It was supposed to be a good day when she wasn't called onto the scene for something, because that meant nobody had been butchered, bludgeoned, or otherwise bloodied in the past hour, but when Sally strode through the office and saw DI Lestrade doing paperwork, her shoulders slumped. Lestrade, without looking up, smiled. "I can hear your disappointment from here, Donovan."
"It's this coffee," she said, passing his doorway, "it's supposed to be that fancy French stuff, and it still tastes like dog piss."
Lestrade snorted and selected a folder from his desk. "You might find this report interesting," he said, holding it out for her collection. "It's a simple theft--some jewelry taken from a hotel room--but take a look at the second witness."
Sally flipped open the folder one-handed, scanned the pertinents at the top before she skipped to the officer's notes. It took two seconds for the name to register, and she choked on her swallow of inferior coffee.
"Adler's still in London?" She looked up at Lestrade. "Even after the thing with the Czech?"
"Apparently so," Lestrade replied. He returned his attention to his computer. "If you're bored."
Sally nodded. "I think I might be out for the morning, sir."
Lestrade waved his hand, and Sally sauntered off with a smile.
The doorman to the hotel looked askance at Sally when she stalked past him, and a hotel manager appeared, as if by magic, when she made her way to the lift. "May I help you?" the manager asked, lifting her nose up like she was some stupid cartoon.
Sally flashed her badge. "Just doing some follow-up on the theft." She pitched her voice high, and at least one hotel guest swiveled on his heel to look over.
The manager's eyes widened and her tone lowered to compensate. "We try not to publicize," she said, "incidents of that nature."
"Don't worry," Sally replied, leaning in to murmur, "I can be very discreet."
"Yes, well," the manager replied, "would you like an escort, then?"
"I think I can figure out all these fancy buttons," Sally said. She pushed the up button and stepped into the lift with a grin. The doors slid closed on the manager's flustered face, and Sally hit the button for a floor not too far from the top.
Irene answered the door on the third knock. She had a glass of champagne in her hand, no matter the time, and her burgundy robe was sliding off one shoulder. She raised an eyebrow at Sally's scowl.
"I hate these swank hotels," Sally complained. "Nothing but snobs and demands for warrants, they are."
"Sergeant," Irene replied, leaning against the doorway. "This isn't a social visit."
"I thought you went back to New York or whatever," Sally said. "Didn't you run out of diplomats to con?"
Irene shrugged, her robe slipping further. "How could I possibly leave London when you say charming things like that?"
Sally tucked her coat back, flashing her badge. "I'm looking into the Darkholme theft," she announced. "I understand you were at the party in question?"
"It was more like an intimate gathering," Irene purred.
Sally cleared her throat. "Would you mind answering a few more questions?"
"Not at all, Sergeant." Irene stepped back and swept her arm out. "Come in."
Sally didn't gawk--she wasn't the type--but it was impossible not to notice the room service cart, strewn with strawberry tops and a bowl of melting cream, and the pair of feathery high heels askew next to the sofa. Sally cast another glance at Irene's bare feet, at the pale flash of her thighs where her robe parted. "You don't have company?"
Irene shot here a speculative glance. "Jealous?"
"Securing the perimeter," Sally responded. "Is there anyone else on the premises?"
Irene dropped gracefully onto the sofa, pouting. "I like to spoil myself once in a while, Sergeant." She crossed her legs, her robe falling off her shoulder altogether. "Other people so rarely do."
"Somehow I doubt that." Sally glanced about. "May I sit?"
Irene gestured to a chair that looked like it belonged in a museum. "Please." She sipped at her glass. "Would you like some champagne?"
Sally didn't smile. "You reported seeing suspicious activity in Darkholme's bedroom." She extracted a notepad and pen from her pocket. "Can you describe the nature of your involvement that night?"
"Carnal," Irene said.
"With Darkholme," Sally clarified.
"Same," Irene replied.
"What reason," Sally tried, "did you have for attending the party?"
"Same." Irene shrugged. "Also, I was invited. It was to celebrate a," Irene paused, thinking, "a birthday, I think."
"Charming," Sally replied. "Describe the party."
"Small," Irene said. "Maybe twenty or thirty people. A lot of excellent wine and a lot of cheap vodka." She wrinkled her nose. "And their taste in cheese was just--"
"And the theft?" Sally interrupted.
"Ah, yes." Irene set her champagne flute down and looped her hands around her knee. "I was lounging in a corner with a diplomat," she said. "I do love a diplomat."
"I'm aware," Sally remarked.
Irene smirked. "Somebody--the ambassador of one of those adorable little countries, I think--had hopped onto the table and started reciting one of Hamlet's soliloquies." She stretched out on the sofa, her robe falling open to reveal lace and shiny satin and very little else. "Hamlet is so cliche, isn't it?"
"Yeah." Sally jerked her gaze up. "What happened next?"
"I saw a large man, dark hair and a brown overcoat, come out of the bedroom." Irene frowned artfully. "I didn't recognize him, but it was hard to keep track then. He had freckles."
"And about what time was that?"
"After midnight," Irene said. "I remember, because this tiresome Bugatti executive asked me why I hadn't turned into a pumpkin yet." She rolled her eyes.
Sally crossed the double ts and dotted the i. "Anything else?"
"No," Irene replied.
Sally shut her notepad and leaned back in her chair. Irene raised her eyebrows, and Sally sighed. "None of that was true at all, was it?"
Irene tilted her head. "What reason would I have to lie, Sergeant?"
"The tag is still on your robe," Sally replied. "And the stickers are still on those shoes. Gone shopping recently?"
Irene sat up, and the robe fell from her shoulders. "Maybe I was hoping you would visit."
The robe pooled on the floor, and Sally pocketed her notepad and stood. "I might have more questions. Don't leave town."
Irene stood as well, slinking up to Sally until she was within arm's reach. "Can I persuade you to stay?" She reached up and tapped the buttons of Sally's blouse, one by one.
"Not today," Sally responded, "ma'am."
Irene winced. "That's below the belt, Sergeant."
"Not quite yet," Sally said, and with that, she let herself out.