THE GIRL FROM
The characters and events in this book
are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is
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Season Of The Devil
And The Girl From Palm
© Copyright 2017
For All My Angels
A Few Devils…
BOY NEXT DOOR
A NIGHT LIKE THIS
TO SHARK BEACH
FROM THE SHADOWS
1 DEVIL’S ISLAND
And on the eighth day God
created Palm Beach…
Palm Beach was
bustling with activity as the global elite toasted another new year
and migrated back to its gilded shores via yacht and private jet. The
shop windows reflected their polymer and spray-tanned faces as they
strolled down Worth Avenue on their way to dine at Bice, Ta-boo, and
the other exclusive restaurants. Their flawless diamonds sparkled
under the quaint streetlights.
The town was
open to all, but only the hand-picked few were truly allowed to enter
and embrace the dream. This select inner circle was deeded access to
the private collections, reserved tables, and the invitation-only
galas that were held inside the magnificent turreted estates. Their
net worth, secrets, and lies, remained securely locked behind those
grand doors. It was surprising that the tiny island didn’t sink
into the ocean with the sudden shift of weight from the sizable egos
that returned each winter to walk its pristine paths.
Everyone knew about
the philanthropic side to Palm Beach and the generous charities, but
very few were aware of its nefarious underworld and the island’s
covert societies. Many of their affairs took place at the
Whitestone Country Club where the members convened without their
spouses to attend these darker soirées.
no one was privy to the club’s register, it boasted the names of
prominent men throughout the world. They were the leaders, the
scholars, the athletes, and the kings of business. They devoutly
swore to uphold the club rules, and above all, they always knew when
to give the Devil
his due. One could only speculate what sacrifices these successful
men made to attain their power. It seems that nothing could ever hold
them back in their quests.
In Palm Beach, only
the insiders knew what really went on inside the Whitestone, and
within its ranks, even fewer knew about the founder
top echelon known as the Black Veil Society. It
was a rare treat to be invited to a Whitestone party and the decadent
frivolity could go on for days. An invitation to a Black Veil affair
was quite the opposite, and it was never a privilege to be the Guest
Kristen Stratford was
the quintessential Palm Beach girl. Both her parents were silver
spooned. Her mother was descended from fine English lineage with not
just one; but two occupants from the Mayflower. The matriarch was
blue-blood WASP all the way, belonged to the “Daughters of the
American Revolution”, and never failed to let everyone know it.
Kristen’s father was the CEO of a major aerospace company and very
active in politics.
born very late into the Stratford marriage and even with the great
difference in age, her busy father always found the time to dote on
her. It was not easy being the youngest in a family filled with
narcissists. Each new birth was greeted with resentment from the
other siblings who realized the meaning of having to share the
wealth. Kristen was somewhat of a mouse, and felt so intimidated by
them that she distanced herself. She might as well have been an only
child since she felt so alone at home.
Of course, according
to Mrs. Stratford, since Kristen had won the baby lotto, it meant she
was supposed to be living the American dream with the perfect
husband, Mercedes, and the majestic house in Chicago’s affluent
suburbs on the north shore of Lake Michigan. It was also socially
mandated that she wintered in Palm Beach in an equally impressive
This is what
“North Shore Brats” grew up to expect. It was deemed to be a
non-stress life of the Garden Club, charity balls, and an ATM card
that never came up declined. By no means, was there ever to be a
struggle to just merely exist…
Now it was
already mid-January and Kristen would have normally left for Florida
by now and would be lazing in the sun, instead of freezing. But this
Season was different and sadly she would not be included in the usual
festivities. This was definitely not going to be the year for her!
She was sliding into her last large chunk of change and was
considered broke, by peer standards, until Margaret, the new
Step-Witch passed. Only then, would Kristen receive the “big”
money from both of her parent’s estates.
Arthur Stratford never imagined that he would suddenly be struck to
the ground by a heart attack a week before his 75th
birthday. He had been in perfect health and not a gray hair in sight.
The “Old Gold Digger”, who he married a short time before he
died, was probably floating in the Stratford’s Palm Beach estate
pool right now and Kristen couldn’t bear the thought of that.
It was very
obvious from the beginning that Margaret resented Kristen for being
her father’s favorite, and the Step Witch had it in for her. After
a while, Kristen gave up trying to get the new wife to like her. It
made her sad and she felt like Cinderella. No one else, except her
two sisters and brother, knew that Margaret had recently cut her off.
And as long as her siblings stroked Margaret, they were assured of
extra funds and a family heirloom doled out early here or there.
money represented security, not greed. And unlike the others in her
world, she actually cared about people and helping them.
High Society was an evil
entity and it was difficult not to be sucked into its game. Kristen
would laugh at the absurdity of it all, but half-heartedly she
continued with the charade since it was expected of a Stratford.
quite the romantic and was only out to find true love. As she aged
and began her ascent to the next tier, she became less sure of her
footing. The wealthier men that she now encountered had more acquired
tastes and a higher threshold for excitement. She either needed to
conform to meet their demands or present a challenge in order to hold
their interest. She hoped she would never become jaded. In the
meanwhile, she had many frogs to kiss and needed to learn more about
herself before she could rise to that point where she could find her
And, if Kristen ever
managed to regain her rightful position on her beloved island again,
it was inevitable that she would eventually meet up with someone from
the Whitestone clan. They already had her in their sights…
2 THE BOY NEXT DOOR
Kristen was a
beautiful blonde debutante with light blue eyes and perfect facial
structure. She was 5’6, all legs, and very fit. Like her mother,
she had been groomed to marry a successful man and let him take care
of things. Kristen always joked that she wanted “clones” of
herself, and she was aware that it would make her mother very happy.
She knew exactly who she wanted their father to be. She had a major
crush on her next-door neighbor Michael Hansen. He would be perfect!
He was tall, with sandy hair and strong model looks.
Michael was only two years older than Kristen, he was so much more
mature. He was
very popular and was always busy dating the cheerleaders and prom
queens. He seemed to have a special light about him that touched
everyone that he was with.
had a soft spot for Kristen and he treated her like his little
sister. During the summer, Michael worked part-time at the local
sailing beach. After spending a day of sunning, Kristen would often
find herself wandering over to the boat shack to visit him. She would
help Michael pull in the smaller sailboats across the sand and mount
them on their racks. The two of them would then huddle together and
tell each other their dreams.
When Kristen was
sixteen, the Hansen family took her on vacation with them to the
Caribbean. Mr. Hansen had arranged to have a private yacht at their
disposal. Kristen and Michael had the vessel all to themselves
one afternoon and he decided that Kristen should learn how to fish.
She leaned over the railing, casting out her line while he kept his
strong arm around her slight body, preventing the wind from carrying
her off. She loved his scent of cocoa butter and musky cologne.
Michael patiently coached her until she reeled in her first one. He
gave her a smile as he removed it for her and she proudly held it up
as he applauded. She then insisted that it go back in the water.
Michael gently released the fish and when he turned back, he gave
Kristen a long kiss. No one was there, except the ocean, and they
couldn’t stop once they started. The magnetism was so strong.
him. “Michael, do you like me?” Michael gave her a cocky look “Of
course I like you Kristen. You’ve always been my buddy!” Kristen
pressed on. “Not like that Michael. You know what I mean.”
Michael stood back from her like a bee had just stung him.
He didn’t have a
chance to answer her. Unexpectedly, his family arrived back early
pulling up in a dinghy and boarded the yacht. His father laughed “So,
did you two have a good time together?” Michael just smiled at him
and went below deck. Kristen told Mr. Hansen about her fish as she
lamented to herself at the loss of her opportunity to land Michael
There were several
other incidents where Michael and Kristen would find themselves
alone, but Michael wouldn’t let anything happen. There were no more
kisses, nor any opportunities to lead her on. Kristen was still crazy
about him. She couldn’t help it. She had unwittingly placed Michael
in the middle of her one-sided teenage fantasy.
Eventually, fall came
and Michael went away to an Ivy League school out east. His parents
flew out to see him whenever he had semester breaks and he didn’t
come back to Illinois. Kristen missed him greatly and realized she
had very strong feelings for Michael. She thought out loud as her
heart jumped. “He’s
She just knew he felt the same.
As the seasons
moved on, Kristen was now ready for college herself and decided to
live at home and attend the prestigious Northwestern University which
was only two miles away. She enjoyed writing and chose Journalism as
her major. A few weeks later, Mrs. Stratford unexpectedly died during
a cosmetic procedure. Kristen was in total shock and felt like she
lost her best friend. It started feeling extra lonely in the
Stratford house and her father seemed to be out of town on business
It did not take long
before a Golf Club Manager introduced her father to Margaret. She was
a sixty-plus socialite that had been a widow for a short time.
Margaret had the term Gold Digger nailed down to perfection. She had
risen far above her ho-dunk roots deep in Georgia. She was a real
southern belle. A real snake!
It had been too
easy for her father to move on and Kristen now came to believe that
her young and beautiful mother had only been a business prop to him.
It seemed that she was just someone to wear on his arm. Kristen was
also thinking that the Stratford children were also part of the show.
They all looked like the perfect family smiling from the gold framed
photo on his office desk. She hoped that no man would ever treat
her solely as a possession.
It only took a
short time for Margaret to work her charms and to Kristen’s dismay,
Mr. Stratford plowed ahead and married her. Kristen moved into an
apartment near campus and she never saw a family holiday again. When
that time of the year popped up, Margaret always made sure they were
either on a cruise, or with her grown children.
had cared deeply for her four children and arranged for an early
trust fund for them. Just a little something to get them by. Each one
was to receive a lump sum and then a distribution each month. The
rest of their mother’s family money would then be made available
whenever her father’s estate was divided after his death.
uneventfully. Kristen was doing very well in college and decided that
she wanted to be a fashion writer. She began working free-lance and
would submit articles to various publications. Her father was proud
of her and began to communicate more often. Kristen wondered if
something was adrift in his marriage since lately he never seemed to
mention his wife to her.
was the following week, so Kristen decided to call him and ask what
he wanted. The phone rang a long time and the machine did not pick
up. She was about to hang up and was pulling the receiver away from
her ear when she heard a familiar voice. It was her brother John.
yelled in utter fear “What are you doing there?” Although he
always buttered Margaret up, Kristen knew John hated the Step Witch
even more than her; in fact he was the one that named her. It was
rare that he would ever go over there to visit. He said quietly
“Kristen, Dad is dead.” Kristen felt her heart absolutely rip
apart inside. A cold mass of air filled her lungs and she almost went
black. She started crying, emitting a primal noise “Oh no! Not my
baby. Not my father!”
John continued “He
died Tuesday morning. We’ve been trying to reach you all week, but
Margaret said she did not know your newest number. We don’t even
know where you live. The funeral is tomorrow at 10 AM. I can’t talk
right now. I will see you there.”
Kristen sadly walked
into her bedroom and felt lonelier than ever. She softly cried
for most of the night. She was definitely not looking forward to
tomorrow or seeing Margaret. “What a liar. The Step-Witch did
indeed know her number.”
Once again, Kristen
dressed in black and drove to their church. She hated funerals. She
was always in such bad shape at them. She ran into her sisters and
brother before the service started. Wide-eyed, her oldest sister told
her that the night before a big water pipe crashed through a guest
bedroom ceiling at her father’s recently built house. Also, a swarm
of bees invaded the living room while Margaret was sitting in there.
John, who had an
unhealthy fondness for Cutty Sark, seemed like he was a little drunk.
He mumbled “Do you think Margaret black-widowed him? That’s too
weird all that stuff happened to her. Maybe, Dad was trying to tell
us something from the grave. You know, it was exactly a week before
birthday, when I think his life insurance expires. I think Margaret
is the sole beneficiary!”
Her sisters, who liked
Margaret, groaned, and even Kristen had to choke out a laugh from
underneath her tears. John looked as if he really believed it.
Kristen said sarcastically “Maybe it’s true!” She looked at
John’s face. “Oh, come on John, you know she didn’t. Go sober
up, will you?”
The church was packed
with extended family members, friends, and Mr. Stratford’s club and
business acquaintances. The back room was also filled to capacity
with guests watching the service on a large television monitor.
Kristen sat on the opposite side of the pew from the Step Witch and
sobbed quietly. She noticed Margaret kept her head down but did not
shed a tear; and twice she pulled out her phone to scroll through her
After the service,
they had the funeral luncheon in a banquet room for closer friends
and relatives. Funeral parties were not an easy thing for Kristen to
enjoy. She hated it when people would see her grieving in public. The
guests always seemed to whoop it up too much at these events. It was
good to see everyone, but it was too hard for her to be there.
Kristen did not see
Margaret the entire time until they were in the restroom together.
They were both standing at the sink when Margaret said “Kristen.
Just who were you crying for at the funeral? It surely wasn’t for
She then walked her
tight butt out of there. Kristen stood there dumbstruck. She could
not believe how mean that woman was. To avoid another run-in, Kristen
decided to drive home and not go back into the party.
A few weeks later
Kristen was surprised to receive the first distribution check of what
inheritance she had immediately coming to her. It was made abundantly
clear that Margaret would only have access to the interest, and never
the principal. The interest was still a lot of money for Margaret,
but Kristen guessed the Step-Witch was taken by surprise and not
pleased knowing that she did not have total control of the whole
estate. If she had, Kristen and her siblings would have never seen a
penny. Margaret had fought off the pre-nuptial, and it was good to
know that her father finally succeeded in the end with preserving the
family money which was intended to be passed down through the
generations to come.
Kristen knew the
obvious choice was for her to immediately move down to Palm Beach.
That was the place that always made her the happiest. But she did not
have the amount of straight cash that was needed to secure a home
there. That was going to have to wait until her big inheritance.
Within a week, she
arranged her move and was ready to hit the road. The drive went well,
and on the second day she entered Georgia. It was in the upper 70’s.
She had held onto her winter coat for just this occasion and threw it
into a dumpster outside of Taco Bell.
finally entered Florida, the sky seemed wider and it lightened up
like a blanket that was pulled down from her eyes. The road shot
straight down the middle of the state and she could sense the Gulf
and the ocean growing closer as she continued on to the southern
tip. Kristen had the air conditioner on full blast and was
tempted to stop at a hotel just so she could plunge into a pool. But
the urge to finalize the journey kept her going and she finally
reached Palm Beach around midnight.
As the street sloped
upwards, Kristen could now see the illuminated bridge ahead. Crossing
the Intracoastal, she was greeted by the magnificent royal palms as
they lined themselves in a meticulous row along each side of avenue.
She had returned to her
promised land and looked forward to seeing the ocean in the morning.
It would be another new beginning.
3 SHARK BEACH
The horizon emerged
from nowhere cascading deep reds into the abyss. It hung heavy above
the water, devoid of motion. Suddenly, a large black fin shot up,
growing larger and menacing in silhouette against the shadows.
Kristen jolted up from
behind the wheel of her car and watched it make a stealth pass
through the few feet of water just off the shore. It then seemed to
melt back into the dark.
She could not believe
that she finally saw her first shark! And, so close! She was enjoying
making herself feel quite fearful and in a state of awe, until she
snapped back and noticed the sun was taking an unbearably long time
to show itself. She was growing impatient.
As she parked at the
curb awaiting the sunrise, she had a copy of yesterday’s newspaper
with her. Holding it rumpled in the air, she squinted and pushed it
up on the ceiling toward the map light. She paged over to the weather
What happens in the six
“For God’s sake!
The sun rose a heck of a lot earlier at home.” This delay was
ruining what started out as an almost sacred event for her. She had
not done this in years and was determined to see it through.
What does happen
during the six
minutes? Those minutes were the blackest early moments when the shark
They always say “It’s
always darkest before the dawn.” That just about summed up her
life. She always had to suffer before things improved. Even rich
people had their own set of problems. She
noticed as soon as it began to brighten that the waves started up
again and gently rolled into the shore.
She could now
see the dim outlines of a few people on the beach and more early
birds sitting in two cars down the block from her. It seemed that the
redness only developed more.
She got out of the car
and sifted through the sand to the water. She was hoping to see the
shark again. She sat down on the damp beach perching on top of her
hands and noticed a couple approaching about a hundred feet from her.
They kicked off their shoes
and ran into the water. Kristen knew she should warn them, but kept
silent. She cringed when they took a dive right where the shark had
been. It was like watching a movie, she felt she couldn’t move or
speak. The pair laughed and played around as Kristen witnessed with
morbid curiosity. The shark did not re-surface. Complete exhaustion
finally caused her to abandon the show. She was slightly amused by
the fact she never said anything to them. That wasn’t like her. Now
that she was back on the island, she felt herself changing. She
wondered why? She wasn’t feeling like herself anymore.
walked back to her car and drove to the hotel. Later that morning,
she felt she should tell someone about the shark. She called up the
town hall and they patched her through to someone in lifeguard
services. The man who answered seemed disinterested as she told him
of the sighting. He said large sharks were a common occurrence as
they migrated back north and they did indeed come in close to shore.
That was news to her. Kristen decided to never go swimming in the
The next day Kristen
obtained a copy of the town’s newspaper which was fondly nicknamed
the “Shiny Sheet”. She only saw a few ads for house rentals.
There was a month to month place near the beach. It cost an
incredible amount, but it was perfect for Kristen’s needs. Sight
unseen, she pounced on it and sealed the deal on the phone. In Palm
Beach, that’s what you had to do. Rentals were rare and went fast.
her truck arrived from Illinois the next day, she went over to pick
up the key from the realtor’s office. The owner planned to
eventually sell the small house, so it was empty when Kristen showed
up. They had kept the pool open and Kristen jumped right in.
She loved Palm Beach!
The flowers were always in bloom and tropical birds abounded. The
white egrets replaced the black sparrows that she was used to seeing
up north. Being on a barrier island, it had that extra humidity with
a cooling wind that always lulled her into a tranquil state. It made
her dry winter skin feel delicious. Her hair felt softer and her mind
The owner decided to
come by and personally bring her the final papers to sign off on.
Kristen was in the pool when he walked up and surprised her. He was
in his seventies and very distinguished looking. He was down south
taking care of a few details before heading back to New York where
they had another estate. It seemed that he was enjoying the time away
from his wife and asked “Can I join you in the pool?” Kristen
answered “Sure.” He added “I’m sorry, but I don’t have a
suit with me.” Laughing nervously, she quickly started up the pool
ladder. “I think I have already had too much sun today. I am going
inside. But you can go ahead and swim.”
He walked up to her
and stroked her arm. “Come on, you’ve got a great body. No one
will know.” Kristen put her towel around her and started to walk
back into the house.” He followed her “I’ll lower the rent.
Let’s party.” She answered “I’m saving myself for Le Bar
tonight.” The bar was the newest hot spot on the island and
everyone wanted to be seen there. He then invited her to go to dinner
with him at Club Collette, an exclusive restaurant which was only for
members. She loved the place and had often dined there with her
parents, so she eagerly accepted the offer.
The Landlord showed up in
a chauffeured Rolls, which was standard transportation for the Palm
Beach crowd. She climbed into the back seat and guarded her knees
from him with her clutch. He smiled a lot at her. Maybe he thought he
was going to get lucky at some point, he was probably used to it. He
looked at her legs “I see you didn’t wear nylons. I like that.”
Kristen said “I know that’s how the girls roll on the island.”
He answered “You are right dear. You fit right in. You are a lot
classier than most of them, especially for your age.” He lowered
his voice "Are you old enough to drink?” She
nodded her head affirmatively. Then she said sheepishly
“Well, almost. My birthday is August 8th. I’m a Leo." He
chuckled like a dirty old man “Well, then young lioness, you are
too old for me. I’ll go easy on you.” The driver announced their
destination and swiftly went to open their doors.
Club Colette was a beautiful
building set back hidden on a narrow street. If you didn’t know to
look for it, you could easily miss seeing its small white gate. As
they walked in, the room was filled with expensive perfume and
It was a much older
crowd than she expected. The Palm Beach Originals may be getting on
in years, but the new money hadn’t quite taken over the island yet,
and they still ruled supreme. Club Colette was one of their last
holdouts and Kristen felt like she was at a party at her
They had a wonderful
meal and many glasses of wine. As she finished her dessert, her
landlord knew she was frothing at the mouth to get over to Le Bar.
She really wanted to see what all the buzz was about. Though he was
nice, she didn’t want to waste her time with him; he was too old,
and there was so much that the night had to offer her. But she didn’t
want to go alone into the Le Bar either, so she happily pulled him
along behind her.
Kristen had a great
time dancing and mingling with the others. Contrary to belief, the
local crowd was not snooty and was usually very friendly. But that
was the case only if they knew you belonged
there. The bartenders were also a lot of fun and openly poured
drinks. They went through countless bottles pleasing the crowd and
not the owner’s coffers.
Kristen easily met
several wealthy men. They always welcomed a fresh young face to the
scene. Her date didn’t mind and was busy hiding from his wife’s
friends by keeping mostly to their table which was hidden in a
As the night progressed, the
crowd became younger and he felt safe to be seen again. He was quite
the “duck” on the disco floor and Kristen enjoyed being out with
When the night wore
out, he escorted her to the front area and parked her while he went
to the Men’s Lounge. Kristen posed and smiled as the crowd walked
past. A handsome figure approached her. His tight black shirt was
unbuttoned to his chest and enhanced his sculpted muscles. He had
long blonde hair and looked like a bronzed god straight off the cover
of a drugstore romance novel. Best of all, he looked to be around her
She stood to the side
to let him by, but he walked right up and took her hand. He leaned
over to kiss it and held it lightly in the air as he introduced
He brushed a long bang to the side of his forehead and smiled at her.
“I have been watching you all night. I am Gregory.” Kristen
laughed and told him her name. He kissed her hand again. “What will
it take to get you to go back in and dance with me?”
Her landlord returned
and he gave a nasty look at Gregory as he grabbed her arm. “Come on
Honey, it’s time to go home.” Gregory looked confused as The
Landlord tried to pull Kristen away from him. She looked back and
forth at the two of them and was ready to say something, when her
landlord whispered into her ear. “That guy is one of the most
loathsome “Lotharios” on the island. I don’t care for the
company he keeps. You do not want to ever meet his friends from the
country club. I have heard that they are probably a bunch of devil
worshippers. They do some kinky stuff in there. You need to go with
Kristen gave Gregory a
worried look and didn’t say a word. The Landlord did it for her. He
firmly said “We are going now. Enjoy your evening Sir.” He turned
Kristen around and steered her toward the door. Gregory sputtered
“Who is that guy? Your father?” Kristen glanced back at him and
smiled as she was walked off. The Landlord shot Gregory an angry
The Landlord was full
of information about Gregory and gave Kristen an earful as they were
driven back to her house. She was not that appreciative of his
one-sided cautionary words and did not reply. She thought Gregory was
hot and was tempted to drive back to the club on her own and find
him. The Rolls pulled up in her driveway and she quickly got out.
The Landlord did not
try to prolong their date because Kristen had made it quite clear
throughout the night that she had no interest in him. He didn’t
mind since he had enough young girlfriends to keep him occupied, and
they never presented a challenge. She thanked him for dinner and
early and decided to walk
to the beach instead of staying by her pool. She always managed to
get a much better tan at the ocean. She
enjoyed that there was barely anyone else there. Even with thoughts
of Gregory keeping her warm, there
were no men anywhere in sight,
a short time Kristen
was starting to get bored. Two girls crossed
the sand and laid
their towels down by her. The trio started talking and she learned
that their names were Linda and Melanie. They were very interesting
and it seemed that Kristen had the good fortune to meet up with
kindred spirits that were her age.
girls were from Southern California and were staying in Palm Beach at
a Penthouse condo owned by Melanie’s boss. She told her that he let
them stay there whenever they wanted. Kristen figured that Melanie
probably had a thing going with her employer.
What a deal! As
long as they weren’t married, Kristen
she had that type of arrangement with men so she could stay at
different places around the world.
a great time until the sun became unbearable and mutually decided to
go get a
late lunch. They
walked back into town and went over to Green’s Pharmacy. Green’s
was very popular for its small and low-key vintage luncheonette which
was straight out of the 1960’s. It seemed oddly out of place in
such a stuffy atmosphere as Palm Beach. The menu was simple and the
prices were cheap. The diners wore everything from designer cocktail
dresses to tennis outfits to sandy bathing suits.
was a lively place to be, complete with some tough talking waitresses
and the aroma of hamburgers sizzling on the greasy grill in full view
just a few feet away. In Green’s you could
see the richest men in the world elbow to elbow at the same long
lunch counter with uniformed landscape crews. Everyone was on equal
turf here and very friendly to all.
and the girls managed to procure a small table. They sat down on the
thinly padded chairs and ordered the specials. The dining area was
very cramped and you couldn’t help listening in on the
conversations from all sides. It was a great place to people-watch.
women were busy eating their salads when an unexpected guest
approached them. Kristen observed as Linda stood up and gave the
middle-aged gray haired visitor a quick hug. The man then sat down
with them. Melanie began devouring her meal which had now been served
and didn’t pay much attention to him. “Well, how are you bathing
beauties doing today?” Linda laughed “You look like you could use
a tan Bernie.” He chuckled “I will get around to it later. I flew
in for a bash at one of the country clubs. I am
one of their top members.”
He made small talk for another five minutes and stood up to leave.
“You girls should really get in on some new ventures that I have
going.” He pointed at Kristen. She replied “Don’t look at me. I
love money too much to invest it in anything that isn’t a
shook his head with a frown. “You need to take a small risk or two
if you are going to make any money. You really need to talk to an
investment counselor.” He gave Linda a kiss on the cheek and handed
Kristen his business card. He then went over to a table filled with
men in golfing outfits.
laughed “When Bernie Madoff speaks, you should listen! He is one of
the major players on Wall Street. Many of the people and foundations
on the island are hooked up with him and making a lot of money. My
boss introduced me to him.”
looked disinterested and did not comment. When they finished eating,
they stood up and tightened their towels around their trim waists.
Kristen didn’t have any pockets and left Bernie’s glossy card on
her plate. As appreciative eyes followed them, the new friends filed
out of the diner and returned to the beach. It was a lazy day!
girls flew in almost every week-end from L.A. and they spent the next
two months partying together and hitting up every club on the Gold
Coast. Her friends were much wilder than Kristen and she learned a
few things from them.
arrived and the girls spent
a long afternoon
that they rented from a marina in Boca Raton. They enjoyed the
attention they received from all the men on the other boats and found
it to be a very useful dating tool. The
sun was brutal and soon they had enough of it.
went home to change and then later
in the evening she went
over to the penthouse to
meet her friends. After
some refreshments, they
walked the three blocks to the Le Bar. They kept on the grass and
carried their heels. A few sports cars drove by and whistled as they
now made their way down Cocoanut Row. They were getting close and
about to cross over the large parking lot, so they stopped to put
back on their shoes. A Rolls-Royce pulled in front of their path. An
older Italian man with obviously dyed black hair jumped out of the
“Girls, girls, get
in! Let me take you on the town.” Kristen was still trying to get
her shoe on and keep her balance. She looked up to see that he was
headed straight for her. He took her arm to steady her. “Thanks.”
He said in a sexy
Italian accent “And whom may I have the pleasure of
escorting?” “I’m Kristen,” she said. The other girls
were watching them. “We’re going ahead” Melanie whined. “Not
enough attention here for us.” They walked over to the Le Bar
The man said to
Kristen. “Come in my Rolls for some champagne.” Kristen slowly
thought about it and said, “Alright, that would be nice. What is
your name?” “I am Rosario. Rosario of Palm Beach” he gave a
sweeping bow. Kristen inquired, “Is that your first name or last?”
He shrugged and said “Does it matter? I am like Cher! Everyone
knows me. I just need one name. “OK then,” Kristen laughed, as
the driver let her in the vehicle.
She looked around the
car saying “It seems all the men on the island have at least one
Rolls.” Rosario explained “This is just my car when I am planning
to drink. I have four other cars that I had shipped over from my
house in Milan. I do all the driving with those babies!” He started
naming them off “Testarossa, Lamborghini…” Kristen cut him off
“OK, I know all of those. That’s great. I love Ferraris!”
Rosario whispered in
her ear “Stick with me for a month and I will buy you one.”
Kristen looked at him. He looked serious. She replied “Well, let’s
see if we can make it through this bottle of champagne first.”
Rosario said “This bubbly is one of the finest. It is for sipping
and enjoying. If you want to get drunk, we’ll go inside.” He
seemed a little bossy. It was probably because Kristen was acting
somewhat childish. She needed to adjust herself for these older and
cultured conquests. She was still in her advanced Palm Beach adult
learning phase and it was hard to restrain herself. She had to act
Kristen said “Yes,
let’s go inside. I want to be with my girlfriends.” Rosario had
the driver pull out of the spot and take them all the way to the
front door which was only twenty feet away.
The Manager made a
special trip outside to greet Rosario. He said “Rosario! I have
your favorite table ready by the dance floor. It’s good to see you
again.” He smiled at Kristen “Any friend of Rosario’s is now my
friend. I am here to provide you with anything you need. Tell me your
name and I will keep you on our list.” She cheerfully handed him
her card and thanked him.
Kristen knew that this
was a major asset needed to survive in Palm Beach. Being a VIP always
had its perks. Lately, Le Bar was trying to keep gawkers and
non-essentials out by charging a steep cover and making them wait in
long lines. During Season, those unfortunates simply did not get in.
It was just too crowded, every day of the week.
The couple was taken
to Rosario’s table and handed menus. Kristen wasn’t hungry, but
decided to order an appetizer. Rosario waved to her girlfriends and
they came over and sat down. He had them order a full dinner for
themselves and then bothered Kristen about being skinny. She finally
gave in and asked for a chicken sandwich.
Now Melanie and Linda
were trying to hit on Rosario. They needed a Sugar Daddy to take care
of them whenever they came in from California. Rosario was only into
Kristen and once the other girls had eaten, he encouraged them to go
find partners on the dance floor.
When they moved on, he said
“Thank God, now I have you to myself. They were giving me a
headache with all that Valley Girl twang.” Kristen chuckled. She
knew that she was never going to suck into Rosario. He was too
controlling and cranky. But she played along with him, and it was
going to be tough trying to keep him at bay.
Rosario kept refilling
her glass and tried to keep her at the table. Kristen stood up and
announced “I really want to dance. I’ve got to work off this
food.” Rosario said “Tonight, I am not in the mood to boogie.
Please just sit here with me.” Kristen said “I’ve got to move!
I’m getting worn out sitting.”
She started to walk in
the direction of her girlfriends. Rosario called out “I will wait
for you. Please behave yourself.” Kristen waved at him and
cheerfully walked up to a herd of men that had Melanie and Linda
Their group moved to
the other side of the bar and out of Rosario’s line of vision. They
found a safe spot and stood there as countless people milled about
them. Kristen enjoyed getting some fast dancing in before her feet
called it a night. Her heels were too high to be comfortable in.
She slowly walked back
to Rosario. His table was now filled with women and they were also
standing around him. Kristen recognized two popular soap opera stars.
It sounded like he was telling them a wild tale when she came up to
them. A waiter hurriedly added a chair for her and put her right next
to Rosario. He patted her knee “You are such a beauty Kristina!”
Kristen smiled at him “Grazie Rosario!” Rosario was impressed
with her Italian and he dramatically shooed the women away. He
said “I want to take you for a ride. But no Valley girls allowed!”
Kristen replied “That’s OK, I guess.” Kristen had a waiter go
to her girlfriends to tell them she was leaving; her feet were too
sore to do it herself.
The Manager walked up
to Rosario to bid him “Arrivederci”. He patted Kristen on the
back and said “Take good care of him.” Kristen gave him a special
look so he knew she had no intentions of any hanky-panky with
Rosario. The Manager seemed to understand her and laughed “Kristen,
I’ll see you back here soon and I will personally keep you happy.”
He gave her a wink and then a flirtatious pat on her butt. Kristen
scooted forward to slip away from his hand. Rosario was walking ahead
and didn’t notice anything.
When they went
outside, Kristen was expecting to see the Rolls-Royce. Instead,
Rosario must have had someone bring him his race car, because a hot
red Ferrari Testarossa was revving up in front.
Rosario said “You said you
liked Ferraris Kristina. So, we ride in my Ferrari.” Kristen
applauded “Molto Bene!” She jumped in. “Let’s go!” Rosario
gunned the engine and tore out of there with a big screech. Everyone
in the lot turned to look.
They zoomed over the
Intracoastal Bridge and took a fast turn on Flagler. He had a wild
streak in him that she connected to. They
talked about Italy and his business. Rosario’s family had been
exporting Italian marble and other materials globally for over sixty
years and he had homes in several countries. He said he only was in
Palm Beach maybe one to two months of the year and sometimes for
week-end visits. He had a mansion on the ocean located in the South
Kristen was starting
to like him now and would happily dine with him, but she never
entertained the thought of progressing it into his bedroom. He was
way out of her age range and Rosario just didn’t have that effect
on her. If Kristen wanted someone; she knew right away.
They headed out by the
turnpike and he drove the car at 140 MPH for a long stretch. No one
else was on the road. He would have gone faster, but Kristen asked
him to slow down.
Rosario then drove
back to the island and deposited her back at her car by the
penthouse. He gave her a tired kiss on the cheek. “Good night
Kristina. It was fun. I should take you to the Whitestone sometime.
They throw great parties. I will call you.”
She replied “How can
you call if you don’t know my number?” Rosario said “Don’t
worry.” Kristen just looked puzzled and thought, “These rich men
are strange characters. You never know what they want or what they
are thinking.” Kristen did not like it when someone did not make
their intentions clear. She felt if they were not going to pursue
her, she was just going to move on, she didn’t need their game. As
she emerged from the car she straightened up and could feel the
sunburn from earlier intensifying on her back.
Kristen woke up to a
fresh day and renewed her attitude. She really did prefer it in
Florida more than up north. She was always eager to play a lot of
tennis, golf, and ride horses. She was probably the only person there
that especially loved the excessive humidity. When it wasn’t The
Season, life was still a party, but it just wasn’t the same.
But then, after a few
more weeks, Kristen decided she was
getting bored with the whole scene and wanted to move back home. She
called up Linda and Melanie and told them her plans and that she
would start flying out to Los Angeles to party there instead. She
drove back to Chicago a few days later. She liked the idea of being
less accessible and living the true island life, so she kept the
house lease open. She decided to go back to Palm Beach whenever she
had a whim. It would be costly, but she needed that spontaneity. It
kept her more exciting!
When Kristen returned
to Illinois, she immediately rented a large house in her hometown.
She didn’t plan to stay in it long. She just needed to breathe
while thinking of where she was going to buy permanent quarters.
Instead of being happy, she only felt like a fish out of water again,
and knew it was a mistake to leave Palm Beach. Her plans were too
grandiose to be stuck back at home again. She felt like she needed to
re-invent herself; otherwise she was going to jump out of her
Kristen’s persistence with trying to advance in her career now paid
off. A few of the top fashion magazines wanted to take her on as a
regular contributor. They paid well and liked that she had her own
fresh outlook with regards to the industry and trends. This extra
income was certainly welcome and would help to feed her voracious
wardrobe needs and demanding lifestyle. She would also earn the last
of her college credits that were needed to accelerate getting her
late afternoon, after spending hours going through her style manuals,
Kristen felt extra bored and knew that an outing downtown was just
what she needed. She rounded up her girlfriends and set the plan in
4 SUGAR DADDY 101
Cabaret was dimly lit
with red lights reflecting off the crushed velvet on the wall. It
gave off the essence of a bordello with a hint of sophistication, and
surprisingly enough, it was one of the classiest restaurants in
downtown Chicago! It was also well known for the executives and
tourists that trickled in and congregated around the bar area without
Kristen loved Cabaret.
It came alive when the other places closed, every day of the week.
Tonight, there was still a great assortment of extremely well-dressed
men, and lucky for her, a minimal number of gold diggers and pros.
It was a long night
and she had easily outlasted her girlfriends. They had abandoned her
two hours before. Kristen was just there to get a bite to eat before
she went home. The restaurant area was closed, but they still had
food in the lounge.
She had just finished
eating when she looked across the bar. A tall, handsome man was
staring at her. He was one of the sharpest dressers she had ever
seen! He had black diamonds on his collar pin and the look of
unchallenged power. Kristen could always tell who the president of a
company was, and who was not. Tonight, she could smell Multi-National
wafting across the bar.
She was startled from
her thoughts when the bartender suddenly placed a bottle of Dom
Perignon on ice in front of her. She was aware of whom it was from
and she knew what to do. She smiled at the bartender “I
don’t want this.” He looked shocked and put it back in front of
the obvious sender. Without a flinch, and with a chuckle, her
generous stranger looked completely delighted. He poured himself a
glass and gave a toast to her across the bar. Kristen thought she
would be funny. She asked the bartender for a bottle of beer and
uncharacteristically took a swig from it and toasted him back.
The man smiled and
slowly rose from his seat. He picked up the silver bucket and walked
around the bar towards Kristen. There was a gentleman to her right
side that was slumped over his drink. He looked up, and with a
non-verbal acknowledgement of a higher presence, he swiftly vacated
Mr. Important sat down
very casually as the bartender quickly cleared him a space. The man
slowly poured Kristen a glass of champagne and handed it to her. She
was blushing by now and was absolutely impressed. She knew it was
going to be hard to play any further games with him. He was too
amazing; he was too much of what she wanted.
Of course, she had to
ruin the moment. She slowly forced her eyes to look at his left hand.
And, to no surprise, the gold ring gleamed right back at her. He saw
her looking at it, gave her an evil grin, and said “Aww, too bad!
You still want me, don’t you? My name is William, and you are
Kristen. Am I correct?” Kristen looked a bit puzzled. She had never
seen him before or she would have remembered. She wondered how he
knew her name. The bartender came sheepishly back up to him. “Excuse
me, Mr. Bensinger. Can I get you some strawberries?” William
replied “I’m alright, but you better go check up on our other
guests who are still left at the end of the bar.”
Kristen inquired “You
own this place?” The mystery thickened. William smiled at her
without an answer. He had turned his head away and Kristen saw that
he was looking toward a matronly, jewel-soaked, and overbearing
woman who she knew was Liz, a regular. Liz walked over and pushed her
way in between them. She shoved her ample chest in his face and said
“I think it’s time to go now William, I’m tired!” He replied
“You go on. I’ll be there in a bit.” He refused to say another
word or even look at her. She gave Kristen a murderous look and
another glass for himself and quickly gulped it down. He said “So
much about me. What about you?” Kristen smiled. He reached over for
her hand and said “Let’s dance.” The piano player was tapping
out a romantic tune. William put his arm around her, drawing her very
close. With her head resting on his shoulder, she knew this was the
beginning of a long acquaintance. They danced and talked for the rest
of the hour.
Kristen could see out
of the corner of her eye that the place was slowly emptying out. Soon
the lights were turned even lower and they were the only ones
left. The ice was melted and the piano became quieter. He
kissed her on the forehead, gave her his business card, and led her
to the front of the lounge area. She stumbled a little as she walked
and pulled out her valet ticket.
concerned and said “You’re not driving. Cabaret keeps a suite at
the Hilton for our favorite patrons.” Kristen quickly replied “I
am not drunk. I am just very tired and trying to break in these new
shoes." William smiled “I’ll have my driver take you over
there and one of the boys will drop your car off in the hotel lot so
you’ll have it in the morning.” William added “Actually, I can
come and fetch you for lunch.” Kristen said “Thank you; it is a
long drive home. I would
rather do it in the afternoon.”
The limo pulled up.
William opened the door for her and gave her a long and meaningful
kiss as he placed her inside. As they drove off, Kristen
could see that he was still watching her. She looked back at him as
he walked across the street from Cabaret and into one of the
ultra-luxury high-rises that had just been built in the neighborhood.
Kristen leaned forward
from her seat and knocked on the driver’s privacy window. He slid
it open. “Who is he?” The chauffeur politely told her that he had
no information to offer. She realized she still had his business card
clenched in her hand and looked at it. William was the CEO of one of
the larger international corporations. It also sunk in that he
was “The” William Bensinger who played golf with U.S.
Presidents and was the benefactor of many. He was very well known and
was always in the papers. Susan saw that he had written down
his private number at work and his cell phone. She smiled as she
secured this treasure in her purse.
The limo pulled up to
the Hilton. The night manager came out and personally escorted her up
to her suite. She collapsed on the bed and fell asleep.
When she woke, she
opened the curtains and could tell the sun was high in the sky. She
guessed it must have been around noon. She noticed the message light
on the hotel phone was blinking, so she pushed it to listen.
“Good morning Kristen.”
It was William! He said “I am hard at work right now and I am sure
it is late in the morning by the time you are listening to this. When
you are ready, just go to the front desk and they will bring your car
around. Feel free to get some lunch first and charge it to my
Kristen showered and
dressed. She was embarrassed that she was still wearing nightclub
garb and it was obvious she had stayed out all night. The fact it was
a week-day made it all look even worse. She went to the front lobby
pulling her coat around her to hide her sparkly dress.
Her car was brought
quickly to the front and she got in. She took another peek at
William’s business card. She noticed his office building was
close-by, so in a bold move she pulled up in front of it and dialed
his cell. Surprisingly, he answered it. “Hi, it’s Kristen. I’m
in front of your building. Why don’t you come and have lunch with
me like you said you wanted to last night?” William laughed “Tell
you what. Let’s get a liquid lunch over at the Palmer House. Just
pull your car into our parking garage and I’ll meet you at the door
As she waited for him,
Kristen felt even more embarrassed as she stood on the busy business
district street in her four inch heels. She felt like a hooker and
wished that night would come again so she would feel more
comfortable. She pulled her hair over to the sides to hide her
A black limousine
pulled up. The tinted back window lowered a few inches and two
fingers stuck out wiggling at her. William and the driver both
emerged to let her in the back door. William waved him off, and with
a sweeping grand gesture, he opened it himself. He gave her a little
pinch on the rear as she climbed in. It felt very cozy being with him
on the spacious leather seats. He eased her shoulders back down and
climbed on top of her passionately smothering her with kisses.