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Home > Mistress of the Game(14)

Mistress of the Game(14)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

“Where are you headed?”

It was a good question. Where was he headed? He still had no idea. The train had started to slow down. A disembodied voice informed the passengers that they were approaching Yonkers.

“Yonkers. This is my stop.”

Extricating himself from Maureen’s viselike embrace, he began to elbow his way through the human wall of commuters, only just making it out before the car door closed. He stood on the platform as the train pulled away.

Thank God. She’s gone.

Maureen Swanson’s voice rang out behind him: “What a coincidence. This is my stop, too.”

Robbie’s heart sank.

How had she made it off the train without him noticing? Who was she, Harriet Houdini?

Maureen Swanson was two years older than Robbie Templeton. Maureen Swanson was also a goddess. The type of girl who could have any guy she wanted. Of course, the guys Maureen Swanson wanted were college linebackers built like O. J. Simpson. Robbie was built more like Wallis Simpson. Handsome undoubtedly, but at fifteen still small and slight and looking every inch the tenth grader that he was.

On the other hand, Robbie was also the heir to the Kruger-Brent fortune. For $10 billion, it appeared, Maureen Swanson was prepared to make an exception to her usual dating criteria. Robbie Templeton might not be built like a football player, but he was worth more money than most pros.

Maureen smiled. “I know a guy who lives around here. There’s always a party going on at his place. You wanna check it out?”

Robbie weighed his options. He did not want to check it out. He did not want to go to a party, especially not with Maureen Swanson. He wanted to be left alone so that he could go and kill himself somewhere, quietly, without his last memory being a pair of Dolly Parton breasts or daisy-patterned panties from JCPenney. Was that so much to ask?

And yet…A party meant other people. Noise. Drugs. Distractions for Maureen.

Drugs.

Robbie shrugged. What the hell.

“Sure, why not? I’ve got nothing better to do.”

When Peter Templeton got home that evening, he expected to find his son waiting for him.

“Robert!”

He let the front door slam shut behind him.

“ROBERT!”

Peter Templeton no longer felt guilty about slapping Robert that afternoon. He was against physical violence generally, especially as a form of parental control. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Robert had stood in his office, laughing at him. Actually laughing. After all the trouble he’d caused the family: the expulsions, the run-ins with the police, the shoplifting. After all the money and time that Peter had personally spent trying to help him, all the therapists and vacations and hundred-dollar-an-hour piano lessons, Robert still thought of the situation as one big joke.

Well, the joke was on him this time. Peter Templeton had had enough.

Bounding up the stairs two at a time in the direction of Robbie’s bedroom, Peter ran into the housekeeper, Mrs. Carter. She was standing on the landing. She looked apologetic.

“I’m afraid Master Robert’s not here, sir. We haven’t seen him since he left for school this morning. Is something wrong?”

Peter scowled. “Damn right something’s wrong. He’s gone and gotten himself kicked out of St. Bede’s. I doubt there’s a school left in the state of New York that would take him now. Frankly, I can’t say I blame them.”

“Oh dear.”

Mrs. Carter wrung her hands despairingly. She adored Robbie, but he did seem to be getting himself into an awful lot of scrapes lately.

“Robbie? Is that you?”

Lexi had heard the front door slam and came running out of the nursery in her nightgown, eager to see her brother. As always, Peter’s heart lifted at the sight of her.

She looked more like her mother every day. She had Alex’s eyes and lips and hair. Alex’s smile, half coy, half knowing, top lip slightly curled. She even walked like her mother. But in temperament she was quite different. Where Alex had been gentle and soft, Lexi was fiery and energetic. Mrs. Carter affectionately referred to her as “our little piranha.” Even Peter, with his chronically rose-tinted paternal vision, could see that Lexi was not perhaps the model of a decorous young lady. Spirited was the word he used. Less partial observers tended toward spoiled. Willful was another favorite. Totally out of control was not unheard of.

“There’s my princess.” Peter kissed the top of Lexi’s head. She smelled of warm cookies and talcum powder. He felt his anger melting away. “What are you doing out of bed so late?”

Lexi frowned, then pouted, her deep gray eyes welling with tears.

“Robbie!” she wailed. “I want Robbie! Where’s Robbie? Where is he?”

Peter felt the bitterness choking him. First Alex, now Lexi. Robert had sucked away their love like a vampire, leaving Peter with nothing. Only with immense effort did he keep the emotion out of his voice.

“Robbie’s not here right now, sweetie. Would you like Daddy to tuck you in? I could read that story you like. The one about Squirrel Nutkin?”

“NO!” It was a yell. “NOT Daddy! Rooooobbiiiieee!”

Mrs. Carter ushered Lexi back into her bedroom. Poor Mr. Templeton. He looked like he’d just had acid thrown in his face. He had to learn not to take things so much to heart. Mrs. Carter had four kids of her own. Like every mother, she knew that children could be spiteful and thoughtless, especially at Lexi’s age. You couldn’t take it personally.

Once Lexi was settled back in bed, Mrs. Carter came downstairs. She found her boss in the study.

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