Advantages to seeing an older, sophisticated married millionaire were many. But in this case the particulars were: money was no object at restaurants or clubs; he always knew what wine to order, his manners were courtly and from another generation thus making her feel cherished and protected, and he was never dull. John knew more about an amazing array of subjects than any man she'd known before including her world-traveled and famous father, yet he managed to make her feel as though everything she had to say was intelligent and relevant. He'd take her anywhere she wanted to go at any expense; as long as it was out of town. The further from Pleasantview the better.
Disadvantages were: she would always be alone on national holidays; she'd have to pretend not to know him in public, and could not introduce him or even acknowledge him to family and friends. Most of the time she found herself keeping plans on standby in case he had a few hours to spare and called. She suffered guilt, anxiety and insecurity and was sure to end up more alone than ever. Simply because a married man had no real right to demand loyalty he was more jealous than the average single man would be. Because as the "other woman" she was at such a disadvantage--she couldn't really compete on the same level as his wife--she worried continually about her looks and was beginning to spend an inordinate amount of time getting overhauled at the beauty salon and health spa. The "other woman", Lalique thought with chagrin, is one small station in society that the fervent women's movement had never really acknowledged. A married man's mistress was solitary, yet dependent, sexually liberal, yet subservient to a basically selfish male; she was a total contradiction and almost an anachronism.
Well, there was the list, and Lalique determined that while the cons might not outnumber the pros they definitely outweighed them. She was an educated, independent woman and she frankly had never before catered to any man. In the end none of that mattered; she was too spellbound by John and had been alone for too long. Now she was resolved to ask him to come over to the house even knowing this would propel the relationship forward.
There were two problems, though. First, she did not want him to be around the twins; to enter their world. She had made up her mind when they were born that she would not drag various men through their lives. Any man she dated would not meet her children until the relationship was far along and she could trust it. And a married man did not fit into this equation. Alain and Desiree did not need to become attached to a person who would be here and then gone.
The other problem was Arlene, the children's young nanny; she did not want to make her uncomfortable by having a man, much less a married man, up in her bedroom while she was there. It was quite likely that was where the afternoon would culminate, if she were to be honest with herself. Possibly Arlene was more broadminded than she appeared, and it was Lalique's house, but she had to be considerate. If she waited until Arlene's day off to have him over then she would obviously need to care for Alain and Desiree herself and John would have to meet them. Arlene by that time knew Lalique was seeing someone, someone important to her, but she did not know who he was. Likely she had figured at some point that since this man had to be kept a secret that would seem to point to an illicit relationship.
Lalique would talk with her about it; meanwhile she had to find out if John would even consider the risk of coming to her house. To her joy he agreed; he sounded eager. He later admitted to her that he'd been taking time every day to get out of the house for various reasons in the afternoon, so that if the opportunity came up he could be gone without it looking strange. Sometimes he said he was going to the store or on an errand but more often his reason was that he was going health-walking or to the gym. Actually up until now he really had been doing just that. Of course, he could not stay later than around 8 or 9 pm. They set a day for him to come.
For that afternoon, Arlene had agreed that she could keep the babies upstairs; she stocked the little fridge in her room with bottles for the twins and everything else she needed would be upstairs. But she told Lalique she was not interested in meeting him at this time. Perhaps later. Once John was gone, Lalique would let her know.
So by three in the afternoon John and she were seated in her living room on the love seat.
"I was afraid you might not be able to make it," she admitted a little nervously.
He put his arm around her,
"I told you I'd be here; I wouldn't have said so if that weren't the case."
When she eventually led him up to her bedroom she felt as breathless as a young girl with her first love.
The tenderness he showed her was an added element to his passion that left her weak-kneed and trembling and much more involved than ever. Saying goodbye was harder than she thought it should be. By the time she saw him to the front door and he kissed her goodbye she was floating on air; she already couldn't wait to see him again. Whenever that would be.
As soon as he left she went upstairs to check on her sleeping babies and to let Arlene know she once more had the run of the house.
Lalique was embarked on a journey that would change her life, whether a short or long one she had yet to know but for her there was no turning back.
A month went by during which time Lalique saw John regularly, usually at least once a week, sometimes more often. He was a revelation to her; in her opinion his lovemaking was far more skilled and sensual than any of the stupid clowns she'd ever dated. Of course that was excluding the magnetic but ever-elusive Brian O., who was in a class of his own.
Mostly they still met somewhere out of town and went somewhere private, she seldom had him come to the house; she still did not want this love affair to intrude into her life with the children and Arlene. She continued to dream that these events unfolding could stay in a little time bubble and that neither his family nor hers would be affected. Telling herself that she was still in control of the situation Lalique was painfully surprised to learn otherwise. One week John was unable to get free to see her and she was nearly undone by doubt and need when she got his cryptic text about it. She really wanted to be near him. Was he getting tired of the necessity of always having to worry about being detected, of constantly being deceptive with his wife? Or was he simply tired of Lalique? She wondered and worried. Then he called her and she was so relieved she was ashamed. Their whispered phone conversation left her excited but unfulfilled.
At least she was busy with the children who were now toddlers. Arlene and she were teaching them to walk using Smart Milk and thinking caps. Caring for Alain and Desiree was one sure way to get John off her mind for a while.
Once they were in for their after lunch naps, however; Lalique decided to go shopping again and it was no accident that she ended up at Goth's. There was a sale on for the new perfume. What really drew Lalique there, though, was that she had run into John there that first time; if he was a regular customer maybe it could happen again. After all, if she saw him "by accident" he shouldn't feel threatened and no one would think anything. And there he was, deep in conversation with an attractive older woman. Afraid that it was his wife she panicked a moment, but then recognized her as Madeleine Ferguson. They were obviously old friends, but still jealousy and envy stung Lalique. This woman could talk to John all day long and nobody would think a thing about it. She was quite attractive, too. Of necessity Lalique would share him with his wife, but not with anyone else. John did not look once at Lalique nor did he appear nervous or surprised. She could not bring herself to leave when she saw he was there although she knew that was what she should have done. Discretion was in order, but she had to hear what they were saying so she yanked a couple of blouses off the rack and went to pay for her purchases. They were standing right by the cash register.
"...know what you mean because Shep's been using compost, but he's not been that happy with the results," Madeleine was saying, "he's mentioned possibly getting rid of his greenhouse, too."
"That's what I used to do, make my own compost, but I couldn't discern any appreciable difference. Of course, maybe my compost wasn't up to par," John laughed easily.
A nice homey conversation about fertilizer was what they were having and it eased Lalique's mind. Just hearing his voice soothed her. It was strangely exhilarating to be so close to him and yet not be able to speak to him or touch him, though. She only saw him out of the corner of her eye; she was careful not to really look at him or at Mrs. Ferguson. I could probably get an Academy Award for this she thought giddily. When she got home she was still enervated, she'd seen him--he had not responded, but she had no doubt he'd seen her, too, and she was suddenly certain that he would find a way to contact her soon. Maybe sooner than he'd planned.
And that...is exactly what happened...
Next blog update: Man on Fire: Poll coming soon!