more open than he'd ever been with me. And I hope I laid a few demons to rest too. I think I did.
I've kept to the promise I made to myself that night too. There haven't been any more girls. To be honest that whole episode shook me up quite a bit. But the crazy thing is I haven't even wanted a girl and it's been more than nine months now.
All I want is Bodie....
-- THE END --