A week later, storm clouds slowly rolled across the steel grey sky as rain turned into a drizzle.
The rain had Camille dressed in jeans and a soft ivory off the shoulder Marilyn Monroe sweater that accented her curves.
She lingered in Desmond’s conservatory enjoying his recent shipment of exotic orchids he’d received from the nursery in Maui.
“Excuse me Miss Camille,” the humble-looking housekeeper’s voice sliced the air.
“Hi Consuelo,” she smiled, and thought that sometimes when the light hits Consuelo just right she looked like an angel brought to real life.
Consuelo hesitated checking over her shoulder. She’d left the young woman in the foyer. But thought she’d heard her following her.
“What is it?”
Consuelo closed the distance between them. “There is a woman here; she says she’s your cousin. And she said that your mother sent her to check on you,” Consuelo said humbly.
“Really,” Camille nodded.
Consuelo moved closer and whispered. “She insists that I prepare one of the guest bedrooms for her,” she paused. “She said her name is……”
“God woman you’re slow.” The voice came sharp and distinct. “Just tell her it’s me her cousin Larentia”.
From the doorway Larentia looked back at her cousin with a shifty grin. “I could have made my own introductions by now. In fact looks like I just did.”
Camille winced at the sound of her cousin’s voice. She almost choked getting her name out. “Larentia!”
Larentia Acca Baptiste stood half drenched staring back at her cousin. “Hey cousin, aren’t you glad to see me? I’d give you a hug but I’m soaked. I want to dry off and take a hot bath. Therefore I need my own room right now.”
“Larentia, how did you know I was here?”
“Oh you know how your mother is. I dropped by to see her. I asked her about you. She buttoned up real fast. So then I just asked her how bingo was treating her lately and she started talking about bingo. You know how she does,” she paused and walked a few steps checking out the place. “So, I sweetened the pot with a few dollars so that she could go and the next thing I knew she opened up and told me you where here. So the next thing I knew I suggested I should come down and check on you.”
Camille swallowed hard. Her cousin looked like the cat that drank all the milk from the other cats and still wasn’t satisfied. She knew her cousin had twisted up her story. She probably gave her mother a bribe just to make her talk.
Larentia Acca Baptistewas a smooth, confident and assured as any narcissistic could be. She had smoldering good looks and slanted almond shaped eyes with thick lashes. She had the kind of eyes that could give a man a look that couldn’t be ignored.
For as long as Camille could remember her cousin occupied the same address in her mind. She lived on the corner of self and fish for as long as she could remember. Larentia had one care in the world. And that was pleasing herself.
“Larentia you are welcome to dry off. But…...”
Larentia interrupted. “Good, I’ll go and find a room I want. I need to have a hot bath and warm my bones. You know me,” she shrugged. “In a house as big as this I know there must be a dinner hour?”
“Yes, Consuelo can have something fixed for you. But tonight dinner is delayed. I’m waiting dinner for Desmond,” Camille said, regretting her words as soon as they passed her lips.
Larentia grinned. “Oh I don’t mind waiting to meet the man of the house.”
Camille’s face suddenly turned grim.
“Come along Consuelo,” Larentia commanded heading back the way she came.
Out of the corner of her eye, Camille watched Consuelo look at her. She stood tall and straight. And then she turned her eyes and stared at the door Larentia walked through.
Consuelo shrugged. “I can tell that one brings a bad storm wherever she goes,” she let her gaze met Camille. “But don’t worry I will be watchful.”
After dinner Camille sat at the baby grand piano by the large bay window. She smiled happily. Her cousin Larentia had to leave dinner early. Somehow there had been a mishap at dinner. The glass of red wine Larentia was drinking spilled all over her.
Larentia gazed up in disbelief when it happened. She couldn’t believe it had been done by her own hand. The white dress she was wearing when it happened looked like it had been ruined. And she had to miss dinner.
She let her fingers play with a cord. Her thoughts played upon her. She thought Larentia’s eyes had looked spellbound. She had spilled the wine on herself.
Camille started playing “As time goes by.”
Desmond studied her and thought how beautiful she looked. Immediately Desmond got up from his chair and strolled over and joined her.
She noticed he looked tired. She smiled. “Sorry you never got to tell me about your day. I know you must be tired from your drive down from San Francisco,” Camille said rubbing his shoulder.
“Keep that up and I might think you’re trying to seduce me,” he said.
“No don’t stop. I like it very much,” Desmond said turning to look her in the eyes. He ran his fingers along her chin. “I was hoping we could turn in early,” he said running his hand down her shoulder.
Camille felt warm from his touch. She swallowed hard and took his hand.
Desmond smiled. “Then tomorrow hopefully your cousin will be rested and ready to leave. We will call your mother and tell her everything is fine and we don’t need Larentia staying with us. I’m not saying she’s not welcome here but”,he hesitated and leaned in close. “But I like being alone together just the two of us.”
“Me too,” she said closing her eyes. I mean I like our being alone together,” she said letting him kiss her.
Desmond’s hands were busy pushing aside her clothes.
From the shadows of the doorway Larentia watched Camille and Desmond making love. An unpleasant expression crossed her features. She moved further back into the shadows. “My stupid cousin, you are giving yourself to him like a slut. You’re not good enough for him. But don’t you worry my little precious. I’m not leaving. Not tomorrow or ever,” she whispered under her breath.
Stay tuned…….To be continued…