Extract: Confessions of a Romantic Pornographer by Maxim Jakubowski

CLIPPING THE WINGS OF YOUR MORNING FLIGHT

The day Cornelia turned thirty, she attended a funeral.
It was a day with no particular features, a sky with scattered anonymous clouds and a wishy-washy colour that veered like a seesaw between barely there pale blue and a dull shade of grey. A day that somehow belonged to no precise season. Waiting outside the crematorium building surrounded by a mournful crowd of utter strangers, Cornelia wore black.
She was not a friend of the family and had never known the deceased, the dead man, although she recalled after being given this particular assignment, that she had once read one of his books. She had found it decent enough for a lonely night in a hotel room out on a job, but it hadn’t engaged any of her gut feelings, the way she sometimes reacted to stories that communicated basic emotions well beyond their plot. Neither had the writer been particularly collectable, so his novels fell outside of her parameters. Maybe now that he was dead this situation would change. If often did. She reminded herself to acquire some of his earlier titles while they were still cheap. Just in case. Once a book collector, always a book collector, although these days she bought less and less, having finally completed her runs of her favourite authors.
She wasn’t wearing black because of the funeral, even though the colour was appropriate for the circumstances. It was just that she felt at ease in her Armani little black dress. It fitted her well, perfectly highlighting her long nylon-sheathed legs, moulding its strong but light material around her rump. She had never been much of a clothes horse or a designer label addict, but she had fallen in love with the dress from the moment she had spotted it on an end of line hanger at the Printemps in Paris a year or so earlier when she had been taken to the city by a now long forgotten lover. He had offered to pay for the dress, but Cornelia had insisted on using her own credit card. Presents from men always had some sexual taint about them and the little black dress, she knew from her first touch of its hem, was going to be with her much longer than him and could not be contaminated.
She looked up to the sky and followed the evanescent trail of a faraway jet.
Not all the other guests actually wore black, but neither was the crowd a feast of colour. Cornelia realised this was the first funeral she had attended since her own father’s, and that went back to her now distant teenage years. She recalled how she had spent most of it holding back her tears, for fear of being thought childish, soppy. Only to burst like a dam with sorrowful grief when she had got back to the car after shaking the hands of every relative and stranger come to pay homage to her father. She had heard friends remark that she had appeared cold and indifferent throughout, which just showed how little the bastards knew. But then, how could strangers guess at one’s inner life, its turmoil, its hurt, the hollowness inside?
It had been her first genuine encounter with the prosaic reality of death. All these years later, her familiarity with death was far more developed and it had become a strange, skewed relationship that she still found it hard to fully understand. Particularly the unmathematical equation that balanced sex and death on a similar level of visceral thrill. But over the past twelve months, Cornelia had grown tired of her relationship with death and had taken a secret vow to renounce killing for good as her thirtieth birthday approached. She reckoned that such a momentous road sign in one’s life should be the occasion of mighty resolutions and change.
And, ironically, she now found herself on the very day that she had seen as a turning point, at a funeral. Or was that how they still called a crematorium ceremony. An incineration maybe?
Cornelia smiled.
Her absent gaze fell upon the eyes of an older man who stood opposite her, wearing a charcoal grey three-piece suit and sharply polished shoes.
‘Miss…?’
She looked back at him with studied indifference.
‘Smith. Miss Smith. Miss Miranda Smith.’
She’d pulled the name out of nowhere. Could have been Jones, she reckoned, less commonplace than Smith. But Miranda had somehow been conjured up by instinct. She’d never been a Miranda before.
‘John Kerith,’ he answered.
‘Hello.’
‘I don’t think we have met before,’ he said. ‘Family? Acquaintance?’
‘Neither,’ Cornelia kept it vague. ‘You?’
‘I was his literary agent. A terrible loss.’
‘Yes,’ she nodded sympathetically.
‘So, just one of his readers?’ he suggested.
Cornelia demurely lowered her eyes.
‘I understand,’ Kerith said. ‘There are a fair few people present here today who only knew him from his writing,’ he added. ‘Actually, I find that quite touching.’
‘Really?’ Cornelia queried.
‘Indeed,’ he replied. ‘You just never know how someone’s books will affect different people, do you? His stories were so, how can I put it, particular, that I was never quite sure who his public really was. His editors would always tell me that he was much read by women, which I find hard to understand. After all, his material was often somewhat explicit, as you well know.’
Cornelia silently pretended to acquiesce.
Kerith looked around at the small crowd milling around in groups of four or five and continued.
‘I do believe it now, though,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of women here. So surprising.’
He sighed, as if mentally wondering how many women would one day turn out for his own funeral. His eyes faded briefly and he then switched on again and asked Cornelia:
‘Satisfy my curiosity – did you have a favourite book among his?’
Cornelia frowned.
‘That would be telling, wouldn’t it? You are what you eat, what you read. And that makes your question rather personal, Mr Kerith.’
The man blushed.
‘I’m sorry, Miss Miranda. You’re right. Please accept my apologies.’
He stood there for an instant, awkwardly facing Cornelia, as if debating whether to run away or attempt to continue the conversation.
His face regained its composure and he finally said, ‘Trust a female Conrad reader to be both beautiful and mysterious. I think he would have liked that. Liked it very much.’
‘I’m not sure the timing for genteel compliments is quite right, Mr Kerith,’ Cornelia pointed out.
‘There never is a wrong time,’ he answered, looking her up and down. She steadily withstood his gaze.
There was a swirling movement in the surrounding crowd of mourners and guests and small groups slowly began to make their way across the arched entrance to the crematorium’s chapel. Cornelia hadn’t heard any bell or a specific call to the assembled people waiting. It was all done so discreetly, she noted. So English. In the States there would have been some burly employee shouting out the name of the deceased (and no doubt mauling its pronunciation in the process) to corral them all inside. Here, a nod or a furtive gesture seemed to be enough to catch people’s attention.
Kerith excused himself and moved along.
Cornelia realised there was one question she had wanted to put to him. It could wait until after the ceremony, she reckoned.
Earlier, Cornelia had overheard some of the guests complaining there would be no service, just a series of speeches about the dead writer by people who had known him well. Someone had complained that, at least, a humanist ceremony would have been a just closure to Conrad’s life and accomplishments, but his family had felt strongly that he would have disapproved of this. Cornelia reminded herself to specify in her non-existent will that whenever she died, no priest or lay pastor should be allowed within a mile or so of her funeral under dire threat of damnation or whatever would scare her likely if unwilling appointed executors most. She was an orphan and didn’t trust a mere lawyer or bank manager or whoever the authorities appointed in these cases in the slightest. She knew she was bound to go to hell in fifth gear if not overdrive anyhow, and in a perverse sort of way, she welcomed the idea; at least the hereafter could hardly prove boring, and the spilling of wrong words or any fulsome degree of piety at her own passing would invariably spoil the occasion, she concluded.
Soon, the forecourt had emptied and only Cornelia remained, except for a short, dark-haired young woman casually looking over the flower arrangements scattered across the concrete and thin grass. Occasionally, the woman knelt, peering down to read the messages that accompanied the wreath and bouquets. As silence settled on the small oval that served as a stepping-stone to the church-like redbrick crematorium main building, the dark-haired woman looked up and noticed Cornelia observing her from afar.
She nodded in acknowledgement.
There was the muffled sound of a burst tire on the main road half a mile away beyond the lush green expanse of the crematorium’s grounds.
A moment’s hesitation occurred as both women stood still, each reluctant to be the first to make a move towards the other. Cornelia finally took the initiative.
As she approached the dark-haired woman, Cornelia realised she was not quite as young as she had initially assumed – she was probably also about 30. Like her. Something about the thin lines on either side of her mouth, the shadow beneath her eyes, the way she wore her clothes. As befitted the occasion, the other young woman was also dressed in black, but her two piece ensemble had a business-like feel to it. The hem of the carefully tailored skirt fell well below her knees. She had thin ankles.
‘Hello…’
‘Hi.’
‘Couldn’t face going inside and listening to the speeches?’ Cornelia suggested.
‘Yes,’ the other woman answered. ‘But it doesn’t mean I’m being disrespectful.’
‘I know. These sort of occasions are always rather false, I think. Lend themselves to a surfeit of hypocrisy,’ Cornelia remarked.
‘I quite agree,’ the black suited woman agreed. ‘I assume you’re not family, then?’ she asked.
‘No, just a friend,’ Cornelia improvised.
‘Me too.’
A cloud streaked across the sun and the area was bathed in momentary shadow.
‘I’m Samantha… I prefer to be called Sam. Sam Hearn,’ she extended her hand.
‘Miranda,’ Cornelia volunteered.
‘It’s a pretty name.’
‘Oh, just a name,’ she shrugged.
‘Did you know him well?’ Sam asked.
‘Not really,’ she reluctantly admitted, not wishing to be quizzed too extensively and found out.
‘Oh,’ Sam remarked and she briefly looked away, as if embarrassed.
‘Why?’ Cornelia queried, noting Sam’s apparent discomfort.
‘Me neither, to be honest,’ Sam answered.
The dark-haired young woman brushed a stray hair from her forehead, breathed deeply and allowed herself, albeit reluctantly, to open up.
‘He had me too,’ she whispered.
‘I see,’ Cornelia acknowledged impassively, hoping the other would say more. She did.
‘He never did pretend that I wasn’t one of many. At least he was honest about it.’
Cornelia went along with Sam. ‘He was,’ she confirmed.
‘And he was tender, which is not always the case. But it was soon obvious I wasn’t the one he really sought, you know. When I heard he’d died, I long hesitated as to whether I should come but, you see, I was sort of curious. Wanted to see the others. You probably noticed how the women here outnumber the men. I wonder if his wife knew. Oh, I suppose she did. How couldn’t she? I was looking around earlier trying to recognise which were the ones he’d fucked and those who were genuine acquaintances, not tarred by sex. But there’s no way of finding out, is there? We all look so different. I suppose he didn’t have a specific type. Just bedded us when the opportunity arose.’
She looked Cornelia in the eyes. Hers were nutmeg brown.
‘But I was never angry with him,’ Sam continued, as if this long, breathless speech had been bottling up inside her ever since her affair with Conrad. ‘You just couldn’t. He kept in touch, you know. A word here, a phone call there, as if he didn’t really want to lose contact. Sometimes, I thought he saw me as a fallback fuck, should all else, all others fail him, but I don’t think I’m being fair to him now. He did care, you see.’ She slowed down. ‘You?’ she asked Cornelia.
‘Just the once,’ Cornelia played along. ‘Some time ago.’
‘But you came today, nonetheless?’
‘Yes.’
‘That’s the sort of man he was,’ Sam remarked. ‘I reckon there are at least a dozen of us here, all with that one thing in common.’
‘Maybe.’
‘I’m still not certain why I came. Even now,’ Sam said. ‘Nothing is going to change. There are no faces to put on names, names to put on faces. I’ll… we’ll never know what we really all meant to him.’
‘A good fuck?’ Cornelia suggested.
‘No,’ Sam reacted quickly. ‘We were more, I thought I was more to him. You just know things like that. There were feelings, not just convenient sex…’
‘But why so many of us then?’ Cornelia continued.
Muted echoes of a melody escaped from the building, carried by the slight breeze of the early summer day.
‘In a way,’ Sam said, ‘he was on some sort of quest, don’t you think?’
‘Could be,’ Cornelia opined.
‘Did you meet Conrad in America?’ Sam asked, finally acknowledging Cornelia’s accent.
‘Yes,’ Cornelia confirmed, building her tissue of necessary lies one step at a time.
‘How?’
‘It was at a reading at some small event in New York City,’ she offered.
‘Let me guess: even now, you’re not quite sure which of you made the first step?’
Cornelia feigned a gentle smile. ‘Yes, exactly.’
‘Sounds familiar,’ Sam sighed. ‘Strange to realise we have so much in common, isn’t it?’
‘Yes,’ Cornelia continued. ‘And so do many of the others inside listening to hollow words of praise.’
Sam Hearn’s eyes clouded, as if she were trying to hold her tears back. Her lips tightened as she attempted to retain control of her confused emotions. The hard, business side of her character took over and she succeeded.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘I think I’ll be on my way. I think I’ve seen enough. Staying here any longer is not going to make things better. Maybe I shouldn’t have come…’
She gripped her handbag and once again brushed her hair back from her face.
‘Do you know where they are all going after the ceremony?’ Cornelia ventured. ‘To his house?’
She had been hoping there would be some sort of reception at the dead writer’s house. A chance to snoop around, ask more questions.
‘No,’ Sam answered. ‘I was told his publishers have hired a reception room on the upper floor of a Soho pub.’
‘But he didn’t even drink,’ Cornelia mentioned. She recalled reading that in one of the interviews with Conrad she had found online.
‘Yes, that’s true,’ Sam remembered, her memory no doubt recalling a past time when she and Conrad had sat down somewhere to drink.
She grinned.
‘What did he usually have when you were with him?’ Cornelia asked, out of idle curiosity, still beginning to assemble all the random parts of the jigsaw.
‘Pepsi Cola – he said it tasted sweeter than Coke – with no ice, or tomato juice, mostly,’ Sam answered.
Silence returned.
Sam stood there, not quite sure whether she should leave now. Cornelia realised the other woman still sought some form of closure from her brief affair with Conrad. Which she wasn’t going to find here, if ever.
‘Maybe, one day,’ Cornelia suggested, ‘when it’s easier to think about him and the past, we could meet up, chat, no?’
‘I don’t know,’ Sam said, and her features hardened.
Cornelia realised it had been a bad suggestion, as if she were offering the other woman the far-from-golden opportunity to start up a forlorn club of Conrad’s old fucks. Not a good idea at all.
She would have to adopt some brighter methods to elicit the information she had been sent here to dig up.
Cornelia had accepted the case just four days ago back home in Manhattan. Her last job, a couple of months previously, had been emotionally messy and almost straight out of a book, ironically enough. Her target had somehow guessed who she was and why she had been sent to kill him and had offered no resistance or protest. As if he had welcomed death.
This had never happened to her before.
Had the guy read Hemingway’s story ‘The Killers’?
And it had made Cornelia think again about her job. Not a good thing.
So she had decided to take a sabbatical of sorts. She had enough cash in the bank to last a year or so if she kept a lid on her extracurricular expenses and, any way, there were no more books she actively sought for her collection. If an item of minor interest or of associational value came along, she would of course not ignore it, but neither would these titles strain her budget.
In truth, Cornelia was tired.
Of her jobs. The dancing. The killing.
The thrills were no longer there.
There must be more to life, but she had absolutely no clue as to where to find it, caught as she was in a familiar web of habits and the expectations of others. It wasn’t meant to be that way, surely?
On one hand, she knew she was not the type of woman who would ever be fully satisfied with the humdrum routine of a 9 to 5 occupation, academia or domesticity. On the other, Cornelia was painfully aware that this secret life of minor evil she had somehow drifted into wasn’t the answer either. The satisfactions, the inner thrill, the rush of adrenaline, the fear were all too fleeting and always made her come back for more, and she was much too bright, overeducated some of her few friends had said, not to realise that one day she would take that one step or risk too far and slip up to find her whole edifice of cards come tumbling down with a ferocious vengeance. She also knew she would die of both boredom and frustration in a prison cell, regardless of the other risks there, and that she was too much of a mental coward to even envisage suicide if she were cornered and bereft of alternate solutions. Between the metaphorical devil and the deep blue sea, indeed.
The man had slumped to the ground in a silent and empty street near Alphabet City with an enigmatic smile illuminating his resigned features and that expression still haunted her, damn it! Usually, the gift of death initiated some complex chemical process that raised her sexual senses to a wonderful state of arousal within, better than any illicit drug, and was how Cornelia often justified her murderous actions. But, on this occasion, there had not even been a flutter of excitement. Either he had somehow cheated her or she was losing her libido.
Not that she even remembered his name a few days later, it was the nature of the job, but she couldn’t erase his face from her daydreams.
She had been involved in messy deaths, with blood spreading out of control, seeping, dripping, regurgitating; there had been dirty deaths with desperate pleas, vomit, bladders and entrails out of liquid and odorous control; her pulse had frantically raced at heart attack speed in chases, clumsy fights, struggles and she could live with all those side aspects of the assignment, but the sad death of her last prey had badly affected Cornelia, she realised.
She took a break.
As it was, the management at the club where she’d been doing a gig had received complaints about her new tattoo anyway. Somehow punters found it distasteful, not quite sexy. Philistines.
So, she had handed in her notice to the club and called Ivan, her contact, advising him she was going on vacation for a few months and wouldn’t be available for assignment. She informed him that she would make contact again on her return. She was in fact unsure whether she would ever do so again. Maybe this was the right time and way to leave the killing business behind her. She’d looked at her well stocked bookshelves with pride. Her John Irving, Woolrich, James M Cain, F Scott Fitzgerald first editions and many others, each earned by the death of a man or a woman. She didn’t even wish to think of the value of her collection. She just liked books.
And why not take a holiday?
In the sun?
Cornelia arranged for an expensive security system to be installed in her apartment, even though she knew that any break-ins in her absence were more likely to be of the opportunistic kind and that her hi-fi and TV would be in much worse peril than her book collection. Then she planned her stolen time in the sun. Yes, it had to be in the sun. Although her pale complexion would have to enjoy the protection of much cream.
She had never been to the Caribbean and, after much hesitation, chose the Playa Dorada area in the Dominican Republic. She landed at Puerto Plata airport with a single small suitcase full of T-shirts and an assortment of bathing costumes she’d swooped on at Century 21 and Daffy’s. Her bulging tote bag was full of paperback editions of books she already owned in first printings but had never found the time to read until now. Whilst in transit at Miami International, she picked up a few more books in one of the airport’s shops. One of them happened to be a collection of erotic love stories by Conrad Korzeniowski; an interesting name she’d recently come across in a review in the Village Voice book pages. This was Cornelia’s idea of travelling light.
Non-essential items she could find locally, she knew. Toiletries, make-up, condoms, a hat or baseball cap to protect her vulnerable skin. She also deliberately left her laptop back home in her East Village apartment. She intended to distance herself from the world and go back in time by some strange quirk of thought. To the days before she had unwittingly taken up her killing trade, to the days when she still unknowingly swam in a sea of innocence, if such halcyon days had ever existed.
The hotel dining room overlooked a bay where Cornelia enjoyed watching the sun set first across the mountain to the east and then across the varying shades of blue of the warm sea. Daytime, she lay on one of the beaches, listening to the wavelets lapping the beach or crashing gently against the breakers of the stone jetty, reading lazily or sipping cold drinks from the nearby 24 hour bar that serviced the beach. It was slightly out of season, so the resort wasn’t crowded. She relaxed by going to bed most evenings at ten or even earlier, deliberately ignoring the conducted festivities organised daily around the large swimming pool, blissfully falling asleep with her book still open in her hands, her long, lanky nude body stretched out beneath the thin white sheet while the air-conditioning buzzed away with metronomic regularity. She would awaken early in the morning and take long, solitary walks across the deserted beaches miles beyond the resorts, refreshing her body as the sun began to emerge over the distant line of the horizon by shedding her shorts and T-shirt and dipping naked into the still warm ocean. It was a sensation like no other. Playa Dorada was perfect, but it would have been even better if she had been able to sunbathe nude all day. Nudity gave her a wonderful sense of freedom, as well as exacerbating her dormant sexual senses. After a week of routine relaxation, Cornelia began feeling the need for some stimulation and allowed herself to choose amongst the occasional men who would nod in her direction during meals or even accost her at the bar. Truly, whatever they said was of no interest whatsoever to her and the words and needless sentences went straight in one ear and out through the other, while she checked up on them, their looks, their size. She bedded a few, never the same again twice, much to their dismay, treating each new lover as if he was merely there to scratch her lackadaisical urges. Some happened to be good lovers, filled her well, even made her come, while others proved mediocre, hasty or unfulfilling, but it made no difference to her. One day later, she could no longer even remember their faces, let alone the girth or hue of their cock, or the position they took her in. It was just selfish holiday sex, as far as she was concerned.
Soon, the sand and sea and meaningless embraces began to take their toll, and boredom set in. She’d changed hotels twice along the length of the resort, seeking new culinary experiences and bed partners as well as avoiding previous ones who couldn’t take no for an answer, and the fun of being in the Caribbean was beginning to fade by the hour. After all, she was a city gal through and through, and she preferred her solitude at the heart of bustling crowds. She settled her bill and flew home a day later.
Even after several weeks away, there were barely a handful of messages on her answer phone, although her computer mail box was full to the brim, mostly with commercial spam. No she didn’t require unlimited supplies of cheap Viagara or weight loss programs that came with ironclad guarantees.
Only one person had attempted to contact her both over the phone and by email. Ivan.
He’d been her contact for over a year now. Usually just a voice over the phone. Lingering traces of a Russian accent, or, at any rate, an Eastern European one. Once, out of curiosity, shortly after he’d appeared on the scene, replacing the Puerto Rican guy who had introduced her to the organisation, Cornelia had arrived much too early at a pick up point and observed him as he left her envelope. He was middle-aged, grey-haired and totally unremarkable. The sort of man who melts into a crowd. But she liked his voice, the silence between the words, the things unsaid. She didn’t call him back, all too well aware he would know exactly when she had returned to New York.
He rang the next day.
‘Ivan,’ he said, not that he had to reveal his identity.
‘Hi.’
‘Good vacation?’
‘Yes, I feel quite relaxed now,’ Cornelia said.
‘Good. The Caribbean is a good destination this time of year.’
‘I never told you I was going there, did I?’ Cornelia chuckled.
‘No, you didn’t,’ he replied.
‘So…’
‘So…’
‘Well, Ivan,’ Cornelia said. ‘I’m not quite sure I’m ready for an assignment quite yet.’
‘What? No new book for Cornelia’s wonderful collection?’
‘Actually, there isn’t right now. But that’s not the reason…’ She allowed herself a moment of silence.
‘Tell me,’ Ivan continued.
‘I’ve been thinking about retiring, Ivan.’
‘Really?’
‘Yes. Losing my bloodlust, feeling tired, call it what you will.’
‘Not your time of month, my dear?’
‘Nor my time of year, Ivan,’ Cornelia replied. ‘It’s just that I’m no longer certain that I want to carry on doing these hits you give me. Nothing personal.’
‘I see,’ Ivan remarked, his voice betraying no emotions.
‘Is now the time you tell me that I’m not allowed to quit, that I’d miss the excitement?’ Cornelia queried, with a mocking tone of voice. ‘Once in, never out?’
‘No. Not at all,’ he said. ‘It would just be sad. You’re one of the best.’
‘Thanks for the compliment. Maybe it so happens that I no longer wish to be one of the best.’
Ivan paused.
‘Let’s meet,’ he suggested. ‘Talk.’
In itself, this was highly unusual.
Cornelia couldn’t help but be intrigued by the situation. How would he attempt to get her to change her decision? Would he cajole, threaten, plead?
She agreed. It was decided that the meeting should take place on Sunday evening in the foyer of the Angelika, the art cinema on Houston. It was always crowded, as people invariably queued for one of the half dozen auditoriums, while others sat at tables sipping coffee or juice.
At close range Ivan appeared older than she remembered, and his voice didn’t have the seductive intonations she enjoyed over the phone line. He wore a heavy looking brown leather coat and a Vivienne Westwood black woollen scarf draped student like around his neck. He brought the drinks over to the table where Cornelia had settled, a lemonade Snapple for her and a dark coffee for himself.
His eyes twinkled.
‘You’re still somewhat young to be thinking of retirement, Cornelia?’ he queried, a thin smile shaping his lips.
‘Well, you know, it was never meant to be a permanent job,’ she respectfully pointed out.
‘I realise that, but I can’t believe your dancing allows you to buy many luxuries, does it?’
She realised this man had in all likelihood watched her strip on stage, and knew every intimate hook and cranny of her body. He must have checked her out at least once. Made sense.
‘It’s not a question of money,’ she answered. ‘I’m a frugal sort of person…’ she hesitated, ‘apart from…’
‘Apart from your beloved books,’ he completed the sentence for her, and looked her in the eyes.
‘You’ve done your homework.’
‘Naturally,’ he stirred some sugar into his coffee. Gazed at the tall young woman facing him across the small table, thin, pale, almost arrogant in her posture. ‘You are really quite something, Cornelia. A fascinating beauty and most assuredly one of my favourite operatives.’
‘You flatter me,’ she replied.
‘It happens to all of us, you know, this feeling of lassitude, an insidious tiredness in the bones and the mind that you interpret as a wish to change your mode of life. I’ve been there. I’ve done the same things you have, Cornelia. But I tell you, it passes, moods swing both ways.’
‘Maybe,’ she ventured.
‘Let me make you a proposal,’ Ivan said.
‘Tell me,’
‘Another job. But different end result.’
‘Explain yourself.’
‘No termination, just an investigation. You’d be assigned to find out information. Nothing more.’
Cornelia reflected.
‘I’m no private detective.’
‘I know that.’
‘Can’t you find someone with training, qualifications in that area?’ she asked.
‘We could, but on one hand, I should like to keep you onboard, not see you burn your bridges with our organisation, and on the other your love of books makes you an idea choice for this assignment.’
‘I’m intrigued.’
Ivan told her.
Cornelia accepted the new assignment.
Sly old fox, she reckoned later, he had known all along that she would take on the job, almost as if had it been made to measure for her. She smiled. At the very least, she’d screwed a business class upgrade and some additional expenses out of him for the journey to London.

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About Maxim Jakubowski

Also by Maxim Jakubowski (published by The Do-Not Press):
Life in the World of Women
It’s You That I Want To Kiss
Because I Thought I Loved You
The State of Montana
On Tenderness Express
The Erotic Box Set
Kiss Me Sadly
Edited by Maxim Jakubowski (with Mike Ripley):
Fresh Blood
Fresh Blood 2
Fresh Blood 3
Fresh Blood Set