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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 - Nine

            'Now what?' said Kimm hands on her solid hips as she and Madison stood side by side in the double room Juan had booked for them.

            'Guess I'll have to sleep on the floor,' Madison said, straight-faced.

            'This is a ridiculous situation,' Kimm snapped.

            'But you have to admit,' Madison said, 'It is funny. And, oh, boy, was I ready for a laugh. Besides,' she added thoughtfully, 'since we're a couple, we won't have a ton of guys hitting on us tonight.'

            'And what makes you think there'd be a ton of guys hitting on you?' Kimm said.

            'Us,' Madison corrected. 'Because, as I'm sure you're aware, once men see women out alone, their dicks go into overdrive.'

            'I don't find this situation at all amusing,' Kimm said, poker-faced. 'This new you, full of light -hearted cracks. Do you regard being a lesbian as some kind of joke?'

            'Not at all,' Madison protested. 'It's just that I've never had a close relationship with a gay woman before, so maybe I'm not behaving in the correct fashion. Am I supposed to ignore that you're gay and never mention it?'

            'You're not supposed to ignore it,' Kimm said, frowning, 'but you don't go around telling everyone you're my companion because you think that will protect you from all the men who'll be chasing after you. God,' she snorted, 'you must've led a spoiled life.'

            'I'm sorry if I've offended you in any way,' Madison said, truly not understanding why Kimm seemed so upset. 'I'll go down to the desk and get us another room. I figured this wasn't a problem.'

            'It's not a problem,' Kimm a said, still on cold alert. 'I'm sure I can manage to keep my hands off you for one night.'

            'Oh, now it's your turn to be funny.'

            'Anyway,' Kimm said truculently, 'I have other clients who need my attention. So if you want to meet your aunt you'd better do it tonight, because I'm out of here and back to new York first thing tomorrow.'

            'Anyway,' Kimm said truculently, 'I have other clients who need my attention. So if you want to meet your aunt you'd better do it tonight, because I'm out of here and back to new York first thing tomorrow.'

            'I fully intend to meet her,' Madison said. 'and meeting her this way means she can't slam the door in my face.'

            'And what exactly is your plan?' Kimm asked. 'To sneak up on her and say, "Oh, by the way, I'm the niece you don't want to see?"'

            'I'll figure it out as I go,' Madison said, refusing to be put off.

            'Good,' Kimm aid, sitting down on the edge of the bed. 'Then basically you don't need me, so I'll stay in the hotel.'

            'I do need you.' Madison insisted. 'I feel more secure with you around.'

            'Why?'

            'I just do.'

            'Okay,' Kimm said reluctantly, sighing. 'If you absolutely insist.'

            'I do,' Madison said. 'And since neither of us came dressed for a night on the town, I suggest we go shopping. My treat.'

            'I hate shopping,' Kimm grumbled. 'Nothing in Miami. We have to look good. Besides, I've never seen you in a dress.'

            'And you're not likely to,' Kimm muttered.

***

            Lione's at night was a sight to behold. Throbbing Cuban music was being played by a live group. Exotic creatures were everywhere: fantastic -looking women and handsome, sexy men, all as snake-hipped as Juan, and everyone ready to party.

            'Jesus,' Madison breathed, glancing around at the throng. 'And I thought South Beach was simply media hype. Seems I was wrong.'

            It was ten o'clock and Juan, who greeted them at the door, informed them the real action didn't start until after midnight.

            'Can't wait to see what the real action looks like,' Madison dead-panned.

            'Dancing, drinking, smoking fucking,' Juan ventured, giving a naughty-little boy grin. 'Did I say something wrong?' he added innocently.

            'Not at all,' Madison replied coolly. 'I've done a little of all of them in my time.'

            Kimm threw her a quick glance as if to say, Don't encourage him. 'Where do we sit?' Madison inquired. 'I'd appreciate a prime position.'

            She was wearing a skimpy black dress that clung to her body like a second skin. Her hair was long and wild. Gypsy gold hoops hung from her ears, and she'd even put on makeup.

            Heads turned. She didn't care. She felt different, more free. She didn't know why. What she did know was that she was in desperate need of a drink to bolster her courage.

            Kimm was dressed in her new outfit - black leather pants, boots, a red shirt, and a long black leather coat. Madison had insisted on buying the clothes for her in spite of Kimm's hearty protestations. 'We're not going to a fashion show,' Kimm had grumbled.

            'We have to look the part,' Madison had insisted. 'Anyway, I feel like spending money, and black leather suits you admirably.'

            Reluctantly Kimm had agreed to the purchase. In spite of her height and heavy build, she was a good-looking woman, powerful and strong with attractive features emphasizing her Native American heritage. Madison had a feeling that if her own sexual inclination traveled in a different direction, Kimm might be the perfect choice. That's if kidlang wasn't available.

            Earlier she'd called Jamie. 'What are you doing in Miami?' Jamie had asked, perplexed. 'I thought you were going through some kind of crisis.'

            'I am,' she'd replied. 'This is part of it.' 'Miami is part of your crisis,' Jamie had said, like it was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard.

            'I'll be back tomorrow and explain everything.'

            'You'd better.'

            Juan led them towards a center table. 'May I say that you two ladies look very beautiful tonight,' he crooned. 'it is a shame you are involved.'

            Kimm threw Madison another warning glance. 'Do you have a girlfriend?'

            'One, two, three.' He grinned again. 'I have many.'

            'Why is it that I'm not surprised?' Madison said, as they reached a key table near the already crowded dance-floor.

            She sat down, looked around again, ordered a margarita and wondered what the hell had happened to her in such a short period of time. She'd thought she was so together, and then everything she was so sure of had crumbled. But she would get through it, she was a true survivor. And tonight was only the beginning.

            An hour and three margaritas later she was feeling no pain. Even Kimm was starting to relax as the sensual beat of the music and the hedonistic atmosphere swept over them. While not exactly drunk, Madison was aware that she was not totally in control. she'd been trying to spot Catherine, but so far her aunt had not put in an appearance.

            Finally, when Kimm went off to the ladies' room, she asked Juan where the owner was.

            'I told you,' he said, 'she will not be interviewed.'

            'If I don't use the interview, surely I can speak to her?' Madison persisted.

            'Why would you want to speak to her if you will not use it?'

            'Because Lione's is her creation, and it's obviously very successful. Did she open this place by herself, or does she have a husband or maybe a business partner?'

            'You ask a lot of questions,' Juan said, a wary look in his eyes. 'I'm a journalist,' she said. 'That's what we're supposed to do.'

            'Miz Lione does not care for journalists,' Juan said, his young face hardening.

            'Surely she wants publicity for Lione's?' Madison said. 'I've never heard of a restaurant/ club-owner who doesn't.'

            'The restaurant speaks for itself,' Juan said woodenly. Miz Lione never does publicity.'

            'Then let me speak to her husband.'

            'There is no husband.'

            'Where is he?'

            'Not around.'

            'If I promise not to mention that she owns this place, will you introduce me?'

            'Why are you so anxious to meet her?' he asked, staring at Madison suspiciously.

            'Cause I think it's fascinating a woman has created all of this. It's not usual. I'm sure you've never heard of it, but there's a restaurant in New York called Elaine's that's owned and run by a woman. And then there's Regine's in Paris. Two exceptions. Not a lot of women create this kind of sensation. Your boss should be proud.'

            'You think I am stupid?' Juan said haughtily. 'Of course I have heard of Elaine's and Regine's. when I first came to America, I worked as a bus boy at Le Cirque in New York. I know much about restaurants.'

            'When did you first come here?'

            'I came from Havana when I was thirteen. My mother sent for me.' 'What does your mother do?' Madison asked.

            Before he could reply, Kimm said, sitting down and peering at her. 'I think you should order a black coffee. You're starting to look glassy-eyed.'

            'I'm not,' Madison protested. 'I'm having fun-something I don't get to do too often.'

            'You're drunk.'

            'Bullshit,' Madison said. 'Merely relaxing.'

            'Ha!' Kimm responded, not believing her, and rightly so.

            'Don't you drink at all?' Madison demanded.

            'Surely you know?' Kimm said, with a sarcastic edge. 'We can't hold our liquor very well.'

            'Who's we?'

            'Native Americans.'

            'Oh, please, what kind of crap is that?'

            'I prefer not to put it to the test,' Kimm said. 'Anyway, my goal is to keep a clear mind.'

            'Yeah, well, while you're keeping a clear mind, you might have missed the beautiful black creature sitting over there who's been eyeing you for the last half hour.'

            'Excuse me?' Kimm said, immediately blusing.

            'Take a look,' Madison said, indicating the corner table.

            Kimm glanced over. Sure enough there was a very tall black girl in a long blonde wig and skimpy gold dress. The girl smiled at Kimm and raised her glass.

            'Methinks somebody might be getting lucky tonight,' Madison sing songed. 'And unfortunately it's not me.'

            'You know,' Kimm said slowly, 'it's okay for straight people to sleep around , but contrary to popular belief, the gay community is a touch more discriminating.'

            Madison burst out laughing. 'That's the biggest bullshit I've ever heard,' she said. 'I have gay friends who think nothing of doing three guys a night.'

            'That was before AIDS,' Kimm pointed out. 'Things have changed.'

            'Maybe at first,' Madison said, 'but now everyone's gone back to their good old ways.'

            'You have no idea what you're talking about,' Kimm said. 'You're half drunk and completely hopeless.'

            At which point, the black girl got up and slinked her way over. 'Wanna dance?' she said, standing directly in front of Kimm.

            Kimm was just about to say no, when Madison gave her a prod and answered for her. 'She'd love to.'

            Reluctantly, Kimm got to her feet. It was at that moment that Madison observed Catherine entering the room. She was accompanied by the man in the white suit from earlier.

            Madison jumped up. 'I'll be back,' she said.

            She manoeuvred her way around the edge of the dance-floor, trying to avoid the pulsating, swaying figures. Without hesitating she hurried over to Catherine. 'Excuse me,' she said excitedly, totally blowing her cool, 'I've been waiting to meet you all night. I'm writing about Lione's for a magazine, and although I've been made aware you don't do personal publicity, I wanted to shake your hand and say, uh, this is an amazing place.'

            Catherine stared at her for a long, silent moment, her face very still. 'You are my niece, aren't you?' she said, without a trace of emotion. 'I told the woman who phoned that I did not wish to see you, so why are you here?'

            'Because,' Madison said sadly, as the room began to spin, 'I don't know who I am any more, and you're probably the only person who can help me find out.'

   


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