Even a Gentleman Can Be an Ass
Miss Fisher had left for another long journey almost a month ago.
She had told Dorothy to stay at the villa together with Cecil and Albert while Mr Butler would work for another household.
The three had needed some time to adjust and that had taken some awkward situations like walking in on each other while getting dressed or in the bathroom - all due to room and schedule changes.
Dorothy had started her own small bakery service for the police station which was appreciated by all officers there and also by the public. Bert and Cec came by to help after they finished their jobs for the police and also brought her all the ingredients she needed.
They had settled in but it was different, especially without the whirlwind that was called Phryne Fisher.
Still, Jack Robinson asked Dorothy and her two housemates to help regularly much to Hugh's displeasure.
He and Dot had started dating a few weeks before Miss Fisher had left and Dorothy noticed how he had changed. Not drastically, he was still a gentleman to the bone but there were moments she thought to see a different man in his place.
But as no one else seemed to notice she pushed it away as imagination - her fears and insecurities trying to find an outlet.
Bert and Cec had picked up on her uneasiness and also on her returning insecurities.
They tried to cheer her up and put her back together whenever she fell apart but they lacked the female touch of it.
At least Dot always smiled after Bert told her a story or Cec made some comical remarks.
Jack also noticed how the shy girl from the start of his friendship with Dorothy Williams returned.
He remembered how Phryne had directly approached the matter - straightforward telling the girl to do things!
That's what he did. He told her when she was good and when she was too nice or lenient what made the Dot he knew come back - if only at work. After hours she was back to her shy self.
All three men wondered why she reverted like that but they had no idea and were pretty much clueless about what to do.
Hugh had invited her to brunch at 12 o'clock today.
Dorothy was ecstatic about the prospect of spending time with her boyfriend especially because she'd be out of Bert's and Cecil's hair.
The two had spent a lot of time with her and helping her with last-minute arrangements for the summer party the police were hosting.
Jack had personally asked her if she'd make some snacks and Dot had told him that she'd make real meals too. All officers had offered to help her but she had refused.
Not that she had been surprised to find that all ingredients suddenly appeared at the Villa without Bert and Cecil having taken any money to buy groceries.
She looked forward to the party on Saturday evening but now Hugh's and her date was far more exciting!
Now, what should she wear?
The trousers she had taken to wearing for work would seem too casual and work-related, so a dress or a skirt would be better. With the summer heat, a dress would be a relief while being at the cafe…
But what dress would be suitable?
Dorothy looked at her closet. Most dresses were old and probably wouldn't fit her anymore. The dresses she had gotten from Miss Fisher were too fancy for this kind of outing so there was basically just one possibility left…
"Well, it is you then… The colour is certainly nice."
She had gotten that dress from Bert, Cec and Jack for her 24th birthday three weeks ago.
It was electric blue and reached her knee. The white collar was adorned by a denim blue ribbon but the detail that made the dress even better was that it had hidden pockets.
Dorothy hated how most dresses didn't have pockets as she was the kind of person to always have things to put away like small notes or her jewellery.
The men had known that and put in a special order with one of the sewers who had happily obliged when he was told that it was for the city's "master baker".
Really, how they had thought of that name was beyond her!
Putting on a light rosé lipstick and pearl earrings Dorothy grabbed her purse and slipped into her heeled black shoes.
Both Bert and Cecil were out for the Inspector the whole afternoon so Dot didn't bother to look in the kitchen and just left through the front door.
When she arrived at the Cafe, Hugh was waiting in front of it and smiled at her.
"Dorothy, how are you? You look beautiful in that dress."
"Thanks, Hugh… I’m fine and you?"
She was still blushing like a schoolgirl whenever he complimented her.
"It was a busy day but nothing we couldn't handle.", he answered and offered his arm to her.
They quickly found a table on the terrace and ordered their drinks while looking through the menu.
"So, are you excited about the upcoming party hosted by the station?", Hugh started up the conversation again.
"Yes, I am. I hope that everyone will like my meals and that nothing goes wrong although that would be almost impossible with all of you there, right?", she laughed.
"Your peppermint tea, Miss.", the waitress interrupted and put down Dorothy's tea in front of her while another waitress put down Hugh's coffee.
Then both disappeared giggling to each other.
Dorothy frowned at them for a second before concentrating on Hugh again.
"What will you be doing?"
"The Inspector put me in charge of the tour through the police station."
"So, you talk to the people who are interested in what you do each day?"
"Yes, and explain the rooms and some dynamics."
Dorothy nodded and took a small sip of her tea. No, still too hot…
Hiding her cringe Dorothy smiled at Hugh questioningly. She had always hated when someone called her that name.
"Would you agree to a small walk in the park after we finish our brunch here?"
"That sounds lovely!"
They finished their brunch and walked to the park. The shadowed paths were a relief from the heat of the afternoon and quite some people had decided on taking a walk.
Something that made Dot feel better about the walk than before although she couldn't explain why.
"It's hot today, isn't it?"
"Yes, it feels like I'm in a sauna just without the steam!", Hugh laughed before looking at her again.
"How is your business going?"
"Business? Now you're exaggerating! It's just a small booth in an unused office at the station. But it's going well. I get quite a lot of Thank Yous from the officers and the Inspector even offered me a loan beyond what I get from selling my goods."
Hugh's eyes seemed to darken a bit but Dorothy didn't see it with how engrossed she was in her story.
"The Inspector did?"
"Yes! He called me to his office and at first, I thought that I was going to be thrown out but then he smiled and asked me if I have financial problems. As it had been a hard month, I hesitated a bit too long and he just nodded. He told me then that the working morale had gone up since I sold my goods, so it would be a shame if I had to stop. I denied that but he just held out a paper to me and while I read it he stated that he'd be glad if he could help me even in bad months!"
She smiled at the memory. The Inspector had been too kind!
"Did you accept?"
"No. I told him that I'd just sell things to the public too. The owner of the convenience store told me he'd give me half of my ingredients for free if he gets baked goods from me to sell them. Now, getting through the month is easier than before and I managed without help from anyone besides Bert and Cec who carry the heavy bags for me and try my newest creations."
She grinned up at Hugh but froze when she saw his dark expression. It quickly disappeared but Dot had seen it and wasn't sure what had caused it.
"Is something wrong?"
"We don't spend as much time together as we did before you opened the bakery! This walk has been the first in two weeks."
"I know but I need to pay the bills somehow and Bert and Cec can't do it all!"
"Then move out!"
Dot stopped walking to stare at Hugh.
"And where to please?"
"Don't know something cheaper."
"But cheaper would mean smaller and smaller would mean less space to bake and cook."
Silence fell over them.
Anger was boiling in Dot's gut.
"Who cares? You should care! I do care!"
"Dottie, I didn't mean it like that!"
"You didn't? But it sounded a lot like you did!"
"Come on. It slipped out! I just miss you…"
He stepped closer to her but Dot pulled away from the embrace.
"Dottie, this is ridiculous!"
"No, it is not! I want the truth now! Do you want me to stop selling goods at the station, yes or no?"
Hugh sighed before he looked straight at her.
"Yes, I want you to stop."
"Why?! Because women aren't supposed to work so close to men - especially men with such gruesome jobs as ours! Because you spend too much time preparing! Because you aren't Miss Fisher!"
Dot was aware that some people were staring at them but she didn't care.
The man she has fallen for had just admitted to disliking who she was! Who she wanted to be…
"You… you want the old me back? The shy, reserved maid that couldn't even speak up for herself?"
Okay, that hurt. Not as much as it was probably supposed to but enough.
"Oh, yes I am leaving and I don't want to hear anything from you - not to mention - see you unless it's at work!"
Dot whipped around and wanted to go but his arms wrapping around her waist stopped her.
"Don't be silly! You aren't leaving."
"And why not?!"
"Because I say so."
Hugh smirked down at her before pulling her even closer.
Dorothy tried to squirm away but his fingers digging into her hip stopped her. That would leave bruises…
"Dorothy, you're making a scene!", he hissed into her ear.
Hugh manoeuvred them to the side almost hidden by the low-hanging branches of a tree.
"Let go of me!"
"Dorothy, calm down. You're not in your right mind. Listen, why don't I drive you home?"
"I can walk alright."
"It was not really a suggestion."
His hand tightened on her hip even more but now panic rose in Dot and she struggled free.
But she had not even made two steps before his hand closed around her upper arm and held her back from leaving. The vice-like grip hurt and would definitely leave bruises too…
"You're hurting me! Let go!"
"It's your own fault! Calm down."
"I'll calm down at home!"
She struggled fruitlessly and Hugh seemed to get more annoyed with each second of it.
So, the slap was not really unexpected but still took her off guard.
Her cheek stung with the blow and tears rose in her eyes.
"You- How dare you? You slapped me!"
It was more growl than actual speech and the warning was clear.
But Dot had a hard time submitting to threats ever since she met Miss Fisher.
"Why?! I thought you liked me!"
"Oh, I do but you need to get taught a lesson or two!"
"No reason to hit me!"
He pulled her closer without a warning and grinned at her.
"Dottie, you might not know it but we have been dating an awfully long time and still nothing but holding hands and one kiss happened. Every man has urges he wants to have satisfied."
"Oh, Dottie… You aren't that innocent, are you?"
Of course, she wasn't! She had worked alongside Miss Fisher long enough to be quite informed about such activities.
"So, got what I mean?"
"I'm not willing!"
His grin grew predatory.
"But that only you know."
"Oh Dottie, I can do whatever I want because even if you tell… Who will believe you over what I say?"
He was taunting her, she knew, but it was true.
Who would believe her besides Bert and Cec?
"No. Let go!"
Her sudden struggle threw him off and he let go.
Dot ran. She ran faster than she ever had and probably ever would again. She heard Hugh yell after her to stop but she didn't listen.
People stared after her muttering things under their breath but Dot didn't care either.
All she wanted was to get home and hide in her room.
Cecil and Albert came home around 4 pm and sat down in the kitchen to drink a glass of water.
"Really, what is up with this heat? No breeze at all!", Bert groaned while Cec got two glasses and a bottle of water from the fridge.
"At least we are lucky to have a fridge!"
"Yeah… Do you think Dot is already back from her date?"
"If she is, it probably didn't go well."
Bert shrugged and drowned half of his water in one large gulp.
Cec shook his head in disapproval but also took a few sips from his glass.
They fell silent while drinking until Cec stood up again.
"I'll get changed. That idiot spilt his whole coffee over my shirt."
"Yeah, yeah… Would you look if Dot is upstairs while you are at it?"
"Yes, Sir!", Cec mocked and scrambled out of the way of the towel Bert threw at him.
Chuckling he went upstairs to get a fresh shirt before he walked to Dot's door. He heard her shuffling inside.
So, she is home… Not too good…, Cec thought and contemplated knocking before deciding against it.
Opening the door he expected her to lie on her bed reading a book but instead, he got a good view of her backside… her naked backside apart from her panties and bra.
"Cec!", the younger woman screeched and tried to hide behind her dress.
Normally, Cecil would have been red as a tomato by now but the angry red marks on Dot's hip made him pause.
"What is that, Dot?"
"Those marks. Where did you get them from?"
Cec's eyes narrowed and he stepped closer to his friend.
"I just walked against the table!"
"This doesn't look I-hit-the-table-like. Seems more like a handprint to me…"
Cec let his eyes wander up to her face and froze at the red mark - that was slowly turning blue - on Dot's cheek.
"Dot, what happened?"
"Bert! Come up here now!"
Dot's eyes widened in surprise before they slowly became scared.
"Cec! No, don't-"
She was interrupted by Bert running into the room. He quickly covered his eyes though.
"Damn, Cec! Couldn't you tell me she wasn't properly dressed?!"
"Look at this."
Cecil completely ignored his friend who slowly glanced through his fingers.
He immediately stepped closer when he saw the marks Cec pointed at.
"What happened to you?! Were you attacked? Robbed?"
"No… I just walked into a table!"
"A table doesn't leave these kinds of marks! Tell us the truth Dot, please."
"I wasn't attacked or anything… Really!"
"What happened then? Were you pushed into something on your way home?"
Dot shook her head but both men were determined to find out what had happened.
"Didn't Constable Collins bring you home?"
Dot's eyes widened for a split second and both men saw her tense in what they could only describe as utter panic.
"No, he didn't… And he never will again."
"What happened? Is he responsible for this?!"
Bert carefully took a step closer to Dot who had turned her head away.
"Dorothy… Please, we only want to help."
That seemed to work as Dot looked up before throwing herself at Bert sobbing into his chest.
"He was mean! He hit me when I wanted to leave and he implied that he'd force himself on me to satisfy his urges! I didn't want that! I didn't know he'd be so different about that topic!"
Bert and Cec looked at each other in concern.
"Shh… Dot, please… We are here and we'll protect you, okay? You need to tell us what happened."
"We, Hugh and I, went on a date and then he asked me for a walk. He asked about work and I answered by telling him about how it is all going well. But when I looked at him, he seemed angry and when I asked, he said that we didn't spend enough time together and that I should work less, move out and that he didn't care about what I wanted. He declared that women shouldn't work so close to men at all! Then I wanted to leave and he grabbed my hip to keep me there… I struggled and he pulled me behind a tree and suddenly started on how he was annoyed that we hadn't done more than hold hands and one kiss… He looked so different!
When I tried to run again he grabbed my arm and I told him it hurt. He only said that it was my own fault, as I was making a scene.
I kept struggling and then he hit me before saying how he'd like to be satisfied and how no one would believe me that I hadn't been willing as his word would be against mine!
Then I finally managed to pull away and I just ran…"
Tears were flowing down her cheeks again and Bert slowly stroked her back up and down. Cec meanwhile examined the marks on Dot's arm, hip and cheek which were dark red by now and must certainly hurt a lot.
"Dot, we need to go to the police with this."
"Yes. What if you hadn't been able to break free? What if he would have had his way with you?"
"I don't- Who would- No one will believe me!"
"You have all the proof you need! He'd have to explain those marks and that won't be easy!"
Dot seemed unsure before she nodded in defeat.
"Can I get dressed now?"
Cec and Bert looked confused before both grew red.
"Sorry! We completely forgot. Get dressed then we leave for the police station!"
"Okay but… could we go to Inspector Robinson with this?"
"Huh? Um, of course, if you want to."
"No prob. We'll wait downstairs!"
Dot smiled at them before they closed the door behind them.
"He's gonna pay even if Jack can't do anything…"
Half an hour later they arrived at the police station and walked straight into Inspector Jack Robinson's office. The black-haired man looked up from the file in front of him in annoyance before he saw who stood in front of his desk.
"Hello Dorothy, Cecil, Albert. How can I help you?"
"Actually, we are here because of something very serious. We'd like to report a case of sexual harassment and bodily harm."
Jack immediately grew serious.
"Who was attacked?"
The Inspector's eyes widened and he looked at Dot in shock but she just looked at the ground in embarrassment.
"Dorothy? Hey, you don't need to be embarrassed, there is no reason to. Can you tell me who did it?"
"It was- Please, believe me, Inspector. I am not lying!"
"Of course, I believe you. You're not one to lie. So?"
"Constable Hugh Collins."
"Collins? I thought you two are in a relationship?"
"We are… We were, I don't know."
Jack nodded in understanding while signing them to sit down on the visitor chairs.
“When did it happen?”
“About three hours ago, in the park.”
“You had a date?”
“Yeah, we sat in the Café beforehand.”
“Okay… Can you tell me what happened?”
After Dorothy finished the story with some questions from Jack who was taking notes.
“Um… Dorothy, I’d need to see the bruises. Or we can get a female Constable.”
“No, it’s alright… I’d like it if not too many people would know about this. Not yet at least.”
“Of course. Wait, I’ll lock the door and put a sign out so we won’t be disturbed at all.”
Everyone present nodded in agreement and Jack quickly followed his own instructions.
Dot meanwhile started in the buttons of her blouse before pushing her skirt down a few inches.
Jack hissed when he saw the angry mark's on his friend's fair skin.
"That looks painful… I never thought that Hugh could be like that. He seemed more like a soft lad."
"Yeah, he did.", Cec spat his anger boiling.
“Thanks, Dot. Please believe me when I say that this is reason enough to investigate anyone thoroughly.”
"Okay… Can I-"
She let the sentence hang in the air before the man caught on.
Jack seemed to blush while quickly backing off.
"Oh, yeah. Of course!"
Dot smiled at him slightly before pulling her clothes into their correct position again.
"What is going to happen now?", Bert asked when everyone sat down again.
"The easiest thing would be to get Collins in here and look at his reaction. Also, I still need his side of the story. Dot, I want you to understand that the case is basically closed, those marks are fresh and I really see no reason not to believe your story but I need to listen to Hugh though else a lawyer could easily get him free."
"I understand that Inspector, but Cecil and Bert can stay with us, right?"
"Of course. So, you're okay with Collins coming in?"
"Better now than later.", Dorothy smiled although the men saw her hands shaking and her whole body was tense.
Cecil carefully put an arm around her whispering into her ear while Jack nodded and left to get Collins into the office.
Bert meanwhile moved his chair to Dorothy's other side and smiled at her when she looked at him.
"It's alright. We're here."
"I know… Thanks."
"Anything for you, Dot."
She smiled at them gratefully.
Then the door opened again and Jack and Hugh Collins came in. Bert and Cec casually put their arms closest to Dot over the backrest of her chair when she tensed.
Jack sat down behind his desk again and signed his Constable to take the last chair that stood at the edge of the table and far away from Dot.
Hugh glanced at them and Jack didn't miss the jealousy in his Constable's eyes. Well, that just proved some of his suspicions right.
“I called you here for a reason, Constable.”
“I had guessed so, Sir. What is the matter?”
“Do you know why bruises occur?”
“Of course, Sir. When force is applied to the skin and smaller blood vessels break. Why?”
“When is a force applied to the skin?”
Jack watched as his Constable’s mind worked to figure out what the questions were about. Then his eyes widened slightly in realisation and his gaze flickered to Dorothy. Luckily, she wasn’t looking at him.
Jack tilted his head slightly at the blatant anger displayed on the younger man’s face.
And was that surprise? Well, obviously he hadn’t thought that Dot would go to him of all people…
“Answer the question, Collins!”, Cec eventually bit out.
“Force is applied when someone is held, hit, or slapped. But why am I being asked, I am sure either of you could have said the same things.”
“Where were you this afternoon?”
“On a date with Dottie.”
Cec and Bert cringed visibly at the nickname. No one called Dot ‘Dottie’. She hated the name! Jack also raised an eyebrow but didn’t further question it.
“We had lunch at a nice café and then went on a walk. I’ll admit we had a small dispute but nothing that would warrant any of this protectiveness I am seeing.”
“A small dispute? What was it about?”
“I don’t think that is any of your business, Inspector.”
Jack nodded sarcastically.
“Then explain to me why Dorothy has bruises all over her arms and even her hip.”
“She has what?! Dottie, what happened?”
Dot flinched away from him, as he leant towards her and Cec who sat closer to Hugh glared at him angrily.
The Constable glared right back but leant away again.
“She told me what happened and I am quite displeased that anyone on this force would be this impolite and aggressive towards a young woman like her.”
“What? What did she tell you?”
“Why don’t you tell me, Constable Collins? Or aren’t you man enough to tell the truth?”
The anger came right back into Hugh’s eyes as he stared at his boss. Jack calmly looked back. He had dealt with people like Collins often enough to know how to press their buttons.
“Do you need it to feel strong? Does it make you feel like a man?”
Collin’s jaw tensed but Jack pressed on.
“Does it give you a kick to see tears in her eyes? To make her feel small and weak?”
“What? Why should I do that, Constable? Am I hitting too close to home?”
Hugh glared at his superior, body almost vibrating with anger and frustration.
“And I must admit, you hid this very well. If Dorothy hadn’t come to us, we would have never guessed that you are this kind of man.”
That seemed to sever the last sting of self-restraint Collins possessed. He jumped to his feet and turned to Dorothy.
“This is your fucking fault! Why couldn’t you just obey?!”, he yelled and charged at her.
Cec and Bert immediately pulled her behind their backs but before Collins could even move a step, Jack’s fist connected with his face. Hugh crashed to the ground and Jack was on him, clipping his handcuffs around his Constable’s wrists.
“Harris! Get in here!”
The door was pushed open and another Constable came in.
“Constable Collins, here, decided he wanted to get to know our cells personally. Get him there.”
The older man looked from Jack to Hugh and then to Dot who was crying against Cec’s shoulder. Then he looked back at Hugh with something akin to disgust in his eyes.
“Of course, Sir.”
He grabbed his colleague roughly and pulled him out of the room. Jack closed the door and leaned against it for a moment.
“Shh, Dot, it’s alright. He is gone.”
“We know, but the Inspector showed him what a right hook is.”, Bert interjected.
“Yeah, and I noticed that he has a rather thick head… Keep me from ever punching someone out of instinct again. Ouch!”
Dot carefully pulled away to look at the older man. He was inspecting his reddened knuckles, one was already turning a darker shade.
“Inspector! You’re hurt!”
“Nah, it’s okay. Just sprained.”
“Dot, sit down and take a deep breath. It’s okay.”
The young woman practically fell into her chair again.
“Never thought he’d act out in front of others.”
“I provoked it. We deal with people like him more often than we’d like… But say, Dot, was this why you became so withdrawn again?”
“Yeah, you were so shy again, almost like when you started working for Miss Fisher!”
“We thought we had done something wrong, but now we seem to have found the culprit.”
Dot looked at each of them for a few moments before sighing.
“I didn’t notice that I had reverted so much… I mean, I tried to not anger him but that I changed so much… I didn’t know.”
“Well, from now on you can be your confident self again!”, Cec proclaimed and grinned.
“Yeah… Um, Bert, could you do me a favour?”
“Could you get me something to drink… I feel a bit faint.”
“Oh, of course! Cec, you go and get her something to eat too!”
“On it! We’ll be right back!”
The two men stood up and left the room but not without hugging their best friend and giving the Inspector a look that clearly said ‘you better take care of her while we’re gone’.
The door closed behind them and Jack sighed.
“Jack. We really have known each other long enough, Dot.”
“Sorry, Jack, what is going to happen now?”
“I’ll write a report and Collins will be fired - one way or another. I will also pass the case on to a good friend of mine to bring it to the judge. With a bit more investigation we might even find some witnesses and even if not we have enough evidence to get him some jail time. Oh, by the way, we need to photograph the bruises…”
“No problem. I wanted to visit Mac anyway, so she can do it.”
“Sounds like a plan. Are you feeling alright otherwise?”
“A bit faint like I said but also really relieved… Thank you, Jack.”
“It was no burden. I help anyone who needs it - especially my friends.”
He smiled at her and she smiled right back.
“So, what are you going to do about the party on Saturday?”
“What about it?”
“Who’s going to do the tour now?”
Jack laughed. That was their Dorothy, always the practical one.
“I’ll set up one of the other Constables. Are you still up for providing the food?”
“Of course! I never back down from my words!”