This time last year, I wrote three little snapshots of how some of our characters met, exclusively for subscribers. One year later and after the final book in the series, I’m sharing them with everyone. One today, one tomorrow and one on Monday. Here’s the first.

At the start of Human Rites, Adrian is questioned by the police after someone made unfounded allegations against him. One hair-raising adventure later, he’s in the clear. However, the police detective sees him as a ‘person of interest’ in an entirely different light.

Two Margaritas

The only problem with choosing Palé for a first meeting was its popularity. Crushed amid dozens of bodies, not only was it impossible to have a conversation, but Adrian’s meticulously assembled style could not get the appreciation it deserved. On the plus side, it showed that Detective Inspector William Quinn had excellent taste. Adrian battled his way through the throng, carrying two bottles of beer until he reached his date.

He handed over a bottle and Will stretched forward to speak into his ear.

“Let’s go outside,” he said, lifting his brows for confirmation.

With an open palm, Adrian gestured for him to lead the way. He didn’t mind standing in the December cold if it enabled conversation, but he crossed his fingers the request was not so Will could smoke. He’d dated smokers before, but the smell pervaded everything, ruining his palette. They found a spot by the window and to Adrian’s relief, Will did not light up.

“Should have realised it would be packed tonight,” said Will, raising his bottle to Adrian. “Cheers and thanks for agreeing to have a drink with me.”

“Cheers. Thank you for asking. It’s the first time I’ve been asked on a date by someone who took me in for questioning.”

“We’re quits them. It’s the first time I’ve taken someone in for questioning and asked him out on a date. I was so relieved to discover you were innocent. Arresting a person is a very poor way to start a relationship.”

He just said ‘start a relationship’, Adrian noted, with a thrill. A very good sign.

Before he could think of anything witty to say in response, Will spoke. “Did you ever find out who made those accusations? And why?”

A shiver ran through Adrian which had nothing to do with the icy wind blowing up Dean Street. “Yes, I did. Turns out you were right. It was somebody who disapproved of my sexuality and was very selective in their reading of the Bible. Still, that’s all over now.”

“Glad to hear it. I can’t stand bullies, particularly those who haven’t got the guts to do it your face.”

While Adrian agreed, the topic was still too raw and painful for him to feel comfortable discussing it with a near stranger. He changed the subject. “How did you become a detective inspector?”

The smile dropped from Will’s face and he took a swig of his beer. “I’m a detective sergeant now. I was acting inspector when I met you, but that was only for one particular case, which is now closed. Back to the grunt work again, at least for the near future.”

Two avenues of conversation, both resulting in a dead-end. Time to try a different tack.

“Right, if we are to get this party started, we’re going to need some cocktails!”

Will gave him a wicked smile. “I’ll go to the bar.”

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