Love and Other Murders

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Chapter 53

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be out of hospital and with you, Nathalie! Will you stay overnight?” Alex’s voice sounds like steps testing the ice.

The party is over. The last guests are gone. The living room reminds a battle-field after the battle strewn over with empty bottles and knocked over glasses; plates are smeared with half-eaten food, the table cloth is spilled with wine.

“Of course I will, Alex!” She assures him wondering if this implies pushing his chair out from the living room, helping him to undress, joining him in bed and then what?

On the click of the remote control the wheel chair loosens itself from under the table, and advances smoothly into the corridor. She follows relieved of the embarrassing duty of a nurse showing about her patient, a task humiliating for both of them. She is pleasantly surprised that Alex seems to be self-sufficient, able to master his handicap and lead an independent life.

“May I ask to be excused?” He stops in front of the bedroom.

“The guest bathroom is yours; the one en suite has been modified to accommodate my needs.”

She walks to the end of the corridor considering how to deal with the tricky situation. She hasn’t taken her overnight bag with toiletries, nightgown and a change of lingerie; she can hardly envisage jumping into Alex’s bed draped in a few drops of Chanel 5. Well, this isn’t the first difficulty she has ever encountered, is it?

She enters the bathroom where everything has been cared for. Her usual range of cosmetics is lined up on the shelves; a spectacular turquoise silk night gown and a matching dressing gown are draped over the dresser together with the Nile-green lingerie and the sublime gown she saw at the Courrège boutique on the street Francois 1er on their last walk before Alex’s injury. Why should she worry about her night with a handicapped lover who -she is sure now - will have it under the same level of control?

The magic potion they drink from the same flute before she joins him in bed tastes like a drop of morning dew. Feather-light she flies up to him mounting higher and higher until they join at the summit. Drunk on the roses of Sharon’s intoxicating whiffs emanating from the Garden of Eden they revel one in the other in the heavenly pleasures of winged angels.

Tender is their night. Let the dawn, lingering behind their last embrace, be mercifully long to come.

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