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Chapter 3


TILLY BAGSHAWE

Friends and Rivals

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This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental. HarperCollinsPublishers 77–85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB www.harpercollins.co.uk A Paperback Original 2012 1 Copyright © Tilly Bagshawe 2012 Tilly Bagshawe asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 978–0–00–732653–2 Set in Meridien by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Falkirk, Stirlingshire Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. ™

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CHAPTER THREE

Ivan Charles kept a firm grip on Joyce Wu’s hips as she bucked and moaned in pleasure. As well she might, thought Ivan, who’d spent the last fifteen minutes with his head between his teenage lover’s legs, trying to bring her to climax. Generally he wasn’t much of a one for oral sex – giving it, that is; receiving it was naturally an entirely different matter – but he made an exception for Joyce. Partly because she begged him to. Ivan Charles did enjoy a bit of begging. And partly because her smooth, hairless Asian pussy made him feel like he was doing a porn star, not a virtuoso violinist from a strict Chinese family. Although that was kind of horny, too. Even so, fifteen minutes was enough to give anybody jaw ache. His own orgasm already felt like a long time ago and he’d spent the last five minutes at least thinking exclusively about his meeting at ITV tomorrow and whether the blue or the green Paul Smith shirt would make him look more telegenic. ‘I’m coming!’ Joyce gasped, unnecessarily. Her twitching thighs had already imparted this information forcefully to 41

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the sides of Ivan’s head. Finally she stopped moving, like an exhausted epileptic at the end of a fit, and slumped back against the chaise longue, panting. Ivan, also panting, headed to the kitchen for a much-needed glass of water. Ivan loved his Belgravia flat. Loved it. The lateral, twobedroom apartment on Eaton Gate was his own private lair, his 1,500 square foot kingdom where he could do what – and whom – he pleased. Of course, The Rookery was home and he loved that too. In Oxfordshire, with Catriona, he was grown-up Ivan, husband Ivan, daddy Ivan. The unfortunate incident that Jack had witnessed in the bathroom on the night of his birthday was an anomaly. Usually, Ivan Charles made a point of keeping his two lives, and two selves, utterly separate. Here, in London, he was Ivan the player, Ivan the music mogul. He was, as one of Jester’s interns had rather brilliantly named him, after a brief but passionate affair, Ivan the Terrible. And the Eaton Gate flat was his palais d’amour. Every room was filled with mementos of his triumphant career. Here, in the kitchen, two Grammys and a Brit Award gleamed proudly on a shelf above the sink. The drawing room, an elegant Georgian reception space with doubleaspect sash windows and original parquet flooring, was littered with framed photographs of Ivan with music industry greats. Ivan and Burt Bacharach hugged on top of the piano, Ivan and Alfie Boe laughed on a yacht on the antique side table. On the wall above the chaise longue, where Joyce Wu lay sprawled in postcoital contentment, Ivan had a paternal arm wrapped around Charlotte Church back in her gawky teenage days. Secretly, Ivan longed to be able to line the walls with a different kind of star. The kind of artist that Jack represented for Jester almost exclusively. He wanted to have his picture 42

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taken with Will Smith and JLS and Justin Bieber. With Katy Perry and Britney and Kendall Bryce. He wanted to be in the pop world, to be young and contemporary and relevant. Most of all, he wanted to lead Jester out of the dark ages of old school music management and into the new era of reality television, of YouTube virals and multimedia world domin­ ation. It was a terrible irony, a travesty really, that he, Ivan, who ‘got’ the pop scene and was excited by the brave new world of free downloads and webcam concerts, should be stuck with an overwhelmingly classical list, while Jack ‘Sam Eagle’ Messenger, he of the paper diaries and computer phobia and all-American family values, should represent such cutting-edge acts as The Blitz and Kendall Coke-Head Bryce. The fact that Ivan’s list made more money than Jack’s was insufficient consolation. Classical fans still bought albums. Pop fans downloaded (aka stole) them. But if only Jack weren’t so pig-headed about Jester diversifying, into the TV world and beyond, Ivan was sure their rock and pop business would blossom exponentially. Tomorrow’s meeting with ITV would be Ivan’s first concrete step into these choppy waters, a step he was taking without his partner’s knowledge, still less his permission. Ivan had a lot riding on it. ‘Sweetheart, I hate to do it, but I’m going to have to ask you to skedaddle.’ Walking back into the drawing room he passed a still-naked Joyce her clothes. ‘I’ve got a ton of work to do this afternoon. Plus the cleaner’s coming in twenty minutes. We wouldn’t want her to find you here and spill the beans to the missus, would we?’ Poor Ivan, thought Joyce, pulling a lemon-yellow sundress over her head and stuffing her knickers and bra into her handbag. Imagine being saddled with an old frump like Catriona and having to sneak around behind her back, just for the sake of the kids. He really is such a good father. 43

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‘Of course not,’ she said solemnly, scooping up her violin from a red brocade armchair in the corner. ‘Don’t worry, darling. You can count on me to be discreet.’ Ivan watched her leave, noticing for the first time how short her legs were for her body and how unsexy her walk was from behind, knock-kneed and gawky. The time had come to end things with Miss Wu. He would disengage gently, as he always did, with expensive jewellery and flowery apologies, citing family commitments for his reluctant change of heart. Ivan prided himself on the fact that not one of the clients he’d shagged then grown tired of had ever left Jester, or fired him as a manager. Women were marvellous creatures. They’d accept just about anything from a man, as long as it was done with charm, and a few choice trinkets from Asprey’s. With Joyce gone, Ivan could begin his day in earnest. Farting loudly to kick things off, a triumphant trumpet sound heralding the dawn of male freedom, he turned on Test Match special and, blasting the sound through the flat’s state-of-the-art audio system, retired to the master bathroom for a shower. Afterwards, he laid out a variety of shirt and tie combos on the bed and began to give serious consideration to which made him look the most handsome. Ivan was, and had always been, terribly vain. But tomorrow’s meeting at ITV genuinely merited a careful attention to his appearance. He was effectively auditioning to become one of the judges on a new talent show, an updated version of X Factor that combined both classical and popular acts. Mike Grayson, ITV’s new head of programming, was flamingly gay and well known to have a soft spot for good-looking male presenters. Ivan Charles fully intended to flirt the socks off Grayson. Once he got the gig, he could begin a new charm offensive with Jack. 44

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Holding a peach shirt and royal blue tie up to the mirror, Ivan started. Was that a noise downstairs? He turned off the cricket and listened. At first there was nothing. Then there it was again, a scraping, scratching sound, a bit like a . . . key! Oh my God, Catriona! Frantically Ivan tore around the apartment, hiding evidence of Joyce’s recent presence. Catriona never came to London – never, and certainly not unannounced. But she was the only other person with a key to the Eaton Gate flat, for ‘emergencies’. This was rapidly becoming an emergency. It was too late to get rid of the fishy sex-odour that still hung in the air, but Ivan managed to pick up and throw away his used condom wrapper and lock Joyce’s Rampant Rabbit vibrator in the bedroom safe before the front door finally swung open. ‘Darling?’ he called out hoarsely. ‘Is that you? What a nice surprise.’ He heard the slam of the door and thud of a suitcase hitting the floor. Surely she wasn’t thinking of staying? But it wasn’t Catriona. Kendall Bryce looked amused to find Ivan Charles, red in the face and flustered, wearing nothing but his boxer shorts. Well, well, she thought, what have we been up to? Judging by the pervasive smell assailing her nostrils, Kendall could make an educated guess. As soon as he saw her, Ivan’s colour deepened. ‘How did you get in?’ he stammered. ‘I thought you were my wife.’ ‘No,’ Kendall smiled knowingly. ‘Luckily for you, I’d say. Kendall Bryce.’ She extended a slender, diamond-encrusted hand. ‘Ivan Charles, I presume.’ ‘I . . . I thought you were staying at the Dorchester,’ said Ivan, hurriedly pulling on a pair of jeans. 45

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‘I was,’ said Kendall, ‘until Jack decided it was “unnecessarily extravagant”. He said that Jester had an apartment here and gave me the key. I had thought he wanted you to keep an eye on me. But perhaps it was the other way around?’ Ivan studied her properly for the first time. She was shorter than she looked in publicity shots, not much over five foot tall, and altogether tinier. In a skintight black minidress that left little to the imagination, Kendall’s waist was so doll-like that Ivan could have closed his hands around it. Her dark hair was pulled back in a messy bun and her stunning face looked uncharacteristically tired, with smudged purple shadows lying under each of her virulently green eyes like bruises. ‘If I’m in your way, I’ll happily check into the Dorchester,’ she announced blithely, lighting up a cigarette without asking Ivan if he minded. ‘But you’ll have to tell Jailer Jack it was your idea.’ ‘No, no,’ said Ivan. He was over his embarrassment now, and could think of few things more delightfully distracting than having this wanton girl of Jack’s under his roof. ‘I wasn’t expecting you, that’s all. Jack never said anything. Let me show you the guest room and you can settle in.’ ‘Actually,’ said Kendall, blowing smoke in perfectly formed rings, ‘what I really want right now is some food. The shit they served on the plane wasn’t fit for a dog. How about you take me out to lunch?’ Ivan took Kendall to The Wolseley. As he led her to their prestigious corner table, she was suitably impressed to see Kate Winslet enjoying a salad a few feet away and Prince Harry sipping a Bloody Mary with his latest squeeze at the bar. 46

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‘Nice place,’ she said casually. Despite her own fame in the US, Kendall still got star-struck, especially around people who were well known globally. ‘You must have been here before,’ said Ivan, ordering champagne and oysters on the half-shell for both of them. ‘Uh uh.’ Kendall shook her head. ‘This is my first trip to London. First trip to Europe, actually. I toured Japan and the Far East last year, but other than that I’ve never really been abroad.’ ‘My goodness. A Euro-virgin,’ Ivan said flirtatiously. He’s attractive, thought Kendall. Not as handsome as Jack, but there’s a definite devilish spark there. ‘Well, we’ll have to do something about that. I’ve got three weeks to introduce you to the delights of the Old World. Not long, but I’ll do my best.’ ‘I bet you will,’ Kendall flirted back. ‘Seriously, your parents never travelled with you when you were younger? Wasn’t your old man fabulously wealthy? I’m sure I remember Jack saying—’ Kendall’s pretty face instantly darkened. ‘My dad was never around. He probably took his new family to Europe, for all I know. But not me.’ Aware he’d touched a nerve, Ivan changed the subject. ‘So you’re here for the gigs, obviously. Jack sent me the scheduling for rehearsals and sound check. And you want me to organize some media appearances? I thought we could shoot for Graham Norton, and maybe Radio One Breakfast.’ Kendall inhaled an oyster and took a big slug of champagne. ‘To be honest, I don’t give a fuck,’ she told Ivan. ‘Jack’s the one who keeps harping on about building my UK profile. He seems to think that breaking into the market in London will open up all the other European territories.’ ‘You don’t agree?’ 47

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Kendall shrugged. ‘What do I know? I’m just the talent, right? I wanted to sign with Sony, but Jack insisted I stay with Matador. He said a small label would give me more focus. So now I’m with this tiny, local LA record company with, like, zero global presence, and suddenly Jack wants me to fly all over the world and “build my profile” from scratch. Go figure.’ Ivan digested all this with interest. While Kendall perused the menu for a main course, intermittently exchanging shamelessly suggestive smiles with Prince Harry, Ivan considered the pros and cons of Jack’s strategy. On the one hand, it made sense, keeping a relatively new artist like Kendall with a small label that would be guaranteed to prioritise her. Matador had a good reputation and had certainly done well by Kendall so far. On the other hand, Ivan could smell this kid’s ambition through her pores. She wanted Sony because they were the biggest, and for Kendall Bryce, biggest meant best. She was impatient to make it to the next level, demanding superstardom like a screeching baby cuckoo demanding to be fed. Clearly, Jack’s organic, slow-build approach to her career was frustrating her and driving a wedge between them. Equally clearly, for all her bitching and moaning, Kendall plainly idolized Jack Messenger. In the cab on the way over to The Wolseley, she must have dropped his name into the conversation a good fifteen times. Jack thinks this, Jack says that, Jack wants the other. Ivan sensed an opportunity here. He wanted to make the move into pop, and what better way to start than with Kendall Bryce, a rising US star with ambitions in his, Ivan’s, home market? But if he were going to prise her away from Jack, he would have to tread very carefully indeed. ‘Listen,’ he said, once Kendall had ordered a large plate 48

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of lobster thermidor with a side of fries and Gustavo had brought them a bottle of perfectly chilled vintage Chablis, ‘I want you to relax here in London and leave all the work shit to me. Try and think of it as a vacation.’ ‘With a couple of live performances in front of thousands of people thrown in, right?’ ‘Right,’ grinned Ivan. ‘The gigs’ll be a piece of cake.’ ‘I hope so,’ sighed Kendall, biting her lip, the first hint of anxiety she’d betrayed so far. ‘I only have a few days to rehearse before the show at the Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday.’ ‘You’ll do great. Just focus on all the fun stuff you’ll be doing as soon as it’s over.’ ‘Like what?’ Kendall said morosely. ‘I don’t know a soul here. Jack gave me a list of friends of his I can call, but they all sound boring as fuck. I swear to God one of them was called Sister Mary Theresa. Maybe the two of us can go to matins together. Fun!’ Ivan laughed. He liked this girl. ‘Look. I have to be in town tomorrow for a meeting on the Friday after your show,’ he said, ‘but I’ll be done by four. After that I’m driving down to my country house for the weekend. Why don’t you join me?’ Kendall looked doubtful. ‘I don’t know. Thanks for the offer, but I wouldn’t want to impose on your family time. Besides, I’m not exactly what you’d call a country girl. I’m high maintenance.’ Ivan raised his glass to hers. ‘So am I, my dear. So am I.’

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Friends and Rivals by Tilly Bagshawe - chapter three