say Iâd have gone that far with him.â
âEr, no. So you knew him quite well?â
A shrug. âRandy 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
âHow?â Though Bea could guess.
âHow dâyou think? Like, half an hourâs chat and a hand on your knee, and itâs a fiver. An hour or so and a cuddle, itâs ten. A couple of kisses and a hand up your bra in his car, and itâs fifteen. It helped the cash flow, didnât 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 fromââ
Was she going to say âfrom school?â But she went on with hardly a secondâs pause.
âWork. A friend lives in the village and gives me a lift here and then I wait for Tony â thatâs me boyfriend that was â to take me home when heâs finished.â
âHe didnât mind your flirting with an older man?â
A shrug. âWe shared the takings. Why not? Only today Tony said I should be nice to another old gent thatâs been eyeing me up, but I couldnât. He stinks, see. Yuk! Tony argued with me, saying heâd promised the old man Iâd give him a cuddle, and he took me outside and walloped me one when I wouldnât, and then he got on his bike and went off and left me. And Pat â thatâs the landlord â heâs going to be livid, being left in the lurch like that. And heâs going to ban me for being underÂ .Â .Â . for being Tonyâs girl, and me mumâs going to kill me!â
Bea bit back distaste. Didnât the girl realize sheâd been on the slippery path to prostitution? âMaybe your mumâs right, and you could be making better use of your time.â
The girl wriggled, pushing up her bust. âHomework, you mean? I should be so dodo. I know what assets I got, and theyâre right here, in front. Theyâre 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? Thatâs 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 thatâs all thatâs coming to me, then Iâll take my fun where I can, thank you very much. Now,â she got up, fluffing up her hair in the mirror, âhow about that lift, then?â
âGive me five minutes to drink my coffee, and meet me in the car park.â
When they met up in the car park, the girl looked at the men, who reacted as if theyâd 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 wasnât 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. âSo, Kylie, what did you think when you heard the old man had upped and died?â
A grimace. âI was sorry, a bit. Most people thought it was funny like, joking that sheâd frightened him to death. Pat, the landlord, he said she could frighten for England. Poor old Dishonourable. Always on about his heart, taking pills, wouldnât walk further than from the car park to the bar, made the dogs run behind his car to give them their exercise, which he shouldnât have done on these roads, itâs dangerous, we all said so. But he wasnât going to listen, was he! Not him! Not the Dishonourable.â
âWas his heart that bad?â