[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 074
Chapter 15 (11 of 11): Lovers
About a week later Mazarine got a call at her apartment from Trinh. In her confusion and sadness over Yukiko she had completely forgotten about the Vietnamese woman. She spoke pure, unaccented American, and it took her a few seconds to make the connection.
“Oh, yes, of course. Trinh. Yukiko told me you would be calling to set up something for the three of us.”
“Yes. I’m really looking forward to meeting you, and I’m wondering if the three of us could get together for lunch sometime next week, Wednesday or Thursday.”
The woman sounded pleasant, soft but decisive, confident, genuinely enthusiastic. Mazarine tried to paint a face on the voice and do a sketch of its body: willowy, lithe, prominent cheekbones, brown eyes beneath epicanthic folds, velvety hair. But, inevitably, the picture kept merging with the photo of Yukiko she carried in her head.
“Wednesday or Thursday, yes, that sounds pretty good. Let me check my calendar here,” she said. “How about Thursday the eighteenth? Is that good for you?”
“That’s perfect,” she said happily.
“And for Yukiko?”
“Yukiko’s open all day. I already checked.”
“How about that teppanyaki restaurant off the lobby in the Momiji? Around one o’clock?”
“I’ve got it down, Mazarine. It’ll be great fun meeting you. I’ve heard so much about you, both from Yukiko and Fabian,” she said.
The three women had a delightful lunch together, and, the erotic pressure off, Mazarine and Yukiko, who was on her best behavior, got along famously. It seemed rather obvious to Mazarine that Yukiko was more than a little interested in Trinh, but she in turn seemed blithely oblivious to the little signals Yukiko was sending her way. Only later, redoing the lunch in her head, did Mazarine feel a tiny stab of jealousy. Trinh was indubitably beautiful, and she was highly intelligent. She still had a kind of bubbling joy about things that was infectious, and Mazarine enjoyed being with her.
During the Christmas season and the New Year the three of them spent a lot of time together. Trinh was busy at the university with her studies, but she made time to relax with Mazarine and Yukiko. The three of them did the things together that Mazarine and Yukiko had done earlier in their relationship. Mazarine was charmed by Trinh’s effervescence, and Yukiko’s ingratiating suavity smoothed and soothed. For Mazarine it was a memorable Christmas season, and two days after the holidays she and Yukiko met Trinh’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cao, for tea at the their home on Hyacinth Lane.
The start of the new year introduced two rough patches into the almost seamless cheerfulness of their camaraderie.
First, Yukiko and Mazarine were invited as Trinh’s guests to a New Year’s Eve party at the home of a wealthy faculty member in the University math department.
Trinh had also invited Fabian.
Yukiko and Mazarine were less than enamored of this surprise. Mazarine, given her history with the man, lacked a basic sympathy for Fabian even in his newly svelte incarnation, and Yukiko seethed with a complex double jealousy – of Fabian for enchanting Trinh and of Trinh for doing for Fabian what Yukiko no longer could. However intense the diverging displeasure of each woman, it was not the kind of thing either felt she could seek consolation from the other for, and although both hard-headed women left the party before Auld Lang Syne put in its maudlin appearance, they did not discuss the matter. As they pointedly parted company in the lobby of the professor’s apartment house, silent looks said it all.
Second, two days after New Year when the weather had very briefly turned more moderate and Yukiko had done another one of her sudden transfigurations into sweetness, Mazarine met Trinh near the university so they could walk together to a restaurant where they were to meet Yukiko for lunch. Mazarine noticed an ugly reddish-purple bruising along the right side of Trinh’s neck that she had tried to cover up with skin tone and by wearing a sweater with a high collar. But it was too obvious.
“Who did that to you?” Mazarine asked, disturbed and determined to get an answer.
“It’s nothing,” Trinh said dismissively, pulling up the collar higher.
“It is something,” Mazarine insisted.
Trinh just shook her head.
“Did Fabian do this to you?”
“No, no,” she cried. “Not at all. Fabian would never do something like that.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Trinh stubbornly refused to say anything more.
“Tell me, Trinh, was it Yukiko?”
“Please,” she implored, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Just forget it, O.K.? It’s my business.”
Mazarine dropped it.
The three of them lunched together, but Mazarine was somber and not especially talkative, to such an extent that Yukiko at one point jokingly referred to her as the sphinx. If she only knew, Mazarine reflected in angry irony, that the etymology of this hoary word involved an ancient Greek verb designating, among other related actions, ‘to throttle’. But she bit her tongue.
Mazarine, lying later in the cozy solitude of her bed and reflecting on the two events, had an uneasy feeling. She knew Yukiko was volatile and easily enraged, perhaps even to the point of physically having attacked Trinh and getting her hands around Trinh’s throat. It was a truly disheartening prospect, and an enraged Yukiko was certainly nothing to fool with. Still, she, Mazarine, could hardly be held accountable, even by the often convoluted logic of Yukiko’s unpredictable mind. Could she?
She brooded over the matter off and on for several days. Therefore, when she received a call from Trinh at the start of the next week with the suggestion that the three of them get together that Friday, the ninth, she felt no small measure of relief. Perhaps they would be able to recapture the carefree and amicable closeness they had enjoyed prior to the New Year Eve’s celebration. Mazarine, with some nominal reservations that she kept to herself, agreed to meet Trinh at the university, and they would then join Yukiko at a downtown hotel.
In painful retrospect Mazarine endlessly Monday-morning quarterbacked her decision to agree to what proved to be this final meeting with Trinh and Yukiko. If only her reservations had been more than nominal.
TO BE CONTINUED