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Rachel lived with her husband, Ronaldo, in a retirement community. Ronaldo was a pleasant man and only a little hard of hearing.Rachel's lover, Paul, had been a successful painter who lived with his fourth wife in the country.Her boyfriend, David, was a playright, brilliant but cynical.Wounded by too many women, he was determined never to be hurt again.Rachel believed he would die alone, and soon, if he did not take care.Her pet project had been to make sure this did not happen.
In the cafeteria with Ronaldo, a new old man attracted Rachel's attention.Recently married to a young Austrian countess, Trevor was ten years younger than most of Rachel's acquaintances.With a broad, open smile, flashing yellow teeth, piercing blue eyes, white hair parted and falling to the sides, long in front and back with a foot-long beard to match, he reminded her of a musician or composer, a Beethoven or Chopin, but he had been, in fact, an architect.It was Rachel's secret delight to invite David, and Paul and Trevor with their wives, to a dinner party in her rooms.To provide a companion for David, Rachel included her cousin, Sylvia, who also lived in the retirement community.
The kitchen sent up the most extravagant dishes the retirement home had to offer: meat loaf, mashed potatos and gravy, peas, and cake and coffee for dessert.Rachel set the table with her finest linen and best silver inherited from her grandmother, Rachel, who had lived in an elegant suburb of London.A superb bordeaux was brought from the cupboard.Bouquets of lillies decorated the sideboards.The guests arrived at David in his wheelchair pushed by his wife.Ronaldo took the coats and canes from the other gentlemen and the ladies and showed the guests into the kitchen.
When all were seated, Rachel surveyed the company with the greatest pleasure.Here in one room, at one time -- her favorite men!What could be more delicious?The conversation warmed with the wine, the men discussing politics and business and their ailments, the ladies exchanging gossip about each other and their ailments.Rachel nodded, listened, smiled.It was, for her, a perfect evening.Her painter had never seemed more charming, her playright more arrogant and proud, her young architect more dashing.And Ronaldo was as gentle a host as any wife could wish for.
Then Sylvia yawned and sighed. "Rachel, when are you going to tell David about Paul?"
David's mouth fell open. "What is this?! " he demanded, the red rising to his cheeks. "Have you betrayed me?!"
"What is she talking about, dear?" Paul's wife asked.Pauls horror-stricken face betrayed him in an instant.
"Rachel, do you have something to tell me?" Ronaldo asked, absent-mindedly.
Rachel's eyes opened wide. "Sylvia, what are you trying to do to me?"
"So!It is true!How dare you!I will never see you again!"David exclaimed.His wife wheeled him out of the room.
"I will speak to you about this when I get you home!"Paul's wife rose, sat down, rose again, sat down.Paul dragged himself off by the scruff of his collar. "Thank you, Ronald, for your hospitality, you poor man."He glared at Rachel.
"And you!Leaving me here!" His wife glowered at his departing figure. Her eyes met Rachel's in a last, desparate glance just before her husband disappeared from the room.
"Well, I say! Dinner over already? I don't remember eating." Ronaldo pushed his chair back from the table, tried to stand, coughed into his handkerchief, sat down again. "I am terribly sorry my dear, but you really must excuse me.Will Mother be sleeping with us tonight?My doctor will be by in the morning to speak to you."
"I am afraid we really must be going." Trevor's wife stood up, cheeks glowing. "This is all so very awkward.I am terribly sorry."Rachel helped her assist Trevor to the door.As they shook hands, Trevor pressed something onto her palm.Rachel watched them climb into the elevator and disappear.Opening her hand, she saw his heart pills.