Connie met them at the door. She looked pointedly at Didi. “How did you like the gardens?”
“They’re beautiful, they surround you with the beauty of reality, down to the scent of it all. But I think they are a very dangerous place. Whoever you’re with you fall in love with, the beauty of the place demands it.”
“You have, at least, tonight to find out if you are right. If you are my two years in Davis were spent rather well. Do you surf?”
Connie looked at her son, turned around and headed up the stairs.
“Your mother is an exceptionally beautiful woman,” said Didi, “your sister is too. Being female in this house could contribute to a rather pronounced inferiority complex.”
“Then it is rather lucky that you are an exceptionally beautiful woman as well, so it won’t be a problem.”
She blushed so deeply that she suspected her entire body was involved in it, and the most surprising thing was that she had tried not to.
“I suspect that tomorrow, surf reports willing, you will get your first surfing lesson. Mother is a firm believer in all adults learning to surf, she learned when she was twelve, next summer she is planning her golden anniversary with a party on the beach up the coast a bit.”
“She doesn’t look anywhere near that old. In fact, I was thinking stepmother, she looks like she’s in her early forties.”
“She was sixty-one last week.”
“You’re the youngest?”
“We were spread out pretty well. Mikey is thirty-nine; Vicky is twenty-nine, Maddy is twenty-one and I’m twenty-four. I barely remember when Mikey didn’t live in New York.”
“What’s with New York? They control everything?”
“Originally, my triple great grandfather was a partner in the Comstock Lode. It was his second son who went into California viniculture, marrying the daughter of the owner of this vineyard in fact. While it would take a while to explain, the New York Stockbrokers were left without an heir when Mikey, and he is actually Michel the fourth, graduated with a BBA. So, he was sent to Fordham, in case you haven’t noticed we’re Catholic, to get an MBA and take over. Dad took control of everything until Mikey could, and technically still heads the corporation. When I came home, he went to work on me to handle the agricultural interests. Last week he decided I could be left on my own long enough to handle New York, so two things happened. He left for New York and I called Alexandra.”
“To get you here.”
“To convince you to spend the rest of your life here, with me.”
“That sounded suspiciously like a proposal.”
“If it was? Do you have an answer?”
“You used a trick to give me orgasms, but then no other man ever satisfied me. If there are rocks in any marriage, they’re in the bed. You’ll come tonight? Without tricks?”
“You’ll be waiting?”
“I’d say with bells on, but actually with nothing at all on, I mean who needs bells anyway?”
He dropped his pajama bottoms, robe and kicked out of his slippers slipping in next to her with her back. He’d had the Dr. Rick course. He got three fingers behind her pelvic bone and his thumb on her clit. He laid his chin on her bicep. He knew her orgasm when it relaxed.
She stiffened as he started to get on top so he rolled leaving her on top of him with him firmly inside her.
She fell forward rubbing her hardened nipples against his chest. She kissed him and put her tongue in his mouth inviting his in hers. She actually had a second orgasm before he came.
It took a few moments to catch their breaths. Then she turned to look in his eyes.
“About your proposal?”
“Yes. Yes. Yes, and yes. Tell your mother I’m marrying you, not her garden, but without her garden I’d have never gotten the chance. If I’m a trophy, so be it. I don’t think I am because I love the man I’m going to marry, but hell, I’m your trophy forever.”
“It’s rare we have three,” said Victoria. “And the man usually chooses. But Thierry asked me to do this, explain it. In the family, there are six rings. There has never been a time in close to six centuries when there were more than six men to love more than six women to continue the family. Only the men can give them, I can’t wear one. He wants you to choose. It breaks tradition, but we agree that things are changing and women are having a greater say. Two are rubies they are obvious. The pale green stone surrounded by diamonds is a demantoid a very rare Russian stone, actually a garnet and it has the highest refraction of any natural substance, but softer and needs to be guarded.”
“If I choose does the stone mean Terry, or is it supposed to be me? But then it doesn’t matter does it? The demantoid is the obvious choice, because we both are soft and need protection, is that the answer?”
“Your answer, though knowing Thierry, it would have been his choice.
“Now, we have to get down to business.
“We are switching positions, I owe my year, already called Arlette and Alexandra. You are going to be the secretary here, so we need to get to work.”
“But I have to get back, day after tomorrow I have to get the gowns fitted.”
“Right, Sheila, you’re her maid of honor. Thierry has to go, he’s one of the groomsmen.”
“You coming? “
“We can go to the fitting together, I taught Sheila to surf. Didn’t do a lot to get her a GED, but it did make me a bridesmaid. We’ll commandeer Katar’s plane and commute until the wedding, then we can swap places.”
“You think they’ll let us?”
“My dear commandeering corporate jets is an essential skill set for the job you are taking over. This is just on the job training. Also lending ours, but that mostly gets used in the East, Mikey has two.”