False Pretences

False Pretences by Veronica Heley Read Free Book Online

Book: False Pretences by Veronica Heley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Veronica Heley
say I’d have gone that far with him.’
    â€˜Er, no. So you knew him quite well?’
    A shrug. ‘Randy old goat. Hands up your skirt soon as look at you, breath like a distillery, but give him his due, he always paid his way.’
    â€˜How?’ Though Bea could guess.
    â€˜How d’you think? Like, half an hour’s chat and a hand on your knee, and it’s a fiver. An hour or so and a cuddle, it’s ten. A couple of kisses and a hand up your bra in his car, and it’s fifteen. It helped the cash flow, didn’t it? He used to come down here every night, twice at weekends. My boyfriend that was, has a part-time job here, helping in the bar, washing up and that, so I often come in on my way home from—’
    Was she going to say ‘from school?’ But she went on with hardly a second’s pause.
    â€˜Work. A friend lives in the village and gives me a lift here and then I wait for Tony – that’s me boyfriend that was – to take me home when he’s finished.’
    â€˜He didn’t mind your flirting with an older man?’
    A shrug. ‘We shared the takings. Why not? Only today Tony said I should be nice to another old gent that’s been eyeing me up, but I couldn’t. He stinks, see. Yuk! Tony argued with me, saying he’d promised the old man I’d give him a cuddle, and he took me outside and walloped me one when I wouldn’t, and then he got on his bike and went off and left me. And Pat – that’s the landlord – he’s going to be livid, being left in the lurch like that. And he’s going to ban me for being under . . . for being Tony’s girl, and me mum’s going to kill me!’
    Bea bit back distaste. Didn’t the girl realize she’d been on the slippery path to prostitution? ‘Maybe your mum’s right, and you could be making better use of your time.’
    The girl wriggled, pushing up her bust. ‘Homework, you mean? I should be so dodo. I know what assets I got, and they’re right here, in front. They’re what gets me a coupla drinks and some tips. What have I got to look forward to, otherwise? Sitting at a checkout in a supermarket all day? That’s what Mum used to do till she got fed up with it and went on to shelf-filling and a couple of cleaning jobs, and if that’s all that’s coming to me, then I’ll take my fun where I can, thank you very much. Now,’ she got up, fluffing up her hair in the mirror, ‘how about that lift, then?’
    â€˜Give me five minutes to drink my coffee, and meet me in the car park.’
    When they met up in the car park, the girl looked at the men, who reacted as if they’d been given an electric shock. They recognized what this girl was, far more quickly than Bea had done.
    It turned out that Kylie lived not far off their route back to London. Bea suggested that Kylie sit in the back with her. Kylie wasn’t too happy about this. She dismissed Oliver after one coquettish glance, but tipped her hip at Zander and moistened her lips, giving him what she thought was a provocative smile. When he failed to respond, she got into the car and slammed the door, saying it was a nice car but not exactly new, was it?
    Bea decided to ignored that. ‘So, Kylie, what did you think when you heard the old man had upped and died?’
    A grimace. ‘I was sorry, a bit. Most people thought it was funny like, joking that she’d frightened him to death. Pat, the landlord, he said she could frighten for England. Poor old Dishonourable. Always on about his heart, taking pills, wouldn’t walk further than from the car park to the bar, made the dogs run behind his car to give them their exercise, which he shouldn’t have done on these roads, it’s dangerous, we all said so. But he wasn’t going to listen, was he! Not him! Not the Dishonourable.’
    â€˜Was his heart that bad?’

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