champagne make you tipsy?” Sugar CEO Number Two sounds hopeful as he holds a
bottle of Tattinger’s over my glass.
reward him with a shy smile. “It’s fun to lose control every now and then,
don’t you agree…Robert?”
As if. I’m beginning
to believe that “control” is this guy’s middle name. It’s anyone’s guess as to
his last name, or any other clue as to his identity.
the hour ride from San Francisco to Woodside I had very little success getting
him to talk about what he did for a living. And no matter how many ways I tried
to get him to reveal his last name or his job, he played it coy. “All that
corporate bullshit will bore you to tears, sweetheart. Let’s just keep things
By “friendly,” he means allowing his hands to
cup my breasts while he probes my molars with his tongue.
no doubt he presumes I’m the dessert after the gourmet meal of filet mignon,
broccoli stir-fry and mashed potatoes, which we ate in a private tent
overlooking Woodside California’s polo fields. But now our little picnic is
almost over. I’ve only got another half hour before Robert leaves me for a
white Arabian mare named Pure as Driven Snow.
To keep him here, I’ll have to be anything
now Arnie whines, “He’s much too close for our facial recognition software to
get a good fix on his features. Can’t you get him to back off?”
she can,” Jack, mutters, “By putting her heel in his groin.”
thinking on both our parts. Alas, that would defeat the purpose.
Since I got into the car, Emma and
Arnie have been working furiously to place him. But who knew San Francisco had
so many steely-eyed mid-fortysomething corporate bigwigs named “Robert,” who are six feet tall, just-gray-enough-around-the-edges, and own a polo
if reading my mind, Emma murmurs into my diamond-studded audio feed, “We’ve
narrowed down the list of potential suspects to five.”
a’wasting. I toss back the flute of bubbly. Then slowly I run my tongue over my
lips and murmur, “Aren’t you going to join me?”
sighs. “Believe me, I wish I could. But if I’m going to ride without falling
off my horse, I should hold off until after the match.”
give him a playful pout. “It’s no fun getting tipsy all by myself.” I brush
against him when I reach into the picnic hamper. Pulling up another champagne
flute, I whisper, “One tiny little sip won’t knock you off your horse, will
eyes both the glass and me longingly. Finally he nods. “I guess you’re
take the bottle from his hand. “Let me do the honors. As much as I love being
treated like a queen, today I’d prefer to play handmaiden. ”
raises a smile on his face, not to mention a tent in his polo breeches.
sure it also helps that, when I pour the champagne into his glass, I arch my
back in such a way that my vee-neck blouse drops between my breasts.
his eyes are otherwise occupied, I watch his face for Arnie’s sake, praying now
that I’m just close enough for him to get a lead on the guy. At the same time,
I slide the jade stone on my ring and tilt it so that a dose of SP-117 pours
into his glass.
gulps down the champagne. Good, because the sooner his opens up, the better. I
keep up the small talk, complimenting him on topics he’s already deemed safe:
the filet mignon; his Bentley; his polo skills; the size of his biceps beneath
his polo shirt; the size of the tent in his breeches—
finally, his eyes glaze over. That’s when I know it’s safe to ask, “So, tell me
Robert, what’s your last name?”
The word comes out in a drowsy whisper.
him,” Arnie and Emma yell into my ear at the same time. She adds, “That name
was on one of my possible five—” at the same time in which Arnie declares, “The
face recognition analysis came through, finally—”
close my eyes and shake my head. “One at a time, children, please!”
CEO of Catalyst Industries!” Emma’s answer comes out in a rush. “It’s a
conglomerate that owns—”
variety of biotech companies,” Arnie interjects, “including, Human-A-Sphere, a
chain of bio-genetic profiling labs; Inject-A-Life, a firm that invents
non-invasive surgical procedures; and PharmFarm, the largest agribusiness of
genetically enhanced crops.”
one of those could provide a terrorist organization with the means to cripple a
nation.” Jack’s voice is emotionless as he states this simple fact.
time for some answers from the man in question. “Robert Higginbotham, are you a
member of the Quorum?”
nods. Whereas that gives visual affirmation, I want to hear it from his lips.
“Answer the question out loud,” I prod him.
“Yes, I am one of the Quorum Thirteen…well,
now we are eleven…Um, ten.” By his frown, I can tell he’s surprised to hear
himself say this out loud, and to a perfect stranger.
what do your companies do for the Quorum?”
of them is developing a component for an ethnic bioweapon.”
the hell is that?” Emma asks.
theory is that ethno-bombs can be used to target specific genetic or cultural
anomalies recognized in certain ethnic groups,” Arnie explains. “An organic
example is how white settlers in the US almost wiped out a tribe of indigenous
natives with small pox.”
lets loose with a piercing whistle. “I can only imagine how the Quorum plans on
using this. Sell it to the highest bidder? Blackmail a government?”
all of the above,” Jack says.
soon before this project reaches completion?” I ask.
smiles up at me. “We’re beta-testing now. I’ll be presenting my findings to
my Quorum brethren at our next meeting. If it is chosen for implementation,
I’ll be poised to be the Quorum’s next leader.”
“Where and when is the
“We’ve yet to receive
“Who are your fellow Quorum members?”
shrugs. “We never meet without masks. Anonymity allows us to contribute freely,
without threat of exposure. ”
“Robert, why are you doing this, even when you
know it’s illegal, unethical, and inhumane?” I have to ask, and not just
because I’m incredulous at his despicable behavior, but to get it on record.
stares at me, as if I’m crazy or something. “For the money, of course! Not just
for the fees to our companies, but because of the dividends to thirteen
stockholders of Quorum Ltd.” He chuckles. “Well, for the ten who are left.”
unfortunately you don’t have time to read him the riot act,” Jack says. “So
give Sleeping Beauty his wake-up potion and promise you’ll rendezvous with him
after his match.”
do.” I pocket Robert’s phone. Then I mix the SP-117 antidote into Robert’s
champagne flute with a pinky finger and hand it to him. “Here, drink this.”
gulps it down.
Robert comes to, he’s pleasantly surprised to find me straddling him. As I
rise, smoothing the skirt of my dress back into place. “Was it as good for you
as it was for me?”
bring him to the right conclusion that we’re both satisfied with our little
picnic hank-panky, I guide his hand to the clasps on the front of my bra.
gets the hint, and hooks them into place. “Um….yeah…great!” He smiles, but he
shakes his head, confused.
a long kiss, I help him buckle his breeches. He groans ecstatically as I pat
Bobby Junior back into position and shove him toward the tent door. “Why don’t
we have another go-round, after the match? But only if you’re the victor! I’ll
be cheering from the sidelines, so make Mama proud!”
stumbles out of the tent like a man with the world at his feet. Still, I have
no doubt that, presented with his own confession, he’ll turn on his Quorum brethren.
If not, those feet will be in shackles for the rest of his life.
I know for a fact that they don’t have a polo team in Gitmo.
© 2013 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Author.
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London. Paris. Guantanamo Bay.
Donna Stone is looking for love
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In this fourth full-length novel of The Housewife Assassin series, Donna Stone finds out that breaking up is hard to do.
Then again, so is dating a terrorist, let alone eleven of them! Does this make Donna a serial dater, or a serial killer?
Worse yet, an old flame gets in the way of Donna's chance for true love.
But she doesn't cry…She gets even.
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(A small portion of this book appeared as a novella in
"Guns and Roses: A Murder She Writes Anthology".)