Charles heard Holly coming long before she arrived; the frenzied clicking of her heels across their marble floors gave him welcome warning. He sighed and slid further down into his plush leather chair.
“We should buy a house.”
Charles’ eyebrows lifted high over his glasses, but his eyes remained fixed on the book in his hand. “Capital idea.”
“Or perhaps a cabin,” said Holly, sitting down on the ottoman in front of him. She pushed her long red hair back over her shoulder.
“Lovely,” said Charles, turning the page.
Holly’s bejeweled fingers clicked unrhythmically against the stem of her wine glass, which was already drained of all but a puddle of crimson liquid. “A cabin in the woods. Or maybe on a beach somewhere. There was that darling little island in North Carolina, do you remember? Ocracoke or whatever it was.” She gave a quick sigh which was more like a hiccup of air and nerves. “But I don’t know. All that sand. What do you think?”
Charles flipped forward to the end of the chapter, counting the pages. “Whatever you’d prefer.”
The tapping stopped. He could feel her swamp green eyes boring into his forehead. He did not look up.
After a moment, Holly stood, striding over to the long couch on the other side of the room. She threw herself into the cushions, crossing her long, tan legs over each other. “Let’s get a dog.”
“I always wanted a dog when I was a child, did I ever tell you? A big black Labrador that would slobber all over me and shed its hair on my best clothes. What do you think? Wouldn’t that be nice?”
“Very, yes,” said Charles.
There was silence from the other side of his book. Charles took this opportunity to reach down to the side table and take a long drink of bourbon. He returned to his book, turning another delicate page.
“Of course,” Holly’s voice was high and cracking as she spoke, “we don’t have to get a dog.”
“Would you prefer a cat?”
Charles shrugged, but did not look up. “Why not?”
With an abruptness that almost startled him out of his book, Holly stood and walked away. Charles didn’t watch her go, but judging from the quickness of her step, he wouldn’t be surprised if she ran back in a few minutes later with a cat in hand.
However, it was quite some time before Holly returned. When she did, she performed her approach with more stealth than Charles was accustomed to. She placed her hands on his shoulders and he nearly spilled his drink all over himself.
“Let’s go on a trip. It’s been ages since we’ve been on a little excursion. We used to travel around all the time – would you like that?”
Charles placed his glass back onto the side table. “Of course.”
Holly came around the chair, one arm slung heavily over his shoulders, a hindrance when he attempted to turn pages. She insinuated herself onto the arm of his chair, leaning towards him before speaking again.
“Remember when we went to Europe? Months and months we spent there; I could’ve lived there forever. Madrid, Munich, Vienna – Rome! Oh Rome was lovely. The Pantheon, St. Peters, the Coliseum. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see it all again? Oh could we, Charles?” Holly pleaded, her fingers trailing down his arms. “Just you and me.”
Charles sighed. He smiled into his book. “If that would make you happy.”
In the wordless pause that followed, Holly calmly picked up Charles’ full glass of bourbon and poured it into his lap.
Charles continued reading.
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