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Authors: Rosemary Rogers

The Insiders

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THE

INSIDERS

 

ROSEMARY

ROGERS

AVON

PUBLISHERS OF BARD, CAMELOT AND DISCUS BOOKS

 

EVE ...

She's a captivatingly beautiful

photographer's model... She's a bright, new television

anchorwoman ... And she's the object of every man's desires ...

From the breathtaking northern California coastline to the fierce, competitive media worlds of Los Angeles and New York City— Eve is caught in a whirlwind of the beautiful and the rich, and the uncontrollable desires of Brant, a cruel sensualist, to whom nothing is forbidden—nothing.

THE INSIDERS is an original publication of Avon Books. This work has never before appeared in book form.

 

AVON BOOKS A division of The Hearst Corporation 959 Eighth Avenue New York, New York 10019

Copyright © 1979 by Rosemary Rogers Published by arrangement with the author. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-67800 ISBN: 0-380-40576-8

All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Avon Books.

First Avon Printing, January, 1979

AVON TRADEMARK REG. TJ.S. PAT. OFF. AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES, MARCA REGIS TRAD A, HECHO EN
U.S
.A.

Printed in the U.S.A.

CHAPTER ONE

Eve Mason sat
cross-legged in the center of her bed, Yoga-fashion, with eyes closed while she concentrated on trying to relax. She was also trying to ignore the bright sunshine outside the blinds that masked her windows, and to forget the fact that the telephone hadn't rung, even once. But what did she expect? She'd changed her telephone number because the constant ringing used to make David uptight when they were together. And the other men, those casual dates she had begun to accept when she'd felt she'd needed something to fill the emptiness in her life after Mark had died— after a while they'd stopped calling.

She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, fighting the feeling of tension in her body. She'd been getting quite good at relaxation before David. Damn him! But this time she wouldn't try to push the thought of David out of her mind. Peter, handing out free advice last night, had told her to try stream of consciousness. Think about it, remember. Maybe after a while you'll get tired of thinking about the bastard, he'd said.

Lately, Eve had started sleeping with Peter, but only on weekends (to fill up the empty space that had once belonged to David). Doctor Peter Petrie, San Francisco's most fashionable analyst. So damned busy, his time all booked up, that he couldn't fit her in as a regular patient.

However, when he was feeling magnanimous, he'd occasionally give her some free counseling. Maybe to keep her sane until the next weekend, when, no doubt, he'd want to screw her again.

Peter had been David's friend—and David was her sickness, her obsession, her madness. She wouldn't call him her love, because she was trying to kick the habit of being in love with David. That was another thing Peter had told her. Stop trying to fight it. Analyze it instead. But how could you put feelings and emotions under a microscope, especially if they were your own?

Eve, you idiot! How could you have fallen so deeply and irretrievably in love with a guy that you lost all shame, all pride?

Thinking about it, she felt herself shudder.
Now
she could feel revulsion at herself for her spineless, prideless crawling to David; clinging to him even in the face of his rejections. Peter, of course, was a rebound lover; but then, Peter had admitted that that was his specialty.

"I take other men's rejected lovers and make them over, doll," Peter had told her once. "I
make
them; I fuck them into forgetfulness. Pretty soon, they've forgotten whoever it was threw them over—they're new women, rehabilitated, you might say. It's my small contribution to the cause of womankind."

"It's nice to know I'm a good cause," she had responded waspishly.

But she wasn't depending on Peter to make her over. Since David, she'd had a lot of casual affairs—one-night stands with men she wouldn't go out with again and wouldn't give her unlisted telephone number to. Funny, that. Once she had despised women who screwed around for the hell of it, or just to prove they were the equals of men, as if that were the only way they could think of to prove it. But God, then she'd been so independent and so sure of herself and where she was going!

Eve had told Marti, who shared the apartment with her, that she felt as if her life could be divided into two segments—before David and after David. Marti, who had been indirectly responsible for her meeting David in the first place, had merely looked sourly at her. Marti didn't like David—never had, from that first evening, when he'd walked in with Stella. . .

Stella—Stella-by-starlight, with the platinum hair curling damply around her face; at the nape of her neck. Stella with the soft, demure manners, the voice of a lady —and the body of a wanton.

At first, Eve had thought that Stella belonged to David. Or the other way around. But Marti soon clued her in. Marti was a lesbian, and Stella was her lover of the moment. But Stella, who was also David's secretary, could never admit in public what she was. So Stella always carried a "front" with her.

On this particular occasion the front had been her young, open-minded boss, David Zimmer. Good-looking, sharp dresser. Up-and-coming fast—he was the type. Eve, walking in late, had noticed him right away. And latched onto him.

Maybe it had been only because she felt sorry for him —he was obviously straight, and none of Marti's other friends were. Maybe because he was so tall, and had the nicest brown eyes and a sexy, full-lipped mouth—she always looked at eyes and mouths first. But there he was, with a glass in his hand, standing slightly apart from the rest of the crowd, ten gay friends of Marti's.

Eve had had a particularly hard day, filming "The Regeneration of the Haight-Ashbury." Since she'd moved up to being anchorperson on the KNXT morning news, she hadn't had too many chances to go on location, interviewing people on the streets, and she had enjoyed this particular assignment. But it had been a tiring day, and she'd intended to go straight to her room and to sleep.

Instead, after she'd kicked off her shoes, she'd asked him teasingly to fix her a drink.

It amused her to watch him studying her, obviously sizing her up, wondering. . .

"Hello." He had a nice voice, too. Deep, definitely masculine. "I'd love to fix you a drink, but I'm afraid I don't really know where everything is—I'm just an observer here."

"So I noticed!" In those days, not really knowing David, she could tease him—play it cool. "Everything's hidden in that cabinet behind you. I'm Marti's roommate, by the way."

He'd fixed her the drink she asked for—and two more after that. She remembered the relief in his voice when he'd become bold enough to say, "You're straight? You mean that?"

Later, he had escaped with her into her bedroom. That was after the others had left to go dancing, after Marti had announced that she'd drop Stella off and it was okay if Eve and David wanted to party it up by themselves....

Throwing her head back, trying to concentrate on her breathing, Eve caught her bottom lip in her teeth. Go back, Peter had said. If only she could!

That first night—why had she forgotten to be wary with David as she was with the other men she'd started to date after Mark? He'd asked her questions about herself, her job. He'd caught a couple of the news programs she'd been on, had thought he recognized her when she walked in. But she came on too early or too late—he was usually on his way to the office by eight o'clock. He was an attorney....

They'd both known at that stage that he would end up spending what was left of the night with her. But he'd taken his time, he had seemed really interested in getting to know the real person under the getting-to-be-well-known face and figure of Eve Mason, KNXT news-woman.

And maybe that was when he'd gotten to her, that very first time he'd penetrated the shell of reserve she'd learned to erect around herself. Or had it been later, when they'd gone to bed? There his concentration had shifted from her mind to her body, and the contrast between his detached, friendly manner of moments before and the uninhibited lover he showed himself to be excited her beyond measure. Eve found herself giving, doing freely and naturally with him things she hadn't done before with any man, not even Mark.

"Eve—Eve! You're like your name. Woman. I like the way you don't hold back."

"Do you always talk while you're making love?"

"I don't make love often. Mostly I just screw around. You're different."

Nothing unique about that, but it was the way he said it, the sincerity in his voice that made the meaning different. And right then he'd told her he wanted to go on seeing her. They made plans to have dinner the next evening; to go down to Albany during the weekend when she was free, to meet his family.

Who could resist a man like David—beautiful, tender, fierce, and knowing.

His parents had died together in an automobile accident four years earlier, leaving David responsible for his three younger brothers and sisters. Francie, who was seventeen, pretty, and knew more about life than she let on; Rick—thirteen and an average baseball-crazy boy. And Lisa, who was only seven, and silent. Silent since the death of their parents. It wasn't that Lisa was retarded, David had been quick to point out. Just that their parents' death had come as such a shock—he was sending her to a speech therapist, who said she was making progress....

What Lisa needed most was loving and cuddling— someone to tuck her in at night and read her bedtime stories. Once, Eve had tried to tell David so, and he'd laughed at her.

"Is that why you give her all the attention? You're just a born mother, Eve, in spite of your career-girl surface!" He hadn't said anything about making her his wife. But then she'd thought that the time would come. When they were both ready. Stupid of herl That time would never come now.

The hell with David—so quick to jump to conclusions. Right now, Eve thought she almost missed Lisa, who had just begun to open up to her, more than she missed David. Lisa had been like her sister Pattie, crying when Eve left home after that flaming row with Pop. Like Eve herself at seven years old, all skinny legs and hair.

"All that hair!" her mother used to complain. "Darling, can't we do something with it? Braid it or tie it back or something if you must have it long. You can't have it hanging in your eyes and hiding your pretty little face."

Her hair hid her from the world—she deliberately let her bangs grow until they almost obscured her eyes from all the ogres of her childhood. Especially her father, with his heavy hand and loud, shouting voice.

He'd raised Cain when Eve had announced, after the years of parochial school that she was going to college. Even her mother hadn't understood.

"But darling, you don't need college! Allen Harvey has such a good job, and he's going to take over his father's store—"

"Mother, I'm not going to marry Allen! For heaven's sake, just because I dated him—"

"We'll leave heaven out of this, if you please!" A big vein throbbed in her father's forehead—she could tell from the way he rubbed his palm against the side of his pants that he itched to smack her, as he would have without hesitation a few years ago. "Now you listen here. College is bad enough, but this place you've picked, Berkeley—isn't that the place all the damned radicals go? Always in trouble, always making protests and demonstrations—I tell you, no daughter of mine—"

"Pop, I want to major in political science. And maybe take journalism as well. Berkeley's one of the best universities, and I won a scholarship, so you won't have to support me! I'm only going to
college,
Pop, not taking to a life of sin!"

"I wouldn't be too sure of that, after the things I've heard about that place!"

The arguments and the rows had gone on, up until the day Eve had finally walked out, with her father's shouted threat that she'd better not get in trouble and she needn't bother to come back home if this was how little her family meant to her ringing in her ears.

But she'd won out! The first time she'd ever fought a battle for herself and won it. The first time she'd really been free; completely on her own.

By this time, the skinniness had turned to slenderness, offset by curves in the right places. Her hair, still long, was tamed—shining copper-brown, thick. "Skinny little Eve" had blossomed into a natural beauty, but on the inside she was still shy—a little scared by her new environment and suddenly full of doubts about herself.

Eve had picked the Berkeley campus of the University of California mostly because it symbolized, in those days, the land of freedom she thought she craved. The freedom to think and speak out as she pleased— not to have to go to church—the freedom to fuck if she wanted to, although at that time in her life she would never have used that word.

She found, in the end, that between classes and her part-time job and studying hard to keep her grades up so she wouldn't lose her scholarship, there was really no time for anything else, not even serious dating. The few times she did go out with guys, she discovered they expected to make it with her. She hadn't become liberated enough to accept casual sex, and she didn't hare the nerve to let any of them know she was still a virgin at eighteen.

Nothing exciting happened to her, and she had begun to despair that anything ever would. She was getting good grades, and she had switched to journalism as her major, discovering she had an aptitude for writing. And then, toward the end of her second year, everything seemed to happen at once.

Her father died—he had refused to speak to her since she had left home—and her mother needed help to support the family. Eve was thinking of dropping out, taking a job—but what could she do?

That was the year that
Good Taste
magazine decided to ran a feature titled "Undiscovered Beauties on American College Campuses," and their photographer, shooting pictures in the library one rainy day, discovered Eve.

The
Good Taste
fashion editor made her over, gave her pointers on makeup and how to dress, but it was the photographer, Phil Metzger, who made Eve look beautiful.

"You'd be perfect for modeling, baby—you're one of the lucky few who's got curves and still photographs slim. And that
face.
You're really beautiful, you know that? Got bones in all the right places."

Phil tried to make her all the time they were shooting, and, in the end, she gave herself to him on his last night in town.

Phil had been at first disbelieving and then honesdy astounded when he found Eve was a virgin.

"Oh, my God!" he kept saying, "I didn't think there were any left! I mean—hell, don't the guys around here have
eyes?
Christ, baby, you're my first cherry, you know that?"

Halfheartedly, he tried to persuade her to go with him to New York, but they both knew that it was only because of her now-lost virginity and not because there was anything really going between them.

Eve turned him down politely and sensed his relief. And, maybe because he was relieved that she had let him off so lightly, he gave her prints of all his best pictures of her, told her how to put them together, and added a letter of introduction to the head of the Ray Burnside Modeling Agency in San Francisco.

BOOK: The Insiders
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