"I've got a press conference at the Waldorf in an hour," Shames said, "so I'll make this as quick as I can."
Stone and Eggers nodded automatically, like mechanical birds.
"I've met this spectacular woman," Shames said, then waited for a reaction.
"Good," Eggers replied.
"Yes," Stone said.
"I think I'm in love."
The two lawyers nodded gravely.
"Congratulations," Eggers said.
"Yes," Stone echoed.
"This is a lot more important than I'm making it sound," Shames said, grinning. "I've never been married, and, well..."
Not getting laid, Stone thought. Horny. Vulnerable rich guy.
"Anyway, she's just spectacular. I feel so lucky."
He doesn't realize yet she's taken him, Stone thought.
"What's her name?" Eggers asked.
"That's just the thing," Shames said, blushing. "I'm not sure I know."
"When did you meet her?" Eggers asked.
"In the Hamptons."
"At this time of the year?"
"Oh, it's getting awfully chic out there in winter, now," Shames replied. "All the most interesting people go out there on winter weekends. You don't have to put up with the summer tourists and all their traffic."
"Sounds great," Eggers said. "Who introduced you to, ah, her."
"Nobody, actually. We met at this big party at some movie guy's house-I get those guys mixed up-and after talking for a few minutes, we got the hell out of there and went to Jerry Della Femina's for dinner. We had a great time."
"Good," Eggers replied.
"Yes," Stone said.
"She said her name was Liz," Shames said.
"Maybe that's her name," Stone chanced, but shut up at a glare from Eggers.
"I'm not sure," Shames said.
"Do you have some reason to think her name might not be Liz?" Eggers asked.
"Not really, just a feeling. She wouldn't give me a last name or even tell me where she lives."
"How can Stone and I help, Thad?"
"I want you to find her for me."
This time, Stone glared at Eggers, but Eggers avoided the look.
The butler appeared at the door. "Excuse me, Mr. Shames, but your office is on line one."
Shames stood up. "I'd better take this in the other room," he said. "Please excuse me for a moment." He left, closing the door behind him.
"I know you have some questions," Eggers said.
"Just one," Stone replied. "Are you out of your fucking mind?"
"What am I, some seedy shamus, tracking down women for rich men?"
Stone stood up. "Call me when you've got something of substance, Bill."
Eggers didn't move. "The press conference he's holding is to announce an initial public offering of stock in a new company he's started. Shames has taken two other companies public in the past eight years, and they're both multibillion-dollar, worldwide corporations now. How would you like to have ten thousand shares of the new company at the opening price?"
Stone looked at him warily. "Tell me about it."
"I don't know all that much, except that it's supposed to be an astonishing new technology for the Internet, and that Thaddeus Shames is doing it."
Stone knew enough to know how spectacular a lot of Internet stocks had been in the market. "What's it going to open at?"
"The price hasn't been set yet; probably around twenty dollars a share. Last week an Internet IPO happened, and the stock went up eight hundred percent the first day."
Stone sat down.
Shames returned to the room, and Eggers stood up.
"Thad, Stone is going to take this on. I've got a meeting back at the office, so I'll leave the two of you to continue." He shook hands with Shames and Stone and left.
Copyright Stuart Woods 2001. All rights reserved. Reproduced by the permission of the publisher, Putnam Publishing.
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