The group had by now left Oona’s ground level suite. Everyone found something else to do. Charley played hoops outside. Louis scanned homework in his room, and Thankful browsed through a Gustav Klimt art book that Oona left on the living room coffee table.
It was nearly six o’clock when Oona summoned the children into their lovely, formal dining room. Stinkly was also in attendance. In the company of the great Dutch and Flemish masters, whose superb reproductions were displayed ubiquitously over the subtle floral designs of fine wall paper, they gathered around a long rectangular table with seating for twelve. Overhead, ornate lighting hung from a ceramic medallion, and a large mirror on the east wall left the illusion of a chamber on an even grander scale. In one corner of the room, there stood a dark wood china cabinet. It matched the table and was set nearby a neatly maintained alcove which displayed a full range of tableware, framed photos here and there, and all manner of thoughtfully placed whatnots.
Oona solemnly approached the recess and thereon placed a small censer. It was only a few centimeters tall and was made of intricately carved silver and gold. With their work done for the day, there followed a short prayer-like recital. Oona lighted a cone of incense and placed it gently inside the highly designed vessel. For Oona, incense burning had great spiritual and religious connotations, and at these times, it brought her great strength and peace.
KC was only a few minutes from home. She regretted how dreams and necessities had taken her dearest friends, Vicki and Anaïs, far away, and well out of the area. Vicki chased her dreams in London while Anaïs made a new life for herself out in Utah. Both were immersed in their own lives and both would come for her husband’s memorial service, whenever that would be. KC prayed they’d release his “remains” by the end of the week, so she could have the funeral Mass on the twenty-fourth. Still KC didn’t know for sure. And with people like Vicki and Anaïs coming from long, long distances, the formal grieving and burial processes had turned out to be a real stress mess!
KC recalled with a smile that neither Anaïs nor Vicki, her closest friends, ever actually met Oona. Anaïs knew about her before she left for Utah. And Vicki also knew about Oona. “They’ll hit if off famously once they finally meet,” KC thought. “They’ll all get along fine. Anaïs with her tarot cards and Oona with her…whatever”. As she pulled into their driveway, KC added, “And I think Vicki will also like Oona.”
By the time KC entered the house through the kitchen, as she almost always did, the kids were nowhere to be seen. It was strange when Oona emerged from the dining room with Stinkly in tow. There followed a series of brief hugs between KC and Oona; small words about dinner and such. Together the two women moved into the study and the children, in response to Oona’s call, filed into the kitchen to prepare dinner.
“My interview at State Street is Thursday at ten,” KC announced with a broad smile. “I cannot believe how excited I am Oona, and I want to thank you deeply for helping me with everything.”
“It is truly my pleasure ma chère.”
“Let’s have a little wine, shall we?”
“Of course,” said Oona with a quick wink of an eye.
“I can’t tell you what it means for me to be going back to work in Boston. Oona: I need this; I really do.”
“I wholeheartedly agree ma chère.” Oona looked lovingly at KC who was now seated in an old-looking leather wing chair by the fireplace. “Let me fetch some Sonoma red. It is not French but it will have to do.”
“Please do.” In the moments it took Oona to return with the wine and two glasses, so much had danced through KC’s mind. There were the matters of life and death, of friends and acquaintances, and of the family, business, and now, her career. It was remarkable how she managed to sleep at all, or focus at work for that matter, or even drive a car. There was so much. And KC was so happy to have Oona’s support in this, the most difficult period of her life so far.
As Oona reentered the study, KC started to think out loud about what she hoped would be a fitting and proper end to her 20 year marriage and the official start of the next chapter of her life’s story. “You know both Vicki and Anaïs promise to be here.”
“I look forward to meeting them both. And what about Trixi?” asked Oona. “Did you mention she would be coming as well? Perhaps Trix can babysit for the kids, just like old times. No?” Oona asked with playful innocence from her fathomless black eyes. She recalled Trixi was the kids’ old babysitter during that summer in Virginia. Trix was all grown up by now, no doubt, and adult company would bring a welcome change after four days of nannying. Yes, it was only Monday and Oona was already ready for some respite.
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” KC looked closely at her friend. “Why?” she asked. “Does my nanny need a break from the kids so soon?” KC winked at her friend, swooshed her glass and took a long sip of her wine. It was deliciously sweet.
“Of course not, ma chère,” Oona winked back. “But then again, we should make time on the calendar for a social event of some kind. To give us both a break from the kids.”
“Sure Oona. And with Trix coming up it can be just like old times.”
“For us?” Oona looked a bit puzzled.
“I meant the baby sitting. KC paused then smiled warmly at her friend. “You know, it’s like a dream now: that summer in Virginia, and with everything that happened there. Trix helped so much with the kids those days and we grew so close. She was like a daughter to me, and in spite of her age, she was undeniably a friend and a confidante. Now she’s starting college in town, right here in Boston, and I’m sure we’ll resurrect our friendship. You know we never fell completely out of touch.”
“Trix is moving here to Boston?” asked Oona with obvious interest.
“Yes, Trix is taking on Boston next year, in college at Suffolk, my old alma mater.” Hell, I’ll be working on State Street and she’ll be right around the corner. Their spring semester starts only a week or two after the Holidays.”
“So she will be a freshman?” Oona thought back to that little Dutch girl she knew only so vaguely from that summer in Virginia.
“No, no. She’ll actually be a sophomore, with all her freshman credits transferred up from Virginia.” KC took another long sip of her wine.
Oona nodded politely. She remembered only a beautiful girl, slim and tall, with blonde hair and full of life.
“Yes, so Trixi will be arriving for a brief visit sometime this weekend,” continued KC. Hopefully she can make the Mass, if there is one. “She was in Holland with her family when the news came. She couldn’t get back last week to pay her respects to my husband, as she would have liked to; you know, to her former ‘employer.’ KC smiled cynically and took the last long sip of Merlot. “She’ll stay the weekend and she’s welcome to stay till…whenever. Her parents are having crises of their own over there, and they won’t be visiting the USA anytime soon.”
Oona nodded once again. Seated near to KC, Oona refilled her own glass and then gestured to KC who politely declined her offer of more wine.
“Some things will never be the same, Oona. He was such a pain in the ass but I loved him so much.” KC slid her shoes off and sank deeper into her comfortably worn wing chair. Relaxed; finally relaxed. “So what are these social events you have planned for us?” she calmly asked. KC was certain that if she didn’t keep talking, she’d fall off to sleep for the night.
“Oh, nothing really,” said Oona blandly. “Just…something. Dinner perhaps, without the kids, or a movie…or both.” N’est-ce pas?”
“Sounds like you are asking your boss out on a date.” KC smiled again, that wry cynical smile.
“If you prefer to think of it in those terms, I am fine with it.” Oona smiled back and drank her wine. For someone to whom she was so deeply attracted, sitting there so close to KC had become perfectly unbearable. Similar to more than a few of her past lovers: women and most of them married. Oona’s taste in women was far, far different than what she craved in a man. And at this moment, what she wanted in a woman was what she saw in KC. She thought of those women of authority she preferred in boarding school and in college. And after nearly a week, Oona had grown despairingly horny.
“We’ve got to reach him, Oona,” KC suddenly said with a burst of high volume. “We’ve got to.”
Oona was shocked from her own wild musings, then quickly recovered and proclaimed, “I will do anything for you, KC.” Then she smiled and reached over to take her hand in her own. “My mediumship is unsurpassed. You might say that channeling spirits is my thing. And anything for you, ma chère. I promise.” She could see KC had drifted off. “You know that I would do anything for you,” Oona said again, more softly. She had by now knelt down beside her leather chair, and taken KC’s nylon-smooth feet in her hands to knead; freed from the shoes in which they were trapped all day. Faintly damp and fragrant. Oona’s passion raged inside her.
Thoughts leapt back to Madame Rotmeyer, years ago in boarding school. Always in a business-proper suit: skirt, jacket, sometimes a tie, and always shoes to match. “More than a little like KC,” Oona thought, “though a much softer version of Madame. With her short blonde hair, always slicked back perfectly into a short cropped pony tail, there was more than a slight resemblance to KC. But there was never a smile through the thin lips of Rotmeyer’s square jaw. And rarely did Rotmeyer make eye contact with any of her students of the French and Latin languages. Still Madame’s small eyes were pleasant and gave her a distinctive look which was not unattractive. Oona ached for that first time with Rotmeyer, that first encounter with the married school teacher three times her own young age.
Small pleasures for you, Small pleasures for me, does not make adultery.
Oona settled her back against KC’s wing chair. She thought of when she waited for Mme. Rotmeyer. They were both drawn to each other. That much was obvious. Then one afternoon she seduced her. Once their class had ended, a few minutes later she returned to her to unleash her powers of persuasion, with her simmering passions all this time ready to explode.
Pathetically, from behind the feigned safety of her desk, Rotmeyer had firmly said, “I do not date my students.” Then she managed to sit close enough to brush her hand along Madame’s cheek and then undo her short ponytailed hair. Her thin eyebrows raised. Shivers greeted Oona as she first loosened her blouse and then Rotmeyer’s skirt; she removed her highly polished pumps and finally unpeeled her hose. Intrigued by Madame and the smooth heavenly nylon which captured her lower half. Then quite abruptly Madame crossed her legs. Oona gently slid her bra away from her full breasts. The lines at the corners of Madame’s fine mouth widened, and she cooed softly.
Something I can do for you and something you can do for me.
There was the warmth of her breasts against her own; the scent of the woman intoxicated her. There was passion all over and passion that seemed it would never end. And in a few short moments she had Rotmeyer howling like the bitch that she was. Then on the very next day when she saw her in class, Rotmeyer was back to her same severe self.
She seduced her again, and again: away from the classroom; when her husband was away. Or when she told her he was. In her own master bedroom, only a few minutes passed when she had Madame begging for more.
“Oona?” KC yawned.
“Yes, my dear,” Oona crisply responded, though after a brief delay.
“It seemed as though you’re in a trance,” KC said tiredly.
“I was ma chère. Yes I was and…Yes, I will do anything for you. And we will reach your husband.”
KC contentedly sank back into her beloved wing back chair and returned to her slumber. Dinner would be ready soon. Oona closed her eyes and recalled those early boarding school experiences and the experiences that shaped her psyche. She knew from the earliest times that by using her powers of persuasion she could get others to do what she wanted, and usually quite easily. A few, notably KC, were among a very short list of those who successfully resisted her charms, whether natural or supernatural. Oona feared that KC was immune to her pheromones. Here was one person who never yielded to her, who never offered herself onto the altar of lust, and one who was still inexplicably – seemingly – cloaked in a certain naivety while thoroughly fueled with strength of purpose and determination. Oona vowed to herself years ago, never to push KC too hard and to never play dirty. To KC she would never do those things, because with KC Oona wanted it to be totally, totally real.