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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 Thirty

            'Hi, honey, how are you feeling?'

            Rosarita gave Dex a wary look. Why was he acting all concerned?' 'I'm feeling fine, thank you,' she said, although she wasn't, having had an extremely frustrating trip to several bookstores - it wasn't easy digging up information about poisons. However, she'd managed to do some research: strych-nine, she'd discovered, increased reflexes, caused jumping of the muscles when touched, followed by painful spasms, dilated pupils and asphyxia cyanosis - which did not tell her a lot. Arsenic was not much better than strychnine: heat and irritation in the throat, vomiting, cramps and restlessness, even convulsions, prostration and fainting.

            How was she going to find a nice quiet poison that would seep into his system and kill him within an hour? An hour would give her time to send him out to the casino where he would conveniently collapse and die while she was nowhere in sight. She didn't need him having fits and delirium and all of that. She had her alibi all planned. She would be somewhere public with Chas and her parents- in-law. Cast iron. No arguing with that.

            Goddamnit! Even poisoning somebody wasn't easy. 'Can we talk?' Dexter said, taking her by the arm and leading her into the bedroom.

            Oh, God, what now? Had Joel called and resealed everything?

            'What is it, Dex?' she said irritably. 'I just got in. I'd like to relax and have a cup of coffee before you come to me with all your problems.'

            'No problems, honey,' he said in that same smooth, incredibly aggravating tone. 'I know you were probably waiting to tell me later, only I found out, and I can't keep it to myself. Now, don't be mad at me - 'cause I've already called my parents and told them.'

            'Told them what?' she said, alarmed at his sudden concern. 'You're such a clever girl,' he said. 'I'm so proud of you.'

            Clever girl? Proud of her? What the hell was he on about?

            'Dex, will you kindly explain what you're talking about,' she said, speaking slowly. 'The baby,' he said, beaming. 'Our baby.'

            Oh, my God! Somehow or other he's found out I'm pregnant. This is all I need

            She sat down on the edge of the bed, her stomach fluttering. 'How do you know?'

            'Dr Shipp's secretary called to make an appointment for you. I had a hunch, so I asked her.' He moved in front of her, taking her hands in his. 'Why didn't you tell me, honey?'

            'I- I only found out myself this afternoon,' she stammered, caught off-guard. 'I was planning on telling you tonight.'

            'It's great news, Rosarita,' he said, pulling her up and enveloping her in a hug. 'I'm so happy.'

            'I suppose it is,' she said, still trying to collect her thoughts. It was probably a good thing he knew, because to the world they'd now be this loving and untied couple. United, married and having a baby- so that when he dropped dead she would not be a suspect. Instead people would feel sorry for her. The bereaved widow. The pregnant bereaved widow. A part she could play to perfection.

            How would all this sit with Joel? Should she run it by him?

            Absolutely not. He might not condone murder as the answer to her marital woes.

            'I'm glad you're happy, Dex,' she said, deciding to go with it. 'It came as a shock to me because, as you well know, I always use my diaphragm, and uh..I can't understand how this happened.'

            'Protection is never one hundred per cent,' he said. 'Besides, I wanted us to start a family.'

            Thank God he was understanding. Another man might have said, 'Since you always use your diaphragm, how could this be? Have you been sleeping around?'

            'I'm sorry this had to happen while you're out of a job,' Rosarita said. 'It seems a pity to burden you with further problems.'

            'You can be so thoughtful,' Dexter said. 'Much as you try to keep your sweet side hidden, it's always there- underneath the tough -cookie act. That's why I married you,' cause I know the real you.'

            'Thank you,' she said demurely.

            'You're welcome.'

            'What did your parents say?'

            'They were excited. I was thinking, if it's a boy, can we name him Dexter?'

            'Of course.'

            'And how about Rosarita for a girl?'

            'Whatever you want, darling.'

            'I'm planning to treat you like a princess,' he promised. 'You can have anything you want.'

            'Thank you, Dex, but perhaps you shouldn't make too big a fuss. Let's wait until we get back from Vegas and tell people then.'

            'I'm wondering if you should still take that trip.'

            'What are you talking about?' she said quickly. 'I'm pregnant, not an invalid.'

            'Do you really think it's wise?'

            'I love Vegas. All that shopping. I can take Martha shopping, and Matt too. In fact, I'll take everybody shopping. You know I'm a world-class shopper.'

            He smiled. 'Yes, I know that. And I promise you, Rosarita, I'll get another job that'll be better than the soap. I'm planning to be the star you always wanted. Will you trust me on that?'

            'Yes. Dex,' she said, nodding. 'I know you won't let me down.

***

            'Madam Sylvia?'

            A suspicious 'Who wants her ?'

            'I'm calling to speak to Madam Sylvia. I was given this number by Testio Ramata.'

            'Never heard of him.'

            Oh, Christ, Joel thought. What an I doing? This isn't going to work.

            'Testio Ramata, the photographer,' he said. 'Put Madam Sylvia on.'

            'Wait a minute,' the voice said, and went away.

            A few moments later the phone was picked up again. 'This is Madam Sylvia. Can I help you?'

            'Yeah, um..Testio told me to call you. He said you'd have what I want.'

            'And the password is.?'

            'I don't know any fucking password,' he growled, beginning to lose it.

            'Then I'm afraid I can't help you.'

            'Do you know who I am?' he demanded.

            'No.'

            'Joel Blaine - Leon Blaine's son.'

            'Give me your number, Mr Blaine, and I'll call you back.'

            'Is that necessary?'

            'It is. If your secretary picks up I'll use the alias Mrs Brown.' 'Don't bother. I'll give my private number.'

            He did so and waited impatiently by the phone. Within seconds she called back. 'I'm sorry, Mr Blaine, can't be too careful.'

            'I understand,' he said, although he didn't.

            'Did Testio tell you that this is an escort agency for women only? I do not supply gay companions. I really don't see how I can help you.'

            'I have this, uh, problem,' Joel said. 'It's something I feel uncomfortable talking about on the phone. Can we meet?'

            'That's most unusual. Generally I do not meet potential clients.'

            'Listen,' Joel said. 'I've told you who I am. I'm not likely to turn up with a wire attached to my chest and a couple of cops trailing me.'

            She chuckled politely. 'I didn't think so, because I do have our conversation on tape, and I'm sure you wouldn't want it made public- just as I wouldn't want anything I say made public.'

            'Then can we meet?'

            'Very well,' she said. 'How about the Barbara at the Four Seasons Hotel at seven?

            'How will I know you?'

            'If you're who you say you are, I'll know you.'

            Joel slammed down the phone, feeling foolish and inept. He'd got himself into this situation because of Marika, the Asian cunt. Damn her! Why had he told her he was bringing Carrie Hanlon, the most difficult girl to nail in New York, to Vegas?

            He walked across to the window of his apartment and stared at Central Park spread out before him. unfortunately for him, there were no other apartments in sight. Sometimes, when he was desperate for an audience, he booked a high-rise suite at the For Seasons, invited a girl over and made love to her in front of the bedroom window, which was conveniently overlooked by the hotel next door. That was always a kick. Tourists staying in the other hotel must really think New York was a hot place. Joel chuckled at his fond memories.

            Maybe he should do that with Rosarita. He hadn't seen her in a while and she was probably pissed at him, but so what? He was sure that once he said. 'Meet me,' she'd come running. Married women were the best kind, because if you treated them like shit, there was nothing they could do about it.

            Rosarita had always warned him, 'Don't call me, I'll call you.' But since he'd been giving her the brush, he knew if he wanted to see her again he'd have to make the effort.

            Damn! All he needed was the husband answering. That big ox of a handsome TV guy with birdseed for brains. Joel kind of got off on the thought that she preferred fucking him to the pretty-boy husband. And why not? Joel had the good and the money. When his father dropped he'd be mega-rich. Leon Blaine was almost seventy. How much longer did the old cocker have?

            On a sudden impulse he looked up her number in his little black book and picked up the phone. A female voice answered. 'Rosarita?' he said.

            'Joel?' she whispered, sounding panicky. 'I told you never to call you me here. Where have you been? Oh, God, let met call you back.'

            'I'm at my apartment,' he said. 'I have a new number.'

            'I know,' she said. 'It's unlisted. I couldn't get hold of it. Your bitch secretary wouldn't give it to me. What is it? Quickly.'

            He told her the number and hung up. Mistake. He should never have given her his new number - the reason he'd changed it was because of her.

            But, then again, she was certainly the most adventurous woman he'd ever come across, and she wasn't a hooker. It was one thing for a hooker to be adventurous, but to get a normal woman to do the things he liked to do.well, that made it all the more exciting. And she gave the greatest head he'd ever had.

            A beat of ten and his phone rang. He grabbed it. 'Meet me at the four Seasons Hotel in half an hour,' he said.

            'I can't do that,' she said, still sounding panicky.

            'Why not?'

            'I have a husband at home.'

            'Tell him you gotta go out.'

            'Where would I be going at six in the evening?'

            'I thought you ran your own life. Isn't he working on a soap?'

            It's been cancelled. He's home, in the other room. You made a mistake calling me here, he could have picked up the phone.'

            'Well, he didn't, so quit bitching,'

            'I can't have him finding out about you, Joel.'

            'Why?'

            'I told you, he'll soon be history.'

            'Yeah, yeah- you've been saying that for ever. Can you meet me or not/'

            'Well.'

            He knew he had her. 'Four Seasons, the lobby. Don't be late. I haven't got a lot of time.'

            'Is there anything special you want to tell me?' she said, waiting for him to say something nice.

            'What do you think'

            'How do I know what to think? I've been trying to reach you for weeks, now you call me out of nowhere and insist I meet you immediately.'

            Women! Why did they always have to talk? Why couldn't they just shut the fuck up? Did you get those crotch less panties?' he asked.

            'Yes,' she said breathlessly.

            'Wear'em. I'll see you soon.'

***

            'Who was that on the phone?' Dexter asked, as she ventured into the den where he was watching TV.

            'Why does he have to see you?'

            'It's a family thing,' she said vaguely. 'I must go over there.'

            'I'll come with you,' Dexter said, clicking off the TV.

            'No,' she said quickly. 'He wants to see me by myself. Mumbled something about it being private.'

            'If it's family business, maybe I should be there,' Dexter said. 'Anyway, now that you're pregnant, I can't have you running around town by yourself.'

            'Don't get paranoid, Dex, I'll be back in an hour.'

            Rosarita had never been the best of liars, but she seemed to have pulled this one off because Dexter stopped objecting and switched the TV back on.

            She hurried into the bedroom, went straight to her lingerie drawer, opened it and inspected the supply of crotch less panties she'd purchased in every colour imaginable. They were stuffed in the back of the drawer so that Dexter wouldn't come across them by mistake. Not that he searched through her lingerie, but she could never be sure. Choosing a scarlet pair with black-lace trim, she rushed into the bathroom, locked the door and slipped them on. Then she touched up her makeup and reached Chas on her cellphone.

            'Daddy, this is important,' she said, speaking fast. 'I'm coming over to see you, but not really. If Dex calls, tell him I'm on my way. If he asks for me, say I've just left. Okay?'

            'What the fuck's groing in now?' Chas grumbled.

            'Nothing to concern yourself with. I have some private business to conduct, and Dex is determined to stalk my every step.'

            'You doing something you shouldn't' Chas asked suspiciously.

            'What do you mean? She said innocently.

            'You'd better not screw around on him,' Chas growled. 'He's likely to beat the shit outta you.'

            'Daddy, you're so dramatic,' she said, with Varoomba heavy sigh. 'Now remember, if he asks, I'm there, or I'm on my way there, or I've just left. Got it?'

            'Whaddya think I am? A moron? I got it.'

            'Thanks, Daddy.'

            She clicked off the phone, took one last look in the mirror and slipped from the apartment.

***

            Fortunately for Joel, the hotel was able to oblige him with the suite he requested. Thirty-eighth floor, on the left side, overlooked by the hotel next door.

            He waited in the ultra-modern lobby until Rosarita put in an appearance. When he finally saw her, he realized that, in a strange way, he'd kind of missed her. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

            'You're lucky I'm here,' she said, slightly out of breath.

            'Yeah? What makes me so lucky?'

            'Because you haven't been treating me very nicely,' she scolded. 'I know me being married upsets you, but you could at least treat me a little nicer.'

            'How can I treat you any way at all while you're still married?' he complained. 'What am I supposed to do? Come over to your place an' hold hands with your husband?'

            'Don't be silly, Joel.'

            'I got a surprise for you,' he said, taking her hand.

            'What is it?' she asked, excited to see him.

            You'll see,' he said, leading her over to the elevator. They traveled in silence to the thirty-eighth floor. When they got out he walked her towards the suite.

            She wondered if she should tell him about her pregnancy .

            Too soon, a voice warned her. Much too soon.

            He opened the door of the suite and ushered her in. 'Straight into the bedroom,' he said, patting her on the ass, 'and open all the blinds.'

            'I can't stay the night.' She said. 'I got out for an hour. That's all I can manage.'

            'An hour will do,' he said. 'It's ten after six. I have a meeting downstairs at seven. You'll be safely outta here by that time.'

            'What are we doing?' she asked curiously.

            'What do you think we're about to entertain the folks next door.'

            And as she opened the blinds on the side window, she saw exactly what he had in mind.

            'Lights on,' he commanded. 'Clothes off. We're giving the out-of-towners a show the likes of which they'll never see on Broadway. Get to it, babe! This is a take!'

   


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