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"And everything goes well with palm oil," said Beverley. "Providing you use enough palm oil." – Foxglove Summer

I'm not sure what I had been thinking. Maybe it was the image of her otter-sleek skin when we'd done the deed that presumably spawned a baby river – I was still not clear on exactly how that worked – and the shea-butter scent of her hair. Maybe it was remembering how she'd looked at me in the Pokehouse Wood, that sudden worshipful sensation that had flowed through me. Maybe it was just that I hadn't a whole lot of experience with having a genius loci as a girlfriend.

"I didn't mean to upset you. It was supposed to be a joke," I said tentatively, testing the ropes around my wrists. Solid as anything. Add one more tick to the column of skills that Beverley Brook apparently had.

"I'm laughing, see? Ha ha." Beverley grinned at me, or maybe it was just that she bared her teeth. It was sort of terrifying. "You want to trade it in for a diamond ring?"

I was abruptly sober, not that we'd had more than a drink apiece before I'd handed her the tin. At which point she'd ripped my clothes off and I'd found myself trussed like a fly in a spiderweb. I'd been a willing participant for the first, admittedly. The second had happened before I'd quite realised what was going on.

"I think we'd have to run that by my governor," I said. "Not to mention your mum."

"You think they don't know what we're doing?"

I wasn't really sure what we were doing, but I was not going to tell her that. "I'd hope they wouldn't know the details."

"Well, I'm not telling them," said Beverley. She opened the tin and studied its contents consideringly. "I don't imagine you're going to tell them. But a girl likes the shinies, you know?"

"A diamond would be a little rough on my pay. I could maybe swing a piece of broken glass."

"Don't tell me you lot don't have all sorts of trinkets hidden away in that place." She dipped two fingers into the tin, came up with a blob of the stuff. "And broken glass might hurt," she said thoughtfully.

I shuddered. "I didn't mean that."

"What did you mean, I wonder?" She moved in, suddenly, close against my body. I could smell her skin. One hand went around to the back of my neck, and she pulled me into a kiss.

Which broke with my gasp when her other hand – the one with the palm oil – went somewhere else entirely.

"You're not thinking that – oh hell, you are, aren't you."

"As long as you use enough," she whispered in my ear. "I've got this really adorable toy. Haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Fancy a go?"

I groaned. "Oh, fuck me."

And she did.