Four finished sinks in lightly draped plastic sat on a wire rack so all would dry to equal hardness. Jennifer cleaned up her studio cubicle and pondered how she would decorate the insides…incised or relief, as she wiped her counter and washed her tools. The morning studio work finished, her shoulders sagged, hands limp at her sides. Making work she’d never done before sapped every resource of her being.
It was afternoon by the time she arrived home. She decided to take a shower. No more clay work in her studio for the next two days, while her “babies” dried to leather. A stage in ceramic manufacture where the clay becomes stiff enough for trimming or decorating, but soft enough for incising or fastening attachments, such as handles spouts or legs. Tomorrow she’d work with the engineer on tile extrusions. She was caught up on her lab work. What should she do? It was a warm early summer day. She felt reckless. Putting on shorts, sandals, and a loose blouse she decided to call Sabine and take her up on that tea date.
Not telling any one at home or even leaving a note she headed towards town. Birds called dainty tunes and darted around looking for food. Insect’s chirped and new mown lawns perfumed the air. The new season’s warmth caressed Jennifer’s legs. Free for the first time from her protective studio clothes – long pants, closed toe shoes, and T-shirts.
The front door of Sabine and Roxy’s house was ajar. Some of the windows were open. Jennifer hesitated.
A faint voice came from the back of the house, “Jen? Come in. I’m in the garden.”
Having never explored the house during Roxy’s dinner party, Jennifer entered uncertainly and walked through to the living room. Spying through open, French doors, Sabine, languidly lounged upon a cushioned, wicker, reclining chair. Billowy tulle curtains fluttered in the breeze over the opening to discourage flies. She pushed the curtains aside and walked onto the gray flagstone surface of the patio. Her hostess had on a low cut, filmy, flowered summer frock, bare legs and feet.
“Pull up a seat. Would you like an iced tea?”
“Sure, no sugar.”
Sabine returned with two tall drinks. Bending over to deliver Jennifer’s glass, she could see Sabine wasn’t wearing a bra.
“So Sabine what do you do with your time?” tendered Jennifer.
“I graduated last year. I have a job in the admissions office while I try to get employment in my field.”
“And that is…?”
“ I speak three foreign languages, I want to be a translator of Japanese, Spanish or Italian. At the U.N. preferably, or an embassy.”
“Wow, that’s impressive. You cook well too. Dinner was delicious last week.”
“I like French and Italian foods. You know, the French knew little about fine cuisine until Marie d’ Medici married King Henry IV. She brought her gardeners, orchardists, husbandry men, chefs, bakers, hunters, butchers, and dairymaids. Putting the finishing touches on what the French had. Do you like marzipan? Thanks to the Turks by way of Italia?”
Jennifer raised her eyebrows, “Sure.”
Sabine returned with a little plate of chocolate covered squares. She picked one up bent over and fed it to Jennifer’s parted lips, smiling, looking into her eyes.
The chewy, almond smoothness and the midnight satin of cocoa beans, entertained her tongue. She swallowed, closing her eyes in bliss. Sabine was still standing by her side, gazing down at her when Jennifer opened her eyes.
Jennifer bent her head upward, “Wow, that was great.”
Sabine took Jennifer’s chin in her hand, kissing her full on her marzipan-flavored mouth. Shocked and a little startled Jennifer recoiled, then stood up and kissed Sabine back. The two women embraced. Sabine continued kissing Jennifer and caressing her body.
Stepping away, a fleeting thought of, What am I doing? zipped through Jennifer’s head, but took a quick exit.
“Would you like to see the rest of the house?” asked Sabine coyly.
“Um… what about our tea? Won’t the marzipan melt?”
“We’ll bring them with us.”
Jennifer swallowed, furrowed her brow, “O.K.”
Back through the living room, Jennifer trailing, Sabine led her through a door to the kitchen, opening onto a hall where a staircase led upwards.
“Let’s start at the top,” they began to climb.
A central hall transected the top of the house, leading to a bay window seat accompanied by a standing planter of trailing Jacob’s Tears. Two doors on each wall mirrored each other. Walking to the end by the bay seat, Sabine opened the door on her left to a library-study room with a television, two tables and many shelved books. The next door was the bathroom. A grand old-fashioned claw foot tub with a shower adaption sat on a floor of small, white, octagonal mosaic. Jennifer wondered, an inside joke of the architect due it’s being an octagonal house? The bathroom walls were wainscoted with glossy, white ceramic tiles, surmounted by a black rectangular edge design.
Further back in the hall, she pointed to one door and announced, “That’s Roxy’s room. And this,” she gestured to the second one,” is mine.”
She opened the door and walked through, Jennifer following. It was easier to see the angles of the house upstairs within the rooms. One of the points of the octagon was situated right in the middle of the opposing wall of Sabine’s bedroom. A window was placed on each side of the point. With its slight angle, it felt almost like a bay, looking out on tree limbs and lilacs. Sabine had put a soft pink, vintage, over stuffed armchair in the nook. Across from it was a double bed with an English rose chintz bedspread and many lace- covered pillows.
While Jennifer was taking in the room and its details, Sabine stepped behind her and slipped her arms around her waist. Slowly moving one of her hands under Jennifer’s loose blouse to her stomach, she began to kiss her neck.
* * * * * * * *
“Where the hell is Jennifer,” asked Jillian testily,” it’s seven o’clock. She missed dinner and didn’t even leave a note.