Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Five

Previous chapter: Postal Delivery.

Chapter Thirty Five: Exploitation, Me?

Francesca came back from work later that evening, looking annoyed. She grabbed a glass of soya milk and sat down to drink it. Isabel was eating a pepper and cabbage salad while Francesca sat down and drank her soya milk.

"What's bothering you?" Isabel asked. "Work, I take it?"

"Yeah, it's work. I'm not getting any responses to my applications for other editing jobs. People seem to think it's alright as a company not to give a reply even when the server indicates they've seen it," Francesca rambled on. "That French phrase asking to confirm your attendance or reply should be encouraged among companies."

"Reponse-sil-vous-plait," Isabel said. "Yes, it should be."
Francesca complained to Isabel.
"It's so tiresome. Plus another thing," said Francesca, waving her fat little hands around at the dinner table. "Attie acts just like a tar-baby, sticking to me like a big blob of glue, she thinks I'm her soft toy or something. When did I turn that cuddlesome? I'd like to know, seriously."

"Could be because you're a bit too stout," Isabel said. "I think you're just fine, shape-wise."

"I'll run, I'm pretty sure Attie wouldn't want to hug a pile of bones."

Isabel privately thought that Attie wouldn't care that Francesca would turn skinny, and hug her anyway. Her twin was away at a cocktail party, and wore a little black dress, which Isabel felt wouldn't look right on her. Then again, Attie was the sort to put herself on display. All long legs, short body, and a tendency to show a bit too much off.

She decided to go for a walk, and changed into her sports clothes, a plain shirt with knee-length pants. It was a balmy night with few cars, a change of pace she appreciated. She walked around the block and back to her cul-de-sac.

The lights were on upstairs, so Isabel headed for the room she shared with her twin. She didn't expect to see Attie looking into Francesca's eyes while sitting on a bed. It was the first time she saw her twin act so tenderly towards anyone.
Isabel saw her twin and cousin giving each other the Look.
"Do you take me as you wolf in shining armor?" Attie asked her cousin, not paying any attention to Isabel. The elder Lion sighed in annoyance.

"I'd rather not," Francesca said. Isabel couldn't see her face, but Francesca chuckled suddenly. "Thanks for the offer, though," the brown-haired girl said. "How's my running today?"

"So much better than the last time. You should go to sleep," Attie said. The elder Lion scratched her ear as she pondered what to do.

Francesca got up. "I'll see you tomorrow," she said, and went out of the room after bowing slightly to Isabel.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" Isabel asked as she sat on Attie's bed. "You're not thinking of using our cousin, are you?"

"Me exploit her?" said Attie. "That's not true at all." She got up and sat so that her back wasn't facing Isabel. Isabel wondered if her twin had a bit too much to drink.
"I want to protect her," said Attie.
"Then what do you want to do with Francesca?"

"It's simple. I want to protect her," the younger Lion said.

"Protect her from what?"

"Men who want to use her as a toy for their pleasure. You should know, she complained to you about her nightmares first."

"That was weeks ago," said Isabel. "Now I see you getting all cozy with her, as if you're already..."

"That she's mine? I love her, even if I don't show it to everyone."

"You and Fran have a different view of love, she only thinks of you as a sister of sorts."

"What do you want me to do then?"

"Promise me that you won't exploit her, that you'll treat her like a sister rather than a toy," Isabel said. "For your sake, Attie."

Attie hesitated. "What if I don't promise?" she asked.

"Then I'll have to tell our mother as well as our uncle, and you'll get the biggest talking to in your life," Isabel said sternly, tapping on the bed to emphasize her point. "Just because you like both men and women doesn't mean you can have a string of affairs and leave broken hearts in your wake."

"Fine, I promise to stay sisterly with Fran," Attie said with a huff. "Now can I go get ready to sleep?"

"Sure," Isabel said and got up. "I should, too."

They got ready for bed in an awkward silence. "Next time, I shouldn't get caught," thought Attie.

Next chapter: Sinope Macaroon.

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