Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Emma currently lives in busy southern Britain but spends much of her time writing in a very tranquil part of south west France. Her ‘recomposed’ family includes 7 children and 4 grandchildren. She loves being outdoors and is a keen cyclist – particularly on her tandem with her partner on the quiet French roads. She enjoys cooking and experimenting with new recipes and plays the trombone, but not usually while baking.
What inspired you to write your book?
The Passion Patrol Series currently has two full length novels, a third is on the way. There is also a companion cookery book for the second novel, but that’s more of a side-dish.
Here is a short sample from the book:
It was mid afternoon when she got the chance to call Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France. Just as she was about to lift the handset, Judy walked into the office.
“You know that number you gave me to check… the call you received in the taxi last night… it was a payphone in the lobby of the Hilton, Park Lane.”
Anna leaned back in her chair. It must have been Freddie, checking out her number to see if she had been straight with him. He was no fool. He was patient and calculating. Would he expect her to lie? The question evoked her big lie that sat like a stone in her heart. When she saw him again she would tell him. She dialed the Interpol number and waited.
“Inspecteur Du Maurier – bonjour.”
“Raymond – bonjour,” she began, speaking automatically in flawless French, “un petit service s’il vous plaît. Can you run a check on a French National called Freddie La Salle born 23rd May… he’s about 34,” the line went silent.
“You are serious? You do not need me Anna. Try Google or the Newspapers,” chuckled Du Maurier, “I guess you are too busy to read the sports pages?”
“Raymond. Tell me! Who is he?”
“Freddie La Salle, World Cruiserweight Champion – signed yesterday for the final defense of his title.”
“And some… de plus! Un legend. He’s still a pretty boy – but he was badly cut by a head butt in his last fight. I’m guessing you don’t follow the fight game Anna?”
“No – never, it’s not too kosher – I have to think of my personality profile with the human resources department. I could be denounced,” she half joked, knowing that an interest in boxing could mark her as politically incorrect.
“Freddie would tell you it’s an art form. He’s a bit of a puzzle. He reads philosophy and has written a book about the artist Gustave Courbet. He’s a noted art collector. His mother is a Yank and doubles as his manager. His father is the French poet Mathieu La Salle. Freddie has business interests all over the world.”
“He doesn’t look beaten up… but you’re right, there is a mean scar over his right brow,” she answered numbly, trying to take in all the information.
“The champion is the guy who hurts the other guy. That cut was his only injury in the ring. A lot of questions were asked.”
“Questions?” Anna echoed.
“Certainement… questions of murder and money. I’ll e mail you the whole file and note your interest. That way any input or news will get flashed straight to you.”
She thanked her colleague and rang off, immediately typing La Salle into the Google window. Dozens of files popped up. She clicked on a fan site. There he was, gloved with hands raised looking out from the ring, blood pouring from a terrible gash over his eye. A headline ran “Le French Professor gets a lesson in pain”. Anna winced at the corny pun. She flicked through other web sites, making notes. Freddie La Salle – known as “le Professeur” on account of his careful boxing technique and intellectual tastes. His trip to London was widely examined under the title “A Fight Too Far”. He had signed to fight Billy ‘The Boulder’ Brennan, an up and coming hard man out of New York City. She read on in horror that Freddie was rumored not to have trained for the fight and just wanted a final pay day. The article described Brennan as ‘the most dangerous street fighting brawler that he would ever face.’
She hated the thought of him cut and even maimed in a terrible contest. Beneath his humorous and thoughtful manner there must be a brute. She flicked on through pages of him in his champion’s belts, flexing his biceps, triceps, quadriceps and pecs. Sure it was tacky, but God! He was gorgeous. There was Freddie with blondes in bikinis, Freddie with babes in grass skirts, Freddie with French film stars – none of whom she knew. How could she never have heard of him? She hadn’t seen a movie for years, never read the sports pages and always put her work in front of everything else in her life. Whatever happened – she had to get out more!
The office door opened and she pulled her eyes away from the screen.
“The Commander wants to see you,” Judy informed her, adding a flat derision to the word Commander, “he’s just so up himself.”
“Tell me about it,” Anna agreed, her heart sinking at the thought of him. Judy came round and looked over her shoulder at the screen.
“Wah!!!” she exclaimed, “is that him? Are you gonna sort him out – WOW – I would! Is he a sex God or what?”
“That’s Freddie, but please keep it to yourself – I just didn’t know.”
“I knew I’d seen the name. It was on the back of Brian’s paper – the one he holds up to his face so I can’t talk to him.”
Anna saw an icon flash blink the computer monitor. The file from Inspecteur Du Maurier had come in from Interpol France. She clicked the download.
“There’s a file on Freddie. Can you open and print for me while I go and see Mister Big?”
“That’s not what I heard,” laughed Judy suggestively.
Anna smiled, raising her pinkie with a mocking wiggle.
“Don’t forget to salute,” called Judy as she stepped out.
“Ah – Inspector Leyton,” began Beaumont Locke in his most pompous voice, sweeping his hand languidly back through his graying hair and pushing back his leather executive chair. “We need to touch base and set a few targets and parameters. I believe in a consensual approach to individual empowerment. I want to see a developed profile of key performance indicators so that we can roll out a joint action plan.”
Without permission Anna sat down and stifled a laugh.
“Obviously you’ve been on another senior command and control management jargon course,” she sneered with an unwavering stare.
He moved his chair forward, “Anna – Darling… it doesn’t have to be like this,” he sighed gazing up at the ceiling with a patronizing weariness.
“What!” she exploded, “we are over Beaumont. Somehow you have abused your power to get me on this squad. I’ll let that ride… just so long as you let me get on with my job and don’t use the situation to exercise personal control over me. The squad wanted a European language speaking detective. Well, you got yourself one and that’s all you’ve got Commander Locke. You didn’t want to be near me when you thought some shit could stick to you.”
He moved back and nodded with narrowed eyes. She knew that he would not risk any politics with her. He was on the way up and needed to stay clean. She had no malice or resentment towards him now. He had shown himself and he knew she knew what he was.
“Let’s stick to business Inspector. Everything comes through me first OK,” he said stiffly.
“You’re the boss – I guess you wouldn’t want anyone else to get any glory.”
“Don’t be impertinent!” he boomed, “no swanning about with half baked continentals. No unofficial liaisons with foreign agencies. I know you have all kinds of pavement café tendencies. This is a Scotland Yard job – and you are a Metropolitan police officer merely on attachment to Interpol – whatever all these internationals want to think.”
“Why don’t you just stand over me?” she snapped.
“Sir!” he ordered.
“Sir!” she echoed as she stormed from the room.
She could not believe his arrogance. How could she ever have thought that there was something enduring between them? It had been a mistake, but mistakes were sails not anchors. A wind had got up and she was sailing on.
It was six o’ clock and she had to get going. Reaching her office she found Judy still there, intently reading the file from Interpol France.
“You gotta read this,” she bubbled excitedly, “your man could unlock the whole enquiry.”
Anna thought quickly, pushing aside her anger at her ex lover’s presence in her life.
“Can you give me the story as we head for the tube?” she breezed, realizing that Judy had two kids at home and was working late out of friendship. All she had on her mind was some kind of fantasy evening with a world boxing champion who was into philosophy, collected art and turned her insides to a warm flow of breathing life. And who had lifted the focus of her life from her past to a continuously evolving present.
Judy grabbed the file and kept pace alongside her.
“Well, his last fight in Marseille attracted a massive amount of gambling on Freddie to lose, even though on form he should have walked it. He was completely on top during the fight when suddenly the other guy butted him and ripped his eyebrow open. The referee had to stop the fight because the blood was pouring into Freddie’s eyes. The crowd and a big TV audience had all seen the butt and the ref disqualified the guy and awarded the win to Freddie.”
“Is that normal?” asked Anna.
“It can be, but the view was that if the head butt had not been so obvious then the ref would have stopped the fight and the other guy would have won.”
“So what did Freddie know?”
“Good question. It looked as if he was going for the win… but why target him? We simply don’t know what he knew… but it gets far more complicated,” Judy continued excitedly, “Three weeks after the fight the ref ends up dead in the Hudson River. It seems like he had a gambling habit himself and had taken a loan from some sharks. According to his widow he was offered a free pass if he fixed the fight.”
“So what went wrong?”
“The other boxer was not too subtle and was very inferior to Freddie. The idea was that the ref would allow a lot of fighting on the inside… you know… that type of mauling where they kinda waltz with the other guys head up their nose. The guy was supposed to clash heads during a clinch. By the fourth round the guy is half dead and probably desperate. So – he just stands back and butts Freddie like it was a Friday night outside the pub. The ref had no choice.”
“So why kill the ref?”
“Simple… when the boys called for their cash he told them he had taped the conversation and would go to the FBI.”
“Sure. It looks like an old fashioned movie style hit. But the cash and the backing come from anywhere between the North Korean government and the Chinese Triads,” laughed Judy.
“I get the picture,” commented Anna.
She knew that the internet provided a platform for any amount of criminal liaisons and deals. All manner of dirty cash sloshed around the worlds of internet gambling, drugs, girls and weapons.
“So what does the widow know?”
“She took the greyhound out of town – or at least a ticket was purchased in her name. The internet address of the booker was in New Jersey. I’ve got a feeling that the widow is keeping her head down or hasn’t got a head,” said Judy with a professional nonchalance.
At Vauxhall tube station they parted and headed off into the undergrowth of their own lives. She sat down gratefully and pondered how something already difficult had become impossible. And yet – she was going to see him. He had called her and she was going to see him! She was going to feel the thrill of his presence and maybe more – maybe anything.
She closed her eyes and ran through the photos of him glistening and pumped up in his shorts and gloves. He was a modern day gladiator with soft brown eyes and apparently a taste for art. She let everything of the day slip away. Nothing was ever more than this – to be naked and tuned to the rhythm of this Earth and to each other. Falseness was stacked upon falseness, the joy of the moment always soured by the past. She felt again the warm tickling surge deep in her belly and knew that she was responding physically even to the thought of him. For tonight the tongue of lava flow would take her and if that was into his arms – or more – then so it would be. The fuse on the regret circuit had burned out with the overload. And it had just been so long… so bloody long.