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Chapter 115: Philip's Game

"Hello, Philip," Maggie Horton said, as he entered the ballroom.  "It's very nice to see you here."

Philip nodded and looked around the room.  He hated charity events like this, but his father had left the country earlier in the day, and that left Philip to be the Kiriakis representative at the annual University Hospital benefit.  "Thank you, Maggie.  I'm always pleased to represent the Kiriakis family."

"Well your father has been a major benefactor of the hospital and its projects for the better part of three decades.  It's a shame that he could not attend tonight."

"Yes, it is a shame," Philip said, silently adding, A shame he's not here so I didn't have to be.  At least, the party had an open bar.  He spotted the look in Maggie's eyes that suggested she was about to ask him how he was and how he was dealing with the break-up with Melanie, so he came up with a quick excuse to escape.  "Oh, excuse me, Maggie, I think I see Mayor Carver over there.  I actually need to talk to him."

He made his way across the room and ducked around a throng of people so Maggie could not see that he had no intention of talking to Abe Carver.  He reached the bar and ordered a dirty martini.  Once he had the drink, he turned and took another look around the room.

His stomach lurched as he spotted Melanie.  She was chatting with some other people, while leaning close to Nathan Horton.  His arm was wrapped around her shoulders.  Of course they would be there, with Nathan on staff at the hospital.

"That's just great," Philip muttered.  Now he had to spend the entire evening dodging his lying, cheating ex-wife and the man she cheated with.  He took a long drink from his martini glass as he watched Melanie laugh and then rest her head on Nathan's shoulder. 

Philip walked toward them, but then stopped.  Making a scene in the middle of this crowd would serve little purpose, and would almost certainly result in yet another lecture from his father.  Philip tossed back the rest of his drink and returned to the bar for a refill.

This time, as he turned around, he purposefully avoided looking in the direction of Melanie and Nathan.  Let them be together.  They deserved each other.  And what was Melanie really?  She was little more than a girl, he told himself.  And Nathan Horton would be the likely star if they ever remade Doogie Howser.  Yeah, they were perfect for each other.

Out the corner of his eye, Philip caught sight of a leggy blond in a skin-tight black dress.  Now that was a real woman, he thought.  That was what he should be looking for.  He let his gaze linger and obviously caught her attention.  She gave him the once-over and responded with a coy smile.  She must have liked what she saw.

Philip grinned and sauntered toward her.  As he got near, she raised her drink to her lips and took a sip, all the while keeping her eyes on him.  Philip knew this game well.

"Hi," he said, as he got close enough to be heard over the noise of the crowded ballroom.  "I'm--"

"I know who you are," the woman said.  "Who in Salem doesn't know Philip Kiriakis?"

"It's nice to be known," he replied.  "Especially by a woman as lovely as yourself." 

She introduced herself, but Philip barely registered her name.  That was hardly the point, was it?  He was not looking for a relationship.  They exchanged some small talk and he caught that she did some type of administrative work at the hospital.

"That's a shame," he said.  "It's almost a crime to have you working behind a desk."  That elicited the appropriate responsive giggle.  Obviously, the woman knew the game as well as he.

He checked his watch and saw that he had been at the party for all of 15 minutes.  That was enough.  He had made his appearance.  The Kiriakis presence had been noted.

Philip leaned close to the woman.  "So here's the thing," he said.  "I don't know about you, but I hate these stuffy black-tie events.  Who needs another bad plate of overcooked chicken?"  She giggled in response.  "So how about we get out of here?"

"Anything particular you have in mind?" she asked, with a sly smile.

"Oh, I'm sure I can think of a few things."  In his mind, he thought of exactly what he wanted to do to her.  Normally, he might consider taking her to the Salem Inn, but with his father away, they might as well enjoy the comforts of the Kiriakis Mansion.

He held out his arm, which she took willingly, and they headed for the exit.

Philip grinned again as they walked out.  Maybe this night might not be such a waste of time after all.