Over the next few weeks, little is seen in TEKville of Marlow Perrin. He spends nearly every waking -- and sleeping, although there is little enough of that -- hour with Korinne, most of them in her room at Player’s mansion.
The lovers don’t even leave the room to eat; Player’s maid delivers a tray to them on a regular basis and discreetly leaves it on a table outside the door.
Marlow has been with many women in his life, but none hold a candle to this one in bed, and he simply cannot get enough of her.
She knows she has him -- hook, line and sinker – but is enjoying herself so much that she is in no hurry to pull the plug. She is struck by the idea that staying here in TEKville would not be such a bad thing . . . especially if she can find other men whose prowess in the art of love equals that of Marlow Perrin.
On the rare occasions when Marlow is not in attendance, Korinne visits Player’s suite at the other end of the mansion, and the two women compare notes. Justice is pleased at having achieved her first goal in this plot – the total humiliation of Camille – and is enjoying watching the second half of the game play out. The longer his infatuation builds, the worse it will be for Marlow when his just desserts are finally served, so she does not begrudge her friend the pleasure she is taking from her part in the plan.
Camille keeps to her high-rise condo, not yet wanting to face the inevitable gossip and snickering that will ensue when it becomes known that she has once again been deserted for a younger woman. For that reason, most of TEKville is unaware of the shift in Marlow’s affections.
Romain Perrin, however, is becoming suspicious that perhaps his original plan to show his brother the error of his ways might not be playing out exactly as he had envisioned it. The tip-off is Marlow’s failure to show up to ask for his “allowance”, something that Romain was certain that he had ensured by not sending his twin his monthly check. He had wanted to see his brother face-to-face in order to gauge in person the effectiveness of the plot, so he had withheld the check, assuming that Marlow would appear on his doorstep without delay.
Puzzled at this uncharacteristic lapse on the part of the money-hungry Marlow, Romain has his brother followed on one of his infrequent appearances in town. Several days later he receives a phone call from the private investigator.
“Romain? This is Gannon. I think I have some answers for you.”
“So what is he up to?” Romain asks with some trepidation, knowing his twin all too well.
The PI smiles wickedly. “Exactly what you thought . . . but with a different woman.”
Puzzled, Romain’s mind races to fit these new pieces into the puzzle. “A . . . different woman, you say?? What ‘different woman’??”
The PI laughs at Romain’s confusion. “Yeah, it took me a minute too. Ms. Duranger has been holed up in her apartment for weeks, but she’s alone. He's not with her. He’s been spending all his time up at the mansion on the hill.”
“Yep. I don’t have any details because the security system up there is first rate, but I’ve been keeping watch and he hasn’t come out since I first followed him there days ago.”
If his mind had been racing before, now it is the Daytona 500. “But . . . I know the man who lives there, and his girlfriend . . . well, let’s just say he wouldn’t be sharing. What the hell, Gannon??”
Gannon shrugs. “Beats me. Want me to keep following him?”
“No, if he’s parked himself in Player’s mansion, at least I know where to find him. Now if I could just figure out what he’s doing there," or more likely, knowing Marlow, WHO he’s doing there, "I’d feel a lot more comfortable.”
“Well, I’ll keep my ear to the ground and let you know if I hear anything. Gannon out.”
As Romain hangs up his office phone, his expression is thoughtful.
After a few moments he reaches into his desk for his contact list, and after finding the number he seeks, dials the phone.
“Mr. Castro? This is Romain Perrin. I believe my firm in the city represents your interests. I have a . . . rather odd question for you.”
Player has a pretty good idea what has prompted this phone call, as the caller’s twin currently occupies one of his guest rooms.
“It’s about your brother, right?”
Startled, Romain clears his throat. “Umm . . .yes. I have reason to believe that he may be staying at your house.”
“Your information is correct.” Player rather enjoys “playing” with Romain. It’s his nature, and one of the reasons for his nickname.
Romain is at an uncharacteristic loss for words. Suddenly he laughs and abandons all lawyerly attitude. “What’s he doing there, Castro?”
Player smiles, amused despite himself, and answers with similar directness. “Unless I miss my guess, right now he is fucking the brains out of my houseguest.”
“Your . . . ‘houseguest’?” Romain is confused, thinking that Player refers to Justice.
Player’s smile broadens. He answers simply “Yes,” and waits for the inevitable questions that surely must follow.
Romain digests the information for a moment, unwilling to join in Player’s game but not seeing a way around it if he wants to get to the truth. He sighs.
“Look, Castro. I’m going to be straight with you and I hope you'll reciprocate. My brother is . . . not a stellar representative of my family’s name. He has recently crossed over the line of decency, and I’m in the process of teaching him a lesson . . . or at least I thought I was. Now, can you return the favor and tell me exactly what’s going on in that house?”
Bored with his game, Player decides to give it to the investor straight. “The ‘lesson’ to which you refer is – or should I say ‘was’ – Camille St. Clair Duranger, correct?”
Relieved to finally be getting somewhere, Romain replies, “Yes. Why do you say ‘was’?”
“Because my Justice caught wind of your little plan and derailed it with one of her own. Fortunately, her train appears to be going in the same direction as yours, so this little glitch won’t impair the end result you’ve foreseen.”
Romain’s patience with this man is wearing thin, but he grits his teeth and waits silently for more details.
“You probably haven’t been in town long enough to know Justice’s story. Let’s just say that she carries a huge hatred for Camille, and that it is well-founded. She can’t resist an opportunity to thwart Camille, and recently she saw one of those opportunities and took it. The ‘houseguest’ to whom I referred is Justice’s childhood friend, and she is currently laying the groundwork for kicking your asshole of a brother to the curb.”
Romain stiffens, then relaxes as relief washes over him. “I see.” Not quite knowing what else to add, he laughs. “Oh, I do see. I see very clearly. Thank you, Castro. Tell your houseguest to . . . carry on. She has my blessing.”
Still smiling, he replaces the phone in its cradle and leans back in his chair to contemplate this new wrinkle.
To be continued . . .