Victoria Beaumont is looking forward to relaxing at the family summer home on Mackinac Island, Michigan. But how can she relax when her father, Charles, has invited the arrogant, insufferable—and irresistible—journalist Dirk Ramsey to the island? Dirk’s ruthless reporting has been a thorn in the side of Charles’s political career. And Charles is hoping Dirk might change his views once he gets to know the Beaumonts better.
Victoria doesn’t want to know him better. True, Dirk Ramsey is the most attractive man she’s ever met—but any interest he shows in her is purely for the sake of journalism . . . or so she thinks. Meanwhile, Tory’s intriguing complexity makes Dirk’s latest story an exercise in frustration—and temptation.
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Enemy In Camp
The Americana Series: Michigan
By Janet Dailey
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1980 Janet Dailey
All rights reserved.
THE TAXI went as fast as the traffic on the boulevard of Jefferson Avenue would allow. Ahead rose the gleaming structure of the Renaissance Center, part of the rebirth of downtown Detroit. The seventy-story cylindrical tower of the Plaza Hotel dominated its four sister towers that surrounded it like ladies-in-waiting. The monolith of modern architecture overlooked the Detroit River, the Canadian province of Ontario on its opposite shore, and the expanse of water to the northeast called Lake St. Clair.
Under a red light, the taxi driver slowed the cab to a stop at the intersection of the entrance driveway to the Renaissance Center and glanced in the rearview mirror at his female passenger. "We're almost there, miss," he announced and noticed her glance at the delicate gold watch on her wrist. "I told you we'd make it in no time flat."
"Yes, you did." The smile Victoria Beaumont gave him was vaguely absent, but not a glimmer of her inner impatience was visible in her expression.
The cabbie didn't mind the faint disinterest of her smile. He liked the sound of her voice, so calm and well educated. Not that she had talked to him much. Other than confiding that she was late for a luncheon appointment at the Renaissance Center and would he please hurry, she hadn't volunteered any conversation except to make polite responses to him. He'd done all the talking.
"I wouldn't worry about him bein' upset. As soon as he sees you he'll forget that you're late." There was no doubt in the cab driver's mind that his attractive passenger was meeting a man for lunch.
He silently wished he was ten years younger, forty pounds lighter and possessed a head full of hair. The stack of packages and dress boxes on the seat beside her indicated he would also need a fat wallet, but the cabbie overlooked that.
"I'm not so certain about that," Victoria replied, choosing not to disabuse his impression she was meeting a man.
"If he don't, then he don't know a good thing when he sees it," the cab driver insisted and unabashedly studied her profile in his mirror.
Her complexion looked smooth and soft to him, with a faint golden tinge from the sun even though it was only May. She had nice cheekbones, and a perfect nose, too, not too straight and not too short. Her mouth was sensational, soft and shiny from some dusty-rose lipstick. He'd been around enough to know she was something special.
"Are you a model?" he asked.
"No." Victoria didn't volunteer the information that she was a member of the idle rich—which was a fallacy—the rich were never idle. Their appointment calendars were always filled with charity meetings, social clubs, tennis dates, and a variety of parties, all of which could become terribly boring.
"You sure got the looks for it," the cabbie replied. "I oughta know. I get all kinds of passengers in my cab from hookers—beggin' your pardon—to housewives. But you're different. You got class, you know? I mean, you ain't the kind of woman a guy makes fresh remarks to."
"Thank you." Victoria was certain there was a compliment in there somewhere, but it was a struggle to keep back the bubble of amused laughter. Her eyes were dancing with it, though, and she looked out the window so he wouldn't think she was laughing at him.
"It ain't just the way you smell," he assured her, having been enveloped in the sensual cloud of her expensive perfume since she had entered his cab. "It's the color of your hair. On any other woman it'd probably be called a washed-out brown, but on you it looks blond. What color do you call it?"
"I don't know." Victoria had never had to label it before. It was much too light to be considered brown and lacked the golden cast to be a true blond. "Biscuit-colored, I suppose."
"Yeah, I guess," the driver agreed after a moment's hesitation. "And there's the way you got it fixed, too. When my wife goes to a beauty shop, she either comes out lookin' like a poodle or else like she's had her hair starched. Even though your hair ain't long it looks loose and casual, sorta windswept. It doesn't make a guy think he'll ruin it if he touches it, you know?"
"Yes, I think I do," Victoria murmured to disguise her amusement. The cabbie was so engrossed in her reflection she had to call his attention to the traffic light. "It's changing to green."
"Right," he answered in a voice that pretended he had known it all along.
When the traffic ahead of him moved out of the way, he turned the cab into the drive and stopped at one of the entrances of the center. Moving agilely for a man his size and age, he was out of the cab and around to the rear passenger door to help Victoria out, assisting her with a gallantry that was more touching than amusing.
"Thank you." Victoria added a generous tip to the fare.
"You're welcome." He began hauling out her packages and garment boxes from the rear seat. "You want some help with this?"
"I think I can manage." It took some maneuvering to slip her fingers through all the plastic grips, but she succeeded with help from the cab driver. "What time is it?"
"Half past one. And you tell that guy if he's upset with you for bein' late, there's plenty of other fellas that'd be happy to be in his shoes."
"I'll remember that." This time there was nothing distracted about the smile lighting her face.
The driver started toward the entrance door to open it for her and stopped. "What color are your eyes?" His own narrowed on her with puzzled intensity.
An audible breath of amazement came from his throat. "I never knew anybody with gray eyes before." It was said to himself as he moved to hold the door for her. "If you ever need a cab again, miss, you just call up and ask for Joe Kopacek. That's Czech," he identified the nationality of his name.
"I'll remember, Mr. Kopacek," Victoria promised with a faint nod that unknowingly resembled an imperial acknowledgement.
Inside the entrance, Victoria was confronted by a labyrinth of corridors connecting a multistoried center of shops. It didn't seem to matter how many times she came to the center she still had difficulty orienting herself. Standing by a wall was a uniformed man, a security guard.
"Excuse me, could you direct me to the restaurant?" she requested with a formal smile touching her lips.
"Which restaurant?" he grinned at her question. "I think there are fourteen in this complex."
"Lord!" It was a muffled exclamation of irritation. Victoria couldn't remember a specific one being stated now, so she opted for the one where they usually lunched when they were downtown. "The hotel has a terrace-type café, doesn't it? Near the elevators?"
"Yes," the guard nodded and pointed to the corridor on Victoria's right. "Go that way and keep to your left. You can't miss it."
Victoria followed his directions and arrived at the open center of the complex. It was an ultramodern area of layered, curving, rising buttresses of concrete, its bland sterility alleviated by the abundant usage of potted plants and trees. Crisscrossing walkways and escalators connected one side to the other and one level to the next. At a bottom level was the restaurant Victoria was seeking. The impression was one of a sidewalk café, except that it was in the center of the complex and merely cordoned off from the rest of the lobby.
Making her way to the restaurant entrance of bamboo screens Victoria scanned the tables. The hostess approached to inquire, "How many, please?"
"I'm meeting someone here," Victoria explained and caught sight of a familiar brown-haired woman seated alone at one of the tables with her back to the entrance. "There she is."
With a brief smile of dismissal to the hostess she wove her way through the tables. The boxes and packages in her hands made her progress slow to avoid bumping into those seated at the tables. When she reached the one where the woman was sitting, Victoria stopped to begin piling her packages in an empty chair.
"Hello, mom. Had you given up on me?" Victoria greeted her with a direct reference to her tardiness. "I lost all track of time, I'm afraid."
"As long as it was only time that you lost, and not one or two packages along the way," Lena Beaumont announced with a dryly indulgent look at all the parcels.
Victoria simply laughed at that and sat in the chair next to her mother. "I see that I missed dad." She observed the used coffee cup and crumpled napkin at the place setting opposite her.
"Yes, he had an appointment and couldn't wait."
The waitress appeared to give Victoria a menu and offer her coffee. "No, thank you. Iced tea, please," she requested and began to peruse the fare. "What did you and dad have, mom?"
"I had a club sandwich and your father had soup and some kind of fish." There was a subdued gleam in the gray eyes that were very much the same color as her daughter's, although age had given them the glint of wisdom.
"Mmm." It was a noncommittal sound Victoria made. When the waitress returned she closed the menu and ordered, "Spinach salad with very little dressing—low calorie if you have it."
"Yes, ma'am," the waitress nodded and collected the menu before moving away.
"You have more willpower than I do, Tory," her mother sighed. "You should loan me some of yours so I can get rid of this extra fifteen pounds I'm carrying around."
"On you it looks good," Victoria insisted. Both were the same height and the same approximate build. Despite the extra weight, her mother still possessed the necessary feminine curves, but no one would ever accuse her of being heavy.
"Spoken like a diplomatic daughter," Lena Beaumont laughed.
"On the subject of looking good, wait until you see the clothes I found." With a flick of her long fingers, Victoria gestured toward the packages piled in the chair near her.
"What did you do, purchase a new summer wardrobe? I know you 'don't have a thing to wear,'" her mother teased on a dry note.
"It isn't so far from the truth," Victoria defended. "There are a lot of clothes in my closet, but most of them are very juvenile in style. I am twenty-three. It's time I began dressing like it."
"Yes, that's very old," she mocked.
"No, it isn't," Victoria refused to rise to the bait. "And you know very well what I mean. Most of my clothes have been more fad fashion than style fashion. Adrianne was mentioning the other day that the second-hand clothes shop needed donations desperately, so I thought I'd clean out my closet and take what I don't want anymore to the shop."
"That's an excellent idea," her mother agreed.
"I thought so." Victoria paused, her gray eyes resting on the drink glass with its olive on the bottom that sat where her father had been. "What's this? A martini lunch? That isn't like dad."
"He was celebrating."
"What?" Victoria lifted a finely arched brow, not finding any particular significance in her memory for this particular day in May.
"He persuaded Dirk Ramsey to spend a couple of weeks with us at Mackinac Island this June," Lena Beaumont explained.
"He what?" Her astonishment bordered on incredulity. "Why on earth is that something to celebrate? And why would he want to persuade that sniping, vicious ..." Victoria couldn't find adjectives vile enough to describe the political journalist whose syndicated column appeared in all the major newspapers in the country, and several abroad.
"Keep your voice down, Tory," her mother reproved.
"I don't particularly care who knows what I think of that poor excuse for a reporter who makes his living out of impugning other people's character." Victoria lowered her volume, but not the venom of her tone. "Look at the innuendos he has made against dad in his column. They were virtually lies!"
"There was just enough truth in them to make them undeniable," Lena reminded her.
"That is precisely my point. This Dirk Ramsey interprets things in the way that is the most damaging. What does he know about dad? Oh, they may have seen each other once or twice, but dad admitted that they had never even been introduced!" Victoria flared. "Yet Ramsey has practically accused dad of being the puppeteer who pulls the strings in the governor's mansion. He has hinted that dad's sense of civic responsibility is motivated by greed. And he has insinuated that dad's interest in national affairs is an attempt to have a private back door to the White House, or else a justiceship on the Supreme Court! It's sickening what that man gets away with in print."
"Tory, you are old enough to be aware that your father is not only wealthy, he is also very influential," her mother began in a reasoning tone.
But Victoria wasn't to be reasoned with. Her eyes were the turbulent gray of storm clouds rolling in from the lakes. "His legal firm is also one of the most respected in the state, possibly in the country. When dad was actively practicing law he was one of the best attorneys. I fully understand that since he has become politically involved it's natural for him to come under public scrutiny. I don't object to that. I object to some stranger maligning his integrity."
"That is precisely your father's point." Lena Beaumont paused and held up a silencing forefinger as the waitress arrived with Victoria's salad and freshened her mother's cup of coffee. Victoria kept quiet while the waitress was there, but it was a simmering quiet.
"What is 'precisely' his point?" she demanded when the girl had gone, attacking the salad with a vengeance.
"That Dirk Ramsey doesn't know him," her mother explained. "Your father has always made it a point to be open with the press. On several occasions he has goneout of his way to cultivate their respect. The last thing he wants or needs is to become involved in a feud with a national journalist like Dirk Ramsey."
"Journalist—he doesn't deserve the term. He has climbed to the top by tarnishing images of public figures," Victoria snapped. "I wouldn't call him famous. Notorious is more appropriate."
"It doesn't matter whether you consider him famous or notorious. Whatever Dirk Ramsey prints or says, people pay attention to it." Lena Beaumont continued on her reasoning tactic.
"In my opinion dad should sue him." Victoria stabbed at a dark green spinach leaf with her fork.
"That would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. It isn't possible to attack one member of the press without the others leaping to his defense. Instead of having one man against him, your father would have them all," was the dry retort.
"So if you can't beat them, join them. Is that his plan of attack?" Victoria knew she sounded sarcastic and didn't care.
Until Dirk Ramsey had begun making questionable references to her father in his column, Victoria had never even read it. After reading two columns of his interpretations of half-truths, she refused to even look at it again. Once she had heard him introduced on some national television show and immediately switched channels. One glimpse of his arrogantly handsome face was all she had needed to convince her he was only seeking his own glory.
"Essentially, it is," her mother agreed with her comment. "Dirk Ramsey doesn't know your father. He's barely exchanged ten words with him. So your father contacted him and suggested they become better acquainted. He invited him to spend two weeks with us at Mackinac Island for that purpose and Mr. Ramsey accepted."
"It's absurd. It's absolutely absurd!" Victoria set her fork down to confront her mother.
"It's perfectly reasonable. Once Dirk Ramsey gets to know your father, he will see for himself that Charles is simply not the way he's been depicted."
"And if he doesn't see it, what then?" Victoria challenged.
"Then it won't be because your father failed to try to change his mind." She sipped at her coffee with a calmness that Victoria had so often envied and tried to emulate.
"Dad can't be serious." Victoria shook her head, waves of her medium-length beige hair brushing her neck. "He could accomplish the same thing by having dinner with the man or playing a couple of rounds of golf or tennis."
"No, he couldn't," Lena Beaumont denied that suggestion. "Dirk Ramsey would suspect that your father was putting up a facade. But nobody can maintain a facade for two weeks, day in and day out."
"Wait a minute." Victoria straightened, eyeing her mother with suspicion. "When you said dad invited Ramsey to Mackinac Island, you didn't mean that he would be staying with us—at our summer home? He will be staying at a hotel, won't he?"
Excerpted from Enemy In Camp by Janet Dailey. Copyright © 1980 Janet Dailey. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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