“They have a broad definition of work. Any kind of socialising with the wives or husbands of politicians is considered tax deductible,” said Caroline. “I suppose both at the same time is good value for money. Well, I’ve got a story which is every bit as good as yours. Robert’s been to see Melody Bigger, though she’s called something else.”
“You’re joking. How did that happen?”
“She’s making a claim against Monsaint for unfair dismissal and Robert got the case. He had to go up to Scotland to take instructions from her. He said it was pure chance he got the case but I’m worried something’s going on.”
“Melody’s getting her claws into Robert? That’s a horrible thought.”
“Yes, and wait till you hear this. She’s found religion. Not exactly found religion, more founded a religion. It’s really weird, based on pagan sexual rites.” Caroline leaned across the table. “It’s about releasing the cosmic power of the female orgasm.”
“Did you say orgasm?” said Antonia. People on the surrounding tables turned their heads.
“Yes I did. Robert says they work themselves up into a frenzy at the full moon. He only just got away unscathed.”
“Fantastic, what’s it called?” Antonia pulled out her smart phone ready for some instant research.
“I can’t remember what the religion’s called, but she’s called Regina Heart now and her centre is on the Isle of Mura.”
Antonia tapped in a few letters and seconds later was waving her hand across the Castle Dunlaggin Experience website. She loaded the promo video and the tinny tones of Regina joined them at the table. Caroline tried to speak but Antonia wouldn’t let her. She watched the video all the way through.
“Well that’s different,” said Antonia. “What’s your animal guide, Caroline? I know what mine is.”
“I’ve no idea. Robert wanted to show me but I refused to watch the video. It’s obviously phoney. Melody’s up to something again, not to mention trying to screw millions out of Monsaint.”
“I think you should give it a chance. As soon as I watched I knew I had an animal guide. I’ve known all along, I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it.”
“You’re always putting your finger on it. Tell me you haven’t got a vibrator in your bag?”
“I haven’t got a vibrator in my bag,” said Antonia, looking serious. Caroline reached across the table, snatched her shiny black bag, and emptied the contents on the tablecloth. Caroline rummaged through a pile of keys, cards, tickets, and a packet of fruit flavoured condoms. She pulled out a pair of green lace shorties with a bow at the front. She held them up.
“Very nice. Hoping to get lucky?” said Caroline.
“I was a girl guide. Be prepared. I never go out without a Swiss army knife, a spare pair of knickers and my travel toothbrush.”
“I can’t see a Swiss army knife.” Caroline rummaged through the pile and picked out the folding toothbrush, and in doing so nudged a silver bullet-shaped thing which rolled across the tablecloth and landed on the floor. It continued over to the next table where four young Japanese tourists, three women and a man, all with multi-coloured hair, were practising their English. One of the women leant down and picked it up.
“What this called in English, please?” she asked.
"It’s called a Magic Bullet,” said Antonia.
“For use in restaurant?” Her female companions giggled and the young man fired an imaginary gun.
“Depends on the company,” said Antonia.
“Don’t confuse them,” said Caroline. She turned to the tourists. “It’s a small vibrator. A girl’s best friend.”
“Press the button at the top,” said Antonia. The young woman did not understand.
Antonia stood up and gestured to the young woman to pass the machine back to her. She sat back down, turned towards their table, pressed the button, hitched up her skirt, and gave a brief demonstration.
“Ah, girl’s best flend,” said the Japanese woman, nodding and smiling comprehension. Her companions laughed uncontrollably and attracted the attention of a fresh faced, waist-coated waiter. He rushed over to their table.
“Is there a problem? Do you need any help?”
The Japanese women giggled helplessly. The waiter caught Antonia red handed, or at least red faced. She tried to look cool and sophisticated. Caroline reached across the table and snatched the shiny vibrator.
“I’m confiscating that,” said Caroline. “Honestly Antonia, you can’t be trusted in public.”Caroline was right to be sceptical, but still ended up getting swept along with the wave of enthusiasm for Orgatron training. Of course it ended in tears, but the story had to be told.
Extract from Shameless Exposure, coming soon from SteameReads.
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