"Murder for hire with sex as the currency of payment."
Handsome, successful telecom executive Clive Hill is a guest at an after-hours business mixer at the Red Lion Club in the Camelot Hotel. So is attractive, successful, business owner Sina Griffith. Instantly attracted to each other, conversation quickly turns to skipping the mixer and going upstairs to a room. Clive is a single, former Special Forces sharpshooter. Although Sina is married, both have a very Low Moral Compass. One thing is certain, there will be Hell to pay for this unheavenly match.
Chapter 1. The bar
(This chapter contains some sexually suggestive content)
Surveying early arrivals while signing in at the Chamber of Commerce after hours business mixer at the Camelot Hotel, Clive Hill saw familiar faces along with several new ones entering the Red Lion Club. The familiar include real estate agents grasping for leads, advertising sales people struggling for business in Tulsa’s down market, and a growing crowd, who’ve been unemployed since the oil bust, hoping to network a job.
New female faces always catch Clive’s attention, especially the shapely brunette talking to Rick Cast, one of his telecom competitors. Having just won a large telephone system bid away from Rick, Clive was equally determined to relieve him of the brunette. She is curvy in all the right places like a stack of warm pancakes with butter and syrup dripping off of her and Clive couldn’t wait to sample her tasty looking lips. Writing the name Gary and O.T.C. on a name badge and applying it to his jacket, Clive headed for the bar, noticing the brunette glance in his direction.
Recognizing his old military buddy Van Edmonds tending bar Clive said, “When did you start workin’ here?”
“Couple of weeks ago. My fiancé has been on me to find somethin’ with better hours and fewer female distractions.”
“How’d you sell her on the idea of a hotel bar having fewer female distractions?”
“I’m not sure she’s convinced, but it’s a part time gig anyway.” Placing a napkin on the bar and grinning as he read Clive’s nametag Van said. “Guess you’re here more to meet women than get sales leads.”
“I’m always here for the ladies. Besides, you know my middle name is Gary.”
“It seems to work, and your dad will never know. Having the usual? They’re half price til seven o’clock.”
“Sure. Make it a double.” Clive returned his attention to the brunette wearing the most perfect little red dress paired up with slingback pumps and black stockings. The kind with a line that went up the back of the leg like a map leading to places that would make a man divide and conquer anything just to be there. Her hair flowed like a dark river down her back, which only highlighted her amazing caramel skin. She knew what she was doing for sure. Highlighting all of her assets in such a way that you were hypnotized the minute you caught sight of her.
Turning slightly to Van he said, “What else is new with you?”
“Nothing really,” Van replied while pouring liquor from bottles into a glass to mix a Long Island Iced Tea. “I get people drunk and they tell me their secrets.”
“Anything worth retelling?”
Placing a metal shaker on top of the glass Van said, “There were a couple of guys in here last week talkin’ about moving their office, but I didn’t get too involved or give them my real name. They’re with a collection agency that’s been after me on an old medical bill I can’t pay till I get my tax return next spring.”
“I know those blow hards,” Clive said as Van placed the drink down on the napkin. Pointing to his competitor talking up the brunette Clive continued, “They put out a phone system quote request and wanted it dirt cheap. I let Rick have it because there was no money to be made on it.”
Van laughed and said, “You know when to walk away, don’t you?”
“Always.” A slender blonde wrapped in a short red dress walked by giving both of them the eye as she approached two, well-dressed young men at the end of the bar. “Damn,” Clive muttered. “There’s a tight package.”
“I’ll say,” agreed Van. “We met when I worked at the country club before I was engaged. She was taking golf lessons.”
“We played golf and tangled in the sheets a few times.”
“What’s she like?”
“She knows how to grip a driver for long balls and her putting is excellent. She almost never misses the hole.” Van replied.
“You’re a sick bastard,” Clive retorted.
“I know. Back then she was in management at a manufacturing company that was hit hard when the economy slowed. She’s been outta work for quite a while. Lately she’s working the business mixer circuit selling herself as a self-improvement, personal assistant guru or something like that, charging seventy-five an hour with a five hour minimum. Suckers like those fancy dressers pay her to schedule their lives and probably more interesting things, too.”
“Personal assistant? So that’s what they’re calling it these days. Hell, I could use some some self-improvement but I bet she would end up paying me instead.”
“You’re a sick bastard, too.”
“Ain’t we all.” Turning his attention back to his competitor and the brunette Clive asked, “What do you know about the curvy gal Rick’s tryin’ to hustle?”
“I was sure you’d seen her around. Her name is Sina Griffith. She and her husband own a janitorial supply, office cleaning and forensic remediation business. He’s quite a bit older, and from one of Tulsa’s old money families. I think they’ve been married around seven years. She took over marketing for the company early last year.
“What the hell is forensic remediation?”
Van placed the Long Island on a napkin and said, “It’s the hottest thing going, according to cops I know. Cleaning up after a shooting used to be spraying the blood and guts away with a hose. Now, private companies are contracted to go into apartments, homes and businesses to get rid of any trace of blood, guts and brains before the space can be occupied again. They get big money for it, too.”
“Damn, we’re in the wrong business.” After taking a big sip from his drink Clive raised the glass in a salute to Van and said, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about.” Taking a credit card, a twenty-dollar bill and a business card from his wallet Clive said, “Start a tab and keep the twenty. If the brunette comes this way, give her my card and tell her I want a bid on cleaning my office.”
Van took the three items and said, “I’ll hang onto her for you. Here’s a little tidbit you might find interesting. She’s a coonass.”
“No kidding? Real, or a fake like the guy from New Orleans in our unit at Fort Huachuca?”
“She’s the real deal.”
A heavily accented male voice behind Clive said, “Hey boss. ” He turned to see Torki, an always-smiling Iranian limo service owner say, “I see you everywhere.”
Clive shook his hand and said, “How’s business?”
“Never better.” Leaning close and lowering his voice Torki said, “You scheduling a late night rendezvous?”
Sliding past him to avoid more conversation Clive said, “Maybe. I’ll page you.” Seeing the brunette glance at him again, Clive took another drink from the Long Island and moved toward her.
On his way, a tall, fiftyish looking woman with extremely short, bottle blonde hair almost jumped in front of him said, “Well, hello there.”
Pissed about being stopped on his way to nab the brunette, Clive tried to move past her. Extending her right hand to further block his escape and holding out a cheap looking business card in her left hand she said, “I’m Marianne Kingery, owner of Sweet Scents Candles. Who are you with, Gary?”
Bypassing the hand she extended, he took the business card and said, “The Oklahoma Tax Commission. Is Sweet Scents a home based business, Marianne, or do you have a retail store?”
Stammering a little she replied, “Home based.”
Turning the card over a couple of times before placing it in his pocket he said, “When I come back, let’s discuss your sales tax permit. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
She backed off and Clive could barely contain a grin as he walked away, knowing she would avoid him for the rest of the evening. His father, Gary, was retired from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Inspiration for writing Low Moral Compass. After completing Welcome to Utica, my passion to write more Tulsa stories was in high gear. I visited the Camelot Hotel a few times in its heyday. It was the perfect place to set scenes for this dramatic novel. I wrote an outline and three opening chapters but didn’t have the courage to finish the book on my own. The courage and writing skill of my co-writer brought the project to completion as a much better story than I originally envisioned. At least one more book may emerge from the story line.
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