The Seduction - Art Bourgeau (2 page)

BOOK: The Seduction - Art Bourgeau
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Suddenly her evening turned to roses. All the
liberties he had taken were worthwhile because in the end he had
asked her for an actual, honest-to-God date.

Throughout the week her every thought, waking and
sleeping, was of Peter. By midweek he had assumed larger-than-life
dimensions, and Marie had threatened to kill her if she didn't stop
talking about "Peter, Peter, Peter" all the time.

Their second date took a strange turn. She arrived
with a thousand questions, none of which he would answer, except to
say that he lived in Society Hill. Even this was not news, for she
had already decided that there was no other place a romantic
undercover cop could live but the most romantic section of
Philadelphia. When she pressed him for details he said, "Look,
Terri, in my line of work I make a lot of enemies. People that would
go out of their way to get at me or, if they knew about you, to get
at me through you. I couldn't stand for that to happen, so you'll
just have to trust me and believe it's better if nobody knows about
us, and right now you don't know anything about me. That way nothing
can happen to you. Do you understand what I'm saying? You're too
important to me to put at risk."

Then he had hurt her. Not badly, but enough to make
her breasts ache. She could not understand why he was doing it,
unless it was to punish her for being too curious, like the way her
father had spanked her when she was a little girl, but she sat there
unmoving, feeling a closeness and sense of pride, as if he had shown
her a new part of being a woman.

When he made her raise herself off the seat so he
could pull down her jeans and panties, her hand brushed the front of
his trousers and she felt his large erection. It was then that she
realized he was feeling the same sort of pleasurable ache that she
did, and she knew she was in love.

After he dropped her off she stood on weak and wobbly
legs, watching the silver shark with the Bruce Springsteen bumper
sticker disappear into the night.

During the week she saw visions of herself dying,
lying on the ground with the hard eyes of strangers looking down at
her, and she, in a faint voice, saying to bring Peter, and Peter
rushing to her side. She cried often and was so moody that her mother
let her go out for pizza with Marie on Wednesday.

They had walked almost to Broad Street and then cut
over to Passyunk Avenue, leisurely window-shopping and talking: Terri
about Peter, Marie about wanting to be thin enough to wear the
clothes in the store windows. They stopped at the Metropole K
Pizzeria in a block filled with Italian restaurants near Ninth. It
was crowded with kids from South Philly and couples from uptown, but
a short wait got them a table by the window. Being in love and
unconcerned with the petty social details of the world around her,
she gave Marie the seat where she could see the other customers and
took the one facing the window for herself. As she idly glanced out
the window, her heart jumped. Parked across the street near
Fiorelli's, an upscale Italian restaurant, was a silver Datsun
exactly like Peter's. She shifted her chair to get a better look and
caught sight of the familiar Springsteen bumper sticker. It was
Peter's car. He was having dinner right across the street from her.

Her first thought was to tell Marie, but she stopped
herself. Marie had been so mean with her teasing. Well, now was her
chance to get even. Playing the scene out in her mind, she would just
happen to look up and see Peter when he came out of the restaurant.
They would nonchantly stroll across the street. His eyes would light
up at the sight of her, and they would passionately kiss—right in
front of Marie.

But it didn't work that way. Terri was saying, ".
. . and I went through all these recipe books because I want to find
just the right thing to make him for dinner when he takes me to his
apartment. I want him to know I can cook, and not just pasta and
stuff like we have at home. I want to make him something nice, like
veal, maybe veal marsala. It's not too hard, and my father likes it.
What do you think?"

Marie's reply fell on very deaf ears, for at that
moment Terri saw two stunning women come out of Fiorelli's and
approach the car. One was dark-haired, the other blonde. The
dark-haired one got in on the driver's side and reached across to
open the door for the blonde. Terri's world ended as she watched the
car drive away.

Marie noticed the change immediately and said,
"Terri, what's wrong?"

Behind her owlish glasses Marie's eyes had the
concerned look of a true friend. Terri wanted to tell all, to pour
out her heart, but she couldn't.

"Nothing," she mumbled as she stood up from
the table and started for the ladies room.

There was no way she could tell Marie that Peter was
married.

Not after all the personal things she had told her
over the past week or so. Not only would it make her look dumb for
having gone out with a married man, but it would make it look even
worse for having let him do all those things to her. It was one thing
to let him do them when he loved her, but not when he was married and
playing her for a fool.

Marie followed her into the ladies room. "Terri,
what's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just got my period, that's all."

That explained all. To Marie periods were emotional,
sort of sexual, almost voodoo rites of uncleanness to be suffered
behind closed doors and preferably in the dark.

The rest of the evening and the rest of the week
Terri was torn between standing Peter up for their Saturday night
date or showing up for a showdown. In the end she chose the showdown
. . .

As soon as she was in the car she lashed out. "You
bastard, how could you? Why didn't you tell me you were married? And
after all the things I let you do—"

She wanted to hurt him in any way she could—as long
as it was publicly and badly. She was unique and alone in the world,
feeling an acute and, to her, unique sense of embarrassment,
betrayal, disillusionment.

There was surprise on Peter's face as she recounted
every detail of what she and Marie had seen from the pizza parlor,
but he said nothing until the storm passed.

"It wasn't my wife. It was my sister. I was on
duty and loaned her my car. Hers was in the shop."

Terri couldn't believe her ears. It was like he had
given her a diamond.

Her dream man wasn't married after all. Relief
flooded her and she needed to be held, to be reassured over and over
until it finally sank in, but when she leaned over to kiss him he
coldly told her to get out of the car.

"But . . . but—"

"Get out of the car."

She wanted to plead for forgiveness, anything, but
all she could manage was "Next week? At the warehouse. Please?"

"Perhaps." And he reached across her to
open the car door. Terri spent the early part of the week in torment.
She told Marie everything, and Marie tried to comfort her. It did no
good. She knew she had driven Peter away with her sharp tongue and
distrust. She deserved to be punished, to spend the rest of her
stupid life alone and unloved.

On Tuesday evening the building tension in her house
broke free when her father reached the limit of his tolerance when
she knocked over a wine bottle and ran crying from the table. Her
mother came to her defense, and the air grew blue with angry words.
Her parents fought up the stairs, around the landing and into their
bedroom, punctuated by the slamming of the door, while Terri, tears
streaming, envisioned her own funeral, thinking how much better off
everyone would be without her and yet how much they would miss her as
they said good-bye to her little white-clad corpse in its pink-lined
coffin surrounded by beautiful flowers.

Gradually the sound of angry words from the upstairs
bedroom died down and an uneasy silence settled over the house. An
hour later both parents came downstairs looking warm and happy, the
fight forgotten, no grudges carried by either one. She had known for
a long time what her parents did behind that closed door, but she had
always blocked it out. Until now, the idea of her parents having sex
had been too creepy even to think about. Now, in the light of her
predicament with Peter, it all made sense. Sex was what kept the
wheels turning. She had lost Joey because of it. If only she had the
chance she would not make the same mistake with Peter.

But once she had reached this decision she felt no
peace. The nights were hell. She avoided her parents the rest of the
week, feeling that somehow her decision to sleep with Peter made her
look
different and
they would know. During her showers she inspected herself for size
and depth, thinking about the difference in the huge erection she had
brushed against and the slim tampon that fitted her so snugly, hoping
that she would not pass out from the loss of blood when he came into
her. In bed she lay awake thinking about pregnancy and how she would
break the news to her parents and how she would look to her friends
when her belly got big and swollen.

The days were her only relief. From the older girls
at school she had gotten the idea that sex in cars made a man think
the woman was easy. For a man truly to love a woman, they had to have
a place—a special love nest all their own that she could make with
her own hands.

In this pierside neighborhood with so many
warehouses, it had been easy. She chose an old railroad depot, long
deserted, because it looked like a castle: big, solid and blocky,
with turrets on each corner and tall chimneys running up each side.
In a freight cul-de-sac, away from prying eyes, she found a
convenient rear door with a nearby window. It had been a simple
matter to go through the window and open the door.

Each afternoon after
school she spent her time cleaning and feathering the nest with
blankets and candles, a transistor radio, and even a bottle of wine
stolen from home to celebrate with. It was perfect.

* * *

Now as Terri hurried toward the Water Street
warehouses, filled with the hope that Peter would not let her down
after she'd arranged the meeting, she was more nervous than if she
had to make a speech in front of the entire student body. There was
no sign of him, and ten nerve-racking minutes passed before she saw
the headlights of the familiar silver shark of a Datsun. It stopped
alongside her and she hurried to get in. The sight of him made her
shiver. She couldn't get enough of looking at his dark hair and
beard, his fine bones, his leather jacket and white scarf, his
aviator glasses.

She smiled with the thought of finally getting his
glasses off and getting a good look at his eyes.

He looked back at her for a moment or two, as if he
was reading something in her face. Then he reached for her, and she
felt the loving touch of his gloved hand as he brushed back her hair
from her face. She leaned forward to be kissed, felt the tip of his
tongue, the tickle of his beard, the sharpness of his gun beneath his
jacket, and when they broke, her hand brushed the erection in his
trousers. She was right, this was the night.

"I've brought you something," he said.

She watched as his hand slipped into the left side of
his jacket—the side over his heart—and returned with a chain. It
was stainless steel, but to Terri it was silver, priceless silver,
the first gift Peter had ever given her, and it happened to be the
hottest piece of punk jewelry the older girls were wearing. She had
seen them several times in South Street boutiques but had never had
the money to buy one for herself.

Each end of the chain had a ring on it, and one end
looped through the other, forming a noose like a choker for a dog. He
slipped it over her head, tightening it until it was snug around her
throat. On the end that dangled like a man's tie was a medallion of a
bird. Terri looked at it and thought how beautiful it was.

"I bought this to let you know that you're mine,
even though we can't let the world know yet," he said.

Terri was swept away.

After another kiss he put the car into gear. As they
pulled onto Water Street, he popped a tape into the deck, and the car
was filled with the sounds of Dire Straits playing "Telegraph
Road." Over the snaky guitar of Mark Knopfler he said, "Light
me a cigarette."

She opened the fresh pack of Marlboros and searched
for a light. In her hurry at the candy store she had forgotten
matches. Seeing her problem Peter handed her a pack of matches. They
were black with only the word "Lagniappe" in gold on the
front. Naturally, she thought, the city's most chic restaurant would
be Peter's hangout, and soon maybe hers too. She lit two cigarettes,
putting his in his mouth, and dropped the matches in her purse. At
the corner they stopped and she said, "You don't have the only
surprise tonight. I've got one for you, too." For a moment Peter
looked surprised, but his smile quickly covered it.

"What is it?"

Terri smiled back at him and gave him directions. As
he spun the wheel and shifted gears she thought about how nice it
would be if someday he would teach her to drive so she could use the
car for lunch and uptown shopping trips. At night the old railroad
depot with its turrets and boarded-up windows looked more like a
castle than ever, and the tracks and weed-grown field around it
looked like a battlefield where soldiers had died.

BOOK: The Seduction - Art Bourgeau
3.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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