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Authors: Louise Bagshawe

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BOOK: A Kept Woman
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‘Then you must call me Diana, and that’s settled,’ she said, bestowing a radiant smile on him.

They sat down to drinks for Diana and Michael, and a light lunch for Ernie. He ordered beluga, and wolfed it down like it was a hummus dip. Meanwhile, Michael nursed an espresso and watched Diana while he talked business to Foxton. He tried not to drool all over his saucer, but keeping his control got a little easier as the minutes passed. Michael didn’t think he had ever met a more beautiful and stylish girl, but, on the other hand, he’d neer met a more vapid, stupid, spoiled little princess, either. Listen to her. She was discussing landscape gardeners and bitching about her so-called friends’ masseuses. The prices she was flinging around would have paid the rent on his shitty little apartment for a month.

‘Excuse me.’ Ernie stood up. ‘My beeper has just gone. I have to get back to the office. Here, Michael.’ He fished in his well-cut laocket and handed over a business card; it was stiff vellum, embossed with tiny gold letters. ‘This is Jack Fineman, my lawyer. He’ll be able to help you out, go through the figures and such like. I’ll get a copy of the contract messengered to you.’

‘Thanks,’ Michael said. He pocketed it, stood and shook Ernie’s hand. ‘I’ll be in touch.’

‘Like I said, don’t be too long. The chairman is breaking my back to get a deal with somebody. We really want it to be you.’

‘I hear you.’ Michael grinned at him, and then Foxton was gone.

 

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He looked across at Diana Foxton. She didn’t seem particularly thrilled to be stuck with him.

‘I’ll drink up and you can get going,’ Michael said. Diana arched a brow. She could, could she? Who did this man think he was? Ernie had asked for the dog-and pony show, and he’d got it - and surely she wasn’t required to lay it on any thicker. She felt a small wave of resentment wash over her.

‘Thank you. Very kind,’ she said.

‘Not that I mind spending the time with you,’ Michael added. Her tone was extremely cold. Stuck-up little madam. He guessed it wouldn’t do to tell her to grow up and get a life.

‘What a relief.’ Diana arched her back a little, like a cat. ‘But I’m in no hurry. I missed several appointments to be here and rushing out of the door won’t change anything,”

‘That’s bad. Really.’ He was apologetic. ‘It must have been something important.’

‘It was vital, actually. It takes for ever to get an appointment with Marcus Walker,’ Diana informed him, frowning lightly.

‘He’s your doctor?’

‘My manicurist,’ Diana said, pouting.

Michael laughed. He couldn’t help it. He squared his shoulders and looked at her. ‘For pity’s sake, girl, listen to yourself.’

‘What do you mean?’ Diana dmanded, stung.

‘Your manicurist is hardly vital. Air’s vital. Water’s

vital. You need to get your priorities sorted out, lady.’ ‘My priority is to look good.’

‘I’d say you’ve already achieved that.’ Michael gave her a lazy grin. ‘Why don’t you do something with your brain?’

‘I used my brain to make Marcus squeeze me into his

 

6o

 

client list,’ Diana snapped, ‘and thank you for the career advice, but I think I’ve done just fine on my own.’

Cicero tried to make himself shut up, but he couldn’t. ‘Well, you’ve married a rich man. So I guess that’s mission accomplished.’

‘You are an extremely rude person,’ she said, drawing herself up. Partly to frighten him with her superiority, and partly because when he leaned forwards, she caught the masculine scent of him, and those dark eyes were fixed on her. He was disturbingly unreconstructed. Over the top button of his shirt she could see the thick wiry hairs of his chest, curling up. Ernie was smooth as a baby down there.

‘I get that a lot.’ Michael stood, his dark eyes still boring down at her. He was angry at himself for losing his temper, and angrier at her for being such a goddamn bimbo. No woman was perfect; when you found one with a decent body and a little elegance, she turned out to be grasping and as dumb as a rock.

Maybe he’d even blown the deal. Cicero suddenly wanted to get it signed before Ernie Foxton talked to his wife. ‘Here, allow me.’ He pulled out his wallet and slapped down a hundred.

Diana looked at the bill like it was something nasty she’d found stuck to the sole of her shoe. She lifted it in her long fingers and handed it back to him.

‘I don’t think so. I’m sure this place is a little rich for your blood. Ernie would want me to settle up.’ Flushing, Michael took his-money back and left her without another word.

What a stuck-up little bitch, he thought.

 

He hailed a cab on the street. Fifteen minutes later, he was back in his office, and Susan greeted him with an expectant look.

‘Mr Cicero, welcome back. How did it …’

6x

 

He turned to face her and her voice trailed off. He had the slightly reddened face he got when he was truly angry

- and that was a real bad time to be around him. ‘Not well.’

Susan didn’t press the point. Timidly, she handed him over the thick package that had been sitting on her desk for an hour.

‘Blakely’s had this messengered over. They said it was your contract.’

Michael ripped open the envelope and took out about eighty pages of densely printed legalese. He fished the embossed vellum card out of his pocket and tossed it to his assistant.

‘Get me Jack Fineman on the phone,’ he said. ‘Quick as you can. We may not have much time.’

Once Diana Foxton went bitching to her husband, she would blow this deal for him. Blakely’s was offering a partnership. Michael wanted to kick himself. Why couldn’t he just have kept his mouth shut around the selfish, spoiled little princess?

 

Fineman was brisk and businesslike. ‘I would love to represent you in the matter, but I can’t. Conflict of interest.’

‘Fair enough. Tell me who I should be talking to?’

‘Let me see.., somebody skilled, not connected with Ernie …’

And not too expensive, Michael felt like saying, but his pride wouldn’t let him.

‘… Jane Grenouille, she’s your woman. Grenouille and Bifte, they have an office on Fifty-fourth. I recommend her,’ Fineman said warmly. He gave Cicero the phone number. ‘I can fax the contract over to her right now, if you like. It’s standard, shouldn’t take too much of her time. Oh, and Michael - Ernie Foxton already signed

 

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it from his end, so if you countersign within twenty-four hours it’s nice and binding.’

‘What if I delay beyond that time?’

‘Then you need to get him to sign another copy. I guess ‘they put a time limit on it in case another deal gets worked out in the meantime and you force them into bed with you.’

‘Thank you,’ Michael said quietly.

It never occurred to him to ask how Fineman knew Ernie had signed the contract.

He rang Jane, who sounded young and vivacious and a little ditsy, but seemed to have an excellent grasp on the legalities. She suggested a few changes and told him he should jump on it.

‘We’ll get a few things policed up, though.’

‘Are they vital?’

Michael suddenly had an image of Diana Foxton going home and sobbing on her husband’s shoulders. If he signed today, the deal was valid, and Ernie couldn’t rip it up.

‘No. You’d lose the twenty-four-hour window by the time we got the renegotiation back.’

‘I’ll get back to you in a little while,’ Michael said. He hung up and looked around his tiny office, breathing in the wafts of moussaka and lamb with minted yoghurt from the taverna. His print shook slightly on the walls as the booming bass of the record store leaked up through his basement.

He was hesitating. And why? Because he didn’t like Ernie and Diana.

But Ernie Foxton had promised him a partnership, not a salary. They had offered up financials, editorial rights, distribution, new offices and a sign-on bonus of a hundred thousand dollars.

If he signed he would have a real company. If he signed, he would have a real office. If he signed, he could

 

63

 

afford to take Diana Foxton out to a fancy restaurant, and get a suit that people would not sneer at.

Michael visualised Diana’s look of arrogant pity. He took the contract and put it in his briefcase.

There was a timid knock on his door. Michael looked

up to see Susan Katz smiling at him breathlessly. ‘So what do you think?’ she asked. Michael grinned.

‘I think we’re in business,’ he said.

 

64

Chapter 8

In the half light of the early morning, Ernie Foxton woke and looked at his wife. The first rays of dawn had slunk across Manhattan, creeping up from the hustle of the fishing nets and the fresh-produce markets, covering Wall Street’s bustling bankers all striving to be at their desks before the other guy, until they were washing the sleek high-rises of the skyscrapers and the elegant brownstones round the Park. From his bedroom window, all he could see was ky and greenery. Central Park was attractive, if you liked nature, which Ernie didn’t. And he had the terrace garden his talented bride had thrown together.

Diana lay there, sprawled over his bed - he still didn’t think of it as their bed. Her long, dyed-blond hair was gorgeously dishevelled on the satin pillowcases she’d ordered so as not to tangle it. One hand was flung sleepily over the cream silk sheets, manicured to perfection with a simple French polish. Of course, Diana would never go for anything .tarty like scarlet red talons, the type that Mira liked to wear, that she wanted to rake across his back. He longed to let her do it, but it would leave a mark. Mira said he deserved it, that Ernie was a naughty little boy who ought to be’ punished. He felt a twitch in his cock just thinking about her.

Ernie looked over Diana’s body: slender, but still curvy. He wasn’t sure he quite liked the round, womanly fullness of her hips and breasts, and her thighs weren’t pure muscle, like Mira’s when she gripped the sides of his back with them as she rode him like a pony.

 

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What a turn on it was when Mira had sat next to him at dinner and ground her spiked heel into his foot. There was his young wife, such a good girl, in the flowing, dusty-pink chiffon gown, sweeping round her ankles, hair and make-up to a simple minimum, and then, when he looked around, there was petite, boyish, cruel, brazen Mira, in her outrageous little black number, no bra so her hard nipples peeked through the fabric. Mira had lowered her lashes and stared at him last night, all through dinner. It was hard when he was trying to play King of the Castle with all the movers and shakers, but those black little pools had been merciless. It was like she was daring him to look away from her. With Diana right there. And when he’d had to, her cruel smile seemed to promise the most delicious punishment.

They were going to meet up tonight, after work. Mira didn’t allow disobedience, hell no. The things she did to him with that riding crop. But somehow she knew not to let her commands interfere with his work. She liked the little baubles and presents he gave her and she liked his status. So when she ordered him, sharply, to be nude and on his knees, blindfolded, in the club, she told him 7.3° p.m. - enough time to pleasure her, and still be back at the apartment in time for dinner.

His wife couldn’t compete, how could she? Their sex was dutiful, never passionate. Diana endured him and he rarely made it with her, thinking about Mira when he did so to get him off.

But Ernie wasn’t discontent. Nobody could match Diana as a housekeeper and hostess, when she wasn’t shopping for England. Her latest party had been a wonderful success. He had a stack of gilt-edged envelopes on his mantelpiece so thick she was almost a social secretary. And other men looked at his wife with a kind of glitter in their eyes, which made him happy. Ernie loved having the toys that the other boys wanted. He

 

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‘worked’ later at the office, to give him time with Mira, and he came home to a lovely catered dinner, or a well dressed Diana waiting patiently with their tickets to the Met in one gloved hand. His friends’ wives were all over her, too. It meant she was a hit in New York. So he was, all in all, quite satisfied, he told himself, regarding her narrow waist and the firm curve of her behind without wanting her. Diana was expensive, but she was great PR. She reflected on him all the class he couldn’t quite manage himself. Yes, all in all, she was a great investment.

The phone at his bedside purred softly. Diana’s choice, so that it wouldn’t wake them too harshly in an emergency.

He lifted the receiver. ‘It’s five to six in the morning,’ Ernie said, ‘so I hope you’ve got a good reason for calling this early.’

‘I don’t need a reason for anything I do.’

Oh man. It was Mira. Ernie sat up, his skinny body excited, the silk sheets pooling around his groin. ‘You can’t call here. You might wake my wife.’

‘I can do anything I want to, you little worm. And stop whispering.’

‘I - I can’t,’ Ernie croaked, hoarsely. He glanced down at Diana, looking at her body, her even breathing.

‘Never mind about that, you simpering Brit moron. Be at the corner of Sixth and Twelfth in thirty minutes. And expect to be punished like you deserve. You do deserve it, don’t you?’

‘Yes,’ Ernie muttered, flushing. Hi dick was hard now. ‘Louder.’ Her sexy voice was a guttural hiss in his ear. ‘Yes. Yes,’ he breathed. ‘Look. I’ll be there.’

‘You better be.’ Mira smashed the receiver down, and Ernie hung up, thrilled to his bones. What would she do to him today? He guessed there was only one way to find out. Gingerly, swinging his thin body away from Diana’s

 

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curves, he put his bare feet on the hardwood floor, and padded across the polished mahogany to where his wife had laid out his work outfit over a chair.

It took Ernie five minutes to shower, five minutes to

dress, and another thirty seconds to leave, closing the apartment door softly behind him.

Only then did Diana Foxton open her beautiful, shocked blue eyes.

BOOK: A Kept Woman
4.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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