When a young woman asks for his help, Paul brings her to his apartment in Paris, knowing all the while that she is the famous opera singer Gina Milan
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Chronology of Events
en route to San Francisco
Monday, July 11
If yesterday had been a day of turbulence, ranging from thrilling to horror, the evening was like moving into a parallel universe.
An ordinary day in my life before last year might have been totally consumed in pouring over legal papers - perhaps only getting Marcella to bring in sandwiches at lunch - and at best, maybe a game of tennis in the evening to loosen up.
Yesterday morning, I ate breakfast on a terrace overlooking the Atlantic at the western-most point of Europe, and was taken to the fortress of one of the world's most controversial dictators in a chauffeur-driven limousine.
I handed him a six-figure check on the Bank de Geneve, took the wheel of the legendary Daimler 500, found myself pursued by men shooting at me along twisting roads, witnessed them perish in a conflagration, and flew off for Paris in the most luxurious private jet I could imagine.
All before lunch. But the evening had its own story, and if meeting Colonel Peralta had been a remarkable experience in itself, becoming acquainted with a totally different sort of celebrity was, in its own way, equally surreal.
Catching up on paper work and trying to unwind was thwarted by wondering what was going on with Kate, and when she still wasn't back at 11:30, I decided to treat my failed concentration with a visit to the jazz club around the corner from June's.
Except for being mesmerized after seeing West Side Story, I've never been a star-struck person. But to find myself suddenly standing beside a great diva left me nothing short of light-headed.
At first, I wasn't totally certain it was she, but those eyes! It couldn't have been anyone but the beauty from my Butterfly album, Gina Milan.
It was like a fairy tale. As if a character from an opera, Gina had escaped her handlers, and fate brought her direct to me. She was all charm - like a sugar plum fairy, and I fell in love with her instantly.
She came to June's with me, and my feet never touching the floor, I made ham and eggs for us, and pretended to know nothing about opera, hiding until the last moment that I realized who she was. She even sang for me.
The hour we spent together was pure magic, and I was still dancing on clouds when Kate came in around 2 am.
She'd immediately caught the scent of perfume in the room and noted the two plates on the table, and I couldn't wait to tell her about my adventure, but first asked about Odette.
Kate looked troubled, and the school-boy crush I'd been entertaining was immediately replaced by the real thing as I took Katie in my arms. She'd found Odette looking ill, and though able to have guests for lunch, the doctor's prognosis was grave.
Despite the worrying news, Kate's decided to stick with her plan of returning to San Francisco, and I felt relieved, telling her about meeting the famous opera singer.
Kate was spellbound by the story, and deeply interested in Gina's situation, saying that all Paris was buzzing about her.
To my surprise, Kate revealed well-circulated rumors from the luncheon today of how Gina was a virtual prisoner of the notorious Mme. Tenati, a failed diva herself, who'd attempted to control previous protégées in the past.
For eight years she'd kept the young soprano closeted, never allowed out on her own or able to have the most casual relationships with anyone.
For that matter, Tenati had consistently held back the progress of Gina's career except for a “mistake” when the mentor allowed her to record an album.
That LP! I'd worn out two copies, and bought a third. While public interest generated by the record has caused opera houses around the world to take notice, Kate said the autocratic Tenati regime is still keeping Gina secluded.
My own discovery that she had never been kissed certainly confirmed that Gina had been kept away from men, but I could no longer think of my experience as a playful game.
Kate declared that Gina's exquisite voice singing romantic operas without the feeling of personal experience was nothing compared to the human tragedy her life could be turning into under the domineering Mme Tenati.
If I trust in fate, and that my own destiny is to live on, then I must believe that this woman has crossed my path for a reason, and I need to do what I can to make a positive difference in her life.
Katie obviously felt the same, but when she spoke about the importance of love with so much passion, I wondered if she was thinking of me or Armand.
With what I already felt for Gina, I became caught up in a wish to set this enchanting woman free to become the true gift to the world that she is, and not a plaything of her domineering mentor.
Odette and Armand - who'd been at Gina's performance last night - were equally disheartened, and had spoken at lunch of what they could do for the young diva, if they could only break through the glass cage surrounding her.
We went on talking for over an hour, with Kate encouraging me to intervene, emphasizing that I was probably the first person outside the inner circle to be alone with the young diva, and might be her only chance.
Whether it is guilt over her continuing feelings for Armand, a lack of possessiveness, or a self-styled ambivalence towards fidelity, Kate encouraged me to do whatever is necessary.
And I, finding it so easy to have a crush on this maiden, so enthralled by the romance of her world, am equally in love with the idea of a shining moment with her, the thought of it strangely making Kate all the more alluring to me.
So rather than flying out for Malaga to test the car, here I am on my way back home to see if I can play a part in the first steps towards Gina's vital liberation when she performs at the War Memorial.
At a Paris bistro, a girl asks Paul for help, and realizing that she is opera singer Gina Milan, he takes her back to his apartment where she enchants him with her charm.
Paul makes a meal for them, and later kisses Gina, realizing that there's never been a man in her life, nor time for one.
After she leaves Paul's fiancée Kate Pierce arrives from visiting Odette de Martignac, gravely ill wife of the man she lived with for five years.
At the home of the billionaire, Kate has learned that Gina is the virtual prisoner of her mentor Madame Tenati, and deeply disturbed by this, Kate encourages Paul to take advantage of his brief meeting with Gina to help her break out of the virtual prison she is in.
The couple therefore fly to San Francisco where Gina is opening in Madame Butterfly.
Tuesday - Wednesday, July 12 - 13
Finding Gina Milan didn't prove the easiest thing in the world. Even Kate's contacts couldn't locate her whereabouts, but I managed a stroke of luck when her wig stylist came out the stage door of the War Memorial while I was making enquiries there.
That and the visit of a doctor to see the singer got me directly into the room next to hers in the Marin mansion where she was staying.
After spiriting her away, I took Gina all over San Francisco, ending up in China Town at Mitzi's where we had a meal I will be eating again and again in my mind for months. It was the perfect sensual prelude to the hours we spent at my grandmother's.
I thought my quest to change Gina's thinking was going to be easy, but when the conversation became serious, she appeared completely brainwashed, tenaciously parroting back The World According to Tenati, unable to conceive that the woman was doing her harm, and that a singer of her quality should have a far better team around her.
Gina wouldn't accept a single argument I put forward, and apparently only wanted my presence for a crash course in romance - insisting that a few hours of lessons would suffice.
I quickly realized that pillow talk was going to be the only way I'd ever get to her mind, and eventually, enough trust developed that she became a little less inflexible on the subject of her career.
When she said, “this is what I was always meant to feel,” I suddenly found myself wanting to turn back. Though my own feelings for her are genuine, even if I were free, the only thing I can give a woman now is tragedy.
Saying goodbye was difficult. I was filled with regret for having lit the fire of love in this woman in the knowledge that our romance was already over.
Perhaps, instead of opening her heart to love with a man who would worship her as I could, the brevity of our time together might even have the opposite effect.
To my explanation that I would be leaving shortly, and probably wouldn't be able to see her again, she responded that it didn't matter, her own life's course not able to accommodate more than one fine day.
But she doesn't know just how imminent my departure is, and I can only hope that she won't end up bitter towards men when I'm gone.
Mason is keeping me waiting around a lot longer than usual, and every time I come in this place, I try and prepare myself for concrete news while disassociating myself from the possibility.
He's called for more tests, and I don't have the concentration to write the letter to Gina which I hope will reinforce the talk we had last night without saying in so many words that a singer with her voice deserves more than she is getting from Tenati and Derek.
Showed Katie the different drafts of my letter to Gina, and saw tears fall from her eyes as she nodded, saying that it was a small opportunity, and we had to believe what I'd done was right, that it would open Gina's eyes to what her life could be.
Gina was magnificent tonight as Butterfly, and having her sing every line directly for me was thrilling beyond belief. How easy it would be, were so many things different, to become Mr. Milan, and be completely enveloped in her world and love.
With a clever ruse, Paul makes contact with Gina, and takes her away to enjoy some delights of San Francisco and a meal in Chinatown before bringing her to a special refuge, the former home of his grandmother.
Both say that they can't enter into a relationship of commitment, but when Paul brings Gina back the next morning, she wants him to become part of her life.
That night he attends her performance of Butterfly, and she sings directly to Paul, but afterwards, receives a note from him saying that he hopes she will remember all he said to her until they meet again someday.
en route to London
Thursday, July 14
Kate woke me with The Chronicle's review of last night's performance, which declared, “Milan has never sung with so much passion and feeling, a development in her performance that is a giant leap from merely a beautiful voice.” And on and on with the same theme.
But we agreed that starting something and walking away was not enough, and Katie is hopeful that Gina will accept Armand's invitation when she returns to Paris. As a patron and board member of the Paris Opera, his contacts are limitless.
How interesting that Kate is also willing to entangle him with the beguiling Gina as well. That supreme confidence in herself, never evident in her manner, is one of Kate's most enticing qualities.
At HSD Marcella said she'd been deluged with calls, eventually speaking to Gina herself, desperate to find me. I told the very moved Marcie to ring back, and say that I'd be at the evening's performance.
Before catching this flight I watched her again sing Butterfly from the Pierce box at the War Memorial. Moved at the deepest place inside me, the tragedy in her voice told me all too well what Gina was feeling, and it will stay in my head until it is drowned out by the roar of the Formula 1 engines.
Whether I sleep or not on this flight is irrelevant. I only want to hear Gina and sense her closeness.
Though the distraught and heart-broken soprano doesn't want to sing again, she completes her commitment the following evening, and Paul watches secretly from a box before leaving for London.
Friday, July 15
To my surprise, I was met at Heathrow by none other than Kay Mills who gave me a warm hug. We made it to Brands Hatch just in time to catch qualifying, Kay obviously having been honing her skills at the wheel of a Mastin classic.
I was just able to shake Pete's gloved hand before he hit the track, and was the loudest to cheer his eighth place on the grid. Clive and Rhona were jumping up and down like kids, and I had tears in my eyes when giving Pete a congratulatory hug.
Was just dressing for dinner at the Darrell's country pad when a package was delivered to my room. At first, thought I'd look at it later, that it was probably only a promotional thing.
But something made me open the attached card, indicating that Paul Bryan was cordially invited to the launch in London tomorrow night of HOW TO SELL YOUR SOUL FOR FUN AND PROFIT.
Zabor had written his book, and not only gotten it published in the West, but had come with it! When I turned the card over, scribbled on the back was the note saying, “do I owe you royalties for the title?”
Paul arrives in London to attend the British Grand Prix, and discovers that Istvan Zabor, whom he never expected to see again, has escaped from behind the Iron Curtain, and published his expose about life behind it.
en route to San Francisco
Saturday, July 16
After seeing Rhona's house, now I know why the car factory is only a tiny part of her empire. What a place! She pulled me aside, and took me to show off the nursery in preparation, repeating what she'd said before about my part in bringing her back with Clive.
Totally distracted from all that was in my mind on the flight, I was surprised how suddenly nervous I got just before the start of the race. Completely captured by the spectacle, as I hadn't been before.
June, standing next to me seemed equally tense, but everything went well for us, and Pete held on to eighth place - our best finish yet. After the race I was caught off guard when my eyes were covered by someone standing behind me.
I turned to see the dazzling Gillan Wales. “You're a man of many trades,” she said, and our adventure in Yugoslavia this time last year flashed before my eyes. “Been in any caves lately?” I countered, causing both of us to spill over with laughter.
Brought her over to meet Pete, and there was certainly a spark between them, but when she saw June, Gillan moved on to talk to Rhona - one of her cousins.
Pete and June came with me to the book launch, and the reunion with Istvan was tearful, the feelings from San Francisco pouring over into this utterly separate world.
I welcomed Istvan to the decadent West, and remarked how he'd already been corrupted by the Saville Row suit, and then more hugs and laughter all round.
It had all been so joyous. I was looking forward to flying out to Malaga - finally - but when I got back to Clarridges, there was a message to ring Kate, her first words, “I have bad news.”
And so I am flying back again to California for the funeral of my last remaining relative there, a million memories of Aunt Alma, my parents and grandparents filling my head. All gone now, and the last survivor of the family so perilously close to them.
17 - 24 July 1966 ("The List of Alice McKenna")
Pete Gaffney -Mastin have their best finish yet, and Paul has an emotional reunion with Zabor, only to learn afterwards that his great aunt has died in California.