Chapter 2

The following days dragged by until Friday had finally arrived and Rachel's date with Gill was only hours away. The day at work had been routine; Rachel was on time for the morning briefing by the skin of her teeth and had already washed down a cup of coffee by the time it was finished. Kevin made numerous jokes throughout, and Gill still didn't laugh, while Pete and Mitch sat together, making snide comments as often as they knew they would get away with. Whenever time allowed for it throughout the day, Janet had dragged Rachel to the toilets to run through all possible scenarios for tonight, ranging from Gill getting fed up of Rachel and leaving early, all the way to the pair snogging in some alley somewhere.

She was actually a little excited for her date with Gill. Rachel had always admired Gill, even when she was being a right cow, and even if nothing was to come of it - she was glad for the opportunity to spend some time alone with her boss.

However, there was still a niggling doubt at the back of her mind.

When she and Janet were out during the day, the older woman had turned to her at a red light. Her expression was no longer light and cheerful; she had turned serious.

"Rachel," she sighed "Do you know if Gill and Chris have broken up?"

She shrugged, "How should I know?"

"You're going on a date with her tonight," she said, as though it should have been obvious. "Haven't you asked yourself the question?"

She hadn't. She had assumed that it wasn't even that serious between Gill and Chris. As far as she knew, it was casual. They met up, they slept together and then parted ways. It wasn't that she couldn't imagine someone wanting to be in a relationship with Gill, but she had always got the impression that Gill wasn't interested in that.

But Gill would do that to her, she was better than that.

However much she wanted to believe that, she was consumed by an even stronger thought; Rachel really had no reason to trust Gill so unconditionally. God only knew how little trust Gill had in her. Besides, Janet had known her for over 20 years and even she had her doubts.

She shook herself off of it. It wasn't her problem, not really.

Pushing herself up from the sofa, she moved into the kitchen. She wasn't meeting Gill for another hour, and so she could use some of that time to try and settle her thoughts a little more. She grabbed the bottle of wine from the fridge and set it down on the counter with a satisfying clink.

She'd only have one glass.

X

Gill Murray watched the bar's punters with a level of criticism only present in such a trained detective. The couple at the next table had a bottle of wine between them; the man in a fancy suit and the woman in a pretty dress. She looked so eager to dote on him, but his eyes were reserved only for his phone. Text messages came one after another until he finally put it on silent - work? Another woman? Gill couldn't be sure, but the man's partner eventually gave up and focused on her glass of wine.

Gill's own phone came to life with a text message.

Just getting out the taxi. Be there soon. - Rachel Bailey

She smiled and replaced the phone back into her bag. She opened their own bottle of wine and poured a small measure equally into their glasses. Tonight wasn't about getting hammered. Tonight was about getting to know Rachel and deciding if they wanted to pursue a relationship. Gill wanted to be sober while that happened, and unless it became unbearably awkward, Gill was happy to go easy on the wine tonight.

Just then, the woman in question arrived at the table with a stumble. Gill would have chuckled in return, but her attention was caught by Rachel and how beautiful she looked this evening (despite being a drink or two ahead of Gill already).

"Sit, please," she urged, pushing the glass towards her. Rachel complied after hanging her jacket over the back of the chair. She had on a simple black dress which fell just above her knees, and a light, silver pendant around her neck. Those beautiful dark brown waves were pinned behind her ears and her face was complimented by a light dusting of makeup.

"Rioja," she smiled, examining the label closely. Gill watched as Rachel's eyes strained at the small print on the bottle, watching over the young woman with her own smile. Rachel seemed to lose focus for a moment, lost in her own world. Gill brushed her hand against Rachel's with a laugh.

"You alright there, kid?"

"Oh," she said, startled. "Sorry, just thinking about something Janet said. This wine is great."

"It should be! It cost £25."

The date fell back on track quickly and in spite of herself, Gill started to have fun. Rachel asked her questions about growing up, telling her own stories of childhood in Middleton with her problematic parents and two odd siblings. She spoke of her father who, in spite of an abusive past and alcohol addiction, had been incredibly proud of her career with the police. She recalled finding his collection of newspaper clippings of whenever she was mentioned during a big case, through her voluntary work or when she ran a big race. But she spoke of it fondly. She loved her father in a way only Rachel Bailey could find a way to love an alcoholic who turned her life upside down.

This was the Rachel Bailey that she liked. She was vulnerable, human - she wasn't so full of shit like the DC she had to work with everyday. She adored her and she was sorry to say so. Adoring Rachel Bailey meant that she had a lot to reconsider.

"When did you lose your virginity?" Asked Rachel, words becoming increasingly slurred. Gill would have been shocked at such an odd question, but instead, she tried to find the answer in her mind.

"Oh God," she replied. "I was 14, maybe 15. Tommy Smith, I think. He was the year above me at school. Anyway, we shagged on his settee while his mum went grocery shopping."

"14! Gill Murray, you are a dark horse!" Rachel laughed, once more draining the last of her wine. She topped up both of their glasses before leaning back with a sigh.

"17. Sean McCartney. We'd been snogging for years beforehand and one night, it just happened."

Gill looked over her critically, "Did you seriously wait until you were 17?"

"Yes, I did! I'm catching up on lost time now though. I'm happy to say that I've shagged my way round most of Manchester."

"I don't doubt it, kid."

Rachel smiled and stood up, "I'm just going for a fag."

Gill let her eyes follow the young woman to the door. She truly was magnificent. Those legs of hers seems to go on forever and her hair seemed to fall so perfectly down her back.

She shook her head. This was Rachel Bailey, the woman who spends at least half her week with a hangover. This was the woman who was usually late for work, had a sharp tongue, few manners and a reputation for promiscuity. Rachel really wasn't her type. But then, why wouldn't attractive, intelligent and witty be her type? Rachel was absolutely brilliant, and she supposed all the defensiveness and her mean streak was a facade to cover the vulnerability and hurt she wouldn't dare show a soul.

A hand on her shoulder pulled her from her thoughts. As she turned sharply to identify it's source, she was met by Chris Latham's grinning face.

"Hi, Gill. Can I join you?"