How far would a mother go to protect her daughter? Would she submit? Would she seduce? Would she play the coquette?
Or would she murder?
When Sally Smith learns that her daughter has fallen under the dissolute charms of Russian mafia boss, Viktor Lazarev, these are the questions she must face. Especially as Lazarev is demanding Sally surrender to him as his price for protecting her daughter.
'Coquette': a story of sex, submission...and swimming.
Sally loved George, she never doubted that, but...
Wouldn't it be nice, she thought, if, for just a moment, he stopped being so relentless, stopped making a full frontal assault on every problem that confronted him. Sally Smith sighed, switched the handset to her left ear and, with a patience honed through twenty years of increasingly arid marriage, listened to her husband lecture her as others would a delinquent child.
"And Laura? What's Laura doing? She will be at the bloody party, won't she?" George Smith asked tetchily.
In the background Sally could hear the drone of the Jaguar's engine. George had obviously squeezed the call in between speaking engagements. "I've spoken to her and she says she'll be here."
"I should bloody well think she will! My office says that just about all of the names you invited will be attending, so it's essential that our own daughter isn't registered as a no-show. The reptiles would bloody love that: all of the young movers and shakers find time to attend this bloody Clean-Up Campaign launch party but Laura's amongst the missing-in-action. Not good PR-wise."
Great, thought Sally, you haven't seen your daughter for the thick end of a month and all you can think about is her publicity value.
"I even thought I'd ask Laura to sing..."
"Now that is a good idea. Apparently the PM's lad Guy caught one of her gigs in Scunthorpe or some similar hellhole and came away mouthing platitudes. And the PM's potty about jazz so it can't do any harm."
"Good, I'm pleased you approve. Laura needs to organise an accompanist so I'll ring and have her sort that out." She paused for a moment gathering her courage. "Laura's bringing someone with her. A friend of hers, a boyfriend," she tried to deliver the news in a casual, matter-of-fact tone, but it made no difference.
"Boyfriend? I didn't know Laura had a boyfriend." The rising inflection in George Smith's voice, indicating his surprise, riled Sally. Did he believe his daughter to be so monumentally inadequate as to be incapable of ever having a boyfriend? Possibly he was affronted that Laura should have the temerity to select a mate who hadn't been previously vetted by him. "Who is he?" he asked suspiciously.
"I don't know. I've not met him. He's called Viktor something or other. Apparently he's a filmmaker or some such from Leeds. Laura met him through university. He owns a jazz club in the town. I understand Laura's sung there a few times."
A groan from George Smith, this didn't seem like good news. He'd thought Laura's infatuation with jazz was on the wane. The odd concert in support of his political ambitions was one thing, singing in a club was quite another.
Sally carried on, trying to be as upbeat as possible, "Apparently he's something of a patron of the underground art world in the North. He even lectures on the work of Sergei Eisenstein." There was no reply, so Sally added, "Eisenstein was a pioneering Russian..."
"I know who bloody Eisenstein was. Just because I didn't enjoy a private education doesn't make me a complete philistine," George snapped, before lapsing back into silence. Sally heard paper being shuffled, George obviously dealing with something important whilst he was talking with her--well, something more important than his wife and his daughter anyway. "Really, Sally, you're impossible. We can't have someone we don't know just arriving. Think of the security, think of the publicity..." The shuffling of paper stopped. "I mean what sort of person is he? Is he presentable? Is he house-trained?"
"Well ... I don't really know. According to Laura he's twenty-five-ish and a bit bohemian. He's quite a successful businessman from what I can make out." She steeled herself, "Oh ... and it would seem that he's something of a Goth."
There was ominous silence as George Smith absorbed this information. "And what's a Goth when it's at home?"
"Well, as far as I can establish, it's a fashion cult that involves dressing in black and adopting faux-Satanic attitudes."
There was no pause this time. "Absolutely not fucking acceptable," George's voice hardened. "Fuck me gently, the press'll orgasm; daughter of a Minister turning up at a party to launch the government's anti-drugs campaign arm-in-arm with the Prince of Fucking Darkness. Look, get on the phone to Laura and tell her that under no circumstances is she to bring this Goth creature within two hundred fucking miles of that party. Fucking hell ... I don't mind you inviting a few iffy twenty-somethings to your bash to provide a fashionable flavouring, but I've got a feeling that some fucker arriving wearing horns and carrying a pitchfork might be too hot even for you to handle."
Sally drew a deep breath. "I really do think you might be overreacting a tad. Laura's a sensible girl, I'm sure she'll communicate the need to be ... respectful to Viktor. Anyway, I think it's going to be difficult to dissuade her from bringing him. Laura's adamant, either she comes with this chap or she doesn't come at all. I think she's quite smitten."
"Smitten?" sneered her husband. "She can't be smitten, he's..." He trailed off, lost in thought.
"He's what?" prompted Sally.
"Bad fucking news that's what he is. He's older than her, for a start. Christ, she's only just eighteen. And he's certainly not fucking suitable. I didn't spend a fortune on her education to have her take up with the fucking anti-Christ."
"Well, suitable or not, George, I either phone her up and tell her the boy's verboten and she turns around and goes back to Leeds, or we let her bring the boy and risk the press. It's your call, darling." Sally swore she could hear the scowl forming on her husband's face, his brow furrowing as he weighed up the pros and cons, doing a rapid risk/benefit analysis, being the politician.
As George Smith saw it the risks were obviousóLaura's boyfriend could be a complete undesirable, an embarrassment. Not a great riskóLaura was intelligent and still depended on her father's allowanceóbut a risk nevertheless. Thank God there was to be no television covering the party, but the reptiles and the paparazzi would be out in force and that was a worry. On the other hand, this little anti-drugs bash was important to him. Although ostensibly sponsored by his wife, in reality it was a carefully contrived device to have George Smith seen with various assorted pop stars, models, actors and sports icons. It was one great big youth-orientated photo opportunity.
Analysis complete, George snarled his conclusion to his wife, "That little bitch knows how important this is for me. She's got me over a fucking barrel. Very well, have you had this...this...Goth checked out?"
"No can do. Laura said she wasn't disclosing any information about him because she didn't want the Special Branch crawling all over him like they did her last boyfriend. I don't even know his last name."
There was silence from the other end of the phone. Then, "Fuck it. Okay, he can come but please let our darling daughter know if she makes a mess of this she can forget her allowance for some considerable time. I am really not fucking happy." The phone went dead.