Here’s an extract from the opening chapter of the latest Brough and Miller investigation, COFFIN DODGERS. I’ve just submitted the manuscript to the publisher. Now we wait…
“Are you feeling better, Mel?” The knuckles of Detective Sergeant Melanie Miller’s horny-handed (and horny in general) boyfriend rapped on the bathroom door. He pressed his ear to the wood but any response Miller may have uttered was drowned out by the flushing of the toilet.
The door opened with a sudden jerk catching Jerry off balance.
“Oh, there you are, Mel,” he observed, somewhat redundantly.
Miller, pale of face and tight of lip, pushed past him. She slumped her way to the bedroom seeking the comfort of the duvet. Jerry followed.
“I can fetch you a glass of water,” he indicated the path back to the bathroom with his thumb. Miller shook her head and began to cry. Jerry rushed to her and perched on the edge of the bed. “Oh, don’t cry, love.” He wondered whether to put his arms around her or pat her on the head. He wasn’t very good at dealing with people. Not living ones anyway. He was the groundskeeper of Dedley’s main cemetery and most of the people he encountered were spark out in wooden boxes or looking lost or crying their eyes out. But if they were crying their eyes out in the cemetery, at least you could make an educated guess why. And now here was Mel, his girlfriend, crying her eyes out and there was not so much as a whiff of a dead body.
“I’m sorry,” she managed to get out between blubs.
“There’s no need to be sorry,” said Jerry. Then his eyes widened. “Is there?”
“I’ve ruined Christmas!” Miller was wracked with sobs.
“Don’t be silly. I got just what I wanted, didn’t I?”
“A money box shaped like a pint glass?”
“No! Well, yes. To spend it with you – that’s what I wanted and that’s what I got.”
“And me with my head down the bog. And you on mop-and-bucket duty. Bet that wasn’t in your letter to Santa.”
“My correspondence with that worthy gentleman is between me and him.” He handed her a box of tissues. “I’m not complaining. Do you hear me complaining? Well, you won’t. Because I’m not. Complaining.”
“You’re very sweet.” Miller gave him a wet-eyed smile.
“Won prizes for it.” He stood. “I’ll get you that water. Replace some of your fluids.”
“Yes, love?” He paused in the doorway.
“I am sorry. We were meant to be spending Christmas in bed, not in the bathroom.”
“And I’ve said don’t be sorry. Do you know, if you hold a girl’s hair off her face while she pukes her ring up, you’re hers for keeps?”
“Won prizes for that and all.” He headed for the bathroom but Miller overtook him, with an urgent shove out of her way. She slammed the door behind her. Jerry hovered on the landing, trying not to listen to the sounds of Miller puking her ring up but remaining within earshot in case she needed him.