Today's Reading

ONE

Monday 22 October, 8.20 a.m.

'Still get in through the door, can you?'

Joanna shot him a baleful glare. 'Bugger off, Korpanski.'

He simply grinned, knowing he had another jibe up his sleeve. Joanna dropped into her chair and Korpanski took in her outfit with some surprise. 'You still cycling in, Jo?'

'It's the only thing that still makes me feel half human and less a dumper truck.'

He looked dubious. 'I don't think I'd have been very keen on Fran cycling through a pregnancy.'

'I'm not Fran, am I?'

Korpanski opened his mouth to respond but quickly shut it again without asking what Matthew thought about her cycling at this time.

She'd picked up on something. 'You got something up your sleeve, Korpanski?'

'Yeah, I have.'

'Well, spit it out.'

But DS Mike Korpanski was taking his time. He was going to get maximum satisfaction out of this one. 'Something right in your line.'

'Go on.'

'Old man gone AWOL from a residential home.'

Her head whipped round. 'And you think I should be investigating this, do you?'

He'd picked up on her dangerous tone all right but DS Korpanski enjoyed sailing close to the wind. He nodded, not even trying to suppress a smile.

Detective Inspector Joanna Piercy glared at her detective sergeant. 'You're kidding me, right?'

Korpanski didn't respond to the furious demand as she continued her rant. 'You really want me to investigate an old man who's wandered away from a residential home? Mike,' she appealed, 'I know I'm pregnant and have the belly of a blue whale and the brain of a flea but, bloody hell, I haven't sunk that low. Haven't you got uniforms looking out for him? He can't have gone far.'

'The uniforms haven't come up with anything, Jo.'

'Well, get them to look harder then. It's hardly something for us.'

He was grinning at her as he leaned back in his seat, tempted to spin it around, peer into his computer screen and avoid seeing the fire that was burning in her eyes. 'As he hasn't turned up so far, Chief Superintendent Gabriel Rush, your favourite CS ever, says we should be asking questions and getting involved.'

'And you think it's one for me.'

'The sooner he's found, Jo, the sooner we can all get on with some real work.'

He followed that up with, 'Besides, a nice easy task like this. I thought it'd be right up your street.'

She almost ground her teeth before realizing that was exactly the response he'd been counting on, so modified it to, 'You,' she said, finger pointing, 'are trying your bloody luck, Mike. I don't even give birth for a couple of months. I can't do crap like this until then. I'm an inspector, for goodness' sake. Matthew already wants to wrap me up in cotton wool, ban me from riding my bike. He wants us to spend our time off together looking at prams and cribs and . . .' And then it was all too much for her and she dropped her face into her hands, almost sinking her head on to the desk. 'Mike,' she appealed again, 'how on earth am I going to cope with all that? Matthew's parents simply can't wait to become acting grandparents though . . .' Mercurial as ever, she smothered a grin herself now. 'I can't say my mum is quite so keen. In fact, she's keeping her distance, as is my sister and her pair of brats.'

Korpanski bit back the retort, "don't blame them", contenting himself with a long sigh which could have meant anything and smirked into his computer screen as she continued with her rant.
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