Mary set the melted clock sculpture on Raphael’s bookshelf, admiring the view of Tampa Bay from his waterfront apartment in St. Petersburg. It wasn’t as beautiful as her view of the Gulf of Mexico on Sand Key, but she didn’t have the Saturday morning market, the museums and shops at her doorstep like he did.
This morning they’d taken in the Picasso-Dali exhibit at the glass-encased Dali museum, stopped at the Saturday market for fresh vegetables and returned to his apartment.
“Thanks for the clock,” he said, coming up behind her. “Is there a special meaning to the Dali sculpture?”
“Some think the melting clock is a symbol of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The melting clock reminds us that order and stability may give way to bursts of creativity.”
“Beautiful and brilliant,” he answered, putting his hands on her shoulders and giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. “I think you’re right. I also think it means the passage of time is fluid,” he added.
Mary knew the fluid remark was a gentle nudge to let go of Chris. That’s the problem with catching a tiger by the tail, she thought. He can turn around and bite.
Together they fixed a lunch of fresh vegetables and cheeses they’d bought that morning from the market, Mary feeling cozy in his modern granite-topped kitchen. She enjoyed the lazy, after lunch lovemaking even more. While she was still in bed, Raphael threw on some cream-colored shorts, a matching tee shirt and sandals. She rolled her eyes. Even going to get to mail, he had to look perfect.
Tonight they were going to a charity event at the yacht club for Academy Prep, a private school begun by a wealthy hotel owner for at-risk African American boys. She put on her Grecian cut black gown and the diamond pendent Raphael had given her. Raphael looked resplendent in black tie. She hoped she looked as elegant with her hair down.
“Keep looking at me that way, Mary. I don’t know what you do to me. I think about you constantly. When you’re with me, I can’t stop touching you. You have me absolutely under your control.”
Mary never thought of herself as being Raphael’s vulnerability. Rather, she felt overwhelmed by his strong, forceful personality. But the sex after lunch had been wonderful.
At the gala, Raphael introduced her to the major donors as his girlfriend. She talked to many of the older society set, including the trophy wives. Raphael worked the crowd.
Mary found herself next to the mayor of St. Petersburg He was interested in her work in juvenile court.
“I know the gun situation with kids in this town is out of control,” he said. “There are moments when I think every teen is armed or has easy access to guns. Easier than drugs. That’s why Academy Prep is important. It gives the kids another path to a better life than crime.”
“I agree,” Mary said. “And I know that girls attend Academy Prep now,” she continued. “It graduates one hundred percent of its students, who come from neighborhoods with half that high school graduation rate in public schools. It’s really a gem, and proves that a lot of extra attention works.”
Raphael moved into the conversation. “She has firsthand experience with that, Sir. You won’t find a psychologist who knows more about what our kids need.”
The mayor nodded as Raphael steered Mary onto the dance floor. The band began to play the beginning strands of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.”
“Oh, my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch,” Mary sang softly as Raphael held her tight.