Sex, Lies, and Serious Money by Stuart Woods Read Online (FREE)
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STONE BARRINGTON LANDED at Teterboro Airport, having flown nonstop from Santa Fe, with a good tailwind. He and Bob, his Labrador retriever, were met by Fred Flicker, his factotum, at the airport. Bob threw himself at Fred. After a moment’s happy reunion, they were transferred to Stone’s car.
Stone had spent most of the flight trying to put Gala Wilde out of his mind after their breakup. He had not succeeded.
They arrived at Stone’s house in Turtle Bay and Fred pulled into the garage. Stone got out of the car to be greeted by his secretary, Joan Robertson, but Bob got there first and did his happy dance.
“There’s somebody waiting to see you,” Joan said.
“Anybody I know?”
“Apparently a friend of somebody you know in Palm Beach.”
Stone’s circle of acquaintances in Palm Beach was not wide. “Dicky Chalmers?”
“Give me a minute, then send him in.” Stone went into his office, rummaged among the mail and messages on his desk and found a pink message slip.
Stone, I’m sending you somebody you will find interesting.
Stone looked up to see a young man standing in his doorway: late twenties or early thirties, unkempt hair, scraggly beard, dressed in a current style Stone thought of as “adolescent lumberjack”—checkered shirt, tail out, greasy jeans, sneakers, hoodie, top down.
“Come in,” Stone said, “and have a seat.”
“Your friend Richard Chalmers suggested I should see you.”
“How are the Chalmerses?”
“Dicky and Vanessa are very well.”
“Do you have a name?”
“Sorry. I’m Laurence Hayward.” He spelled both names.
“Larry, to your friends?”
“Laurence, if you please.” He sounded vaguely English when he said that.
“Laurence, it is. I’m Stone, and this is Bob.” Bob came over and sniffed the young man, accepted a scratching of the ears, then went to his bed and lay down. “How can I help you, Laurence?”
“I’m being pursued,” Laurence replied.
“Pursued by whom?”
Oh, God, Stone thought, not one of those. He took a deep breath. “Well, Laurence, why don’t we start with your telling me about yourself?”
“What would you like to know?”
“All right. I’m thirty years old. I was born in West Palm Beach, Florida. When I was eight, my mother, who was the manager of a small hotel in our community, was swept off her feet by an Englishman, who was an investor in the hotel. She subsequently divorced my father, married the Brit, and he took the two of us to live in England, where, except for summers, when I visited my father, I grew up. In fact, I became, for all practical purposes, English, including my accent.”
“I thought I caught a bit of that.”
“My American accent comes back when I’m here.”
“I was educated at my stepfather’s old schools, Eton and Oxford, and after I graduated, I became a tutor at Eton, later an assistant master, teaching English and art history. My stepfather has a successful advertising agency, and I had no interest in a career in his company or any other business.”