Poison's Bend: Chapter 15
Warnings: partial nudity, implied sex, violence (you know, normal Black Widow stuff)
Fun note: can you find the spider?
It proved difficult for Johnny to find a job.
He searched daily for many weeks, all to no avail.
I felt terrible for him. He was trying so hard, and to be turned down at every opportunity must have been breaking his heart.
He kept up a good spirit, however, deciding that he would focus on making himself more marketable in the workplace. The job market was rough; he didn’t have a college education, and he needed to give himself some sort of boost in order to be competitive.
He began to spend many hours acquiring the skills he would need, but since he couldn’t study constantly, and since Lazlo was often busy at the hospital and Catherine at school, I found myself spending more and more time with our new house-mate, filling the long and often lonely days with play and conversation.
He soon told me about his wife, Ophelia.
They had married very young, he said... right out of high school. Neither of them had gone to college; a choice he was regretting now. Not only because of the edge he had lost as far as employment opportunities, but because he had missed so much in the way of socializing and “sowing wild oats,” as the saying went.
“I’m starting to wonder if that’s why I stayed away so much,” he mused one afternoon over a game of chess. “I hated the way she made me feel so tied down. I just don’t think I was ready for it. There’s so much I never got to do.”
“Do you love her?” I asked him, contemplating the various ways I could move my knight.
“Yes,” he answered distractedly.
“You don’t sound too sure about that.”
He sighed. “Yes, I love her,” he repeated. “...but right now I’m not in love with her. I know that sounds cliche, and I always thought it was just an excuse some people used to have affairs, but now I know exactly what it means.” He pondered the chessboard and used his queen to capture the knight I had just placed in position. “We were too young,” he said.
“What about your children?” I asked. He had already told me about his children... a boy named John Jr., who was just a few years younger than Catherine, and a girl named Penelope, who was only two.
“I miss them,” he sighed plaintively. “I guess I never realized how nice it was to be able to see them whenever I wanted... and now I can’t. I should have spent more time with them when I could, but....”
“Well, who said you couldn’t see them?” I interrupted, surprised. Yes, he and his wife were separated, but surely that did not preclude him from seeing his children, did it?
“Well, no one, I guess, but...”
“...but nothing.” I interrupted, forgetting the chess game. “Johnny, you have every right to see those children, and I think you should do something about that. They can be brought here by someone else if you and your wife are not ready to see each other again yet. In fact,” I emphasized, “all of the arrangements having to do with the children can be done through a third party. You wouldn’t even need to say one word to Ophelia.”
“I didn’t know that!” Johnny said, genuinely impressed. “Will you help me get all of that set up?”
“Oui, I certainly will,” I replied, smiling. “...but you have to forfeit this chess game.”
“It’s a deal.”
More swiftly than any of us would have thought possible, it was all arranged. By the time spring was waxing into summer, Johnny had a visitation schedule set up with his children, and both John Jr. and little Penelope were frequent visitors to our home.
Johnny was thrilled; he was enjoying a better relationship with his offspring now than he ever had in the past, and he credited it all to me.
“I want to thank you, Aerin,” Johnny whispered to me one summer afternoon after his children had been picked up by the mediator. Lazlo was at the hospital as usual, and Catherine, worn out from playing with her new best friends John Jr. and Penelope, had gone inside the house to rest in the shade.
“Thank me for what?” I asked.
“Well, if it weren’t for you,” Johnny replied, holding my hands gently in his, “I wouldn’t be having all this time with my kids, do you know that?”
I smiled and shrugged.
“You would have, eventually,” I protested, blushing.
“Maybe,” he answered, “but I doubt if doing it this way would have occurred to me for a long time, and I’d have missed so much. You’re a very special person, Aerin.” He stepped closer. “You’re very loving and very caring. Do you know that?”
“Well…” I looked up into his eyes. “I...”
The next thing I knew his lips were on mine, and my first thought was that it was just a chaste kiss of friendship and appreciation. Within moments, however, that idea was pushed far out of my mind. His kisses made me dizzy; the ground tilted beneath me and his arms slipped around me to offer support.
He pressed me closer.
“Johnny... we can’t do this,” I managed in a strangled gasp.
“Oh, yes we can.” he said gruffly. “We shouldn’t, but we definitely can...”
He kissed me again.
My arms helplessly slid around his shoulders.
I was lost.
Truly I had not intended on having a romantic affair with Johnny. It surprised me, I think, just as much as it did him.
That did not stop us from jumping into bed together at every chance we could find.
We were reckless.
We were shameless.
It was only a matter of time before we were discovered.
“Aerin, we need to talk,” Lazlo said to me several months after my affair with his nephew had begun. He sounded more serious than I’d ever heard him.
“Yes, darling?” I replied, “What is it?”
“What exactly is there between you and Johnny?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, smiling and trying to hide the sudden fear in my voice. “Johnny and I are friends, Lazlo. I help him with his children and his job search, he helps around the house... we play together... study together... that’s all.”
“You swear? I mean it, Aerin. Do you swear you aren’t sleeping with him?”
“I swear it,” I lied.
He studied me through narrowed brown eyes for a moment and I gulped.
“Well,” he said finally, “I think it’s about time he found his own place. Maybe you’re right... maybe nothing is going on, but I’ve known that kid his entire life. I can tell when he’s hiding something, and I think he needs to move out.”
“If you say so,” I agreed, nodding, but my heart was sinking.
I was crazy about Johnny.
I had no intention of giving him up.
He made me feel things no one ever had before in my life!
No, Johnny wasn’t going to go.
“Lazlo?” My voice was airy. “Darling, there’s a room in this house where the doorknob has been stuck ever since it was built. Could you have a look at it, please? I’m afraid you’re going to have to climb through the window to get in, but it’s the only way...”
“Sure, Aerin,” he answered. “I’ll check it out for you.”
He brought out a stepladder, placed it on the ground and climbed up to the window. He opened it just enough to slide inside. I climbed up on the ladder behind him and helped him in.
Within moments, I heard his voice, raised in confusion.
“What are you playing at, Aerin?” he shouted. “This room doesn’t have a door! Aerin, did you hear me? This room has no door!”
Humming tunelessly to myself, I latched the window from the outside and stepped down from the ladder onto the ground.
Vaguely I heard Lazlo yelling something as I folded up the stepladder. He was pressed against the window, fists pounding the double-tempered glass... and he was screaming!
What was he saying?
I strained to hear...
The room had no door?
What a surprise.
Well, I must have the contractor come out and take a look at that!
I reminded myself to call first thing on Monday.
To Be Continued...