[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 064
Chapter 15 (1 of 11): Lovers
During the months of August through early November her private life was a delicious dream for Mazarine; a few weeks before Thanksgiving it began to morph into a desperate nightmare.
At first Yukiko was the sweetest imaginable lover and friend, and they did everything together. She was solicitous, caring, interested. She praised Mazarine, told her repeatedly how much she loved her, complimented her on her dress, her looks, her intelligence. Even though Mazarine had a full schedule with Aspasia’s, Yukiko never held it against her. She knew that Mazarine was good at what she did and that she was in constant demand, and Yukiko did her best to schedule around her lover’s appointments with the many men in her life.
They did not move in together but kept their apartments and had their assignations at the Momiji. Since the year of her birth was 1965, Yukiko had fixated on room #1965 as ‘their’ room, and that is where they came together about twice a week for their passionate encounters. Yukiko would sometimes sleep over till the next day, but Mazarine never did. They split the cost of the room, which Yukiko had managed to reserve a week ahead for their two days. Only once in the time they were an item were they thwarted in this regard, and that was when — much to their private amusement — a international convention of gynecologists had in effect commandeered the entire hotel.
For Mazarine it was the most delicious fall of her life. In mid-September the weather finally turned cool, and they spent many a happy hour just walking the streets of the city in the late afternoons. They window-shopped, they walked in the rain beneath a huge red umbrella, they went to movies in the afternoon. Often in the evenings they would eat supper together at some bistro or new ethnic restaurant, either before or after attending the latest play. They both liked sushi, Mexican food, steak, fish, pastries. The latter they would take with lattes in the late morning at one of two outstanding cafés located in the city’s central hotel area, one a part of a chain headquartered in Paris and called La Croissanterie, the other a Swedish bread bar named Bakelsen that served traditional sandwiches, rolls, and a vast variety of tartlets and whipped cream confections. When they felt like steak, they invariably went to a place simply designated as Beef and both began with a chilled shot of Stoli, then ordered the filet mignon medium rare with curled string potatoes, crisped asparagus tips, and the super-Caesar salad, all washed down with a vintage Bordeaux or some classy California cabernet. With a good California chardonnay or a French sauvignon blanc like Pouilly-Fumé, Mazarine liked swordfish, Yukiko, tuna. Yukiko preferred tacos, Mazarine, enchiladas – and they both drank chilled Dos Equis Amber cerveza with limes. Little by little as the weeks went by, they each learned from the other about foods, wines, desserts, coffees. They took turns so that one night it was Mazarine who selected the restaurant, suggested the dishes, ordered the wine, and Yukiko paid; next time it was Yukiko who did the honors, and Mazarine paid. If it was that kind of night, they ended up in room 1965, and if it was not, they air-kissed outside the restaurant and each took a cab to her own place.
They were lovers, but they also were fiercely independent. They needed their space, as the saying goes.
In a city filled with world-class museums they whiled away many a happy hour in those cool halls admiring the world’s art, frequently discussing the merits or demerits of this or that famous painting. Yukiko seemed enchanted by Mazarine’s knowledgeable familiarity with the great exhibit of Spanish genre paintings and still lifes from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that had made such an impression in the city’s art community that summer and fall. Mazarine in turn was thrilled to have Yukiko lead her intellectually through the Japanese Pavilion of the highly regarded Oriental Museum and listen to her observant comments about the Chinese influence on scroll paintings, the nature of pre-modern woodcuts, and glazed pottery from all ages. Both women had a strong esthetic sense, and they delighted in feeding each other’s appetites.
One of their greatest pleasures was to shop together for clothing, makeup, and jewelry. They shared a refined judgment in these matters, and the high-class emporia and expensive boutiques of the city more than satisfied their demanding tastes. Yukiko, with her dark complexion, favored bright colors and sharp contrasts, and orange-red was her favorite color. Mazarine, whose skin was lighter and whose hair was more brown than the obsidian black of Yukiko’s, was more comfortable with less splashy shades. A light purple was her color. They had themselves made up at exclusive cosmetics counters and critiqued the results until the applicator got it right; then they bought the foundations, blushes, lipsticks, perfumes – and left a big tip. They were both into clothes, and they both had the bodies to wear the latest fashions. When they did themselves up in a serious way, they turned heads, both of men and of women. They secretly enjoyed this public adulation, and while they donned an air of indifference as they walked down the sidewalk, in the cozy privacy of room #1965 they chatted endlessly about this or that gawker and what in all likelihood might have run through his – or her – mind. “He wanted both of us, naked except for long nylons and high heels,” they would tell each other and burst into loud giggles as they rolled around in each other’s arms on the cool sheets of the king-sized bed.
They were both readers. Mazarine talked about her Greek and Latin favorites to Yukiko, and Yukiko introduced Mazarine to the passionate Midare-gami of Yosano Akiko, to tanka poetry in general, and, of course, to Murasaki Shikibu. Each was unfamiliar with the literature that fascinated the other, and in this way they enjoyed a genuine intellectual exchange on literary matters that went beyond their deep personal involvement. When the season finally chased away the dripping humidity of August and early September they would often spend hours sitting on one of the many benches scattered around the public parks of the city. They would watch the teens on rollerblades whiz by, young mothers pushing strollers with babies, the frisbee set on the sloping swards of green, couples on expensive bicycles cruising the paths, listen to the hum of insects. Their desultory talk would jump from local politics (which neither of them was much interested in) to last night’s television drama to possible plans for the weekend. These comely hours on park benches always turned into afternoons of easeful indolence and unstructured chatting.
Mazarine was happy to have found a friend who could satisfy both physical and cerebral needs, and no one was more surprised than she that it had turned out to be a woman. Of the men she saw, very few excited her sexually, a prime and most notable exception to the rule being Agung, the Sultan of Java. But Yukiko did. It felt right, genuine, natural.
Even after they had made the commitment to become lovers they did not become lovers for several weeks. Yukiko had taken immediate charge of this period and subjected it to what she called the ‘dragonfly cycle’. It was not something Mazarine had ever heard of, but Yukiko explained it in great detail. And as it dawned on Mazarine what was at stake she could not help to make comparisons with words and acts her ardent lover Agung had described to her not that many weeks ago. Maybe it was an Eastern thing.
TO BE CONTINUED