Extract: Resolution by Irvine Welsh

From #1 Sunday Times bestseller Irvine Welsh, read an extract from the brand new novel in the CRIME series featuring former detective Ray Lennox.

Irvine Welsh

Open yawr fookin mouth or I’ll carve yawr fookin face up . . .

. . . the searing voice recedes into silence as the pain deep in the core of him retreats through his flesh, scuttling into the air. Its departure is so swift and emphatic that Ray Lennox can’t detect its source, as he blinks awake into columns of glittering dust trapped in the beams of light shooting between the blinds. Where did this winter sunlight come from? His large bedroom slowly pulls into focus. The archway leading to the en suite bathroom he is inordinately proud of. The sliding wardrobes: functional, but perhaps a bit too modern for the high-ceilinged Regency building.

He feels the heat, then its source: the form next to him. Leans over into the mop of collar-length brown-blonde hair, filling his nostrils with her scent. Nuzzling into Carmel Devereaux, he enjoys her waking murmurs as the erection he becomes aware of rakes up her spine. Hears a giggle, feels her hand going around her back. Patting his cock in appreciation. — Good morning . . .a low, throaty purr exacerbated by the cigarettes she smokes.

Listening to her is sexier than kissing her.

Guilt at that thought.

— Morning to you too. Can I do anything for you?

Carmel rolls around and arches a solitary brow. — Very tempting. She pulls back the duvet, her gaze sweeping Lennox. — God, you look good . . .

It is balm to the ego to be furnished with such information by a lover almost fifteen years younger, and Ray Lennox lets it seep appreciatively into him, on this Friday morning, on the cusp of a weekend awash with possibility. He is in more than decent shape. The south coast has been good to him. His obsessive-compulsive mindset facilitated a determined switch from harmful fixations like alcohol and cocaine to the beneficial ones offered by a fitness regime. He works out most mornings at a local gym he accesses after a run along the beachfront from his elegant flat in Kemptown’s Sussex Square. Has graduated from kickboxing classes to expensive but rewarding one-on-one sparring with Tom Tracy, a former marine and British champion. Drinking is now enjoyably controlled: he and Carmel have taken to splitting a bottle of wine over dinner maybe once a week, with a solitary glass and Netflix at either his or hers at the weekend. Also, the odd couple of pints of Stella with his business partner, George Marsden, over some pub grub. It will only get out of hand again if it’s not controlled.

Lennox hopefully reaches out, but Carmel pushes him firmly in the chest. — You can make me a cup of tea. I don’t have time for anything else. We have to do our run. Then I’ve a seminar to teach on the production of phenethylamine in the human body.

— Is that some kind of sex chemical?

— Nice try, Ray, but kindly fuck off and get me some tea please, Carmel cheerfully instructs, throwing the duvet from her, doubling it over him, as she springs off the bed towards the bathroom.

Lennox lets cheerful defeat mould his features. Besides, he likes to run, and he has a morning inspection in Eastbourne with George. Carmel finishes teaching early afternoon at the university on a Friday.

Perhaps later . . . or maybe you’re pushing too hard.

They would also learn that they were both a little more complicated, baggage-laden and real on the inside than what was chirpily emblazoned on the tin.

Last night was only the fifth time they’d slept together. They have entered that zone of exalted bliss, the dopamine smash isolating them from the myriad problems he knew they’d soon encounter; age difference, conflicting career demands, potential lifestyle clashes, those melodrama-prone family members and friends who always had a stake – but never a big enough one for their liking – in new relationships. They would also learn that they were both a little more complicated, baggage-laden and real on the inside than what was chirpily emblazoned on the tin.

Let that shit slide for now. Don’t borrow trouble.

He gets out of bed, walking through to the large open-plan kitchen-lounge conversion to switch on the electric kettle. Peers out those big windows on the north side of the square that look across the gardens to the English Channel; it’s a squally morning, and the sea is turbulent. In the reflection, his eyes seem baggier, the laughter lines deeper than he recalls. His hair receding at the front, but combed-back buzz cut in don’t give a fuck style. Looks through his image to the circling gulls, their squawking muted by the replacement windows, which fairly seal in the heat. From the bedroom, Carmel sings as she changes into the running clothes she brought over yesterday.

The flat also has a smaller boudoir, and a long hallway. Too much of Lennox’s income goes on the mortgage and all of his assets are tied up in it, but it is luxurious, and he has long believed that living well is the best revenge. He looks over his black leather couch and chairs, which Carmel describes as ‘too nineties man’, and runs his finger over the top of his stylish vintage1960s cocktail cabinet. It needs dusting and polishing.

It’s the second time he and Carmel have gone on a run together. The first was more competitive than either acknowledged. He was dissonantly torn between chivalrously hanging back and taking no prisoners. Both seemed inept responses: one patronising, the other bullying, enjoying the advantage of a more powerful physiology. While he hesitated, she went for it. Lennox is a non- smoker but Carmel has youth on her side, and it will be a close-fought affair.

After a sparkling water and cup of tea, they set off, stepping out into the vanilla of the ornately pillared Regency square, to be swatted by a gelid, bracing winter gale. Carmel sets the pace, but Lennox feels he has her measure. Then, as they pass the tunnel at the bottom of the square, all the energy drains from his legs and he stumbles to a halt.

Aware of him seizing up, Carmel stops and turns to find him gaping at the black mouth of the underpass. — Ray?

His skin seems to be slithering away from him and he shudders to try and stop it. — Where does that go?

— It used to go under the road to the beach, and she wraps her arms around herself, jumping on the spot. — It’s a tunnel, long blocked up. Lewis Carroll was inspired by it to write Alice in Wonderland. C’mon! It’s fucking freezing!

She tears off, and Lennox follows, his pursuit compelled by the need to run off a deeper cold than the one from the air that prickles his skin.

The one that shivers his marrow.