A Date with The Devil Pt. 03

byLimeyLady©

Somehow it had got to lunchtime. Abandoning her desk, Mary Rose went to meet her escort.

Escort! Huh, she went to meet her dandified fancy man.

'Way to go,' she yelled as Bruno screeched away from her office block.

Bruno yelled out with her. He'd arrived there a couple of minutes early. And yes, there was a swarm of secretaries watching from above as she got into his (as per always illegally parked) Ferrari.

'Whoo-hoo,' they cried in unison.

'Where are we going this time?' she asked as he screeched around a corner, their asses only inches above the road surface, burnt rubber scars in their wake . . . the inevitable traffic jam before them.

'We've been invited to lunch with Leo,' Bruno said, silky-smooth as ever, 'at his rather exclusive club. I hope you don't have prejudices against the Old Establishment.'

Mary Rose frowned at that. She wasn't going to wear an old school tie for anyone, not unless she was meeting the queen.

'It depends,' she said carefully, 'on how established this club is. Do tell me it's not White's.'

'No,' Bruno assured her, 'this one has been going nearly as long, since the 1780s, but it isn't remotely hidebound anymore. Women members have been allowed for a while.'

Hackles rising, Mare said: 'Oh yes, since when, precisely?'

'Not long but don't be uptight. Ten years ago I wouldn't have been allowed in, either. Back then they only let in women as cleaners. And Sicilian men were right out.'

'Cleaners,' said Mary Rose, snorting disapproval.

'Hey relax. They've chilled and gotten into the twenty-first century. Their current president is female.'

'Is she really?'

'You bet.'

'And she's not a cabinet minister or anything.'

'Not so far as I know. I believe she's something big in merchant banking.'

Bruno spoke as if being "something big" excused all evils.

'Huh,' went Mary Rose, only slightly appeased. 'I've always had my suspicions about "gentlemen's clubs", not to mention "merchant-fucking-bankers." It's funny how "banker" rhymes with "wanker", isn't it?'

'I've always had my suspicions about same-sex schools,' Bruno returned, faster than Roger Federer. 'It wouldn't surprise me if that lady president went to the same place as you.'

That hit home.

'Touché,' said Mary Rose, laughing and dropping her show of indignation. 'And I guess we might get on well. If nothing else attending a same-sex school gives a girl the taste for pussy. I'm amazed you didn't go to one yourself.'

'I begged and pleaded,' said Bruno, laughing along with her. 'Best I got was the local comprehensive.'

'Yeah, sure you were. That's where you were comprehensively schooled in charm.'

'I have my moments,' he said, still laughing.

*****

Not far past Eaton Square Bruno pulled up in a wide street lined with immense white terraces, four or five stories high. Completely ignoring the parking restrictions he got out and, less complacently, Mary Rose did likewise.

A uniformed minion appeared out of thin air.

Bruno gave him the car keys and a banknote and the red Ferrari magically disappeared.

'Parking's crap round here,' said Bruno. 'But he'll bring it back when we need it.'

'I've hardly an hour to spare,' she said.

'I know. But the service is first class and the chef's to die for. Come on, move that sexy ass. Let's go for it.'

The club looked even better inside than out. Mary Rose accompanied her host past an inviting-looking bar, a large room with several full-sized snooker tables and into a massive dining area.

Wow, she thought. Maybe those sexist male bastards have reason on their side after all.

Well, maybe a teeny, weeny little.

Half the world's finest, best-looking oak panelling seemed to have been used in that one magnificent building. The simply huge dining area reeked of history and class. It was easy to conjure up images of meetings of great heads of state: Winston chewing fillet mignon and agreeing to invade via Normandy rather than the Pas de Calais.

Franklin and Dwight nodding, puffing cigars and asking if he wouldn't mind passing the port.

More recently it would be modern billionaires, agreeing to buy Chelsea or Manchester City.

Not quite so classy nowadays, in other words.

And why oh why didn't any Russians or Saudis want to buy Swindon Town?

The tables were, Mary Rose noted, discretely apart. Even though there were quite a lot of them there wasn't much chance of a conversation being overheard. And, as Bruno led her inside, she saw there were three more tables set back in alcoves.

Bugger invading Normandy, those were supremely private.

Those were fit for invading Berlin.

Not that she'd want to, of course. Not anymore.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Apollyon rose as they approached his alcove, using his palm to keep his companion in her seat.

'Ms Archer,' he gushed, 'and Bruno; how good of you to join us.'

'I'm Mary Rose,' she replied, 'not Ms Archer. Close friends get to call me Mare.'

'Not TC?' Apollyon laughed at her bemused expression. 'Excuse me, I'm showing my age. Mare, I'd like you to meet Lindsey. Lindsey . . . Mare.'

Mary Rose recognized Lindsey from Carmen's the other week. Well, just about. Back then the girl had been a petite pocket dynamo; now she looked unsociable and stressed. Added to that, her wine glass was filled with water.

Unlike Apollyon's; his glass seemed to be filled with the remnants of Winston's finest vinho do Porto.

That is to say it may well have been bottled a century before the man himself was born.

And it wasn't watery in the least.

'Pleased to meet you,' Lindsey managed. Then, with no more than a nod: 'Bruno, as always.'

Almost immediately her brow creased. 'Excuse me,' she said, standing and heading off, 'I need to pay a call.'

'Lindsey's expecting,' Apollyon explained as they took seats in her absence, 'unexpectedly, if you get my drift. She's suffering from morning sickness all day long.'

Mary Rose glanced at Bruno. Bruno pretended not to notice.

'Forgive me,' Apollyon went on, 'but while she's away I have to ask. She can't be our Holy Virgin this Friday, for obvious reasons. In her absence would you consider stepping in, Mary Rose?'

What!!

'I'm Mare,' she said, buying time.

'I'm so sorry. So, would you consider stepping in, Mare, my darling?'

Bruno was still patently looking elsewhere.

'I thought we agreed the 23rd.'

'That's still on the cards. But would you, as a special favour . . . '

Mary Rose shrugged as she reasoned it out. Her turn to play the part had come sooner than she had expected, but not much. It was, after all, an honour she had been eagerly anticipating. And who gave a fig what Bruno thought if she agreed, anyway? He was a male-sexist pig with no morals at all.

And those were just his good points.

Not to mention the kudos she could gain over Heather.

Yes, Hev would somehow win back the advantage . . . she always did . . . but this time it would take her years.

This time Hev would be seething for ages and seemingly forever.

This time she might have to get off her lovely ass and actually do something. Past glories didn't count, not even her notorious rugby team exploits.

And she'd only fucked half of the team, if that. Maybe not even half . . .

That swung it for Mare.

'Okay,' she said. 'Is there anything I need to do beforehand?'

'I could do with you arriving early,' Apollyon replied smoothly, 'so I can put you in the appropriate state of grace. Three in the afternoon would be good.'

'I'll ferry you there,' Bruno volunteered.

*****

'I have to ask,' said Mary Rose as Bruno drove her back to her office. 'A state of grace . . . What's that all about?'

'Beat's me. Maybe he wants to hear your confession.'

'That'd take a while.' said Mary Rose. 'But seriously . . .'

'I honestly don't know. Perhaps he just wants some downtime with you.'

'Do you mean he wants to fuck me before everyone else?'

Bruno laughed. 'I'd have been more polite about it, but yeah, maybe. There again, what do I know?'

'And what do I know?' Mary Rose chuckled again. 'There are all sorts of things you keep to yourself. Who is this Lindsey person? Will Sally be there on Friday? The list goes on and on.'

Bruno grunted and kept driving.

Nosy bitch, he thought. Serves her right . . .

'I'm up for it,' Mary Rose resumed, patting his knee. 'On Friday night, I mean. Come Saturday, we can have our own session of downtime. That is assuming you're still capable, of course.'

'Spoken like the sex fiend you are.'

'I'm no sex fiend.' Mary Rose opened up her mobile and retrieved a clip of Hev, stark naked, naturally.

'Here,' she said, 'take a gander at this. This is a sex fiend.'

The Ferrari's swerve was noticeable. That was the impact Hev had on everyone on first sight, male or female. Almost six feet tall (five ten and a half, according to her), Hev made your average Amazonian warrior look like a wimp. Nobody would have guessed she was a white girl from a farming background in Yorkshire. Or that she was blessed with an exceptionally high IQ.

No heroic Greek goddess could possibly have been more athletic . . . or more fetching on the eye.

And no modern-day man could fail to be allured.

'She looks very nice,' said Bruno, dragging his eyes back to the road ahead.

Was that a fifty-fifty choice or what? Hev's boobs versus a head-on collision; what sort of alternative was that?

'Look at the ass on her,' Mare said, 'and she tastes even better than you can imagine.'

'Imagination doesn't come into it,' said Bruno. ''I'm a convert. Enough said.'

Mare laughed. Hev was tanned beyond mixed-race and was stunningly beautiful, with long, jet-black hair, even longer legs and a body that global supermodels would happily kill for.

Not that any of them could ever be tough enough to kill Hev. Would-be contenders would have more chance going head-to-head with Arnie or Clint.

But not in the real world; in the real world they'd have no chance at all.

On first sight most people mistook Heather for a Hollywood megastar; one they'd somehow previously missed.

On second sight most people realized they'd just cum in their pants.

Female people as well as male people . . .

'What's with you?' said Bruno after a (for him) lengthy silence. 'Are you stalking Angelina Jolie?'

'Look again. Hev's four inches taller and stones heavier. Not that she's fat. She the fittest girl I've ever met, in every possible sense of the word. And forget those Lara Croft films. Hev's got more black belts than Bruce Lee. She'd probably kick his butt if he was still around.'

Then, moderating it a little: 'Well, probably not. But she'd give him a decent scrap. And if Angelina has any sense at all, she'd run for her life.'

'I see. It's a girl power thing.'

'Trust me Bruno; Hev's the real deal. I can't think of anyone who'd give Bruce Lee a good scrap apart from her. He'd love it, too. Who wouldn't?'

Bruno clearly hadn't a clue about long-dead icons. Consequently, taking Hev at face value, only really seeing her curves and ignoring her potential, he laughed.

'No girl should look like that,' he said. Then, uncharacteristically giggling, 'Scrap that; every girl should look like that.'

'Fancy it?'

'Have I got a pulse?'

'I'll show you more on Saturday,' Mary Rose promised. 'We have a lot of two-way phone traffic, if you know what I mean. You can listen in. And I'll let you see what she shows to me.'

Bruno giggled again. 'How could I refuse an offer like that?'

Chapter Twenty-Three

(Thursday 10th June 2010)

For years Heather had been heroically, almost single-handedly supporting the oh-so severely trashed financial world. Now, however, not very long after six on a sunny Thursday evening, she decided that everyone else could go whistle.

Why should she play Atlas every night?

Let everything come crumbling down. She could begin repairs in the morning.

Six in the evening was early for her but late for most of her fellow bank workers. Going to ground floor level was a lonely experience. So too was looking next door, at the ruins of WYB's neighbours.

As always she felt a pang of sadness. Bradford and Bingley Building Society had been an institution throughout her young life. Nearly every family in Bingley had had someone employed there . . . or had a mortgage with them. But, after becoming a bank late in the year 2000, better than a century of strict and sensible prudence had somehow become a mad craziness of lend, lend, lend.

Collateral . . . what collateral? What sane person needed dumb collateral in a gold-strike, boom time like the twenty-first century?

Suddenly, out of nowhere, BBBS had made that infamous 60s pools winner seem relatively thrifty.

Let's go and spend, spend, spend!

Not half!!

Needless to report, in common with other nouveau riche banks worldwide, the wheels had pretty soon fallen off for BBBS, or B&B or whatever they now chose to call themselves.

WYB was the smaller and funkier bank of the two. Not too long before everything went pear-shaped, as a (sort of) recent graduate, freshly back from a prolonged "year" travelling, Heather had declined a very attractive job offer from B&B and gone for funky.

And hadn't she chosen well?

Narrow miss or what!

Coming out of WYB's main doors she momentarily rued the loss of her favourite curry house. Not that the Shama was lost forever. The rebuild of the old shopping centre had only resulted in a relocation: it was now maybe half a mile away along Main Street.

Thank everyone's gods.

Unfortunately it was now well out of her way.

And it was now bring your own booze.

If the Shama had been in its old place there would have been no question. She'd have been in there, tikka for a starter followed by vindaloo with three chapattis and at least as many beers. Now, only too conscious she had things to do, she set off for home.

Not that she was entirely impervious to temptation. Even without the bright lights, Park Road Fisheries lured her in like the most hapless tourist in Amsterdam or Antwerp.

The serving staff didn't even need to tap on the windows with ridiculously long, luridly multi-coloured fingernails.

Well, not much, anyway.

Heather lived virtually next door . . . in the very next building . . . but even so she ordered her fish and chips ready to go. It made sense, didn't it? Two minutes and she could be in her apartment, eating off a large dinner plate and sipping Shiraz.

Bugger that, though. Fish and chips were best eaten out of the paper. Heck, in the old days before "elf and safety" they could be eaten out of real newspaper, complete with printers' ink that smudged here, there and everywhere. And they'd tasted all the better for it.

Wasting time, eating as she walked, sparing not one thought for her figure (she'd always been able to eat and drink anything she liked); she took a right along a narrow cobbled road running between the chippy and the Old Tannery.

Rather predictably, Charlie Brown appeared out of nowhere.

Charlie Brown was Graham's cat. Heather had a hit and miss relationship with him (meaning she had more of a relationship than she'd ever had with any other moggy). While Graham was abroad, fixing old textile machinery, originally made in Keighley yonks and yonks ago, the blasted thing kept out of her way. Being supposedly taking care of him, she'd always leave food and water ready in Graham's kitchen, never seeing any trace of feline life.

And the bloody thing was like Houdini. A week or more, and the only sign of it would be a string of cat bowls, all of them licked dry and empty.

But, armed with Graham at home and the ultimate takeout, one step out of the chip shop door . . .

There he was, fat, tabby and somehow grinning.

'You're a tart,' she said, breaking off a bit of fish and tossing it to him.

Charlie Brown caught the morsel very deftly, using both front paws and his mouth, before immediately vanishing back into the shadows.

One big, meandering, rambling circle later, her meal consumed, waste paper dumped in a convenient basket, Heather entered her block and, jogging up the stairs because, rather like Mount Everest, they were there, let herself in, washed her hands and wiped her mouth with kitchen roll.

Salt, vinegar and grease, she thought. Yum, yum!

Stuff the calories; I'll exercise them off tomorrow.

Or else burn 'em off under the sunlamp.

Grabbing the Shiraz and an indecently large wine glass she went into her lounge, threw herself onto the leather couch and clicked on the TV, just in time to catch the end of Look North, the regional news update. As usual, the lead presenter was ribbing "Paul the Weatherman", calling his latest forecast a "weather guess". And, as usual, the other presenters were ribbing along with him, very obviously all of them mates.

Infinitely better than national TV; these people actually knew each other.

Clicking over to Emmerdale Heather muted the sound. She needed to speak to Mary Rose yet again before the bad things happened. Meaning before tomorrow night and her latest black mass.

Meaning before the stupid so-and-so screwed up big-time.

Not that Mare was in the least stupid. She was as clever a person as Heather had ever met, bar none. Even though Hev had personally excelled at an exceptional school, her results had rarely got close to the irritating redhead's. Mary Rose (stunningly, beautifully auburn-haired and by no means a real-life redhead) had super-excelled, but she was mulish with it. Get an idea into her zany grey matter . . .

Ringing her was not a success. Both her mobiles went onto the message service, as did her landline at home. And the landline at work only gave "out of the office" blah.

The freaking so-and-so was doing it on purpose. Heather just knew she was.

If previously asked about Satanism Heather would have laughed. Being a farmer's daughter she had always believed in Mother Nature, not God and Satan. But, although she'd had incredible good luck in her short life, like everyone else, she'd also had her share of bad.

And worshipping the Devil was asking for bad, wasn't it?

As if bad luck, famines and droughts needed any encouragement!

Not to mention the lunatics who went after innocent bystanders.

Heather's bit of West Yorkshire had always done all right for loonies. It might have been something in the water but, within a few miles of her idyllic farmhouse setting, her neighbours had included some of the UK's most notorious.

The list was, in an awful way, impressive: the Yorkshire Ripper; the Black Panther; Michael Sams . . . to name but three. The Moors Murderers had done their thing just "over the hill" and even Dr Shipman had operated locally. Never mind there being something in the water, in her neck of the woods there was history.

Heather never went out afraid of her own shadow, like girls had (quite understandably) been back in those Ripper's days. Any guy attacking her would badly regret it. Well, he would if he lived to regret it. She hadn't gone through all that martial arts training to lie back and whimper, had she?

Anyone trying to attack her would be in for a nasty surprise.

And anyone trying to harm Mary Rose would suffer even worse.

Deep down Heather was worried about Mary Rose, and worried in lots of different ways. Satanism, for goodness's sake! Okay, there wasn't much wrong with a good old free-for-all, but inciting the Devil . . .

She was asking for it. No, the redheaded witch was as good as begging for it . . .

Heather had one fool-proof way of avoiding sentimentality. Or worry, for that matter. Ignoring her mute TV, she unfastened her skirt and slid her left hand over her stomach. Flexing brought up the usual six-pack. And sliding her fingers downward, over her smooth abdomen, brought up her nipples.

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