I wake up in Leo’s arms. I don’t recall how we made it to bed. Nevertheless, I am pretty sure we had an enjoyable time and a happy landing. The room is dark. Poor Milan! He waited for me in dread and in vain.
“No need to fret, Irene,” Leo catches my startled look at my wristwatch.
“I gave Milan a ring and told him your grandmother snatched you to do some shopping. You looked so cute in your sleep that I didn’t have the heart to wake you up and pass you around! Milan sends you his love. No need to feel guilty, my dear! You’ll pay it off to him next time. Then I left a message with Mary that we are dining together and will go to a concert afterwards. To prop up my fiction, we’ll consult the programs later. Now tell me, would the lady fancy a regular celebratory dinner at “La Mediterrannée” or a luscious meal in bed? The fridge is full of goodies. I promised myself to keep to father’s habits.”
I give Leo a closer look. Quite a dandy in Egon’s crimson dressing gown! And dew-fresh, with it! Not to look messed-up after love is a gentleman’s second nature.
“The tray is good enough for me,” I send Leo to care about the necessary and jump out of bed to rise up to my full potential.
Draped in one of another of Egon’s lavish dressing gowns, my hair in an artful dishevelment, I settle on the cushions. Leo acknowledges my pose with a naughty wink, puts the tray down and joins me. Sharing titbits and caresses, we marvel at each other’s magic touch, surprised by the things we know and the new ones we are learning.
“As for the marriage, Leo,” I cuddle in his arms brimming with comfort and ease, “I’m willing. I don’t think my father will be, though.”
“You’re deadly wrong, my dear. Your Daddy can’t wait for the moment when he may get rid of you in all decency and give all his attention to your mother. But then, who would blame him. The poor man’s heart is a monolith. He isn’t endowed with your baffling capability to hand it out in dainty heart-shaped made-to-order pieces, a manner I am the only one in a million able to put up with.
“Believe me, Irene, you won’t regret our marriage. I’m offering you a home, a loving home, neither you nor I have ever had. It’s within our reach to make a success out of it. Haven’t we proved just now that we can feel comfortable with one with the other?”
“I agree, Leo. But it was only sex.”
“Never put “only” in front of sex, my dear. Sex is an absolute. So is love. You can’t weigh one absolute against the other. The heart has its reasons. So does the flesh. Why should one of them be wrong? Give Milan what belongs to Milan. Give me what belongs to me. So far so good. I’m not so sure about Beda. I don’t fathom what he’s expecting from you and I have a strong suspicion that boy is asking for more than you are capable to give. He’s one of the noxious breed who drink at a mirage when the well gets dry. Beda will never settle for a compromise. “All or nothing at all” is his creed.”
I shudder. Leo’s warnings sound deadly true.
When driving me home, Leo tells me we won’t see each other for a couple of days. Exams? Bessie? Anybody else? I don’t ask. I am not Leo’s keeper. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.