Just for fun – and because this manuscript finaled in a contest this week, and is currently with a New York editor being read and evaluated against three others for the win – I thought I’d share the rest of the first chapter with you.
In the first half, remember, patrol officer Anjali Azad and detective Morgan Johansen are arresting a pimp on the streets of Oslo. (And yes, we do have a problem with foreign prostitution. Wealthy first world country… it’s a temptation to a lot of people.)
Johansen drove Anja back to her precinct and dropped her off, and that’s where the first half of the chapter ended. Here’s the second half, for anyone who’s interested:
CHAPTER 1 Part 2
Let me just tell you, from experience, that walking through the bowels of Cop Central at shift change dressed like a hooker isn’t for the faint of heart.
I busted my tail to get to where I am right now. I fought my way through the police academy, competing with people who were bigger and stronger and meaner than me. People who didn’t start out with the twin handicaps of being female and being Pakistani. It was a good learning experience, since I’ve spent the past three years on the streets, dealing with people who are bigger and stronger and meaner than me, and who think that because I’m female and Pakistani, it means I’m easy prey. I knew that would happen going in, and I’ve done my best to behave and look as professional as possible to compensate.
Now I felt like three years of effort went up in smoke.
I walked down the hallway toward the locker room to a chorus of cat calls and wolf whistles. My colleagues—most of them male—turned to stare and comment on the way my skirt fit and the way my ass moved. A few of them asked whether I was wearing anything underneath. And my best friend wanted to know whether I’d gotten lucky with Morgan Johansen.
That was a little later, after I’d made my way through the gauntlet and had stripped out of the skirt and boots and the sequined T-shirt I’d had on under the furry jacket. I had spent some quality time in the shower with the antibacterial soap, and now I was dressed again, in jeans and a sweatshirt, and I was in the process of drying my hair. I’d made it big and bouncy for the night’s work, where normally it’s thick and straight and pulled back.
The hair dryer was running, so I didn’t hear the clomp of Kristin’s boots on the floor. The first I noticed she was present was when those boots wandered into my line of sight as I was standing there, bent in half, pointing the dryer at my hair.
“It’s a good thing it’s me and not someone else,” she informed me when I’d turned it off and straightened, “because right now, there are a couple of guys out there who wouldn’t mind taking advantage of a woman in that position.”
“I’m dressed.” No easy access this time.
She shrugged and boosted herself up on the counter. She was dressed to go on patrol, in the standard pale blue shirt with epaulets, with a blue tie and pants tucked into the tops of the regulation boots on her feet. She crossed her ankles and swung her legs forward and back. “How did it go tonight?”
“Fine.” My hair was almost dry, so I put the dryer away and started gathering it into a tail. “We got al-Fasi. He’s sitting in a jail cell right now.” Or so I assumed, since the two officers who had brought him in had been among the cat-callers outside.
“Good!” Her face lit up and she clapped her hands. “Great job, Anja.”
I made a mock bow, accepting the accolades.
Kristin and I became friends in the police academy. We were the only two women in our class—the only two who made it through to the end; the others washed out early—and it was probably natural that we should bond. We had a lot of the same issues, after all, inverted in Kristin’s case. Where I’m short and slight and dark, she looks like a Valkyrie or a Norse goddess. Almost six feet tall, with big, blue eyes, masses of blonde hair, and a body that just won’t quit. I’d been chosen for the prostitution sting because I look foreign, like most of the girls working the streets in the capital, but if Johansen ever needed a cop to pose as a high class call girl, he could do worse than Kristin Park.
“So did you get lucky with Johansen today?” the goddess asked.
I turned to stare at her, my hands arrested behind my head, in the process of wrapping a band around my ponytail. “No.”
“Did you try?”
“Of course not.” I pulled the hair through the elastic and let it go. It stayed. Good.
“I would have,” Kristin said.
“No, you wouldn’t.” She had more sense than to hit on a superior officer in the middle of an operation. And so did I.
“Maybe not. But I’d be tempted.”
I shrugged. So Johansen was good looking. He was still a superior officer. A detective. Norwegian. And not interested in me.
Kristin had only a handful of those concerns. She wouldn’t mind moving up the ladder—she had her eye on a media liaison position once she’d put in enough time to get off the streets—but she was Norwegian too, and gorgeous, so he’d probably be interested in her. It was hard to imagine a man who wouldn’t be. Even the unattractive uniform wasn’t enough to hide her attractiveness, although it made a valiant try. Put her in thigh high boots and the kind of skirt I’d been wearing tonight, and any man who saw her—including the unflappable Detective Johansen—was likely to walk into a wall or stumble over his tongue at the sight. Something he certainly hadn’t done at the sight of me, whether his head had hurt or not.
“He’s too old,” I said.
“Thirty two,” Kristin answered. “That’s not exactly ancient.”
Maybe not. It was six years older than me, however. Five years older than Kristin. And into another decade of life. Thirty instead of twenty. Practically middle age.
I shrugged. “You can have him.”
“You don’t think he’s hot?”
Of course he was hot. Tall, blond, built, with those piercing blue eyes. No question he was hot. Or handsome or sexy or however you wanted to describe it. He wasn’t my type, though. Too tall, too old, and too intimidating, not to mention too Norwegian, at least for my father and mother.
But before I could say so, there was a rap on the door on the other side of the locker room, and after a moment the door opened a crack. “You decent, Azad?”
I said I was, and a head popped through. “That’s a damn shame. Time to go, Park.”
Kristin sighed, but slid down from the counter. “Coming, Dale.” She turned to me. “Are you going back out tonight?”
I shook my head. “The job’s done. I’m going back on patrol tomorrow.”
“You wanna grab some dinner after I get off work? Since you have the night off?”
“Sure,” I said. With Kristin working the morning shift and me working the evening shift, we didn’t often have the chance to get together anymore. It would make for a nice treat.
“Egon’s Pub at five?”
That was fine with me. She headed for the door, blonde ponytail bobbing. I waited until she and Dale were gone, and then I pulled my own coat around me and headed out, as well.
# # #
Whatcha think? Still like it?