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We'd been sitting in the same spot, directly opposite the steps to the courthouse, for almost forty minutes before Scribbs spoke. Her little girl petulance in full display despite the sophistication of her outfit.
"I hate giving evidence."
I'd promised not to shout at her for the next hour - under penalty of death - and however tempting it might have been, I wasn't fool enough to risk her bad mood. At least not at that moment. Although once she'd shaken off her current mood I planned to make her pay heavily for my forbearing.
"I thought you enjoyed getting dressed up and having your moment on the stage," I tried, my tone light and non-confrontational.
Scribbs scowled. "Don't shout at me," she mumbled, her sulk deepening.
I valiantly fought the urge to snap and instead glanced, surreptitiously, at my watch.
"I know!" She started fiddling with her seat belt. "You don't have to go on."
As a police inspector I have learnt quite a bit about disposing of bodies and covering my tracks and, if Scribbs didn't get out of the car, I was quite prepared to put all that knowledge to the test.
"Your testimony is vital to the case," I tried, "without it McPherson will walk."
I hoped that scowl of hers wouldn't become permanent - she has such a pretty face - as it was rather disconcerting. I knew she disliked McPherson as much as I did. Therefore her reluctance to enter the courthouse was unfathomable.
"He spat on me when we arrested him," I reminded her.
Her scowl slipped for just a second and, for a moment, I thought I'd succeeded in ejecting her from my car. Then she folded her arms and her scowl returned. With twenty minutes until she was due to give evidence, I didn't have time for pussyfooting around.
"Just get out of the car, Scribbs, before I slap you in handcuffs and frog march you across the road myself." I hadn't raised my voice, therefore, technically, I hadn't shouted at her.
"Ash?" Oh dear, the puppy-dog eyes, they should be quantified as a lethal weapon. "Please?"
Fortunately there was nothing I could do. "Get out."
The puppy-dog eyes quickly morphed into a death glare and she violently released her seat belt and grabbed for the door release. The second I released my own seat belt, in preparation for following her into the courthouse, she turned on me like a rabid dog.
"You can't come in!"
I hate being told what to do. "I can."
"You have work to do." She looked as if she were a minute or two from a tantrum. "The Clover case."
"Scribbs, what is wrong with you?"
It might not be politically correct but I suddenly had the urge to bend her over my knee and spank that pert little backside of hers raw. Not for some perverse sexual thrill but just to spank some sense into her. Okay, so maybe there was a little sexual thrill in there somewhere but at the time I was more annoyed than aroused.
She deflated. "It's the arrest."
"McPherson's arrest?" I had praised Scribbs profusely when she'd single-handedly arrested the oily little man and, from all accounts, she had done everything by the book. "It was solid."
"I know." She looked ready to bolt. "It's not the arrest. It's the reason I was hiding behind the corner when he tried to get away."
Scribbs and her vanity. "Everyone needs to visit the ladies' at some point, Scribbs, so don't worry about it."
"I wasn't going to the loo."
"But you said...?"
"I lied." Her cheeks took on a rosy hue. "I was spying on you and Sullivan."
I had been stuck in a mini-metro with Sullivan for almost four hours waiting for McPherson to make his move. He might have been one of the best bosses I'd ever had but after the first hour or so I'd been ready to smother him - there is only so much footie talk a woman can take before she snaps - and I couldn't see why Scribbs would be interested.
"I thought." There must have been something incredibly interesting on the floor because Scribbs couldn't seem to take her eyes off it. "I thought he might try and kiss you again."
"And I was going to stop him." The way her pitch rose at the end of the sentence made it sound more like a question than a statement. "But that's when McPherson bumped into me."
There was obviously something I was missing. "I will admit that having my sergeant tell a courtroom filled with people that she had plans to play the anti-Cupid might be somewhat embarrassing, for me, but I can't see why you're so hell-bent on avoiding the ordeal."
She looked at her watch. "I should be going."
"I thought you didn't want to go?"
Her shrug was unconvincing. "Can't keep the CPS waiting."
"A minute or two more won't hurt." I grabbed hold of her arm. "What aren't you telling me?"
She opened her mouth to make some glib comment or another, I'm sure, but appeared to think better of it. "I was jealous."
That didn't make sense. "You were jealous because you thought Sullivan was going to kiss me?"
The shrug returned.
"Why would you be... Scribbs?" I could see the CPS's clerk waving at us from the courthouse steps but I pretended I hadn't noticed. "Scribbs?"
"'Cause I fancy you." She made it an accusation. "Happy?"
It was my turn to shrug. "I'd prefer chocolates and roses."
"This isn't funny, Ash, I feel like a prat."
"Why?" I released my seat belt. "Shows you've got good taste."
"Ash!" She looked ready for another tantrum. "Stop taking the piss."
The clerk was just about to cross the street when I signalled to him that we were on our way. His two fingered wave wasn't quite what I'd expect from an employee of Queen's Counsel but I was too caught up in Scribbs' little drama to pay much attention.
"If it makes you feel any better, I fancy you too, but can we save all the soppy stuff for after the trial?"
Scribbs' smile made its first appearance of the day and, before I could do anything about it, she leaned in and planted a hurried kiss on my lips. It might not have been the best kiss of my life, and not a patch on the ones we've shared since, but it knocked my socks off. She might be a stroppy cow at times but, from that moment on, she became my stroppy cow, and I couldn't have been happier.
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