A successful attorney with a prestigious Manhattan law firm, Philip Randall is living the good life with a rich wife, luxurious lifestyle, and gorgeous mistress, until a former prep-school classmate arrives with incriminating photographs of Randall with his mistress and with blackmail in mind. A first novel. 50,000 first printing.
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Howard Roughan is a former Manhattan-based advertising creative director. He lives in Weston, Connecticut.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
ONE The four of us were having dinner together, as we so often did. It was at the Grange Hall down in the West Village. There were Connor and Jessica, Tracy and me. Connor, never one to instigate a conversation let alone dominate it, was nonetheless center stage. "I realized the other day," he began, his narrow eyes darting back and forth among us, "that we're all at the age now where we can really only rely on our instincts and intellect in order to succeed." Connor stopped for a moment, presumably to let the supposed magnitude of this statement sink in. He continued: "When you think about it, from the ages of, like, twenty-eight to... oh, let's say thirty-four, we're all kind of just out there without a net. I mean, when we're older than that, odds are we'll have collected enough experience- personal, professional, what have you-to get our asses out of almost any jam. And when we were younger, let's face it, nothing really too significant was expected of us, precisely because we didn't have any experience. But those in-between years-right now-that's when we're really on our own." I remember watching Connor finish that last sentence, the way he deliberately reached for a packet of sugar as if he were testing out an artificial limb. I remember because it was at that precise moment that I wish it had occurred to me: I should probably stop f---ing his wife.
Absolutely incredible!" Tracy stood before me, loaded shopping bags in hand, a smile ear to ear. She'd been gone a good six hours. "Back so soon?" I said, barely looking up from my Sunday Times. But it was clear there wasn't enough sarcasm in the world to burst my wife's bubble. She just ignored me. "Everything fit; everything I tried on fit me like a glove. It was like karma... clothes karma!" Tracy said with a giggle. "That's what it was!" Now hold it right there. Were this most anyone else's apartment and the same scene was being played out, odds are the guy in my shoes would start huffing and puffing about how much this little shopping spree was going to set him back. Some heated words would be exchanged, followed by a full-blown argument that in turn would give way to any number of tantrum-related activities such as kicking, screaming, or heaving a vase across the room. But this wasn't anyone else's apartment, this was our 3,500- square-foot penthouse loft in Chelsea, paid for in cash by my father-in-law, Lawrence Metcalf, as a wedding gift two years ago. Which is not to say I married for money. No, I married for a lot of money. So when Tracy would go four figures deep into Bergdorf's.or Bendel's, or, on this particular Sunday afternoon, Saks Fifth Avenue, I, Philip Randall, couldn't really give a shit. It wasn't our money she was spending, it was Daddy's, and you didn't have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to figure out that whatever moral or self-esteem issues one might have with that, it simply wasn't worth acting on them. Period. "Philip, if you want me, I'll be in the bedroom." That was code, of course. It meant Tracy wanted to have sex. As if wealth wasn't a blessing enough unto itself, it so happened that spending money made my wife horny. Really horny. And the more she spent, the more horny she got. It actually made for an interesting postcoital ritual. We would finish up, and depending on whatever it was she had let me do to her and how much she had been into it, I would try to guess how much money she'd just spent. Once, on a whim, she bought herself a Cartier Pasha watch at Tourneau. It was the only time we ever had anal sex.
"That was at least three G's," I gasped, rolling off her. "Two thousand," she gasped back. "Though not including tax." (Truth be told, I wouldn't have rated it much more than a couple hundred, however, I had learned early on to always come in at a higher number.) Tracy got up from the bed and headed for the bathroom. I watched her. She was still very thin, as thin as when we first met four years ago. Her breasts were not large, but they were round, a nice shape. Occasionally, after too much to drink, she'd talk about getting implants, though I knew it was something that she'd never do. "Oh, guess who I bumped into?" came her voice from the bathroom. "Who?" Tracy reappeared in her robe. "Tyler Mills," she said. "No shit." "Yeah, he remembered me and everything. Of course, I didn't have a clue who he was at first. He looked horrible, though." "Funny how a suicide attempt will do that to you," I said. "Where'd you see him?" "Outside of Saks. He was standing by the doors." "By himself?" Tracy nodded. "What'd you talk about?" "Nothing, really; I asked how he was doing and all that. It was- Oh, on second thought, he did say something strange; well, not really strange, just kind of weird." "What was it?" "He said he hoped to be talking to you soon." "You thought that was weird?" I asked. "It was the way he said it, like it was something that you might not want to do." "What, did he say that?" "No, I got the sense that there was more to it, though," she said. "Do you know what it's about?" "Not a clue." "Anyway, I gave him our number as well as your one at work. That was okay, right?"
Copyright (c) 2001 by Howard Roughan
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