Hard Boiled, Part 2

Previously: Part 1 [A]

Second and final part. Rated X.

* * * * *

Part Two: Intrigue!

Once she had changed into more suitable clothes, Ashley headed over to Stanley’s apartment. On the drive there, she couldn’t stop herself from whistling a happy tune. Maybe when the case was through, Spencer Carlin would reconsider her offer of dinner — Ashley was a realist and knew that Spencer could just be reacting to her dented pride and would get over it — but she had still propositioned her. And that wasn’t too shabby.

Her good mood, however, didn’t blind her to the fact that she was being followed. It was Flaherty. She’d recognise his ugly mug anywhere. She pulled into the nearest parking lot she could see, got out of her car and waited for him to pull up alongside her.

He rolled down his window and looked her up and down. “You looking to get yourself into trouble again, missy?”

She folded her arms across her chest. “What’s it to you?”

Flaherty had a face which looked like it had been hit repeatedly by a heavy implement. It was wide, and covered in strange bumps and hollows. His pug nose had been broken and re-broken several times, and his forehead had a wide scar running along the line of his thinning hair.

He was not often mistaken for Gregory Peck.

“I’ve joined the Salvation Army and I’m on the lookout for souls to save,” he said, moving his ever-present cigar to the corner of his mouth.

“Don’t crack wise, Flaherty. Why are you tailing me?”

“Is that what I’m doing?”

“Looks that way.”

“And why do you think I’d be doing that?”

She shrugged. “I have no idea.”

He stepped out of his car and matched her stance, leaning against his rear door and folding his arms. “You want to stonewall me, fine. I’ve got all day and all night too, but I bet you have places to be. Illegal places that some of my buddies on the force would love to know. What say I call them and let them know?”

“I’m not aware that taking a drive on a summer’s evening is a crime, Officer,” she smirked.

“Now who’s cracking wise, kiddo?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Why don’t you enlighten me?”

Flaherty shook his head. He reached inside his sports coat. Seeing Ashley tense, he said, “Relax, I’m not packing. I just want to show you something.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls.”

He rolled his eyes. “Oh, even if that’s what I was selling, I know you ain’t interested in buying.” He pulled a photograph from his inside pocket. “This is more what you like.”

He handed the picture to her. It was of Spencer Carlin and her in the doorway of the bungalow that afternoon. Their heads were close together. It had been taken from an angle that made it look like they were — or had just been — kissing.

She feigned nonchalance. “So? You’ve caught me talking to my client. Well done. I can see why you made detective. You’re a regular Philo Vance.”

Flaherty didn’t look amused. “Look, I don’t care how you get your kicks, and you can do whatever you like with the hoofers and office gals you usually play with, but this one’s out of your league, girly.”

“My, my. Missy, kiddo and girly — that’s quite the vocabulary you’ve got there. I have a name, Flaherty. To you, it’s Miss Davies.”

“And, to you, Spencer Carlin’s out of bounds, doll.” He over-emphasised the final word.

“She’s my client,” Ashley said slowly, through gritted teeth.

“She’s not your business in any way.”

She passed the picture back to him. “Then tell her that. She paid me cash money and I’m just doing my job.”

“Ah, your job, eh?” Flaherty pocketed the photograph and pulled a notebook out. “Let’s see. In the last few days, you’ve been following Janet Anderson and Stanley Willis. She’s one of ours and he’s her boyfriend, who happens to live only three blocks that-away.” He nodded his head in the direction of the ocean.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she bluffed. “I thought I’d go down to Long Beach Pier, take a ride on the Cyclone. I just love roller coasters, don’t you?”

“That smart mouth’ll get you in real trouble some day, kiddo.” He put the notebook away and tipped his hat further back to wipe his forehead. “You and that partner of yours are okay in my book. You treat people straight up and there’s a lot to be said for that. But Sol ain’t happy with you and I’m here to make sure you don’t make his mood no worse. You can do this the easy way, or I can have you arrested.”

“I’ve not committed any crime!” she exclaimed.

“You don’t think breaking and entering is a crime?”

“I haven’t broken and entered anything.” Yet, she added silently.

Flaherty snorted. “Maybe not tonight, but you were in Janet Anderson’s house yesterday afternoon and I don’t think she’s gonna say that she hired you as a maid.”

Ashley thought for a few moments. She definitely hadn’t been followed, which could only mean that Flaherty had been having Janet’s place watched. That meant he had to have a pretty good idea about everything. She had no doubts that Flaherty could have her arrested and thrown into Lincoln Heights jail. As ex-LAPD, he wouldn’t even need evidence: his friends in uniform would willingly frame her for any crime he wanted.

“All right,” she said finally, “so what does Sol know?”

His face was impassive. Typical cop, giving nothing away. “What does he need to know?”

“Depends on what he already knows,” she snapped back. In response to his amused smirk, she asked, “Well, what does he know about Stanley and Janet?” Phrasing the question that way made her less like she was selling out her client.

He looked like he was debating whether to stonewall further, then said, “They’re running a blackmail number on Spencer Carlin and she’s got you looking into it.”

“Okay.” Spencer wouldn’t be happy that Sol already knew her business. “What else does he know?”

He shook his head. “That’s not how this works. Now you have to give me something.”

“Like?”

“Like whatever you found at Janet’s house.”

She shrugged. “Bubkes.”

Flaherty scowled at her. “Speak English. I ain’t no Polack like your boy, Denisovich.”

“Dennison,” she corrected. Aiden’s family were Russian Jews, not Polish, but she doubted that Flaherty cared about that detail. “Bubkes means literally nothing. I didn’t find anything, not even a wooden nickel down the back of the couch.”

“See? Ain’t that better? Now we’re talking the same language and co-operating.” Flaherty gave her a broad smile.

She didn’t return it.

* * *

Although she lived in one of the garden bungalows at the Chateau Marmont when filming, Spencer Carlin’s actual home was a long drive down the coast, just outside of Newport Beach. It was quite modest in its proportions. Ashley figured there were only three or four bedrooms and she didn’t see any of the fancy accoutrements which other stars used to flaunt their wealth, like croquet lawns or stables. The house was good, honest and solid.

Of course, it was also right on the Pacific Ocean, so it had still probably cost more than Ashley would make in two lifetimes.

The Filipino houseboy showed her into the salon — at least, that’s what he called it. The room was decorated with soft, bright furnishings. Three of the walls held bookshelves, while the fourth was floor-to-ceiling windows with glass doors. The lawns swept down to a set of stone steps leading out of view, possibly to a dock or a private beach. The view was spectacular. On a clear day, you could probably see Catalina Island.

She sat down on a large couch and fidgeted nervously, adjusting and readjusting the hem of her skirt.

The case was essentially over: she had the negatives and copies of the photographs, and Stanley was at least half-way across the country. There was, however, the fact that she didn’t want the case to be over because she wanted an excuse to be around Spencer Carlin some more.

Her hostess breezed into the room, looking every bit the relaxed millionaire star from the fan magazines. She was wearing loose-fitting linen pants and a sleeveless blouse, her face artfully made-up to conceal the fact that it was made-up at all. Her hair was pinned up, showing off her graceful neck. She had that elegant simplicity which can only come from possessing a great deal of money.

“Miss Davies, how lovely to see you.”

Miss Davies? That was hardly the way you addressed someone you were going to ask out to dinner. The accompanying smile that Spencer gave Ashley was brittle and didn’t reach her eyes, either. Her demeanour was polite, not friendly. While Ashley hadn’t necessarily expected open flirting, she hadn’t expecting nothing at all.

“You, too,” she said.

“You have news, I take it?” Spencer said, sitting across from Ashley on an armchair and crossing her feet at the ankles. Every actress and dancer she’d ever known sat in the same way — perched at the edge of their seat, hands clasped in their lap, legs together, ankles crossed — and Ashley suspected that they were taught it by the studios.

She held an envelope out in front of her. “Yes, I recovered your photographs. And the negatives.”

Spencer took the envelope, putting it on the arm of her chair without even looking at it. “Thank you.” She turned her head as her houseboy entered the room and hovered, awaiting instruction. “Would you like coffee or perhaps tea? Or maybe something stronger?” she asked. Ashley shrugged. “Ferdy, we’ll have coffee, I think. And some pastries. Thank you.”

The houseboy gave a little half-bow and disappeared again. He was a man of few words.

“I had thought I might hear from you before now. I understood that you were leaving me the other day to go to Mr Willis’s residence.”

“It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I had to go back yesterday.”

She hadn’t gone to Stanley’s house on the evening she’d met up with Flaherty because she had been persuaded, very much against her better judgement, to wait a couple of days until Flaherty could arrange everything to his liking.

When Stanley had come home the previous evening, he was no doubt surprised to find that there was a cocktail party going on in his apartment to which he hadn’t been invited. Ashley and Flaherty were sitting there, sipping on some fine Scotch that they’d found in his almost-empty kitchen, while some of Los Angeles’ finest stood around, drinking beer.

Flaherty ran the show, explaining to Stanley that it wasn’t an official police visit, that the LAPD were there merely to ensure that he returned some property which belonged to General Consolidated. If the property were to be returned with no funny business, Stanley would be allowed to go on his way — in another city, far away from California, of course — without any real trouble.

It only took a few swift punches to convince him of the merits of co-operation. He handed over a file about four inches thick, full of negatives and photographs. Flaherty passed it to Ashley and asked her to sort them by participant for him while he and his boys had a quiet word with Stanley in his bedroom.

There were both men and women in the photographs. Of course, Janet Anderson was in all of them and the majority of her partners were General Consolidated stars with whom she had worked. Ashley was surprised by only one: a rugged and manly Western star dressed as a baby, complete with pacifier and adult diaper.

There were no photographs of Spencer naked, for which Ashley was incredibly grateful. If she ever got to experience that thrill, she wanted it to be under very different circumstances. And with the full consent of Spencer Carlin.

A much-chastened Stanley, sporting a growing shiner, a broken jaw and a couple of cracked ribs, was taken immediately to the train station by Flaherty’s men. Flaherty, meanwhile, let her keep Spencer’s photographs and negatives, but took the rest with him, no doubt for Sol to consider what to do next. He made no promises about what would happen to Janet. That would be Sol’s decision as well, but he’d want to avoid any hint of scandal. It certainly didn’t bode well for Janet’s cinematic career.

“Well, you must have been successful, as here you are with my property,” Spencer said.

There was something deceptively light about Spencer’s tone that increased Ashley’s discomfort, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

“I’m sorry. I should have called.” She hadn’t because she had felt guilty about working with Flaherty, rather than finishing the job on her own.

“It’s quite all right,” Spencer said. “I’m sure you have many other interesting things to occupy your time.” The statement felt like a challenge.

“There’s nothing more important to me than this case.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

Ashley was now certain: she was being goaded, but for what, she did not know.

“I assure you that it’s true.”

“So,” Spencer said, changing the subject, “what happens now? Do you have a final report?”

She didn’t, even though one of the first things she had done with Spencer’s retainer was to buy a new Underwood for the office to replace the typewriter they had been forced to pawn. “I haven’t written it up yet. I thought you might want to discuss things first.”

“Well, what is there to discuss? I assume our business is now concluded.”

Our business? Dinner was definitely not on the cards.

“Don’t you want the run-down of what happened?” Ashley asked. She wanted to come clean about everything. Spencer deserved to know the whole truth.

“I think I can probably surmise most of the facts. You have returned my property, as requested. May I assume that I will not be hearing from either party in the future, or should I still be concerned?” She reached into the pocket of her slacks and removed her cigarette case. She hadn’t smoked while they were in the bungalow, but had at the Brown Derby, so Ashley assumed it to be a nervous habit.

“Stanley Willis and Janet Anderson won’t be bothering you again.”

“Well, I’m sure you did a very professional job. No doubt you earned every last dime of that retainer.” Spencer walked over to the windows, her back to Ashley, and asked over her shoulder, “On which point, do I owe you anything else or is what you’ve had sufficient?”

“No, you don’t owe us anything,” Ashley replied. She was finding it increasingly difficult to bite her tongue in the face of such latent hostility. “It was a a very generous retainer and you’ll be due money back. I’ll write you up a receipt with the final report.”

“No, no, please, keep it.” Spencer examined the end of her cigarette and blew lightly on it. “You were worth it.”

“Look, lady—”

Ashley was interrupted by the houseboy, Ferdy, coming in with a tray of coffee and some Danish pastries. She remained in silence while he poured two cups and then left.

Taking a calming breath, she stood and said, “Have I done something wrong, because I get the feeling that things between us aren’t exactly swell?”

“Swell?” Spencer’s mouth curled. “No, things are not swell. Things are very far from swell.” She pushed one of the sliding glass doors open and inhaled deeply. “Do you know why I live here? Apart from the ocean air, of course.”

Ashley didn’t answer.

“Privacy. I value my privacy. Not just because of my weakness, I suppose we should call it, but because I don’t like having to sell myself, especially when it’s not even the real me. I don’t like that I don’t own my own life. So, I live here, as far away as I can get, so that I can maintain just one place where it doesn’t matter that I’m Spencer Carlin. Here, I’m just me.”

“I know,” Ashley murmured. She’d seen the uneasiness in those photographs in Spencer’s bungalow, even before they’d discussed how uncomfortable Spencer’s life made her.

“I know you know. And I thought you understood.” She flicked her cigarette out of the open door, watching it land and bounce across the lawn. “You’ve not been my only visitor this morning.”

“Flaherty,” Ashley guessed. She should have known that she couldn’t trust him.

“Oh, no. Not Mr Flaherty at all. Mr Spurck came to see me.”

“Sol came here?” She couldn’t see him making it all the way to Newport Beach. Sol had his family eat meals with him in his office because he found it so hard to leave his beloved studio. And he had a policy of always making his stars come to him to emphasise that he was still their boss, no matter how big they thought they were.

“Yes, he did. He arrived at five-thirty precisely.”

No visit that early in the morning was ever welcome, unless it was the milkman. Sol probably hadn’t been delivering the milk.

“He wanted to discuss you.” She shook her head. “He told me all about how you went straight to Flaherty and sought his help in dealing with Mr Willis. He was also quite insistent that I should have nothing more to do with you. On that point, he was most specific.” She laughed bitterly. “I must say, he presented a very well-argued case for why you were not the sort of person I should associate with. He had his own photographs, I might add.” She stalked over to a small occasional table and picked up some photographs, thrusting them in Ashley’s direction. They were from the same set that Flaherty had confronted her with.

Ashley shrugged. “Flaherty showed me these already. Maybe I’m being slow, but I don’t see how some snaps of us talking is such a big deal. I get that Flaherty made it look like something else was going on, but you and I know there wasn’t.”

“Yes, but Mr Spurck thinks something did. What I don’t get is why he has never raised my personal life with me until you became a part of it.”

Ashley was exasperated, albeit a little pleased that Spencer was admitting that she was a part of her personal life. “Sol likes to control everything in his world, but he can’t control me, so that makes me a threat. As for why he’s never mentioned anything before — hell if I know. Maybe he just likes you and trusts you? Maybe you haven’t actually done anything for him to have to worry about before now?”

“You know, I think I shall have a drink after all,” Spencer announced. Next to the table was one of those wooden and brass globes which opened to reveal a wet bar. She poured herself a whisky, straight up, but didn’t offer Ashley one. She tipped it towards her, though. “Your very good health,” she said sarcastically and threw it back in one long swallow.

Ashley watched Spencer shake her head and walk back over to the window, once more standing by the open doors and staring out at the ocean.

“Mr Spurck also mentioned some of the other General Consolidated employees you’ve known. You get around, don’t you?” Spencer sounded disgusted. “You make young Janet seem like quite the ingenue.”

Ashley didn’t know what Sol had said, but she’d only dated three or four girls from his studio, maybe a few others from MGM and United Artists, but that didn’t mean she’d slept with them, nor had she tricked or blackmailed anyone.

“Hey, you don’t get to take the high ground here, lady. You picked me because of who I’ve stepped out with in the past and I’ve made no secret of it. So Sol confronted you with some pictures of us talking — so what? Hell, I’ve just brought you much more incriminating pictures than that. And I’m not in any of those. That’s you playing naked show-and-tell.” She folded her arms across her chest. “What really bothers you? That your boss has accused you of sticking your hand in the cookie jar or are you just sore that we haven’t actually done what he’s accused you of?”

“You think that I’d want to—” Spencer stopped abruptly. “You are deluded,” she sneered.

“You’re the one who threw yourself at me and asked me out to dinner.”

“Which you told Flaherty! How dare you compromise my trust like that? How could you, when you knew that I came to you in the first place because I wanted to keep the studio out of this?”

“I told Flaherty nothing — nothing!! I warned you the first time we met that Sol had to be onto you. I warned you that he knows everything that happens in his studio. Flaherty already had all the skinny on Janet and Stanley before we even met. He knew all about you, and he’s been one step ahead of me this whole time.” She moved over to the window and stood next to Spencer. “As for anything else, well, I like women, you like women. Flaherty’s a smart boy and he must have connected those dots all by himself.”

Spencer wasn’t even listening; she was too caught up in self-righteous anger. “But why did you go running to Flaherty?”

“I’m telling you I didn’t! Flaherty tracked me down and threatened to have me arrested if I didn’t co-operate with him. He reminded me that one word from Sol, and I’ll never work in this town again. And he’d make sure that I took Aiden down with me. I had no choice but to tag along. I confirmed what he already knew about Stanley and Janet’s little shake-down racket, but I never, ever betrayed a single confidence of yours. And I made sure that no-one but me saw those photographs.” She pointed to the chair where Spencer had left the unopened envelope. “I did my job to the best of my abilities and if that’s not good enough for you then you can—”

Her impassioned speech was cut short by the sight of Spencer’s hand approaching in her peripheral vision. Thankfully, her reflexes were fast enough to catch the blonde’s wrist before the slap could connect.

She saw the anger in Spencer’s face, but something else, too. Reacting instinctively, she closed the space between them and covered Spencer’s mouth with her own.

Because she was still holding Spencer’s wrist in the air, the kiss had no finesse. It was sloppy and at all the wrong angles, so she dropped her hands to Spencer’s hips, pulling her closer. She could taste the tang of the whisky on Spencer’s lips as she ran her tongue along them, then suddenly she was pushed back firmly by her shoulders.

Spencer stared hard at her and said hoarsely, “You really never said anything?”

She shook her head. “You asked me not to.” She leaned in against the hands holding her at bay, her mouth seeking out Spencer’s again. This time, the blonde met her half-way.

Ashley shrugged off her own jacket as she nibbled on Spencer’s lower lip. She was liking the little noises that Spencer was making, and the way the blonde was rubbing against her.

She kicked off her heels and felt Spencer do the same. Reaching up, she ran her fingers along Spencer’s neck and into her hair, shaking the pins loose until they tumbled to the floor and Spencer’s hair fell around her face. She kissed her way along the blonde’s jaw and buried her face in her neck. She nibbled very gently, knowing better than to leave a mark. Actresses were often sent home from the set for the slightest blemish.

Spencer, meanwhile, was not remaining passive. Her hands had dropped to the scalloped collar of Ashley’s best white blouse and were freeing the top button.

“You’re the only one who saw those photos?” Spencer asked, steadily working on the rest of the buttons.

“Hardly even looked at ’em myself.” She rolled her shoulders, helping Spencer remove her blouse completely.

Their mouths met again, the kisses harder, their teeth clashing and both of them straining for dominance. Spencer’s hand closed over her breast, thumb flicking across her hardened nipple through the lace of her bra.

Something tugged at the back of Ashley’s mind. “Your staff?” she asked between kisses.

Spencer nodded. “Lock the door.”

Ashley grinned and walked briskly over to the door. By the time she turned around again, Spencer was standing in just her underwear, including a very fetching pair of stockings and garter belt. Ashley had no idea how she had shed her clothes so quickly.

“My, my, Miss Carlin,” she said, “that’s a real talent.”

Spencer held her hand out. “I have others I could show you.”

Ashley unzipped her own pencil skirt and let it fall to the ground. “I have a few tricks of my own you might be interested in.” She wrapped Spencer in her arms and they sank to their knees together.

* * *

She woke slowly, squeezing her eyes against the light streaming in the window. She must not have remembered to close the drapes or the shutters. As she shifted, she became aware that there was a warm body next to her.

Opening one eye, she saw that she was in Spencer Carlin’s bed. At Spencer Carlin’s house. With — she had a quick peek under the sheet, just to check — a gloriously naked Spencer Carlin next to her.

This was a day to circle in her date book.

She was about to reach out and sweep the blonde hair from the sleeping woman’s forehead when the telephone started ringing. She snatched her hand back and waited cautiously for Spencer to wake.

The blonde jerked awake, sitting bolt upright and looking around startled. When she saw Ashley, though, her face softened and she let herself fall back down.

“Good morning,” she mumbled.

“Hey,” Ashley replied.

“What time is it?”

Ashley turned to glance at the clock by the bedside. “About seven.” The telephone was still ringing. “You going to answer that?”

“No.” Spencer yawned and stretched her arms over her head. It made her body move in a way that sparked a few very recent memories in Ashley. She wouldn’t mind recreating them, given the chance. “Ferdy will get it.” The ringing stopped just as she said it. She rolled onto her side, propping herself up on one arm. She reached out and stroked Ashley’s cheek with the back of her hand. “You’re still here.”

Ashley chuckled. “Where else would I be?”

Spencer looked uncertain, even a little bashful. The slight blush made her look even more beautiful. “I wasn’t sure.”

“I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, no. It’s…” She frowned a little, obviously thinking of the right word. She still hadn’t moved her hand.

Ashley smiled. “Yes, it is, isn’t it?”

There was a knock at the door and the sound of Ferdy clearing his throat.

“Yes?” Spencer called out.

The door opened just a crack, but the houseboy discreetly remained in the hallway. “I’m sorry to disturb you, Miss,” he said, “but Mr Spurck is on the telephone. He insists on speaking to you.”

“Thank you, Ferdy. I’ll take care of it.” Spencer sighed as the door clicked shut. “I suppose I should talk to him.” She leaned over Ashley’s body to reach for the receiver, which was at her side of the bed. Ashley grinned and wriggled against her, but received only a withering glance in response. Spencer sat up against the headboard and modestly pulled the sheet around her.

“Mr Spurck. How are you this morning?” Her brows furrowed at whatever Sol was saying. “Miss Davies? Why would you ask that?” Ashley pulled herself up and gave her a quizzical look. “No, no, I’m quite alone.” She mouthed ‘Sorry’ to Ashley.

Spencer was a terrible liar and there was no way that Sol was buying that she was in bed alone. Ashley motioned for Spencer to hand her the telephone, but the blonde shook her head.

“Give,” she whispered. “He knows already.” Spencer frowned and shook her head again. Ashley rolled her eyes and shouted out, “Morning, Sol.”

Spencer covered the receiver with her hand. “What are you doing?” she hissed.

Ashley grabbed the telephone from her. “Sol, Sol. Stop. It’s me.” She winced as he started venting at her, accusing her of meddling where she didn’t belong. She let him talk while she knelt up on the mattress facing Spencer. She didn’t bother to cover herself; she had little use for modesty at any time.

The blonde was sitting with her arms folded across her chest, scowling and facing away from her. If she hadn’t been on the back foot, Ashley might have laughed. Spencer looked like a child whose favourite kiddy car had been stolen away.

Meanwhile, Sol Spurck was loudly suggesting in her ear that she was a rank amateur who knew nothing and whose almost certain arrest, had she pursued her plans alone, would have jeopardised the careers of several of his employees.

“There was never a chance of that. I’m a lot better at my job than you give me credit for.” He ranted some more while she waited for Spencer to look at her. It didn’t happen. And then he made his worst accusation: that she was merely after a quick tumble with his biggest star.

“It’s really not like that.” She put her hand on Spencer’s cheek and turned her face towards her. “I love her, Sol,” she said, smiling at Spencer. “She’s the most incredible woman I’ve ever met and I would never to do anything to hurt her.” Spencer looked both surprised and dubious, so she nodded to confirm that she wasn’t just lying for Sol’s benefit.

“That’s not fair. You know I would never do anything to hurt you or the studio either, Uncle Sol.” Spencer mouthed ‘Uncle?’ Ashley shrugged and rubbed her thumb across Spencer’s bottom lip. It was so soft. She really wanted to kiss her. “Can I go now? I think we’re going to have breakfast.” She gave Spencer a questioning look. “Okay, maybe we’re going to have breakfast if she forgives me.” That was rewarded with the start of a grin, which Spencer failed to suppress. “Yes, yes. Your office, bright and early, tomorrow morning. I promise.” She started walking on her knees towards Spencer. She reached out and pulled the sheet away, and Spencer didn’t stop her, so she threw her leg casually across the blonde’s lap. “Bye, Sol.”

She reached to the side to set the receiver back in its cradle. As she did, Spencer’s hands moved to her hips to steady her. They were good hands, soft but firm.

When she was facing Spencer again, the blonde repeated, “Uncle Sol? Uncle?”

She looped her hands around Spencer’s neck, letting her gaze drift down. Spencer really was beautiful, especially with that slight flush across her chest. “He’s not my real uncle. It’s just a nickname.”

“Oh, well, that’s okay then,” she said sarcastically. “Why do you address my boss by a nickname?”

Ashley noticed that, despite her quite serious face, Spencer’s fingers were starting to trace patterns across her hips. “Because I’ve known him all my life. He’s my godfather.”

“Sol Spurck is your godfather?”

Ashley winced at the volume of the reply. “No need to shout, beautiful.” Spencer swatted her lightly on the behind. “Yes, he’s my godfather,” she repeated.

“And you didn’t think that this fact was worth sharing?”

“It’s not something I tell people. And, given our circumstances, I didn’t think that you would take it well if you knew up front. I would have told you yesterday if we hadn’t got caught up.” She smiled in remembrance of all the things that they had done. The slight roughness on the back of her thighs implied that she had the carpet burns to prove it. She tried to inch closer, but the hands on her hips tightened, holding her in place. Spencer’s face was resolute. “All right, all right. My mother was Christine Lamont,” she admitted.

Spencer’s eyebrows shot up. “The silent movie star?”

“The one and only.” Christine had been to General Consolidated what Dorothea Page had been to American Republic. They had been the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford of their day.

“How could I not have known this?”

“Um, because I go out of my way to make sure that nobody knows it?” Ashley shook her head. She hated talking about her mother, but there was no way to avoid it. “Okay, quick version. She was a huge star — maybe not as big as you, but pretty close — and we had the mansion, the money, everything. Then she lost her career when the talkies came in because she has a voice that makes dogs howl and babies cry. She quickly abandoned my father and me, moved to New York with all her money, took to drink, married some Italian count or something, retired to Europe. I haven’t seen or heard from her since I was seven. My dad was a jazz musician, always on the road, so Aiden’s family took me in and raised me. I’m pretty sure Sol’s the one who paid for everything, but he’d never admit it. Dad died when I was fifteen — drink or drugs, probably, but the doc said it was a bad ticker — and I’ve been on my own and working ever since. Sol still takes an interest on the quiet. He’s a good man.”

Spencer looked confused. “But, if Sol’s your godfather, why did he warn me to stay away from you?”

Ashley laughed. “Because you’re his number one box-office star and he thinks I’m irresponsible.” She settled back against Spencer’s thighs, but left her arms around the blonde’s neck. “He hates my job, wants me to come work for him in the back office or train for something like set direction. And, believe me, I’ve had the speech warning me to stay well away from you.”

Spencer’s eyes widened. “What?”

“He called me the day before yesterday. I got chapter and verse, a real Sermon on the Mount. How, no matter that I was family, he’d have me run out of town. You were the best thing ever to happen to General Consolidated and I would be nothing but trouble for you. I was deluding myself if I thought that you would sit at home waiting up while I was out all night, breaking and entering, or come and bail me out of Lincoln Heights or hold a steak to my eye when I had a shiner.”

“Of course I would bail you out,” Spencer said quietly. She looked almost offended that Sol should suggest otherwise.

“Really?”

Spencer’s grip loosed again and the stroking recommenced, her fingers tracing up and down Ashley’s sides in a soothing motion. “Really.”

“I don’t get arrested that often.”

“No?”

“Not more than once or twice a year. Never been charged,” she said proudly. And she had never had to rely on Sol’s name to make that happen, a fact of which she was also proud.

“I wouldn’t wait up, though.” Spencer was smiling.

“No?”

She shook her head. “No, but you could always wake me up when you got home. That would be acceptable.”

Ashley liked this conversation. “Good to know.” She arched her back as Spencer’s hands moved to the base of her spine.

“Would you do that for me? Wait up?” Spencer’s voice was getting husky.

Ashley nodded. “Just as long as you came home.” She couldn’t believe that Spencer Carlin — the most famous and most beautiful woman in the world, bar none — was asking such things. “You would want to come home to me?”

Spencer leaned forward and nuzzled her face into Ashley’s neck. “Maybe.”

“Just maybe?” She moaned a little as Spencer sucked on her earlobe.

“Mmm. Depends on how your audition goes.”

“My what?”

Spencer leaned back against the pillows and smiled. “Everyone has to audition, Ash. Even me.”

Ash? She liked that. “So, when’s this audition?”

“Why don’t we say it started yesterday?”

Ashley nodded, starting to rock her hips subtly as Spencer pushed against her lower back. “And it ends when?”

“Tomorrow? I heard you tell old Uncle Sol that you’d be in his office in the morning. I could drop you off. I’ve got a call at 7am.”

“But my car’s here.” Ashley moved her hands to rest her palms against the headboard. She leaned forward until their naked bodies were finally pressed together again. She hummed with pleasure at the sensation.

“You’ll just have to come back for it, won’t you?” Spencer said, her hands moving to rest flat against Ashley’s back, holding her in place.

“Good thinking.” She shifted so that she was cradled between Spencer’s thighs. The blonde hooked her ankles behind Ashley’s hips to allow better access. Ashley could already feel Spencer’s arousal against her abdomen. “How’s the audition going so far?” she asked casually, her mouth so close to Spencer’s that their breath mingled.

The blonde pretended to think about it for a moment, angling her head to the side. “Telling Sol that you loved me was a nice touch.”

Ashley kissed the cheek that was offered to her, her tongue flicking out to taste the skin. “Oh, you liked that?” She pulled back and waited until Spencer looked at her again. “I love you.” She punctuated the statement with a brief, open-mouthed kiss.

“You hardly know me,” Spencer countered, but she kissed her back anyway.

“It’s still true.” She’d fallen for her the moment that Spencer had walked into her office, like a cool drink of water on a hot summer’s day. She didn’t expect Spencer to say anything back. She’d seen and heard enough to know that the blonde was cautious with her feelings, but it didn’t stop Ashley from feeling the way she did. Having said it for the first time in her life, she was already getting to like saying it. “I love you.”

Spencer hugged her fiercely to her, burying her face in Ashley’s neck again. Unlike Ashley, she didn’t seem to have a problem with marking her. Her teeth were working against Ashley’s skin, her tongue simultaneously soothing. Sol wasn’t going to like seeing it, but Ashley didn’t give a damn.

Spencer moved to Ashley’s ear. “Me, too,” she whispered.

She could work with that.

* * *

THE END

6 Comments

  1. Posted 20 August 2012 at 8.19pm | Permalink

    Fantastic! As much as I love it the way it is, I’ll always want more. Bravo!

  2. spikkels
    Posted 20 August 2012 at 8.20pm | Permalink

    Totally loved it!!

  3. tee452
    Posted 21 August 2012 at 5.06am | Permalink

    OK, I’m ready for your novel now. LOVED this.

    * * *

    A Devje writes: You’ll wait a very long time…

  4. tee452
    Posted 22 August 2012 at 1.33am | Permalink

    Hahaha, that’s ok. I’m very patient. Plus, knowing you, you may just be trying to throw me off the scent.

  5. Posted 22 August 2012 at 3.59am | Permalink

    I loved every part of your story…except maybe the length because I could definitely read more of these two :)

    I thought you captured the era and the mood of when this story is set so well. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Posted 8 September 2012 at 1.00am | Permalink

    I agree with Bangie, MORE!!! As always :) It was different and it was fun to imagine the two of them back in that time. Thanks for this :)

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