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Naked In Paris
CHAPTER ONEI'd just gotten into bed with Marlene, just begun to feel the throbbing warmth of her body against mine, just started to turn my impatient hand around the arc of her white hot hips, when the damn telephone rang."Hello?" I said angrily, into the mouthpiece. Marlene leered at me with wild frustrated eyes. She seemed to be saying "Why didn't you let it ring?""Mr. London?" the voice on the other end inquired.I knew who it was: Ernst Habe, a press agent for Deutchekunst, a German film company in Munich, which, at the moment was my home town.As I stroked Marlene's long shapely leg, I listened with considerable annoyance to Habe. I wasn't paying much attention to his heavily-accented voice, but suddenly I realized he was asking me to interview Rina Miller, the German film star who was about to begin a new picture on location in Paris. It was a pleasing prospect. Rina Miller is one of the most beautiful women in the world. But, as I explained to Habe, under the circumstances the interview was impossible. I was flying to Copenhagen that afternoon to cover an important NATO conference. And from there, it was back to the states for a long vacation I'd waited two years for."But Herr London," Habe insisted, "Fraulein Miller wishes to talk only to you. An exclusive story for American News Service.""I'm flattered Ernst. Tell Rina Miller I'm really flattered. But I can't do it." I looked at Marlene's eager body and shrugged."But Herr London - ""Look, man I can't. Get someone else!" I hung up on him. I turned to Marlene. "Sorry," I said smiling, "but let's forget it and pick up where we left off." I reached for her. "Now where were we?""Oh, no, my liebchen," she said. "I am not like an American electric toaster. A toaster you can heat up and not put in the bread and then expect it to stay hot. But I am not that modern, my darling. I'm cool, my dear. I'm sorry. But I must go now, Steve." She sat up and swung her legs across the bed and onto the floor. Her expansive womanly back was facing me. As she bent for her stockings, I stared at her broad sensuous hips and her delightfully rounded rump perched at the edge of my bed. I wasn't about to let that get away from me so easily. Slowly, I moved close to her, and began to kiss her bare narrow waist. She'd crossed her legs loosely and was busily working the nylons over her tiny foot, across her ankle, around her knee, up to the flesh of her thigh.My lips traveled restlessly around her waist to the softness of her belly."No, Steve," she said absently, "that doesn't mean a thing to me now. I told you. I'm cool."I could smell the exotic scent of her ivory-white Nordic skin. It sent my head whirling. I bent lower and began to trace my wet lips across the silkiness of her thigh. She was lying. She wasn't cool; her body was burning feverishly. With the flat of my hand, pressed against her stomach, I eased her back into the bed. The moment her head touched the pillow, her legs flew up and against me with a violent force that nearly hurled me to the floor."I said, no," she cried. "I want to go!"I lurched quickly to her side again fighting off her flailing arms. Now we were wrestling, her long sharp nails raking my back, my hands floundering - trying to subdue the savagery within her. At last I found her lips and pressed mine hard against them - biting and sucking, trying to enter her mouth with my tongue. And when our tongues did meet, when they explored each other first ferociously then tenderly, Marlene relaxed, yielding her quaking body to passion. And to me."Do you still want to go?" I whispered hotly in her ear."Oh, no, liebling," she sighed in a throaty tremulous voice. "Make love to me. Schnell!"That was all I needed. Again my lips struck out for hers and found the precious rubies in a single motion. I caressed her hard firm breasts with one hand, and with the other I smoothed her hot thighs. Marlene sucked air as my mouth moved spasmodically around her ear and down the side of her neck to the billowy roundness below, and at last to her magnificent melon-like breasts, on downward to pinkish nipples that stood high and hard and young. Marlene responded wildly, clawing like an untamed animal. She turned and writhed and began to crush me in her arms.Suddenly, I pulled away. I wanted one last look at every beauty nature had given her. Marlene, her arms extended expectantly looked at me questioningly. She seemed unable to understand why I was beholding her exquisite body at the very moment I could be possessing it."I want to see all of you, my darling," I explained, "so that I can make love to every part of you."Marlene smiled to let me know she was pleased. And with a ribald puckering of her lips, she suggested that she was pleased with my body too.I continued to gaze at her. The woman was beyond belief. She belied every vision I had ever had of woman. She was far better than my imagination could ever conjure. The tone, the hue, the lines of her body, singed the core of my soul. The lovely breasts, which dipped and rose in two graceful strokes, guarded by two firm sentinels seemed to have a life of their own.The slender receding cut of her trunk broke at the narrow waist and arched and swelled into swirling hips and proud fine buttocks. From her well-turned ankles, my eyes moved up along the long silhouette of her legs."Do you enjoy what you see, my dear?" she asked softly."I enjoy," I said, "but may I do more than just look?""I don't know what you mean," she teased. "Tell me first what you want to do, my dear."She laughed gaily. Then, with pleading eyes, she said: "Oh, Steve. Now. Do it now."I lowered myself into the bed and moved inexorably toward and upon her. In a moment I was soaring - aloft in a turbulent, crushing storm - spinning, reeling, rising higher, higher, higher, together with Marlene lifting to the heights of desire. Then-and I knew it was happening to both of us -- an intense paroxysm grabbed me once, twice, a third time, and hurled me to a dizzy foamy calm, where lovers sleep.When I awoke, Marlene was gone. Though later events proved I was wrong-very definitely and dangerously wrong--it saddened me to think she'd left with no chance for me to say a special 'auf widersehn'. But I was vain enough to think I'd given her a going away present she'd remember until my next trip back to Munich, though at that time I had no idea when that might be.Suddenly realizing I had to catch a three o'clock flight to Copenhagen, I leaped from the bed and checked my watch. There was still time, but I'd have to hurry. I dressed, packed sloppily, pausing only momentarily to look wistfully at the bed -- where only an hour or so before a gale of desire had struck and ravaged fiercely. Now, all that was left of that storm was an empty calm-and wrinkled sheets-and a faint trace of Marlene's intoxicating essence.I flipped a five-mark note tip for the chambermaid on the bureau and went downstairs to the hotel lobby and checked out."Will you be with us soon again, Herr London?" the room clerk asked."Not for a long while, Walter," I said gaily. I'm going to Denmark and from there it's home-the good old U.S.A."He rang for a bellboy, but I shook my head no, and scooped up my bags and my typewriter and took off. As I swung through the hotel's revolving doors and into the blinding sunlight, I literally bumped into two men outside. One suitcase of mine flew from my hands and onto the pavement, its contents-mostly dirty laundry-spilling onto the walk.Embarrassedly, I quickly tried to shovel the clothes back where they belonged. One of the men I'd hit bent to help me."I'm terribly sorry, Mr. London."I looked up. It was Ernst Habe, the Deutchekunst press agent."It's my fault, Ernst," I said brusquely. I was somewhat suspicious. Habe might have purposely tripped me up, trying to make me miss my plane-so that I'd have to stick around and interview his client: Rina Miller."Look, Ernst," I said. "I'm sorry about the interview. But I really have to run. Some other time, okay?""Why, of course, Mr. London. You have to go to the airport, nicht wahr? Please let me take you there. Franz and I have our car right at the curb. The motor is even running.""That's all right, Ernst. I'll catch the limousine. It's just leaving.""Ah, but I insist. Courtesy of Deutchekunst. We were going that way besides."When a German insists K would be terribly poor manners to argue. Anyway, I could use the lift. I agreed. Still I had my doubts as to Habe's motives. What the hell was he doing at the hotel entrance at the precise moment I came out?Franz, Habe's assistant, I guessed, took my bags and put them in the trunk of the Volkswagen, then climbed into the back seat of the car. I sat up front with Habe, who drove. Habe maneuvered the VW down Bayerstrasse speedily then got on to the Autobahn-the highway to the airport. It was two-thirty, still plenty of time to make my plane.Habe, pushing the VW at the 100 kilometer mark on the speedometer spoke glibly for a while about the motion picture business, filling me in on the details of Rina Miller's next picture."It's going to be an international sensation" he said. "You know, of course, it's a film of the great novel, Love of Men."My curiosity piqued, I found it annoying that Habe did not say any more. He was speeding the little car down the road as fast as it could go, staring straight out into the brilliantly blue horizon. Coming up on the right was the sign that pointed to the airport. Habe wasn't slowing for the cutoff.I dislike backseat drivers, but I knew that for Habe to take the upcoming turn at the rate of speed he was going would put us into a ravine. So almost apologetically I said: "You've got to make a right up ahead."He didn't bat an eye.I looked into the rear view mirror. Where earlier I had seen Franz in the left corner back seat, now he was out of view-sitting directly behind me. Aware of that now, I could feel his breath on my neck.Habe whizzed past the sign."Hey!" I shouted. "You missed the cutoff."No answer."Ernst, what the hell kind of a stunt is this? You'd better get me to that plane in time. You just better, man.""Do not worry, Herr London," he said calmly. "You are in safe hands."I was boiling anger in me. "Look," I said knotting my hands into trembling fists. "I don't care if Rina Miller is going to tell me she's Adolf Hitler. I don't want to talk to her. If I miss that plane I'll miss the NATO conference in Copenhagen. And if I miss that conference I lose my job. And if that happens, Ernst, I swear to Christ, I'll kick the living hell out of you! Now turn this goddamn thing around!" I spoke slowly and deliberately. I meant every word of it."Herr London," Habe said without a hint of fear of my threat, "you will be so kind as to--how do you Americans say it?--'hold on to your horse.' Hold on to your horse, Mr. London. Everything will be explained."I was blind with rage. I kicked my foot into his, trying to knock it from the accelerator and with my other foot I tried to stab at the brake."Watch out you crazy fool!" he screamed.The car began to waver. It seemed about to go out of control. Suddenly a powerful arm hooked tightly around my neck. It was Franz. He closed his grip around my throat like a vise. I thought my eyes would pop out of my head. Everything began turning blood red. The veins in my forehead were near the bursting point.Summoning all my strength, I raised my arm above my head and reached back, locking my fingers into Franz's thick black bushy hair. I pulled violently. I could feel the hairs being ripped from his scalp. He screamed and relaxed his iron hold on my windpipe.Now I tried to pull away. But suddenly I felt a soft dull thick blow at the base of my skull. Then another.And the whole world faded quickly.CHAPTER TWOPain. Turgid, throbbing, grinding pain revolving in my head like a hand drill. Blurry consciousness slowly replaced the blackness in my eyes. I could see an overhead light beginning to take shape on the ceiling. The shadow of a woman's face bent over me. Her soft hand dabbed at my forehead with something warm and wet. She was smiling. The sound of voices speaking German reached my ears.I stared at the woman leaning across me. She was beautiful. Her almond limpid eyes shone like pearls and flashed vivaciously as she continued to soothe my brow. I smiled at the angelic figure above me. I was not yet aware of where I was. Nothing was in my mind except the pearly goddess who was tending my wounds."Are you awake?" she asked. Her voice was soft and mellow. It caressed me. But there was a familiar note in its sensuous tone-a note that sent recognition surging into my brain. And with it, recall. I remembered everything at once."You're Rina Miller," I said. I could see Ernst Habe and Franz standing off to the rear of the large room."Yes," she replied, "and you are Steve London."I tried to get up, but the ache in my head stuck me like a knife and I fell back."You people are in a lot of trouble," I said. "You'd better be able to explain this little kidnapping.""In time," Rina Miller said, "in time, Mr. London." She turned to the two men and nodded. They departed quickly."Would you like a drink, Mr. London?" she asked when we were alone.I nodded sharply, to convey my anger. But somehow, alone now with Rina Miller in the warmth of her spectacular presence, it was hard to stay angry. I watched her with delight as she moved to the bar to fix the drinks. I'd never seen her in the flesh before - only on the screen. She'd been called the most alluring sex kitten ever. And there was no one who disputed that she was one of the most ravishing women in the world.She was wearing a tight-fitting black sheath molded to her voluptuous form. The neckline plunged deeply, allowing the fullness of her large round breasts to shimmer with every motion of her body. The dress was cut away at the back, exposing her creamy flawless skin clear down to her tiny waistline. Her full hips, her rounded pendulous rump, the gentle curve of her belly, turned gracefully and blended at her robust thighs. She had long-very long--shapely legs, strong but delicate and, with the hem of her dress barely brushing the top of her knees, very inviting."Would you like some champagne or cognac or Mosel wine?""Bourbon and water, if you have it."I watched her pour the liquids with a style all her own. And when she bent for a moment to get some ice my eyes leaped to the darkness between her breasts, which fell limply forward now and almost free of her dress. She caught the torrid look in my eyes and smiled seductively. I suppose I blushed."Look, Miss Miller," I said trying to sound businesslike, "you've made a serious error in judgment here. It's obvious this is some kind of publicity stunt for your new film. Well, I don't mind telling you it's in poor taste. But I'm willing to forget it. That is, if your henchmen can get me to the airport in time for the next flight to Denmark. I believe there's a plane leaving at six this evening.""Mr. London," she said, passing me my bourbon, "I'm afraid you don't realize just how long you--shall we say- napped on that sofa. It's almost midnight, my dear."I gulped the drink to keep from spouting every four letter word, in my vocabulary. "Well, you'll just have to call my editor and explain, Miss Miller. Or I may have to reward you with some very bad publicity.""I'll explain, Mr. London. But to you." She sat in an oversized and overstuffed chair across from me and opened a cigarette case on the low table between us, offering me one. I refused, then waited for her to light up. With a burst of flame from the match I could see the finely etched lines of her exciting face flare up in the red glow."You see, Mr. London," she said, pausing to drag deeply on the cigarette, "Hermann Huessing is still alive."My eyes widened in disbelief. Hermann Huessing. The reichfuehrer high up in the Nazi hierarchy. The venomous propagandist who had been an important cog in the very center of the Nazi death machine.Huessing was believed to have killed himself when the Allies liberated Bavaria early in 1945. He'd been one of the top war criminals. Had he been captured he'd have most certainly been sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials, along with men such as Guering, Ribbentrop, Streicher, and Jodi. But it was incredible that he was still alive. Not even a rumor to that effect had been heard in all the years since the war."I don't believe it," I said. "I believe you've been given a bad piece of information. Huessing blew his ugly brains out. eighteen years ago in a small village some ten miles south of here, Miss Miller. I happen to know because I myself came through that town as a correspondent attached to the Third Army about three days after Huessing killed himself. There were at least half a dozen witnesses who'd seen his body. And we caught two men who admitted they'd soaked it in turpentine and burned it to a crisp-at Huessing's own last request.""Hermann Huessing still lives, Mr. London. Where in the world he is, I do not know. But that he is alive, I am absolutely sure.""Even if that's true--which I doubt-why me, Miss Miller? Why pick on me to tell this story to? And in such a crazy way-and at such a wrong time." Even before I'd asked the question, I knew the answer. If you knew anything about me, you knew where I stood about Nazis. I'd already captured one of the top Nazis eighteen years ago in the Middle East. I hated all of those bastards insanely. I'd seen too much in the war not to. And up until now I'd go anywhere in the world to catch one.But everything was different now. I was through fighting a war that was over so long. For me it was going to be a simpler life. There was that vacation I'd waited two years for-along with a promise from American News Service that I'd be reassigned permanently to the states. Slotted in some soft job in New York, where I could spend a part of the day girl-hunting. And maybe, after all these rotten years, find one girl in particular. One who'd want to live the rest of her life in my bed and in my arms and in my heart. God, how I wanted that!"Miss Miller," I said, at last finding enough strength to lift myself to the floor, "you've got yourself the wrong boy. If Huessing is still alive and you can prove it, call the cops. Then call American News Service. Tell them you had me lugged and brought here. You'll help save my job. They'll put someone else on the story. And they'll let me go home. Because that's where I'm going, Miss Miller. Home. Even if you've got old Adolf locked in the cellar, I'm going home-right now."I flicked a half-salute and went to the phone.She reached out quickly and clasped her small, soft, warm hand around mine, trapping the telephone in its cradle. Her hand lingered unnecessarily as she curled her long thin fingers into mine. I could feel her pale red nails. The sensation sent a shiver across my back. She turned up to me, looking deep into my eyes, her own shining with the light of truth."Hear me out, Mr. London," she said with infinite patience. "Listen to my story. And then, if you want me to, I shall call whomever you ask. Is that not fair, my dear Mr. London?"I nodded. And I listened.Rina Miller told me that she'd first found out that Hermann Huessing was still alive only forty-eight hours earlier. The producer of her next film, which they were going to begin shooting the following Monday in Paris, had been her informant. He and Miss Miller, both of whom had been to a party, had gone later to his apartment for a nightcap- the producer had apparently taken too much, and without warning had suddenly told her about the Nazi."What makes you think it wasn't a gag?" I asked."One does not joke about such things. One does not rave he has protected Hermann Huessing's secret all these years. It was not a 'gag,' Mr. London."And just how was Herr Huessing faring these days, I asked.Very well, according to Rina Miller's producer. He was healthy, spry, sixtyish and the kingpin in an international narcotics ring. A millionaire, she said. After spilling this lurid story, the producer had vomited and regained his composure. He warned Miss Miller not to repeat what he had told her-under the threat of death.Rina Miller told me she had immediately made plans to kidnap me. At least it had to be that drastic, when she learned that I was leaving Europe-most likely for good. Why me? Because of my reputation. And because of my being a top newspaperman, she believed I could get myself assigned to doing a story about the new film and thus be close to the producer-in a position to perhaps pump something out of him. Something that would lead me to a top Nazi, the mastermind of a dope trading syndicate, and the biggest surprise story of the decade.It was tempting."Why don't you go to the police?" I asked."My career, Mr. London. I can't get involved.""What makes you such a criminal chaser?""The answer should be obvious. But my personal reason goes much deeper. I cannot tell you yet, Mr. London. But, never mind that. Will you do it? Will you help me to catch Hermann Huessing?""No." I wanted desperately to tell her that under other circumstances my answer would have been a very loud and strong yes. A year ago-even a month ago-I'd have jumped at the chance; I'd have given up everything to catch the murderous Herr Huessing. But now there was that promise I'd made to myself: the safe and easy life back in the States. I wanted to tell her all things. But how hollow they would sound!The actress stared at me with pitying eyes. She seemed to understand my torturous conflict. To her I must have looked like a pathetic dog. I found compassion in Rina Miller-and, what was to me unbearable, disillusionment."Look," I said defensively, "even if I said yes, where would that leave us? I just can't get assigned to go to Paris and watch you make a film. I'm supposed to be in Denmark-right now. But even if I could go to Paris what would I do then? Walk up to your producer as a friend and say, 'Hey, Fritz, heard from Hermann lately?' " She looked at me sadly, disappointedly, with a knowing half-smile that tore at my ego. Suddenly anger flared up in me.