A full moon in a cloudless, star strewn sky, threw it's eerie light on the Rolls Royce Silver Spur, the deep lustre of multiple layers of black paintwork gleaming on this warm, summer night in 1987, as the car swung off the main road and into a narrow lane. It glided along slowly, until it found a break in the hedgerows, something it's driver had been searching for - an open gate to a farmers field.
Turning in, the car parked out of sight behind the high hedge separating the field from the lane, the driver throwing his chauffeurs hat onto the passenger seat, before alighting from the car. Having removed his jacket and gloves too, he then lifted the bootlid and dragged out a lifeless body, still tightly wrapped in a maroon carpet.
Heaving it over his shoulder, he carried it deep into a small woodthat flanked the field, before dumping it unceremoniously on the ground. Returning to the boot, he took out a spade and sauntered back to the body, whereupon he dug a hole to around four feet.
Throwing the spade on the ground, he wiped his brow, lifted the body once more, then rolled it into the hole, spending the next twenty minutes filling it in.
He completed his handiwork by throwing as much foliage over the disturbed earth as he could find. Arriving back at the car, he put his jacket back on and refitted his gloves, but before climbing back into the drivers seat, he smoothed down, adjusted and straightened his mid-grey uniform.
Having placed the matching hat back on his head, he settled his gloved hands on the steering wheel and looked into the rear view mirror at his employer, seated on cream leather in the back of the limousine.
A curt nod instructed the chauffeur to start the car and it quietly exited the field, travelling up the lane to the main road,where it accelerated away noiselessly.
"James." called Harriet Makepeace from her bathroom, whilst putting the finishing touches to her makeup in preparation for their evening out.
"Yo Harry," James Dempsey, her lover and partner in work, answered from the lounge, where he was busy pouring out the last two glasses of Louis Roederer Cristal champagne into flutes, and as usual, was dressed, ready and waiting for her.
"Are we doing anything this weekend?"
"Hell, honey, why you askin' me? You're the social secretary."
Just then, Harry walked through to join him.
"Wow! you look wonderful, princess." he said, taking her hand, kissing her on the cheek and handing her a glass of the exclusive and expensive ice cold sparkling wine.
"Thank you, James." she replied, taking the proffered glass and looking him up and down, "you don't look half bad yourself. I might have to strip search you later."
"I guess I'd better have somethin' worth findin' then." he replied, echoing the twinkle in her eye.
He was dressed in classic evening wear - white tuxedo, white dress shirt with pleated bib at the front and black studded buttons.
Black onyx cufflinks, black trousers, black patent leather shoes, a bow tie and cummerbund in royal blue, completed his ensemble. Harry was wearing a stunning ocean blue, full length, sleeveless evening gown by Gina Bacconi, with v neckline and diamond applique to the waistband, complimented by a diamond pendant and matching earrings.
Her feet nestled in black high heeled snakeskin shoes by Manolo Blahnik, whilst her left wrist was graced by a Cartier ladies watch in solid silver. With her light blonde hair cut into a distinctive bob circling her face and her pale pink lipstick accentuating the heart shaped lips in her sensuous mouth, Dempsey's heart was doing somersaults.
Simple but hugely effective, given that she was the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen, the dress matched the fathomless colour of her eyes.
"Why the question 'bout the weekend, princess?"
"Sunday is Daddy's seventieth birthday and, of course, it's the summer solstice too." she replied. "So he's decided at the last minute to throw a garden party at Winfield Hall for friends and family and he specifically asked that we be there. He'd like it if we could drive up tomorrow evening and stay the weekend."
"Sounds great," replied Dempsey, "I've got a lot of time for your father, fascinatin' guy."
"He thinks the world of you, you know." she said, holding his hand tightly. "You remind him of one or two agents he controlled in the SOE during the war. He said your maverick attitude is what sets you apart from the rest and, in another time, you could have been a hugely effective spy. You've got a lot to thank him for."
"Yeah?" questioned Dempsey, "like what?"
"It was Freddy who first opened my eyes to the man behind the detective," she replied, her eyes soft and loving. "He could see you for the fellow you really are, not the brash, arrogant Yank but a sensitive, kind and loyal person. That's when the ice in my heart, that had frozen over in my marriage to Robert, began to melt."
"An', as they say, the rest is history." said Dempsey, stooping to kiss her enticing lips.
Lady Harriet (Harry) Makepeace, nee Winfield, is a high born heiress, whose father, Lord Frederick (Freddy) Winfield, hugely wealthy aristocratic owner of both Winfield Hall, one of Britains foremost stately homes, and a Belgravia mansion, is a retired, high ranking officer in the British Secret Service.
Apart from her father, none of the family or their friends know that Harry is, in fact, Detective Sergeant Makepeace, attached to an undercover and secret crime fighting Government department, SI-10, which was established three years previously and spans both MI5 and MI6.
Seconded to SI-10, not long after its inception, was Lieutenant James Dempsey, officially part of an experimental exchange programme with the NYPD but, in reality, sent to the UK because his life was in mortal danger, having exposed high level corruption within his own organisation.
Chief Superindent Gordon Spikings, the officer in charge, is no fan of Yanks, as he refers to them, so was not particularly pleased when Dempsey arrived in a Mercedes 500SL sports car and breezed in announcing his arrival.
This flamboyant introduction belied his true feelings however - he wanted to remain in New York and see the perpetrators brought to justice, but his boss in the NYPD, O'Grady, thought differently and had forced him to London, so, as a middle finger salute to him, he'd hired the most expensive set of wheels on Hertz's books, knowing O'Grady would have to cover the rental charges just to keep him happy.
Equally not enamoured was Harry, when Spikings decided to pair them up.
They were like chalk and cheese.
Her high end education and cut glass upbringing grated against his brash, "what you see is what you get" attitude and this, coupled with his maverick approach to the job and brazen arrogance, meant their first few months together were fraught to say the least.
But, as time progressed, Harry became more accustomed to Dempsey's ways, especially as his insight and intuition fused with hers, resulting in them saving each others lives on several occasions.
An explicit trust developed together with a sixth sense that was unique to them and they realised that their feelings for each other had grown into a deep and lasting love of one for the other.
Actually admitting it to each other, however, was another thing altogether, but eventually their emotional floodgates opened and they became inseparable.
This inevitably led to a few problems, not least of which was keeping their love life a secret at SI-10, for fear that Spikings would view it as compromising their working partnership.
Moreover, their first case as lovers involved a dangerous pyschopath sent from New York to assassinate them and this tested the dynamics of their relationship to its limit, since it had now changed beyond all recognition.
It brought into sharp focus, how they had to deal with danger when it threatened their lives now - the fact that they loved each other so much, making it infinitely more acute.
"Well tiger, ya ready to go?" asked Dempsey, drinking in how stunningly gorgeous she was, "'cos if we don' go now, I won't be responsible for my actions. An' ya know what long dresses do to me!"
Her electric blue eyes, which never ceased to captivate him, took on a mischievous look.
"Are you thinking what I think you are thinking?" she asked, in a deliberately provocative voice, moving into him very closely, putting her arms around his neck and looking up into his eyes.
"Could be." he replied, his face creasing into a smile as his hands slid seductively down her back to her buttocks and detecting material beneath the dress.
"They're silk." she teased, tingling at his touch and wanting nothing more than to rip his clothes off and take him back to bed.
"Well they're hellish sexy but I ain't gonna say they're better than nothin'," he said, huskily, her exquisite Givenchy perfume making him go weak at the knees, "'cos they ain't."
Harry's eyes held his in a steady gaze, the sexual electricity sparking between them, speaking volumes. She gathered herself together, silenting counting to ten.
"I may have to dance with an assortment of men this evening, so if you think I'm going commando, you can think again!" she said eventually, tapping the end of his nose, then kissing it for good measure.
He thought for a moment, then nodded.
"Okay, good point angel." he agreed, the dawning of her explanation clearly visible on his features as it sunk in, making her burst into laughter.
"Yeah, good point." he repeated.
"Come on Valentino," she laughed, grabbing his hand, "let's go before a lack of resolve get's the better of us!"
They finished their champagne and, hand in hand, walked out of Harry's house to Dempsey's Mercedes 500SL.
"I've been meaning to ask you for ages," she said, settling into the passenger seat and buckling up, "how come you've still got this car?"
"O'Grady, my Chief back home, is still payin' for it." he said. "I guess he still feels guilty 'bout havin' to send me here in the first place."
"Thank you, O'Grady." she said, glancing across at him, smiling, then adding swiftly, "I don't mean about the car, I mean about you."
"Yeah, I know whatcha mean, angel." replied Dempsey, a wide grin on his face, "I know I can be dumb sometimes, but I ain't that dumb!"
He started the car, the evocative "Who's That Lady" by 'The Isley Brothers' sweeping out of the speakers, and headed for central London and the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, where a dinner dance was being held to raise money for UNICEF, the children's charity, and to which Harry had donated in the past.
They were seated at a large circular table for ten people, none of whom Harry had ever met, and certainly not known to Dempsey.
She was relieved he was next to her - she hated dinner parties and functions like this, where one was deliberately separated from one's partner.
To her left was an eminent surgeon and to Dempsey's right, the wife of the editor of a national daily newspaper.
Other guests were the surgeons wife, a well known footballer and his 'WAG', and a distinguished looking man in his mid to late fifties, who couldn't take his eyes of Harry.
His partner was around mid to late twenties, clearly of African descent with large dark eyes, a slim figure and glistening black skin.
Harry had a golden rule.
She always insisted on dancing the first and last dance with her man, no matter what.
Quite frankly, all she wanted to do was dance with Dempsey the whole evening, especially the slow ones - she so loved the way he held her - so when the speeches were concluded and the MC announced that a section of floor had been cleared for dancing, she was quick to grab his hand and be the first to hit the floor, when the band started playing.
The first few numbers were fast and they had a ball swinging to the beat, but when the band slowed the tempo down and began playing 'Summertime', she threw his arms around her waist, looped hers around his neck, nestled into him and closed her eyes, their bodies swaying in perfect unison to the classic song.
"Harry?" said Dempsey, after a while, quietly in her ear.
"Mmmmm?" she answered, eyes closed, lost in the music.
She poked him gently in the ribs, knowing he was teasing.
"Listen honey." he said.
"What?" she asked, dreamily.
"Who's that oldish guy with the young black broad on his arm?" he asked. "He was sat opposite you at the table."
"Don't know, don't care." she answered, still in heaven. "I think he was Sir somebody hyphen Todd according to the table plan when I had a quick look before we sat down. Why?"
"My nose is twitchin'," he said, "there's somethin' 'bout him I don't like."
She looked up at him, knowing from past experience, that when Dempsey's nose started to twitch, it was best to take note.
"Are you sure you're not jealous?" she asked anyway, before snuggling back into him as they danced on. "I know it wasn't lost on you, as it wasn't on me, that he kept staring at me throughout dinner."
"Nah honey, 'course I ain't jealous!" he said, firmly. "I'm the guy takin' ya home, an' I'm the guy who's gonna be makin' love to ya tonight, so what have I to be jealous 'bout."
"Yes I know darling, I was just teasing." she said giggling into his shirt. "I'm sure that when we sit down it won't be long before he asks me to dance, so I'll find out what I can, how's that?"
"Perfect." he said.
"I love you." she whispered in his ear.
"Yeah, I know," he replied, repaying her for her earlier teases, but earning another dig in the ribs for his trouble.
When the band upped the tempo once more, it was their cue to return to their table, Dempsey ordering more coffee for them both, plus a drambuie for Harry and a Napoleon brandy for him.
He took a cuban cigar out of his breast pocket and lit it, blowing a series of smoke rings into the air before glancing over Harry's shoulder.
"Brace yourself, angel." he said, eyebrows raised. "Bandit Romeo at two o'clock."
"Bandit Romeo!?" she repeated, nearly spitting her drink out at his description, finding it highly amusing but swallowing quickly and putting a forefinger to her lips to stifle a laugh.
Dempsey watched him approach the table.
He was about six foot tall, well built, with a tanned complexion, grey/green eyes and salt 'n pepper coloured wavy hair, that dissolved into silver at the sides, giving him a debonair appearance.
He exuded wealth.
Ignoring Dempsey completely, he reached the table and tapped Harry's shoulder.
"Excuse me Miss Makepeace." he said, his voice sounding like dark chocolate. "May I have this next dance?"
She glanced up at him, disliked him immediately, but smiled sweetly and said, "yes of course, thank you," and with her back to him as she stood up, pulled a face at Dempsey, mouthing 'Yuk' and walked to the dance floor, visibly shrinking from him as his hand went to her waist.
Dempsey wasn't going to take his eyes of them.
The band was playing an up-tempo number, but it was clear all 'Bandit Romeo' wanted to do, was hold Harry close. He could tell by her body language, all she wanted to do was break away, but was clearly enduring it, so as to glean as much information about him as possible.
Once again, their sixth sense was playing as one. This guy was not as polite as his demeanor portrayed, there was something suspect about him.
The band finished their number and Dempsey could tell Harry was making her excuses to return to the table, but the guy wasn't letting her go, his arm still firmly around her waist.
'If ya don' let her go in the next five seconds, ya sonofabitch, I'm gonna put ya on the goddam floor!' he thought.
One : two: three: four: five!
Dempsey stood up, his hackles at full stretch and walked swiftly towards them.
'Bandit Romeo' must have seen him in the corner of his eye, because he suddenly released Harry, but before she'd been able to escape, he'd grabbed her hand, raised it to his lips and kissed it.
He then turned on his heel and walked quickly in the opposite direction, while Harry started towards Dempsey, rolling her eyes and wiping her hand on her dress.
She linked her arm through his as they headed for their table, and, sitting down she took a sip of her liqueur, followed a longer drink of coffee and looked at Dempsey.
"Can we leave, James?" she asked. "That slimy reptile has really put a damper on things for me. I'd much prefer to smooch with you somewhere else than here."
"Sure honey," he said, taking hold of her hand, "how's about Stringfellows for a nightcap and slow shuffle."
"Perfect". she replied.
They walked to the main entrance, Dempsey handing a ticket to the desk clerk, who looked at it, nodded and said, "your car will be brought round immediately, sir."
While they waited, a parked red Ferrari 328 GTS started up, the unmistakeable exhaust howl from it's 3.2 litre V8 engine echoing round the hotel walls.
The night was warm so it's roof panels had been removed and they watched, as it made it's way out of the small waiting bay. Harry and Dempsey couldn't see the driver, but they spotted the passenger.
It was the black girl who had accompanied 'Bandit Romeo'. They both noted the registration number, MBT 2.
The Mercedes arrived soon afterwards and Dempsey lowered the canvas hood, the balmy night air blowing through their hair which, for Harry at least, acted as an aphrodisiac to the turn off she'd experienced at the hands of 'Bandit Romeo'.
London always looked wonderful at night and this night was no different, as the eclectic mix of amber street lights contrasted with white traditional street lamps, whilst spotlighted buildings of all shapes, sizes and ages soared into the night sky.
Revellers of all nationalities sat outside pubs, cafe's, bistro's and bars enjoying the warm summer air, consummating the 'buzz' the city was famous for.
"James." she said.
"We'll have just the one drink, shall we? I don't want to be too late getting home."
He glanced across at her, instantly recognising the look in her eye.
"Sure ya wanna go to the club?"
"Yes, I'm sure." she said. "I want to dance with you again anyway. If it wasn't for that moron, we'd still be getting up close and personal on the dance floor."
"That's assumin' all the other guys in that place would've let ya." noted Dempsey.
Harry glanced over at him, smiling.
"Hmm, all the more reason for leaving then."
"So what did ya find out 'bout the fella?"
"Well, to use one of your expressions." she said, "what a slimeball!"
"But who is he?" asked Dempsey.
"His name is Sir Marcus Burleigh-Todd and he's Chairman and Managing Director of MBT Ltd. His factory is situated on an industrial estate in Dudley, West Midlands manufacturing and supplying industrial lighting - apparently they light road tunnels, airports, even garage forecourts. He's divorced, no children, lives alone in a gated mansion on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire and has an apartment in Mayfair."
"Wow! that was impressive princess," said Dempsey, reaching across and squeezing her hand, "how'dya get him to tell ya so much. There wasn't a lotta time."
"Easy! He's your typical show-off. Loves talking about himself." she replied. "And he reminds me of a snake! When he talks, the end of his tongue seems to wriggle out of his mouth and wipes across his lips. Urghhh, it's repulsive."
"Yeah, well we'll get Chas onto him." said Dempsey, "he'll dig around a little deeper. So, was that black broad his girlfriend?"
"Good heavens no." she replied, "I'd lay a pound to a penny she's from an escort agency. When the music stopped, he asked me to dinner and wouldn't take no for an answer. I was about to kick his shins when he must have seen you get up and start walking over."
"Yeah, I'd been watchin' for somethin' like that."
They pulled up outside Stringfellows, whereby Dempsey tossed the car keys to one of the clubs car park attendants.
"There ya go, Gary, park it safe." Dempsey called out.
"Will do Jim." the young lad replied, cheerfully.
It was a Thursday night and the club was bouncing and busy, the atmosphere lively and exciting. Miraculously they found an empty table which Harry quickly claimed while Dempsey went to the bar and ordered a double bourbon on the rocks for himself and a large dry Martini for Harry.
Joining her with the drinks, he sat down, leant over, took her face in his hands and kissed her on the lips.
"And what was that for?" she asked, adoring the spontaneity of this handsome man, the love of her life.
"Maybe 'cos you're the most beautiful lady in the room, princess?" he said, smiling, then changing the subject. "Say, how did he know ya name, that Todd creep?"
"I presume he saw it on the table plan," she answered.
"Did he mention me or my name?"
"No, you didn't come up." said Harry. "Why?"
"I told ya, my nose's twitchin'," he replied, "there's more to this guy than messin' with a bunch of lights. Anyway, enough of that jerk. Let's go smooch."
They strolled onto the dance floor, Harry, once more, nestling into him as "Holding Back The Years" by Simply Red, flooded the room.
As they swayed and shimmied to the hypnotic rhythm, Harry totally absorbed in the song's tranquility, Dempsey glanced around the place, thinking back to the time he first saw her here.
She'd been drunk on champagne and had flirted outrageously with him.
His memories were brought to an abrupt halt, when he casually glanced over to the stairway that led up to the street entrance.
Walking down and reaching the base of the stairs were four people, three men and a voluptuous young black woman.
Two of the men were clearly bodyguards, given their bulk and the way they brushed aside anyone who just happened to get in their way.
The girl was draped over the third man and Dempsey recognised him immediately.
"Jimmy Spencer." he murmured.
He was a London crime baron and someone SI-10 had been trying to nail but everytime they'd got close, he'd somehow slipped the net.
He had his grubby hands into all areas of vice - brothels, porn, protection rackets, gambling - you name it, Jimmy Spencer's sticky little fingers were all over it.
Harry was still in her own world as Dempsey watched the foursome make their way to a roped off, secluded corner of the room.
Two other people, a man and young black girl, were seated there, the man standing up and greeting the group as they approached.
Dempsey stopped dancing.
The man was none other than Sir Marcus Burleigh-Todd.