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Her curling iron was on the fritz. She turned it up to high, which was so not recommended for wigs, just to get it to warm at all. Then, of course, it went from lukewarm to boiling and she burned her finger when she went to test it. “Damn it!”

Lawrence looked up from where he was standing next to her before the suite’s mirror. “Is everything all right?” He was carefully tying his tie—power yellow and wide—before buttoning on his suit jacket.

She turned off the iron and waited for it to cool. Waiting for that magical moment when it would be the right temperature. She checked the clock. She didn’t think that they had time for this. “I’m not sure about this wig,” she said, trying futilely to fluff it.

He came over to her and took her hands in his, moving them away from her head before releasing them gently. Then he lightly smoothed the wig, somehow arranging the ends to flip up saucily with just his fingers. She sighed and leaned back against his warm solidity. “How do you do that? You’re amazing.”

“And you are beautiful,” he said, resting his hands on her shoulders. “Is something wrong? One of your American intuitions?”

“Very funny,” she said, meeting his eyes in the mirror. “Nothing like that. Maybe I miss Arthur.”

He snorted. “For myself, I would have said Andre.” He released her and picked up his suit jacket, and crumpled it carefully in his hands, setting unmistakable wrinkles into the fine fabric. “Expand your horizons, she said. Pretend to be Australian, she said. And then bob’s your uncle, we’re in wicked San Remo.”

He slipped the jacket on and turned for her inspection. She nodded and selected a rose from the bouquet in the suite’s entry and threaded it through his lapel. “You didn’t mention Freddy,” she said.

“And for a very good reason,” he said. He shoved his cuffs up, wrinkling them further and ran a hand over his head, mussing his normally sleek hair. “Blast Freddy.” He picked up the case that had cost far more than it looked, with battered brown leather and a small steel lock. Janet had tied a pretty Hermès scarf around the handle.

Lawrence draped her mink coat over her shoulders and she slid on rhinestone-crusted bright pink cateye glasses. Tossed her blonde hair. “You got it, baby,” she said, throatily. “Now let’s go.”

***

They were taken to a large warehouse-like building that was currently empty but still smelled overwhelmingly of fish. San Remo was a busy port, a smuggling haven and a legitimate fishery. Various goons led them back to an office area in the back, next to a long blank wall, and a steel door with an intercom. Someone buzzed them through and then slammed the door behind them. They were in an open, office-type area. They were at the long end of the L-shaped room so they couldn’t see everything. They could hear Freddy right away, though.

“I’m telling you I don’t know nothing! I never promised her anything, I swear, I thought it was a gift!” Sound of a blow and he yelled again. All right, he didn’t sound too...damaged. She breathed an internal sigh of relief. There were two more men in the office, regular tough guys. There was a long desk, with a locked briefcase on one corner, and littered with paperwork, a couple of dimes of cocaine and a thirty-eight special, bullets scattered across the blotter. Of course, anyone nasty enough to get a nickname like Shrike was probably a pretty mean customer and a bit narcissistic to boot. She hoped so.

Lawrence cleared his throat and raised his voice, his normal accent flattened into bland American. “Mr. Shrike, this is Salvatore LaSora. I called you earlier, through Mikey, right? I think we gotta business problem.”

Freddy shut up once he heard Lawrence’s voice, thank God. Janet fluffed her hair up one more time. “Tommy,” she said, voice quavering like she was on the verge of sobs. “Tommy, baby, you okay?”

Lawrence went on, “You’re wit’ Tootsie Caruso outta Chicago, right?” Wary silence around the corner, which in this case was as good as a confirmation. “Well, our boy Tommy there is carrying for Rizzo Junior, and he ain’t gonna be happy if he gets ventilated in San Remo.”

They heard the Shrike cursing under his breath and then heavy footsteps crossed the room and appeared at the far end of the room. Sammy the Shrike was a swarthy guy, dark hair and big brown eyes with long girlish lashes. Bambi eyes. Janet wondered how often he’d gotten into fights because of those eyes. Lawrence gave a little half-bow, keeping himself between the Shrike and Janet. She peeked over his shoulder. The Shrike seemed disinclined to draw and start shooting. Plus that would attract all sorts of attention, even in a place like San Remo, the Italian Monte Carlo, with all the corruption and wealth that implied.

Lawrence moved forward until Freddy came into view, with Janet still close behind him. Freddy was handcuffed to a chair and except for a bloody nose, looked none the worse for wear. She started to push past him and Lawrence put a hand on her shoulder. “Wait a minute, Miss Juliano.”

He looked at the Shrike and indicated her with a shrug. “Sonny Juliano’s granddaughter,” he said in a stage whisper. “Okay if she talks to ‘em?”

The Shrike looked her up and down and for an instant, she was worried about the lack of curl in the blonde hair hanging down into her eyes, and eyes that were hazel instead of green. Then he nodded to her and the moment passed. She was Rosetta Juliano, black sheep granddaughter who spent the majority of her time on various European beaches. “Talk to him?” she drawled. “Like I’m just gonna talk to him!”

The Shrike frowned and then waved one hand in a ‘why not’ motion. She gave him her sweetest smile, one that could make men imagine her red-painted lips around their cock, and his eyes narrowed. Single jerk of his head to the right.

She stalked over to Freddy, her head high. “Tommy,” she said. “You were messin’ around with Nicky Ferriola’s sista.” Then she hauled off and slapped him a good one on the cheek. “You stupid or d’ya think I am!” she said furiously.

Something flickered in Freddy’s face. She threw her hands up and said, “Oh my God, Tommy, I like to kill ya!”

She folded her arms with a huff. Waited a beat and then looked around. The Shrike hadn’t moved. The door goons were still outside; the two inside were looking at an Italian newspaper, seemingly engrossed. She made six or so on the premises, which seemed a little light for the business that he had planned later, but maybe Sammy the Shrike was all about overconfidence. She could deal with that. Lawrence was standing by the door and looking every bit the bodyguard for a well-off Mafia princess.

Until she’d walked through the hotel in Beaumont-sur-Mer, and he’d stood and introduced himself as the doctor, she’d never known anyone that kept up with her so well. Just like now, his body language was practically flawless, from the way his gaze flickered and shifted restlessly all over the room, to the slightly off-kilter set of his shoulders, suggesting a piece in a shoulder holster. His expensive Italian suit showed every wrinkle that he’d put into it and his face and eyes were unreadable behind lightly tinted sunglasses. He looked like a cheap enforcer. She touched her tongue to her top lip lightly. He was anything but cheap.

“Whatta we goin’ do with him, Sally?” she asked, with the rasp in her voice that she knew he liked.

Freddy’s breath hitched and he threw himself forward against the restraints. “Baby, please!” he said. “Go easy on me!”

She looked at him thoughtfully and pursed her lips. He wasn’t in any real danger, she thought. The sister would speak for him, and since now they knew he was connected, even the Shrike would probably let him off with a beating. She was still annoyed with him for not following the plan, and let it show in her eyes.

He dropped his head, the very picture of dejection. “I think that if you don’t love me anymore--I’ll--I’ll die.” He spoke in that typical Freddy over-the-top way. Like he wanted a fucking cookie and a hug for screwing up.

She saw Sammy the Shrike roll his eyes in her peripheral vision. He cleared his throat. “How’s about I get rid of this jerk for you, your boy there picks up whatever he was carrying and everybody goes home happy?”

Without missing a beat, Janet whirled around angrily. “Happy?” she screeched, loudly enough that she saw Freddy wince. “You think I’m happy my guy is cheating on me with some two-bit Chicago dame? How’m I supposed to hold my head up? How’m I supposed to look anyone in the eye ever again?”

Lawrence cleared his throat. “Rosetta, please, watch what you say about Nicky’s sister.”

She flung her arms out dramatically. “I’m sorry! I’m a little upset, if you didn’t notice!”

All the men looked varying degrees of uncomfortable, except for Lawrence who had a cheerful gleam in his eye. She stabbed a finger at Freddy and hissed, “That’s it, Tommy! We’re goin’ to the priest and getting married. No more runnin’ around!”

“Wait a minute,” The Shrike protested. “There’s still the matter—”

“Five thousand American dollars, am I right?” Lawrence interrupted smoothly, and patted the case that he was holding. “I have ten thousand here for Miss Feriola with our compliments and sincere apologies.”

Freddy was still doing dejection and Janet gave him a stern glare. Keep quiet!

The Shrike looked at all them, frowning and Janet held her breath. Then he shrugged and she released it. Lawrence took a couple of casual steps forward and laid the case down on the desk and unlocked it. Showed Sammy the money, neat stacks of thousands.

“I want the bag back,” Janet interjected quickly. Lawrence gave her a look and she repeated sulkily, “I’m just sayin’ I like it, all right, Sally.”

He shrugged and glanced from her to the Shrike, who rolled his eyes again. One of the goons came over and unlocked the briefcase on the desk. Lawrence turned the case toward him, leaving the small key in the steel lock. The goon began transferring the money from one case to the other.

Janet and the Shrike watched. When they were done, she turned to him. “You gonna let my guy go now? Or do I gotta beg?” She licked her lips deliberately, drawing his eyes down. They bounced back up again pretty quickly, and she mentally gave him a salute. Tough guy.

The Shrike walked around behind Freddy. Unlocked the handcuffs and Freddy stood up, rubbing his wrists. She threw her arms around him. “Oh, baby, tell me you love me!”

“Right, yeah, uh, you know it.” He picked up his hat from the floor and jammed it back on his head.

Janet wrapped her arms around him, clinging tightly as they walked toward Lawrence. “We’re gettin' married this time, I mean it,” she told him.

Freddy stumbled, bumping into Lawrence and the other goon and one of the cases slid off the desk. Janet squealed. “Careful, mister, sorry!”

Lawrence retrieved her case, with her bright scarf still wrapped around the handle and nodded to the Shrike. “Pleasure doing business with you.”

The Shrike nodded back. They walked through the warehouse, and stood for an instant in the doorway. The unobtrusive black car that had brought them was still there, one of the Shrike’s men seated in the front, arm dangling out the open window. Janet held out a hand and snapped, “Sally, I need a cigarette,” and Lawrence lit for her deferentially.

A taxi came around the corner. Lawrence: “Don’t bother, thanks, we’ll catch this,” he said to the man in the car, and waved to the taxi.

They piled in and slammed the door behind them. The taxi pulled away, moving quickly down the street. Silence fell and Janet released a long breath. Then Arthur looked back at them smugly under the bill of his cap. “Going my way, sir?”

Freddy chuckled. “Yeah. Can we make a stop? After that, I really need to take a leak.”

Lawrence sighed. “Classy as always, Freddy.” He tucked the briefcase down between his legs and started untying his tie.

Janet yanked off her wig, the glasses, and her coat. Underneath the coat, Janet wore a Valentino black dress, simple enough to fool anyone unfamiliar with high fashion. Released from the mink, the sequins and embroidery glimmered.

Lawrence and Freddy also removed their jackets and replaced them with new ones that Arthur had draped over the seat. "Duplicate case with fakes?" Freddy asked. "A little sleight of hand?"

She shook her bright red hair down over her shoulders. "It's almost like you weren't even there for the plan," she said in a syrupy tone. "And by the time they figure out the switch, we'll be just a faint memory." He and Lawrence stuffed their discarded jackets into a garbage bag. Arthur handed back a small case and she removed an emerald and diamond necklace, with matching bracelet and earrings.

Arthur careened around a corner and pulled up at a private dock, featuring a large, expensive yacht. And they became Mr. and Mrs. Griffith-Hawley, shaking the hands of the newly-introduced owners, an American couple who owned a department store chain. Or drug store. Some sort of store. Nouveau riche Americans were always desperate for status and credibility from the upper crust.

Lawrence slipped into the poshest of accents without hesitation and she copied him, not quite as fluently, but well enough to fool the store owner and his wife. She and Lawrence introduced their ‘friend’, Mr. Pike, to the couple, who struggled to appear jaded and appropriately cosmopolitan. They failed, but it didn’t matter. By the time they all retired to the lounge for cocktails, they were already well out into the Mediterranean, leaving San Remo behind and on their way to Beaumont-sur-Mer.

If Mr. Drug Store was hoping for a debauched sexual experience with the worldly aristocrats that they were pretending to be, then he was doomed to disappointment. After a few hours of cocktails and sparkling conversation, they professed themselves tired and toddled off to the suite offered them.

***

Janet threw herself down onto the bed and watched the other two. Freddy shoved his hands into his pockets and walked over to the sofa beneath the windows. “Round portholes,” he said. “Old-fashioned.” He sat down on the sofa and crossed his legs. “Do we get to see what’s in the bag?”

“Oh, yes, please, Lawrence, I can’t stand it anymore,” she said, giving him an imploring look.

Lawrence raised the briefcase that hadn’t left his side since they walked out of the Shrike’s warehouse. He laid it on the bed and pulled the scarf from the handle. Janet leaned forward with interest. “Did you get the key?” she asked him and he gave her offended look.

He unlocked it and revealed the neat stacks of bills and something else... A black velvet case. They exchanged glances. Janet held her breath as he opened it carefully, revealing twenty shining stones, all of them between five and twenty carats. She touched one, feeling giddy. “A million dollars in diamonds,” she breathed and then looked up at Lawrence.

He smiled at her and she jumped up and threw her arms around him. Freddy whooped and Lawrence lifted her in his arms and swung her around, before setting her back on her feet. She flung herself backward onto the bed, arms spread wide. “Come on Larry, get over here!”

“Lawrence,” he corrected primly, before loosening his tie and removing it, and sliding his jacket off his shoulders.

Freddy fidgeted and she looked at him sternly. “You think you’re getting off that easily?”

He grinned at her. “Getting off? Yeah, I do.”

She pointed a finger at him. “You, stay right there until you’re called for.”

Lawrence knelt down next to the bed and slid her dress up her legs, up to her thighs, revealing her black lace lingerie. He pulled the panties down and then kissed the soft flesh of her thigh. She placed one stockinged foot on his shoulder.

“Isn’t she beautiful? Wouldn’t you like to kiss her?” he mocked Freddy, with an uplifted eyebrow.

“Oh, doctor!” Janet said with a delighted grin. She loved his German accent, evoking memories of being in his arms and the delightful uncertainty that he might see through her persona and figure it out before the end. “Oh, we shouldn’t, doctor, he looks so sad!”

“We should. It will help him in the long run,” he replied before nuzzling his face against her dark red curls, then tracing her sex delicately with his tongue. She breathed out and moved her hips upward, which made him put a firm hand on her belly, keeping her in place. “Please do not move. We must be very careful.”

“I’ll do my best,” she said, in the tremulous, almost unbearably innocent voice that she had used on them. He acknowledged it with a quick smile, before dipping his head and swiped his tongue right across the most sensitive part of her clit. She moaned. Then backing off, with soft gentle licks that made her want to grind herself against his handsome face.

“Oh, come on,” Freddy half-groaned from his place on the sofa. “This is torture!” He flattened one palm against his crotch, where his erection tented the fabric.

Lawrence paused, leaving her squirming desperately, to look over at him. “None of that,” he said roughly. “Haven’t you spent enough time in handcuffs tonight?”

Freddy caught his breath and closed his eyes. “Fuck! That shouldn’t work like....oh hell.”

“Now, Freddy, behave yourself, and we’ll play with you in a little while,” Janet added, just for the sheer fun of seeing him clench his fists to keep from touching himself.

Lawrence turned her more sideways, and spread her legs wider while Freddy watched, his eyes wide and wanting. Then he bent to her once more, his sweet educated tongue dancing across her folds, his talented musical fingers sliding inside her, making her groan with desire. His fingers moved faster, his mouth latched on and sucked and she arched her back, trying to push her hips upward for more contact. “Oh, doctor, I—I can’t!” she gasped.

“You can,” he said sternly and changed to long strokes of his tongue against her folds, her legs still apart, leaving her exposed to Freddy’s hungry gaze. She glanced over at him and he was sitting bolt upright: his eyes were fixed on her pussy, watching Lawrence’s fingers move in and out, and the wet soft slide of his mouth.

“Now come for your doctor, Janet,” Lawrence said and she groaned again, hot flush of feeling and sensation overwhelming her with deep spasms of pleasure. Her legs trembled with the force of it and she cried out.

He slowed and stopped, removing mouth and fingers from overstimulating her, and that was one of the considerate things that she liked about him—sex was never awkward, always fun and he was skilled and observant enough to keep it that way.

While she caught her breath, he stood up and finished disrobing, folding them neatly upon a chair. He nodded toward Freddy. “Well, my dear, should we release him?” he asked and she grinned at him.

“He was very quiet. I think we should.”

Freddy didn’t wait to be told twice, with a muted Yeah! He leaped up, yanking his clothes off, and dropping them on the carpet heedlessly. He jumped onto the bed and crawled up next to Janet, snuggling next to her, his flushed cock jutting out hard against her belly.

“Oh, look at youse, where’s it been, huh? You better wrap that thing up,” she said in Rosetta’s Jersy drawl and his eyes widened.

“Baby, I never--” bent his head to brush a kiss over her lips, “I never did nuttin’ with Nicky Feriola’s sister.”

She scoffed and Lawrence laid down behind Freddy and looked at her over his shoulder. “You stole from her, which coincidentally almost ruined our chance to get the diamonds.” He pushed Freddy’s leg up and stroked downward. A droplet of lube fell onto her leg and dripped onto the covers.

Freddy’s body jerked and his breath caught. He lowered his head to her shoulder and made a wordless noise as Lawrence breached him with his fingers. His breathing quickened and he squirmed a little, until Lawrence smacked his ass with a hard crack. “Quiet, you. You’ll lie there and take it, if you know what’s good for you.”

“Lemme help ya, baby,” Janet drawled and took his prick in hand, hard and shiny, with drips of pre-come welling from the tip. She rubbed her thumb roughly over the slit and he stiffened, started to open his mouth. She put her other hand over it. “We don’t need ta hear from ya, thanks, baby.”

Lawrence pushed him over atop her, thoughtfully waiting as she guided him between her dripping folds. Freddy breathed out harshly as he sank into her, working himself deeper until he was buried within her. Lawrence shoved one knee higher so that Freddy was straddling her, ass up for Lawrence. She felt it when Lawrence entered him, the jerk of his hips pushing Freddy forward against her, and the whole thing like some sort of delicious daisy chain of fucks.

“Nice,” she said, low. “Now you just hold on, baby, we’ll make it good for you.” Freddy opened his eyes to glare at her and she giggled, a little breathlessly. Lawrence grabbed both of Freddy’s hands and pinned them over his head with a wordless growl.

Freddy whined, “Oh, come on, that’s--” before she kissed him hard to shut him up. He was easy enough on the eyes and had a fine dick but sometimes his mouth was the weak link. And then Lawrence was moving, thrusting into him and pushing him forward with a long slow grind that finished directly over her clit.

They kept Freddy pinned between them, between Lawrence’s cock and her pussy, his wrists held tightly in one of Lawrence’s hands while his other wandered; across Freddy’s back and the curve of his ass, around one hip to grip lightly at the base of his cock where it entered Janet, then brushing her clit lightly on the downstroke and making her groan in turn. Freddy pulled at his hands occasionally, groaning and frustrated, his face tight with arousal. She ran one thumb across his mouth and he immediately parted his lips to lick at it. She wanted to pet his cheek and tell him how cute he was; so responsive and so much fun to play with. She tweaked one of his nipples and his hips jerked.

Lawrence could do this all night, she knew from experience, but she was already panting and breathless, her cunt throbbing and aching from each incidental brush of his hand and deep thrust from Freddy.

“Are you ready, sweetheart?” he asked.

She gasped out, “Fuck, yes, baby, harder!” Tight coiling of pleasure in her belly and Lawrence’s breathing speeding up, his thrusts becoming uneven, while his hand tightened on Freddy’s wrists. Touched her clit, circled once, twice and then she was coming, thrashing underneath them both, driving Freddy deeper as the sensation broke her open in the best way. Faintly heard Freddy grunting, then the hot wetness of his come.

They sank down in a tangle of limbs, Lawrence releasing Freddy’s wrists and tilting both of them so all their combined weight wasn’t resting on Janet. She half-turned on one side and crooked a leg over them both, feeling a rush of affection.

“You good?” Freddy asked, stroking her face gently.

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Oh, guys, I—I think I love you too!” she exclaimed, using the Soap Queen’s kittenish voice and they both chuckled.

“She pulled a long con on us,” Freddy said to Lawrence, and twisted to pull the covers over them.

Lawrence fluffed a pillow and slid it under Janet’s head. “Oh, Freddy. Why do you speak in the past tense?” That drew a sleepy smile from her and she blew him a kiss.

Freddy thought for a moment, his brow wrinkled and then frowned. “Wait a minute—are you saying--”

Janet kissed his nose and interrupted him. “Baby. I ain’t done wit’ youse two yet. Now get some sleep.”