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Authors: Tasmina Perry

Original Sin

BOOK: Original Sin
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Original Sin

Tasmina Perry

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Tasmina Perry
All rights reserved
Including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form

Eleven Books 2011
Originally published in Great Britain by Harper Collins publishers
[email protected]

In memory of my grandfather

Contents

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty–One

Chapter Twenty–Two

Chapter Twenty–Three

Chapter Twenty–Four

Chapter Twenty–Five

Chapter Twenty–Six

Chapter Twenty–Seven

Chapter Twenty–Eight

Chapter Twenty–Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty–One

Chapter Thirty–Two

Chapter Thirty–Three

Chapter Thirty–Four

Chapter Thirty–Five

Chapter Thirty–Six

Chapter Thirty–Seven

Chapter Thirty–Eight

Chapter Thirty–Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty–One

Chapter Forty–Two

Chapter Forty–Three

Chapter Forty–Four

Chapter Forty–Five

Chapter Forty–Six

Chapter Forty–Seven

Chapter Forty–Eight

Chapter Forty–Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty–One

Chapter Fifty–Two

Chapter Fifty–Three

Chapter Fifty–Four

Chapter Fifty–Five

Chapter Fifty–Six

Chapter Fifty–Seven

Chapter Fifty–Eight

Chapter Fifty–Nine

Chapter Sixty

Chapter Sixty–One

Chapter Sixty–Two

Chapter Sixty–Three

Chapter Sixty–Four

Chapter Sixty–Five

Chapter Sixty–Six

Chapter Sixty–Seven

Chapter Sixty–Eight

About the Author

Prologue

Confidential
magazine

September 18 1964

Pill–popping starlet feared dead after wedding vanishing act

Friends of the Hollywood actress, Olivia Martin, who mysteriously disappeared after the Louisiana wedding of cosmetics mogul, Howard Asgill at the family’s Riverview Estate, now fear she might have taken her own life by means of a fatal late–night walk into the Mississippi River after consuming a cocktail of barbiturates. Martin was last seen leaving the $50,000 nuptials of Asgill and New Orleans socialite Meredith Carter just before midnight last Saturday. When Mr Asgill noticed her absence at the lavish brunch the next day, the newlyweds assumed that Olivia, known for her colourful love life, had left the celebrations with another guest.

But when she had not appeared forty–eight hours later, Martin’s sister Valerie filed a missing person’s report, and Louisiana police began their enquiries.

River of death

Friends of the
After the Sunset
actress began assuming the worst when Louisiana State Police found prescription drugs in the guest cottage where Miss Martin was staying on the Carter family estate. So far police have not trawled the Mississippi, which runs just one hundred feet past the guest cottage and is almost one mile wide at this point. If the theory of a death plunge is true, investigators fear the body of the actress might never be found.

Haunted by Hollywood rejection

Insiders say the twenty–seven–year–old redhead had been sliding into depression after her contract with MGM studios was cancelled in 1961 and a highly anticipated television career flopped. However, last year Martin signed a five–figure contract to be the face of Asgill Long–last Lipstick. She had proved so successful for the brand that the company had her lips insured for $1 million. But her modelling success was no substitute for her acting career, and a slide into drink and prescription–drug addiction was well known to those around her.

Dark cloud over wedding

Although the search for Miss Martin continues, her disappearance has cast a dark cloud over one of the most stellar society events of the season. Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Anita Ekberg were just some of the guests at the Asgill wedding. The CEO of Asgill Cosmetics was the butcher’s son from Brooklyn who turned a home–brewed face cream in a multimillion–dollar cosmetics company. Meredith and Howard Asgill, currently on honeymoon in Capri, Italy, issued a statement yesterday expressing their concern. ‘Olivia is a dear friend and wonderful ambassador for Asgill Cosmetics. We pray for her swift and safe return home.’

CHAPTER ONE

Present day, London

‘Wake up. I’ve got something for you.’

Tess Garrett forced her eyes open and peered over the top of her duvet to see her flatmate Jemma Davies sitting on the bed.

‘You gave me a fright. What time is it?’ sighed Tess, casting her glance to the bedside clock next to her.
5.30 a.m.
! As deputy editor on one of the UK’s Sunday tabloids she was used to early starts, but the birds weren’t even singing yet. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw that her friend was dressed head to toe in black.

‘What are you wearing?’ asked Tess warily. ‘You look like a cat burglar.’

‘Come on, shake a leg,’ said Jemma, bouncing on the mattress impatiently, ‘this is important!’

‘So is my sleep,’ mumbled Tess, pulling the covers back over her head.

Seeing that Tess was going to take some shifting, Jemma stood up again.

‘Okay, I’ll go and make some tea. Then we can talk. Five minutes, okay?’

As soon as Jemma had left the bedroom, Tess heard a muffled groan coming from under the pillow next to her.

‘You know I can’t hear you through six inches of goose down,’ said Tess.

A hand flung back the pillow and the handsome face of her boyfriend Dom Barton popped up, squinting into the light.

‘I said, “Remind me when Jemma said she was moving out?”’

‘Shhh! Keep your voice down,’ said Tess, peering through the open bedroom door where she could see Jemma filling the kettle in the galley kitchen across the hall. ‘Cut her a bit of slack, eh? She’s been through a rough time.’

‘She finished with Chris three months ago, Tess,’ hissed Dom, leaning back on his elbows. ‘Plus, the flat is a tip, and how can I use the study to write my book when all of Jemma’s belongings are in it?’

Tess glanced around and had to admit that things were a tight squeeze in their two–bedroomed Battersea flat, but Jemma was her best friend’s sister, she had known her since school; and besides, Jemma’s line of work sometimes came in handy.

‘Honey, you are never going to write that novel, with or without anyone living in our spare room. You’ve been talking about it for I’ve long as I’ve known you. Come on. It’s time to get up anyway. Your flight leaves at eight thirty – shouldn’t you be in Heathrow in an hour?’

Dom was the deputy travel editor of the broadsheet, the
Sunday Chronicle
, which meant he was on some exotic press trip at least once a month. Groaning, he slid out of bed, scratching his tousled hair. Tess rubbed her eyes as she watched his gym–honed bum cheeks vanish into their en–suite bathroom. Jemma returned with two mugs of tea and thrust one towards Tess.

‘So, what’s worth a five–thirty summit meeting?’ Tess smiled.

Jemma took a slurp of tea. ‘I’ve been to a Venus party,’ she said with a grin.

Tess’s eyes opened wide and she sat cross–legged on the bed, feeling suddenly energized. Jemma was a paparazzo photographer who usually sold her work into one of the big picture agencies, but sometimes Tess asked her to work on solo projects for her. Tess had been hearing rumours of organized ‘membership only’ sex parties in London for years but, despite the best efforts of Fleet Street’s finest, no one had ever been able to track them down. She had begun to suspect they were one of those wishful–thinking urban myths, like Diana’s love child, but, around three months ago, Jemma had got the scent of a new underground scene called ‘Venus parties’ and the whisper was that they took decadence to a whole new level. Understandably, access to them was near impossible – entry was via personal recommendation and the vetting process rigorous – but the guest list was said to be dynamite: senior politicians, Hollywood stars and players, high–ranking police, Premiership footballers – and that was just for starters. Tess had put Jemma on a retainer to work on tracking them down.

‘There was a Venus party last night at a big house in Wycombe Square out in St. John’s Wood,’ said Jemma excitedly. ‘I got in.’

‘That’s fantastic,’ said Tess, barely able to hide her excitement. ‘How on earth did you get past the checks?’

Jemma glanced behind her, making sure that Dom was still the shower. Tess understood; Dom might have been her boyfriend, but he still worked for a rival publication.

‘I was a security guard,’ she whispered.

Tess laughed. ‘You? A bouncer?’

Although she was dressed completely in black, the pocket–sized busty blonde looked more like a glamour model than a security guard.

‘Don’t laugh,’ said Jemma huffily. ‘These parties need women at the door. Ironically they’re to frisk the female guests to make sure nobody’s taking in cameras. It took me two months to get the gig. I had to moonlight on the door of a club in Chelsea first.’

‘Was it worth it?’

Jemma smiled. ‘Oh yes.’

Tess was practically salivating; this would be an excellent story at any time, but Jemma’s timing was perfect. All week she had been acting editor of the
Sunday Globe
. Her boss Andy Davidson was on holiday and she had picked up the reins. This could be her big chance to make her mark.

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