Samurai GameBy: Christine Feehan
Congressman John Waters stroked his hand up the silken thigh of his companion until he reached the top of her stocking, where his fingers traced bare skin. He leaned toward her and whispered in her ear so he could be heard above the blasting music. “Would you like one more drink before we leave?”
Brenda Bennett sent him a practiced smile and turned her face so she could nip his earlobe with her teeth before whispering back, “Make it a Red Bull and vodka. I want to spend a long time tonight with you. I have so many delicious things I’ve been thinking of doing with you and I don’t want to chance falling asleep.” She paused, her breath warm against his ear. “Either one of us.” Her tongue teased his earlobe.
“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Waters said with what he thought was a sexy leer.
Brenda playfully touched his leg with the stiletto heel of her sexy red open-toe shoes. “I’ll visit the ladies’ room and make certain I’m looking my best for you.”
“You always look your best,” the congressman assured his favorite companion. He patted her thigh and stood up to make his way through the crowd to the bar.
Brenda glanced to her left, her eyes meeting the woman seated at the table adjacent to hers, giving the briefest of nods. Both got up and made their way through the crowd to the bathrooms. The Dungeon was the hottest club in town, where only the elite came together for two purposes—making deals and playing bondage games to get laid. Brenda made very certain her clients went away happy and returned often with very large pocketbooks. She was always especially happy to see the congressman because she was always paid double.
Brenda smiled at the woman who followed her inside, but prudently remained silent while they both checked the stalls to ensure they were alone before they spoke.
“I got your call, Sheila. Getting Waters here tonight wasn’t easy on such short notice. He had some big thing going on with his wife. You have to tell Whitney to give me more of a heads-up when something is this important to him.”
Sheila shrugged. They both knew it didn’t matter in the long run how difficult the task was. Their boss made obedience well worth it. “Whitney wants you to make absolutely certain our good congressman goes through with his vote to approve the research on his new weapon.” Sheila Benet handed Brenda the thick envelope, retaining possession when Brenda eagerly closed her fingers around it. “Don’t fail, Brenda,” she warned. “He doesn’t accept failure.”
“Have I ever failed him?” Brenda asked, her dark eyes glittering with anger. “I have never failed him. You remind him that every name he’s ever given me, I’ve found a way to seduce or blackmail them into doing what he wants. I can read weakness, and although he hates working with women because we’re so damned inferior, he won’t find too many men who can do what I do. You just tell him that, Sheila.”
Sheila raised her eyebrow, still retaining possession of the envelope. “Do you really want me to tell him all that?”
Brenda pressed her lips together tightly, but caution tamped down some of her anger. “I work hard for him. The one time I told him not to press Senator Markus, he insisted, and even then, when I knew what was going to happen, I still found his weakness. Rather than be blackmailed, he killed himself, just like I said he would. Whitney needs to place a little more value on me as a resource, that’s all I’m saying.”
Sheila gave her a brief, cold smile as she allowed her fingers to slide away from the envelope, leaving it in Brenda’s hand. “That’s probably the very reason why he padded your pay, Brenda. Perhaps you might consider that he’s a brilliant man who rewards those useful to him. He had no choice but to call you when Waters seemed to be wavering on his vote. Make certain the good congressman doesn’t even consider letting him down.”
Brenda pushed the thick envelope into her purse and gave Sheila a smirk. “No worries. I’ve recorded every single session with the honorable, upstanding John Waters and I don’t think he would ever want the things he’s done to come to light—not with his uptight wife and righteous, church-loving family so vocal about all things sinful. He’ll do whatever Dr. Whitney needs him to do.”
“You have a pretty good thing going here, Brenda,” Sheila said. “You get paid by Whitney and by the mark.” Her eyes went glacier cold. “Don’t blow it.” Abruptly she turned and went into the nearest stall, slamming the lock into place to signal she was done. She’d given her warning and if Brenda chose to bitch again—well, that was between her and Whitney. But people who crossed him generally had a way of disappearing fast.
Brenda hummed to herself, a slight smile on her face. She adjusted her silk blouse so that it was just open enough to reveal the enticing rounded curves. The material fell nicely over her nipples, pushed up by the camisole she wore beneath the silk. She glanced down to get her bright red lipstick from her purse. The water in the sink suddenly turned on. Her gaze jumped to the steady stream of water. She shrugged and looked up, uninterested in why the automatic faucet would have been triggered. In the mirror, just behind her, she was startled to see the face of a woman standing very close to her. There was no sound at all. She had time to register a waterfall of platinum blond hair and Asian features. A hard blow to the back of her skull sent her head forward, slamming her into the edge of the sink. She felt nothing at all as blackness descended.
Brenda’s body slipped to the tiled floor from the edge of the basin. With gloved fingers, the woman threw a handful of water onto the floor around Brenda’s feet and the soles of her shoes, crouched to snap one stiletto heel, and jerked the envelope from Brenda’s purse, all in one smooth, silent move. As she stood, she removed a tiny camera placed just over the mirror and seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye.
“Brenda?” Sheila called out tentatively.
The water continued to run in the sink. Sheila frowned and glanced under the door of the stall. Brenda was lying on the floor. “Brenda?” she said again, her voice cracking. There was no answer, only the sound of the water running.
Sheila continued to stare under the door, frozen in place. She couldn’t see any other feet, but Brenda’s shoe was off her foot, the heel broken. A thin stream of red ran along the cracks, moving in an ever-widening puddle. She gasped and jumped up. Behind her the toilet automatically flushed and she nearly screamed. Very slowly, with the tips of her fingers, she pushed open the door and peered out. Brenda lay on the floor, the front of her skull smashed from where she had slipped on the water. Her clothes, instead of looking sexy and tempting, revealed her for what she was—a highly paid prostitute, her body obscenely displayed there on the bathroom floor.
Swearing under her breath, Sheila quickly took toilet paper and opened Brenda’s purse to retrieve the envelope of cash. It was gone. Her heart jumped. Whitney would never believe her. The money had to be on the body somewhere, and she had to find it or he’d think she stole it. That would be just like him. She crouched down beside Brenda and looked her over. There didn’t seem to be a place she could have concealed the envelope.
Voices just outside the door had her jumping up and backing away, back toward the stall door. She let out a scream and stood, covering her mouth, her gaze frantically searching the body as the bathroom door burst open and three women came to an abrupt halt and added their voices to hers. At once chaos erupted.
Harry Barnes, aide to Senator Lupan, scowled as he pushed his BMW to the limit on the curved mountain road. Why in the hell had Sheila Benet picked such a ridiculous place for a meeting? There were plenty of safe places downtown where civilization reigned. He was allergic to grass. To bugs. To stupid cows. He was finally about to score with the woman he’d been chasing for three straight months and he wasn’t going to blow his chance because Sheila had suddenly gotten paranoid. They could meet under the nose of the senator and the old man wouldn’t notice.
He punched a button and music flooded the car. He set his teeth as he glanced at his GPS. Another three miles. Stupid, stupid woman. Maybe he could call and his date would understand he’d be an hour late. Sheila had said not to make any calls, that if someone was on to them, they’d pick up his cell phone call. Damn. He slammed his flat palm against the steering wheel in pure frustration. No one was on to them. Why should they be? How could they be? And no one would dare to monitor his cell phone.
“Friggin’ Sheila,” he snapped and ordered his phone to call the sexy Miss Catherine. She looked very good in her prim little pencil skirts and red silk blouses as she sat behind a desk, her long hair coiled in that uptight little bun. He had images of unwrapping her like a Christmas gift stuck in his head and until he made it happen, he couldn’t move on. He talked for the next couple of minutes, persuading her to wait for him, that he’d make it worth her while. He hung up feeling smug, tossing the phone onto the passenger seat. Using the senator as an excuse was genius. What woman wouldn’t be impressed that he was so indispensable to a senator that he couldn’t get away until the senator was ready to call it quits and go home?