Over the next few weeks, Marlow and Camille become an item. Their relationship becomes the topic of much speculative gossip all over town.
Catching wind of the scuttlebutt about their mother, Colette invites her sister Angel and Angel’s boyfriend, Jett, to dinner one evening to discuss the situation.
As Angel helps Colette put the girls to bed after dinner, Colette broaches the subject.
“Angel, have you heard about Mother’s latest?”
Angel knows full well what Colette is talking about, since she had been instrumental in setting it up in the first place, and sees no reason why she shouldn’t come clean to her sister. She and Colette have a very close relationship, and Angel knows that there is no love lost between Colette and their mother.
She smiles conspiratorially at her sister. “I have not only heard about it, I actually helped set them up.”
Confused, Colette looks sharply at Angel. “What?”
Let's go to the kitchen and I'll tell you all about it." Angel inclines her head toward Margarita, whose interest is evident in her face.
As Colette makes coffee, Angel explains the whole situation, watching her sister's face change from dismay at the plight of the young girl whose business she helped launch to delight at the plot hatched by Marlow’s brother to her usual cloudy expression whenever their mother is the topic of conversation.
“Well, in theory it should work, but I think everyone is forgetting that Mother is hardly to be trusted where love and money are concerned.”
“I guess Romain will have to cross that bridge when he comes to it. In the meantime, let’s just sit back and watch the plot unfold, OK Sis?”
Colette smiles at her little sister. “OK, Angel. As long as she stays out of my life, I don’t care what she does.”
Either oblivious to or simply disinterested in the gossip surrounding their relationship, Marlow finds himself becoming uncharacteristically enthralled by this exotic older woman. His experience has been mostly with young, impressionable girls, and he finds his affair with Camille both challenging and exciting. For once, he is not the aggressor, and while that unbalances him, he finds it intoxicating. Camille’s sexual experience is far beyond that of most of his “victims”, and that alone would have kept him in her bed much longer than the duration of most of his past relationships, but Camille has other tricks up her sleeve. Marlow is caught in a web of his own making, and he has no desire to escape it.
For her part, Camille is pleased with the direction the relationship has taken. Not since Player has she had a man in her bed with such vigor and skill, and she is a willing participant in the arrangement. As their relationship deepens, however, she finds herself reluctant to follow through with the original intent of the plot hatched by Marlow’s brother. Camille has always lived beyond her means and loves to project an aura of wealth and privilege, but limited funds have severely cramped her style in recent months. She enjoys not only the physical part of her pairing with Marlow, but the fact that he spends with abandon as well. She imagines him vastly wealthy based on the money he tosses around in her presence. As time goes by, she is less and less inclined to end the relationship, being more than satisfied with things as they are between them.
Unnoticed by the absorbed pair, Camille’s estranged daughter Justice – who has never ceased to stalk her biological mother, looking for openings to humiliate or cause trouble – catches wind of the developing connection between her mother and Marlow and has a wicked idea. From the bedroom in Player’s mansion, where she appears to have become a permanent fixture, she phones an old friend from her “formative years” in the back streets of Paris.
“Korinne? It is Justice.”
Korinne gasps. “Justice? What . . . where are you, mon amie?”
“It is a long and tedious tale, mon coeur. I promise to tell all while you are here, visiting.”
“Qu'est-ce qui se passe? So . . . what is it that you think is going to make me jump on zee next train, mon cher? Especially since I do not even know where you are!”
Justice smiles. “Oh, have faith in your old friend, Kori. I would not lead you astray. I know you will love this!”
“Very well, I’m listening.”
“There is this homme – you know zee type, oui? – who make you think he is rolling in money when in reality someone else holds zee purse strings. A real ‘ladies man’, as the Americans say.”
Korinne answers unenthusiastically. “Oui. I know zee type.”
Justice smiles wickedly. “How would you like the opportunity to take him to his knees? I have been watching zees one, Kori. His eyes always drift to zee dusky-skinned women no matter who he is with. You are just his type, ma soeur. This is your chance to take one of his kind down. How can you pass it up?”
Korinne struggles with herself. “Mon Dieu, Justice! Will you not at least tell me where you are? There are certain places I should . . . avoid.”
Justice grins. “You have not changed, have you, Korinne?”
“No, praise Allah.” She giggles. “If mon pere knew how flippantly I use those words, he would have me stoned.”
“Well, ‘praise Allah’ that he does not. You should be safe using the identity we set up . . . but especially if you come here, Kori.” She smiles conspiratorially. “I live in a mansion in a tiny town in the center of the U.S. that no one has ever heard of. No one in his right mind would think to look for you here. It’s perfect!”
Korinne is forced to consider her friend’s proposition. The anonymity to be found in rural America certainly has its appeal, especially with her current situation heating up. She taps her toe, wheels turning. Justice knows to give her friend ample time to consider all the angles. She also knows that once Korinne reaches a decision, she will not be swayed from it.
Rural America. A chance to hoodwink a pompous ‘ladies man’. A way to get out of here quickly. A opportunity to see Justice again. Hmmmmmm.
The toe-tapping stops. Korinne smiles.
“I cannot find a single thing wrong with your plan, Cherie! I’ll be on the next plane to . . . Oh! Where do I go?”
Justice laughs out loud, delighted both at her friend’s decision and at her apparent eagerness to carry it out.
“This is what we will do . . . .”
Two days later, Player drives Justice to the city to pick up Korinne at the airport.
At their first sight of each other, they squeal like the schoolgirls they were when they first met and fly into one another’s arms, both falling back into the language of their childhood.
Player watches indulgently, his eyes taking in Korinne’s lush curves and exotic features.
“You will stay at my house, of course.” He says as soon as there is an opening in the flood of French. “Mais oui!” Korinne answers, looking Player up and down in an unconscious repeat of his scrutiny of her only moments before.
As Justice sweeps her friend along toward the car, Player picks up her bags and smiles to himself. Whoever this dude is, he doesn’t stand a chance.
The two friends chatter animatedly all the way back to TEKville, occasionally remembering to speak English in order not to shut Player out of the conversation, but frequently lapsing unconsciously back into their native French. Player does not mind; he speaks enough French to be able to follow along, for the most part, and when he does not he is content to listen to the ebb and flow of a beautiful language being spoken by two exceptionally beautiful women.
Back at the mansion, the housekeeper is summoned to show Korinne to her room, in spite of Player’s inclination to ask her to share his and Justice’s bed. He suspects that the women are of a like mind when it comes to their sexuality, but he knows that Justice is very territorial where he is concerned and wisely decides to delay any such suggestion until he has an opportunity to become familiar with the “lay of the land”, as it were.
Player gives the housekeeper explicit directions regarding the evening meal and retires to his room, allowing Justice and her friend time to catch up. As he relaxes in bed, catching up on his reading, he is dumbfounded to see both women enter the bedroom, scantily clad.
His surprise must have shown on his face, as it sets off a fit of laughter on the part of his beloved.
“Oh, cher! If you could see your face! Do not be alarmed – Korinne and I have always shared everything. Everything.”
To illustrate her point, both women drop their flimsy robes and crawl into bed on either side of him.
He cannot keep the self-satisfied smile from his face as he reaches first for one, then the other, and draws them close.
To be continued . . .