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The Girl In

The Red Ferrari







BETSY BOND






Copyright © 2017 Betsy Bond


ISBN-13: 9781976139291 – paperback

ISBN-13: 9781999920425 – ebook


Published by The Young Adult Press


Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc


Cover artwork by wingdesign.co.uk


The Author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.


All rights reserved.


This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publishers prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


The book is not endorsed by or affiliated with Ferrari in any way. Ferrari is a trademark of Ferrari S.p.A.. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.






















Some rise by sin,


And some by virtue fall.




















This is dedicated to you, of course.


Yes, you.


You know who you are.






















chapter 1



the high hills and the frozen sea





It wasnt the Brazilian drug runners cracking her spine that hurt Daisy, but the way her Dad was so totally uninterested. He just sat there listening to Pansy prattle on about whatever stupid man or plan or fat-headed dream she was goo-goo over this week.

That was agony.

She knew it would be a lame week from the start, though. Walking into the police station on Monday, she was smiling at the spring crocuses when suddenly snow comes at her like a cavalry charge. One minute Portross is grey and dull as usual, just an out-of-time fishing town on Scotlands wild west coast. The next its a storm of fat white flakes swirling around skidding cars.

All day it just kept coming. The snowplough got snowed into its garage. The gritter ran out of grit. Then it got really cold.

Down at North Sands the sea froze. The rock pools were solid. You could see the poor crabs hanging there in the crystal water, baffled eyes rigid on their stalks.

And she was on traffic duty.

She slipped silk lining gloves under her white canvas gauntlets, but still the animal cold gnawed at her fingers. The snow settled on her hat and shoulders as she stood in the middle of the madness, directing cars she could hardly see.

A red Peugeot came down Shore Street. Didn’t clock her till late. Jammed on the anchors. Black Audi A3 went into the back of it. Both drivers got out and started shouting at her. Like shed conjured the stuff down from heaven simply to annoy them. Meanwhile, the traffics backing up all the way past the harbour to the golf course.

Eventually she calms them down. Takes their details only she cant write with her gauntlets on so she has to take them off. The silk liners go too. Her bare fingers are like frozen crab pincers round the pencil. At last she sorts it out. Gets the drivers to pull away. Puts her gloves back on. The traffic flows. Then fifty yards up the road, the red Peugeot brakes, the silver Saab ploughs straight in and the show starts all over again.

A whole week of that.

So come Friday when Miriam phones to suggest a drinkie or two in Route 66 followed maybe by some dancing, Daisys whooping practically deafens her friend.

Soon as her shift finishes at four-thirty she spins on her heel and leaves the cars to their skidding. She just has to check the rota and shes free.



The police station is the only modern building on Central Street. Built in the 1960s its hardly new, but compared with the rest of the town its an ugly punk of a construction, its square shoulders muscling a space between ancient tumbledown fishermens cottages.

Outside sits the stations patrol car, buried under a foot and a half of snow. The sharp concrete steps havent been cleared either. Daisy tries to hurry up them into the warm, but her heavy boots slip once, twice, three times. She stumbles and curses. She hates wearing these clumpy things. At the top of the steps she knocks the snow from her soles and opens the glass-panelled main door.

The blue-walled lobby is a relief after the snapping cold. But the air in this small room is stale and too familiar and Daisy moves quickly through it to the security door.

“Hey George,” she calls in to the reception office as she passes. The rota up?

No reply.

Daisy stops and looks in the little sliding widow. The elderly station assistant fills his chair like woolly plaster poured in a mould. His head is back, eyes closed, mouth open. He clutches an empty Pot Noodle to his cardigan-clad chest.

She sniffs. Pads at her running nose with her gauntlet. No sense in trying to wake him. This man could sleep through a riot. Not that there are ever any riots in Portross.

Daisy steps to the wall and enters her code on the keypad – BEEPBEEPITYBEEPBEEP – and the heavy door to her left swings open. This separates the public area of the station from the offices, cells, stores and other secure rooms. She walks through and swings it shut behind her.

Now shes in a central hallway with two doors opening off it and a descending stairway at the far end. Daisy heads for the door on the left.

A table, four chairs and a drinks machine with no windows to light them, just a flickering fluoride tube the staff room.

And two uniformed men with their backs to her. One is tall and very slender. The other is shorter and quite fat. They are both bent over the table, staring at a computer screen.

The shorter one is saying:

“…and shes entering the room…”

Hey guys,says Daisy, and walks over to the drinks machine.

“…walking to the drinks machine…”

Daisy slots a fifty pence piece into the machine and punches 15 into the keypad. A plastic cup shunks into a holder and steaming liquid squirts from a half-clogged nozzle.

“…standing there…”

Daisy lifts her soup out and sips it.

Utterly disgusting.

She takes her cup and walks back over to the two men.

“…and now shes walking towards us and shes right behind us and…”

Both men whirl round.

Ha ha! Im a genius!cries the tall one. The bones in his face are very fine handsome, in fact, but the way the flesh clings to those bones is unsettling. Its like theres not enough meat and muscle for the man. And he has a habit, when speaking, of half-closing his eyes and rapidly flickering the lids for a few seconds. At these uncomfortable moments he always looks to Daisy like some undead creature, fighting trying to rouse itself from its decaying slumber.

Constable Hamilton.

You’re a genius?” says the shorter man. He has pink, saggy features. A dark port-wine birthmark runs from his right temple down the side of his face to his jawline. The mark also runs backwards, covering his right ear and distorting the growth of hair on that side of his head.

Constable Inches.

What are you two up to?asks Daisy, sipping her soup.

It was my idea,says Inches, stepping towards Daisy and beaming.

You lying little toad,snaps Hamilton, slapping his colleague on the shoulder. I told you yesterday that you can track a phone even without knowing the IMEI number-

But you didnt have a clue how to go about it,returns Inches. I was the one who realized that all we had to do was-

Oh spare us,wails Hamilton. Did Einstein worry about details? Its the big idea, my fat little friend. Thats what matters.

Details is all he ever worried about-” starts Inches.

So,interrupts Daisy. “Let me get this straight. The pair of you have spent the day spying on me?she says.

Blank stares.

Hamilton suddenly turns and looks down at Inches.

I told you it was a terrible idea.

What? You’re the one who came up with it…”

Daisy sighs and shakes her head.

As if Id spy on our colleague-

You said we could use it at weekends as well if we got her mobile number-

“I’ll tell you what youre geniuses at idling. Next weeks rota up?she asks, and steps away from them to the notice board by the sink. Pinned top left is the new duty rota. Daisy stops in front and reads:


March 21-25


Constable Hamilton Crime

Constable Inches Crime

Constable Dean Traffic


She takes a deep breath. Tries to hold it in. Nope. Its no good.

Shit!she says, stamping her foot. Flipping shit!

She hurls her soup into the sink and stalks across the staff room to the door.

Inches peers at the screen.

Shes leaving the room…”

Shut up, Inches.

Three strides and Daisy is across the hallway at the door opposite. She knocks, and without waiting for reply, enters the room.

This small office has a window but it only opens onto a dark well formed by a fire escape, the side of the station and the flank of the old post office next door.

In front of the open window is a large desk stacked with improbably high piles of paper, at which sits a uniformed officer. Hes not that small a man he must be at least five eleven, and his shoulders could be almost broad. But he hunches when he sits. And he has a habit of bobbing his chin towards his chest in a meek, birdlike manner. Combine that with thick glasses and an unnaturally smooth chin, and although hes a few years older than Daisy, he could easily pass for a few younger.

Sergeant Walker the commanding officer of this tiny station.

As she steps in, the air in the room cloaks Daisys throat like fur three or four electric heaters are placed around the room elements burning bright. She notices that Sergeant Walker is wrapped in several layers of scarves.

The door clatters shut behind Daisy and Sergeant Walker jumps in surprise.

Daisy! I mean, Constable Dean.

Sergeant Walker, can I have a word?

Come in, yes, do my door is always open. I mean, the door is shut a lot of the timebecause of the draught, you understandbut, its just a metaphor, you know, because, ah, what I mean is, you can open the door, even if you encountered it when it was in its shut state, as you just have, and come in any time andand anyway…” He laughs nervously. Pushes his heavy glasses back up his nose. “…it doesnt matter because, ipso facto, youre already in the room, so…” And he bobs his head towards his chest.

Daisy walks right up to his desk. The chill wind gusts in through the window. A drop of water falls PLAT from her hair onto the desk. She shivers.

My goodness,he says, reaching out a hand towards her. Youre soaking!

Yes,she says, I’ve been standing in the snow all day. And I see from the rota that Im going to be standing in the snow all next week as well.She steps back a little, just out of his reach. Sergeant, why am I on traffic patrol again next week?

Sergeant Walker bobs so violently he almost headbangs the desk.

Ah, well constable, as you know, since the ahstart of this year, among the many improvements I have made to procedural operations in this station,and here he gestures to the piles of paper on his desk, I have been running a two-weekly or, to be strictly correct, bi-monthly rota system.

But look at the weather!interrupts Daisy. “Can’t you shift it around a little?

Sergeant Walker pushes his glasses up his nose.

If I assign you to crime, I have to pair you with an officer qualified to drive the squad car, which means taking one of the other constables away from his duty.

You mean Tweedledum and Tweedledee cant bear to be apart,she says, nodding her head back in the direction she came from.

Sergeant Walker laughs and instantly tries to turn it into a cough.

Now Constable,he says gruffly, this is an equal opportunities place of employment, and disrespectful language is no longer tolerated.

But its not like theyre on some important case. Theyve spent all day buggering about on the computer.

“Buggering – yes, well thats the nub of it, the heart of it right there, that youve put your finger on. You see, if I make one of them do something the other doesnt, they have a tendency to become less than completely manageable.

She stares at him.

And why is that my problem?

bob

Ah, well, its not of course. Its ah, mine. And its not a problem I want to have, but in this job we are often given tasks we dont want, and its up to all of us to face our responsibilities, andget on with them.He nods, as if to summarize his argument. We must all get on.

Daisy takes a calming breath.

You say this is an equal opportunities station.

Of course, all my officers have equal rights.

Did you get my application for the pursuit course?

Ah, now yes, Ive been meaning to talk to you about that.

He reaches a hand out towards his INtray and lifts the top piece of paper from the huge stack in it.

I received it,he says, but I have not actioned it.

Why not?

bob bob

Dais- Constable Dean. The pursuit course training is run by Covert Ops at Divisional HQ in Glasgow. It lasts two months. It costs a lot of money. That has to come from my budget.”

Its a good course.

Undoubtedly. A wonderful course. Of that we are in concurrence. Attend this course and you will not only be able to drive the squad car, you will be exceptionally qualified as a pursuit driver. A real hot shot.He smiles at her. She can tell its meant to be warm and ingratiating, but it makes the skin on Daisys neck burn. And I would love for you to have such skills I really do think you have great potential as a police officer. The point…” and now he bobs. “…is what use have we for a fully qualified pursuit driver here? The pursuit course is in Glasgow because its a big city where serious crimes happen I see in the news today that theres a new panic about bad drugs flooding the city. But here in Portross? Our most serious crime in the last calendar year occurred last July when a drunken fisherman urinated in Wee Jocks guitar in the pub. When I present your application,he waves the piece of paper, to Chief Inspector Wolfram at Divisional HQ and ask for his budgetary approval, I think I would be wise in guessing that laughter would be the first sound my ears would register.

So youll ask him.

He wont agree.

Youll ask.

For a second Azs eyes flash. He sits up a little straighter.

Perhaps I need to remind you who is the constable and who is the sergeant here?!

Her eyes flick to his arm. She tries to stop them, but its too late. Its like she needs confirmation. He sees her eyes go. Checks where theyre looking. And just as involuntarily, his left hand moves across his body. His fingers delicately press the stripes. Like theyre fresh wounds.

Daisy leans back from the desk.

“I’m sorry. But Sergeant Walker, its different for you youve worked in the city. Im nineteen years old.

Exactly you are one of the youngest police officers in the country. You have plenty of time.

So youre saying only young officers should do the crap jobs.

Not exactly.

Thats ageist. And Ill tell you something else, Im not going to spend the best years of my career shambling around Portross telling lost golfers where they can stick their niblicks.

He looks at her. His eyes are muddied behind his lenses.

He bobs once more.

Then sighs.

“I’ll pass your application on to Chief Inspector Wolfram. But in the meantime, I must insist that you perform your allocated duty. We all have to get on.

And he slots the piece of paper neatly onto the thick stack in his OUT’ tray.










chapter 2



like she was a doll





Daisy ditches her sopping uniform at home. Kicks off her horrible boots. Rubs her poor feet. God she needs to sweat this week out.

Checks her watch five-fifteen. Still got time.

She steps into two layers of thermals, adds gloves, a buff and her heavier trainers. Then she skips downstairs and pops her head into the sitting room to check on Dad. Fine, hes asleep in his wheelchair. Daisy can only see the back of his head, the side of his beard and the tops of his shoulders. She smiles his pure white hair makes him look like hes been snowed on too. Suddenly a little face pokes up over his right shoulder.

Gordon.

Dad’s aged Jack Russell terrier lifts his nose in the air and sniffs once. Then he hitches his jowls above his teeth and growls at her.

Same to you, you old grump,says Daisy, and turns for the front door.

She trots out past the snow-covered Rascal, her Dads toy-like mobility vehicle, and turns left at Dame Claras house. The old dears garden is looking nice for once it could be sculptures under that snow rather than bags of mouldering newspapers.

Poor old bird.

Daisy cuts up the lane and sprints until shes clear of the Estate. At the copse of oak trees the lane bends left to loop back to town, but Daisy takes the uphill path. This hugs the bank of the Shellach Burn, the feisty stream that runs down from the high mass of mountains behind the town. The edges of the burn are encrusted with ice. The woods end at a deer fence and then its open scrubland all the way up to the dam. Daisy crosses the burn by the shaky footbridge and takes the Land Rover track that leads up into the hills.

The snow is thick on the path with ice underneath. For every two steps she takes up, she comes skidding back one. Her thermals are soon slick with sweat despite the cold.

It takes her over half an hour her slowest time ever to get up to the top of the dam. When she reaches the concrete walkway she droops herself over the railing, her lungs hauling at the spiky air.

To her left and right, two great craggy arms reach down from the cloud-covered mountains. Between them arcs the grey curtain of the dam, which closes off a U-shaped corrie.

She looks down, the grey concrete sheering away beneath her feet. Below her, the old conduit runs out from the heart of the dam, curves round the craggy shoulder on the right and heads away towards Glasgow. Daisy can remember when it used to flow, supplying the city with drinking water. But it hasnt been used in years.

To the left of the conduit is the Land Rover track, and beyond that the town itself, nestled between the high hills and the frozen sea.

Daisy smiles. She cant see the Estate from here. Just the ancient heart of the town, the stone buildings huddling together against the wind.

Behind her, the snow has settled on the reservoir ice. Its been a long time since it was this cold. And above this white plain, scree-scattered slopes rise up to the peaks of the hills, which lie beneath the clouds like sleeping wolves.

The wind howls round the corrie, throwing hail against the back of her neck. Its getting dark. She turns for home.

Thoughts of dancing keep her warm all the way.



Hey Dad!she shouts, stepping into the narrow hall. I’m back.And she drops her keys into the chipped old dog bowl on the shelf behind the door. Six-thirty. Time for a quick bath, then-

She hears it.

Clack clack clackety WOOF

Oh no.

Clack clack clackety WOOF

Oh shit.

Daisy paces down the thick-carpeted hall.

Not now

She pokes her head round the sitting room door and lifts her hands wearily to cover her face.

On top of the ancient Grundig TV and VCR there sits an empty videotape box. The Adventures of Robin Hood. To the right of the fire stands a battered tailors dummy. Its dressed in a green felt shirt and jerkin, which hang from the torso in tatters. In the gaps between the shreds, the pink plastic of the dummy is cut and chipped. A feathered hat is taped to the dummys head. Green woollen stockings stuffed with newspaper have been attached as legs. The feet of the stockings are half-shredded.

And then, the reason shes sighing:

His wheelchair rolled right forward in front of the fire, her father is attacking the dummy with a sword. And attacking it with quite startling violence. Sweat flies from the ends of his white hair. Chunks of plastic zing into the air as Gordon dances below, savaging the stuffed-stocking legs.

Clack clack clackety WOOF

Ha ha!Dad shouts. Die, you traitorous villain!!

If he keeps this up, hell wake Dame Clara next door

Daisy turns and heads for the kitchen.

She grabs a highland cow mug from the wooden tree beside the fridge and runs some water into it. Then she reaches into the cupboard and pulls out a big plastic pill bottle. Unscrews the cap and tips three large lozenges out into her palm. Then she picks up the mug and turns back-

Drop that tankard, you varlet!

Shit! What a fright.

Dad sits in the doorway in his wheelchair. Sword in hand. Pointed right between her eyes. Gordon is by his side, wiry frame tensed, one paw lifted.

Daisy stares down at her father in his wheelchair. Even though hes sitting and shes standing, she always feels like hes looking down at her. Its something in the proud way he tilts his white bearded chin up.

As usual, the sword bothers her. It shouldn’t – it’s just Dad, after all. But theres something about his eyestheyve always been remarkable ice blue and razor sharp but these days theyre really incredible. Its what you see through them that does it. One minute they are empty, a clear window to a vacant mind. The next they swirl with life and vicious brilliance.

The eyes look much more dangerous than the sword.

She pushes the blade casually downwards.

Hey sheriff, you havent taken your tablets, have you?

He raises the sword again. Waggles it. For a second, she wonders if he really might hurt her. Not deliberately, hed never do that. But his coordination is not great. His body is almost as damaged as his mind.

Question me not, you rogue!” he cries.

Its getting more frequent, thinks Daisy. Its only been about two weeks

“Dad,” she says softly, raising her eyebrows at him. It’s me. Daisy.”

And then, in an instant, the swirling in his eyes fades and blankness fills the void.

Oh, Im sorry, my girl.He stares at the pills in her hand. I was going to take them, really I was, and then…”

“Ha hah!” cries Errol Flynn from the other room. Gordons ears perk up. Dad looks around fearfully.

“…and then they came.

God grant me patience

“Let’s go through and turn that off, shall we?

Daisy ushers him back into the sitting room. She turns the TV off and looks out of the window.

Where did you see them, Dad?

Out there, my girl. Right on my own back lawn. I swear theyre getting bolder.

Its funny,she says, half smiling to herself, youd think they would have left some sort of footprint in all this snow.

He glares at her. His eyes starting to swirl again.

You should know by now,he says, his voice getting louder, that nothing is beyond the Outlaws!

She opens her palm and proffers the tablets.

Come on, Dad.

There was a new one today,he continues, his eyes distant.

Is that right?

Yes,nods her Dad. A fat one. His eyes looked in different directions and he was dressed in yellow. With black stripes across his body here and here. Looked like a giant bumblebee. Isnt that clever?

She stares at him.

This is a really bad one

Uh, cleverwhy?

They know Gordon doesnt like bees. Do you, Gordon?

RRROWWRRFF!!

He leans towards her. Puts his hand to his mouth and says to her in a stage whisper:

Its his one weakness.

Aha. Take these now, Dad.

He ignores her. Looks back down at the dog.

But that didnt stop us, did it?

RRRROWWWFF!!

I made him this. Come here boy.

Just pop them on your tongue and-

But shes too late. His eyes are swirling like washing machines on spin cycle. The little terrier leaps up into his lap. Dad reaches down the side of his chair and removes a triangular piece of cardboard, around six inches long. He presses two of the edges and it pops out to form a baseless pyramid. A length of elastic has been stapled to the bottom. He stretches this back and pops the pyramid over Gordons muzzle. It fits snugly. He then produces a couple of feathers and tucks these into the elastic. Patiently, the little dog lets his master do all this without once even flinching. Dad and Gordon both look up at her.

You see?

This is definitely the worst its ever been

Um, I see something. Not sure exactly what, though.

“He’s an owl! This is his beak and these are his feathers. Bees dont like owls because they hunt and eat them. Oh, my owl and I gave that Outlaw such a scare, didnt we Gordon?

MMMWWFF!! barks the old terrier through the cardboard. Then he jumps to the floor and begins whirling on the spot, chasing an imaginary and, thinks Daisy, presumably circular foe.

Thats the spirit, faithful hound!cries Dad. Now, come on, my girl, lets go out on patrol.

Left hand on the wheel of his chair, the right still clutching the sword, he spins himself round and starts towards the hall.

“No, Dad!”

He stops. The muscles in his broad back tense. The sword begins to twitch.

She stares at the nape of his neck. His white hair is trimmed to a perfectly straight line.

Dad, Ive had a hell of a week. Im going to meet Miriam.

He sits up straight. Like she kicked him. Hes not really in pain, she knows that. Mere words cant damage this man. But when he turns, there is hurt on his face.

And then he says it:

Pansy would drive her father.

And way down deep, Daisys soul flinches. Cowers in pain like a cat with a scalded paw.

Why does he say such shitty things?

Because he loves Pansy and hates her and doesnt care that she knows it

Daisy drops her head and turns away, eyes burning hot and wet.

And then, for just a second, she sees him as he used to be. When she was a girl. Standing tall in front of her impossibly tall the buttons on his uniform gleaming, his boots shining. His big craggy face would crack into a smile and hed bend down and pick her up like she was a doll. And shed nestle into the crook of his arm and hed take off his cap and put it on her head and shed lift her head and see the world from his incredible point of view. Looking down on the TV, the bookcase, looking down on mum, even

But thats when the vision fades.

And now all Daisy sees is a wild-eyed, white-haired old man in a wheelchair by the electric fire. A fierce-eyed dog with a cardboard beak on the tatty rug beside him.

And although hes been shitty, Daisy loves him more than ever. Her heart feels light in her chest. She sighs.

Okay, Dad, we’ll go.”

“Ha-hah!” he shouts in triumph, and thrusts his sword at the dummy.

MMRRRFF!!manages Gordon through his beak.

On the condition,continues Daisy, that you swallow these right now.

And she thrusts the lozenges and the highland cow mug towards him.

Of course, my girl. Anything for you.

And he downs them in a oner.



The Rascal is a converted Mini, with its roof raised and a rear door added to accommodate a wheelchair. Her dad peers backwards out of the high window like a tank commander. Gordon sits on the passenger seat, one eye on Daisy as she pulls slowly out onto the Shellach Burn Road.

Dad bangs the roof with his fist.

Slower!he yells. How are we ever going to catch them if youre going so fast?

Dad, were doing eleven miles an hour. If I go any slower well go back in time.

Do as youre told. Slow down!

Daisy drops the Rascal into first. Her right foot twitches on the accelerator. Its all she can do to stop the car from stalling.

She checks her watch.

Shit, nine oclock already. Miriam wont be happy.

She looks in the mirror. Dad is peering hard out at some youths who hurry out of an alley leading up from the harbour and duck into a brightly lit basement bar Route 66. Music spills out over the snow.

When are those pills going to kick in? Theyve been round the town three times already

Okay, Dad. Thats enough. Lets go home.

Theres one!he cries, and Gordon starts barking.

Dad, thats Sandy. The lobsterman.

“He’s not an Outlaw?

Not unless smelling bad is illegal.

Then whys he walking so suspiciously?

“He’s had a drink, Dad. Like most normal people on a Friday night.

Dad rolls down his window.

Well, its a DISGRACE!he yells as they pass Sandy.

MMRRFF!squawks Gordon.

Sandy starts and staggers and topples into a snowdrift.

Good work, Gordon,says Dad, patting his hound. Then he turns to Daisy. Right, my girl, lets go round again. And slower this time. For Gods sake, slower!



Ten oclock has come and gone by the time Daisy scampers up the narrow stairs.

God, she hopes she isnt too late. If Ems been too long on her own

Daisy opens the front door and rushes straight in to a remarkable room. Every square inch of the walls is covered in images of famous men. A movie poster of Robert Redford and Paul Newman as Butch and Sundance has pride of place above the gas fire, and spiralling out from that, images have been tacked, taped, nailed and glued with frenzied intensity. Between the light switch and the doorjamb alone Daisy can see a publicity still of Tom Hardy, a signed photograph of Ewan MacGregor and an action shot of Ryan Lochte.

Below these images, every flat surface is filled with flowers daffodils, roses, carnations, offering something of a feminine counterpoint to the walls of maleness. They spring from pots and boxes and a George Clooney mug with earth in.

And in the middle of all this colour, recumbent on a sagging orange sofa, wearing grey exercise shorts and a too-small T-shirt with a picture of David Bowie on it, is Miriam.

Miriam has a face so round it could be painted on a plate. Round, moist brown eyes, a little round nose amid round apple cheeks, and a big, sensuously circular mouth are all framed by a round brown bob. Her bodyframe is tiny, but she has huge boobs, a neat potbelly and a rounded, protruding bum. All these perfect little circles make Miriam look like she has been blown into being out of a giant bubble machine.

As Daisy steps into the room, Miriam is emptying the last of a bottle of red wine into a glass. Her hand wobbles a little as she sets the bottle down on a stained wooden coffee table.

Hey hun,smiles Daisy.

I got one for you,says Miriam, pointing to another bottle that stands on the table. But there was an accident.Daisy clocks the second bottle empty.

Too late.

Oh Em, Im so sorry. Dad was unbelievable tonight. I just couldnt get him calmed down. Five times we had to drive round town.

Six months.

What?

Since I had any.

Here we go

Maybe you should share that wine out, hun.

Miriam clutches her overflowing glass to her chest.

Half a year since I had my hands on any perks.

Em, youre not making much sense.

“Perctoral muscles!” Miriam says, grabbing her own boobs and slopping wine all over John. Perks! I havent had my hands on any perks in ages.She takes a huge slurp of wine. Let alone a cock.

Daisy sighs.

Thats tonight out the window.

Why dont I put the kettle on?she asks. Make some tea?

Fuck tea,roars Miriam. “Were going dancing!And she stands up.

Em, its minus ten degrees out there.

So?

So youre wearing your nightclothes.

Colds good for the nipples,says Miriam, and turns towards her front door.

Sit down, Em. Well go dancing next Friday.

No! I cant stand another week in this fucking town without any fuckinglife! Were going now!

And she turns for the door again, takes a step forward, catches her foot on the coffee table and topples hard onto the floor, wine slopping wildly.

Daisy dashes across the room and drops to her knees. Puts her arm round her friends head and pulls her gently upright.

Oh Dee, one of us has drunk too much,mumbles Miriam, big round eyes pleading. And I have a terrible feeling it might be me.

Its okay, hun,says Daisy, smoothing Miriams hair down the side of her crimson cheeks.

“I’m just so sick of this place,Miriam goes on. I had a hell of a week in the salon, and I was so looking forward to seeing you and then I thought you werent coming and so I had a glass and the next thing…” Miriam sighs. I’m sorry I spoiled your night.

You havent spoiled anything,says Daisy. Wait here.And she jumps up and steps over to the little CD player that lives on the window sill. She picks up a CD from the pile on top, slots it home and presses play. Then she steps back over to her friend. She stands up on the sofa, reaches a hand down to her friend and says in a deep voice:

Hello beautiful, would you do me the honour of accompanying me in a dance?she asks.

Miriam smiles and takes her hand. She wobbles to her feet and they stand up facing each other on the sofa, feet in the middle of the cushions.

You ready to boogie, old pal?” asks Daisy.

Miriam nods, eyes shining, tongue flicking over her lips with excitement.

Theres a delicious half second of silent anticipation, then the beat drops and the singing starts in and the two of them are smiling and dancing, hands all over the place, bums stuck out and wiggling, voices warbling in happy harmony. And by the time they get to the na na nanas, Route 66 is a thousand miles away.



The house is dark when Daisy gets home. And quiet.

Thank God hes asleep, she thinks Daisy. She slips off her shoes in the hall and pads up the stairs to her bedroom.

She undresses for bed, folds her clothes and scurries quickly into bed, hauling the duvet tight around her. Even on the coldest nights, Daisy never wears nightclothes. She remembers this guy on a survival programme saying that youre actually warmer without them if you have a good duvet or sleeping bag. Your bodys warmth goes into the good insulation of the feathers rather than the poor insulation of your cotton pyjamas.

Bloody cold at first though, she thinks as she shivers violently. She looks out through the gap in the curtains at the snow on her window ledge. Its almost up to the top of the first pane.

Suddenly remembers the last time she saw snow on her ledge like that. Christmas 2010. She was twelve. She knows it was that year, because it was the only proper white Christmas she ever had. The last one before

She shakes that memory away.

That was the best Christmas. She got Now! 77 in her stocking and Mum let her play it on the big stereo on Christmas morning as they sat by the tree looking out at the snow all perfect outside. Dad had to work that year, so it was just the three girls. They had Christmas dinner and pulled the crackers and walked up to the dam through the snow. And Mum took them out onto the ice Dad would never have let them do it. But Mum just laughed and said What does your Dad know?and led them right out into the middle. And when they came back home Mum made her and Pansy cocoa. Not the cheap hot chocolate you get in a packet proper cocoa made with melted chunks of chocolate and butter and spices

Daisy’s tastebuds flood with the memory. She smiles out at the freezing night. Maybe she should go downstairs and make some cocoa now?

She shivers. Shed have to put on her dressing gown and slippers andit wouldnt be the same if she did it herself.

Not the same at all.

Daisy sighs and turns over. Nestles her face into the cold pillow and closes her eyes.

Clack!

Surrender!

Oh no.

Clack clack!

Did you hear me?

Not again.

Clack clack CLACKETY!

Have at you, you scoundrel!

Grrroow-rroowwff!!

Death to all Outlaws!

Thats so loud. Hes going to wake Dame Clara up and she’ll…

WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP!!

bang on the wall.

Keep it doon, ya crazy auld bugger!comes faintly through from next door.

“I’m crazy?Dad yells back. Who keeps her used toilet paper under the sink?

CLACK CLACK CLACK GROOOWWFFF!!!

A sad smile creeps onto Daisys face. It would all be so funny if

she had someone to laugh with.

She turns over and pulls the duvet right up over her head.

Already looking forward to Monday.










chapter 3



walking around the top of a skull





Daisy stalks into the kitchen, buttoning her collar.

Dad, have you seen my baton?

He forks a huge wedge of bacon and eggs into his mouth.

Mmm, I think Gordon had it,he mumbles, eyes on the paper.

And you didnt take it off him?!she cries. Shit!

Dont swear in my house.

Its my house too, she thinks. And if that bloody dogs chewed my baton Ill do more than swear.

Daisy darts back into the hallway and along to the sitting room. She glances out through the window of the back door. The snow is melting. Theres still plenty of it, but the gutters course with filthy torrents of meltwater and patches of green are showing through on the lawn.

Where are you, you little devil?

She checks behind the sofa. Nothing. Behind Dads armchair. No. Then she spots a flake of wood the right of the telly.

Two steps and shes peering behind the old Grundig TV.

Shreds of wood litter the carpet. Evil brown eyes stare up at her.

Grrrffffffa warning growl.

What the-Daisy starts, then calls back along to the kitchen. For God’s sake Dad, he’s shredding it!

You know he gets frisky at this time of year.

Right, you wee bugger, this is war.

Daisy walks over to the tatty rug by the electric fire. Picks up Gordons favourite squeak ball. His little eyes narrow.

Thats right,she says. A counter attack.

Gordon tries to snarl, but with the baton in his mouth it comes out more like a sinister gargle.

Daisy crosses to the back door. Opens it, throws the squeak ball out into the snow. Then she shuts the door. Points to the dogflap.

“Go fetch.”

Gordon looks up at her. Snarls again, then runs to the flap. Tries to step out. But the baton in his mouth bangs at the edges of the flap. He tries again at different angles. Once, twice, three times.

He stops. Looks back at Daisy over his shoulder, fierce eyes narrowing to slits.

Daisy smiles.

Then, in a flash, Gordon prods one end of the baton into the flap, lets go and pokes it through with his nose. A hop and a skip and hes through after it.

You little wretch!cries Daisy and leaps to the door.

Through the glass panel she watches Gordon trot out across the snow-covered back lawn, drop her half-mauled baton and pick up his squeak ball. He then returns, hairy knees high, back towards the door. He dives in through the flap and is sitting on his tatty rug before Daisy can even swear.

Something tells her this is going to be another one of those weeks.



Gorged with meltwater, the Shellach Burn has burst its banks. The main road into Portross is flooded. Icy black water coils over the tarmac. Eight oclock in the morning and Daisy is standing in the sleet diverting traffic.

A silver Saab 9-3 convertible pulls up.

Sorry sir, roads closed,says Daisy. You need to turn round and come in by the South Braes.

The driver, a fat man with a huge moustache, leans out of the window. Says in a heavy Glaswegian accent:

Listen, hen, Im oan the tee at nine.

“Ah, I’m not sure the course is going to be open.

And whit the fuck dae ye ken aboot gowf?!he snorts, his moustache twitching like a dying rodent.

I may not know much about golf, but I do know what happens to lightweight executive cars when they try to drive through raging floodwater a metre deep. Turn your vehicle around and come into town via the South Braes.

She holds his glassy eyes.

The driver snarls at her and starts to turn his car around.

Ye should be oot catchinproper criminals!

Yes sir,says Daisy, I absolutely should.

Just then, from behind her, there comes a voice, soft and rolling:

Mornin, hen. Can ah borrow ye for a second?

She turns.

Its Sandy, the lobsterman she saw on Friday night. Hes still walking like a weeble-wobble toy. Daisy can now see that its not because hes drunk, but because he has the bandiest legs ever attached to a human being. Combined with his huge ginger beard, yellow Souwester and almost spherical belly, he is hilarious to behold. If she were less tired, Daisy would probably be stifling a laugh. As it is, she just sighs.

Can it wait, Sandy? Im busy here.

Aye, well, theres a strange thing happenindoon at the harbour.

Daisy looks back round at the silver-Saab driver. Hes following the diversion.

Sure, Sandy. Lets take a look.



The old lobsterman leads her down the tree-hung lane that connects Kinness road with the harbour. Theres so much wobble in his walk, Daisy worries that he may actually topple clean over.

Are ye well, lass?

She looks round at his swaying face. Theres something kindly about its ridiculousness.

Been better, Sandy.

Aye, ye look a little peaky, hen. Ye want to get yerself oot anabout a bit. Get some fresh air, like.

Is he being sarcastic? she wonders, peering into his wrinkled eyes. But before she can decide, he looks round and says:

Here we are.

Theyve walked past the end of the fish-processing warehouse and are almost at the edge of the wharf. Ahead of them a little cluster of fishermen has gathered on the quayside beside the teetering lobster creels. The fishermen break off from their low chatter and turn to stare at the arrivals. Sandy nods to them. They return his greeting then continue staring at Daisy.

She can feel their eyes on her as she approaches. Theyre entitled to stare, she thinks. They wanted a police officer and here she is. But theres something in the way their coarse faces smilea barely detectable twist in the upper lipa tiny noda not-so accidental nudge of the elbow that annoys her. Would they look at Constable Inches like that?

The fishermen fan out into a semi circle as Sandy and Daisy approach. One man stands apart a little. He is grossly fat. In his right hand he holds a long thing blade with a hooked end, which he passes slowly back and forth through a piece of pink nylon net that he holds in his other hand. His heavy-knit sweater is smeared with the guts of a thousand fish. He eyes Daisy from below pulpy lids, his glance moving up and down her body. Then he looks her in the eye for a long second, shakes his head and looks away.

Daisy shivers.

Sandy steps right through the middle of them and stops at the very edge of the wharf. He lifts his curving legs one sway, two sway over a couple of stray lobster creels and puts one foot up on a bollard.

There!he says, pointing dramatically into the middle of the little harbour.

What?says Daisy, stepping forward beside him and looking out over the dark waters.

Yon boat. The one in Fat Boab’s berth.”

His crooked old finger is quivering, but he seems to be pointing to a small yacht that sits right in the middle of the harbour, as far from the other boats as it is possible to be. Daisy is no sailor, but the boat looks odd even to her. For a start it is completely black. Its also oddly shaped its hull is that of a sleek-lined racing yacht, but the deck has a chunky, industrial-looking cabin plonked on top. It has also been painted black. A single porthole on the side of the cabin glares blankly at them like a sharks eye.

Yes?she says, her voice surprisingly croaky.

Its no mine,says the fat fisherman gruffly, his hand working the thin blade.

Daisy turns and stares at him. He stares back, his ancient eyes swirling like the sea in a storm.

“Aye, lass, aye,” gabbles Sandy, stepping round between Daisy and the fat fisherman. Thats fat Boabs berth,he adds.

So whit are ye gointae do aboot it?drawls Fat Boab.

Daisy sighs. Wipes her forehead. Turns to Sandy.

Can the harbourmaster not deal with this?she asks.

“He’s in his scratcher. No feelin’ too perky,” says Sandy, hopping from one bandy leg to the other.

You mean hes hungover,says Daisy.

Sandy tips his head on one side. Smiles at her. Then at the fat fisherman.

Och, listen to that, boys. Sharp as a cloot.He looks back at her. Ye should be a detective, lass, ye know that?

Daisy flinches. Theres that look again.

Are you winding me up?

Whit?

But his open face hides no malice. She sighs again. Waves a gauntlet at the mystery boat.

“Can’t you ask its crew to move it?

Aye, ye would think so. But thats the oddest thing. It arrived in the night and all morning theres no been a soul visible on board. Naebodys got on and naebodys got off.

Daisy looks over the edge of the wharf. The floodwater from the Shellach Burn has turned the harbour into a boiling black mass. Like huge serpents coiling as they feast on some submarine monstrosity.

Daisy turns back to the semi-circle of fishermen. Theyre all staring solidly at her.

Daisy takes a breath. Looks back at Sandy.

Can you take me out to it?she says.

Sandy smiles.

“Ah’ll get mah dinghy,he replies.



Sandy hauls on the oars with a strength that belies his warped frame. But even with his power, the current in the harbour snatches and pushes at the little craft. It takes them an age of creaking, rocking and splashing to row out across the dark water.

As they lurch up to the black boat, Sandy ships the oars and reaches for the guardrail. The little dinghy nestles up against the larger vessel with a soft bump. The current immediately tries to haul it away again.

Look lively, lass,says Sandy, his ancient arms straining against the pull of the water.

No time to think. She stands up and steps towards the side of the dinghy. With a sickening lurch it sways beneath her.

Daisy half panics and grabs for the handrail just as the dingy swings away from the black boat. For a head-spinning second shes stretched over the space between the two boats.

Jump, lass!barks Sandy, his face red to bursting, arms shaking.

She springs with her legs and shoots the dinghy out from underneath her. Shit, shes going to drop into the inky wetness. Theres the rail got to reach for it, stretch fingers, grab hard

Got it.

Oof! Her body whumps into the side of the black boat and her feet drop into the icy water. But her hands hold the metal rail and shes strong. Daisy pulls and swings her body onto the boat.

Ah cannae hold against this,says Sandy, digging his oars in against the surging current. Ah’ll wait at yon buoy.And he lets the water drift him towards the large marker buoy at the mouth of the harbour.

Daisy stands up on the deck of the boat. Its a very strange craft indeed. The planks beneath her feet have been bleached bone white by the sun. Surrounded by the black of the water, Daisy feels like shes walking around the top of a skull, suspended in the void.

She steps squelchily over to the door of the cabin. Opens the latch and pushes the door forward. It squeaks grumpily. Inside, a little stepladder leads down to a small gangway.

Hello?she calls into the space, not as loudly as shed hoped.

No answer.

She takes a breath and steps forward onto the first step. Suddenly the boat lurches beneath her, pitching her forward. Violently off balance, she has to kick her feet out quickly to avoid pitching forward down the ladder. She steps down hard and bangs her shoulder into the bulkhead.

Well if there was anybody on board, surely they would have heard that. She looks around. There are two doors, leading off the corridor, one leading aft, the other forward.

Daisy shrugs and steps to the forward door.

Anybody home?she calls, opening the latch. The door swings wide and Daisy steps into a narrow galley. A small stove, refrigerator and drawer unit sit opposite the cupboards. Utensils sway from hooks in the ceiling, jostling and muttering as the water plays with the boat. At the far end of the galley, the cabin opens out again and a small table folds down from the wall. Fixed to the wall either side of this table are narrow bare wooden benches. Above them sit portholes, one either side.

Theres no one here, and shes about to turn for the other door, when she spots the breakfast cereal.

Half a dozen boxes of it stand on the small table at the far end. From here, Daisy cant see whats underneath the table or the benches. Maybe someone was eating breakfast and collapsed

She steps forward into the walkway between the stove and the cupboards. The hanging utensils jingle by her head.

Hello?she says as she steps into the living area.

Nothing.

Daisy drops to her knees and peers under the table and benches.

Nope.

She stands up. Looks back on the table at the cereal boxes. Kelloggs. But the writing on the side is in a foreign language. Spanish? she wonders. And how strange, all these packets out and no bowls or cutlery. Maybe the crew had to abandon ship before they got a chance to eat. Daisy sighs. By the time shed got her baton back from Gordon, she missed breakfast too. She picks up the first box.

And instantly knows that something is wrong.

It is heavy in her hand. Too heavy for cereal. She stops. Slides a finger into the flap on the box top. Lifts. Looks inside. There are no cornflakes in the box. Instead there are polythene packets of whitish-grey powder. Nestling in neatly packed rows. Very gently, Daisy puts the box down on the table. She lifts the second one. Looks inside. Also full of plastic packets. And the third box, and the fourth, and the fifth. Daisy steps over to the first cupboard in the galley. Opens it. Both shelves are stacked with cereal boxes. Holy shit, she thinks, and turns for the stairs-

To see a man, wearing nothing but a pair of black boxer shots, standing at the other end of the galley.










chapter 4



the hook ripping through the air





A choke of fear seizes her throat. Who is this guy? Due to his state of undress, Daisy can see the man is tanned and muscular. His hair is black and well-styled, but his isnt a welcoming presence. His face is long and rigid with oversized features, and there is an animal aura, a brainless horseyness about him. The man sways a little and blinks slowly. Scratches his hip. Like hes sleepy.

Daisy freezes.

The man just sways, scratches and stares at her.

She stares back.

He stares some more. Blinks.

Pause.

Its ridiculous. Theyre both just staring at each other. Isnt anyone going to say anything?

He walks slowly down the galley towards her. The muscles in his belly flex and pulse as he moves. He stops so close she can feel his breath moving the air in the cramped galley.

Suddenly, his wide horse mouth smiles.

Daisy tries to smile back, but her lips have hardly started moving when-

CRA-BLAMM!

He punches her hard in the face.

She takes off and clatters back into the cupboard. The edge of the open door cracks into her spine. It gives way with her weight and crashes back off its hinges. She bounces sideways and thumps back onto the table which rattles with the impact. The damaged door clatters to the floor.

Christ, the pain! An instant explosion of agony from her cheekbone. Then that horrible sick feeling in your nose. Like your whole head is going to vomit. And now her back comes online, a line of pounding fire.

She takes a breath. A spasm in her ribs. Dizzy. Whats going on? Did he just-

She senses movement. Looks up. God no, here he comes! Reaching for her. Huge brown hands. Broad lip snarling in hatred.

Her hand flies to her baton. She smashes it at the man. He sways back, the baton crashes onto the side wall and splinters into two pieces. That bloody dog for a microsecond she feels like crying at the stupidity of it all. But thats not going to help hes almost on her. Quick, roll left. Off the table onto the padded seat, then back right onto the fallen door.

Ooof!

She bangs to the ground the wind knocked out of her. And her shoulder lands on a hinge on a hatch in the wooden floor. Metal hits right on the bone. The pain is a chisel in her brain. Got to move. But nothings responding. She can hardly breathe.

A noise hes coming!

Daisy manages to lift her head.

Just past her feet she sees the bottom half of the man. Hes pacing towards her. A couple of steps and hes right there at the end of the table. Now hes bending down. His hands stretching out for her ankles. Going to grab them

She lashes out with her left boot. Connects with the inside of his knee.

Crack! The joint flicks out and his body sways.

Oooohhh, he groans quietly.

For once shes glad shes wearing her damned ugly police boots.

But he doesnt fall. Most of his weight was on his other leg. She hasnt done any damage. He teeters back on his heels, but his hands reach for the table edge and he steadies himself. Nice white fingernails, she bizarrely notices. God, whats wrong with her? Got to think hes drawn his body to the edge of the table.

Quickly, Daisy pulls her knees up to her chest and rocks back until she can put her feet on the underside of the tabletop. Then, with a high squeak of effort she straightens her legs, sending the tabletop rocketing upwards.

Krunssh!

Laminated chipboard connects with swarthy chin.

The man grunts and arcs violently back onto the galley floor. Hits the deck with a brutal thud.

Quick, wriggle out.

He’s groggy. Shaking his head to clear the pain. Blood is already flowing fast from a deep cut on his chin. And from his mouth too. Looks like he bit his tongue. Bet that hurt

Stop it! Forget him. Stand up. Get your handcuffs. Try to stop your hands from shaking so much. Dont even think about the pain in your back.

Open the cuffs. Bend down. Watch him. He could be faking. No, hes really out of it. Brown eyes are spiralling all over the place. And look at the blood! Spraying and bubbling from his mouth as he grunts and moans, pouring down his neck onto his bare shoulder and off onto the wooden floor. God, she must have caught him a beauty.

Theres his wrist. Right beside the waste pipe for the stove. That looks pretty solid. Steel or aluminium or something. Bend down. Slip one ring of the cuffs over the pipe. KRICKLICK. Now all you have to do is take his wrist isnt his skin healthy looking? and close the other endKRICKLICK. Now head back up on deck and call over Sandy and-

Another man is standing in front of the open galley door.


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