Page 49 of The Moneychangers

With growing confidence, Heyward said, 'the subject could be explored, along with other matters. Obviously Supranational will have an active account with us now, and there's the question of a compensating balance…"

They were, Heyward knew, going through a banker-client ritualistic dance. What it symbolized was a fact of banking-corporate life: You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

G. G. Quartermain, jerking an iron from his alligator bag, said irritably, "Don't bother me with details. My financial man, Inchbeck, will be here today. He'll fly back with us tomorrow. You two can get together then." Plainly, the brief business session was concluded.

By this time the Honorable Harold's erratic game seemed to have affected his partner. "You're psyching me," Byron Stonebridge complained at one point. At another: "Dammit, Harold, that slice of yours is contagious as smallpox. Anyone you play with should be vaccinated." And for whatever reason, the Vice-President's swing, shots and poise began to go awry for costly strokes.

Since Austin did not improve, even with the chiding, by the seventeenth hole Big George and short-but-straight Roscoe remained one up in the lead. This suited G. G. Quartermain and he crunched his tee shot on eighteen about two hundred and seventy yards, straight down the middle, then proceeded to birdie the hole, giving his side the match.

Big George was jovial at his victory and clasped Byron Stonebridge around the shoulders. "I guess that makes my credit balance in Washington even better than before."

"Depends on what you want," the Vice-President said. He added pointedly, "And how discreet you are."

Over drinks in the men's locker room, the Honorable Harold and Stonebridge each paid G. G. Quartermain a hundred dollars a bet they had agreed on before the game began. Heyward had demurred from betting, so was not included in the payoff.

It was Big George who said magnanimously, "I like the way you played, partner." He appealed to the others. "I think Roscoe ought to get some recognition. Don't you two?"

As they nodded, Big George slapped his knee. "I got it, A seat on the Supranational board. Howzat for a prize?" Heyward smiled. "I'm sure you're joking."

Momentarily, the smile left the SuNatCo chairman's face. "About Supranational I never joke."

It was then Heyward realized that this was Big George's way of implementing their earlier conversation. If he agreed, of course, it would mean accepting the other obligations…

His hesitation lasted seconds only. "If you do mean it, I'll be delighted to accept." "It will be announced next week."

The offer was so swift and staggering that Heyward still had difficulty believing. He had expected that someone else from among the directors of First Mercantile American Bank would be invited to join the board of Supranational. To be chosen himself, and personally by G. G. Quartermain, was an accolade of accolades. The SuNatCo board' as composed now, read like a blue ribboned Who's Who of business and finance.

As if reading his mind, Big George chuckled. "Among other things, you can keep an eye on your bank's money."

Heyward saw the Honorable Harold glance his way questioningly. As Heyward gave a small slight nod, his fellow FMA director beamed.

8

The second evening at G. G. Quartermain's Bahamas mansion held a subtly different quality from the first. It was as if all eight of them the men and girls shared a relaxed intimacy, lacking the night before. Roscoe Heyward, aware of the contrast, suspected he knew the reason for it.

Intuition told him that Rhetta had spent the previous night with Harold Austin, Krista with Byron Stonebridge. He hoped the two men did not believe the same was true of himself and Avril. He was sure that his host did not; his remarks of this morning indicated it, probably because Big George was kept informed about what went on, or didn't, within this house.

Meanwhile, the evening gathering again around the pool and on the terrace at dinnertime was delectable for its own sake. Roscoe Heyward allowed himself to be an untautened, cheerful part of it.

He was enjoying, quite frankly, the continued attentions of Avril who showed no sign of resenting his rejection of her last night. Since he had proven to himself that he could resist her ultimate temptations, he saw no reason to deny himself Avril's pleasant companionship now. Two other reasons for his euphoric state were the pledge of Supranational business for First Mercantile American Bank and the unexpected, dazzling trophy of a seat for himself on the SuNatCo board. He had no doubt whatever that both would enhance his own prestige importantly at FMA. Already his succession to the bank's presidency seemed nearer. Earlier, he had had a short meeting with the Suprational comptroller, Stanley Inchbeck, who had arrived, as Big George said. Inchbeck was a balding, bustling New Yorker and he and Heyward arranged to work out details of the SuNatCo loan on the flight northward tomorrow. Apart from his meeting with Heyward, Inchbeck had been closeted through most of the afternoon with G. G. Quartermain. Although he was apparently staying somewhere in the house, Inchbeck did not appear for drinks or dinner.

Something else Roscoe Heyward had noticed earlier, from the window of his second-floor room, was G. G. Quartermain and Byron Stonebridge strolling in the grounds for almost an hour in the early evening, deep in conversation. They were too far from the house for anything they said to be overheard but Big George appeared to be talking persuasively, with the Vice-President interrupting occasionally with what probably were questions. Heyward remembered this morning's remark on the golf course about "a credit balance in Washington," then wondered which of Supranational's many interests were being discussed. He decided he would never know.

Now, after dinner, in the cool, sweet-scented darkness out of doors, Big George was once more the genial host. Cupping his hands around a Q emblazoned brandy glass, he announced, "No excursions tonight. Well keep the party here."

The majordomo, waiters, and musicians had discreetly slipped away.

Rhetta and Avril, who were drinking champagne, chorused, "A party here!"

By Stonebridge raised his voice to match the girls'. "What kind of party?"

"A swinging partyl" Krista declared, then corrected herself, her speech slurred slightly from dinner wine and champagne. "No, a swimming party, I want to swim." Stonebridge challenged her, "What's stopping you?"

"Nothing, By, darling! Absolutely nothing!" In a series of swift movements, Krista set down her champagne glass, kicked off her shoes, unfastened straps on her dress and wiggled. The long green dinner gown she had been wearing cascaded to her feet. Beneath it was a slip. She

pulled that over her head and tossed it away. She had been wearing nothing else.

Naked, smiling, her exquisitely proportioned body with high firm breasts and jet black hair making her like a Maillot sculpture in motion, Krista walked with dignity from the terrace, down steps to the lighted swimming pool, and dived in. She swam the length of the pool, turned and called to the others, "It's glorious! Come in!"

"By Godl" Stonebridge said, "I reckon I will." He tossed off his sport shirt, slacks and shoes, and naked as Krista, though less alluring, padded over and dived.

Moonbeam, with a small high giggle, and Rhetta were already taking off their clothes.

"Hold onl" Harold Austin called. "This sport's coming too."

Roscoe Heyward, who had watched Krista with a mixture of shock and fascination, found Avril close beside him. "Rossie, sweetie, undo my zipper." She presented him her back. Uncertainly, he tried to reach the zipper from his chair.

"Stand up, you old silly," Avril said. As he did, with her head half turned she leaned against him, her warmth and fragrance overpowering. "Have you done it yet?"

He was having difficulty concentrating. "No, it seems to be. .."

Adroitly, Avril reached behind her. "Here, let me." Finishing what he had begun, she tugged the zipper down. With a shrug of her shoulders, her dress fell away.

She swirled her red hair in the gesture he had come to know. "Well, what are you waiting for? Undo my bra."

His hands were trembling, his eyes riveted on her, as he did as he was told. The bra dropped. His hands did not.

With a minimal, graceful movement, Avril pivoted. She leaned forward and kissed him fully on the lips. His hands, remaining where they were, touched the forward thrusting nipples of her breasts. Involuntarily, it seemed, his fingers curled and tightened. Electric, sensual waves shot through him. - "Um," Avril purred. "That's nice. Coming swimming?" He shook his head.

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