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Authors: Noel Amos

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BOOK: Lust on the Loose
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'And did you
consider that an enticing prospect, Ms Crisp?'

She ignored
the question. 'I wouldn't have thought entertaining prostitutes in
office hours would enhance your business.'

'Correction.
That was a valued client.'

'Really? It
looks as if your friend forgot her fee.' Katherine picked up the
envelope of bank notes from the middle of Billy's desk. In doing so
she revealed beneath it a photograph - it was Billy's favourite bum
shot - evidently a parting souvenir from Patsy. The solicitor
dropped the envelope as if it had bitten her.

'I can see I'm
still your detective of choice, Ms Crisp.'

'You disgust
me, if you want to know.'

'It's nice to
know your affections are constant.'

'Your phone's
not working.'

'I've been cut
off. Won't you sit down?'

'No, I don't
know what I might catch. Get dressed, if you want a job. I'll meet
you downstairs. I'm not staying here to be polluted.'

 

Settling
himself into the passenger seat of her white Golf - brand new,
top-of-the-range, he observed, doubtless with clean ashtrays - he
said, 'If I'm so despicable, how come you make use of my
services?'

'Because, Mr
Dazzle, if your drain is blocked you need a plumber who doesn't
mind getting his hands dirty.'

'And I suppose
you've got a bunged-up drain for me to tackle? I have noticed that
all your jobs seem to involve me bugging someone's bedroom or
stealing their personal correspondence.'

'Not this
time, I hope. My client is very respectable.'

'So?'

'She is a
highly successful show-business representative with an office in
Mayfair.'

'Oh God, a
bloody agent. This is not a blocked-drain situation, it's a
cesspit.'

Ms Crisp cut
inside a taxi as she accelerated into Berkeley Square. 'If you
don't want the job, Mr Dazzle, you can walk back. But I'd suggest
that a so-called businessman who can't pay his phone bill can't
afford to pick and choose. Besides, you'll adore Imogen. She's the
kind of inspirational woman who will be a good influence on
you.'

He laughed
without much joy. Recently women had only inspired him to spend
money, shed tears and lose sleep.

'There are
some kinds of influence,' he said, 'that I can do without.'

She parked the
car outside a solid and imposing Victorian mansion with brass
plaques on the door. The only dirt on the pavement was a poodle
turd. They had arrived in the heart of Mayfair.

Billy was
smiling. In reality he had no objections, he was already
calculating his Mayfair-sized fee.

 

Almond Associates oozed wealth and class: a fashion-plate
receptionist sat in a large anteroom with high ceilings,
wedding-cake mouldings, marble fireplaces and mahogany panelling -
all doubtless polished and perfumed and prettified on a daily
basis. The office of Imogen Almond herself was on the first floor
and reached by a staircase that would have graced the set of
The Merry Widow
.

Imogen was
waiting for them at the door. Cool, slim fingers pressed Billy's in
a firm handshake.

'Hello, Mr
Dazzle,' she said. 'Do you always walk around with lipstick on your
nose?'

Billy gulped.
In her high heels she was as tall as he was and a pair of wide-set
eyes of limestone grey bored directly into his. She was in her
early forties but with barely a wrinkle to show for it. Blonde,
elegant and expensively clad in caramel cashmere, she was as
immaculately groomed as a champion show-jumper. Billy fancied her
rotten immediately.

'Katie,
darling,' said this imposing presence, 'why don't you pour us all a
glass of wine so we can break the ice?'

Ms Crisp
positively dimpled to be so addressed and jumped to fiddle with a
bottle and some glasses standing on a low table in front of a sofa
and a straight-backed dining chair. Obviously this was where the
get-to-know-you process was to take place. Billy sat as instructed,
surreptitiously dabbing at his nose with a tissue and observing La
Crisp in a new light. In all their dealings he had never seen her
smile before; it brightened her up no end. His regard for the woman
who had induced this reaction was climbing.

Imogen Almond
sat next to Billy on the sofa. Ms Crisp handed them both a full
glass and perched herself on the chair opposite them. The elder
woman began to speak.

'I run a very
special business here, Mr Dazzle. I represent a variety of artists
from opera singers and concert pianists to performers whose talents
are less rarefied. I don't have many clients and I don't have a big
staff - despite appearances,' she added, as Billy's gaze flitted
round the vast room. 'I like to keep the whole business of
representation as personal as possible and my clients treat me as a
friend or a sister or a bossy aunt - whatever. Each relationship is
different. With some I run their entire lives, I tell them what to
eat, what to wear and which shoelace to tie first. With others I
just negotiate the deals and tell them where to show up. You get
the picture, Mr Dazzle?'

'Please call
me Billy.' There wasn't much else to say, she hadn't got to the
point yet. Ms Crisp was pouring herself another glass of wine,
she'd probably heard all this stuff before.

'There's one
thing I hate. That's parting company with an artist. Sometimes
that's inevitable and, frankly, sometimes that's to my advantage.
But sometimes a client will threaten to leave and I won't want them
to go. Particularly when I have worked very hard to bring them to
the brink of success.'

There was a
pause in the monologue. 'That must be very frustrating,' said
Billy, aware he was expected to react. 'But what can you do about
it?'

'I persuade
them by whatever means are available. Non-violent means, of
course,' she added, seeing a look of alarm cross Billy's face.
'Don't worry, the means I prefer are entirely pleasurable.' And she
placed one long, exquisitely manicured finger on his thigh. 'That's
where you come in.

'Katie,' she
continued, 'bring me the book that's lying on the desk will you,
darling?'

In a rustle of
skirts Katie rushed to do so, handing Imogen a large black album
and reseating herself clumsily on the chair in a manner that
displayed a flash of stockinged thigh. Billy noticed that her glass
was empty again. He placed his own, virtually untouched, on the
table in front of him to accommodate the portfolio which Imogen was
opening across his lap.

'I bet you
know who this is,' she said as she began to leaf through the pages
for his benefit. A tousle-haired blonde with a snub nose and sky
blue eyes strutted her stuff before him. In some shots the hair was
up, in others down, she wore leotards and boxer shorts, T-shirts
wet and dry, mini-skirts and thigh-high boots, she lolled on golden
sands, sprawled on Formula One racing cars, splashed in pools,
clowned around with a cheesy grin and posed deadpan in tiara and
floor-length evening gown. And the one constant in all these images
was the emphasis, by some magic of the flesh or art of the
photographer, on her breasts. To Billy and, he guessed, to every
man who had ever ogled these pictures in papers and magazines, this
girl's breasts seemed to zoom off the page and thrust themselves
into his face. The two-dimensional image seemed to carry
three-dimensional weight. He could feel the warm mass of these
mammaries in his hands, imagine the yielding cushion of flesh
pressing against his chest as he gazed into the void of that
blue-eyed stare, taste the salty sweetness of those perfect
raspberry nipples fed into his mouth after a marathon of
lust...

'Yes,' he said
at last, 'of course I know her, it's Tracy Pert, the tabloids' top
totty for the past three years.'

'Didn't I tell
you, Imogen?' La Crisp spoke for the first time. 'I said he was an
expert on crumpet.'

'What do you
mean?' complained Billy.

'Katie did
mention that you had considerable expertise in certain areas,'
Imogen added.

'What I said was,' Ms Crisp continued loudly, 'that if ever
you went in for
Mastermind
your specialist subject would be bimbos of the
twentieth century.'

Billy stared
at her, more out of surprise than wounded feelings. The solicitor's
glass was empty but so was the wine bottle.

A strand of
dark curly hair had come loose and now coiled prettily down her
long neck, and her skirt had ridden up over her crossed legs to
reveal, praise be, a suspender strap and a flash of porcelain-white
thigh.

She met
Billy's amazed appraisal of her charms with a sudden smile that
turned her usually cross and sulky face into a picture of sweetness
and light. 'I imagine,' she went on, 'that you would be unbeatable
with a subject like that.'

Billy smiled
back. The ballbreaker had been replaced by a tipsy flirt; it was a
hell of an improvement.

'You come
recommended, Billy,' said Imogen. 'Katie thinks very highly of your
talents and I always back her judgement.'

Now the two
women were smiling at one another in a conspiratorial fashion and
Billy began to feel a trifle uneasy. Just what was this funny
set-up?

'But what's
this got to do with Topless Tracy?' he asked. 'Surely you don't
represent her?'

'As it
happens, I do. The glamour industry is a sideline of mine. As well
as the actors and singers and concert performers, I also handle
Tracy.'

'And now,'
chipped in Katie, 'Imogen would like you to handle Tracy, too.'

'Very neatly
put, darling,' said Imogen.

'Eh?' said
Billy stupidly.

'Go on, Billy
Dazzle, admit it,' said Katie, 'you'd just love to get your hands
on her chest.'

'Well, of course I would. So would ten million readers of
the
Daily Dog
. I'm
only human.'

'That's a
matter of opinion,' muttered Katie with a return to her accustomed
tartness.

'You see,
Billy,' cut in Imogen, 'I have been having a little trouble with
Tracy and I've come to the conclusion I need some outside help. As
you know, she has been a fantastically successful model for the
past few years but a career in the glamour business is necessarily
short-lived.'

'Gravity
dependent, you mean.'

'Precisely. So
I have been steering Tracy in other directions. Into fashion, into
music, into acting. She'll never be Liza Minnelli but she's not
without talent.'

Billy said
nothing.

'I've been
quite successful on her behalf and now I'm on the brink of a
breakthrough movie deal for her. But - and I admit this to you in
strictest confidence - we have had something of a falling out. She
won't talk to me and neither will her family. I suspect she's
fixing herself up with another agent. I need to know what's going
on before I set up a meeting with Orlando Verdi. Do you know who I
mean?'

Billy nodded.
That fat piece of pizza had put together more movie deals than a
jumbo jet of Hollywood executives. The problem was that all the
films stank. But who cared about that? Obviously not Imogen.

'And you need
me to find her?' asked Billy, light suddenly illuminating this
unlikely interview.

'Not really. I
know exactly where she is, she's staying at the Asquith round the
corner while she's shooting a walk-on for TV and pretending she's
already a big star. I'd like you to see her for me.'

'But why can't
you go?'

'I've already
told you. We've had rather a big row. She won't see me or Katie.
She won't return calls. We've been there, we've tried and as time
is short we've decided we need a different approach.'

'A
masculine
approach,' said Katie. 'Tracy has fairly predictable taste.
She likes tall slim men with designer stubble in Armani suits and
loud ties.'

'Men with dark
wavy hair, pale blue eyes and the wherewithal to pour champagne
down her throat all day,' said Imogen.

'And the
stamina to keep a stiff cock up her all night,' added Katie in her
most business-like tones.

Imogen placed
her hand on Billy's arm, taking the material of his jacket between
thumb and forefinger. 'You do have an Armani suit, I take it?'

 

As they left
the building, Billy hissed angrily in Katie's ear. 'You've got some
nerve. Don't you realise I'm a professional private detective. I'm
not some bloody stud-for-hire.'

She turned to
face him on the steps. 'In that case, why didn't you say no?'

'Because—' He
wanted to explain that the pair of them had so unnerved him that
only now had he realised precisely what he had agreed to do.

'Don't tell me
that an unscrupulous opportunist like you wouldn't kill for a job
like this. If you ask me, you should be paying us.'

'But you
are
paying me, aren't you?'

She made no
direct reply but began peeling £50 notes from a wad she had taken
from her briefcase. 'This is for a retainer and the suit,' she
said.

'That reminds
me, what with my phone being cut off...'

She peeled off
more notes and thrust the bundle into his hand. 'All right. Pay
some bills. I'll keep account for Imogen. If you do this properly
there are a few other tasks you may be able to help her with.'

'Really?'
Billy gratefully pocketed the cash as she turned from him and
walked briskly to her car. Obviously he had now been dismissed.

Billy watched
her retreating back with interest. He had never noticed that little
wiggle in her walk before. As she bent to put the key in the lock,
her buttocks rounded enticingly beneath the constriction of the
tight grey skirt.

BOOK: Lust on the Loose
11.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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