RiskBy: Sam Skyborne
THREE CRIME-FIGHTING WOMEN
LOVE, LUST AND JUSTICE
Toni Mendez, an ex-cop turned private investigator in London, takes on a case to find the truth behind the violent murder of the young wife of a successful entrepreneur, Lucille Ransom-Evans. Little did she know that this case would bring to her door Maxine Bennett, a feisty, opinionated, American detective, on the hunt for a serial killer.
Maxine not only infiltrates Toni's working life presenting a sore reminder of a profession she once loved, she also invades her private life by seducing her best friend, Lizbeth Du Cannon. As the investigation continues, Toni is immersed more and more, both professionally and privately, into a subculture she knew only from a distance - the LGBTQ+ world. She is forced to reassess everything she thought she knew about herself and the foundations of her long-term friendship with Lizbeth.
Thank you to all the women who participated in the Whipped Cream Production “lesbian erotica investigations” that ultimately lead to the creation of RISK. It was a load of fun and luckily the investigations continue.
Thank you to all my wonderful friends and family who have lovingly and tirelessly helped and supported me on this journey.
I love and thank you from the bottom of my heart!
“…and then the day came
when the risk to remain tight,
in a bud,
became more painful
than the risk it took to blossom…”
Lassie Benton1 1979
Toni ran her hand through her long dark hair. Her frustration was bubbling very close to the surface. She flicked through the next folder.
“Ransom-Evans. Ransom-Evans,” she muttered, grabbing the next file from the pile. She’d been a Private Investigator long enough that already her filing cabinets, like her small office, were bursting at the seams with paperwork all filed in precise chronological order.
Toni prided herself on having a particularly good memory and somewhere in the middle of this mountain of paper she was positive she had an article about the Ransom-Evans family from a few months earlier. If only she could remember the damned date.
Detective Maxine Bennett strode into the office carrying two coffees and a large box of doughnuts. “Didn’t think doughnuts would be so hard to find, especially in a ‘world city’,” she said in a soft but recognisably American accent as she scanned the room for an empty surface.
Maxine had apparently come over from New York earlier in the week, but her accent was definitely not broad enough to have originated solely from there, Toni thought. She also suspected Maxine knew London a lot better than she’d let on.
Unable to find a suitable clear surface, Maxine nudged aside the small silver plaque that read “Toni Mendez PI” on top of one of the more stable looking paper piles on Toni’s desk.
It’s only been three days and she already acts like she owns the place. Toni slammed another cabinet drawer closed and was about to reprimand Maxine when she caught sight of the teddy-bear tucked under her arm. The incongruity of it froze the acid remark on the tip of her tongue.
“Many things are quite different in London, Detective Bennett.” Though Toni kept the irritation out of her voice, her intent was clear.
“Let's hope that goes for this case too.” Maxine sipped her coffee and studied the large freestanding whiteboard that stood crammed into the corner of the small office.
“She looks sorta sad.” Maxine indicated the photo of an attractive young woman in her thirties with dyed red hair and dark green eyes.
Toni glanced over. Erika Ransom-Evans did indeed look sad in a troubled, wistful way. Fragile at the very least.
She gave up on the article hunt and retrieved another headshot of a more masculine looking older woman with short greying hair wearing a man’s collared shirt and a v-neck jumper and pinned it next to Erika. She grabbed the blue marker pen, ripped the lid off with her teeth and wrote “Lucille Ransom-Evans” under the photo and drew an arrow from the photo of Erika to that of Lucille and labelled it “wife of”.
Toni stood back and studied her handy work. “They were together for thirteen years.” She shook her head slightly.
“What?” Maxine asked.
“No, nothing,” Toni nodded at Lucille. “I just feel for her. It can't be easy losing one's wife while having to be in the public eye like that.”
“No, it can’t be.”
“I’m sometimes very glad I’m not gay,” Toni continued.
Maxine almost spilt her hot drink. “You make it sound like a birth defect.”
“No, not at all, I just don't think anyone would choose that life if they had a choice. It must be so much harder. Would you?” Toni asked frowning.
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