Time spent with Victoire consisted of passionate encounters at Ricky’s Hyatt in Palo Alto or his apartment, one more memorable than the next. Every time he ran his hand and mouth over her body he caught glimpses of heaven. She called him a twentieth century visionary, a legend in the making. She told him he was magnetic, irresistible and sexy in the throes of passion, and he believed her.
The weekend could not come soon enough to join her in the cliff house. When Friday’s affairs came to an end, he pulled out Victoire’s directions and headed for their rendezvous in Tomales Bay. Peter was in Chicago with plans to return early Tuesday.
Victoire took advantage of his absence to instate phase two of her scheme. She was rehearsing her script when the knock came. “I’m so happy you’re here,” she cried, wrapping her arms around Willy like a frightened bird. He held her with equal force, and she felt his excitement. “Willy, I found something,” she pulled back, her blue eyes big and wild, “something so shocking, I’m beside myself!”
“My love, what is it?” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “You look so spooked!”
She took him by the hand to the living room and pulled out a manila envelope from a bag. “I found these.” She took out the sordid photographs and handed them to Willy. He went pale looking and shook his head in disbelief. He was speechless.
Victoire let a tear trickle down her quivering lips. “It’s vile… it’s perverse- and Peter’s the man I’m married to!” She gasped. “ I had no idea!”
Willy put the photos down and went to console her. “You’ve got to divorce the son-of-a-bitch. I don’t believe this. God, I never imagined.” He pulled her up from the sofa. “You’ve got to divorce the son-of-a-bitch, Victoire!”
“I want to Willy,” she said looking meaningfully at him, “now more than ever.” She walked slowly towards to enormous windows.
She told him how from the onset, she wasn’t in love with Peter and how her mother pressured her into marrying him. Knowing how unhappy and lonely Victoire really felt allowed him to become her knight in shining armour. He jumped into his steed’s saddle fully charged and ready to do battle for her.
“You must call an attorney, Victoire. Don’t delay. Make an appointment first thing Monday.”
“I have. I called one once I got my breath back.”
“And? What did they say?” His eyes shone with hope. “It shouldn’t be too complicated, Victoire. You’ve got all the proof you need!”
“They said I need more evidence.”
“What? Did you show them that shit?” he asked, pointing toward the glossies.
“Yes! According to the lawyers, Peter could argue that they were doctored, that they’re fakes and that somebody was trying to blackmail him.”
Rumours about the CEO circulated down the corridors prior to his nuptials. “Are you kidding? It’s him in those shots. Have them blow them up if they need a closer look.”
“Another lawyer told me basically the same thing. What am I supposed to do? Do a stake out? He’d recognize my car in a flash.” A gust of wind hit a low-lying cypress. Its branches clung to the side of the house making scratching sounds on the glass. “Who can I possibly ask for help, Willy?”
Willy called in sick to work Monday and spent the long weekend in the arms of his muse planning Prentice’s demise.
# # # #
Tuesdays and Thursdays Peter went on the prowl. On those evenings, Willy checked into a motel on Van Ness Avenue under a false name and paid cash while he followed his target’s moves.
The CEO frequented an establishment near Polk Street and another off Market. To Willy’s surprise, Bradley drove his boss to and fro his clandestine rendezvous. Peter tended to arrive alone, but usually exited with the same three men: two Caucasian, one Middle Eastern.
The stakeouts took their toll on Willy after a month: his skin turned pasty, he gained eight pounds on a diet of submarine sandwiches, donuts and copious amounts of coffee. It wasn’t until the third week that he felt secure enough to park nearer the locations and shoot film. But that evening, instead of their usual exit time, the delicate looking Middle Easterner of the foursome burst out of a nameless establishment wearing nothing more then a look of panic. He hopped on his Harley and sped off to the sound of burning rubber.
In no time, Peter and the remaining entourage came out looking as if they had seen a ghost. Willy shot as many pictures as possible and held his breath. The two men were half-dressed; Peter wore a wife beater T-shirt and fringed chaps without the trousers. He gestured wildly with his arms. Bradley pulled up seconds later. The men pushed their way inside the awaiting car. Willy refocused and aimed the telephoto lens at the get away car until the Mercedes disappeared from view.
Willy pulled off the baseball cap he wore during every night of his mission and slumped back onto the car seat. A feeling of intense relief flooded his cramped up body. Gotcha! It’s over, he thought. He turned on the engine and carefully dismantled the large lens from the camera while the car warmed up.
No sooner had he placed it back in its case, two police cars descended upon the Victorian house, their sirens at full blast. Willy hunkered down and turned off the ignition. He reached for the cap and placed it back on his head. His hands shook. Slowly, he lifted his head to peer out the window. Pandemonium ensued as a hoard of horror-struck men ran from the place like cockroaches under a fluorescent light.
Willy watched with astonishment as the cops stuffed two men in handcuffs into the back of a police cruiser.