Mistresses Blackmailed with Diamonds

By: Sarah Morgan
Chapter One

Della’s Story

IT WAS a great dress. No argument. Silver and slinky, low-cut in the front and high-slit at the side. It had some magic quality that made my hips and bust look bigger and my waist look smaller, and it fitted so closely that you just knew I was wearing nothing underneath.

And I mean nothing. That dress was cool, sexy, provocative, sensational.

At any other time I’d have loved it. But not now. Not now I knew why that slimeball Hugh Vanner had been so eager to get it on me. It was because he wanted one, or more, of his equally slimy ‘business associates’ to get it off me.

And since it was a moot question whether they were more disgusting or he was—no way!

At this point a woman with her head screwed on would have got out—fast. But that’s not easy when you’re on a yacht. Even if it is moored in the harbour at Monte Carlo.

I’d been hired in London as a waitress, and I suppose it was naïve of me to think that ‘waitress’ meant waitress. But I was in a tight hole financially.

Usually I demonstrated goods in department stores, but one job had just finished and another had just fallen through. I couldn’t afford to go even a week without work, and the money being offered for this trip was good. So I crossed my fingers and hoped.

Fatal mistake.

Never cross your fingers. It makes it so hard to fight the creeps off.

I joined the yacht at Southampton. It was called The Silverado, and it wasn’t what most people would mean by yacht, with sails and things. This was a rich man’s version, over two hundred feet long, with thirteen staterooms, a bar, a swimming pool, a dining room that could seat twenty, and not a sail in sight. That kind of yacht.

My nose was twitching before I’d been on board for five minutes. The place shrieked too much of the wrong sort of money in the hands of the wrong sort of people who’d acquired it by the wrong sort of means.

Don’t get me wrong. I like money. But, for reasons I can’t go into now, I’m nervous about where it comes from. I’ve known life when anything I wanted could be served up on a plate, and life when I didn’t know where my next penny was coming from.

I was in one of those times now, so I stayed on board and got stuck into the job. No. Scratch that last phrase. I stayed on board and worked hard. Better.

I didn’t meet Vanner until several hours later, and the whole grubby, sweaty mess of him came as a nasty surprise.

‘You’ll do,’ he grunted, looking me up and down. ‘I told that agency I wanted lookers. I like my guests to have a good time. Puts them in the right mood, if you know what I mean.’

I was beginning to know exactly what he meant. I was also beginning to wish I’d never come on this trip, but we were already at sea and it was too late.

‘So you’re Della Martin?’ he demanded, breathing booze fumes over me. ‘How old are you?’


‘You look younger.’

I knew it, and it was the bane of my life. I’ve got a face that would be right on an eighteen-year-old, all big eyes and high cheekbones. My hair’s red, and I cut it short in an attempt to make myself look more grown-up.

Fatal mistake. I end up with the look they call gamine. Some women would be glad to have it. I thought it made me seem like a kid.

But Vanner loved it.

‘You’d be great if only you’d smile,’ he said. ‘Look cheerful. Everyone on my yacht must be cheerful.’

He was always talking about ‘my yacht’, but it wasn’t his, whatever he liked to pretend. He’d chartered it.

The trip was supposed to be a business convention, but it turned out to be Vanner cruising the Mediterranean with a gaggle of men—some with girlfriends, some alone, but none with wives.

I shared a cabin with Maggie, who was definitely a woman of the world and knew what she was there for.

‘Plenty of rich pickings,’ she told me on the first evening. ‘Enough for both of us.’

That was true, and since rich pickings were what I needed I was probably being unreasonable in backing off. I knew Maggie thought so. But she shrugged and said, ‘More for me.’

It wasn’t too bad at first. There was a bit of groping, but nothing that I couldn’t defuse with a laugh. I ignored the suggestive remarks, and one way or another I survived until we reached Monte Carlo.

Vanner was in a bad mood as soon as we arrived, and I guessed it was because of the other yacht nearby. It was called The Hawk, and it was The Silverado with knobs on—at least a hundred feet longer, probably with more staterooms and a bigger swimming pool. Anyway, it made Vanner’s yacht look piddling, and he didn’t like it.

Mind you, he perked up when he found out who was aboard.

Jack Bullen.

Bullen was a predator, a financial genius, a bruiser who operated through the money markets instead of with his fists. But the damage was just as real to the victims.

He’d started small and become one of the richest men in the country. Even his name was useful to him. Sometimes they called him ‘Jack Bullion’ because of the way his money mounted up, but mostly they called him ‘Bully Jack’, because of his methods.

He was all over the financial pages for one master stroke or another. I can’t say I normally read those pages, but I come from a family that’s deeply interested in money, especially other people’s. So I knew of him.