Bill Willis said to me: “You must meet a wonderful friend of mine, Victoria Brooke. She’s an amazing lady: she was married to Lionel Brooke, heir to the last white Rajah of Sarawak. I’ve just left her in Paul Getty’s house over in Cheyne Walk. May I use your phone and get her to come over?”
I agreed; perhaps a little reluctantly, as I was enjoying being alone with Bill, since by this time Christopher Gibbs had disappeared in his usual mysterious way. After a while, the door-bell rang again. “It’s all right, Rita!” I called as I went a little wearily to answer it. I opened the door, and then…
Victoria hit me like a thunderbolt.
It wasn’t so much her beauty that struck me, though she was undoubtedly very beautiful, with a good figure and very large appealing eyes. She had something else, something extraordinary and unforgettable: an aura which suggested that she was game for anything, that she was prepared to take anything that life threw at her. In her hands she was holding a wonderful tiger-lily.
“Are you Nicky?”
“This is for you.” She handed me the tiger-lily, and I took it as though it were a votive offering. “Are you going to let me in, then?”