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31

Fleeced

That last scene had to be the worst acting I have ever seen, Daphne thought. If this film is released and people know it was filmed at the Settlers Club, no one will ever want to come here.

The crew was rearranging the lights and moving the camera so they could shoot from the other side of the room. Daphne was in the bar area, sitting by the actress she was standing in for. Her stage name was Pumpkin Waters. Cute when youre twenty, Daphne thought, pathetic when youre sixty. Clearly Pumpkin thought she was superior to Daphne.

Work much lately? Daphne asked.

Pumpkin gave her a withering look. Im always working.

I know how hard it is when you get older in this business. Especially for women.

With each word, Daphne seemed to irritate Pumpkin more and more.

It was interesting the way you incorporated those sheep into your dialogue. After you tripped over them, I mean.

Could you please leave me alone? Pumpkin asked. Im concentrating.

On what? Daphne wondered. She stood. Im going to go down the hall to Thomass office. If they need me, tell them to give me a shout down there.

Pumpkin merely nodded her head.

Daphne found Thomas sitting at his desk, going over the plans for the anniversary party. As usual, he looked agitated.

Hows the movie going? he asked.

I dont think its going to win any Academy Awards.

Thomas looked pained. At least it will pay a few bills around here.

Can you use any help for the party tomorrow night? Daphne asked.

Thomas shook his head. The kitchen has the menu all planned. Hors doeuvres. A lavish buffet. Desserts. Janey is making a special cake. He picked up the phone. Im getting a little worried. I havent been able to reach her all afternoon.

Maybe shes out delivering.

She had no deliveries today. She was just cooking for the party.

Im sure shes fine. Its not even five oclock. Wheres Regan Reilly?

Thomas put down the phone. Shes still not picking up, he said, distractedly, then he looked at Daphne and said, Regan just left. She was on her way to see the jeweler who was going to buy the diamonds from Nat.

So Nat and Ben had contacted someone about selling them. Thats wonderful!

Not if we dont get them back! But at least it proves that they did exist. That Im not crazy.

You know, Thomas, Daphne began. I never really approved of the idea of a dating service being run here in the club. All those strangers riding the elevators.

Thomas shrank in his chair. Daphne, I allowed that for a number of reasons. For one, I thought that some of the decent people Lydia has in to her parties might end up joining the club. We need new members.

I know, I know, Daphne said. But that Lydia is so nouveau riche. And that butler of hers, Maldwin, thinks hes the only one around here with any class. I resent that. Its probably one of their guests who made off with Nats diamonds.

Daphne, stop it! Thomas cried. Regan is doing her best to try and figure all this out. She asked me to make a list of everyone who lives in the club so she can talk to you all.

I didnt see a thing last night. You should have installed cameras in the elevator and the hallways like we talked about when you started working here.

I was trying to save money.

Just then a production assistant appeared in the doorway. Miss Doody, we need you now.

Daphne turned back to Thomas. Let me know if I can be of any help.

Your kind of help is not what I need, Thomas thought but politely smiled. When Daphne left the room, he picked up the phone again. He was desperate to talk to Janey. But once again he got her voice mail. I know somethings wrong, he thought. I just know it. If I havent reached her by the time Regan gets back, Im going to ask her to go over to Janeys apartment with me. With everything that had been going wrong lately, nothing horrible would come as a surprise.


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