As I watched Ann's car disappear round the corner I felt humble. How could she just leave me if she really loved me? Every bloody time the job gets in the way. I wonder how many girls I have lost because I have to go on duty unexpectedly.

She said she expected me to change. How? Why couldn't she accept me as I am, including the difficulties caused by my choice of profession. She accepted the odd hours, the sudden changes of plans, but she couldn't accept that I had to be sure she wasn't involved with Conroy.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. Good old Bodie. Always there to pick up the pieces. I shrugged off the hand though, because I was too near tears to stand anyone being sympathetic or kind. It would have looked great for a tough CI5 agent to stand in the forecourt bawling his eyes out. I walked off to the car but as I neared the corner I suddenly decided that I didn't want to be on my own. I turned back and Bodie was standing watching me. He moved forward to join me, obviously pleased that I hadn't rebuffed him completely.

"Where do you want to go, Ray? Home or pub?"

"Home, yours. Just get me away from here as quickly as possible." I didn't need to explain that I didn't want to go to my flat at present. It had too many memories of Ann. Bodie doesn't have to be told these things. After so many years I think he knows me better than I know myself.

Bodie drove in almost complete silence. He can be incredibly tactful when he wants. My mind was still going over what had just happened. It was like a record that had got stuck. I kept hearing her last words over and over again. "You couldn't trust me. You had to check up on me... I thought you would change..." Over and over.

It was a relief to get to Bodie's flat. We went inside and Bodie went into the kitchen. I threw myself down on the sofa. Perhaps everything had happened too quickly. I tried to work out how long I had known her. Two weeks! It seemed like months. We had gone at things a bit like bulls in a china shop.

At least I had. I suppose I did steam roller her a bit. Perhaps she was trying to warn me off when she told me about the possibility of a job in America.

Why had everything happened so fast? Looking back for months now I have been throwing myself at every desirable female and every time I have acted as if they were the last women on earth. I feel as if I am running from something all the time.

My train of thought was broken as Bodie pushed a mug of coffee into my hands. I took a gulp and not only scalded my mouth but nearly choked.

"Bodie, what on earth is this?"

"About two parts coffee to three parts whiskey. I thought you probably needed something stronger than just coffee."

He sat down on the floor beside my feet. The sun slanted through the window highlighting that gentle, hard face and making his hair look a beautiful dark brown. There are times Bodie looks fantastic and despite the lack of sleep and a day's growth of beard, today was one of them. Just looking at him make my stomach go all watery.

"No!" This was what I had been fighting against for so long.

"Ray? Are you all right?"

I must have spoken out loud. Almost blindly I got up and went over to the window. I had to get away from him. I couldn't let him know how I felt, how I have been feeling for so long. I love him and it terrifies me.

I felt his hands on my shoulders and heard his voice gently asking what was wrong and of all the foolish things to do, I burst into tears. He pulled me round into his arms and I sobbed like a kid. I couldn't stop. All the pent-up anger towards Ann, the strain of running from my feelings for him for so long were too much. The barrier I had been trying to erect between us broke and the floods were let loose.

He gently stroked my back, patiently waiting for the storm to end. When I could cry no more he still held me until I was ready to face the world again. Then he led me over to the sofa and we sat down. My handkerchief was in my jacket at the far side of the room so he lent me his. Still with one arm round me he asked again what was wrong. I didn't know what to say. How do you tell a man like Bodie that his tough partner is head over heels in love with him.

"Ray, mate, come on, tell me. You don't cry for nothing. Is it just Ann or is it something else?"

I looked up at him then. His face was close to mine, full of concern and... love? I decided that I had to tell him or burst. The worst he could do was kill me and frankly I didn't want to carry on living feeling as I had over the last few months.

"Bodie, you and I don't know what to do about it." I was half laughing, half crying. It sounded such a stupid thing to be saying.

The arm around my shoulders tightened. "Ray, you idiot. Why didn't you tell me before. I have loved you for months."

Why didn't you tell me before. It was all very well him telling me off but he could have saved a lot of heart ache if he had said something sooner.

He bent his head forward hand cupping my face, kissed me. I could feel his lips soft against mine, parting as his tongue entered my mouth. It was a good thing we were lying down as I don't think my legs would have held up. I was melting, merging with him. Our tongues were entwined together, exploring the sweet hot whiskey/coffee taste of each other's mouths. I undid the top button of his shirt and ran my hand under it over the strong, muscled back. We pulled closer and breaking the kiss began to undress each other, desperate to get closer.

I got his shirt off and then he pinned me down on the sofa while he undressed me. It wasn't fair that he is stronger than me. Not that I wanted to fight him, but I didn't want this to be a one-sided thing, I wanted to share everything. I let him undress me, then when he least expected it I rolled off the sofa. He landed underneath. He wasn't hurt. There's more fat padding on him than me.

Carefully I pulled off his boots, trousers, socks and pants, trying not to touch his skin and driving him crazy in the process.

"For God's sake, Ray, touch me."

"No!" I grinned at him cheekily. Sitting on him was like riding a bucking bronco. He was thrusting his hips up almost throwing me off. Finally I took pity on him and rolled off to lie beside him. Then I laid a track of licks and kisses down his chest and over the flat stomach. Then I ran a finger up the bobbing shaft. It was hot, pulsing for me. His hands were entangled in my hair pulling me on my back onto him. I could feel my erection rubbing against his and ground my hips against his, trying to get closer. The moment we both came was glorious. Sex with Ann was just make-believe compared with this. We clung together while the world spun round us. I buried my head in his shoulder, the strong body beneath me was my only contact with reality.

"Ray, are you all right?" It was the fourth time today he had asked me that but this time the answer was different.

"Bodie, I love you. I feel almost light-headed now I have admitted my feelings. I have been fighting them for so long." I kissed him by the side of his mouth. "I think Ann was a final attempt to hide from what I really wanted... I think I subconsciously felt that if I married her I would be safe. That's why I got so involved in such a short time."

"Why did you feel you had to hide your feelings for me?"

"Oh, Bodie, don't be stupid. Cowley's top operatives wildly and passionately in love with each other? That would do wonders for the tough image."

"Well, we are wildly and passionately in love with each other so it's a bit late to start worrying, sunshine."

"What's Cowley going to think, Bodie?"

"I don't know. Let's get used to it ourselves before we start worrying about other people. I'm getting cold. Let's get cleaned up, ring the office to find out when we're on duty next and then go out somewhere."

As he heaved himself to his feet the phone rang. "This is 3/7 speaking. Yes, Sir. He's here with me, Sir. No, he was a bit upset but he's all right now. Yes, 8 o'clock tomorrow. No, we won't be late, Sir. Thanks. Bye."

"Cowley." he said unnecessarily as he walked back across the room. "Come on, I'll race you for the bathroom."

We took Bodie's car and drove out into Surrey. It was nearing lunchtime and Bodie, as usual, was hungry, so we found a small pub and had a ploughman's lunch. After, we drove up onto the Downs. Finally, Bodie stopped the car in a layby on the edge of a small wood. He had been very quiet since lunch but as we both had a great deal to think about I hadn't been particularly bothered. We left the car and followed a footpath through the woods, Bodie striding on ahead as he often did. He was obviously deep in thought and worried about something. Niggling doubt that he might be regretting the events of the morning crept into my mind. He had seemed so sure then, surely he couldn't have changed his mind. Now I had admitted my feelings I knew that I loved him too much to continue our relationship just as friends. I needed him and it would take a great deal of persuasion to make me give him up.

I nearly fell over him at the edge of the wood. He was sitting with his back against a tree, staring unseeingly at the beautiful stretch of rolling downland in front of him. I sat down beside him and put a hand on his leg.

"Bodie, what's the matter?" He seemed to shake himself mentally then covering my hand with his own he turned and smiled but his eyes stayed serious.

"Just thinking."

"Whatever you were thinking must be very serious. You were miles away."

"We are going too fast. I think we ought to spend a couple of weeks thinking about whether we really want a relationship as close as this."

"But why, Bodie? We both love each other or was this morning just an act put on to help me?" It was difficult to stop the hurt creeping into my voice. "If it was, you did a bloody good job because you fooled me completely." I had gone through too much in the last twenty-four hours to take this calmly and rationally, and my temper was dangerously close to boiling.

Bodie's hand tightened on mine. "No, you're wrong, I do love you very much and I have for a long time. It's just that...I don't want you to be caught on the rebound from Ann and find in a few months that you are caught in a relationship you don't want.


"I'm serious, Ray. Listen, I just happened to be around when you needed someone. I've seen plenty of couples break up and then plunge into equally disastrous romances because they were in too much of a hurry. Remember, if our relationship breaks up, we have still got to work together. I can't see the Cow reteaming us just because we've had a lover's quarrel." Despite the short laugh at his own joke he was deadly serious. I didn't want to lose the love I had found in him but I knew it would be a disastrous relationship if either of us had any doubts.

I pulled away from him and got up, I needed to think. I knew deep down that he was right but it was going to be difficult to work normally with him until such time as I could persuade him that I had no doubts.

"How long do you think we ought to wait?"

"That's up to you, Ray. A minimum of three weeks. Until then everything will be as it always was."

It was too late to go back to our previous, comfortable relationship and we both knew it. However we were both used to burying our feelings and so life, on the surface, resumed its normal pattern.

We walked back to the car, each deep in thought. Bodie dropped me back at home and went back to his own flat. Ann seemed a thousand years and a million miles away. I lay awake long into the night, thinking over the events of the day, trying to prepare myself for the stressful three weeks ahead. Bodie might have doubts, but I had none. I knew what I wanted and I intended to get it.

Over the next couple of weeks work was fairly routine with a little bit of undercover work and some babysitting to liven up the paper-work. Three Sundays later Bodie was invited to play cricket with his old mob against the Met Police XI. It was great until, as usual, duty called. Bodie was fifth man in and he knocked up a beautiful 97. Then I had to distract him and he was clean bowled. He was furious.

Cowley wanted me to babysit the Cabreros girl. If circumstances had been normal, I would have fallen for her. However, with Bodie constantly in my thoughts, I couldn't work up much interest. Since the morning Ann had left me, we had seen each other off duty for the odd drink or game of squash. We had even picked up a couple of girls one night but I had left mine about midnight and I learnt later Bodie did the same. It was ridiculous, we were just marking time, but Bodie was insistent that we did nothing for a minimum of three weeks.

I teased him a bit with Anita Cabreros. I think he began to believe that I really liked her particularly when he and Cowley turned up at the end of the case to de-bug her flat and found I was already there. As I told Cowley, it was an exercise in public relations, I had no serious interest in her. Subconsciously, I think I was testing myself to see if Bodie really did mean more to me than a beautiful woman like Anita. The result was conclusively in his favor and I finally decided that I had waited long enough. I had no doubts, I knew I loved him and I wanted a proper relationship. I planned my campaign.

On oar next free evening, I suggested we try a new Indian restaurant I had found. As he had to pass the end of my road to get there, I told Bodie to pick me up on the way.

Remembering his face the day I put on a tie to take Ann out, I wore the clothes I had worn that day. I hate wearing a tie but Bodie's face had been such a picture that day that it was worth suffering again. He always tries to out-class me by wearing expensive suits and so I bought him a rose for his button-hole. I left the stem on so that it would stay fresh and hid it behind the cushion on the sofa.

His reaction to my outfit was exactly as I had hoped. He stood in the doorway with his mouth hanging open and his eyes shining like a small boy who has been given a long hoped for train set. I wanted to hug him but I restrained myself for a little longer.

He sat down on the sofa while I finished getting ready and as I had hoped, found the rose. However the hurt in his eyes was completely unexpected.

"Ray, are you expecting someone else?"

"No, silly, it's for you. It's part of the new-look Doyle-dating-technique. No more hot dogs behind the Odeon." He still looked doubtful. I hastened to reassure him, to try and banish the hurt and doubt in his eyes. "I thought if you broke off the stem you could use it as a buttonhole. I'm sorry...I thought it would make you laugh."

"Ray, you idiot. You had me worried for a minute. I thought that perhaps I had got the wrong idea about this evening and that you were going to break it to me that you had someone new in your haven't, have you?" He still sounded unconvinced.

"Of course I haven't. I'm sorry if I worried you. I thought it would be a good joke." I could stand that look in his eyes no longer. I crossed the narrow space between us, pulled his head down and kissed those beautiful, dark eyes. He seemed to melt against me and I realized how empty my life had been since that wonderful morning in his flat after Ann had left.

"I've got no doubts, Bodie. Is my probationary period over."

His only reply was to crush his lips almost bruisingly against mine. There was no gentleness. Months of pent-up feeling on both sides banished that. The first kiss was brutally sweet. I could feel his hands clutching at my back through jacket and shirt. My hands were twisted in his short hair desperately trying to pull us closer.

Gradually his lips became more gentle and eventually he [we?] had to draw apart or die of suffocation. Still with our arms tightly wound round each other we whispered loving words and promises like a pair of love-sick kids.

Finally Bodie said "Ray, eons ago I think you mentioned something about an Indian Restaurant. I'm starving. Let's go."

"Bodie, only you would completely ruin a great romantic scene in such a devastating way. Come on, Dustbin, let's go and eat."

It was a good meal although we made one or two heads turn. Any ideas the other patrons of the restaurant had about us were probably correct.

When we got back to my flat Bodie was very sweet, almost shy about making love. We were both very gentle, neither wanting to dominate the other completely.

Now I am lying in bed, curled in his arms. I can feel his breath, ticklishly damp on my shoulder. He looks so young when he's asleep. The hard, cynical look is gone and his face is completely relaxed and open. I feel so wonderfully safe and peaceful lying here. It was worth the pain and frustration of the last weeks. Tomorrow we will have to decide whether or not to tell Cowley. I doubt that life with Bodie will be all roses, there are bound to be storms. We are too independent to adjust straight away to a serious relationship. However, for the time being I am quite content to lie here held not by soft feminine arms I am used to, but by strong, muscled arms against a hard muscled body, every inch of which I love.

-- THE END --

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