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Chapter 26. KING PIN

September brought the end of summer amusements, and cooler weather brought the crowds back into the City. I called Lizzy at Loehmann’s and went in for a private fashion show to plump my wardrobe for a new round of what promised to be rousing holiday parties.

I also picked up some author chic outfits for a series of book talks. My fourth book, Double Deceit was doing well in the bookstores, and some recent publicity reenergized interest in my earlier books.

After the summer away, Bobby and I rediscovered our favorite dinner spots and music bars. Night after night, it was “Ciao” Angelo, “Bienvenu” Jacques, and “Konbanwa” Fumito, as we greeted favorite maître d’s across town.

It was great fun to be seen in all the hot spots around the city, on the arm of one of New York’s recognized elite. We even got a photo with caption in the society page of the NY Times: Robert Dangler, Philanthropist and Chairman of RDC, donates $1million at Charitable Trusts gala, seen with Ms. L. Fox (right). That photo earned me congratulatory calls from all three of my children.

A few weeks later, Bobby went to San Francisco on business. I stayed behind to meet deadlines on several press releases, and attend book readings. After a whirlwind summer in the Hamptons, and the welcome back excitement of Manhattan, it felt good to be in my home, especially since home now included an exquisite couch that curved around my living room.

I lounged and read, munched popcorn, and watched late night tv with David (Letterman) and Johnny (Carson). And explored the bare-assed joys of double rubbed Belgian linen, smushing the pink on my overstuffed lilac cushions.

I curled on my side with my finger up my chocha to prolong the intensity of tonight’s high point. As I reflected on my conversation with Annie the night before, an ache in my heart grew and quashed my afterglow. Something she said rankled.

“Oh, mom, I’m happy for you. Bobby is just the distraction you needed these past ten months. I bet you haven’t given Dick Grand a second thought.”

“Dick?” I answered a bit too quickly, “Oh please, Annie. He’s old news, I live in the moment.” And I knew it was a lie the moment I said it.

Bobby Dangler was charming, and sweet and entertaining, and certainly knew how to treat a lady to a good time. Then why did my heart ache? I felt a tweak and a zing, and one name filled my groin and my heart with yearning, Dick Grand. Distractions did just that, distracted. But they didn’t erase the yearning for my King Pin.

Shake it off Lori, I scolded myself, and got up to take a shower. How does that song go? “I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair.” Bobby would be back in a few days, and life would go on.

The next night I was caressing my nipples after a particularly satisfying session of self-gratification, when the phone rang. Without interrupting my ministrations, fingertips soothing and smoothing my little pink nubs, I reached for the receiver on the floor by the couch.

“Hello-oh,” I crooned.

“Lori?” Dick asked.

Nipples snapped to attention as I jumped up and grabbed my robe, suddenly feeling exposed. “Dick?” I couldn’t even play coy and pretend I didn’t recognize his voice.

“Yes. Lori, how are you?” The deep-tones resonated through my heart.

“My goodness, Dick.” I stumbled trying to pull myself together. “I’m fine. How are you?”

“I’m upset, Lori.”

“Upset?” I was starting to feel more in control. “Dick, why are you calling?”

“I’m upset, Lori. I heard you were getting married, and I couldn’t believe you would marry anyone but me.”

My cheeks burned. My heart pounded. I tried to catch my breath and managed to cough into the phone. It was not my most brilliant come back.

“Lori?” He asked.

“Dick,” I said.

“Are you getting married?”

I closed my eyes and drew in a calming lungful before answering, “No Dick, I’m not getting married. But maybe we should talk about this.”

“We should. What are you doing? Can I buy you a drink?”

An hour later, I walked into the bar at Rossini’s. Anton greeted me at the door, “How lovely to see you again, Ms. Fox. May I take your wrap?” He led me to the bar, where Dick waited.

I held my breath in anticipation as he turned to face me. A swank Armani suit smoothed across his strong shoulders. His rakish jaw line. How had I forgotten that 5 o’clock shadow? I wanted to inhale him, fill myself with his musk.

“Lori,” Dick said, standing. He reached for my elbow and leaned forward to place his lips against my cheek. My knees went weak as he held the stool and guided me to sit. I settled in with deliberate care. Blond silky strands fell forward as I tilted my head to brush at a fictitious piece of lint on my LBD. A swoosh of silk stocking whispered as I crossed my legs, and offered plenty of time for his glance to follow the length of my thighs.

I looked up at him through a lock of hair. He smiled and rubbed at the stubble on his cheek, matching my swoosh with a masculine scuff.

“Do you trust me?” He asked. Those chocolate brown eyes melted into me, but I saw a sharpness glinting through and remembered this man knew me better than I knew myself.

“I do.” Green eyes locked on brown eyes. I was not backing down.

Dick turned to the bartender, “Nardo, refill for me, and a Kir Royale for the lady.” A soft smile lit his face, “If that’s still your favorite?”

Doubt? Uncertainty? A quiver swept through me as I realized Dick was unsure how to reignite the heat. Tread lightly, I thought, this is a time for truth. The thrill of renewed pash swelled from my foxhole, over my breasts, to spread across my cheeks in what must have been a lusty blush, because Dick noticed and his smile broadened.

We watched without a word between us as Nardo artfully poured champagne that swirled into the rosy liquid resting at the bottom. Dick’s closeness had me lightheaded on the edge of the barstool, kindled by this intoxicating touchless foreplay. Nardo plopped three raspberries into the champagne and placed it in front of me.

Dick lifted his cocktail glass, then waited for me to reach for the flute. With a nod, never taking his eyes from mine, he toasted, “As you wish.”

As you wish. I can’t tell you how, but as soon as Dick said it, I recognized the quote from a new movie. The farm boy returned home as a mysterious masked hero. He always told the Princess, “as you wish” and she learned that what he meant was, “I love you.”

My mind was spinning. Is that what Dick meant too? Cool down, Lori, I urged myself. Cool down. But he’s my King Pin, I argued against my own admonition.

Warm strong fingers stroked sensuously across my wrist as Dick caressed the back of my hand. “Oh.” A satisfied whisper as sticky goo oozed between my thighs. “Oh.” I wasn’t sure which one of us moaned with the sweet pleasure of skin on skin.

“Dick.” His name on my tongue was a throaty need, a request, a demand, a plea. To break the spell, I pulled my hand from his and reached for the champagne. A sip to sooth aroused vocal cords. He waited. A sip to clear my head and give me time to think. “Dick,” I said again, this time with resolve.

“I’m glad to see you,” he answered.

“Dick,” once more with purpose, “why did you call me?”

Now it was his turn to raise the glass and take time to clear his thoughts. I waited.

“Right into it then,” he sighed, and placed the drink on the bar. “I saw your photo in the paper,” he said. “With Dangler.” I nodded. “I’ve missed you these past months, Lori.” A confession.

“I’ve missed you too.” I took a sip of champagne to deflect the intensity of my feelings.

“You missed me. Then you’re not marrying Bobby?”

“Not marrying.” I shook my head slowly left to right, letting my blond waves sway seductively.

“Lori, why aren’t we together?” He genuinely sounded baffled.

“You tell me, Dick. Why aren’t we together?” It was ingenuine, and I immediately felt ashamed of falling into the game.

“Because I didn’t buy you a mink coat?” He was so full of boyish charm, so disarmed. I wasn’t fooled for a minute.

“You didn’t buy me a mink coat.” I repeated and confirmed.

“Did it mean so much?”

“It meant so much, Dick. So much more than a credit card and a coat,” I reminded.

“I let you down,” he said.

“You let me down,” I repeated and confirmed.

“Can I make it up to you? Can I buy you a mink coat?”

“A coat? Really, Dick?” I asked, anger bubbling. “More games? Is that how you want to play it?” I twisted in the stool, searching for my clutch.

“Lori,” he said, the calm gone from his voice.

“Lori what?” I shot back, ready to slide off the stool.

“No, not games. Lori, stay.” He held my elbow to steady me.

“I think I deserve the truth. Answers to questions. No more run around. If you’re not up for that, Dick, then I’m not up for this.” I swirled my index in a circle, “Whatever this is.”

“You want to know how old I am? Lori, it’s a number.”

“Then why the secrets?”

“No secrets, not from you,” he conceded, knowing that hesitation was his undoing. “I’m fifty-eight. Date of birth April 3rd, 1930.”

“That’s a truth.” I agreed, startled to learn he’s fourteen years my senior. But I wanted answers to all the questions he had circumvented and diverted. “Never married? Confirmed bachelor?”

“Lori, okay, I was married once thirty years ago for fifteen minutes.” He soft-pedalled.

“You were? To Barbara?”

“Yes, as I told you.”

“No, as you didn’t tell me. Or is that what “almost married” means?” I said, remembering our conversation from a long time ago.

“She conned me,” he said. I arched my brows in skepticism. “She misrepresented herself, and when I found out, I paid her a lot of money on condition of never hearing from her again. Lori, it was pointless, it was money she wanted and money she got. I never looked back.”

“It was still a lie between us, Dick.” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “Are you okay?”

Oh no, Mr. Grand, I heard my own voice clamor in my head. Oh you of the great big dick and the sensual touch. You who raised my hopes and dreams, and still all I want is that King Pin deep inside me. I felt flushed and badly needed to cool down. “Can I get a glass of water?”

Dick caught Nardo’s attention. “Ice water,” he said, and pointed to me. We both took a moment to breathe and think. A sip of icy cold slid down my throat. I swallowed in relief, letting the tension flow away. I suddenly felt that I had heard all the hidden secrets I needed or wanted to hear. I took another sip and steadied myself to ask the follow up question.

“Dick, what did you say to me on the phone? What did you call to offer me? A coat?”

He looked at me a long moment, trying to penetrate the carapace I wore to protect myself. He reached for the martini on the bar, thought better of it and turned back to me.

“I said I couldn’t believe you would marry anyone but me.”

“Marry you?” It was all I could do to retain my composure. The climax I yearned for was in front of me. “I can’t be with you without truth between us. I’m the best you’ve ever had, Mr. Grand, but I’m not arm candy.”

I saw his shoulders relax, his hands loosed their grip. It seemed the truth had indeed freed him. I realized I wasn’t the only one who shielded myself from past hurts.

“You are the best I ever had, Lori. The very best.” He smiled, and teased, “Arm candy too. I love walking into a room with you on my arm.”

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