All the attendants returned, and the gifting began, El Bisonte handbags, Shatoosh scarves, silk and nuno felted shawls, Urban Southern clutch purse, heather brae mohair sweaters, preserved rose boxes, Glass House candles, Chopard, technology too – EECube, magnesium flameless nanospressos, other weird stuff.
Someone had brought a large soup tureen into the suite and placed that down on the large side table, and the attendants were soon dispensing cups of cabbage soup, it seemed.
Xan, svelte, head uncovered, yes fairly large slanted almond-shaped eyes, thin though still laterally quite long mouth; not short and merely slit-like. Nothing at all like the ‘Michael Jackson-looking’ beings the school children at Ruwa, Zimbabwe described – although of course, their words could have been taken too far by reporters.
Immensely strong athletic muscles showing through the tight clothes, but yes too, a very lean body. Not a tall person, either. Xan stood right up close next to Charlotte and took a baguette from the heap of them, and broke a small piece off, and, dipping it into Charlotte’s burgundy wine glass, raised the morsel and offered it to the American woman standing on the other side of Charlotte. And then proceeded to place it into her mouth.
One of the two invited women turned to her companion and whispered: ‘Do you see the ears on that young man?’
The liveried attendants brought in another tray – a gleaming sliver platter with rostis and also kiplfer potatoes all around a main ‘caramelised figs in beetroot aspic with madeira et l’estragon with candied lime and minted yoghurt.’
‘Oh my god did you see his eyes when he looked at us!’
But Charlotte had intervened very quickly, raising her one hand up in front of Xan’s face and trying to direct that back to her and maybe, to the table spread.
The two young girls were like a table spread though, to Xan.
Plenty of self-control there in that department, however. Nothing bad happened.
Xan took a small plate of beetroot and fig aspic and a splade and ate, face turned away.
“God this is so nice,” Vera-Lucien said to Charlotte.
“We could have had ortolan bunting but you know, don’t know how delicate these Aussie country girls would have been about it. They all imagine they’re um vegan... There’s roast beef in the back if you want.”
“Oh, no-o-o-o. This is just fantastic.”
There was also Tucker’s spiced cherry jelly for the dry crackers.
Charlotte was trying to keep one eye on Xan, while she had difficulty lifting her own eyes from Vera-Lucien. Vera was not young, this was true. But, well, she had a certain Américaine about her: plenty of brandy and white wine about her, mm yes, but also just a little saltiness, and some hot cayenne and also chopped onions to make your eyes water a little, not too much butteriness though, in her case, because she was pretty lean and fit... ...and some ‘fish stock.’
Though of course, it must be said, ‘sauce Américaine’ is not actually originally from America, but from Armorica, which is in France; but then, so too, was Vera-Lucien, originally from France, by ethnicity as it were.
“Charlotte. I’m just asking, you understand, you don’t have to answer if you cannot, but – what is the deal you have with these ‘people.’” Vera-Lucien gestured, pointing upwards. “Are they giving you technology?”
“Non non. Mais non. They have agreed to protect all of our vineyards in perpetuity. They could have protected all of your wheat fields as well but you did not want it.”
Charlotte nodded, innocently.
“And for this you are letting them take girls who are not even citizens of France?”
“No. They are not taking them. We are just introducing them.”
“Charlotte dear. They take them. Away. Fully.”
“Mais non, mais non, but I assure you. They just take a little... ...a little biopsy is all.”
“And they give you technology too.” Vera pressed.
Charlotte turned directly towards Vera-Lucien, and pouted with her long philtrum upper lip and fleshy lower lip. Then she took hold of both hands of the other woman into her own hands and held them firmly to herself. And pulled Vera in ever so slightly using her own powerful, freckled-skinned, hot-blooded, icy crystal-eyed, French, grasp of those hands. “Why don’t you, think about, leaving where you are, and coming here with me now?”
Vera-Lucien smiled quizzically except not that quizzically really.
“Because, after all, your wheat fields...”
“Yes...? Our wheat fields -”