Obsession, a fragrance by Calvin Klein, appeared in the mid-80s, but it really took off with a series of provocative ads in the early 90s, many featuring a young, waif-like Kate Moss. In today’s chapter of Opération Séduction, Leslie’s interest in destroying Cynthia Gooden begins to take on the character of… an obsession.
On Sunday afternoon, Leslie called Peter to find out how the dinner had gone. “Tell me all,” she said.
“Progress is slow,” he reported. “She’s more complex and interesting than I expected.”
“So you failed.”
There was a brief silence on the other end of the line, and then Peter replied a little curtly, “I don’t recall you setting a time limit on this exercise.”
“That’s true,” she conceded.
“You seem very eager to see me bed Cynthia Gooden. Is there, perhaps, some element in the equation of which I am unaware?” he asked shrewdly.
She didn’t miss a beat before replying, “Of course not. I tell you everything, always. But as you know very well, I derive a certain… plaisir from your descriptions of your liaisons. I wish you would give me more details.”
“Well, she feels the desire to sleep with me, but she resists it. Probably she’s been warned to beware of me.”
“No doubt,” said Leslie. “La Gooden is very conventional. She comes from a family of Puritans. I should have told you from the start.”
“I sensed that. She has a reserved manner that I see in Philadelphia women of a certain social class. But I took steps to address it. She wants to lose weight, and she’s an artist, so I told her to draw herself in the nude as she is now, and as she would like to appear, and to compare herself to the pictures every evening.”
Leslie felt the urge to cackle, but she limited herself to a small chuckle. “Ah, Peter, you are a genius. If she follows your instructions, oh la la! And she is already following a régime. Her désir will be sharpened by this.”
“Yes, if she has not been with a man for a long time, she needs to rediscover her sensuality first.”
“Bon. Did you kiss her goodnight?”
“Non, mais j’ai effleuré sa main.”
Since he had spoken in French, Leslie was tempted to switch to that language, but she knew Peter preferred English unless he was traveling. He had used the verb effleurer because there was no other way to fully express in English what he had done when he kissed Cynthia Gooden’s hand. “And she liked it,” he added.
“Excellent. When will you see her next?”
“I took her by surprise and invited her to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. She thinks it will be perfectly safe, but I have other ideas.”
“Hmmph.” Leslie didn’t approve of this. In all the years she had known Peter, he’d never once suggested bringing her home to meet his family. Not that she wanted to spend time with his boring relatives, of course. Family holidays were excruciating, especially American family holidays. As a primarily gastronomic rather than commercial or religious event, Thanksgiving was the most tolerable, but she shuddered at the memory of the few Thanksgiving dinners she had attended, when marshmallow-laden casseroles were served with dry turkey meat smothered in glutinous cranberry sauce from a can. “All right,” she said with a sigh. “Let me know how it goes. Ciao.”
Copyright 2014 by Linnet Moss
Notes: A shorter chapter than usual! Consistent chapter length is always a challenge for me. In the matter of Thanksgiving I feel a certain sympathy for Leslie. It is a holiday organized around food, an idea of which I approve. Too bad there is usually more emphasis on quantity than quality.