She's losing her boyfriend.
She can only afford to eat spaghetti hoops on toast.
She's called Charlie... or Charlotte, or ginger, ginge, Duracell,
Yet with all these odds against her, she pushes forward to
take the lead story on her paper at London Core.
Shame no one knows. Shame she's the office general assistant and not a real journalist.
Shame it's on missing prostitutes and Charlie thinks pretending to be a 'tart
with a heart' will get her that story.
She doesn't just get a story.
She becomes the starring role.
Charlie watched as he fell back onto her settee, and then straddled his lap. Oh my God! What was she doing! She was having an out-of-body-experience, she thought. Only she wasn't dead. She was alive. Very much so. She wriggled against him wonderingly and excitement flared in her body as his own rose to her teasing.
His lips parted on a groan, and his Cadbury eyes blazed. She was rocking on Ben Middleton's lap like she was in a third-rate porn movie. Rocking on the man of her dreams' hardening lap.
A criminal's lap.
She had recognised him the instant he pulled up beside her in the Audi. The hair curling around the ears, the way he held the angle of his head, the slight slip-up on the stupid Scottish accent. Oh, yes, here at her disposal was Ben Middleton. And boy, was she going to see justice done!
But then he kissed her.
She felt her body relax, as if she had been steeling herself against this passion but had now given up. His tongue entered her mouth, and when she met it with her own she knew she was lost. The kiss was explosive and volatile, and suddenly she was lying on the settee and he was on top. His hands were in her hair, as his tongue explored the moist softness of her mouth.
She wasn't setting him up in a honey-trap, he wasn't an abductor or even Ben Middleton. She wasn't a pretend prostitute, a journalist, or Charlotte Wallis. They weren't even people anymore. They'd melted and fused in a tangle of passionate chaos.
She felt his hand mould around her breast; her jacket was open at the front revealing the plain white T-shirt. He pulled it up, clumsy and impatient in his desire, and this power she had over him drove her wild! Her flimsy bra was no barrier as her breast came alive under his inquisitive fingers. She moaned and arched towards him. That she'd hate herself afterwards, that he'd hate her, didn't seem to figure in her enflamed, glazed mind.
Their unchecked passion was frightening. And all at once, he was on the floor and she on top, mouths still together, hands pulling at one another's clothes.
The telephone rang.
Charlie froze. Then all her senses came flooding back. She scrambled up and, ignoring the phone, patted her jacket pockets for the knife.
'What's the matter?' Ben croaked. He didn't appear to hear the phone. He looked as soppy as she felt. He held out a hand to her. 'Come back.'
'Condom,' she said, and forced a smile. She felt sick. Sick that she'd lost control so easily. He's a criminal, she reminded herself. He abducted Sally Readman.
She pointed the knife at him. 'I'm armed.'
'Charlie...?' Ben lowered his hand. He stared from the knife to her. 'Is this a joke?'