The stairs seemed like Mount Everest but he made it to the top, with Don shoving him from behind. He opened the door of the guest room for Don and made sure he had everything he needed then opened the front bedroom door and was greeted by a high-pitched squeal. Steven was sitting up in his little bed, playing with his teddy, his fair hair all tousled. He scrambled out of bed and ran towards Sandy, his arms outstretched, and though his was desperately tired, Sandy couldn't resist picking him up and cuddling him.
"Hello, soldier; what are you doin' awake? You should be asleep. My goodness, you're gettin' to be a big boy; damp and smelly too." He gave his son a loving kiss and set him down again.
Steven immediately made a dive for the double bed to dig franticly , at the sleeping form beneath the duvet. "Daddy's home, Mummy, look; Daddy's home!"
Trish stirred slowly, raised her head off the pillows and blinked at Sandy. "I thought you were in London, what time did you arrive?"
"It's a long story, Cariad." Sandy made his way round to the opposite side of the bed, and sank down onto it as his legs finally gave way. "I'm too tired to talk just now; can it wait?"
Trish slid out of bed and reached for her dressing gown, trying to tell herself she was still annoyed with him, and yet she was relieved that he had come home at all. "I thought you weren't coming home till the weekend?" Her words fell on deaf ears. Sandy was already asleep, completely oblivious even to Steven's insistent prodding. Trish stared down at him and found it hard to deny that Stevie wasn't the only one who wanted him to wake up. She wanted to tear into him and tell him how hurt and miserable she was, but mostly she wanted to climb back into bed and have him make love to her as only he could.
She had had several boyfriends before she met Sandy and before they had gone out with each other she had listened to the gossip around school about him being the best-endowed boy in the school, and the most naïve. When they had first made love on their wedding night, she had been pleased that the gossips had been right for once. Sandy was a big guy with an erection to match and she had been greedy for it ever since. More than once she had imagined herself as Gypsy, held in an embrace which should have been for her alone. At first she had tried to understand the threat to her happiness that had gradually turned to something likened to consuming jealousy. Now she realized she had known nothing at all about the real and deep relationship between Sandy and Gypsy, and still didn't. Why was it all so hard these days to tell Sandy how much he meant to her, without her anger and frustration turning everything into one big fight? She took hold of Steven's hand and began to lead him from the bedroom. He wailed and fought her; wanting to stay with Daddy. So did she but she would have to wait and so would he. Steven began to scream; even he seemed to be against her. She fought against the urge to smack him. Instead she took him in her arms and kissed him, and carried him from the room.
Well after breakfast time, Sandy woke to find someone had stripped him and covered him with the duvet. Trish was sitting on the bed, her eyes red and puffy from crying; her damp handkerchief wound round her fingers. Sandy sat up, rubbing his eyes and leaned back against the headboard. They gazed at each other for a moment in silence, and then he reached out to take hold of her hands. "I'm sorry, Trish, I really am."
Trish lowered her eyes to look at their hands. "So am I Sandy." Fresh, tears sprang to her eyes and Sandy let go of her hands to take her in his arms. She burst into fresh tears and he kissed the top of her head. "Let's go back to square one, Cariad, let's make a new start."
Burying her face against his chest, Trish said brokenly, "How can we; Gypsy will always be between us, you brought him with you, didn't you?
"I didn't bring him, 'e brought me." Sandy said defensively, and as quickly as possible he told Trish about the visit to MacCaffrey' house. Shocked, she listened to him and before she could reply, he went on to say, "I 'ave to'elp him, Trish; you see that now, don't you? I can't refuse 'im now, but I promise you, Trish, it's you I want to be with, I want to live my life with you and Stevie and no one else; and Gypsy wants to stay with Erica and Lorna. When this is all over we'll go our own ways, and you, me and Stevie will go away together and make a fresh start, right?"
"I thought you were going back to College?"
Sandy lifted Trish's chin with a gentle finger and gazed at her pretty mouth before kissing it. "I've 'ad enough of school. I've 'ad the best tuition possible from Professor Claude Roget, thank to Gypsy. It's California for us, girl."
Trish sat up straight. "California?"
"Hollywood to be precise; I saw my agent while I was in London; 'e's got me some work collaborating on the music for a new TV series, with the further offer of a long contract if I please the producers."
"What's the series about?"
"It's called El Tigre and it's the story of Niki Zapata."
"Isn't that the series Gypsy is supposed to start filming next year?"
"Yep, it's about the life of the president of Tamarigo, Nicolas Monzanoz who actually requested that Gypsy play the lead role."
Trish was speechless, and thinking she didn't like the idea Sandy added, "It's the chance I've been waitin' for, Cariad. Lord knows what it can lead to. Imagine me in Hollywood!" Still Trish did not answer, and he added softly, "We could always come back 'ome afterwards if you don't like it out there. Hang the long contract, isn'it ?"
At last, Trish let out a breathless laugh. "Oh, Sandy you big fool; I've always wanted to go to California; it's the most wonderful news I've heard in ages. Just think of it, my own husband a Hollywood composer!"
"Well not yet," Sandy laughed as they hugged each other. "But who knows; some day it might happen, isn'it?" Easing back from her he gazed fondly at her. "I'd like Gypsy to be the first to know so keep it quiet for a bit, isn'it?"
"I can tell my parents, surely."
"No. Gypsy got me under Roget's thumb in the first place, and I wouldn't be surprised if had a talk with the producers of El Tigre, so he deserves to be the first to know, I owe him that much, right?"
After a short hesitation, Trish smiled. "All right, but you don't have to go and tell him right away do you?" A hungry Smile spread across her face as she cuddled in to him.
At ten o'clock precisely, Ed Thompson strode into Gypsy's bedroom, and eyed him sternly. "Well, ain't you somethin' else?" Gypsy avoided his direct gaze as he walked to the bed and drew back the duvet, "Okay, bright boy; on your' feet. Monclare's poppin' a valve and you've got some fast talkin' to do."
Gypsy's voice was hushed. "I don't think I can, Ed. My legs have gone to sleep."
Ed looked daggers at him. "I knew you would do somethin' stupid once you were outta my sight, blast you."
"What about Don, is he okay?"
"He's gone off somewhere on that bike he borrowed. He said to tell you he's gone to see someone he saw in a picture you were looking at."
MacCaffrey noticed the spots of oil on the newly graveled drive and frowned angrily as he stared at the telltale stains. Marching into the house, he glared at the four lads waiting for him in the front lounge. "All right, which one of you was it?"
Tommy's handsome face was a picture of innocence. "Which of us was what?"
MacCaffrey mentally dismissed the two younger boys, at thirteen and fourteen they were too young to have bikes. He fixed Tommy and John with a threatening stare. " I've told you dozens of times not to park your bikes on the drive; now there's oil on the new gravel."
Tommy and John looked at each other, mystified then Tommy shrugged his shoulders. "Wasn't me, my bike's still off the road, failed the M.O.T last month, remember?"
And John said bitterly, "And it wasn't me; my dad sold my bike; just because I owed him fifty quid, bleedin' nerve!"
"That will teach you never to borrow money." MacCaffrey's mind was still on the oil. He went quickly up the stairs and checked the darkroom and the bedroom, then the loft. Still uneasy, he went back downstairs. "I'm afraid there's been a change of plan. I'm closing this end of the business and going abroad for a while, and I suggest you make yourselves scarce while I'm gone. Tommy and John, I'll give you a London address to go to if you need to, and don't worry about your money, I'll pay you off tonight. This means we'll have to finish the Swedish contract tonight, so we'll have to hurry things up a bit. You four get up stairs and set the lamps up. I'll need the Leica again, Tommy, and the macro- zoom lens. I'll be up in a moment; I must make a phone call first. A ll right, lads?"
He was already dialing a number as the boys trouped out of the lounge and his eyes followed the youngest one. He liked the look of him and felt a familiar stirring...."Bev? I think s omeone has been snooping. I'm not hanging around any longer than "necessary. I'm flying out tonight so be at Heighton's airstrip by midnight or I go alone."
"But, James, we're hardly ready_."
"Don't argue, just be there or face a long prison sentence. I'm not risking my neck for you or anyone else again."
"What about Brian, I can't leave him behind, I promised Margaret we'd look after him?"
"Well more fool you! Don't you realize he's the stone around your feet? He's the one who stole your films and set fire to your cottage."
"Do you think we don't already know that? But he doesn't have the photographs any more, someone else has' and -."
"It's me, Bev, I have them; and you should be grateful I took them from him when I did."
"You rotten bastard! It was you who blackmailed Gypsy!"
"Yes, my dear sister, now get moving and be at Heighton's by midnight. I'll destroy everything before I leave."
"All right.. .make sure you do, I'll have to go now, Brian has just come in and he's in a terrible state. He's been drinking again and I daren't let him know you're' on the phone. Will you tell Margaret or shall I?
"Do what you like; he's not coming with us."
After further phone calls to vulnerable contacts, including his father, MacCaffrey was still worried, but he remembered the boys upstairs and the dark clouds faded away. He made his way upstairs and found the two younger boys already naked and about to commence a sixty-nine on the bed, and the sight of them made it difficult for MacCaffrey to hold the Leica steady as he began to snap their antics. The older boys stripped and as they joined them on the bed, MacCaffrey's own erection started throbbing so much he could feel it pounding right through him. At last, he set the camera on a tripod and set it to multi-exposure. Tearing at his clothes, he flung himself onto the bed with a moan. John was busy thrusting into the youngest boy and MacCaffrey lifted him aside, gripped the boy by the hips and tried to thrust himself into the boy's dripping anus. The boy gave a howl of shocked pain but braced himself, and MacCaffrey was wondering just how much of him the boy could take when the bedroom door burst open. MacCaffrey froze in horror. The two men who stood in the doorway looked on in amusement. One of them had a camera snapping busily while another two men, in blue uniforms and helmets, gazed into the room over their shoulders. "Mr. MacCaffrey," one of the detectives said politely, "I think you remember me, Detective Inspector Rudkin. W hat nice little games you play! Part of your research into child behavior is it?"
The ticket hall at Manchester airport heaved with people, but Don towered over most of them and easily spotted his target, an elderly couple about to purchase their tickets. Don nudged the airport security officer at his side and pointed them out to him. The officer spoke softly into his radio and he pointed Don towards one of the security rooms, and then followed his two colleagues as they pushed their way through the crowds. He stopped behind the couple and said, "Mr. and Mrs. MacCaffrey?"
The couple turned and the old man said, "I don't think we'll need any help, thank you."
The officer smiled. "Well, it's a case of you helping us, sir. Would you and your wife come with us please?"
They ushered the puzzled couple into the security room the officer had indicated to Don who waited for a minute then followed them in as arranged. One of the officers closed the door and the first officer said, "I think this gentleman would like to speak to you."
When the couple turned to face him, Don smiled at them. "Mr. and Mrs. MacCaffrey; or should I say Mr. and Mrs. Mellor?"
SATURDAY 29th NOVEMBER, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London
The lounge of dressing room number one was packed to capacity with people on Gypsy's payroll or admitted by passes prized more than gold. Lorna felt tired and nervous as she caught Sarah's eye across the crush. She had sat up most of the night at the Rosscroft, waiting for Gypsy to be brought back to his room, and holding his hand during the hours of discomfort following all the tests. As she watched Sarah force her way through the crush towards her, she wished she could go back to the Lodge and sleep. But she knew she had to stay for Gypsy's sake. He had begged her to be with him during, possibly, his last show ever, and she had not the heart to refuse him. Sarah smiled and thrust a glass of champagne into her hand. "Hello, Miss Basset and where is our lord and master?"
"Having a look round the stage; it's crowded in here; who are these people?"
"Mostly the team who make Gypsy's shows run like clock-work. That group over there are Gypsy's roadies; hand-picked by Gypsy himself and the best in the business. His dancers you already know from the party, and the other people you will find at all big concerts; p ressmen, critics, agents, theatre employees and a sprinkling of Gypsy's special guests. The thin young man with the long blonde hair is Daniel, Gypsy's personal dresser. He makes all Gypsy's stage gear and costumes, and acts as Gypsy's valet during the shows; one of the pri vileged few allowed inside the dressing room proper through that door over there, where that man mountain is guarding the door. Heaven knows why, there's no one in there yet. And thank goodness, there's Sandy. I don't see Trish with him. Hi Sandy; over here!"
Sandy landed at their side, grinned down at them and put a friendly arm round Lorna's waist. "Hi Girls. Crowded in 'ere, isn' it? When do we eat, I'm starvin'?"
"When Gypsy makes an appearance and not before. It's a whim of Gypsy's that everyone concerned with a concert; including venue staff have lunch with him on the day of the show, and not just a mug of tea and a sandwich either. Wherever we are, we have a caterer do the honours. Here in London we always have Mr. Benchley. Have you seen the buffet? It's the best he's done yet"
Lorna eyed the table behind her, laden with, among other things, a whole dressed salmon, two huge lobsters, a honey glazed ham, and l ots of canapés and Danish sandwiches. The sweets were no less impressive. She shook her head at the display. "This is all new to me. I thought pop stars and their entourage just grabbed a sandwich during their breaks. I can see I have a lot to learn."
Sarah laughed. "You don't have to worry about things like this. That's my job. Mr. Benchley provides everything from the salmon to the napkins and waiters; Erskine and I see to everything else such as the flowers and the guest lists. That's Gypsy's own press officer over there; the tall man in the green suit and rimless glasses. Compared to some stars, Gypsy's list of requirements, before a show, is pretty simple. One famous lady has her dressing rooms painted in her favourite colour in every theatre she performs in, even for one night stands." Lorna's mouth opened in disbelief and Sarah laughed at her. "I'm not joking. You ask Derek Bessey, he'll tell you a few things about the stars and their fads."
"Derek Bessey?" Sandy asked, "who's 'e then?" and a friendly face with a neat moustache appeared beside them.
"Did someone call my name?"
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