Sue Holmes was sitting on the couch when Mel came home. The doctor was away more often than she was home and it was no surprise for her to walk in exhausted, mumbling about somebody’s baking accident. Sue watched her walk across the room with steady eyes, before saying anything.
“Long day?” she asked.
Mel smirked at her friend and flatmate. “It always is, Sue.”
“Surely baking accidents and flu victims are nothing for the famous Mel Watson, Captain of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers?” Sue raised her eyebrow and smirked back, threatening to smile.
“Famous, eh? The comments on my blog say otherwise.” Mel put down her bag and meandered to the kitchen, not waiting for Sue’s reply.
“Ah, but it is your blog they’re commenting on,” it came, drifting airily from Sue’s mouth.
There were no other sounds and it was obvious Sue was not going to vacate her seat on the couch. Footsteps on the stairs did elicit a sigh and the sound of Sue sliding down into a slumped position, though.
Mrs Berry entered the flat in her familiar dress, holding a duster as if she might forget she’s not a housekeeper and tidy her tenants’ flat.
“You’ve a guest,” she announced, eyeing Sue. “Welcome back, Mel. Long day?”
Mel was eating directly from a jar of peanut butter, digging through the fridge to find cream for tea, and didn’t respond with more than a grunt. Mrs Berry rolled her eyes.
“Who’s the guest? Is it Pat?” Sue demanded, running her hands along the peak of her dark hair. It was styled into a high lift today and the sleeves of her blazer rustled as she lifted her arms. “Peter?” she tried again when Mrs Berry raised an eyebrow.
“Paul,” Mel offered.
“Oh whatever,” Sue snipped. “Is Paul Lestrade here?”
Mrs Berry nodded and opened her mouth to say more but snapped it shut right away when a second pair of footsteps sounded behind her. She turned to see the detective inspector approaching with a grim expression.
“There’s been a murder,” he began, out of breath either from fear, nerves, or the climb up the stairs.
“Of course there has, Lestrade, you wouldn’t come all this way to give me the weather report,” Sue answered, finally pushing herself to her feet and following the sound of Mel’s tea making into the kitchen where she grabbed a cup for herself and waited for Mel to fill it.
“Would you like some tea?” Mel offered Paul, looking over her shoulder at the detective. She made a face, somewhere between poorly masked admiration and disgust, likely at the neat lines of Paul’s hair and beard, and turned back to Sue. “Bugger off, you can’t have any. Get yourself some biscuits or something.”
Mrs Berry tutted and got Paul’s attention back. “You were saying something of crime, Detective Inspector?”
“Yes,” he replied quietly. “We need to go undercover. All of us.”
This caught Sue’s interest and she pivoted in what must’ve been a practiced dance move, facing the man. “All of us? For what?”
Paul stood awkwardly for a moment, not sure what to say first. “There’s a baking competition coming to town and someone’s been murdered,” he admitted. “But we don’t know who.”
Before anyone could say more, Mel swore under her breath. “Bloody baking, are you kidding me?” she demanded.
Sue smirked. “What I’m sure she means is that we’d love to be of assistance, leave your directions with Mrs Berry and please leave, thank you!”
Ushering Paul and Mrs Berry out the door and slamming it behind them, Sue turned again and smiled, giddy as a schoolgirl. “Pies, breads, cakes, oh and every type of pastry. This is almost as good as cocaine, Watson, we can’t turn it down.” Reaching forward, she made one last attempt for a cup of tea, barely missing as Mel pulled it away from her.
“Pop off,” Mel replied. “I’ll sleep soon and we can leave in the morning.”
Sue nodded sternly, agreeing with such clear reason. “Very good,” she said. “The game is on, Mel!”
With that, the detective was gone, hidden away in her room where she likely would stay awake learning everything about baking and not sleeping at all. As much as Mel hated the idea of going undercover in a baking challenge, she couldn’t help being a little excited at the prospect of eating baked goods for work. Nodding to herself and finishing her tea, she too headed to bed.
“Tomorrow, Holmes,” she murmured. “The game is on tomorrow.”