Read an Excerpt
“Are you sure about this, Lisa?”
“Cathy Sullivan, how many times do I have to tell you? It’s only for one day. From this morning until five o’clock. And nobody at the P.D. is going to find out unless you open your big mouth. You need to get away from work. If I had my way, you’d be gone for a week, not just a day.”
“Well...no matter how this turns out, thanks for buying me the visit. That’s pretty damned decent of you considering the cost.”
Lisa rolled her eyes and pursed her lips to keep from grinning. “Oh, I’ve got a feeling I’m gonna get as much a kick out of this as you are.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cathy asked as she shoved the last garment in to her small zipper bag and adjusted the shoulder strap.
“Nothing. I just want a blow- by-blow description when you get back.”
“That’s very amusing,” Cathy shot back. “You’re not making this any easier.”
“If you’d get over your prudishness and consider this an adventure, you wouldn’t be so wound up.”
“I am not wound up.” Cathy stuffed her hands into her jacket pockets to keep her best friend of ten years from seeing them shake. She ignored the prudish part of her friend’s opinion. “But after that letter you wrote, put my name to, and had sent to your address, I’m not sure what I’ll end up getting myself into. You could’ve at least shown it to me before you stuck it in the mail.”
“If I’d left it up to you, you wouldn’t have written the letter at all. You’re too prim about such things.” Lisa lifted her hands over her friend’s head and formed a halo by joining her index fingers and thumbs.
Cathy sighed in exasperation. “Look. I’m not an angel, and I’m sure as hell not a whore, either. I do my job, and I do it well. I can’t help it if you and the rest of the vice-squad think I’m uptight. Just because I don’t sleep with every guy in the division doesn’t make me a prude. It makes me professional.”
“Don’t start that again. I don’t sleep with every guy in the division.”
“I know you don’t, but...” Cathy would have continued the argument, but a loud horn sounded outside her apartment and interrupted whatever she might have said.
Lisa went to the window and looked down into the street. “Your cab is here. You want me to buzz the driver up?”
“No. I’ll go down. I’ve only got this one small bag.” She looked down at the black leather bag at her feet, and wondered if there were any packing requirements specific to what she was about to do.
Lisa shot her friend what she hoped was a decent leer and rubbed her hands together. “Didn’t pack anything you can’t get out of quickly, did you?”
Cathy ignored the comment, grabbed up her zipper bag and walked to the door. “Be sure to feed George and Martha, but not too much.”
“You’ve shown me how to feed your goldfish twice, already. Will you go?”
Cathy opened the door, gave Lisa what she hoped was an unconcerned smile, then closed her apartment door behind her. In the hallway, she swallowed hard, wiped the palms of her hands against her slacks and descended the stairs. Lisa Portelli had been her friend since they’d graduated police academy ten years ago. While Lisa had gone on to work the vice-squad, she had eventually been assigned to the Mayor’s task force on gang activity. It was a prestigious position, and she was very proud to have been appointed.
But, as often happened in the department, Lisa and her friends from the vice-squad would frequently get together for parties and invite her along. During the course of these shindigs, one or more of the group would get quite bawdy and she always negatively commented on their antics. It wasn’t in her personality to celebrate hard, and she never understood the need to do so. Her stringent control of her behaviour had earned her a reputation for being a stuffed shirt. But the guys and gals from vice still kept inviting her to their gatherings, and she still showed up when the invitations were issued. Deep down, she suspected that they were right. While she wasn’t a virgin at the age of twenty-nine, she wasn’t as worldly as some of them. Maybe she wanted to explore some of the possibilities that could exist sexually between a man and a woman without any commitment. Or maybe she just hadn’t found the right guy. But there was some part of her that must want the day trip to New York’s most exclusive bordello, or she’d never have accepted the gift Lisa offered.
The cab trip only took about fifteen minutes. After an uneventful ride, the white marble columns of the bordello appeared. The cab driver expertly wound his way up the long curved drive, and Cathy felt a rising sense of panic. Her excuses that someone from the department would find out what she was doing were all a sham. Lisa knew that. The department didn’t give a fig about what she did with her free time so long as it was legal and didn’t bring dishonour to the P.D. Okay, some of her friends would rib her about the trip to the bawdy house, but that was the worst of it. No, her real reason for the rising anxiety sticking in her gut was the fact that she was about to have several hours of sex with a complete stranger. Even facing down a dangerous gang member in an unlit alley hadn’t inflicted so much concern.
That kind of confrontation she was used to and well trained for. This was totally out of her realm.