The Flirt

The Flirt by Kathleen Tessaro

Book: The Flirt by Kathleen Tessaro Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathleen Tessaro
thrilling one nevertheless. And the most natural response in the world will be to treat her husband with extra care and affection to mask her little secret.” His eyes sparkled in the dim light. “ Et voilà ! Domestic harmony is once more restored.”
    “But…but that’s dishonest!”
    Valentine tilted his head to one side. “Is perfume dishonest?”
    “What?”
    “We don’t naturally smell like crushed rose petals and jasmine, do we? And yet who would begrudge us a little harmless artifice? Honesty is only of value to doctors or lawyers. But in marriage, it can be fatal.”
    “Of course, we don’t always do married women,” Flick took a sip of her wine.
    “Widows, divorcees, virgins, long-term singles…” Valentine reeled off.
    “Yes, I see,” Hughie said, not really seeing at all. The very scope of it all was overwhelming.
    “Don’t worry,” Flick smiled. “It can be a bit much to get your head round at first. But pretty soon it will all be second nature.”
    Just then Hughie became aware that three of the most handsome men he’d ever seen were making their way across the pub toward them.
    “Here are the boys.” Valentine turned to greet them. “I want you to meet the rest of the team.”
    As they approached, Hughie recognized the man from the bus. “Good God!”
    “Well, fancy that!” the man countered, with a smile.
    “You know each other?” Valentine sounded irritated.
    “No,” the man said, “not exactly. My name’s Henry,” he held out his hand. “Henry Montifore.”
    Hughie shook it. “I can’t tell you what a spot I was in! I really owe you one. We met on a bus,” he explained to the others. “I didn’t have a ticket or rather I had one but couldn’t get at it and there was an inspector…”
    Henry laughed. “Think nothing of it. Only I’d avoid that young man in future if I were you. Oh, and let me introduce you to Marco and Jez,” he indicated the two men next to him: a slim, roughly handsome Italian, with long dark hair, green eyes, and the smile of a wicked cherub; and to his left, a tall, muscular black man, who showed off his Olympian physique in a simple white T-shirt and jeans. He had the classical chiseled features of a Greek statue, crowned by a close crop of white-blond hair.
    “Welcome aboard!” Henry added.
    They were all smiling, patting him on the back, laughing. A fresh pint appeared before him and Hughie experienced the rare and pleasant feeling that he’d arrived.
    He wasn’t exactly sure where he’d arrived or for how long. But he determined to enjoy it while it lasted.

La Dame aux Camélias
    L eticia pressed the buzzer of Leo’s flat and readjusted the shopping bags she was carrying. She’d lugged them all the way from Goodge Street in heels.
    No reply. She rang again, looking around at the enviable location. Leo lived in a small Edwardian mansion block tucked away in a narrow alley across from Covent Garden Opera House. He’d had the tremendous luck and insight to buy it back in the late seventies when living in town was still a novel idea. Now the flats above and below his were gutted, turned into sleek, loft-style apartments, and prices had soared. His, however, was still firmly rooted in all the mod cons of 1982. She teased him that if he hung on to it long enough, perhaps the avocado bathroom suite might actually come back into fashion.
    “Yes?”
    “I’m here!”
    The door clicked open and she struggled up the three flights of stairs. Leo was standing in the doorway wearing a red silk dressing gown worthy of Noel Coward; cigarette in one hand, coffee cup in the other.
    “At last!” he grinned.
    “What do you mean at last!” She walked past him into the kitchen, dumping the bags onto the table. “I trot all over town doing your grocery shopping and that’s all the thanks I get?” She planted a kiss on his cheek, then frowned. “You’ve lost weight, old man. You can’t afford to lose weight. This cold is taking its toll on

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