Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 28

A Shopping Trip

Oops, late again … I hope I’m not disappointing my loyal fans too much …

At this point, I was really getting to have fun with that Corsican twin thing. It was somewhat challenging to write with two viewpoints rather than just one. Of course, the device also allows me to report on events that my narrator doesn’t experience directly, so that’s another twist. Well, actually, some of the more interesting twisting was back in Chapter 26, but that’s another story.

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 28

When we got back to the room, with the protections we had set up, I decided it was time to talk shop. “Well,” I said, “our little experiment this morning seems to have worked.”

“Yes,” Pierre replied. “It seemed to work especially well for you to have that spa treatment, so you could pay attention to me most of the time. Although it was hard driving back while you were getting that massage – it was a bit distracting.”

“You also said you wanted the boat to be a surprise. Well, at least you surprised me with how much you had been planning ahead.”

“Oh, yes, I’ve been in touch with Alois from the day after you enrolled in the school and I knew we were going to join. I wanted us to have the perfect boat.”

“And so are we, really, going to sail around the world?” The thought seemed most appealing to me – being alone together for days and even weeks on end, on those long passages. It didn’t even much matter where the destination was – getting there would definitely be at least half the fun.

“If you want to, we will,” Pierre said. “But first, we have a job to do.”

“Yes,” I said. “How do we get started on that?”

“We get started by finding some of the circles that the Others move in. As a start, I have tickets to a fund-raising gala thrown on behalf of some of the more liberal-leaning members of Parliament. It’s a Monte Carlo night – I hope you don’t object to gambling.”

“Oh, I don’t have any objection at all,” I said. “Of course, I’ve never gambled in my life.”

“Also, you’ll need something nice to wear,” Pierre said, handing me a credit card. “I’ve already added you to the account, and there’s no limit on it, so go crazy. I wouldn’t mind seeing you in red.”

I took the card and signed my name in the space on the back. I could feel the tingle of magic in it. “What else does this card do?” I asked.

“It has a small protection field – not all that powerful, but if it were, it could get noticed by the Others. It also has an alarm function – if anything gets through the card’s protection field, you will inexplicably smell the odor of your late, great sofa.”

I remembered that sofa – a treasure I’d picked up at a yard sale that smelled like a cat litter box, upon which Pierre had had to sleep at one point. “You’re diabolical,” I said. “Did you know that?”

“I needed something that would get your attention without getting anyone else’s, and that wouldn’t disable you. A loud noise, for instance, might impair your hearing just when it needs to be sharpest.”

“You have a point there.” I put the credit card into my wallet, put my wallet into my purse, and went out shopping.

It was rather an odd experience to have Pierre’s advice along on the shopping trip, but not Pierre himself. Every time I tried something on in the fitting room and looked at myself in the mirror, I got Pierre’s comments. Mindful of his recommendation, the first dress I tried on was a red one, in a sort of old-fashioned crinoline style. “Nah, I don’t like that one,” Pierre said, startling me. “I like to see the actual shape of your backside.”

“I’ll bet,” I said.

“Pardon?” said the girl at the dress shop who was helping me.

“C’est rien,” I said, moving on to the next dress, a very slender style in deep, midnight blue.

“Now that’s more like it,” Pierre said. “She walks in beauty, like the night.”

I held my tongue this time. I figured I’d be hearing romantic bits of Victorian poetry for the rest of my life. I decided to buy the blue dress, but as I was preparing to go pay for it, I got objections from two fronts.

“You can’t go home after only buying just that one dress,” Pierre said. “You’re going to have a lot of formal occasions to attend, so you’ll need several nice dresses.”

“Vous ne voudriez pas essayer des autres?” the shop girl asked. “Il y a beaucoup des autres, et vous etes si belle.”

“Listen to the girl,” Pierre said. “She’s right.”

I tried another red dress, and then a pink one, and several others. I ended up with a daring red dress with a plunging neckline and a slit that showed a whole lot of leg, a little black cocktail dress with a very simple style, and several others. The shop girl also helped me to select an assortment of undergarments suitable for these very fancy dresses, help I very much appreciated, as I had never in my life even come near to having such clothes. This time, when I went to check out, both Pierre and the shop girl approved. Next, I went to another shop and got shoes and handbags to match all of the dresses, again with some coaching from Pierre.

When I got back to the room, we had a quick room-service supper, and then it was time to get dressed for the party. Pierre put on a tuxedo, and I put on the red dress. As Pierre zipped up the back for me, he said, “We need a couple of finishing touches here.” He went over to the vanity and picked up a pink box, which he handed to me. I opened the box to find a bottle. “It’s eau de toilette,” Pierre said. “Not as heavy as perfume, but then you’re not the heavy sort. It’s called Chartreuse de Parme, and it’s fairly unusual.”

I sprayed a bit on my wrist and took a whiff. It was very light, with a combination of citrus and spices, and I liked it very much. “Unusual, you say?” I asked. “I suppose that lets you find me more easily in the flock.”

“How so?”

“A mother sheep can always find her own lamb even when it’s in the middle of a bunch of others, because it has its own scent and she recognizes it.”

“Well, I’d hardly consider you a lamb, now – I know you’re far from helpless.” Pierre spritzed the scent on my neck, behind the ears. “But I suppose the principle applies.” He rubbed the scent in with his fingertips, then drew the fingertips up my jawline to my chin, drawing it to him so he could kiss me. Then he picked up a large, flat jewelry case and opened it to reveal a glittering diamond necklace and earrings. “We want you to sparkle tonight.”

“They’re beautiful!” I exclaimed. “Where did you get them?”

“They were originally Dora’s,” Pierre said. “They’re family heirlooms, more than a hundred years old.” He stepped behind me to drape the necklace around my neck.

As the jewels came into contact with my skin, I felt a familiar tingle. “They’re magic!”

“They are?” Pierre touched the necklace. “Oh, so they are.”

“I wonder what they do.”

“Probably a protection of some sort. Maybe a good luck charm too.”

“Well, that should be good on a Monte Carlo night, shouldn’t it – although we certainly don’t want to draw attention to ourselves with active magic, do we?”

“No, we don’t.” Pierre nuzzled my ear, wrapped his left arm around my waist, and ran his right hand down my side, feeling the silky, shimmery fabric of the dress as he traced the curves of my breast, waist, and hip, and when he reached the slit in the skirt, he continued down my thigh, bare except for a very light, barely-there silk stocking. I could feel the familiar desiring feeling down below, and Pierre was also experiencing his own.

“Shouldn’t that wait until after the party?” I asked.

“Yes, I suppose it should,” Pierre said, slowly relaxing his grip.


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