Taming a Sea Horse

Taming a Sea Horse by Robert B. Parker

Book: Taming a Sea Horse by Robert B. Parker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert B. Parker
together while I opened a bottle of white zinfandel. We each had a plastic glass of it and ate a smoked turkey sandwich on whole wheat. Our shoulders touched. There was no one on this stretch of the river.
    "Do you think a natural setting enhances lovemaking?" I said.
    Susan sipped a little of her wine. She ate a small wedge of Crenshaw melon. She gazed up at the sky, and pursed her lips. She looked at the slate-colored river.
    "No," she said, "I don't think so."
    "Oh," I said. I swallowed a bit of smoked salmon on pumpernickel.
    "But it doesn't do it any harm either," she said, and leaned her head into the place where my neck joins my shoulders. I kissed her on top of her head. She put her wine down and put her arms around me and kissed me on the mouth. I could taste the wine and melon. I could feel the rush I always felt.
    Getting her out of the bathing suit was a bitch.
    But worth it.

    The Crown Prince Club was located at the end of an alley off Boylston Street near the Colonial Theatre. There was a heavy dark oaken door with a brass crown canted at a rakish angle just above the peephole. An antique brass turnbell handle projected from the middle of the door. I turned it and a bell rang distantly inside. Beside the door was a slot for card keys so that the members could go right in without ringing. It was three-thirty in the afternoon and no members were in sight.
    The door opened. The guy who opened it was at least six four and looked like a nineteenth-century British soldier in the King's African Rifle Brigade. He had on a red tunic and a white pith helmet and gold epaulets, and his round black face was shiny and severe.
    He said, "Yes, sir?"
    I said, "I'm thinking of joining the club. Is there anyone I can talk to?"
    "I'm sorry, sir, club memberships are not presently available."
    "Damn," I said. "Tony Marcus told me that there was an opening."
    The doorman looked at me instead of through me. "Mr. Marcus?"
    "Yes, Tony sent me over. Said he'd talked with Perry Lehman about it."
    "Mr. Lehman?"
    "Yeah, said Perry could fix me up. I'm new in town."
    "If you'd step in, sir, I'll ask our marketing director to speak with you."
    I went into the foyer. It was paneled in the same kind of dark oak that the front door was made of, and lit by Tiffany lamps. On the right wall was a high, narrow fireplace, and above it a painting of a horse that might have been by George Stubbs. The doorman gestured- me to a large red leather chair near the fireplace. On a table beside the chair was a sandalwood box of cigars and a decanter of port, and several squat thick glasses.
    "Please help yourself, sir," he said, "while I speak with Miss Coolidge."
    I sat and the doorman disappeared through a door on the opposite side of the room. I poured myself a glass of port. The heft of the glass in my hand was masculine and weighty. There were two other paintings on the walls. One opposite the entrance door was of a black-and-white English spaniel curled up beside several recently shot partridge. The other, beside the door through which the Royal Zulu had departed, was of a British officer mounted on a red roan horse looking directly at me. A vaguely desert background rolled away behind him. The sun never sets on the British Empire.
    I had drunk about half the wine when a brisk middle-aged woman appeared in the doorway with the big black man. She strode into the room.
    "I'm Gretchen Coolidge," she said. "Would you come with me, please."
    The doorman stepped aside and I followed Gretchen Coolidge out of the waiting room and down a short corridor to an elevator. She gestured me in and we went up five floors and stopped and the doors slid silently open onto a brilliantly sunlit glass-canopied space. Compared with the dark Edwardian elegance of the waiting room the brilliance of the fifth floor was overpowering.
    I followed Gretchen out into a corridor of potted plants to a large circular pool in the center of the room. The plants were

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