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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 Twenty - Five

            'I don't get it,' Victor boomed, his deep voice louder than ever. 'It's not like you to drop out of sight. And now you've done it twice.'

            'I've had personal problem,' Madison explained, hoping that he'd let it go at that, sure that he wouldn't because Victor was one of those people who had to know everything.

            'Something to do with the detective you wanted to hire?' he asked.

            'No, Victor,' she said brusquely. 'Nothing to do with that.'

            'Then what?'

            'Hey, listen,' she said, her voice rising. 'Aren't my personal problems mine? Isn't that the way things are supposed to work?'

            'Is it David?' Victor asked, determined to find out.

            'No, it's not David,' she said, hanging on to her patience by a thread. 'When will you get it into your head that David is my past?'

            'No need to get snippy.'

            'Anyway,' she sighed, 'Thought I'd check in, because I know you get panicked when you don't hear from me. I've been researching the boxer - he'll be an interesting interview. And I haven't talked to Jake Sica, but it will.'

            'No need,' Victor said. 'He already called me.'

            'He called you? She said, thinking, Oh that's great, isn't ? I sleep with the guy and it's Victor he calls. What the hell is the matter with him? are all men totally into themselves?

            'He phoned from Paris to find out if the magazine wanted to use him again,' Victor said. 'I told him we both thought it was a good idea for him to cover the Vegas fight with you.'

            'You did, huh?' she said evenly.

            'That's what you wanted, isn't it?'

            'It's what I wanted a week ago. I'm not so sure now.'

            'Why?' Victor said, prying as usual. 'Haven't you heard from him?'

            'Of course I've heard from him,' she lied, although the truth was that when she'd played back her sixteen messages, there hadn't been one from Jake. And that was something else to add to her pile of woes. 'Am I supposed to see him in Vegas, or is he coming through New York?' she asked, all business.

            'Said he'll let me know. Or you. Whichever one of us gets lucky. And from what I can tell,' a crafty chuckle, 'you've already gotten lucky.'

            'Drop it, Victor,' she said coldly. 'As I've told you before, I really do not appreciate you messing in my private affairs.'

            'You're very testy, Madison.'

            'And you're very nosy.'

            ''I sent Evelyn flowers from you. Orchids, in case you're interested. She was delighted, wants to set a new date.'

            'Oh, for Crissakes, I'm not in the mood for dates.'

            'Evelyn insists.'

            'Tell Evelyn to shove it up her ass.'


            'Sorry, Victor,' she said, with a sigh, putting down the phone.

            At least she'd taken care of business. She couldn't let her career go south while she worried about everything else.

            She'd taken a trip to the photo shop around the corner and had the news paper photo of her mother blown up and laminated. Now it stood on her dresser, this picture of a beautiful woman with soulful eyes and clouds of black, curly hair. This beautiful woman who was her mother.

            We have the same hair, she thought. The same cheekbones, the same eyes. We look exactly alike, except Beth is prettier than me

            There were messages from Michael on the machine, and from David, who was obviously intent on calling her until she gave in and met up with him - which she had no intention of doing. There were other business calls. And several entreaties from Jamie to please phone back immediately because she and Peter were worried about her.

            She hadn't planned on returning any calls, only Victor's, but Jamie was important to her, and it wasn't fair to shut her out, so she picked up the phone. 'Before you say anything,' she said quickly, as soon as Jamie answered, 'I'm sorry, sorry, sorry.'

            ' I understand you feel like shit,' Jamie said, a tad upright, 'but couldn't you at least let your friends know you're still alive?'

            'Jamie, please understand. There's so much going on, more than I can tell you over the phone. It's really bad.'

            'What?' Jamie said, sounding alarmed. 'Are you sick?'

            'No, it's ..more things about my past.'

            'Bad things?'

            'Remember the detective who was supposed to work for you? I had her kind of check out some stuff for me, and what she's come up with is .oh, God, it's impossible to talk about now.'

            'Anything I can do?'

            'Nothing, except be there when I need you.'

            'I'm always here, so is Peter, but please don't shut us out. It makes me nervous.'

            'I promise.'

            'And the next time you ignore your phone for days on end. I'm coming by and breaking down the door. Is that understood?'


            'As a matter fact,' Jamie said, 'I called your doorman, the one with the crush on you. He informed me you had flue and didn't want to see anybody. I told him to go to the deli and buy you chicken soup. Did he'?

            'Yes,' Madison said, laughing softly. 'And he wouldn't let me pay for it.'

            'Good,' Jamie said.

            'Not good. It puts me in his debt, and I hate that.'

            'It's only chicken soup, Maddy.'

            'Okay, okay, you're right.'

            'In a few days.'

            'Don't you think talking about things will help?'

            Madison realized it probably would, only right now she wasn't in the mood. 'Not yet. Okay?' she said, hoping Jamie would understand .

            Fortunately- good friend that she was - Jamie did. 'Fine,' she said. 'But don't forget, whenever you're ready, I'm here.'


            As soon as she hung up, Jamie called Peter at his office. 'I finally heard from Madison,' she announced.

            'Thank God!' he responded. 'Now you can stop worrying.'

            'You were worried too, you have to admit it.'

            'Only until we talked to her doorman.'

            'Don't you think it's strange that she didn't pick up her phone or call me? After all, she is my best friend.'

            'I imagine the funeral took it out of her.'

            'I'm sure it did.' A beat, then Jamie moved right on. 'anyway,' she said, bubbling with enthusiasm, 'I've come up with a fantastic idea.'

            'What now?' he said, always wary of his wife's fantastic ideas.

            'Natalie will be in Vegas for the fight. And Madison's on assignment for her magazine interviewing one of the boxers.'


            'So if I was there too,' she said quickly, 'it would be like a real reunion. We'd all be together for Maddy's birthday, and we could throw her a surprise party on the night of the big fight. Doesn't that sound like a terrific idea?'

            'Haven't you forgotten something?' Peter said.


            'Vegas is my most unfavourite place in the world and, much as I love you, my darling, I do not plan on spending one single minute there.'

            'Oh, Peter - please. It would be such a great surprise for her.'

            'No, honey,' he said, mind made up. 'Anywhere else but Vegas. That place makes me nauseous, I can't do it.'


            'I said no. I do most things you want, but not this.'

            Peter has a strong stubborn streak, so Jamie knew there was no point in pushing any further. 'It was just an idea,' she said dejectedly. 'I thought it would be fun to surprise Maddy, especially as she's so down. All of us being there would make her birthday special.'

            'We'll send her flowers,' he said. 'We'll buy her a present at Tiffany's -we'll even have a party for her when she gets back and fly Natalie in. How's that?'

            'I guess,' Jamie said, barely able to conceal her disappointment. Hmm, she thought. What's so terrible about Vegas that he can't Make an effort to spend a couple of days there?

            Peter was a wonderful husband and lover, but sometimes he could be downright selfish, and this was obviously one of those times.

            That night, when Peter arrived home, she tried persuading him again, but soon realized it was a no-go situation.

            Later, when he wanted to make love she informed him she had a headache, and rolled across the bed putting space between them. Then she picked up copy of in Style and began to read.

            'Okay,' Peter said, not sounding too upset. 'Reject your husband.' And he clicked on the TV, immediately channel-surfing to a ball game.

            Ten minutes later he was asleep, the clicker clutched firmly in his hand.

            Jamie put down her magazine and gently tried to extract his precious clicker from his hand. Since every man considers the clicker an extension of his penis, this was not an easy task. Even in his sleep Peter held firm. 'I'm watching,' he mumbled.

            Ha! She thought. You won't go to Vegas to make your wife happy. You won't even let me watch what I want. Why can't you be generous and giving, like me?

            She wasn't about to stay in bed staring at a stupid ball game, so she got up and went into the spacious walk-in closet they shared.

            The first thing she noticed was Peter's wallet sitting on top of his dresser.

            It occurred to her that she'd never done the detective's little test. It seemed so foolish. Why would Peter be carrying a condom when they never used condoms? The whole thing was ridiculous.

            However..what did she have to lose?

            Nothing to gain either, but still .It was too tempting to resist so she reached for his wallet, an expensive black alligator number she'd bought him at Gucci two Christmases ago, and felt guilty because early on in their marriage they'd agreed never to invade each other's privacy.

            Gingerly she opened the wallet. Credit cards. Money. A Photo of the two of them on their honeymoon. And a condom.

            A CONDOM!

            She could hardly believe her eyes. A condom in his wallet, exactly as the detective had suspected there would be.Oh, my God! She thought. This is totally bad

            He first instinct was to race into the bedroom, shake him awake, and say, 'What in God's name are you doing with a condom in your wallet?'

            But she didn't. She stayed calm, remembering what Madison had said. She fetched a felt-tip pen from the study, went into the dressing room and made a tiny mark on the corner of the package. Then she put it back exactly where she'd found it, leaving his wallet in the same place.

            Seething with fury, she climbed into bed, only to discover that Peter was snoring, half-smile on his face.

            Damn him! what if Madison and the detective were right? What if Madison and the detective were right? What if when she looked again the condom was replaced with a fresh packet?

            She'd kill him, that's what she'd cut off his precious dick, slice it off just like Lorena Bobbitt. Only she wouldn't throw it out of a car window , she'd stuff it down the waste-disposal where it belonged.

            Revenge had no fury like Jamie - the perfect stylish blonde.

            Madison and Kimm were eating lunch in a small Italian restaurant on Lexington. Over spaghetti Bolognese and large mixed green salads, Kimm filled her in on Beth's sisters whom she'd managed to locate by phone. According to Kimm, the woman was Beth's twin, and refused to have anything to do with Michael. She was especially concerned that he did not find out where she was.

            'I told her it was you who wanted to meet her, but she was adamant, wants to completely forget her past.'

            'I'm her niece,' Madison said, frustrated. 'How can she say she doesn't want to meet me?'

            'That's how it is,' Kimm said, shrugging.

            'She's the only clue to what really happened,' Madison said, frowning. 'The only person other than Michael said, frowning. 'The only person other than Michael who can tell me anything about my mother.'

            'Perhaps you should confront Michael,' Kimm suggested. 'Tell him what you know. That way he'll be forced to open up.'

            'You're sure you want to take a chance that she will?'


            'Then I guess I'm coming with you.'

            'You don't have to.'

            'Sure I do,' Kimm said. 'Knowing you, you'll arrive at the airport and get lost.'

            'I'm very together,' Madison said. 'You told me that yourself.'

            'You were together. This whole thing has affected you. God sent me to look after you.'

            'Oh, please,' Madison groaned.

            'Don't worry,' Kimm said, with a rare smile. 'I'm not about to hit on you. I keep my lesbian tendencies to my unless I'm sure they'll be reciprocated.'

            'That's a relief,' Madison said drily.

            The two women exchanged smiles of friendship. They had discovered something that bound them together, and it made for a closeness that was new to both of them.

            'We'll fly there tomorrow,' Madison decided, the very thought making her stronger. 'I'll organize 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