Copyright Eva Marie Everson, 2014
To read Chapters 11-41, see next blog post
To read Chapters 11-41, see next blog post
Monique stared at Gabrielle from across the counter of Monique's salon. "I cannot believe you, Gabby. Seven thousand dollars for a pair of earrings?"
Gabrielle shifted and smiled. "They're platinum."
"I don't care what they are. Seven thousand dollars? Do you know what I could do with seven thousand dollars?"
"You, my friend, are not sleeping with Bob Sims."
Monique sighed deeply. "Chere amie, you have sold your soul to the devil for these things you hold so dear. Your car. Your condo. All those clothes. Enough jewelry to fill ten cases. But it's not enough for you, is it? Why do you have to have it all?"
Gabrielle leaned over the counter. "Because he owes me."
"For what? For some little piece of information you hold over his head?"
"You don't know what I know."
"Then why don't you tell me? All these years, you have never told me what you know that is so vital a man would keep you as Dr. Bob keeps you."
"What? You don't think my company is enough?" Gabrielle straightened and ran her hands down the length of her torso.
"You think you are so funny. So to answer your question, no. I do not think so. This man has spent a fortune on you, Chere."
The front door opened with the tingling of Chinese chimes. Gabrielle turned and stepped back, allowing Monique's customer access to the counter.
"I'm Doris," the middle-aged woman stated. "I'm here for a facial."
"Yes, Doris," Monique greeted. "This is your first time, no?"
"I have a little form for you to fill out," she informed. She produced a clipboard from a drawer, retrieved a pen from a decorative holder, and then extended them toward the new customer.
"You have a lovely accent," Doris said as she took the items. "Paris?"
"St. Mandé. Just outside of Paris."
"I'm not familiar with it. I adore Paris, though." The woman wrote as she spoke.
"You go often to my country?"
"Not often enough," the woman said with a laugh. "My husband and I have been twice."
"The next time you go," Monique began as she reached for a business card and a pen, "go to St. Mandé. It is near Le Bois de Vincennes. It is rich but peaceful, if you understand my meaning. Here I am writing this down for you. There is a little shop there where a lady such as you can buy wonderful perfumes. My brother owns it. You tell him Monique sent you and he will treat you like a queen."
The customer beamed. "I will go home tonight and tell my husband to call the travel agent. You've put an idea in my head that only another trip to Paris will satisfy."
The new client finished the form Monique had given her. “Here you go."
Monique took the clipboard and pen, picked up the phone and announced, "Mrs. Johns is here for her appointment." Then to her customer, "Charlotte will be with you in a moment. You may have a seat, if you'd like."
Gabrielle stood silent as the clunk-clunk of Charlotte's low-heeled pumps made their way up the hallway. Seconds later, the new customer was whisked away to the back for her facial, all the while chattering about her decision to visit Paris and St. Mandé.
"You are suddenly quiet.” Monique turned her attention to the laptop where she entered client’s information.
Gabrielle narrowed her eyes. "It has just occurred to me…”
“Bob has never taken me to Paris."
"Bob has never taken you anywhere but to dinner and to bed."
Gabrielle stepped up to the counter. "Why do you always say things like that? You are supposed to be my best friend."
"I am your best friend, Gabby. That is why I say things like that. You deserve better than two nights a month."
"Two nights a month? Is that why you think I've blackmailed Bob all these years? I don't love him, Monique. Good heavens, no.” She shuddered at the thought. “I very nearly detest him. But I love what he buys me. I love having a cushy little life with all the perks. I don’t get two nights a month with him. I tolerate them.” She couldn’t help but smile. “Not a bad price, if you ask me."
"No one asked you. And, for your information, I will gladly take you to France with me for Christmas if you like. It would be fun. It will even be my treat."
Gabrielle crossed her arms and shook her head firmly. "No, thank you. Not that France at Christmas wouldn't be fun. Especially with you. But I think I will put Bob to the ultimate test. I want to see just how much he loves me."
"Oh, Chere. What is it you plan to do now?"