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Speaking to Annie, Sam didn't even see it coming. Gene grabbed Sam by the shoulder, spun him round and sunk his fist wrist deep into Sam's stomach. Sam folded to the floor, Annie scrambling down after him to check that he was all right.

"What d'you do that for Guv?"

"It were either that or break his jaw."

Gene strode into his office, the door slamming behind him hard enough to shake the wall. After a few minutes, when Sam actually felt like he could breathe again, he levered himself up off the floor with some help from Annie. As he started to shuffle toward Gene's office, Annie got in his way.

"I don't think you should go in there Sam, not until the Guv's cooled down a bit."

"Out of my way Annie."

"All right then. Stubborn bloody idiots the pair of you."

Sam knocked on the door before entering. Gene glowered up at him from behind his desk.

"You don't even have sense enough to stay out of here, do you?"

"Can I sit down, Guv, before I fall down?"

"You won't just leave?"

"No."

"Then you can sit down" Gene's knuckles were white, he was gripping his desk so hard, "but don't get comfortable."

Sam for once didn't say anything, just clutched at his stomach and waited for Gene to speak again.

"Why'd you do it Tyler?"

"I assume you're talking about the Cortina."

"Of course I'm talking about Tina you—"

"Tina?"

"Why'd you take advantage of her?"

"You hit me because you're protecting Tina's honour?"

"Course."

"How exactly do you take advantage of approximately 2600lbs pounds of steel?"

"How d'you know what she weighs?"

Feeling his face flush a little, Sam worked to suppress his memories of fondling the fold-out Cortina schematics from his car repair manual. "Just know, that's all."

"And I don't know how you did it, but you did it. That were your… model in her boot weren't it?"

"I can't deny that Guv I—"

"Then you admit you took advantage of her I—"

"Again, no. The night you went to speak to Billy at the strip club you left me alone in the car—"

"So that's when you did—"

"That's when she did me."

"What?"

"If anyone… any thing, took advantage of anyone, it were the other way round, Guv. Seat started undulating and then the safety belt snapped home across me—"

"I don't want to hear the sordid details."

"Safety belts are sordid? Or did she do it that way to you too?"

"Shut it Tyler. I'm not discussing Tina with you. She's in a bit of a state—"

"A state?"

"Sluggish to handle. When you ran off last night I couldn't get her to turn left to follow you."

Thank you, Tina.

"So she's going in to the garage this morning. Would have taken her meself but Rathbone wants to see me."

"I could—"

"I know you could and you did, but not again. You've done more than enough already. I sent her with someone I can trust."

"Guv, look I'm sorry—"

"Nothing you say can—"

"But I have to know. What did you do with me ki… the other, smaller, model Cortina?"

"Christ Tyler, are you insinuating I'd ever do anything to harm a ki… model?"

"Well you were angry and—"

"Get out of me sight before I kill you with me bare hands!"

 

00000

 

When Gene had finally emerged from his office, it had been to hand Sam a long list of files he wanted pulled from the Collator's Den. Sam had tried to give the list to Chris, but Gene had said he needed Chris for something else and as Ray was out, Sam had ended up pulling twenty year old files in the Collator's den for the rest of the day.

Sam had gone to the Arms that night in the hope of at least trading a few more insults with Gene, or even, if necessary, trying to apologize again. Gene had never showed up. After checking with Nelson that he hadn't in fact run out of beer and whisky, and checking with the BBC news to be sure that World War III hadn't, in fact, started, calling Gene back to active service, Sam had finally been forced to recognize the full extent of Gene's anger.

 

00000

 

When Gene stepped out of his office the next day, Sam fully expected to spend another day with the files, but Gene just motioned at him to follow and headed for the door. Sam picked up his jacket and followed as fast as he could. When Sam made it to the car park, Gene was standing in front of the Cortina.

"Terry Davis' hired thug, Reggie Lawson, put a waiter in the hospital for bringing him cold chips. If we can find him, we can squeeze him for more information about Davis."

"Squeeze him?"

"Said it out of consideration for your delicate nerves, Tinkerbell. You hate it when I say beat senseless."

"Right."

Sam started to walk around the car, only to be halted suddenly as one of Gene's gloved hands shot out, twisting into his shirt.

"First, a few ground rules, Tyler. You touch the car no more than is strictly necessary. I leave the car, you leave the car. Understood?"

"Yes, Guv."

"Right then. Get in."

Sam slid carefully into the passenger seat, watching Gene closely for any sudden movements. Gene glared across at him as he started the car and pulled away at his usual speed. Sam grabbed for the handle above his window and Gene slammed on the brakes.

"Keep your hands to yerself, Tyler."

Sam reached for the safety belt.

"No fucking way Tyler, not after what you told me. Just sit there and brace yerself."

Sam decided now was not the time to tell Gene that the seat had just pinched his arse.

 

00000

 

Gene would park the car and get out. He'd make Sam get out too, even though Gene's informants didn't want to speak to anyone but Gene. Sam ended up waiting by an odd assortment of building doorways.

Meanwhile, Sam was inevitably left staring at the Cortina. With the sunlight gleaming on her paintwork she was a thing of beauty. He shoved his hands into his jacket pockets to keep from touching her.

Gene had been in the back of a betting shop for about 20 minutes. Sam was half-dozing against the back door frame when he could have sworn the Cortina's mirror swivelled toward him. When he blinked and looked again, it was right back where he thought it should be.

Now I'm bloody imagining things. Sam ignored the little voice that tried to point out the ludicrous fact that he'd had sex with the car, but was now baulking at the thought that its mirror might have just moved on its own.

As he stared harder at the car, its horn suddenly sounded. As Sam jerked in shock, he felt a gun press into the side of his neck.

Thanks for trying to warn me, Tina.

The betting shop door flew open and Gene ran out, skidding to face Sam "If you've laid one bloody finger on her I'll—"

"Hello Hunt, believe you've been looking for me."

"Sam, meet Reggie Lawson."

"Now Mr.Lawson, if you just want to lower that gun I—"

"New one, eh Hunt? You got a comedian on yer team now?"

"Shut it Sam. What d'you want Reggie?"

"Open the boot Gene."

"Why? You're not thinking of shooting—"

"Nobody in their right mind shoots a copper, so don't make me do anything stupid. I'm just going to lock the pair of you up in that boot, drive you down somewhere remote by the canal and leave you there while I get out of Manchester. If you don't give me any trouble I'll even call the station and tell them where you are once I'm clear."

 

00000

 

Under the circumstances, there wasn't much thinking to be done. Gene had stood aside to let Sam clamber into the boot first.

"Turn around Tyler."

"But Guv I—"

"If you think I'm lying face to face with you for hours on end you've got another bloody thing coming."

"If you ladies would just sort yerself out I want to be gone."

Gene clambered in behind Sam, the space too small for him not to be folded in against Sam's back. Lawson closed the lid on them and moved around to start up the Cortina. The car pulled away smoothly.

"She picked a bloody piss poor time to become cooperative didn't she?"

"Maybe she doesn't fancy him, Guv."

Gene slapped Sam's head.

"No punch?"

"No leverage in this space."

The boot lining started to pulsate, closing in and tightening up around the two of them, in the process, pushing Gene in even tighter against Sam's back. Sam could feel his cock hardening as the lining rubbed against him through his jeans.

"An you can stop that right now Tina!"

At the Guv's insistence, the pulsing stopped.

"Thanks, Guv!"

"Didn't do it for you."

"Guv… Is that a flask in yer pocket or are you just glad to see me?"

"Don't be an arse Sam. It's me cock and you know it. Just ignore it. It'll lose interest shortly."

"But—"

"Tina was fondling me arse."

"Right then."

Sam lay there, with Gene's cock pressing against his arse, and Tina pressing against his own erection. When I imagined this, there was a lot more friction. In the silence, Sam's zip could be heard sliding down.

"An you can stop that an all Tyler."

"Isn't me doing it Guv."

"Well you've still got control over yer own zipper. Do it back up."

"I will, but…"

"But what?"

"But I need to wait a few minutes so I can close—"

"Erm… right."

"Sorry, Guv."

"For once this isn't yer fault, Tyler."

Gene shifted slightly, trying to edge his groin a few more inches away from Sam's arse. Sam tried not to think about his favourite fantasy, the one where he was strapped down with multiple safety belts to Tina's undulating driving seat, Gene caressing Sam's erect cock while wearing only his driving gloves. He could feel his erection getting even harder.

If I come in the boot, Gene will kill me. I need a distraction! "Being trapped in the boot again is like being trapped in the X-rated version of The Love Bug."

"What?"

"Film about a car that's alive."

"Know what it is Tyler. The Missus made me take her to see it. But don't compare Tina to a bloody Volkswagen."

Gene tried to shift his legs a little, inadvertently bringing his crotch back into contact with Sam's arse. Sam felt his cock twitch. More distraction!

"So Guv, about this Lawson—"

"Told you, he's one of Terry Davis' boys. I think he'll do what he said he'll do, I wouldn't worry… Fucking hell, Tyler!"

"What Guv?"

"Being trapped in the boot again? That second time I locked you in the boot. When I dragged you out you had a right big shit eating grin on yer face. That's when you shagged my girl right?"

"It happened just like this Guv. The walls started pulsating and me zipper… Well, she didn't leave me much choice."

"I hope we don't die in here."

"We're not going to die in here, Guv."

"Good, cos I'm going to bloody well kill you meself when we get out of here."

"Why you waiting?"

"Who knows how many hours I could be trapped in here with a dead body? Dry cleaning this coat is bloody expensive."

 

00000

 

After Lawson had parked the Cortina and left them to it, both Sam and Gene had actually nodded off, lulled to sleep by a low level purring noise emanating from the Cortina, Gene cursing Sam under his breath as he drifted off. They'd ended up being in the boot for almost three hours, when Ray and Chris had showed up to let them out. Lawson had called the station and then left the keys under the driver's seat as promised. While Gene's anger seemed to have faded, he avoided looking at Sam directly, running one gloved hand in a possessive gesture lightly backward and forward across the Cortina's roof, over and over again.

"Ray, take Sam home and then meet me at The Arms. I need a bloody drink."

Ray smirked as he realized that Gene's words made it very obvious that Sam was not invited to join them.

"Guv I—"

"Go home, Tyler."

Gene got in to the Cortina and drove away, Sam watching them both until they turned the corner. That was when Sam realized that he was condemned to yet another evening alone in his depressing flat, with only his driving gloves, his Ford Cortina repair manual and his camel hair blanket for company.