Once they stop for the night, Sarena calls back to give Mike a “Ma Update” She admits she was prepared not to like him because she’d met his brother, whom she didn’t like much. Mike’s reply is “Nux Vomica” (The Latin name for the Strychnine tree).
If I thought she’d given me her wholehearted, uninhibited laugh before, I’d been wrong. I never heard someone laugh like that. She threw her entire being into it, body and soul in that laugh. I felt the warmth of it wash over me. I couldn’t wait to meet her. I didn’t even know what she looked like and I already wanted the Mystery Date special.
“May I say, we aren’t a lot alike?”
“You’re similar looking. He’s handsomer than you.”
“Oh, thanks! Crush my ego.”
“Well, not handsomer, prettier. You’ve got a more finished, earthier look.”
“I’m not sure that makes me feel any better.”
“He’s a pretty boy. You’re a man.”
“He’s twenty-five and has three, almost four kids.”
“I’m not saying he’s a fag, Mike. I’m saying he’s not my type.”
“Ahh. . . .”
“Don’t ahh in that tone of voice.”
“What tone? I did not have a tone.”
“You had a distinct tone. Like you’d figured out something about me—discovered some big secret or something.”
“Didn’t I? You said he’s not your type, insinuating that I am.”
“Your mother said you were perceptive.” She chuckled almost seductively.
“So, am I right?”
“About him not being my type?” She giggled. “Yes.”
“About the other. Why do I care what you think of Gabe?”
“Maybe. . . .”
She was being annoyingly evasive. I was like a moth to a flame. I took the bait.
“Maybe yes?” I sounded extra hopeful.
“Maybe yes,” she said with decision in her voice. “Maybe, decidedly yes. Your mother said she told you about my divorce.” Abrupt change of subject.
“Yeah. Only it was recent and I got the impression, not so happy.”
“He was a pretty boy too. It was a bad decision. I was young, swayed by the good looks and the fast talk. He was a smooth one for sure. Gabe is a little like him.”
“Another reason not to like my brother much.”
“Yeah. Talbot was a liar and a cheat. He had several women on the side. After the first year we were married, when the novelty wore off, he had one mistress after another. He ignored me. I was the adornment on his arm when he went out. He kept me around, not because of love, but because I had a rich family with lots of political pull. He wanted that life.”
“I hope he gets shot,” I said caustically. “Not fatal, maybe a spinal wound where he’s in a chair.”
Sarena’s tone matched mine. “So often, I’ve wished that.”
“Tell me you’ve crushed those political hopes.”
“Somewhat. He has some powerful friends. Fortunately, the way he treated me didn’t sit too well and they have put some distance between them. But he’s still trying. He’s got a new woman whose family is even more connected than mine. She used to be a friend of mine.”
“You wanna move to Wyoming where no one gives two shits about New York politics?”
She laughed again, but there was a catch in her throat. “To tell you the truth, Mike. This trip was kind of indirectly my doing. I had to get away, but Daddy wouldn’t let me travel alone. I can’t say I blame him. I haven’t been the most rational person around. In fact, I was so close to a padded cell. . . .”
“You don’t have to tell me this, Sarena.”
“But I do, Mike. Because even if we haven’t met, even though you’re just a voice on the phone and a picture in a wedding album. . . .”
She didn’t have to continue. I knew what she meant.
“There’s a connection,” I concluded.
I cleared my throat, moving awkwardly in my chair. Just the sound of her voice made me hot. How stupid is that? How weird and pathetic? Some might call it romantic, I call it strange. But her voice thrilled me, running these sexy, sultry fingers up and down my spine.
© Dellani Oakes 2014