James was surprised to see Iris lounging on his bed when he entered his hotel room. He looked away in embarrassment. His clothing consisted of only a towel wrapped tightly around his waist. Iris blushed at his appearance. “I’m sorry, I’ve offended you, but I wasn’t expecting any company.” He sneered. “You should have known I would show up and beg you for another chance.” She joked. Iris could see he wasn’t in the mood for humor. Her smile faded. She rose from the bed and moved nearer to him. “James, please reconsider.” She said while placing her hand on his shoulder.
“I already told you I’m not taking the case.” In protest he pushed her hand away. “What can I say to make you change your mind?” She inquired. “That’s just it. There isn’t anything you can say. I don’t want to do it. She isn’t even missing. I’ve wasted enough time already.”
“It’s worse than that. This morning on their way to the fishing hole, the Learkin Boys found Clara, dead in the thicket.”
“Are you serious?” The mood turned somber. “Afraid so.” Iris sulked back over to the bed. “There is one other thing I forgot to mention. The night of Emmy’s engagement party she went to Clara’s house. . .”
“Yes, I know all of this already get to the part you left out.”
“Clara was already dead, but when she dragged me over to Clara’s with her she was gone. So you see it doesn’t make sense that she died at home but was found a good distance away from where she lived.” Iris conjectured. “I hate it when you make sense.”
“Does that mean you’ll do it?” Iris’ hopes were raised. “Unfortunately. . .yes.” He replied running his fingers through his wet hair. “Oh James, you’ve made me so happy!” She replied full of glee. Iris wrapped her arms around him. James squirmed his way out of her embrace. “Let’s get one thing straight. This is a professional relationship. I am not doing this as a personal favor to you. You are a client.”
“A client?” She inquired. “Yes, a client. That means you pay me for my services.” He informed her. “You want me to pay you?”
“As a client you’re required to.” He replied. “How much are we talking?” Iris asked. “A pound or two. Maybe more depending on how long it takes to solve the case.” James unleashed the bad news. “When you said you wanted me to pay you I thought more along the lines of a date.” She said. “You dragged me away from work for who knows how long and you expect me to do it for free. Your charming beauty just isn’t going to work this time.” He said lifting her chin in a sarcastic manner. Iris pulled him closer to her. “How about. . .” She thought over her choice of words carefully as she looked his body over. “Does a night of unbridled passion sound better to you? I think it a fair trade up.” She placed both her hands on his bare chest. “I see how it is. You think because I’m standing here half naked in a towel that you can take advantage of me. I think you’re trying to seduce Miss Kelly.” He smiled. “Is it working?” She asked stroking his arm.
“Afraid not. I want money, Iris.” His reply was blunt and to the point. “I can’t believe you would rather have money than spend a night with me.” She was flustered by his rejection. James let go of his stunned companion. He opened the door to his hotel room. “And now you’re throwing me out.”
“I am not throwing you out. Forgive me, but I would like to get dressed now. Unless you prefer me to meet your cousin clad only in a towel.” James waited while she sauntered her way to the door. She pouted like a small child. “Don’t look so grim, Love. Things could be worse.” She turned to him on her way out the door. “How is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“For someone who is as angry as I am with you, there are a lot worse things I could have said.” He led on. “Like what?”
“Goodbye Iris.” James pushed her out of the room and closed the door behind her. Before his towel could fall to the floor, Iris barged into the room. Luckily for him he had quick reflexes. “I thought I told you to go.”
“You did, but I could not leave knowing there is something you despise about me.” She replied. “I am angry with you, but I do not despise you. There is a vast difference.”
“Okay, then why are you angry with me?”
“Iris, I don’t have the time to argue with you. Now would you please leave?”
“I am not going anywhere until you tell me.”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
“Why are you being so stubborn?” She inquired. “I have an even better question for you. Why do you feel the need to use me all the time?”
“How have I used you?” She was flabbergasted by his confession. “Every time you’re in trouble or you need some companionship you run to me. Do you ever take my feelings into consideration? Or do you always think of yourself first?”
“I resent that!” Iris cried. “I’m tired of it all! You do this to me every time! Sure I’m good enough to do your favors and probably to go to bed with, but nothing else right?”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but it isn’t true.” She attested. “Tell it to someone who believes it. I’ll help you find Clara’s murderer, but that’s the extent of it. After that I want nothing more to do with you.” Once again James opened the door. She had worn out her welcome. Iris was on her way out. He refused to look at her. “Jimmy. . .” He would not allow her to speak kindly to him.
“Iris, you’ve already said enough. This is the last favor I will ever do for you. So please don’t call me, don’t write me and don’t visit me. Just leave me alone. It will be hard enough seeing you while I’m working on this case. After this I am pushing you out of my life the way you pushed me out of yours.” Once Iris was out in the hall, he slammed the door. She stood there a moment. Iris could feel the tears forming in her eyes. James had every right to be angry, but now all she wanted was to have him back. She placed her hand against the door. Hoping to catch the last of his essence before it all faded away.