Brenda Loring was far too small for the overstuffed capacious couch. She appeared uncomfortably absorbed by the cushions, hardly consoled. At first glance, she looked swallowed by the plush off white arms. It could be assumed that her body had found a semblance of solace, but the truth was that there really weren’t any sacred places to turn for comfort; the fluffed up cotton squares were far too affectionate and they consumed her behind their good intentions, providing only a pretense of succor.
Brenda sat up straight and reached for her glass; next was the cigarette. Comfort was better found in a nicotine binge and a scotch devoid of ice or water.
Brock was still not sure if he should believe her, even though she’d been insisting for months. “I’m not hallucinating,” she kept repeating. “I know what the hell I’m talking about. It’s all going to hell.”
His thoughts raced ahead as he watched her light the tip of her cigarette with a lit butt from an old dish with more ash than a crematory.
Brenda was birdlike but hardly unattractive, just sticky and twiggy, unlike his wife, who was a full hug, an eye level kiss. Brenda took a deep drag and looked at him through smoke.
“What a fuck,” she said. “Both of them. They are both fucks, I’m telling you. Devon has bought Glen off, paid him well to screw us over, though I don’t know why he would, disloyal asshole.”
“It’s hard to believe, can’t wrap my head around it, that’s all.”
Brenda leaned forward and crossed her tiny legs, shapely but thin. Her fingers seemed as long as arms, her elbows stuck out like wayward bones.
“Peter has lost control of his people. He's too old to run the organization. I’ve sensed that for years. I have my spies, people who hate Devon and will tell me the truth when I ask for it. You think he’s above screwing his brother? I don’t even have to pay for the information. The conceited bastard doesn’t think he has enemies.”
“Why now, I wonder?”
“Why not now? I heard Peter was sick; maybe that's why he's losing control. Maybe it’s serious. Maybe Devon doesn’t want anything going to Peter’s idiot wife if he should die. Imagine Delilah in charge of the LVAJ? Ha!”
“I don’t think Delilah would want it. Advising Peter in business is not quite the same as running the entire organization. That’s a mammoth job.”
“Ha!” Brenda took a sip of scotch. “I wouldn’t underestimate her, Brock. She has a degree in art, after all. You sound like a misogynist, just because she’s blonde and beautiful. She’s far from stupid.”
“I didn’t say she was.”
“Didn’t say she wasn’t either.”
“Look, you think we ought to go to Peter with this?” he asked, “he should know of our suspicions.”
“No, I don’t.”
“So you’re saying the Prince was a phony, but what if he wasn’t?”
Brenda threw back her head and laughed loudly. He noticed that her hair didn’t move, so stiff it seemed to stand at attention. Her hair is obedient, he thought.
“Oh, come on,” she said. “The whole thing was a scam. I’ll bet my ass that the Yellow Diamond is sitting behind some asshole's velvet pull in Saudi Arabia and no where near that little turd that calls himself ‘Prince Vizueta.’ She drew out the syllables of the prince’s name and made a face. “Prince of bullshit.”
Brock thought for a moment. “So, if the Yellow Diamond buy was a scam, what’s next?”
Brenda did all three things at once. It was quite impressive. She laughed and took a drag off her cigarette as she put the scotch glass to her lips and drank.
“I wish I knew.”
Brock stood up and looked at his watch. He hadn’t called home. It was after ten p.m. in San Francisco. Jane would be angry. One should make a point of calling home when one is suspected of having an affair.
“It’s getting late,” he said.
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