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Ken McClure

Chameleon

PROLOGUE

Gail Spooner smoothed the front of her skirt and evened her lipstick by pursing her lips several times as she saw the car slow down. She had been expecting it, because the same Ford Orion was on its third 'lap' of the area. It drew to a halt and she switched on her smile. Stepping out from the shadows, she walked over to the car and rested her elbow on the car's roof as she bent down to speak to the driver through the open window. 'Hello there,' she said as if he were an old friend. The driver leaned across to open the passenger door and said, 'Get in.'

'Oh, the masterful kind,' said Gail getting in and swinging her legs round to expose the maximum amount of stockinged thigh. 'I like a man who knows what he wants.' She turned to look at the driver and found no smile on his face. 'God, you're not the police are you?' she asked nervously.

'No. Where do we go?'

'The car park at the back of Tesco's. It's nice and dark there and no one will bother us.'

'No, not in the car.'

'I've got a place but it's going to cost you.'

'How much?'

'Forty five. More if you want extras.'

'Extras?'

'You know, if I have to dress up or do anything…'

'What do you mean?'

Gail said, 'It's all right, I'm not criticising. You can tell me what turns you on. Anything goes as long as it doesn't hurt.'

'No, nothing like that.'

'Right then, we'll have ourselves a little party shall we? How about a drink first?'

'No drink. Where do we go?'

'My place is in Spicer's Row. It's a studio flat, an attic really but it's cosy.'

The car crept through the dark streets and glided to a halt at the junction between Barton Road and Spicer's Row.

'We'll walk from here.'

'Please yourself.'

The couple walked down Spicer's Row and turned into a darkened doorway to wait while Gail fumbled in her handbag. The rattle of a lipstick against a powder compact continued intermittently until it gave way to a more metallic sound as she found her keys. She reached up to insert her door key in the lock with her bag held awkwardly under her arm. Curtains moved and a face looked out from a ground floor window to their left.

'Nosey old cow!' hissed Gail.

The man looked away to the right and drew his collar up. Gail thought nothing of the gesture. She was used to men being ill at ease at being seen with her; pulled-up collars and furtive looks over the shoulder were all part of the job.

Gail led the way up a flight of winding wooden stairs which creaked badly. She stopped half way up to turn and say, ''You haven't touched my bum. They all touch my bum when I climb these stairs. You've got a bit of class. I like that.'

The man just grunted in reply and they climbed to the top where Gail opened a door and clicked on the light. They entered and she switched on a fan heater which rattled intermittently and filled the room with the smell of burning dust from elements which had not been used for some time. Gail took off her jacket and threw it casually on the bed. She placed her hands on the man's shoulders and smiled up at him, saying seductively, 'Let's enjoy ourselves shall we?'

Ignoring her, the man looked about him. A slight sneer played on his lips as he looked at the posters on the wall. They were mainly of film and pop stars but there was a large travel poster for the Greek islands. 'Have you been there?' he asked.

'Not yet,' Gail replied.

The man looked at her without expression for a moment before continuing with his inspection of the room.

'It's not much but it's home,' said Gail with a small forced laugh. The man did not smile.

Interpreting the man's silence as possible shyness Gail smiled and took a step backwards to begin taking off her clothes. She did it with the confidence of a woman sure of her ability to arouse men. When she was down to her underwear she turned sideways and simpered coyly, 'Perhaps you would like to help me with the rest?'

'Lie down.'

'So you are the masterful kind,' smiled Gail, spread-eagling herself on the bed and putting her hands behind her head.

There were a series of ribbons tied to the end of the bed. The man took them lightly in his hand and let them run through his fingers as if captivated by the sensation.

'So that's what you like… Well, why not?' Gail held up her wrists and said in a husky whisper, 'Tie me. Tie me up and then I'll be completely at your mercy. Would you like that?'

The man smiled for the first time and Gail took this as a sign of success in figuring out her client. She simpered professionally as the man secured each wrist to a corner of the bed and then removed two more of the ribbons to start working on her ankles. Gail giggled and said, 'Don't you think you should take off my panties first?' She said it like a shy schoolgirl but the man behaved as if he hadn't heard and finished securing her. He stood up to admire his handiwork and Gail pretended to struggle a little against her bonds. 'You've got me now,' she whispered. 'What are you going to do to me?'

Beads of sweat appeared along the man's top lip and the muscle in his left cheek quivered slightly as he muttered something in what Gail thought was a foreign language. ''Here what are you talking about?' she asked, her voice suddenly taking on a degree of uncertainty.

The man held Gail's gaze while he reached inside his jacket and pulled out a velvet cloth. He unwrapped it carefully and removed a metal object to hold it up before her. 'Do you know what this is?' he asked. There was a hoarse quality about his voice.

Gail's eyes were wide with fear. 'It's a knife,' she stammered. 'It's one of these knives doctors use…' Terror had tightened her throat and made her voice sound strained. She watched helplessly as the man brought the blade down slowly towards her skin. He paused and then cut away her bra straps cleanly. He removed the material before tracing the flat of the blade gently to and fro down and across her stomach before cutting away the rest of her underwear.

A distant smile appeared on the man's face and Gail found her voice. 'Steady on, they cost me a fortune,' she joked nervously. 'They're French.'

The man looked at her as if lost in a dream but then suddenly his eyes hardened. Gail's fear turned to terror. She opened her mouth to scream but the man covered it with his hand and brought his face down close to hers. 'You're right,' he whispered. 'It's a knife that doctors use…’

ONE

'How do you feel?' Sue Jamieson asked her husband.

Scott Jamieson looked up at the pretty girl who was smiling down at him, her head slightly to one side. 'Amorous,' he said.

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