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Authors: Harold Robbins

79 Park Avenue (5 page)

BOOK: 79 Park Avenue
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Francie giggled.

He came into the room. Ross's voice stopped him. "Come on, Jimmy. We'll get our suits."

Obediently Jimmy went back through the door, and it closed behind them. The two girls looked at each other.

"I don't care what Ross says," Francie whispered. "His old man must be a millionaire."

Marja's voice dropped to a whisper. "Either that or he*s a racketeer."

Francie's eyes grew big and round. "What d'yuh think?"

Marja smiled. "I think we better get dressed before they come back." She walked over to the closet. "My God, Francie!" she exclaimed. "Look here."

Francie peered through the open door. "Jeez!" she said in speechless wonder.

There were about twenty bathmg-suits hanging there. Gently Francie reached out and touched one. "Marja, feel it. Real wool!" She turned to her friend.

Marja had already slipped out of her blouse and skirt and was busy unfastening her brassiere.

She came racing out of the water, laughing breathlessly, Ross at her heels. "Don't, Ross, don't!" she cried. "I'll get my head full of sand."

"It can be washed," he laughed, trying to grab her ankle. She turned away from him and he stumbled to his knees.

She looked over her shoulder. Ross picked himself up and lunged at her. His hand caught her flying ankle and she tumbled into the sand. He fell down beside her.

They lay there quietly, trying to catch their breath. She could hear the wind whistling deep in his chest. At last her breath came back to her and she rolled over on her back. The sun was warm on her face. She closed her eyes. It was like living in paradise.

She could hear the breath still in him, and now he was lying there quietly. Slowly she opened her eyes.

He was resting on one elbow, looking at her. "Having a good time?" he said, smiling.

She smiled back at hun. "I'm havin' a ball," she answered.

"I'm glad," he said. He rolled over and sat up. "Francie and Jimmy are still in the water."

She liked the way he said "water." Wahter —quick like. She looked down the beach. "I don't blame them," she answered. "It's real great."

He turned to her. 'Then why did you come out?'*

"I had enough," she said. "I'm not greedy. Besides, too much of a good thing'U spoil me. An* I can't afford it."

His face came down very close to hers. "I'd like to spoil you," he said in a low voice. "And I can afford it"

Her eyes stared directly into his. After a moment his lids began to feel heavy. No one had ever looked at him like this. So straight and unwinking, as if her eyes looked into the very depths and crevices of his mind.

"How d'yuh know?" she asked huskily. "Maybe I'm too rich for yuh blood."

"I know," he answered, putting his hand on her shoulder. Her lips were parted and waiting for him. Her tongue traced the corners of his mouth, leaving tiny flames in its wake. A pulse began to pound in his temple.

.He pressed her head back into the beach, his ann beneath her neck. Her hands pressed Ughtly against the back of his head. He closed his eyes. No one had ever kissed him Uke this.

Her eyes were still open, and she watched him. A ple^ant warmth was flowing through her. It was funny when they kissed her how they all looked alike. When their faces were so close that their two eyes blurred almost into one before they closed. At least in this he was no different from anyone else.

She felt his searching hand. She liked his touch. It was warm and somehow gentle. Not like others who had hurt her. She let the suit strap slip so that she could feel his hand on her naked skin. His breath began to come hard into her mouth.

She let her fingers drift lightly across his wet bathing-suit from his stomach to his thigh. He was strong, too. All ridged muscles etched sharply on him. She closed her hand

gently on him. She took her face from hhn and pressed his head down to her breast.

She felt his teeth hard behind his lips. He tried to turn his face, but she held him tight. She looked down at him, half smiling to herself. This was what was so wonderful. ' What they would do for her, what she could make them do. This was what she Hked about being a woman. Because, in the end, she was always the stronger.

"Ross," she whispered. She could see the flaming agony in his eyes.

He almost cried aloud. She felt him shudder, then the heat of his body came through his wet bathing-suit. An echoing warmth ran through her and she caught her breath. For a moment she clung to him tightly, then it was gone and they were still.

He rolled away from her and lay face downward on the sand. He was breathing deeply.

She turned toward him and stroked his hair gently. "Ross, baby," she whispered. "You're sweet."

Slowly he turned his face to her. There was a curious shame in his eyes. "Why did you do that, Marja?" he asked harshly.

Her eyes were wide, the smile on her lips held the knowledge of all women. "Because I like you, honey," she replied easily. "And I wanted you to be happy."

The comers of his mouth worked as he tried to keep his lips from trembling. For a moment he felt on the verge of tears. He knew he was older than she, but right now he felt like a child next to her. He tore his eyes from her gaze. "Don't do it again. Ever." His voice was cracked and rough.

"Don't you like it, honey?" she asked softly.

He didn't took at her. He spat out his answer. "No."

"Then I won't, honey," she said.

He felt her move in the sand beside him and turned to look at her. She was sitting up, running her hand through the sparkling gold of her hair. An animal vitaUty seemed to flow from her.

She looked down at him and smiled. "I told yuh the sand would get in my hair." She got to her feet. "I'm goin* in to wash it out. Come in with me." She held out her hands toward him.

He didn't move from his place in the sand. He looked up at her over his shoulder, "Go ahead in," he said. "I'll be along in a minute."

He watched her run into the water and tumble into a breaker before he got to his feet and ran down the beach after her.

Chapter 4

THE FIRST dusky purple of evening clouded the sky. In the west the sun still fought back the night, a flaming red ball reaching back desperately to all its yesterdays. The warmth began to leave the air.

Marja sat up on the blanket Ross had spread for them. "I wonder what time it is," she said.

He opened his eyes and squinted at the sky. "About a quarter after six," he answered.

"How can you tell?"

He grinned at her. "I was a Boy Scout once."

"I never knew a Boy Scout before," she laughed, dropping her hand to his knee.

Instinctively he tensed. She felt his movement and took her hand away quickly. "I'm sorry, I forgot."

"Don't be sorry," he said.

"But you don't like me to touch you," she said.

He shook his head. "It's not that, really. I'm just not used to it, I guess."

"Then you do like me?" she asked.

"I liked you from the moment I saw you through the dirty windows of the poolroom."

"Honest?" She was smiling now.

"Honest," he answered, his eyes serious. "I saw you walking down the block with Francie and I couldn't keep my eyes off you. You ruined my game. Mike took me to the cleaners."

"Mike?" she said questioningly. "That's the blond boy who didn't want to come with us?"

He nodded. "He didn't even look up from the table when I told him about you."

She was piqued. "What did you say?"

He grinned. " 'Mama,' I said, 'buy me some of that!'"

She punched his side playfully. "Fresh!"

"It's a good thing Jimmy was around. Otherwise, I might never have met you," he said.

"Yeah," she said sarcastically. "Your other friend wouldn't have been no help."

"Mike is all right," he protested. "It's just that he's too serious. He never bothers with girls. Studies all the time. He's going to be a lawyer.'*

"Is he as old as you?" she asked.

He shook his head. "A year younger. But we're in the same class at school."

Her vanity was hiut. It was a matter of pride that all boys must like her. "I bet he's not as nice as you are."

'Thanks," he said dryly. "You're the first girl I know that thinks so. Usually when they see him, I'm a gone pigeon."

"He must be terribly conceited," she said flatly. "I can't stand conceited fellas."

f

Book One. Marja !>1

"He's really very nice," Ross said. "I don't think he even knows that they like him."

She shivered sHghtly as the cool of twilight hit her shoulders. "I don't care about him, anyway," she said indifferently. She looked down the beach. "Where's Francie?"

*They went up to the house about an hour ago while you were dozing," he answered. "Francie said it was getting too cold for her."

She got to her feet and stretched. "I guess we'd better go, too. I'm beginnin' to feel it."

He stared up at her. Idly he wondered how old she was. About seventeen, he guessed. He had never known a girl to be so much a woman at her age, though. Her clear, fair skin and high cheekbones, the wide, sensual, almost sullen mouth, the firm cast of her chin. She stretched again, holding her arms high over her head. He could see the tiny blond tufts in her armpits traiUng down to the curve of her young full breasts, which molded down to a tiny, sohd waist and then flared out into generous hips and rounded high flanks. She stood squarely on long, straight, yet feminine legs.

She was aware of his inventory. She smiled down at him. She liked him to look at her.

The question came involuntarily to his lips. "How old are you, Marja?"

"Guess," she answered, still smihng.

"Seventeen," he ventured.

She felt proud that he thought her older. "Almost," she , said with just the right degree of hesitation.

He put his arms around her legs and toppled her toward piim. She fell, laughing, her face very close to his. He made i fierce scowl. "Ready for a kiss, me f^ young beauty?" he

id in his best villainous voice.

Her eyes didn't change expression. "Always ready," she said huskily.

He put his mouth to her lips. He was vaguely surprised to find that she was right Again her lips worked against his mouth, making a place for her tongue. This time he was going to be ready for her. She wasn't going to take him by surprise. He fought the surge of passion in him. He held her close but cautiously. He felt her fingers trailing lightly on his cheek and the flame leaped high inside him and he knew that he had lost.

Desperately, almost angrily, he pulled his mouth from her. "I think we'd better get going," he said sullenly.

"Okay," she said quiedy. She got to her feet and waited for him.

Avoiding her gaze, he began to gather up the blanket. When it was folded, he slipped his arm through it and rose to his feet, holding it in front of him. He started back to the house without looking at her.

She fell in step beside him. Her hand reached out and touched the blanket. He looked at her. She was smiling. "Hiding something, honey?" she asked.

His face flamed scarlet. An angry retort was on his lips, but they were already at the house. Instead of speaking, he silendy held the door open for her.

They entered the house through the beach entrance. It was the rear section of the cellar, made over into a sort of bath house. She stepped into the room and then stood very still. She reached a hand behind her and -gestured a finger to her lips to silence him.

"Look," she whispered, a teasing smile on her lips. "The lovers"

He

His first impulse was one of shock, but it quickly gave way to laughter. It was funny. Jimmy was so skinny and Francie was a big girl. He put his hand over his mouth to still his laughter.

"Shall we wake them?" he whispered.

She shook her head. "No. They look so tired, the poor darUngs."

Quietly they tiptoed past them and into the hall. She looked at him. "How do I get back to the bedroom?" she asked. "I want to get dressed."

He gestured and she followed him up the stairs. He opened the door of her room. She turned to look at him. "Can I take a shower?" she asked.

"If you won't mind the cold water," he answered. "The hot-water heater hasn't been turned on yet."

"I don't mind," she said. She picked up her clothing from the chair and went into the bathroom. She closed and locked the bathroom door, then waited, Ustening. She heard the bedroom door cUck behind him as he left. Then, smiling to herself, she stepped into the tub, pulled the shower curtain around her, and turned on the water.

Even cold, it was wonderful. She loved showers. At home all they had was a tub, and that was in the kitchen. The toilet was out in the hall. This was the way to Uve. She began to sing in a clear, unmusical voice. She had been there almost ten minutes when she reluctandy turned off the water.

She pulled aside the shower curtain and had one foot out of the tub before she looked up. Her hand flew to her mouth in surprise, ''Oh»"

Ross was standing there smiling, a big bath towel in his outstretched hands. "I thought you could use this," he said.

She didn't move. "How did you get in?" she asked,

*'My door." He gestured behind him. "It's on the other side." He stared down at her. "Better take this," he said, holding the towel toward her. "I hear real blondes are very susceptible to colds."

She took the towel and wrapped it aroimd her. *Thank you," she said coldly.

"Wait a minute," he said. "You're not angry, are youT*

She shook her head. "I don't like people sneaking up on me, that's all."

He pulled her toward him. "It was just a joke, Marja." He tried to kiss her.

She turned a cheek toward him. "It's not funny,** she said. "Now leave me alone. I wanna get dressed."

He could feel the warmth of her through the thick towel. An excitement began to run through him. In his mind he could see the couple downstairs on the couch as they had tiptoed through the room. He held her tighdy to him. "YQu're not going to leave me like this," he said in a strained voice, his heart hammering inside him.

BOOK: 79 Park Avenue
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