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Plaster of Paris; chapter eleven, part one

Wednesday.  Four days after Paris was almost killed.  It seems much longer, and yet, it seems like it just happened.  Time is the first thing to go in a period of crisis because it’s simply no longer important.  If someone you love is hovering between life and death, what does an hour or a day really mean?  With this mentality, I make it through the day at work.  I keep my nose to myself and don’t mind so much the snubs that are pointedly aimed at me; most of them sail right over my head.  I receive an email from Libby accusing me again of trying to sabotage her wedding, and I barely flinch as I delete it.  This feeling of detachment is marvelous, and I wish I could cultivate it permanently.  I idly consider meditation or becoming a Buddhist, but it seems like too much effort.  I decide that it’s much easier to be in denial than to reach nirvana, and it feels pretty much the same.  I remember that I half-promised my mom I would talk to Libby about her ‘if there is a wedding’ statement, but I don’t have the energy.  When this case is over and Paris is better, then I’ll talk to her.

After work, I take the bus to the Tenderloin where Jenna lives.  It’s not that she doesn’t have money—she’s one of those white-bread liberal girls who thinks she has to show her compassion by living in what’s possibly the worst neighborhood in San Francisco, an area even I wouldn’t live in.  She’s also the one who flipped when Paris broke up with her after a month, threatening to sue him for breach of promise and an assortment of other spurious claims.  She would show up at his gym and start screaming at him, then cry when he tried to calm her down.  He quickly learned that the best way to deal with her was to not engage her at all because she thrived off the interaction, no matter how small. Just as he was about to get a restraining order slapped on her, she stopped.  I hadn’t liked her while Paris was dating her, and I certainly didn’t like her when she stalked him.  I am careful to keep my purse next my body as I press the buzzer to her apartment.

“Yes?”  Her nasally voice grates on my ears.  She’s from one of those Midwest states and came to the Bay Area to study archeology or something equally boring.

“Jenna?  It’s Rayne.  Paris’s friend.  I need to talk to you.”  Belatedly, I realize that she might not want to talk to me.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter eleven, part one

“You look luscious, my darling.”  Vashti smiles at me, her dark hair flowing around her voluptuous body.  She is nude—uncovering that body I so missed.  Her skin is the color of mahogany or cherry wood, or perhaps, chocolate ice cream.  She has no shame at showing me her body, all of it.  Her breasts are heavy with longing, her nipples dark with anticipation.  She has one hand coyly covering her pubic area, but there is a smirk on her face at the same time.  I am nude as well, and I am wet in anticipation.  I reach for her, but she stays my hand.  We are in a forest with only the barest sliver of a moon to guide us.  She is dark on dark—a nymph whom I worship.  I bow down to press kisses upon her polished toes, which she consents to graciously.  As I straighten up, she takes my hand in hers and clamps it to her breast.

I slip my hand between her legs and find her wet.  My entire hand slides inside her with no problem.  She plucks my hand out of her and sucks my thumb before letting go.  Without a word, we start walking hand in hand as the night grows darker.  Suddenly, the moon disappears completely.  I clutch her hand nervously as the peaceful woods turn spooky in the blink of an eye.  It is no longer comforting to be surrounded by darkness.  Vashti and I press against each other as the darkness closes around us.  We are gripping each other’s hand so tightly, our hands fuse together.  There is no separating us now, even if we so desire.  We are no longer walking as we are rooted to the spot.  My mouth is full of thorns which are pricking a thousand miniscule holes in my tongue.  I try not to swallow them as I do not want a hole in my stomach as well.  There is a howl in the distance that causes Vashti and me to cling to each other.

“Help me,” I whisper, but Vashti doesn’t hear me, so deep in her own fright is she.  Without warning, a pterodactyl swoops out of the sky and rips Vashti out of my arms.  I feel a searing pain in my hand as our grasp is severed, leaving me with a jagged wound where my hand used to be.  Vashti is moving her lips, but I cannot hear what she’s saying.  “Don’t leave me,” I moan, reaching out for her with my bloodied hand.  She reaches out her stump as well, but the pterodactyl has her firmly in his mouth and is flying away.  “Don’t leave me!”  I scream, panic flooding my body.  What will I do if Vashti is taken from my sight?  I try to run to keep up with her, but my feet are molded to the ground.  They are turning into mud as I watch Vashti fly further and further away from me.  “No!  Don’t go!”  I wave frantically, but she soon disappears.

“Wake up, Rainbow,” she says sharply, shaking me.

“What, huh?”  I jerk awake, my heart thumping.

“You were dreaming again.”  My mother has stayed with me for the week and into the weekend.  My body has pretty much healed except for remaining bruises, but my mind has become fragile again.  Mom  is looking down at me with rounded eyes.  There is concern, but also fear in them.  She’s spent enough nights by my bedside the last time around to know I had a nightmare.  When she catches me looking at her, she smoothes the worry out of her face.  “Want to talk about it?”  Mutely, I shake my head.

“What time is it?”  I whisper, snuggling under my covers.  I always feel vulnerable after a nightmare, and this time is no exception.

“Five-thirty,” my mother replies, holding out a glass of water to me.  “Sunday morning.  February.”  She knows the drill as well as Paris does.  I sit up and drink obediently, knowing that it’s a good idea to hydrate before trying to sleep again.  “Go back to sleep, Rainbow.  I’ll hold your hand until you do.”  I give her the glass before lying down again.  I slip my hand into hers, feeling a safeness I haven’t felt in years.  I close my eyes, comforted by her presence.  Soon, I fall into a dreamless sleep.  This time when I awake, I feel refreshed despite the earlier nightmare.  After performing my morning ritual, in slippers and robe, I pad my way to the kitchen.

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Parental Deception; chapter eleven, part one

“Hey, babe,” Rembrandt says, smiling at me as he opens the door.

“Hi, Rembrandt,” I reply, kissing him on the lips. I hand Onyx and Jet’s carrier to him, and they stop yowling when he frees them. They prance around Ginger, who is twining around Rembrandt’s legs. The three of them sniff each other’s butts before racing down the hallway. “You look really nice.” He’s wearing a black button-down and gray khakis. He has his hair slicked back, which I find an endearing touch.

“So do you,” he says, a gleam in his eyes. I’m wearing a short red dress that flaunts all my assets. I’m not wearing panties as usual, and I feel deliciously wicked. I’m about to suggest we skip dinner and go straight to his bedroom when I catch a whiff of something creamy wafting from the kitchen. “Chicken alfredo,” Rembrandt says in response to my inquiring sniffs. “With broccoli. Garlic bread, tossed salad with vinaigrette. Tiramisu for dessert.”

“Let’s eat!” I grab Rembrandt’s hand and swing it as we go to the kitchen. He tends to his sauce as I get the plates and silverware. I set the table and wait impatiently for the food. I had a light lunch in anticipation of a Rembrandt dinner. I have to admit, if even to myself, that the fact that he cooks for me is a factor in why I like dating him. I’m not a lousy cook, but I don’t like doing it. I am more than willing to do the dishes and fuck him in return. Let’s be honest. I would fuck him, anyway, but dishes? Only if he feeds me first.

“Here we go!” Rembrandt brings out the food, and my mouth waters. I wait for him to sit down and dish out the food before diving in. “So, you mentioned you learned quite a bit about that man pretending to be your father. Care to share?”

“He was trying to steal my sisters and my inheritance,” I say bluntly.

“What?” Rembrandt sets down his fork and stares at me, his mouth agape. Fortunately, he had finished his mouthful of food, otherwise, it would have not been a pretty sight.

“He was the executor of our father’s will. My sisters and I were the heirs. My father had over a million dollars. That man didn’t submit the will to probate, so we never knew about it.” I swirl my noodles around my fork, but I don’t take a bite. Talking about that man dampens my appetite. “Jasmine got a name from her son of a probate attorney in San Francisco. She’s flying out there in a few days to straighten things out.”

“I’m glad,” Rembrandt says. It’s not what I’m expecting to hear, so I look at him quizzically. “You’ve been doing so much for your family lately. It’s time your sisters stepped up to help out.” I flush, but he’s not the first person to mention that. I know I tend to overdo when it comes to my family, but I wish I could explain to people how much I owe Jasmine. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for her, and how do you repay that? As for Viv, well, she’s an artist. There’s no point in trying to get her to pay attention to mundane details, and it only causes frustration on my part when I try.

“Anyway, I also found out that Mr. Tsai, the imposter, only had about five-hundred thousand dollars, which is a lot to us, but not that much in San Francisco. He left it all to his wife, of course, but, oh! In the business debacle he had from the time he lived in Minnesota, he lost over two million dollars.”

“Two million!” Rembrandt’s eyes are round, and he whistles his disbelief. “Holy shit.”

“Precisely.” I nod my head emphatically, then take a large bite out of a piece of garlic bread. “For all his blathering about wanting a family, I think he did it for the money.”

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