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Blossomed the Lovely Stars

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“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

 

 

Jack leaned on the rail at the bow of the ship as it passed the Statue of Liberty.  He shook his head and closed his eyes, how Phryne talked him into taking this course was beyond him.  Well it wasn't really; she rammed him into it, he thought with a smirk.

 

Their time in London had been the most romantic of his life.  He had never so been  happy.  His beautiful Phryne just sparkled with joy when she opened the door to her townhouse and saw him there, soaking wet carrying his simple suitcase.  They fully enjoyed themselves and then to put the cherry on top they went to Paris to visit Jane for three weeks before their ship left for New York.  He chuckled to himself as he remembered Jane's squeals as she first caught sight of them.

 

Now instead of the usual route home they were crossing the Atlantic to the US  to traverse the whole big country to California to help an old School friend of Phryne's with a problem, that was a bit “sticky ” as Phryne had put it to him.  As he looked at the harbor of New York he thought of how she planned to cross the country and sighed.

 

"That is a rather deep sigh, Inspector."

 

"Was it Miss Fisher?"

 

Phryne smiled up at him, she put her arm through his and leaned into him putting her head on his shoulder.  "Yes, it was, surely you have no objection to a little adventure, do you?"  

 

He leaned down and kissed her on the top of her head and then said quietly into her ear, "No none, however..."

 

"It’s  the flight, isn't it?"

 

"Why exactly is it, that we can't take the train...?

 

"Well it's faster...."

 

"Just by one day ...."

 

"I have never taken a passenger flight before it sounds fascinating."

 

"Phryne..." he growled.

 

"Oh come on Jack, it will be fun."

 

"Of course it will."  He replied sarcastically.

 

"It will."

 

"Hmmm, we'll see."

 

****

 

They tangled together in the lower berth of the sleeper car on the way to Ohio.  Phryne's head was cuddled on his shoulder, he looked down at her and smiled sweetly.  He kissed her on her neck, then nibbled her ear, as  he heard her squeak in reaction.  He smiled and his eyes twinkled as he pulled back and whispered into her ear, "We  will be at the station soon, we need to get dressed."

 

Phryne pulled him back and kissed him passionately, then she pulled back and kissed his nose, "If  an exciting flight was not before us, I would keep you captive here, but since we are going for our  first passenger flight I will be a good girl and get dressed."  Jack had a thoroughly amused look on his face as he replied, " Good girl?"

 

"I can be, when it is called for."

 

Jack rolled his eyes and got up.  He went into the tiny bathroom and washed up and shaved, she came in pinched his bottom when she was sure the razor was not near anything precious and started to gather her things to pack. As Jack continued to get ready he thought, I really love the intimacy of living with her. I wonder what will happen when we get back to our lives in Melbourne.  

 

***

 

As they waited by the plane, Jack grabbed onto Phryne's arm, "Is that who I think it is?"

 

"Yes, it is. She is from Los Angeles; it makes perfect sense..."

 

"But why isn't she flying herself?"

 

"Maybe she just likes to try new things too?"

 

They were not the only one s staring at their fellow passenger. Others were staring at her as well .  Suddenly a car screeched next to them. Jack and Phryne's instincts  came out and they both reached for their weapons  when a swarm of camera men ran toward the famous aviator in front of them. 

 

"Amelia! Amelia!" they called. She merely smiled, waved and climbed onto the plane.  Slowly the actual passengers squeezed by the screaming  men. Jack shook his head. "That poor woman.  We had a tiny taste of this back home and in London, this is insanity, where are the  police?"

 

Phryne shrugged then smiled at the co-pilot who helped her onto the plane. Jack followed her and sat beside her, "She's used to it, Jack,   and she knows how to handle it.  Her husband taught her well."

 

"Do they not have any police in Ohio?"  he asked as he watched the so called gentleman of the press push and shove trying to get into the plane. The ground crew fought them off and closed the door.  

"Apparently not." Replied Phryne as she leaned back into her seat.

 

***

 

They arrived in Roanoke, Ok  , and took the bus to the train, as they were taken to their compartment they saw that Amelia was across  the way.  Her secretary  smiled at them and briskly closed the door. 

 

Phryne looked at Jack with a wicked  look, "Interesting, isn't it?"

 

"What is?"

 

"Do you think the secretary is really a security person?"

 

"Why would you say  that?"

 

Phryne shrugged, "she just didn't seem very...well …secretary  like..."

 

"Phryne, can't you just stop sleuthing for a tiny bit...."

 

"You can't stop being a policeman. When you saw that young boy clip the food from the store, you caught him, talked to him, realized he was just a poor starving child, left him in my custody and paid for his food..."

 

"And you found out where his family was and made sure they were well taken care of..."

 

"Well you started it...."

 

Jack pulled her close, closed the door with his shoulder and pulled her in for a passionate kiss, and then pulled back, tenderly tracing her cheekbone with his fingers, " and you ended it."

 

Phryne playfully ran her hands through his hair, and said, "that is because we are a brilliant team..."

 

"Brilliant."

 

***

Phryne and Jack were stunned as they were led to their table in the dining  car, they glanced at each other astonished as the man stood beside the table. There sat Miss Amelia Earhart, smiling up at them. "Miss Fisher, Inspector Robinson an honor to meet you both," she said in her Californian accent. 

 

Jack swallowed twice and smiled nodding as he sat down, "It’s  an honor to meet you, Miss Earhart." Phryne smiled brilliantly outshining the sun and sat down beside Jack, "Yes, it is marvellous  to sit next to a true American hero, especially when that hero is a woman."

 

"Well Miss Fisher, your exploits are far more interesting, especially flying straight from Australia to England like you did. With all those squall that time  of year.  Very impressive. And of your sleuthing with your exceptionally open partner here, I am truly an admirer of both of you.  You remind me very much in attitude of my husband, Inspector."

 

Jack's eyes widened and he replied, "I am not at all surprised that you know all about Miss Fisher but how on Earth do you know about me?  I am a lowly copper from Melbourne...."

 

"Not lowly at all Jack.  You are a Chief Detective Inspector and you run the best station in the city," said Phryne proudly, biting deeply into her roll for emphasis.

 

Jack rolled his eyes, "I think you’re a bit prejudice,  Phryne..."

 

"No, I'm not, I am merely being honest..."

 

"Yes, your  exactly like my husband and myself, we always get  into these playful spats."

 

"I look forward to meeting him," said Jack, with soft smile. "How did you ever hear of me, Miss Earhart, I am not famous."

 

"I have a friend  from Melbourne who was spending the winter in New York and she told me all about you too.  I made her tell me everything, I love a fabulous mystery and a cute couple."

“Who?” Phryne asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

"Muriel Mertz," replied Amelia with a smile.

 

Phryne rolled her eyes, "She loves to gossip. I am sure she loved to talk about me."

 

"She said, she was fascinated  by you since your return, she said the two of you solved many murder mysteries, is that true?"

 

Jack nodded and replied, "I am afraid so."

 

"Don't be afraid Inspector, be proud," said Phryne with a wink.

 

***

 

As the flight took off from Clovis, New Mexico, Jack and Phryne sat beside each other, with Amelia sitting across from them with her secretary beside her.

 

Phryne sat by the window, holding Jack's hand through the take off.  He was fine when the plane was in flight, enjoying looking out the window looking at the sights and scenery with Phryne.  Or playing cards with Amelia's secretary Cathy who was very sweet and funny. While Phryne read and Amelia answered more letters then anyone could imagine, mostly from young girls who were fans.

 

It was take off and landings that really bothered him, he seemed to feel the pressure right inside his body.  His head hurt, his very skin could feel the pull of gravity.  He wasn't afraid of the flight or heights; he was fine with both.  But he actually felt nauseous. Amelia suggested he chew some gum after she saw him suffering during the first flight, and gave him some.  He found that it did ease the nausea but not the head ache or the vibration inside his chest. 

 

So, as the co-pilot let the passengers  know they were approaching Burbank Airfield he politely pulled back from the game and smiled at Cathy and said, "Best I prepare for the coming torture."

 

Cathy nodded and sat up in her seat.  Amelia felt admiration, sympathy and a touch of amusement while watching Phryne put down her book, take Jack's hand in hers, with her other hand tenderly rubbing his back. As the plane descended, Jack closed his eyes and his jaw tightened doing everything he could not to groan in pain.

 

Amelia admired Jack's bravery in facing this head on and doing it for the woman he loved and sympathy because she felt the nausea as well. One of her first flight instructors told her about the trick with the gum.  And felt amusement  because for someone not very sentimental, all Phryne's love and compassion showed on her face as she took care of Jack in the seat beside her. 

 

To Jack's utter relief the plane landed and his insides calmed and he felt normal again. "You are never going to fly in my plane are you?"

 

"Not, if I can help it."

 

"What if it’s  an emergency or I need you to come with me desperately?" 

 

"Anytime you need me, Darling Phryne, I will be there."

 

"I know, Sweetheart."  They smiled and kissed softly.

 

***

 

Amelia watched with amusement and affection as Jack and Phryne left the plane and went  into the waiting car.  It was a beautiful touring car with every luxury.  She waved at them as her husband escorted  her to his car.  She hoped they would meet up again.

 

As Phryne and Jack drove from the Airport to the hotel, Phryne who had been there before pointed out things she thought might interest Jack.  There were only a few roads through the San Fernando Valley. It was all Strawberry fields, Apple orchards and such.  Jack was enjoying the wildness of it, it reminded him of home.  The few roads were made from the trails that the pioneers used and there were very few estates.  As they passed an area that looked like a jungle, Phryne pointed it out, "That is actually an estate.  It belongs to Edgar Rice Burroughs; you know he did the Tarzan books."

 

"Really?"  Jack perked up quite a bit at that, after westerns, he loved the Tarzan books. He was not a big fan of the Tarzan movies, because they took a self-taught, highly intelligent character and made him grunt and not understand anything, which annoyed him greatly. 

 

Phryne smiled, she had a surprise for him but she would wait till they were settled at their hotel.  "Yes, he lives here and writes here. He used to live in Africa so he created a jungle here so he would be in the right mind set to write."

 

"Wonderful, I would love to explore that..." He looked a bit sheepish and said, "I know that is ridiculous.  I am sure he has more important thing to do than  speak with a fan like me..."

 

"You never know, he is actually quite social and we have a few friends in common including Raymond."

 

Jack shrugged and looked out the window, Phryne smiled wickedly her eyes twinkling.

 

***

 

As they settled into the hotel there was a knock at the door. Phryne answered and Jack turned as he heard girlish screaming.  He smiled and shook his head, the way women said hello was so different from men.  He chuckled as he took his books and put them in the drawer of his bedside table.

 

"Cathy Darling, you look wonderful."

 

"So do you Phryne, as always."  They were hugging each other. "Who would think that two girls who were thought of as guttersnipes by the girls at school would become such sophisticated women..." Cathy said laughing.

 

Phryne looked at her old friend and shrugged as she replied, "I did." She looked around the room and saw that Jack was in the bedroom.  "Jack, come on out and meet one of my oldest and dearest friend  s! Cathy, Mac and I were the three musketeers at school, full of fun and mischief."

 

Jack walked up to the women smiling, "It’s   nice to meet you, Miss Glover."

 

"Detective Inspector, I will make a deal with you. I will call you Jack and you can call me Cathy."

 

Jack smiled shyly and nodded.  Phryne smiled and put her arm through his. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer, "I think that is an excellent deal, Jack since we will be working together to solve this thing."

 

Jack laughed and said, "I agree, "Won't you sit  down and tell us in a bit more detail of what this is all about."

 

Cathy sat down on a very comfortable looking divan. Jack and Phryne sat across from her on the couch. 

 

“Many years ago, just after the war, I became pregnant, she was a beautiful little girl and I had to give her up because I was unmarried and my career.  My cousin, who as you know Phryne was as close to me as a sister, took my baby in and raised her.   I became her Aunt Cathy, but at least I could see her as often as I wanted to.  A sleazy  yellow journalist  somehow found the hospital records in New York and he’s blackmailing  me.  Either I pay him a fortune or he will ruin my career. In a nut shell, I want you two to see your way clear of getting the medical records from him and any copies he’s made..."

 

"And throw the Bastard in jail?" said Phryne seething.

 

"No, I just want it to go away..."

 

"Miss Glover, Cathy, if you just take the medical records, you take away the proof but it won't stop him. Blackmailers don't stop till they are caught and put in jail, I speak from years of experience," explained Jack calmly. He was as angry as Phryne, but he was a bit better at hiding it.

 

"I don't doubt that, but this is Hollywood, they are not like they are in other places. If they drop it, they will hand it off to another or just send it out without proof and let the innuendo do the job."

 

"What if we turn the tables on him...."

 

"Phryne......?"

 

"What do you mean?"  Cathy asked as they had a silent battle.  

 

They walked into the beautiful Cocoanut Grove Nightclub inside The Ambassador Hotel which was located at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, between Catalina Street and Mariposa Avenue, in the center of  the defined Mid-Wilshire district.  It was one of the most beautiful hotels and locations. Jack was very impressed.  He pulled on the jacket of his tux several times and cleared his throat.  Phryne, who was breathtaking in a floor-length diaphanous silver gown, that was low in the front and even lower in the back was on his arm.  

 

"Calm down Darling, we are the guests of honor." said Phryne softly, "there is no need to be so damned nervous."

 

"You do realize that there are cars in that parking lot that I have only seen in magazines and this place is...well..."

 

"Glamorous, I know. We are guests of honor of a movie star and the head of a studio, of course it is. But you know them, they are all lovely."

 

Jack took a deep breath and nodded, "That is true and I did see Raymond at his worst." 

"And this will be his best possible, so come on and enjoy."

After they were greeted by the Maitre’d they were led to a private room. Raymond and Clara were waiting for them. After hugs and happy greetings, Raymond said, "You look well, Inspector."

"Jack please."

"Thanks, call me Ray. Don't worry Jack, this will be a nice casual evening..."

Jack gave him look indicating the surroundings and clothes.

Ray laughed and said, "Well, all of the natives are very friendly, so don't worry."

Jack smiled and nodded. Phryne put her arm through Clara's arm, and asked, "How long will you two be here?"

"Just long enough to finish the picture then back home on the first boat to Melbourne."

"Can we come with you?" asked Jack.

Phryne hit him with her hip, "After we help Cathy. Where is she?" Phryne asked with a smile.

“Go mingle, we will send her to you.” Said Ray with a smile.

***

As Jack and Phryne entered the glittering ballroom he took her hand into his. She smiled at him and entwined their fingers bring them up to kiss tenderly. Then she gently pushed her shoulder into his and said, “Don’t worry, you will be great. You worried about the ship here to the states and you sparkled.”

“Phryne, I am not a movie fan, I don’t know anyone except Clara and Cathy.”

“Your investigating, just like you did back home.  Think of this as a stately home and there has been a murder, you were never nervous then.”

“Darling, I am not on duty.”

“Oh yes you are.”

Jack shook his head and a very recognizable expression flashed on his face.   It was half annoyed and half amused. When she first saw that she was intrigued and that had not changed. “Good, you’re  already in character.”

“I am not an actor.”

“Sure you are, Archie.”

“Thanks Fern.”

They both giggled.

The party they walked into was for a new movie that Ray had invested in called “The Hollywood Revue of 1929,” The place was packed full of stars from the film and their guests.  People such as; Jack Benny, Lionel BarrymoreMarion DaviesGus EdwardsJohn GilbertBuster KeatonMarie DresslerAnita PageNorma Shearer sparkled all around them. The studio also had some of the newer actors come to mingle so they would be seen by the right people such as; Paulette Goddard, Betty Grable, Peter Lorre, Jeanette MacDonald, Ray Milland, Carole Lombard, Paul Muni, Ginger Rogers, Sylvia Sydney and Johnny Weissmuller .

In a corner speaking with the beautiful Paulette Goddard was a special guest requested by Phryne. She guided Jack toward them and with her own sparking smile she said, “Mr. Grey, I am so happy that you could accept Ray’s invitation.  I have someone here who is a huge fan of yours.”

Zane Grey turned and Jack almost swallowed his own tongue, he hoped that he showed no outward sign of his shock or nerves, he did squeeze her hand a bit tighter.  She wiggled her fingers to let him know that it was too tight.  He loosened his grip and tenderly caressed her hand with his thumb.   

“You must be Miss Fisher?  Ray did go on and on about you and your friend.  You’re Detective Inspector Robinson, aren’t you?”

Jack swallowed a few times and nodded, then he cleared his throat and said, “Yes, I am, but here in the states I am just Jack.”

“And I am just Phryne.”

Jack could tell that Phryne was loving this on so many levels. She got to watch him turn to mush and she got to show him off to someone who she knows is special to him.  

“Well I am just Zane then, and this lovely lady is Paulette Goddard, she is a fine actress.”

“Nice to meet you, you are very lovely, I have not had the pleasure of seeing you in a film.  What are you currently in?” 

Paulette smiled sweetly and said, “Thank you, you are lovely too.  Your dress is stunning. I am in   my first film; Berth Marks.”

Phryne looked at the beautiful dress that Paulette was wearing. it was a satin and silk gown in  deep red, with high collar that had a heart shaped cut out in the middle. It was tight all the way down to  her knees where it shot out. It was really unique and showed off her figure to perfection. ‘She will gather all the men like flies to honey,’ she thought as she admired it.

 

“Thank you, Miss Goddard.” With a beautiful smile  she said to Zane Grey, “Jack is a huge fan of yours, Zane. he has read every book you have written.” Jack gave Phryne a look that she knew well, but she winked at him, as he turned to his favorite author and said quietly, “You are my favorite, Zane, I have read all your books.  I hope you don’t find that annoying….”

“Annoying?  My dear Jack, believe me that is music to these old ears, come let’s get you a drink so we can talk about it.”  Zane led Jack to the bar and Phryne turned to Paulette, “I am sorry did we interrupt you?”

“No, it is fine, we were just chatting.  He is friends with a producer I want to meet, he already said he would arrange lunch so I am happy…”

“That is a good thing to hear, Paulette, I love to hear my friends are happy,” said a familiar voice behind them.

Phryne turned to find Cathy looking beautiful but under the façade she could read how upset she was. “Cathy?”

“He upped the ante, Phryne.”

“I’ll get Jack…”

“No, you were looking forward to his meeting Zane.  Let them chat a little.”

“But?”

“He gave me 48 hrs so what is a few minutes?”

“Enough to make me boil.”

 

 

The amazing voice of Ruth Etting blared out of their suite singing, "Shaking the Blues Away." Jack looked at Phryne she was dancing in the middle of the living room of the suite to the tune. Jack smiled and shook his head as he walked in drying his face with a towel.

There was a knock on the door, Jack answered it and smiled at his old friend from his time in France.  “Hello Peter.”

“Hi Jack, you look great!”

“You do too.”

“Here it is, don’t get me into trouble…and be careful I am one of the few honest cops in this town.  My friend Bill Parker and I are the only honest cops in our division.  Most of them are on the bag from either the mob or the studio bosses.”

Jack rolled his eyes as he took the box from his friend and put on a table by the door. “That sounds familiar. I will call you if this leads to something…”

“Do I rate an intro…” Peter said tipping his head toward Phryne.

Jack chuckled, “Sure, she is having so much fun dancing I hate to interrupt but, Phryne!”

The Victrola stopped and Phryne came out to the entryway of the suite, “Ruth Etting is a genius…” she said as she came to Jack and put her arm through his. Jack kissed her cheek and said, “She is but we’ll get thrown out with her belting out like that.”

Peter laughed and said, “I doubt it.  This is the most innocent of the hotel’s troubles.”

Phryne and Jack laughed nodding and Jack said, “Darling this is an old army buddy, “Peter Ryan, who now works for the LAPD.  He brought it to us.”

“Lovely to meet you Peter, thank you so much for helping us.”

“I’m happy to. Let me know if I can do more, when does it begin?”

“Tomorrow,” answered Jack.

“I have to go back to the station…I mean it Jack, if you need me call.”

“I will.”

***

 

Phryne was just going through some clothes at a clothes shop that Cathy had recommended. Fern and Archie were going to be wealthy this time but Jack did not want to spend a lot of money on this.  And refused to consider her spending her money either.

“Jack, we have to buy these clothes someone has to pay for them and we are partners…’

“Exactly, partners, equal partners… I  want to contribute and…”

“Jack Robinson, you contribute in so many ways…”

“What ways…”

Phryne pulled him to her and kissed him.  Right in the middle of the shop, in the day time, in front of everyone. When they pulled back Jack blinked and whispered, “I love you, Phryne Fisher.”

“I love you too, now how about we split it?

“I love a woman with a plan.”

“I wish I’d  said that.”

***

A tall handsome man sauntered into the small French restaurant, “Excuse Moi, Mon Ami…”

“Maurice!”

“Phryne, Mon petite!  You look beautiful as always…”

“Come now, Maurice, it’s been years I am much older…”

“Nonsense, you are still the most beautiful of women.  I think you could still sit for several artists…”

“No, thank you.  I have no interest in that, I am a detective now as I told you.”

“Oui, you did.  But Phryne, is that not dangerous…”

“It is but she will never listen to anyone about that,” said Jack with warm smile.

“Darling, this is Maurice Chevalier, he is a well-known actor in France and here in the US. In fact, he was just nominated for an Oscar. Maurice, this my etre amants. More than that really, he is my partner for life.” Maurice looked stunned but he smiled pleasantly, “It is nice to meet you.  Someone who has won Phryne’s heart must be quite the man.”

Jack’s arm went around her waist and pulled her close kissing her cheek, “She is quite a woman.  It is an honor to meet you Mr, Chevalier.  Thank you for your help with this.”

“It is my great…desire to help Cathy.  She is a sweet girl.  As is our Phryne.”

“Ok you two, enough, let us go to our table and discuss strategy. After all Archie and Fern begin their assignment tomorrow.”

“Yes, and we need all the help we can get.” 

 

 

***

 

 

“The game of "just supposing" is the sweetest game I know, Our dreams are more romantic than the world we see. And if the things we dream about don't happen to be so, That's just an unimportant technicality”

Jack was sitting in his shirtsleeves and a pair of comfortable slacks at the dining table working on the box Peter had given them.  He was enjoying the record that Phryne had given him for his birthday playing on the Victrola. Bing Crosby, from the Paul Whiteman band singing the Make Believe from the Broadway hit Showboat.  As he worked he wished that they had time to go to Broadway and enjoy some of the famous plays.

Phryne came out of the bathroom and leaned against the door admiring Jack.  He was so handsome, and looked so lovely in his shirtsleeves. It showed the strength in his arms and his broad shoulders.

“I can feel you watching me.”

“Oh?”

Jack looked over his shoulder and grinned wickedly, “I always have been able to feel you when you’re  around, long before you say your famous, “Hello Jack!” Then he chuckled as he turned back to the work he was doing.

Phryne walked beside him putting her arms down his shoulders from behind till her mouth was right next to his ear.  She nibbled on his ear.  Then she whispered; “I always know when you’re  near too. Must be love.”

He turned his head and they kissed, he pulled her onto his lap, and they deepened the kiss.  When they pulled back, and he whispered back, “Darling, if we don’t get this ready then this first meeting will be a waste of time.”

“Spoil sport.” She kissed him on his cheek and then stood up.  She listened to Bing Crosby from Paul Whiteman’s orchestra and said, “So you like this record?”

Jack had gone back to fixing the dials and nodded, “Yes, I love it.  I listen to it a lot…”

 

“I know, I just like hearing you say that you like my birthday present.”

“Love it, thank you.”

She kissed him on the forehead and said, “I am glad you liked it but to be honest it was the only thing I could buy you with your restrictions.  I wanted to get you…”

“It’s perfect, Phryne.  It’s perfect.”  He looked up at her and said, “Go get dressed, we have to be there in an hour and half and I have to finish this then bathe and dress.”

Phryne’s arms went around his neck and started to kissing him on chin, then up to his ear softly nibbling on his ear. “No, time for a quickie?”

Jack put his arms around her waist and pulled her into his lap, and kissed her passionately.  Then he pulled back and put a finger on her lips whispering back, “Hold my place, my love.”

Phryne felt both like hitting him and purring because of the promise in his voice.  She looked deeply into his adoring eyes and sighed.  “Fine, I will be a good girl and get dressed.”

“Thank you, Miss Fisher.  I am almost done.  I just need to put this into the planter and get dressed.

“How does this work again?”

Jack pointed to the dial, and a horn shaped object, it was like a hearing trumpet.  “This is called a Dictaphone.  It was invented for businessmen to dictate at night so he can give it to his secretary to type up.  This way they can do business in off hours.  My friend Peter has found it a wonderful way to catch bad guys.  And we are going to use it catch this blackmailer.”

Phryne rolled her eyes, “I know all that but what has the planter to do with it?”

“We need to sneak it in, it is a bit bulky for your purse or my pocket.”

“Ahhhh.”

Jack caressed her derriere and said, “Get dressed, Phryne.”

“Not, if you keep that up, Inspector.”

Jack winked up at her, “Hold my place there too.”

***

Mr. Tibor (Tibs) James relaxed in his favorite booth at the Polo lounge, he was about to take a bite out of his burger when he saw someone who made his eyes bug out. He saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen enter the restaurant. The beautiful slinky brunette and the handsome elegant man with her entered the restaurant and headed straight to him carrying  a beautiful planter filled with white roses.

“Mr James?  I am Fern Jones and this is my husband Archie Jones, we are from the Australian Film Fans Association. And this is a gift from our wonderful association with our warmest compliments.”

Jack put the planter down on his table, smiling happily as he said, “We have come a long way to meet the famous Tibs James.  Your articles are our favorites.”

Tibs stood up and shook their hands.  “You two came a long way just give me a plant.” He motioned that they should join him.  Jack pulled out a chair for Phryne and sat next to her. “The flowers are merely a gesture,” said Phryne smiling suggestively, “Archie and I have a very exciting proposition for you.  How would you like an all-expenses paid trip to Australia?”

Tibs blinked, “What for?”

“Fern and I had a brainstorm, we are going to have a film festival at home in Melbourne, and we need journalists from around the world, we would like you to represent the US.  It is a huge honor.”

“But…”

“You have an all-expenses paid trip and get to see all our films and movie stars.  Think of all those amazing stories you can spread here in the US.” Said Phryne with a wink.

“I…”

“We will be here for a two week, let us know. Come Darling, we have reservations….oh, and Mr, James do not over water those flowers.  Just a spoonful in the morning.  Put them on your desk at home, I am sure they will be impressive to any guests.”  Jack explained, nodding his head Phryne took his arm as he escorted her out of the restaurant.

“But…”

***

They went into lobby and smiled at the handsome man who was waiting  by the door.

Phyrne said, “You’re on Maurice.”

“But of course, Mon Cherie.  I will enjoy this.” He winked and headed to the restaurant.

Jack looked at Phryne, as he escorted her out of the hotel, they waited for their car to take them out clubbing and Jack asked, “Do you think he will take the bait?”

“Yes, that is one greedy man, and we just gave him the opportunity of a lifetime for any blackmailer.  A virgin country full of stars and starlets to blackmail.  The Bastard will fall for it.”

***

Maurice Chevalier took a deep breath as he entered the restaurant.  He saw his target and put on the persona he had to create; the character to take down this charlatan. Tibor (Tibs) James licked his lips as he watched the Oscar nominated actor of two films come to sit at his table.  The handsome actor’s indiscretion was slight but good enough for expenses for the next 6 weeks at least.

Maurice saw the toad and he actually felt sick, but sucked it up and smiled gallantly. “Tib, how are you?”

“Fine, fine.  Are you working on a new picture?”

“Oui,” A New Kind of Love" directed with by the wonderful, Ernst Lubitsch.”

“Wonderful, I saw the preview of the Chaplin's “A Woman of Paris, it looks wonderful though I am not sure how it will do without his little tramp.”

“Oui, it is a risk but he is a genius and I trust him.”

“You’re too famous to be so trusting Maurice.”

“I am indeed…shall we get down to business?”

“Where did all your charm go?”

“It left with your blackmail note.”

“Just a business transaction…”

“Business, faire chanter baiser, you charlatan. It was nothing; a simple kiss, and you are a cochon..how you say bleeding me…”

“It could be worse, you could have done more, she was married…”

And what you’re doing to my  little Cathy, she is a such a good woman…”

“She shouldn’t keep secrets like that…”

“With a cochon like you around, oui, she should.  You are bleeding her dry….”

“Hardly-just a little play money…”

“Thousands of dollars you un cochon dande!”

“I can up yours or you can help her pay hers, I don’t care as long as I get my play money.”

Maurice stood up and threw the sealed envelope in his face. He stormed out of the Polo Lounge.

***  

Two figures in dark clothing entered the apartment on Wilshire Blvd.  When they were inside two flashlights turned on.

“You should have allowed me to pick the lock, Jack I am so much faster…”

“You have to let me have some fun, Phryne.”

“How long will the bastard be out?”

“According to Raymond the movie is an hour and half and he requested him personally, so we should have at least an hour.”

“Excellent…look there is our lovely plant…it really is too good for him…”

“I know, but it would be strange to give him a gift of a  dead carnation.”

“Much more appropriate, Jack,”

Jack switched planters and making sure there was no leakage and that device  was still working. Phryne chuckled wickedly, “Looks like we got him…”

“Let’s not celebrate till we hear it.”

***

The sound of the whirring from the machine could be heard from the reel to reel player;

“Where did all your charm go?”

“It left with your blackmail note.”

“Just a business transaction…”

“Business, faire chanter baiser, you charlatan. It was nothing a simple kiss, and you are a cochon..how you say bleeding me…”

“It could be worse, you could have done more, she was married…”

And what you’re doing to my    little Cathy, she is a such a good woman…”

“She shouldn’t keep secrets like that…”

“With a cochon like you around, oui, she should.  You are bleeding her dry….”

“Hardly just a little play money…”

A loud click is heard as Jack says, “Is that good enough for your laws?”

Peter Ryan chuckled, “Oh yes, this is excellent.  A perfect smoking gun, handy device  the Dictaphone, isn’t it?”

Phryne handed Peter a drink nodded, “Perfect, how did you think of it?”

“I didn’t, Jack did.  He asked for a Dictaphone and I supplied.”

“Really Darling?  You didn’t tell me that,” Phryne said, kissing Jack tenderly.  Jack blushed and shrugged, “I read about an FBI agent in New York who caught a gangster using one. Thought it might work.  You will keep both Cathy and Maurice out of the press won’t you Pete?”

“Yes, they have suffered enough, and from what you two have heard we have 10 other victims not all famous.  So, we may get some live testimony, not just private deposition.”

“Enough to put him away for a long, long time?” asked Phryne, sitting on Jack’s lap, Jack automatically put his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

“So, what are your plans now, any chance I can take out to Catalina on my boat?  It is not luxurious, just a houseboat but it’s really nice and private…”

“That sounds great Peter, can we do it this weekend, because next weekend we are going to stay at the Tarzana Estate.  And then home…”

“Thank goodness, I can’t wait to go home…” Jack nibbled her ear, Phryne closed her eyes, she was a bit surprised that he was acting like this in front his old friend.

“Is this a hint , Jack?”

“How did you ever guess…”

“It hit me like a brick wall.  All right so next weekend on my boat?”

Phryne and Jack nodded and they were about to get up when Peter held out his hands, “As you were.  I will take this off your hands and let you two get…well I will go.” He said chucking as he took the reel to reel player out the room.

When Jack heard the door close, he pulled Phryne close and kissed her passionately, then he stood up with her in his arms  and headed toward their bedroom.

“Jack, what has gotten into you…”

“I want you, I have been very good and now I want my reward…”

“Oh, you are always very, good darling,” Phryne said as she kicked the bedroom door closed with her foot.