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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter Eleven

            Slammer was limping and panting and drooling. In fact, he was doing everything possible to attract Madison's attention. His mistress had been tramping across Central Park for two hours now, and he'd had enough. As a pampered New York City apartment dog, he was anxious to go home. It was hot, and he could do with a drink of water and a lie -down. Pulling back on his leash, he looked up at Madison appealingly with his big brown eyes and gave a little whimper.

            It was as if they communicated without words. 'Okay, okay.' She sighed. 'I'm taking you home.' Had she walked off enough frustration and fury? Had she got rid of the demons that were starting to plague her?

            I'm twenty-nine years old, she thought. I have no man to go home to. I have a father who's lied to me all my life. And I don't have a mother. No, that's wrong. The fact is, I have a dead mother who I never even knew.

            She had to talk to somebody, get it out of her system before she went crazy. Michael was not the right person. All she had for him were questions, and he'd better damn well answer them because she wasn't taking any more of his evasive shit.

            She thought about dropping by Jamie's, but since it was Saturday Peter would be around, and that wouldn't do at all. Her other best friend, Natalie, was in Los Angeles. That would be a mammoth two-hour phone conversation, but surely it was worth it?

            Back at her apartment the light on her answering - machine was blinking. Three calls. The first one was from Michael. 'We've got to talk,' he said, sounding tense and not at all like himself. 'I've checked into the Plaza. Won't go back to Connecticut until I've seen you. Call me.'

            The second was from Victor. 'Got several ideas for your next victim,' he boomed, 'most of which you'll probably hate. Drop by the office Monday and we'll discuss it. It you're very good I'll buy you lunch.'

            And the third message was a voice from her past. Jake Sica, a guy she'd met in L.A. when she was there on assignment at the beginning of the year. He was the brother of Natalie's ex co-anchor, Jimmy Sica.

            'Hi,' he said. 'This is Jake - I'll be in New York for a few days next week, and I'd like it a lot if we could get together. You know, Madison, I think we-' The machine cut off.

            'Damn!' she said, thinking about Jake for a moment, which was a welcome diversion from all the crap churning around in her head. He was an award-winning photographer with a casual attitude. As far as she could recall he had longish brown hair and laughing brown eyes. He favoured old leather jackets and denim shirts, and he had an easy-going laid -back manner.

            She'd liked him a lot. But at the time they'd met she'd been caught up in a murder case in L.A. and he'd been involved with a call-girl. Quite a convoluted situation. However, she'd persuaded Victor to use his photos in the magazine, and they'd stayed in touch sporadically until he'd moved back to Arizona several months ago and they'd lost contact. Now he was on his way to New York next week.

            Hmmmm...she thought. Jake might be the perfect person to talk to. Someone she hardly knew -somebody to whom she could pour out her heart. And he'd listen, because he was smart and intelligent and, most of all, he was nice.

            But how was she supposed to contact him with no phone number/ Oh, well, that's the way things were going lately. She wasn't surprised. She picked up the phone and called Natalie in L.A. Natalie's brother, Cole, answered. 'Guess who?' she said.

            'Don't have to,' Cole said. 'I'd know that sexy voice anywhere.'

            'How're you doing?'


            'Natalie tells me you're living with Mr Mogul, so how come you're there?'

            'I drop by occasionally. Big sis is barely talking to me though - still pissed ' cause of me and Mr M. Keeps on waiting for him to dump me so she can say, "I told you so"!'

            Natalie did not approve of his current boyfriend - a much older mega-businessman whom she had unofficially christened Mr Mogul.

            'Your relationship with this guy has lasted quite some time, hasn't it?'

            'I get why she's worried,' Cole said. 'He's big-time, an' what do I do? Stretch people's muscles for a living. But, hey, we're having fun. How're you?

            'Getting by.'

            'Coming to L.A. any time soon?'

            'That depends on Victor. If he sends me out on an assignment, I'll be there.' 'What happened to the movie deal on your piece about call-girls?'

            'Two drafts later the studio passed. That's Hollywood, I guess. Anyway, I made a lot of money and met the great Alex Woods. Now there's a character.' 'You gotta come out here again. We'll do the jogging thing - I know how you get off on physical activity.'

            'Is that a dig?'

            'You got it!'

            They both laughed. Madison was extremely fond of Natalie's little brother. Not so little actually. He was a good-looking twenty-three-year-old with abs of steel and a great smile. Cole made his living working out the bodies of the rich and famous. He was one of the most in-demand fitness trainers in L.A.

            Madison remembered how shocked she'd been when she'd re-encountered him earlier in the year in Los Angeles. Instead of the little brother she remembered - the horny teenager who was into rap, gangs and getting high- Mr Focused had emerged. Cole was gay, handsome and, as Natalie would say, had his shit together.

            'Where is Natalie?' Madison asked.

            'Probably at the studio,' Cole said. 'That girl is working had, she's real into her new job.'

            'I thought she was fed up with covering showbiz news?'

            'That was before she got to anchor her own show.'

            'Wasn't she anchoring the news with Jimmy Sica?'

            'This is a much bigger baby.'

            'Ask her to call me.'

            'Will do.'

            At least hearing from Jake Sica had taken her mind off Michael and his shattering revelations. She contemplated calling her father back, then decided to hell with him, she didn't feel like it. Instead she went into her bedroom, unplugged the phone, popped a sleeping pill from a bottle of Halcion David had left behind, and crawled under the covers with her clothes on.

            Soon she fell into a deep sleep.


            She was awakened the next morning by a hammering on her front door. It took a while for her to open her eyes. She wasn't used to taking any kind of pill, and the Halcion had knocked her out - which she supposed was the whole point.

            Slammer crouched beside the bed barking and gazing up at her with his deep, soulful eyes as much as to say, 'How long do you expect me to hold it in?'

            She reached for the clock, noting it was past ten. Damn! She'd passed out big-time.

            She lurched out of bed, becoming aware that she'd slept in her clothes. The pounding on her door wasn't about to stop. There was also a pounding in her head to match, but that was probably the effect of the sleeping pill.

            Christ! Who was it? And why didn't they go away?

            She went to the front door. 'Yes?' she said, sounding as unfriendly as possible. 'It's me,' Michael said. 'Let me in, for Crissakes. I've been standing out here for ten minutes.' What did he want? To tell her more stuff? Drive her even crazier?

            She opened the door and he burst past her into the apartment. 'What the hell's wrong with you?' he said angrily. 'I called six times last night and three times this morning. Where were you?'

            'Asleep,' she said coldly, turning her back on him. 'You don't mind if I sleep, do you?' 'What?' he said, unused to her sarcasm.

            'I see you three times a year, and this time you take me out to brunch and inform me that my mother isn't my mother. That someone called Gloria is. Well, excuse me, Dad, but I'm confused and upset, so I took a sleeping pill and zoned out. Do you mind?'

            'I'm sorry,' he said. 'I'm sick about this. I never thought it would happen.'

            'What were you hoping, Michael?' she said coldly. 'That I wouldn't find out? That one day you and Stella would drop dead, and I'd say, "Isn't it sad? My parents have died," and I'd never know the truth. Was that your plan?' she stared at him full of hurt and frustration. 'I'm going to be thirty in a few weeks. I mean, I don't get it. When were you going to tell me? When I hit forty? Fifty?'

            He shook his head. 'I didn't think it was necessary for you to know,' he muttered.

            'You should have told me when I was like seven or eight,' she said accusingly. ' I could have accepted it then and gotten on with my life.'

            'You're right.'

            'Do you have any idea how cold Stella has always been to me?' she said, her anger bubbling to the surface. 'She never cuddled me, we never did the things girls were supposed to do with their mothers. Why do you think I couldn't have cared less when you didn't want me to live at home after college? I was happy to have my own apartment. Thrilled to get out.'

            'You never told me.'

            'What was I going to say?' I can't stand my own mother. She's a cold bitch. She might be beautiful and everybody loves her, but I - don't - like - her.'

            'How many times do you expect me to say I'm sorry?' 'Hey, listen, I'm sorry for you,' she said, her voice rising. 'It blew up in your face, didn't it?'

            In some sick way it was quite satisfying watching him squirm. Michael, who was always in control. Michael, the perfect father, or so she'd thought. 'I'm making coffee,' she said abruptly. 'You want a cup?'

            He nodded.

            She marched into the kitchen and put on the coffee. Then she grabbed Slammer's leash and headed for the door. 'I'll be back,' she said shortly. 'While I'm out I'd appreciate you taking a look at the pad on the table. You'll find a list of questions. I expect an answer to all of them. And don't bullshit me, Michael, because it's about time I knew everything.'


Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62