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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 - Seven

            Miami was in the midst of a heatwave even though it was way past summer. The airport was crowded and noisy, filled with people of all nationalities rushing in different directions.

            Madison looked around to see if she could spot a chauffeur holding up a card with her name on it.

            'Why did you book a limo?' Kimm asked, as they made their way through the crowd. 'The less anyone knows, the better.'

            'I've always found that when arriving in a town I'm not familiar with a driver is the way to go. Otherwise we could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time you know, like in Bonfire of the Vanities.'

            'I can look after myself,' Kimm said, staunchly confident.

            'You might be able to,' Madison countered. ' But I'm not so sure about me. Lately I've been thinking of buying a handgun.'

            'Don't go that route unless you know what you're doing,' Kimm warned.'

            'I know what I'm doing.'

            'Well,' Kimm said, 'also consider taking karate lessons. A woman must always be prepared to defend herself.'

            'I'd defend myself, all right,' Madison said, with a short, humorless laugh. 'I'd go right for the balls.'

            'Very effective if executed in the right way,' Kimm said. 'I'll give you a few pointers. I'm an expert.'

            'No - what you are is an amazing woman,' Madison said. 'I'm glad to know you.' 'Thanks,' Kimm said awkwardly, unused to compliments.

            'Of course,' Madison added. 'I'm not happy about the things you've found out, but then again, I guess I should be- 'cause there I was blithely going along thinking that everything was great, and it wasn't, not at all. So. Yeah, maybe god did send you to teach me what's important.'

            'You must be nervous,' Kimm said.

            'I don't get nervous,' Madison answer, still glancing around to see if she could spot their driver. 'As a matter of fact, I'm calmer today than I've been for a while. The idea of meeting my mother's twin sister is scary, yet at the same time exciting.'

            'You might not get to meet her,' Kimm pointed out. 'We could turn up at her front door only to have it slammed in our faces.'

            'God, I hope not.'

            'You have to be prepared,' Kimm said, the voice of reason. 'The woman is obviously afraid of Michael. She ran when her sister was murdered - even changed her name.'

            'What is her name now?' Madison said, realizing it was the one question she hadn't asked.

            'Catherine Lione,' Kimm said. 'That's all the information I have- her name and an address.'

            'Then let's go find her,' Madison said, finally spotting a uniformed chauffeur holding aloft a big white card with her name on it. 'she'll talk to me. I'm sure of it.'

***

            Jamie was taking an early morning shower when Peter slid into the glass enclosure, surprising her. 'Peter,' she objected. 'I'm all slippery.'

            'Slippery when wet, huh? He said, lasciviously. 'Exactly the way I like you.' 'And I'm not in the mood,' she said, as his hands began caressing her breasts.

            'Last night you had a headache, now this morning you're not in the mood,' he said, fingering her nipples in the way he knew drove her a little bit crazy. 'what's going on?'

            'Am I supposed to always be ready and available?' she said, trying not to let his practiced touch affect her. 'You're my wife, aren't you?' he said, squeezing an already erect nipples between his thumb and forefinger.

            'Yes,' she said, shivering as his hands skimmed their way down her body. 'Glad we got that straight,' he said, moving behind her so she could feel his hardness pressing into the small of her back.

            'Peter,' she murmured, suddenly flooded with desire.

            'What is it, my sweet?' he asked, nibbling her ear.

            'We're happy, aren't we?'

            'Very happy,' he said, gently stroking the inside of her thighs.

            'You love me, don't you?' she said, turning around so that she faced him.

            He placed her hands at the back of his neck, then hoisting her legs around his waist, he entered her with a ferocity she was not expecting. 'You know I love you,' he grunted. 'Can't get enough.'

            'Love is more than sex,' she gasped, throwing back her head. 'Stop talking,' he commanded.

            You'd never be unfaithful to me, would you?' she murmured.

            'Are you nuts?' he said loudly. 'How could you think like that?'

            And as he rocked her back and forth, the memory of the condom in his wallet faded into oblivion.

***

            'This can't be right,' Madison said, as their car pulled up in front of a restaurant club along the gaudy strip of ice-cream-coloured buildings in South Beach.

            'We're at the address you gave me, Madison'am,' their driver said.

            Madison looked at Kimm. 'It's a restaurant,' she said.

            'I can see that,' Kimm replied. 'Take a look at the sign. It's called Lion's.' 'You didn't know this?' Madison asked.

            'I guess I'm slipping in my old age,' Kimm said drily, as they both got out of the car.

            'Driver, please wait,' Madison said. 'I'm not sure how long we'll be.'

            The man nodded.

            'At least if she doesn't want to meet you, we'll get a decent cup of Cuban coffee,' Kimm remarked, as they approached the open terrace, where people were sitting around tables sipping drinks and enjoying the loud salsa music coming from inside. It was four o'clock in the afternoon.

            'Here's the way we should play it,' Kimm said decisively. 'We're customers. We'll sit down, order something and check out what's going on. Maybe we'll see her before she sees us.'

            'This is making me nervous,' Madison said, biting her lower lip. 'I thought you didn't get nervous.'

            'She probably lives here,' Kimm said, as they made their way to her house.'

            A snake-hipped young waiter, clad in tight black leather pants and a white T-Shirt, swayed over to them bearing menus. 'You ladies here for tea?' he said. 'Or how about something stronger? I can recommended the house margarita.'

            'I'll have one,' Madison said, ready for a drink.

            'Make mine water,' Kimm said.

            'Ah,' the waiter said, staring straight at Madison, 'the beautiful lady likes to live dangerously.'

            'Huh?' Madison said, meeting his direct gaze. He was all of nineteen, but full of confidence. 'I am Juan,' he announced. 'Anything you need, call for me.'

            'This is an interesting place,' Madison said. 'I love the Art Deco theme. Who owns it?'

            'Another beautiful lady,' Juan said, flashing his exceptionally white teeth marred by one gold filling in the front. 'She's older, but women are like wine.they only get sweeter and more precious.'

            'Come on,' Madison said, laughing. 'You're not going to tell us those lines actually work?'

            'Ah, yes,' he said with a wide grin. 'Especially in the tourist season. And you ladies tourists?'

            Kimm was unamused by this banter . 'No, we're not,' she snapped. 'We're here on

            'Sorry to insult you, serious-day crap?' Kimm said, as he walked off. 'I could kick his skinny little tight ass.' 'Don't get pissed,' Madison said. 'he might be the one to tell us about Catherine.'

            'Or her husband.'

            'No,' Madison aid. 'he told us this place is owned by a woman, so since it's called Lione's, that must be Catherine, right?'

            'It's helluva place to hide if her plan was to get away from Michael,' Kimm said. 'What make s her think he'd never come to Miami? Especially with South Beach being so popular.'

            'Who knows?' Madison said, shrugging. 'I like it here. There's something free and sexy and kind of welcoming. I'm starting to feel a lot better.'

            'No, you're not,' Kimm argued. 'You're starting to imagine that your aunt is going to appear, open up her arms, and say, "Madison, I've waited for you all these years, come live here with me and I will be your real family." Your imagination is shifting into overdrive.'

            'Get real,' Madison said tartly. 'Do you honestly think I'm that stupid?'

            'You're not stupid at all,' Kimm said. 'You are merely experiencing a fact of nature. We all yearn for family, people who care about us no matter what we do. Now that you've found out about Michael, and that your mother is dead, you feel you have no one, so you're reaching out. And, right now, Catherine is the only person you feel you can reach out to.'

            'All I want is to met her,' Madison said defiantly, 'so she can tell me something about my heritage. I know nothing about my mother. I don't even have a clue where she was born.'

            'Now's your chance to find out,' Kimm said. 'I think this might be Catherine heading our way.'

            Madison glanced up and caught her breath. Coming towards them was a woman the absolute image of Beth in the photo. The same black curly hair, delicate, high-cheekboned face, full lips and seductive eyes. She was slim, wearing a scarlet dress and very high heels. She was in her early forties.

            Quickly, Madison figured it out. She was twenty -nine, so if Beth had given birth to her when she was seventeen, that would make her twin sister forty six.

            The woman walked straight past them to the next table, where she stopped to greet a fat man in a white suit and a Panama hat. They kissed each other on both cheeks and began chatting. 'I am so happy to see you,' the woman enthused. 'I have missed your smiling face.'

            Madison was startled to hear that she had a slight accent.

            'She's Cuban,' Kimm said, in a low voice.

            'How do you know?'

            'The accent.'

            'Oh, my God,' Madison exclaimed. 'Does that mean I'm half Cuban? That I'm not American?'

            'Your mother probably came here from Cuba before you were born. You're American, all right.'

            'But does it mean I have Cuban heritage?' she said excitedly. 'This is something I didn't know about.'

            'There's probably a lot you didn't know about,' Kimm said. 'How's your dancing?' 'Pretty damn good.'

            'Now you know why.'

            'Ah.not only is she an excellent detective, she has a sense of humour too. Although I have to admit that she keeps it well hidden.'

            Kimm flashed a smile. 'You're returning to your normal self. I like that.'

            'You don't know my normal self.'

            'I can only imagine. Though with a soft heart. Intelligent. Loyal friend. Hates stupidity and dumb people. Am I on the right track?'

            'I hope so. I sound nice.'

            They both laughed.

            'I am delighted to see that you ladies are having a good time,' Juan said, returning with their drinks.

            'Actually,' Madison said, 'We are kind of tourists in a way- but not really. You see, I work for a travel magazine, and they've sent me and my colleague to check out South Beach. Y' know, root out the hottest restaurants, clubs, that kind of thing. I was wondering if you could help us.'

            'I'm your main,' Juan said with a proud smile. 'There is nothing I do not know about Miami.'

            'When do you get off?'

            'I have a four-hour break at six. Then at ten I am back to deal with the chaos.'

            'What chaos?' Madison questioned.

            'You are sitting in one of the hottest places in South Beach,' Juan boasted.

            'We are?'

            'Yes.'

            'And you say Lione's is owned by a woman?'

            'Madam is over there,' Juan said, indicating the woman sitting with the man in the white suit.

            'Can I meet her?'

            'Miz Lione does not personal publicity. Write about the restaurant, not her.'

            'So, this is where it all happens, hugh?'

            Kimm was silently shaking her head, her expression saying, what do you think you're doing?

            Madison winked at her. She had a strong hunch this was exactly the right way to approach the situation. 'I'll tell you What, Juan, for a hundred bucks can you give us a tour of the place and some of the history?'

            'You mean when I get off?'

            'We were planning on flying back to New York tonight, but I'm sure we could stay over for one night.'

            'That's very accommodating of you,' Madison said, 'but I'd prefer to concentrate on here. Can you book us a table for dinner?'

            'Of course,' Juan said. 'You and your uh friend Will there be any gentlemen with you?'

            'No, this trip is strictly business.'

            'There is no lack of gentlemen who would be happy to spend the evening with you,' Juan suggested slyly.

            'We're not looking for company,' Madison said patting Kimm's hand. 'We're perfectly happy together.'

            'Ah, I se,' Juan said, rolling his eyes at his own stupidity. 'You are a couple.'

            'Right,' Madison said, smiling. 'A couple.'

            Kimm threw her a furious glare.

            A woman at a nearby table began calling for her check. 'I'll be back,' Juan said, tight leather pants taking off.

            'What are you doing?' Kimm demanded, as soon as he'd left.

            'Giving us background,' Madison said. 'This way we'll get to meet Catherine casually, and later I'll tell her.'

            'So we are staying the night?'

            'Yes.'

            'Oh, good,' Kimm said, full of sarcasm. 'have Juan book us a cosy double since we're not bothered by unwanted attention.'

            'Just two dykes on the road. Is that it?'

            'don't get touchy. Anyway, if it's action you're after, it's always easier to cruise if you're with someone. This way all your options are open.'

            'Madison,' Kimm said, shaking her head in wonderment. 'I'm seeing a whole new you since we left New York. You're kind of a changed person.'

            'No, I'm not,' Madison said firmly. 'I'm a survivor. I was thinking about what you said, and you're absolutely right - I have to let go to continue. This devastating news is not going to slow me down. I'm my own person. I always have been. I've never believed in those people who blame everything on their parents - you know, I'm a fuck-up because my father was a fuck-up. Or I'm a drunk because my mother was an alcoholic.' She took a deep breath. 'So my father was a hit man? Maybe. So he murdered my mother? Maybe. I don't know any of these things for a fact. But I'm accepting them, and I'm beginning to realize they're not part of who I am.'

            'Okay,' Kimm said. 'We'll do this your way.'

            'Thanks,' Madison said. 'And who knows? You might end up meeting the woman of your dreams.'

            'I'm not looking.'

            'Trust me,' Madison said, smiling. 'That's exactly when it happens.'

            Juan returned, filled with enthusiasm. 'Ladies,' he said. 'I will make this night totally memorable. You will not regret staying over. Juan- he is in charge of 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