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Ill take manhattan, p.1

I'll Take Manhattan, page 1


I'll Take Manhattan

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I'll Take Manhattan


  “What’s in that pile?” Justin, Maxi’s brother, asked.

  “I call them the ‘so what else is wrong with you?’ magazines,” Maxi said. “Their premise is simply that things are going so badly that you’re desperate for help.”

  “Ma’s overreacting,” Angelica whispered to him.

  “The hell I am,” Maxi snapped. “All they do is undermine your self-confidence; they make you feel that it’s impossible for your body to ever be attractive enough, that you should be doing better, better, better, in the kitchen, the bedroom, the boardroom—what, you mean you haven’t been promoted yet? Oh, thank them—thank the good editors for making you feel better about that heel you married, the seventeen different things you do wrong in bed; all of which are your fault, bad girl. Guilt! If I read one more article about bulimia I’ll throw up. Isn’t there a single magazine a woman can buy that loves her just the way she is? What did I just say?”

  “You’d throw up if,” Angelica cried hysterically.

  “No, after.”

  “Doesn’t any magazine like women?” Justin ventured.

  Maxi jumped up and down. “THAT’S IT! The magazine that loves you and doesn’t try to change you, the magazine that exists for your pleasure. FUN. The magazine that doesn’t care if you eat too much or can’t find a guy. Fun, I say! Did you hear me? FUN!”

  “We heard you, Ma. Everybody in Trump Tower heard you.”

  “What is this fun book going to be called?” Justin said.

  “It’s already got a name. Buttons and Bows. But times have changed. I’m shortening it to B and B.”

  “B and B? What kind of name is that?” Angelica said.

  “Does it matter? Bread and Butter, Bosoms and Bottoms, whatever suits your fancy. It’s called B and B and that means F-U-N!”

  Bantam Books by Judith Krantz

  Ask your bookseller for the books you have missed









  This edition contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition.



  A Bantam Book / published by arrangement with Crown Publishers


  Crown edition published May 1986

  Bantam edition / February 1987

  Grateful acknowledgment is given for permission to reprint lyrics from “Manhattan” copyright 1925 by Dorothy F. Rodgers, Mary Guettel, Linda R. Breckir, and Estate of Lorenz Hart, Marlin Enterprises and Lorenz Hart Publishing Co., owners of publication and allied rights in the U.S. Made in U.S.A. E.B. Marks Music Corporation owners of publication and allied rights in the rest of the world.

  All rights reserved, including public performance for profit. Any copying, arranging or adapting of this composition without the consent of the owners is an infringement of copyright. Every effort has been made to contact the copyright owner of material reproduced in this book. Omissions brought to our attention will be corrected in subsequent editions.

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 1986 by Falk Publishing Co.

  Library of Congress Catalogue Number: 85-22403.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

  For information address: Crown Publishers.

  201 East 50th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022.

  eISBN: 978-0-307-76644-1

  Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.


  For Steve, who knows why I keep dedicating books to him.

  With all my love, always.

  I am grateful to these friends who generously told me things I needed to know.

  Helen Gurley Brown of Cosmopolitan

  Alexandra Mayes Birnbaum of Good Food

  Amy Gross of Vogue

  Cathie Black of USA Today

  Mark Miller of Hearst Magazines

  Ellen Levine of Woman’s Day



  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page




  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  About the Author

  Excerpt from Scruples Two


  Maxi Amberville, with characteristic impatience and a lifelong disregard for regulations, sprang out of her seat in the moving Concorde that was taxiing to a stop, and raced along the narrow aisle toward the forward exit. Her fellow passengers sat in the aloof tranquility of those who have paid twice the price of a first-class ticket to travel from Paris to New York and felt no further pressure to hurry. As she flew by a few eyebrows were elegantly raised at the sight of such an unpardonably pretty girl in an undignified rush.

  “What’s taking so long?” she demanded of the stewardesses.

  “We have not yet arrived, Madame.”

  “Arrived? Of course we’ve arrived. Damn these things—they spend more time on the ground than in the air.” Maxi quivered in fury and every inch of her body, packed with nervous energy and intensity of purpose, expressed disapproval of Air France.

  “If Madame will please return to her seat?”

  “The hell I will. I’m in a hurry.” Maxi stood her ground, feet planted in the flat boots she always wore for travel. Her short, dark hair was ruffled in seven different directions, here standing straight up and there covering part of her forehead with thick bangs that fell over her indignant face. She would have been riveting in a room full of beautiful women, for she made mere beauty seem not only irrelevant but uninteresting. In the subdued daylight of the cabin she was as alight with anticipation as if she were about to enter a ballroom. Maxi was wearing an old, tightly belted cognac-colored suede jacket and well-worn jeans tucked into her boots, a shoulder bag slung like a Sam Browne belt from one shoulder to the opposite hip, and as she pushed her bangs back impatiently she revealed the thick blaze of white hair with which she had been born, a streak that sprang out of her hairline over her right eye.

  The Concorde whispered to its final stop and the stewardess, with dignified disdain, observed Maxi as she stomped through the exit door before it was fully open, clutching an American passport in her free hand.

  Maxi came to a full halt at the closest Immigration booth and thrust her passport at the inspector. He opened it to her picture, studied it casually, and then looked at it intently.

p; “Maxime Emma Amberville?” he asked.

  “Right. Isn’t it a god-awful photo? Look, I’m in a hurry. Could you just stamp that thing and let me get out of here?”

  The inspector looked at her with noncommittal scrutiny. He calmly punched up some keys on his computer.

  “Who,” he asked her finally, “is Maxime Emma Amberville Cipriani Brady Kirkgordon?”

  “I know. I know. An unwieldy name at best. But it’s not against the law.”

  “What I mean, miss, is why don’t you have your full name on this passport?”

  “My old passport expired during the summer and I renewed it at the Embassy in Paris … you can see that it’s new.”

  “Did you change your name legally?”

  “Legally?” Maxi said, offended. “All of my divorces were perfectly legal. I prefer my maiden name so I returned to it. Do you want to hear the whole story of my life? Everyone on that blasted plane is going to get ahead of me. Now I’ll have to wait at customs!”

  “The baggage isn’t off the plane yet,” he remarked reasonably.

  “That’s the whole point! I don’t have any baggage. If we weren’t haggling about my lurid past I’d be in a taxi right now. Oh, bloody, bloody hell!” she complained, ardent in her fury.

  The inspector continued to study the passport. The photograph didn’t manage to convey her quality of electric vitality and as accustomed as he was to bad pictures he had not, for a brief moment, been convinced that the snapshot was legitimate. It showed mostly bangs and a neutrally smiling mouth, but the woman standing wrathfully in front of him, her hair looking like the feathers of an outraged bird, had a boldness, an audacity, that would have forced him to notice her, as if a flare had been sent up in front of his nose. What’s more she didn’t look old enough to have had more than one husband, much less three, in spite of the date of her birth, twenty-nine years ago.

  Reluctantly the inspector stamped her passport with the day’s date, August 15, 1984, and gave it back to her, but not before he’d made a special illegible notation on the back of her customs declaration.

  Moving with the tadpole agility of the born New Yorker Maxi slapped her shoulder bag down on a customs table and looked around impatiently for an inspector. At this early hour they were still gathered in one corner of the big room finishing their morning coffee, not anxious to start the day’s work. Several of the customs men caught sight of Maxi at the same time and each of them put down his mug of coffee abruptly. One of them, young and redheaded, broke from the pack and started off toward Maxi.

  “What’s your hurry, O’Casey?” asked another inspector, catching him by the arm.

  “Who’s in a hurry?” he asked, shaking off the arm. “This pigeon just happens to be mine,” he announced, walking quickly toward Maxi, outdistancing the closest of his fellows by several yards, in his determination.

  “Welcome to New York,” he said. “The Countess of Kirkgordon, unless my eyes deceive me.”

  “Oh, cut out the countess nonsense, O’Casey. You know I dumped poor Laddie a while ago.” Maxi looked at him with a trace of unease, her hands on her hips. Just her bad luck to fall into the hands of cocky, freckled, far-from-unattractive Joseph O’Casey who fancied himself some kind of throwback to Sherlock Holmes. There should be a law about civil servants like him molesting decent citizens.

  “How could I have forgotten?” he marveled. “You got divorced just before you came through with a major new wardrobe from Saint Laurent.… You never were much of a seamstress, Miss Amberville—those labels you sewed on from Saks were very unprofessional. Will you never learn that we study the European fashion lines as soon as they’re photographed?”

  “Good for you, O’Casey.” Maxi gave him a solemn nod of approval. “I’ll keep it in mind. Meanwhile, could you do me a favor and check out my shoulder bag? I’m in a desperate hurry today.”

  “The last time you were in a hurry it was a question of twenty bottles of Shalimar, the two-hundred-dollar size, and the time before that it was a new Patek Polo, the one you were wearing in plain sight on your wrist, thinking no doubt of the story of the purloined letter. It was carved out of solid gold and worth eight thousand dollars, no less. And then, let’s see now, it wasn’t too long ago that there was that little problem of a Fendi mink, the one dyed pink, that you told me was a fun fur from a flea market worth under three hundred dollars. Fifteen thousand bucks in Milan if I remember correctly.” He smiled, pleased with himself. There was nothing like a memory for details.

  “The Shalimar was a gift,” Maxi objected, “for a friend. I don’t even wear perfume.”

  “You’re supposed to include gifts, it says so right here on the declaration,” O’Casey said blankly.

  Maxi looked up at him. There was no mercy in those Irish eyes. They were smiling, all right, but not harmlessly.

  “O’Casey,” she admitted, “you’re perfectly right. I am a habitual smuggler. I have always been a smuggler and I’ll probably always be a smuggler. I don’t know why I do it and I wish I could stop. It’s a neurosis. I’m sick. I need help. I’ll get help, when I have a chance. But I swear to you that this time—this one single time—I haven’t got anything with me. I’m just here on business and I have to get into the city fast. I should be there now, for pity’s sake. Search my bag and let me through.” She spoke imploringly. “Please.”

  O’Casey studied her intently. She was so pretty, this chance-taking dame, that he felt his toes curling right down into the soles of his shoes at the mere sight of her face. As for the rest of her, for like all customs inspectors he was trained in the meaning of body language, it betrayed nothing at the moment. God knows what she must be bringing in to be able to stand there so innocently.

  “Can’t do it, Miss Amberville,” he said, shaking his head in regret. “Immigration knows about your record, he noted it right there on the declaration, and there is no way I can just wave you on. we’ll have to do a body search.”

  “At least look through my bag, damn it!” Maxi demanded, no longer the supplicant.

  “Obviously it wouldn’t be there. It’s got to be on you, whatever it is,” O’Casey replied. “You’ll have to wait till a female inspector comes on duty. There should be one here in an hour or two and I’ll make sure she attends to you first.”

  “A body search? You’re not serious!” Maxi cried in unpremeditated astonishment. Twenty-nine years of having her own way in almost everything had created a conviction that ordinary rules just did not apply to her life. And certainly nobody did anything to Maxi Amberville without her permission. Never. Never ever!

  “I’m perfectly serious,” O’Casey said calmly, with a hint of a grin on his lips. Maxi looked at him incredulously. He really meant it, this power-mad bastard. But every man has his price, even Joe O’Casey.

  “Joe,” she said, giving a deep sigh, “we’ve known each other for years, right? And I have never been a bad citizen, have I? The United States Treasury is much richer from my fines than if I’d just paid the duty.”

  “That’s what I’ve told you, every time I’ve caught you, but you just won’t listen.”

  “I’ve never brought in drugs or unpasteurized cheese or a salami with foot-and-mouth disease—Joe—can we make a deal?” Her voice traipsed the range from cajolery to delicate, yet unmistakable down-and-dirty.

  “I don’t take bribes,” he snapped.

  “I know,” she sighed, “I know only too well. But that’s your problem, Joe. You’re neurotically honest. No, I want to make a trade.”

  “What kind of nonsense are you giving me, Miss Amberville?”

  “Call me Maxi. I am suggesting the straightforward, honest surrender of a body in exchange for an unnecessary body search.”

  “A body?” he repeated blankly, although he had a clear notion of her intention and the very possibility of such an extravagant bounty was enough to make him forget the uniform he wore.

  “A body, my very own, duty-free, welcoming, warm, and all of
it, every inch, for you, Joe O’Casey,” Maxi said, casually running one of her fingertips down between two of his fingers without taking her eyes off him. She gave him a look that Cleopatra had invented but Maxi had perfected. The man cracked. She could tell from the way he blushed so deeply that his freckles almost disappeared. “Eight tonight, at P. J. Clarke’s?” she asked, almost casually.

  He nodded speechlessly. Dreamily he put a chalk mark on her bag and waved her on.

  “I’m always on time,” Maxi flung over her shoulder as she took flight, “so don’t keep me waiting.”

  Two minutes later she began to relax as she sat back in the long blue limousine that had been waiting for her, driven by her chauffeur Elie Franc, known as the canniest and swiftest in the city. There was no point in telling him to hurry for nothing on wheels could overtake Elie except a traffic cop and he was too smart to fall into their traps.

  With a quick glance at her watch Maxi saw that, in spite of the impossible sluggishness at which airlines and arrival procedures operated, she would manage to reach her destination on time. Only yesterday morning she had been in Brittany, at Quiberon, subjecting herself to the hot seawater bubble-bath regime that was indicated after an unusually hectic summer, when she had received a telephone call from her brother Toby, telling her to get back to New York in a hurry for an unexpected board meeting of Amberville Publications.

  Their father, Zachary Amberville, the founder of Amberville Publications, had died suddenly, as the result of an accident, just over a year ago. The company he had left behind was one of the giants of the American magazine business and board meetings were normally planned well in advance.

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