Excerpt for The Devil's Intended-Love & Evil In Palm Beach by , available in its entirety at Smashwords










The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.  All rights reserved, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

The publisher is not responsible for websites or their contents that are not owned by the publisher.









Devil’s Island Publications-Palm Beach

© Copyright 2017


For Smashwords Distribution

ISBN: 9781370818389























For All My Angels




A Few Devils…


















16  A.K.A. “TONY”









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.


The "Season" had begun!


 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. Though 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 and his 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 of Honor.

 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.   

   Kristen was 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 ocean-front mansion.

   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.

   The illustrious 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.

   To Kristen, 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.

   Kristen was 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 prince.

  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…




  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.

   Although 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.  

   Michael always 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.

 Kristen challenged 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 too.

 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 the one!” 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 more often.

  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.

   Mrs. Stratford 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. 

   Time passed 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.

   His birthday 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.

 Kristen practically 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 his 75th 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 text messages.

 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 your father.”

 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. 

   When she 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.



 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 blurb.


Moonset: 6:54...  Sunrise: 7:00…

What happens in the six minutes in between?


 “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 appeared.   

 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.

   She slowly 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 ocean again.

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. After 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 was rested.

 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 pretentious toupees.

 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 grandparents.

 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 corner.

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 him. 

 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 age.

 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 himself.

 “Hello Beautiful.” 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 me now.”

 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 look.

 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 walked inside.

   Kristen woke up 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, and after 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. 

 The 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 somewhat wished she had that type of arrangement with men so she could stay at different places around the world.

 They all had 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.

 It 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.

 Kristen 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.

 The 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 guaranteed return.”

 Bernie 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.

 Melanie 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.”

 Kristen 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!

 The 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.

 Another sunny day arrived and the girls spent a long afternoon on a boat 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.   

   Kristen 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 back seat.

 “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.” Kristen smiled. 

 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 entrance.

 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 less excited.

 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 surrounded.

 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 End.

 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 skin.   

   At least 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 degree.

   One 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 motion…



 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 their wives.

 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 his post.

 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 huffed out.

 William administered 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.

 William looked 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 account.”

 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 there.”

 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 dangling earrings.

 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.   

  Kristen pushed him away. “Whoa Cowboy! You’re going to have to wine a dine me first. A lot!” He gathered himself together and sat back away from her laughing. “Oh, come on, you’re not an easy girl?” Kristen laughed and answered quickly. “Not until I get a lot of money and some jewelry out of you first. Just kidding. You know it’s all about the pursuit. Right?”

 He looked at her wisely. “It’s all too true” He nodded his head with a mocked sadness and then dropped it to his chest, like he ran out of air. He then popped up and started tickling her. “Come on fun girl. Let’s go!”

 They had now pulled up in front of the Palmer House. He put his arm around her as they walked downstairs to the world famous Tiki Bar. As they sat down, Kristen glanced around at the tropical setting. William said “What will it be? Food or Booze?” She answered “How about both? I’ll take a steak sandwich and a Mai Tai.” “I concur” he said and summoned the waiter.

 William seemed very relaxed. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned it off saying “I guess the world will have to wait.” He took a long sip of his drink, drew Kristen closer, and began kissing her neck. They seemed to be the only ones in there now. The lunch hour rush was over.

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