Eliza was in a mellow mood listening to the sensual music of Bebel Gilberto coming through the speakers, and looking at Fiona. Even though they were far past Fiona’s admission of love for her in Shanghai, she was happy that Fiona was really in love. It was clear, especially in the way that Fiona denied anything that even suggested that she was in love with Alice. Alice was very clearly lovestruck, and had a way of hanging on Fiona’s every word and shadowing her, but not in a clinging way. It was almost a synchronization between them. It was clearly the beginning of a very lovely love affair.
Being back in New York, after being in Paris for so long was weird. It was an effort not to speak French, and not to crave French comforts. Eliza looked for Rafe, he found her with his eyes and his smile soothed her. She was walking toward him, when the apartment door opened and she smiled easier than she would have if it had been her own dinner party.
Her smile almost cracked on her face, but she kept up the facade as best as she could. Oscar was standing behind the woman that she had spied him with in Shanghai. The woman who she saw him with, and who he held with emotion that she could not fault him for, but it made her heart hurt.
“Hi,” she smiled.
“Hi,” Oscar said looking at her face in the warm caring way that he did to let her know he wondered what she was thinking.
The woman he was with smiled softly at her,
“Hi,” she said.
Eliza moved to the side, so they could walk in.
“Oscar!” Fiona walked over to them with glasses of the delicious fruity sangria that was made with a bubbly red Lambrusco wine. “I did not know you were coming?”
“I am Polly’s plus one,” he said with a smile.
Polly, her name burned like a tiny fire out of control in Eliza’s head.
Polly looked at Eliza softly, it was clear that she had no idea who she was, and she had no reason to, but Eliza resented her for it.
She remembered the beginning of her relationship with Oscar. If they had met like this unexpectedly, they would have ended up tucking into a restroom or somewhere, and making out or making love.
“Oscar is my partner,” Polly smiled.
She looked so happy, the same happiness she had had when Eliza saw her in Shanghai with him.
“Well Oscar and I go back, he and Eliza and I.”
Polly looked at Eliza now with interested eyes.
Eliza stared at Fiona briefly, then smiled at Polly.
“The art scene you know.”
“I know! Why that Dubuffet on the wall is a recent private sale.”
Alice ran over to Polly at that moment.
“It looks amazing there, doesn’t it?”
Eliza let the rest of the conversation come in and out of her head. She never expected that she could have a moment alone with Oscar. Rafe noticed him immediately. She and Rafe spoke again with their language of eyes, and Eliza shrugged.
It was by accident that Eliza was did end up alone with Oscar.
She had picked up a cigarette, as was her social smoking habit. When he stood by the open bedroom window with her, she blew smoke in his face.
“You could have told me!”
“I did not know that Fiona was Polly’s client. I just agreed to come with her, and I did not know where Fiona lived! Why are you so upset?”
He waved the smoke out of his face, and Eliza looked up at him. Her body responded to him as it always did. With urgent desire, just like it had in the beginning, same as the night they met when he picked her up.
Eliza stared at him. She shook her head when she imagined him like he was the first time that they met, the rakish way that he approached her. Now he was restrained, it was that calm that lingered worse for her than any calm before a storm.
She leaned against the wall half tangled in the curtain, and blew more smoke so that it clouded her face and closed her eyes.
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