No Runs, No Hits, No Errors

By Jane Greensmith
www.janegs.com

Copyright 2004.
 All rights reserved.

Chapter 12

 

Dorie Eastman was livid. In the seven years that she had known Kathleen Kavenaugh she had often wanted to take her friend's slender shoulders and shake some sense into the girl. But she didn't. She had never even yelled at her. Not when she had chickened out of auditioning for The Nutcracker, not when she had dropped all of her advanced-placement classes in high school because they required too much homework, not even when she had sold her potter's wheel because she didn't like getting clay under her fingernails. But after Kathleen finished describing what she had promised to do for Phil Van Demeer and Joanna Bridges, Dorie finally yelled.

"Is the word 'No' not in your vocabulary? Couldn't you just say 'No.' Come on try, say 'No.' 'No, I can't do that.' 'No, it's wrong.' 'No, I think you're scum and I won't be party to this.'"

Kathleen's eyes teared up and her lower lip quivered, and her neck really, really hurt.

"Don't yell at me, Dorie. Please, don't yell."

Dorie softened, exasperated but loathe to really wound her friend.

"So let me get this straight. You're supposed to pretend to be Phil's girlfriend while Joanna continues on as Matthew Dixon's mistress until Phil fixes Joanna's contract with Campbell Modeling and she can leave them without getting sued and can marry Phil and they can open their own modeling agency."

"That's it, pretty much. And you promised you wouldn't tell Mike."

"I know, I know. But that was only to get you to tell me why you showed up here crying your eyes out. It's a good thing Mike's on a business trip, but Kathleen, I've never kept a secret from him." Dorie's eyes grew anxious. "And this is a big one, that affects the firm. Matthew is Mike's boss. I don't know, Kathleen, I just don't know." She clasped her hands nervously.

"It's only for a couple of days. Phil has to fix Joanna's contract before Matthew finds out she's pregnant. When he does, he'll know that the baby can't be his and that Joanna's been two-timing him. And if she's not out of Campbell before Matthew finds out, her career is over."

"So why did he tell Dirk Gibson that Joanna is preggers if it's such a big secret?"

Kathleen rolled her eyes, "Oh, I don't know...testosterone?"

It was a complicated story that Kathleen had tried to repeat to Dorie, and she wasn't quite sure she had gotten all the details right herself. Matthew Dixon had met Joanna Bridges in Manhattan three or four years ago. Dixon , Dabney, and Colfax had just landed Campbell Modeling as a client, and Matthew had proposed that the firm review all the contracts Campbell had with their stable of models. Joanna was one of the newer models, hungry for work and notoriety, fresh out of college and not fully aware that she had the right stuff to go to the top of the modeling world. As Hick Campbell had told Matthew Dixon over a couple of martinis, Joanna Bridges was supermodel material and he wanted to make sure that Joanna never left the padded silken confines of the Campbell agency. They would treat her well and pay her well, but they wanted her bound inextricably to them. If Matthew did what Hick paid him the big bucks to do, then they could all ride Joanna's star when she went global.

Matthew Dixon did what needed to be done. He wined her and dined her, eased her homesickness with funny stories and escorted her to galas and openings. He showed her the ropes and made her feel safe and looked after. Once he had seduced her into signing a no-walk contract, it was a short step to seducing her into his bed. Rumors of the relationship slowly filtered back to Juniper Hills, but Matthew's wife, unwilling to unhitch her own wagon from Matthew's, turned a blind eye. As long as Joanna didn't compromise her position in Juniper Hills, Evelyn Dixon wasn't going to rock the boat.

The boat started rocking, however, the day Matthew Dixon hired Phil Van Demeer away from Battison-Everett, the Manhattan firm in which he was the hot new up-and-comer. Matthew, pleased with himself for outwitting J.W. Battison, took his trophy over to Campbell to show him off to Hick Campbell and the girls. Everyone had a good time and the party moved to Hick's yacht where the good times continued to roll along until a storm blew up. Joanna Bridges was almost blown overboard in the gale force winds.  Would have been, if Phil hadn't grabbed her in time and tied a lifeline around her waist. After that, Matthew Dixon didn't have a chance. But Phil and Joanna were both smart enough to keep their passion under wraps.

When Phil explained to Joanna that her contract stipulated that she could never model with any agency but Campbell and they could sue her for every penny they had ever paid her if she did, she told Phil she would marry him without a prenup if he could figure out a way to break the contract. It took him awhile, but he did. But, he told Kathleen, he needed a little more time to get all the paperwork in order so that he could claim that Joanna Bridges had signed the contract under physical and emotional duress. Matthew Dixon would be disbarred, of course, but Joanna and Phil would be free.

"So, why did you say you would go along with this stupid plan? And it is stupid." Dorie asked. "It's not like you would want to see Matthew disbarred. You went to school with his daughter, for God's sake. You don't believe the duress claim, do?"

"No. I think it's just the only thing Phil could come up with..." Kathleen bit her lip. She honestly didn't know why she had agreed to help out Phil except that Harry disliked him so much and she was mad at Harry. Mad because she had discovered that afternoon that she really liked the way he kissed her and she had no idea what to do with that information other than to get mad at him for stopping so abruptly and unromantically. He had let her leave with Phil, but then had called her up and insinuated that she was sleeping around.   Kathleen knew that pretending to be Phil's girlfriend would drive Harry crazy, and that was worth something.

It didn't occur to Kathleen that she wasn't mourning the loss of Phil. Here was the man she had decided was the one blithely telling her that he was engaged to someone else, and Kathleen hadn't noticed that she felt no disappointment and harbored no ill will.  She merely shrugged it off, believing Phil must have drunk some Love Potion Number Nine to actually be in love with the witch!  She was focused on how awful Harry would feel when he saw that she apparently wasn't abandoning Phil for him.  Serve him right for not taking her seriously.

Dorie looked at her grimly. "Look, if I'm going to keep a secret from Mike, you're going to have to tell me why."

"Because Harry thinks I'm nothing but a pretty piece of fluff." The words were out of Kathleen's mouth before she could stop them.  She knew they weren't true, but it was the only reason she could formulate to explain Harry's rejection.

"Welcome to the club..."

Kathleen's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean? You and Harry never went out...did you?" Since Kathleen's return to Juniper Hills that summer she had experienced an awakening that Harry was fairly good-looking...that he was, in fact, extremely attractive to the vast majority of the female population...that women routinely threw themselves at him. She just hadn't yet realized that he actually caught any of them.

"Back when you were in high school and I was new in town and teaching at the studio and still performing when I could. It didn't last long--it never does with Harry, but man, he could show a girl a good time."

Kathleen's eyes filled with tears, "Well, he's not just going to kiss me and throw me away."

"He kissed you?"

Kathleen nodded.

"I'm surprised, actually. I figured you were 'hands off.' I mean, he can't just blow you off the way he does everyone else he goes out with."

"Well, I can promise you one thing Dorie Eastman, Harry Kinsley is never, and I mean never, going to get the chance to 'blow me off.' I am not going to be a notch in some guy's belt buckle."

#

Kathleen didn't get home until well after midnight. She poured herself a quick glass of milk, peeked in at her sleeping father, and got ready for bed. She didn't notice the flowers on her dresser until she was about to switch off her light.

They were gorgeous, glowing in a corner of the room. She got up and went over to examine the bouquet. Here was tangible proof that she was not just a pretty piece of fluff.   At least her father wouldn't let her down.

She touched the soft petals and sighed as a solitary tear escaped her overfull eyes and ran down her cheek.  Much as she loved her father and appreciated his sweetness in filling her room with the flowers she loved, she had to acknowledge how very lonely it was that he was the only man who seemed able to love her wholly and understand her.

Finally settled between peach sheets, Kathleen tried to let sleep come over her. The flowers had calmed her down. It wouldn't hurt to play out the charade with Phil, despite what Dorie had said. Besides, Matthew Dixon had been a beast to Joanna as well as to his wife. Helping Joanna and Phil find some happiness couldn't be bad. What did she have to lose? Harry wasn't interested in her beyond a little friendly groping. He just didn't want Phil to have what he didn't have. Kathleen would have been perfectly satisfied with her decision if she didn't remember Harry's kiss quite so well. Pressing her cheek against her cool pillow, she felt light-headed again remembering his warm, strong arms around her waist, stroking her back, massaging her neck. Kathleen rubbed her arms, trying to forget how the hairs on Harry's legs had tickled her skin so deliciously. She wondered grimly whom he would pursue next. Connie Martinez had laughed when she mentioned the women Harry had paraded through the Riverdale B&G Club.  Kathleen had no intention of  being laughed at.

 

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