Revenge Ritual

‘Criminology wouldn’t be the science it is today without the contribution of the people we study. To present the award to Dr Trevelyan is someone who encouraged her fellow workers to participate fully and disregarded her own safety for what some saw as potentially dangerous research.’

Kate thought the introduction could have been worded better, but shared the audience’s anticipation as a slight figure wearing a floppy white hat and brilliant orange jumpsuit made her way up to the stage. As she came up the steps she threw her hat in the air with a loud whoop, then rushed to Kate and enveloped her in a bear hug. That was Sophie Wippelston. It couldn’t be anyone else.

They had met when Kate had started her research into sex workers’ safety. Assaults on street prostitutes around King Cross had trebled in less than a year but no-one outside The Centre for Criminal Research thought the work was worth doing. Jake had his doubts but had agreed to fund the research for a trial three month period. At first, none of the sex workers would participate until Sophie intervened. An undergraduate at Westminster University, her only way of paying her rent was working the streets. Unlike the other sex workers, she’d sought Kate out and was only too willing to talk about it.

‘It’s just like any old screw except you get paid for it. What’s wrong with that?’ she’d challenged. Then grinned, ‘Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing,’ and gone on to explain all her precautions in detail, including the mace spray and vaginal foam from Hong Kong that was supposed to kill all STD germs dead.

Kate liked Sophie. If she’d come from a family that struggled to pay the rent every week instead of her own middle class-everything-provided-for background she might have turned to sex work too. Although if Kate had needed to pay her way through uni, she’d have preferred to offer a telephone sex service from a hotel bedroom rather than walk up and down the dark and threatening backstreets of London.

Sophie handed Kate a certificate and cheque for five hundred pounds and the audience started a further round of applause, which drowned out Sophie’s greeting to Kate and comment that her earnings had gone through the roof as a result of Kate’s research.

When the presentation was over, Kate invited Sophie to join her at her table where she kept all the CCR staff amused with risqué jokes about her male clients. Seeing how all the researchers were being entertained, Jake asked Kate if she wanted to go up to his hotel room. She hesitated. She was enjoying herself and didn’t want to leave Sophie so soon.

But the young sex worker had overheard and winked at Kate, ‘I’ve got a work appointment too,’ she said as she gathered up all the left over petit fours and scooped them into her handbag. Then, after blowing kisses to everyone and telling Jake to be good, she left.

In Jake’s bedroom, Kate’s skin tingled with champagne and anticipation as he slammed the door shut and started to remove her expensive silk dress. He’d remembered she liked making love under the shower and had removed most of her clothes by the time they made it to the bathroom.

Afterwards they slept, stretched out on the bed together. Kate woke up to the sound of traffic and cuddled up against Jake as he traced his fingers across her bare stomach.


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