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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 Five

            'I gotta tell you.'

            'Yes?' Madison said, completely uninterested in what the man sitting next to her had to say. 'You have the sexiest lips.'

            'Really,' she responded, hardly taking a beat. 'How interesting. I was about to say the same thing to you.' Her dinner companion looked at her, perplexed. 'That's what I like about you, always got a smart answer.'

            That's what I don't like about you, she wanted to say, but she didn't. it wasn't worth the trouble.

            She was seated to the left of Joel Blaine, playboy son of real-estate billionaire Leon Blaine. Leon was Anton interesting man. Joel was not. Joel was the typical rich man's son who thought the world should kiss his ass because of his father. What a crock that was. As far as Madison was concerned, Joel Blaine was a bad joke. The last of the useless playboys.

            'What's the matter? Joel said, wondering how he could get her to put out. 'Can't take a compliment?'

            'What happened to your neck?' she asked, pointedly starting at Anton offending red and swollen hickey. 'Girlfriend get a little too.frisky?'

            Joel glowered. That bitch Rosarita. Two rounds with her and her felt like Mike Tyson. Why couldn't a woman like Madison go fore him? Smart, stylish and beautiful, she was the kind of woman he should be with. Not some coked-out married whore like Rosarita Falcon. Although he had to admit that Rosarita was something in bed, horny as a wildcat, with claws to prove it.

            'If you like my lips, how 'bout us going out some time?' he said, with Anton encouraging wink. 'You Anton' me, Maddy, we could make things happen.'

            'Make things happen?' she said, laughing derisively. 'What century are you living in?'

            He didn't like that. Women were all the same, a bunch of bitches, his father had taught him that. And that's about the only thing Leon had taught him. 'Has anyone ever told you you're a balls breaker?' he said with a sharp scowl.

            'Has anybody ever told you you're barking up the wrong woman? She replied coolly.

            'Jesus!' he muttered, turning away.

            Madison reminded herself to have a little talk with Anton about his seating. Surely he knew better than to stick her next to Joel Blaine?

            Why was Joel there anyway? He was a most unlikely guest, hardly on Anton's a list.

            She turned to the man on her other side, Mortimer Marcel, the designer. Mortimer was gay, and always entertaining. A tall, slim man in his early fifties, he was elegance personified. 'You must come visit our showroom some time,' he said, chic as ever in a pinstripe suit with crisp white shirt, pearl-grey tie and diamond cufflinks. 'I'm presenting some divine outfits this year. You'll love everything.'

            'Do I get free clothes?' she asked jokingly.

            'For you, yes,' Mortimer said, taking her seriously. 'You're Anton excellent advertisement.'

            'I am?' she said, surprised. Hmmm first of all she had gorgeous lips, now she was Anton excellent advertisement. Hey, girl, she thought wryly, you're certainly scoring tonight

            She glanced across at the other table, where Jamie was glowing as Kris Phoenix plied her with compliments. Peter was slumped in a chair a few seats away from his wife. He did not look too happy. Next to him was a stick-thin, heroin-addicted supermodel - a girl who was falling to hold his interest.

            Tonight is not Anton's greatest seating triumph, Madison thought. She feigned a yawn. 'I have to leave early,' she whispered to Mortimer.

            'So do I,' he whispered back, indicating his live-in love at the next table. 'Perhaps Jefferson and I can offer you a ride?'

            'Great,' she said, and was relieved to find that Joel had turned his full attention to woman on his other side- a gorgeous black opera singer.

            Poor soul. There was no greater punishment than being hit on by Joel Blaine.

            As soon as they finished dessert she was out of there, sitting in the back of a town car with Mortimer and the black, bald and sexy Jefferson. What a waste, she thought. Why are all the good ones either taken or gay?

            David hadn't liked gay men: they'd threatened his masculinity or some such garbage. She remembered how they'd often argued about his homophobic tendencies. Of course, gay women were fine with him. There were many times he'd tried to persuade her to do it with another girl. To his annoyance she'd always refused. Threesomes were definitely not her scene.

            On reflection, there were quite a few things about David she hadn't liked.

            So why the wasted two years?

            Great sex, she was forced to admit. Great, uncomplicated, satisfying sex.

            'How important do you think sex is?' she asked Mortimer.

            'What?' he said, not quite sure he'd heard her correctly. 'I'm conducting a survey. How important is sex between two people?'

            Mortimer glanced quickly at Jefferson. 'What's your answer?'

            Jefferson grinned. 'Sex, man - it's the most important thing in the world.'

            'I disagree,' Mortimer said, adjusting one of his diamond cufflinks. 'Getting along with somebody is more important, especially when you live together.'

            'How long have you two been a couple?' Madison asked.

            'I discovered Jefferson when he was a mere child,' Mortimer said, patting his boyfriend on the knee. 'Eighteen or nineteen he'd just arrived in America form Trinidad. I was living with Anton older man at the time, so Jefferson and I became friends first.'

            'That's nice,' Madison said.

            'He was my favourite model,' Mortimer said, turning to his significant other. 'Isn't that right, dear?'

            Jefferson grinned again. 'No way, man. You came on to me in the dressing room the first show I did. It was like, "Oh, here we go!" Everybody was laughing about it.'

            'Who's everybody?' Mortimer said huffily.

            'The people who work for you -they know what you're like.'

            'They know what I used to be like,' Mortimer corrected. 'Then you came along, and now I'm a changed man.'

            'Yeah, you'd better believe it!' Jefferson said, with another huge grin. "Cause I don't take kindly to nobody messing around on me.'

            'I'm duly warned,' Mortimer said.

            'So be it,' Jefferson said, and they exchanged a long, intimate look.

            Madison began to feel as if she was in the way. Maybe a cab would've been a better idea.

            'Are you interviewing us for the magazine?' Mortimer asked curiously.

            'No,' she said, shaking her head. 'I was merely thinking about  sexual relationships . You see, I was in one where I hardly had anything in common with the guy. I mean, we didn't even like the same music.'

            'Not good,' Jefferson interjected. 'You gotta get off on the sounds.'

            'Right,' she agreed. 'I'm into soul and jazz, and he was a classical freak. We never read the same books, or watched the same TV programmes. He loved sports. I'm bored by them. I guess we were totally different. '

            'Then what was the big attraction?' Jefferson asked. 'Sex, of course. And now that he's gone I realize that maybe I simply got too comfortable. You know what I mean?'

            'Were you planning on getting married before you broke up with him?' Mortimer asked, ever the practical one.

            'He broke up with me,' Madison explained. 'That's why I feel so kind of. ..like it's unfinished business.' She paused for a moment before continuing. 'Then he ran off and married someone else to make me feel really good.'

            'What an asshole!' Jefferson said.

            'Agreed!' Madison said.

            'How'd you like to see him again?' Jefferson ventured. 'You know, fun times on the side. Do to her what she did to you.'

            'She didn't do anything to me,' Madison said calmly. 'She was merely around when he was ready for something different.'

            'But you're still pretty pissed, huh?' Jefferson said, nodding his bald head like he understood perfectly.

            She laughed, slightly embarrassed because it was true, and she didn't want to be pissed, she wanted to forget all about David once and for all. 'Oh God, I feel like I'm sitting in a shrink's office,' she groaned.

            'Maybe that's what you should do,' Mortimer suggested. 'It certainly helped me. ''No way. I hate shrinks -all they do is sit there on their smug asses, nodding, telling you what you want to hear. Either that or they don't say anything at all. Screw that!'

            'Get yourself to a shrink, girl,' Jefferson said succinctly. 'You need help.'

            Before she could summon up a suitable reply, the car stopped outside her building. She invited them up for a drink, but they declined, which was okay with her because she was tired and edgy and ready to crawl into bed.

            Her dog, Slammer, a large black Labrador, greeted her at the door. Well, he wasn't really her dog, she'd reluctantly agreed to look after him for a friend who'd gone to Australia for a week. The friend had got engaged, and the week had turned into three months.

            In spite of herself, Madison had grown quite fond of the big dog.

            Slammer didn't need walking because she'd given the doorman a key to her apartment and he'd already taken him out, which was good news because she wasn't into late-night strolls with a pooper-scooper for company.

            Wandering into her small kitchen she checked her answering-machine. No messages, so she picked up the phone and called her father.

            Wandering into her small kitchen she checked her answering-machine. No messages, so she picked up the phone and called her father.

            Michael sounded half-asleep, but she didn't care. 'Why you calling so late, sweetheart?' he mumbled. 'Everything okay?'

            'Are you sleeping?'

            A very audible yawn. 'I was.'

            'Sorry,' she said, not sorry at all.

            'What's going on? You sound down.'

            'No, no ...It's simply that I do not appreciate hearing from Anton Couch that you guys are getting an apartment in New York.'

            'Hey, sweetie, I really am a sleep.' A pause. 'Can we talk about this tomorrow?'

            'Sure,' she said, slamming down the phone.

            She couldn't stand it when her father didn't give her his full attention. Michael had always been there for her -unlike her mother, who was a more distant figure in her life. It had always been that way. As far back as she could remember, her mother, Stella, had been this exotic-smelling, glamorous creature she hardly ever saw. As a child she'd been raised by a nanny, then sent to boarding school at eleven; vacations at summer camp; and finally college.

            The day she graduated, Michael had handed her the keys to her own small apartment. It was quite obvious there was to be no going home, and that was fine with her. She loved her parents, although there were times she felt she hardly knew her mother, but that was okay too. Michael more than compensated. He was a dynamic, interesting man, and she was glad he was her father.

            She undressed, got into bed and attempted to read. After a few minutes she found her mind wandering; it was impossible to concentrate.

            Slammer jumped on the bed, snuggling up beside her. She didn't push him off. It was comforting that somebody cared -even if that somebody was only a dog.

            She thought about Anton's dinner and how she'd hated every minute of it. It hadn't been up to his usual standard. Joel Blaine hitting on her. Ugh! And Peter Nova, drunk. Double ugh!

            Tomorrow she'd fix an appointment with Victor's private eye to sort out Jamie's problems. Oh well, that's what friends are for.

            She switched off the light, but after ten minutes realized there was no way she was falling asleep. It was destined to be one of those nights. Maybe Jefferson was right, maybe she did need to see a shrink. Of course, Victor would know the best one in town, but how could she ask him?

            She tossed restlessly, finally gave up and clicked on the television, flicking past several porno stations, marveling at a soft-core movie where the girls' breasts jutted to attention without a sign of gravity. What a bunch of freaks. You didn't see guys running out buying themselves perky silicone balls.

            Silicon balls. What a hilarious thought!

            She began to giggle. Slammer started to pant, a sure sign that he, too, was not ready for sleep.

            Finally she got up and padded into the kitchen where she fixed herself a cheese and ham sandwich with plenty of lettuce and pickles.

            Slammer got the crusts. He was one happy dog. Finally satisfied, they both returned to bed.


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