[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 073
Chapter 15 (10 of 11): Lovers
Tuesday afternoon was chilly winter sporting a heavy sky and sidewalks crusted with piles of dirty snow. The only brightness here came from dabs of students hurrying between classes and colorfully bundled in heavy overcoats, head-encasing caps, and thick mittens. Their mouths pumped out clouds of white steam like blank cartoon blurbs. Mazarine, on edge, was waiting for Yukiko in the coffee house, one of her legs doing a jittery dance up and down under the table. She was looking for two women, Yukiko and her friend, but it was hard to make out people behind all their bulky clothing.
She was surprised therefore when Yukiko suddenly sat down on the opposite side of her table, without friend.
“Hi, Mazarine,” Yukiko said, wiping the wintry flow from her nose and rubbing her cold-reddened nose.
“Hi,” Mazarine said, and smiled warily. God, this woman she was now facing still made her feel as though she’d been plugged into a 110 volt outlet and zapped. Her power to affect was alarming.
“It was really very sweet of you to agree to meet. I was afraid you wouldn’t. After last time, I mean.”
Mazarine made a dismissive wave with her hand and ducked her head. She craned her neck around for a better view and inspected the sizeable crowd of students and faculty huddled over steaming cups of java. “What about the person you wanted me to meet?”
“Yes,” Yukiko said. “She couldn’t make it this afternoon, but I think you might like her. She’s a grad student here at the university. Very bright and very attractive. It’s that Vietnamese woman I mentioned to you earlier. Her name is Trinh.”
“You mean the one your ex-husband is seeing?” she asked with some puzzlement.
“How did you meet her?”
“Fab and I still see each other. To chat, I mean. He’s not a bad guy, really. I know … ” she continued, looking down in embarrassment, “ … I know you guys had a kind of … of falling out a few years ago, but he’s really O.K. A little impetuous sometimes, but basically O.K. Anyway, we’ve kept in touch, and just the way he told me about you – remember our first meeting back in August? – he’s told me about Trinh.”
“You mean he asks you advice about her?”
“Something like that, yes,” she chuckled. “Can you believe it?”
Mazarine sat back and rocked her head back and forth in disbelief. “It’s hard to, that’s for sure. But I guess it happens.”
“Anyway, the three of us finally got together, on Thanksgiving. We had dinner together at that cafeteria place down by the stock exchange.”
“I see.” Mazarine was intrigued, but still wary. “And she doesn’t mind you and Fabian were married?”
“No, why should she? That’s all in the past. Our marriage was over before they met. She knows that. The divorce decree has been formalized.”
“How long have she and Fabian known each other?”
“Since early two-thousand. I’d say it’s been serious for maybe two years now. You should see Fabian! He started a rigorous diet-and-exercise program back in August, and he’s starting to look like his old self again. He was a pretty good-looking guy before he let himself go, if you recall. This Trinh is really good for him!”
“And how are you with that?”
“Fabian and I are history. I’ve told you. Romantically speaking. I’m on to somebody else now,” she said, staring with an intense and passionate look into Mazarine’s eyes. She covered Mazarine’s hand with both of hers. “Somebody else,” she repeated slowly, “somebody I’m crazy about.”
Mazarine felt her knees go loose and a melting start in her lower belly. Still, experience suggested she should be cautious around Yukiko. With her, things weren’t always what they seemed, no matter how ostensibly transparent. She didn’t want to go there and she did not, but decided to concentrate on the Vietnamese woman. “And you think I’d like this Trinh?”
“Yes. She’s really quite delightful.”
“What’s she studying?”
“Mathematics. She’s finishing a Ph.D.”
“I guess that’s pretty bright, huh?”
“Especially at the age of only twenty-four.”
“Yes, I see what you mean.”
Yukiko was holding her hands around a large cup of coffee and blowing on the liquid. “I’ve told her about you, and she is eager to meet you.”
“Why would that be?”
“I told her how lovely and charming you are,” she said, smiling.
“All right, honey, you can stop stroking me.”
Yukiko laughed. And then, “Seriously, Mazarine, I’ve told her about your interest in Greek and Latin, and I’ve told her – I hope you don’t mind – what you do for a living. She’s quite fascinated.”
“With my Greek and Latin or my job?”
“Oh, come on, now. The whole package. I won’t deny she’s intrigued by the idea you see all these guys.”
“So, you want us all to get together? What, go out for dinner or something like that?”
“That would be great. I think we’d all have a good time.”
“O.K., set it up.”
Yukiko stirred her coffee and took a small sip, testing the temperature.
“I thought I’d ask her to call you and arrange something for all of us. I have the feeling her schedule is tighter than ours, and it would be easier if she coordinated things.”
“All right, I’ve got no problem with that,” Mazarine agreed.
“Here,” Yukiko said, tearing a corner out a small notebook she extracted from her shoulder bag along with a felt-tip pen, “just write down your first name and your phone number. You know,” she laughed, “I’ve got you on speed dial so I’ve forgotten your actual number.”
Mazarine printed her name in block letters and then added her phone number. “Give her this,” she said, handing the piece of paper back to Yukiko.
Yukiko put it in her purse.
“So,” she said, “how are you and I?”
“I’m not sure, Yukiko. How are we?”
“I’d like to think we are just fine.” She stirred the remains of her coffee, and, head facing the cup, raised her eyes impishly to Mazarine. “I’ve got room 1965 reserved till tomorrow morning.”
Mazarine knew what she should do. But she also had feelings. And when the head and heart fight, the contest is not always fair. Without a word she left a nice tip on the table, got up, and took Yukiko by the hand. Silent, in the cold, they went down to the corner and flagged a cab to take them over to the Momiji.
The intimate familiarity of the room overwhelmed Mazarine, and soon they were entwined in each other on the bed. They went through all the standard motions, touched in the right places, said the expected things – but the fire was gone. Both Yukiko and Mazarine knew this was the last time the two of them would make love together, that their relationship was on a downward slide. It was as though there was some sense of shame between them, incapable of human articulation, and they dressed in quiet haste without looking at each other. Mazarine felt a great void, but also a great relief. Today’s Yukiko was not the Yukiko she met back in August and spent a blissful September and October with. It was beyond her to ascertain whither went that Yukiko, and it made her sad. She did not want Yukiko see her cry, and as soon as she was dressed she left the room abruptly.
TO BE CONTINUED