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Detective Inspector Amanda Jennings parked the unmarked squad car in one of the reserved parking spots, turned off the engine and waited there for several moments before stepping out of the car. She reached back in and took her mobile telephone and attached it to her belt. On the opposite side of the car her partner did the same and then both approached the boutique they had been called out to.
‘All your dreams are coming true,’ she said with a smile when she noticed that it was devoted to lingerie and there were some revealing samples in the window display, though tastefully done.
Next to her Detective John Bannister laughed. He pointed at one. ‘I rather think that one would look good on you.’
‘Did you miss that lecture on sexual harassment?’ she asked, reaching for the door handle and pushing the door open.
‘I wouldn’t class that as harassment,’ he said in his defence. ‘It was more complimentary than sexual.’
D.I Jennings stared at him for a moment. It all came back to her life of solitude outside the confines of the force. Simple minds generating their own theories as to why she lived alone and rarely mixed with them socially. She’d overheard some of the things
they had said about her. None of it mattered. She was more than content in her life and that was all that counted, not the fertile minds of others. Sighing as she entered the shop she noted his response to it. He had been one of those who had made several less than complimentary comments about her.
It was all a front, of course. He was merely playing with her and the comment had been made with all the sexual connotations in mind. They were not only partners in the Derbyshire Constabulary but they were also lovers and had been for several months, their relationship being kept low key. Bannister adored lingerie and was going to be like a child in a sweet shop in here, even in a routine official capacity.
The moment they entered an elegantly dressed, middle-aged woman came to greet them. Her clothes were expensive and the outfit designed to enhance her flailing beauty, as was her recently coiffured hair. She had overdone it with her perfume and it assaulted their senses in such close proximity. And it wasn’t a particularly nice fragrance. It reminded her of something her deceased grandmother would wear.
‘Finally,’ she said with more than a touch of self-importance. ‘You’re here. She’s in my office.’
‘A shoplifter?’ inquired Bannister.
‘Of course,’ she said to him. ‘Why else would I call the police?’
D.I Jennings suppressed a smile. ‘Could you show us to your office?’ As they were led through the shop she glanced around her at the displays of lingerie, rack upon rack of delicate underwear. Several mannequins took up prominent areas and gave a more visual display of how a woman might look wearing some of the designs. They were led through a curtain where a number of cubicles were set directly behind, two of which were occupied. The hidden shoppers conversed amongst themselves, unaware of who was passing by. One of the curtains was slightly askew and she caught a glimpse of one semi-naked woman attaching stockings to her suspender belt. Her breasts were full and filled the patterned brassiere she had on. It was a sensual choice, designed to arise the senses of her lover. That was the reason she bought lingerie. It was for the sake of sensuality. Some of what she had was not exactly comfortable to wear but that was not her main compulsion in purchasing it. And she suspected it was the same for the majority of women.
‘What’s your name?’ asked Bannister.
The woman stopped just before they reached a door. ‘That’s a rather rude way to ask. I am Doreen Locksley. This is my shop.’
‘My colleague meant no disrespect,’ she said. Even though barely a word had really been spoken she suspected the shop owner of being irritating, one of those women who would file a complaint at the slightest sense of being treated with less respect than she felt she deserved. Something that was nigh impossible to prevent. She made the rest of the introductions before the door bearing her name was opened.
Doreen Locksley nodded in acknowledgement before pushing open the door to her office and showed them inside.
There were two women seated in the office. One stood up immediately and she correctly identified her as a shop assistant. Doreen dismissed her, crossed her arms across her chest and nodded in the direction of the woman who remained seated and had not turned to see who had entered.
‘That’s her,’ she said needlessly.
Amanda walked over to the desk, turned and leant on it as she faced the accused shoplifter. This was really a job for uniformed officers but the station was thin on the ground for several days due to illness, which was why they were here. Seated on the chair was an attractive Asian woman, Chinese she guessed. She had a wonderfully enigmatic face surrounded by voluminous black hair that shimmered with vitality. A bahis firmaları delicate nose and full lips were her most captivating features. Her eyes remained downcast and did not look up to see her. Amanda nodded, more from appreciation than anything else. It was a classic response. The woman knew the police had arrived and was embarrassed by the situation she was in.
‘I’m Detective Inspector Jennings,’ she said softly to the woman. Now she looked up and she could see she had eyes the colour of jade. ‘I believe you know why we are here?’
‘Yes.’ Her voice was quiet.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Sung. Sung Bohrman.’
‘You’ve been accused of shoplifting from this shop,’ continued Amanda, her tone soothing, the way she had been taught in order to get people to work with you rather than against you. It was a theory that had always worked for her most of the time. She didn’t believe in being aggressive in her mannerisms. Sometimes, however, she had to be. In this case it was better to take a more approachable tone. ‘Is this true?’
‘Look in her bag,’ protested the manageress. ‘Then you’ll see that she is lying to you.’
‘Please, Ms Locksley,’ Amanda responded. ‘Perhaps it would be best if you returned to the shop and allowed us to deal with this.’
‘No,’ she refused. ‘I’m staying here.’
Amanda shrugged her shoulders. ‘I need to look in your bag Miss Bohrman. I have to do so but would prefer your cooperation.
Sung Bohrman reached down beside her and picked up a shopping bag. The name on the side told her it had come from a different clothing store. She held it up and Amanda stepped forward and took it from her, turning away from her as it was placed on the desk. She opened it and looked inside. There was a black dress that she removed that she knew would look stunning on the woman who had purchased it. A matching jacket went with it. Under these garments were some items of lingerie and three pair of stockings. A receipt lay at the bottom. She took it out and examined it. According to the receipt the woman had bought the dress, jacket and stockings at the other shop. It was just the lingerie that remained unaccounted for.
None of the items appeared to be of the quality to be found outside in the shop. She had not examined the items outside but knew these items could not possibly have come from there. The solitary pair of panties was moist to the touch and she dropped them back into the bag. Her fingers were slick with what was on them. She raised them to her nose and breathed. A familiar musky smell lingered and she knew instinctively that this was her scent she was breathing in.
Returning her attention to the bag she lifted out a bra and then looked across to the manageress.
‘That,’ she said distastefully, ‘is hers. She is wearing the items she stole.’
Amanda glanced between the two of them; taking the situation seriously but knowing there would be some comical replays later. There was a look of Bannister’s face that suggested he had a good comedy routine germinating in his fertile mind. Good at voices, he had a goldmine in the manageress.
‘Wearing them?’ she repeated.
‘Yes. All you have to do is get her to remove the dress. The security tags are still attached to the bra.’
‘It can’t be done here,’ she replied.
‘Why not? I pay my taxes and when I need help the police seem unwilling to provide that help. If you do nothing to rectify this, I will be in touch with your superiors. You mark my words, young woman!’
‘Ma’am, we are not unwilling to help,’ she said to her.
‘It looks that way to me.’ A look crossed her face. ‘I know what it is. It’s because she’s not English, isn’t it? You don’t want to get into some kind of diplomatic row. What’s this country coming to?’
Sung Bohrman looked at her in protest and then back to Amanda, hoping for some compassion. Amanda raised her eyebrows as she considered what had been said and then decided that it was, indeed, the only solution available to either prove or disprove the allegations being made. Part of her doubted they were true. Having seen the price she had paid for the other items it seemed inconceivable that she would resort to stealing a couple of items of underwear that cost a fraction of the money already spent. Then again, as she was well aware, you could never fully understand or predict another person’s motivations or their actions.
In the end Amanda nodded. ‘I need to ask both of you to leave the room.’ She did not give the manageress the chance to protest and held up her hand when her mouth started to open. ‘You are not legally permitted to be present while the suspect is being searched. I’m sure you understand.’
Her eyes narrowed, making her usual appearance that more vindictive looking. She nodded to Bannister who led her from the office and then closed the door behind him. He would stay there to dissuade her from trying to re-enter. Which she would try to do. It was in her nature kaçak iddaa to be interfering.
‘Miss Bohrman, serious allegations have been made against you,’ Amanda told her. ‘I can see no way to resolve this but to ask you to stand up and to remove your dress. You may, of course, refuse.’
‘Is this really necessary?’ she asked. Her English was flawless, her voice calm and collected as she appeared to be. The very way she comported herself made Amanda wonder as to the validity of them being here. Perhaps it was a racial issue. She had heard the way the manageress had spoken. There had been no racial slurs but she got the impression that Doreen Locksley was not the most liberal minded of women.
‘I’m afraid it is. We can either do it here or, if you feel more comfortable, we could go to the station and do it privately.’
‘Do I look at the kind of woman who would still some underwear?’ she asked.
‘That’s not for me to decide,’ replied Amanda. ‘I have to take all allegations seriously. If you haven’t taken anything you will be free to go and no further action will be taken.’ She raised her hand to scratch at an itch on the bridge of her nose and immediately caught another whiff of her scent, a scent reminiscent of her own. ‘If this is a mistake and we end up going down to the station it’s only going to waste a lot of time; yours and mine.’
The Chinese woman appeared to agree and slowly raised herself out of the chair. Amanda noticed that her hands were trembling as she started to undo the buttons on the pale cream dress. It suggested that the situation was affecting her more than she showed. It could either indicate guilt or just be a product of feeling intimidated by a police officer watching her undress. When all the buttons were undone she slowly parted the dress and slid it over her shoulders. She held onto the dress and neatly folded it before she draped it over the chair.
Amanda attempted to maintain a professional detachment when faced with the sight before her but her breath caught in her throat and she noted the increase in her heartbeat as her eyes feasted on the woman’s body. Sung had chosen a very sensual ensemble. Bannister was aware that she had a bisexual nature; that she had had previous relationships with women. His own arousal would be a mirror image to her own at this moment, had he been in the room. Sheer black stockings covered slender, slightly muscular legs, attached to a thick suspender belt that was embedded with bones in order to accentuate a shapely waist. Each, matching item was in a deep red satin, embroidered with silver floral patterns. The panties were delicate and barely covered her mound; the brassiere hid firm breasts and lifted them up to highlight an already ample cleavage. All of it set well against the colour of her skin, which she related to a milky coffee.
‘Please turn around,’ Amanda said softly.
Sung turned and stood with her back to her. A straight seam ran up the back of each stocking. Her eyes traced it from her ankle to high up her thigh. Then they lingered over her firm buttocks. On her left was a tattoo of a butterfly. And, on the back of the suspender belt, a security tag which left Amanda with no doubt that Sung had, indeed, stolen the items.
Amanda knew what she had to do but it was her lust that won the day. Since the moment she had removed the dress she had been fighting an internal battle to maintain detached from what she was feeling. Her professional side told her to act as the dedicated police officer she was. Against that stood the notion that the arrogant, racist manageress deserved to be ripped off. Maybe it would teach her a lesson. So, she stood there faced with a great dilemma.
Part of her wanted to walk over to the woman and kiss her, to let her know what effect she was having on her. It started the moment she was captivated by her intimate scent. And grew when she undressed before her. Amanda was confused. She’d dated people before that she met while on the job. Only once before had she allowed a clearly guilty suspect to go free but that had not been based on any desire to get them into bed. That was how it was now. It was a terrifying decision to make. It reflected on her professional integrity. Still, it rankled her that the manageress had made such racial undertones to the situation. Especially since her parents were not English. She based her final decision on a number of factors.
First there was her desire for the woman. As a police officer it was forbidden for her to consort with criminals, no matter what the offence was. For her to make any advances the woman could not be formally charged with anything.
Then came the crime itself. Shoplifting was hardly a major crime. It would cost more to the taxpayer should it ever reach a courtroom. The woman obviously had money so could afford to pay the amount. It was trivial compared to what she had already spent that day.
Then there was the race issue. That clinched it for her. She knew kaçak bahis Bannister would support her decision not to make an issue of it.
Amanda glanced around at the desk and found what she was looking for. She picked up the device and stepped close to the woman and inserted the security tag in the removal equipment. Taking a deep breath she removed the tag and stepped back.
‘Why?’ asked the woman.
Because I want to take you to bed, she thought to herself. That was something she could not say. ‘Because this is a waste of time and that woman rubs me the wrong way. I must officially caution you however.’ She took a notepad from her jacket and asked her for her full name and address and took down her telephone numbers as well. ‘I would advise you to not do this again. You obviously are quite well off as I can see from these other purchases. Please, put your dress back on.’
Sung reached for her dress.
‘Let this be the last time,’ she repeated. ‘Next time you may encounter an officer who does not take such a light approach to shoplifting.’
Sung nodded, a look of relief on her face. ‘I’m sorry, officer….’
‘Jennings,’ she said as she watched the buttons being redone. ‘By the way, you made an excellent choice. Your husband will be pleased.’
‘I’m not married,’ she informed her.
Amanda smiled. She walked to the door and opened it. Bannister leant against the wall and stood straight when she came out. The manageress was with him and strode firmly up to her, that same stern expression etched into her face. She glared past Amanda at Sung who was collecting her shopping bag.
‘Well, have you arrested her?’ she demanded.
‘No!’ she seemed incredulous. ‘What do you mean?’
Amanda lowered her voice. ‘Miss Bohrman was not wearing any undergarments under her dress.’
‘Impossible!’ refuted the manageress. ‘That woman stole from my Aremis range. The whole outfit is worth more than £500.00!’
Knowing that made it all the more satisfying. ‘Ms Locksley, did you actually see her steal anything?’
‘No. But the alarm sounded when she went to leave.’
‘Yet, you did not actually see her take anything?’
‘I’d like to show you something,’ she said and brought the manageress back into her office. She opened the shopping bag and showed her the jacket. The tag that she had removed from the suspender belt was now in the pocket of the jacket where she had placed it. ‘A tag was left in from the previous shop. It set your alarms off.’
‘It’s one of my tags,’ she said. ‘This belongs to me!’
‘These kinds of tags are common in the city; you know that as well as I do. This is all a simple mistake.’
Amanda was slowly losing patience with the older woman. ‘Ms Locksley, wasting our time takes us away from our duties. No crime has been committed here except for those racial remarks you made earlier on.’ Amanda took a step closer to her. ‘I believe an apology is in order. Then we can put this unfortunate incident behind us. Miss Bohrman is being gracious in her decision not to press charges against the store.’
‘Press charges?’ she repeated and her voice cracked a touch and the sternness was lost amongst the confusion that overwhelmed her.
‘Exactly,’ Amanda confirmed. ‘Also she felt it was a purely racial issue why she was singled out. As you know, racial discrimination is a top political priority in this country. Can you imagine the detrimental effect to your business if this became public knowledge? Better to leave it as it is and forget it ever happened.’ Amanda was actually beginning to enjoy herself now and no longer felt any pangs of guilt over her own behaviour.
‘I apologise,’ the woman said softly.
‘In that case, we must be going,’ Amanda said. She turned to Sung. ‘May we escort you home, Miss Bohrman?’
‘No, I have to get back to work,’ she said, taking up her shopping bag and then followed the two police officers out of the shop. Once they were outside she shook Amanda’s hand and thanked her.
At the car Bannister looked at her walking away. ‘She did it, didn’t she?’
Amanda thought of her lingerie clad body and her scent and smiled. ‘Yes.’
‘I’m proud of you, Detective Inspector!’ he laughed.
John was relaxing in the bath when she entered the bathroom, a heavy scented mist created by the waters. Amanda carried two glasses of surprisingly good Californian chardonnay. He watched her set the glasses down on the side if the bath and then sit herself down beside them.
‘You’re not mad at me for what I did today?’ she asked.
‘That all depends on your motivation for doing so,’ he replied. Having had time to think about it he came to realise that such a breach of procedure could come back to seriously damage both their careers should the manageress chose to make a formal complaint about their conduct. Their conduct could not be called into question. Both of them had acted professionally but she had covered up a crime. That truth could be very damaging. In actual fact it would not just harm their careers, it would end them. Yet, he felt, the possibility of the truth being discovered was minimal.
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