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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 Six

            'What?' Rosarita shrieked bad-temperedly, starting at Dex, who stood in the front hall blocking her way. It occurred to her that maybe he'd found out about her and Joel, and she was all set with a thousand excuses. Not that she needed excuses- but until this was over she had to keep up some kind of show.

            'Got a surprise,' Dexter said.

            'Good or bad?' she snapped, cagey as ever.

            'Good.'

            'Then perhaps I can come in the fucking apartment,' she said, attempting to push past him.

            'Don't swear,' he admonished her, in a fierce whisper.

            Maybe, just maybe he'd landed the lead role in a major movie and was about to tell her. Wouldn't that be something?

            She could dream, couldn't she?

            Suddenly Dexter jumped to one side, making Anton extravagant gesture with his left arm. And, to Rosarita's horror, there stood Martha and Matt Cockranger, his goddamn parents.

            'Shit!' The word slid out of her mouth before she could stop it. 'What in hell are they doing here?' nearly followed, but she was able to refrain from actually saying it aloud.

            'Hello, dear,' said Martha, a plump, faded blonde in a lime-green polyester pant-suit, with jangly shine- stone earrings and white plastic open-toed sandals. 'How lovely to see you.'

            Rosarita was still in shock as Matt stepped forward, giving her an all-encompassing hug. Dex's dad was a florid-faced man in his mid-fifties, with close-cropped grey hair and faded blue eyes. Once handsome like his son, he'd been beaten into submission by the passing years. Plus he had a huge protruding gut -solid as a football.

            'How's our Dick's -' he began.

            'Dexter,' Dexter interrupted, frowning at his father.

            'How's our Dexter's little girl?' Matt corrected himself quickly, wary of his famous son's wrath.

            For once in her life, Rosarita was speechless. This was a nightmare. What had she done to deserve a visit from the Cockrangers?

            'Mom, Dad, I didn't tell Rosarita you were coming,' Dexter said, beaming. 'She's kind of overcome. You know how much she loves you.'

            Oh, yes, Dex, pour it on. How could he do this to her? How could he?

            'They're staying with us, honey,' he continued. 'I had Conchita fix up the guest room.'

            'You did?' she croaked, wishing nothing more than an immediate shower and a long night of uninterrupted sleep.

            'Isn't it a neat surprise?' Dexter said, squeezing her arm. 'I knew you'd be pleased.'

            'I'm. ..I'm. ..shocked,' she stammered. Then turning to his big, blustery dad, she added, 'How'd you get away from your job, Matt?'

            'Took a three-week leave of absence,' Matt replied proudly. 'Everyone at work watches our boy on Dark Days. Makes me something of a celebrity back home.'

            Three weeks! This was getting worse every minute. Goddamnit! She asked for a divorce and the mother- fucker flew in his parents! Unreal!

            'We wanted to be sure to spend plenty of time with you,' Martha said. 'Remember when you came to see us before you were married? The family is still talking about your visit.'

            'Yes,' Matt agreed, rubbing his hands together. 'And I'm looking forward to getting together with that dad of yours. He promised to show us the town.'

            Oh, that was rich. How about a tour of all the strip clubs and a few drop-ins at Mob-connected restaurants? Matt and Martha would fit right in.

            'I wish I'd known you were coming,' Rosarita said, struggling for something to say. 'I would've planned dinner.'

            'That's all right,' Dexter said Mr I've--got-it- all-under-control. 'I made a reservation at Twenty- one.'

            Valiantly she tried to keep her scowl down to a minimum. 'You did?'

            'Eight o'clock.'

            'Eight o'clock,' she repeated.

            'So let's all get cleaned up and meet in the living room at seven thirty,' Dexter said.

            'Should I wear a tie?' Matt worried.

            'Can I wear a pant-suit?' Martha asked anxiously.

            Rosarita couldn't stand it. Her life was turning to shit right before her very eyes.

***

            Somehow Rosarita got through dinner, seething all the while. They were not given a good table at the restaurant, and she could understand why. Matt and Martha Cockranger had suburbia written all over them, and apparently the name Dexter Falcon meant nothing.

            She didn't mind that they were shown to a lousy table, because the truth was she didn't wish to be seen with them. Christ! Going out with Chas to one of his gangster hang-outs would be better than this. In fact, anything would be an improvement.

            So far she had not had Dex alone. When she did, she planned on giving him an earful. How dare he invite his parents to stay without consulting her? Especially when he knew she'd been talking divorce.

            The way he acted it was as if they were the happiest' I couple in the world. Was he losing it?

            She spent the better part of the dinner worrying that Joel might come in and spot her, although everyone else appeared to be having a wonderful time. Martha downed two vodka martinis in a row and promptly got tipsy. Matt ordered several beers and kept jumping up to visit the men's room, while Dex had a big stupid grin on his big handsome face all night. Boy, was he living in Dreamland.

            On their way out, a female customer stopped Dex and asked him for his autograph. It made Matt and Martha's night. It put Rosarita in an even worse mood than before. Didn't the stupid fan standing there with a pen and a dopey look on her moon face realize that he was nothing but a stupid nobody well on his way to nowhere?

            Rosarita squelched a strong desire to scream. Why did she have to stand for this crap? Why couldn't her father co-operate and arrange to have Dex whacked, thereby putting an end to this charade?

            'It was such a lovely evening, dear,' Martha enthused, when they got back to the apartment. 'You make my little boy so happy. It truly warms my heart.'

            Oh, God, was she going to have to face Martha at the funeral? Would she be forced to play the bereaved widow and pretend to be desolate?

            The moment she and Dex were alone she started a litany of complaints. 'What do you think you're doing?!' she shrieked. 'Inviting your goddamn parents without checking with me first. This is unfucking acceptable.'

            'Why are you so upset?' Dexter asked blankly. 'You've always told me you love my parents.'

            'When did I ever say that?'

            'When we first visited them. Remember? Before we were married.'

            'Ha! Before we were married I said a lot of things I wouldn't say now.'

            'You did?'

            Was he obtuse or what? God had given him exceptional looks, but He sure as shit hadn't given him any brains.

            'Listen to me,' she said, spitting her words out very slowly, making sure he heard every single one. 'You don't seem to get it. I ...want. ..a ...divorce. That means I do not intend to sit around playing nice with your parents.'

            'You're a bitch, you know that?'

            'Yes,' she said spitefully. 'I know that.'

            'You're certainly not the girl I married.'

            'Hey, when I married you, I thought you were on your way to being a movie star for Crissakes, not a TV hack.'

            'I suppose that's why you married me, huh?'

            'Yes, as a matter of fact, that's exactly why I married you. I expected we'd move into a big Beverly Hills mansion and mix with all the other movie stars.' She threw him a stony glare. 'You haven't lived up to your side of the bargain, Dex.'

            'I didn't know we had a bargain,' he countered. 'However, we are married, Rosarita, and I refuse to give you a divorce.'

            'You do, huh?' she said, her tone getting shriller by the minute. 'Well, let me tell you this -if you don't agree to a divorce, you'll be very sorry indeed.'

            'Is that a threat?'

            'Sounds suspiciously like one, doesn't it?'

            He stared at the woman he'd given his name to. How could she be so cold? Surely this wasn't the same sweet girl he'd walked down the aisle with? Where had that darling girl gone?

            'I thought we were planning a family,' he ventured sadly.

            'For the number of times you get it up a week, we're lucky to have a fucking cat!' she responded.

            'My call is five a.m. every day,' he said evenly. 'I need my sleep.'

            'Weekends too?' she sneered.

            'Are you saying we don't make love enough?'

            'I'm saying we never do it, and when we do, it's always in the missionary position.' She placed her hands on her hips, glaring at him accusingly. 'Do I look like a fucking missionary to you?' He shook his head. 'I thought you were such a swinger,' she continued, her voice one long, monotonous whine. 'Didn't you fuck your way through a bunch of horny models before we were married?'

            'I wish you wouldn't use language like that,' he objected.

            'When did you turn so holier than thou?' she said tartly. 'I married this hunk with his dick on show all over Times Square, now look at you.'

            'It wasn't on show,' he objected. 'I was wearing underwear. '

            'Give me a fucking break,' she jeered. 'Everyone saw your package. And I must say it looked pretty damn good up on that billboard. It got me, didn't it?'

            'I've never done nudity.'

            'No?' she snapped back. 'How about privately for dear old Mortimer?'

            'Absolutely not,' Dexter said, his face reddening.

            'He's gay, isn't he?' she taunted. 'He discovered you, didn't he? So don't tell me you didn't have to suck his dick to get where you are today. Not that it's very far, but I suppose you are a successful model. You should've stayed one.'

            'It was you who wanted me to start acting.'

            'It was me, was it? C"mon. You were forever watching those movies with Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford. You always wanted to be exactly like them. So tell me, Dex, why aren't you?'

            'I will be, one of these days,' he said, truly believing. 'In a pig's ear.' She snorted derisively.

            'Look,' he sighed, 'all I'm asking is for you to be nice to my parents while they're here. If you can do that, then, when they leave - if it's what you still want -we'll talk about divorce.'

            She didn't believe him, but what else could she do?

            'Okay,' she said. 'Deal. But it's not a twenty-four-hour thing, I've got to get out and breathe.'

            'Be nice to them,' he repeated. 'Especially my mother. She thinks the world of you.'

            'Yeah, yeah,' she said. 'I'll take Martha to Saks and let her loose with my credit card - is that nice enough?'

            He didn't believe her, but what else could he do?

   


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