Read Where Love Has Gone Online

Authors: Harold Robbins

Tags: #Fiction, #Action & Adventure

Where Love Has Gone (8 page)

BOOK: Where Love Has Gone
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“No, of course not,” he said. He looked at her shrewdly. “If we made the agreement, who would pay the guarantee?”

“My daughter, of course.”

“It might happen that she wouldn’t gross enough to make it worth her while.”

“I doubt that would worry her.” The old lady smiled. “Nora is a wealthy woman in her own right. She has an income of more than a hundred thousand a year from a family trust.”

Sam stared at her. He had known that Nora had money but he’d never realized it was anywhere near that much. “I’m curious about one thing, Mrs. Hayden. Have you talked to Nora about this?”

She nodded. “Of course, Mr. Corwin. I wouldn’t have discussed it with you unless I had Nora’s full consent.”

Sam took a deep breath. He should have known that. But he couldn’t keep himself from asking another question. “Then why didn’t she speak to me herself?”

“Nora felt lit would be better if you and I discussed it first,” the old lady replied. “Then, had you not agreed, her relationship with you would not have been disturbed.”

Sam nodded. “I see.” He fumbled in his pocket for his pipe and put it in his mouth thoughtfully. “Of course, you both realize that if I undertake this job, my decision on all business matters would be final?”

“Nora has the greatest regard for both your integrity and acumen, Mr. Corwin.” “You’ve just made a deal, Mrs. Hayden.”

“Nora will be very pleased.”

“Where is she? There are a number of things we’ll have to discuss.”

“I’ll have Charles call her,” Mrs. Hayden said. “I believe she’s in the studio.”

She pressed a button and the butler appeared in the doorway. She asked him to call Nora and turned back to Sam. Her voice was deceptively gentle. “I too am very pleased, Mr. Corwin. It will be a great comfort to me to know that someone besides myself is concerned with Nora’s welfare.”

“You can be sure that I’ll do my best, Mrs. Hayden.”

“I’m sure that you will,” she said. “I won’t pretend that I always understand my daughter. She’s a very strong-willed person. I don’t always approve of her behavior.”

Sam didn’t answer, just sat there sucking at his pipe and looking at her. He wondered just how much she really knew about Nora. Her next statement made it clear that there was very little that she didn’t know.

“I imagine I might be considered old-fashioned in many ways,” she said, half apologetically. “But at times my daughter seems—shall I say—quite promiscuous?”

Sam studied her cautiously for a moment. “May I speak frankly, Mrs. Hayden?”

She nodded.

“Please understand, I’m neither defending Nora nor condemning her. But I think it’s most important that you and I understand what we’re talking about.”

She was watching him as carefully as he had watched her. “Please go on, Mr. Corwin.”

“Nora is no ordinary person,” he said. “She’s highly talented, perhaps a genius. I don’t know. She’s finely strung, acutely sensitive and highly emotional. She needs sex the way some people need liquor.”

“Are you trying to tell me politely that my daughter is a nymphomaniac, Mr. Corwin?”

“That’s not what I’m trying to say, Mrs. Hayden,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “Nora is an artist. She finds both a certain stimulus and an escape in sex. She told me once that it helped bring her closer to people, to know more about them, to understand them better.”

The old lady was still watching him. “Have you and Nora—?” She left the question hanging in the air.

He met her eyes squarely. He nodded without speaking.

She sighed softly and looked down at her desk. “Thank you for your honesty, Mr. Corwin. I didn’t mean to pry into your personal relationships.”

“It’s been over for a long time,” he said. “I found that out the last time she came to my place.” “That was about six months ago? Just about the time of her show?”

He nodded. “She seemed very upset. She’d been crying. It seems that young major who drove her over had been pretty rough on her.”

“Major Carey,” she said. “He seemed such a nice young man.”

“He said something that upset her. Anyway, I sent her home in a cab a half hour after she arrived.”

“I wondered why she got home so early that night. I’d like to ask one favor of you, Mr. Corwin.” “Anything I can do, ma’am.”

“Nora has a high regard for your opinion. Help me—help her keep out of trouble.” “I’ll try, Mrs. Hayden. For all our sakes.”

“Thank you,” she said. Suddenly she seemed very tired. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. “Sometimes I think the best thing for her would be to get married. Perhaps then she would feel different.”

“It might be.” But inside, Sam knew better. Girls like Nora never changed, married or not.

They sat silently until Nora came into the room. “Mr. Corwin has agreed to our proposition,” her mother said.

Nora smiled. She held out her hand. “Thanks, Sam.”

“Don’t thank me,” he said. “You may be sorry before all this is over.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Okay,” he said, his voice brisk and businesslike. “Now—what are you working on?” “I’m getting ready for a show that Arlene Gately is giving in April.”

“Cancel it.”

“What on earth for?” “We can’t afford it.” “But I promised—”

“Then you’ll have to break your promise,” Sam said gruffly. He turned to her mother. “Make out a check for ten thousand dollars. Nora and I are going to New York.”

“New York?” Nora asked. “Why?”

Her mother was looking questioningly at Sam. “New York,” he repeated. “I want Aaron Scaasi to give her a shot in April.”

“I—I couldn’t do that.”

“Why not?” he asked harshly.

“Because Arlene has always been my agent. She’s put on every show I’ve ever had. I can’t just walk out on her after all this time.”

“You can and you will. Arlene Gately may be very nice but she’s nothing but a small-time, small-town dealer and you’ve outgrown her. Aaron Scaasi is recognized as one of the leading dealers in the world. A show at his gallery will do more toward getting you that award than anything else right now.”

“But how do you know he’ll do it?”

“He’ll do it.” Sam smiled. “Your check for ten thousand dollars says that he will.”

All this, of course, took place while I was still in the Pacific.

I was a big man for the Somerset Maugham kind of story. The sweating, steaming jungle lulling the white man into a torpor, then seducing him with the aid of a lovely brown-skinned maiden to a happy way of life never dreamed of in dear old Blighty. It never was like that for me. I guess I was in the wrong jungle.

It was always cold and dank at the airstrip north of Port Moresby, and no matter how many layers of clothing you wore, the chill ate its way into your bones. Your teeth always chattered, and your nose always ran, and it was easier to catch the flu than malaria. We spent most of our spare time huddling around the pot-bellied stove in the pilots’ ready room, debating the serious tactical aspects of the war—like would Pat make the Dragon Lady before she copped Terry’s cherry, or would Daisy Mae ever succeed in freeing Li’l Abner of Momism.

In between these high-level discussions, we ran out of our planes when the siren shrieked and

went up and came down again, then sent our drawers to the little black Fuzzies who did our laundry so that we would be ready for the next flight. There is something very unaesthetic about dying in stained underwear. Almost un-American you might say.

I made it to Lieutenant Colonel the hard way. My flight commander was shot out of the sky in front of me and I was moved up into his place. I remember what I thought when they swapped my gold oak leaves for silver. Like everybody dies, now it’s my turn.

But I’d been lucky. I still remember the surprise I’d felt at the sudden needle-like pain lacing up my back. The instrument panel disintegrated before my eyes as the Jap Zero spun out over my head and into the water, while I tried to get away from the one beneath me. I don’t know how I made it back to the airstrip. I seemed to be floating in a sea of jelly, and then the plane hit the ground and rolled over. Somewhere in the distance I heard someone yelling and felt hands pulling at me. They were warm hands, comforting hands, even though they were trying to take me away from the beautiful heat that surrounded me.

I closed my eyes and gave myself up to them. It was about time I got to that jungle I’d read so much about. I smiled to myself.

This was more like it. I was lying on the beach at Bali Bali and a thousand bare-breasted beauties all looking like Dorothy Lamour were parading up and down and the only problem I had was to decide which one of them I would choose for that evening.

This was one dream I would never give up. MacArthur would just have to learn to get along without me.

I was shipped back stateside as soon as I was well enough to travel.



I didn’t learn that Nora had won the Eliofheim Award until the second week in July, and then only when I happened to see her picture on the cover of

Since February, when I’d been hit, I’d put in five weeks in a hospital in New Guinea, then seven more in the Veterans’ at San Diego, after which I’d been discharged as good as new. I had a thirty- day leave coming before returning for reassignment, so I went back to La Jolla, renting a small boat on which I could eat and sleep and begin to soak up a little sun.

I’d been dozing on a deck chair when the thud of a bundle hitting the deck woke me. I opened my eyes to see a boy standing at the edge of the dock grinning at me. I made it a point not to read the daily papers. I’d had enough of the war. But I had asked the newsstand to drop off a few magazines every week.

I stuck my hand in my pocket and spun a half-dollar in the air. He caught it with all the grace of Joe DiMaggio pulling down a high fly ball.

I leaned over and picked up the bundle and pulled the string that held it together. The magazines slid to the floor and I picked up the first one that my hands touched.

I stared at the picture of the oddly familiar-looking dark-haired girl on the cover, and I remember thinking how nice it was that they’d finally gotten off the war kick. Then I realized why the girl seemed so familiar.


I looked at the picture again and the old itch came back. The luminous dark eyes, the oddly sensual mouth over the proud, almost haughty, chin. It was like yesterday, though it had been almost a year since I’d seen her.

I opened the magazine. There were more pictures inside. Nora working in the small studio out in back of her mother’s house. Nora smoking, while sketching out an idea. Nora sitting at a window, her face silhouetted by the light behind her. Or stretched out on the floor, listening to a record player. I began to read.

The slim Miss Hayden, who looks more like a model than an artist, leaves no doubt in your mind where she stands in regard to her work.

“Sculpture is the one true life form in art,” she maintains. “It is three-dimensional. You can walk around it, see it from any angle, touch it, feel it as you would any living thing. It has shape, form and reality and it exists in life all around you. You can see it in any stone, in the flowing

grain of every piece of wood, in the tensile, yielding strength of every strip of metal.

“It remains only for the artist to bring forth this buried vision from the raw material, to fuse it into shape, to breathe it into life …”

I could hear her voice echoing in my ear.

I turned back to the cover of the magazine and studied her picture. That did it. I dropped the magazine to the deck and got to my feet. So I changed my mind. What difference did it make if it was a year later?

I stood in the cramped, narrow telephone booth at the foot of the dock, hearing the phone ring at the other end of the line in San Francisco. Her mother answered.

“This is Luke Carey,” I said. “Remember me?”

The old lady’s voice was clear and firm. “Of course I do, Colonel. How are you?” “I’m fine. Mrs. Hayden. And you?”

“I have never been ill a day in my life,” she answered. “I read about you in the papers. That was a very brave thing you did.”

“The newspapers made too much of it. I really had no choice. There was nothing else I could


“I’m sure there was more to it than that. But we can discuss that at another time.” I could hear

her voice soften. “I’m sorry that Nora isn’t here. I know that she will be disappointed.” “Oh,” I said. “And I did so want to congratulate her on winning the Eliofheim Award.”

“That’s why she went away. The poor child hasn’t had a moment’s rest since the announcement was made. I insisted that she go down to La Jolla to get away from it.”

“Did you say La Jolla?”

“Yes.” A sudden awareness came into her voice. “Where are you calling from?” “La Jolla. I’m spending my leave down here.”

“Isn’t that a fortunate coincidence, Colonel? Of course, now I do remember seeing something in the papers about your being there. Nora’s at the Sand and Surf Club.”

“I’ll call her,” I said.

“If you can’t reach her, Colonel, get in touch with Sam Corwin. He’ll know where to find her.” “Sam Corwin?”

“Yes,” she said. “You remember him. The newspaperman friend of Professor Bell’s. He’s taken over the management of my daughter’s affairs. The poor child has no head for business.”

The old lady’s voice changed again. “I do hope we won’t have to wait another year to see you, Colonel. I still feel we have something to discuss. It seems to me that Hayden and Carruthers would be an excellent place for you to resume your career.”

“Thank you for thinking of me, Mrs. Hayden. We’ll talk about it real soon.” “You’re welcome, young man. Goodbye.”

The phone clicked and I hesitated a moment before putting in another nickel. This time Corwin answered.

“Is Miss Hayden there?” I asked. “Who’s calling?”

“Luke Carey.”

It seemed to me that his voice grew friendlier. “Colonel Carey?” “Yes.”

“Just a moment, please. I’ll see if I can find her.”

BOOK: Where Love Has Gone
6.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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