Ronald lived with his wife, Rachel, in one of the more elegant suburbs of London in 1995.Rachel was a lawyer who enjoyed baking on weekends.Ronald's lover, Pauline, was a successful painter who lived with her husband and five children in Soho.His girlfriend, Divinia, was a playright, brilliant but cynical.Wounded by too many men, she was determined never to be hurt again.Ronald believed she would die alone, a bitter old woman if she did not take care.His pet project had been to make sure this did not happen.
At a fashion show Rachel had forced him to attend, a new woman attracted Ronald's attention.Recently married to a young Austrian count, Tiffany was twenty-five years younger than most of Ronald's acquaintances.With a pleasing smile, pearly white teeth, eyes as black as coal, lips as red as a rose, and skin as white as snow, her hair parted and falling to the sides, long in back with short bangs, she reminded him of a dancer, Isadora Duncan, perhaps, but she was, in fact, an architect.It was Ronald's secret delight to invite Divinia, Pauline and Tiffany and husbands, to lunch at his place.To provide a seat companion for Divinia, Ronald invited his best friend, Bruce.
Rachel was instructed to prepare her most elegant casserole.She set the table with the finest linen and best silver.A superb bordeaux was bought at the grocery store around the corner.Bouquets of dahlia and gladiola decorated the sideboards.The guests arrived at Ronald took their coats and threw them on the bed in his bedroom, then showed the crowd into the dining room.
When all were seated, Ronald surveyed his guests with the greatest pleasure.Here in one room, at one time -- his favorite women!What could be more delicious?The conversation warmed with the wine, the men discussing politics and business, the ladies exchanging gossip about their friends.Ronald nodded, listened, smiled.It was, for him, a perfect evening.His painter had never seemed more charming, his playright more arrogant and proud, his young architect more desireable.And Rachel was as gentle a hostess as any husband could wish for.
Then Bruce yawned and asked, "Hey Ron, when are you going to tell Divinia about Pauline?"
Divinia's mouth fell open. "What is this?!" she demanded, the red rising to her cheeks. "Have you betrayed me?!"
"What is she talking about, dear?" Pauline's husband asked.Pauline's horror-stricken face betrayed her in an instant.
"Ronald, do you have something to tell me?" Rachel demanded, indignantly.
Ronald's eyes opened wide. "Bruce, what are you trying to do to me?"
"So!It is true!How dare you!I will never see you again!"Divinia stormed from the room.
"We will speak about this when we get home,"Pauline's husband rose, dragging Pauline by the scruff of her collar.(Erm, I dont think so.Excuse me).Pauline's husband rose and preceded her, salvaging what he could of his wounded dignity. "Thank you, Rachel, for your hospitality," he called over his shoulder. He glared at Ronald.
"How dare you!" Pauline glowered at her husband.Her eyes met Ronald's in a last, desparate glance just before she and her husband disappeared from the room.
"Well, I will be damned!" Rachel pushed her chair back from the table, stood up, coughed. "You know where you can shove it Mister. Go sleep at your mother's house.I will draw up the papers tomorrow."
"I am afraid we really must be going, too,"Tiffany stood up, her cheeks glowing. "This is all so very awkward.I am terribly sorry." Ronald followed her and her husband to the front door.As they shook hands, Tiffany pressed something onto Ronald's palm.Ronald watched them drive away.Unfolding the slip of paper, he read, "May I call you?"Turning, he found himself face to face with Bruce.He opened his fist. The slip of paper fell to the floor.Their eyes met. They smiled.