tagNovels and NovellasSouthern Comfort Ch. 07

Southern Comfort Ch. 07

byholliday1960©

Sex, Lies, and Video Tape?

By mid-morning New Years Day, I made the rounds to check on the casualties from the night before. Even half inebriated, I had my duties to perform. Checking on Jon and Ivan were at the top of my list. So, before I went home for the day, I delivered breakfast and coffee to each of them.

I went to Ivan's first. Since I didn't have a key to his apartment, he was obliged to actually answer the door in person. He was in fabulous form when he swung the door open. He was wearing only the dress shirt I hadn't managed to peel off him the night before and a pair of socks.

Apparently, he decided to accessorize with a pair of dark sunglasses, and he was holding an icepack to his head. I don't think he even realized there was big red bow stuck to his coal black hair. The icepack was sitting on top of the bow. He looked more than a little surprised to see me.

"What are you doing here, Miss Cindy-Lou?" he groaned as he stepped back and allowed me entry.

"How's it hanging, Ivan-ho?" I asked brightly as I brushed past him and headed to the kitchen.

"Completely fucking limp," he mumbled as he plopped back down on the couch and put his feet up on the coffee table. "What can I do for you?" he asked.

"I brought you some coffee and breakfast. I thought you might need a little care package this morning," I informed him as I began looking through his cabinets for dishes. I removed the lid from a Styrofoam cup and delivered it to his hands.

"Oh, god bless you," he moaned looking up at me from behind the dark shades. He took the coffee with trembling hands and sipped at it, scorching his tongue in the process. I lifted the icepack from his head and handed it to him as I tried to gently pull the bow free from his hair. He winced, whether from the burnt tongue or me pulling his hair, I'm not sure. He unscrewed the cap on the icepack and removed one cube of ice dropping it in his coffee to cool it.

"Ugh! Ivan, stop that. If you want an ice cube I'll get you one from the freezer. You guys are so disgusting sometimes," I chided him. He just shrugged at me. "Have you taken anything for your head yet?" I asked.

"I was just about to take something," he groaned.

"Like what, Ivan? More bourbon?" I scolded him with my hand on my hip. I took the icepack away from him and placed it against the back of his neck. He moaned softly in appreciation.

"I brought you something to eat, Ivan. But, I want you to do something before you try to eat, okay?" I said as I massaged his shoulders with one hand and held the ice to the back of his neck and head with the other.

"Well, you picked a fine time to ask me for a favor, but what is it? If I don't have to move very far, I'll do my best to accommodate you," he muttered.

"You don't have to move at all, Ivan," I said as I placed the icepack back on top of his head. I fished a thin joint out of my cigarette pack and offered it to him over his shoulder. "Just take a couple of hits off this, bebe. I promise it will make you feel like a new man."

Ivan tentatively took the neatly rolled smoke and lifted his sunglasses to examine it closer. "What the fuck kind of joint is this?" he snorted at the slender size.

"Ivan, listen to me. Two hits. No more. Don't you dare try to smoke that whole thing at one time," I warned.

"Whatever you say Nurse Nightingale," he sniffed as he reached for a lighter. I watched as he took the first hit. He held the smoke in his lungs for the span of twenty seconds or so before he exhaled. "That tastes different," he muttered. "What the hell is it?" he asked.

"One more time," I said. He took a second hit. "Wait for it...wait for it..." I said before I snapped my fingers and pointed at him. "Bingo!"

Ivan's eyes got wide and he looked at me with awe. "Merdi! What the fuck?" he cursed as it hit him.

"Feeling better now?" I asked leaning over and taking the joint away from him. I laid it in an ashtray and gave him a satisfied smile.

"Holy shit, Cindy-Lou, what the fuck is that?" he asked in disbelief.

I patted his shoulder. "It is just a little something-something I thought might make you feel better. A little eye of newt and eel tongues, mixed with some pixie dust. That joint should last you a couple of days. Feel like eating now?" I asked. He nodded and set the icepack in my hand. I took it to the sink and emptied it. Ivan wouldn't be in need of it anymore that day.

I brought him a to-go plate of eggs, ham, bacon and pecan waffles. "I've got to go to Jon's now. You eat. And, try to behave yourself the rest of the day, okay?" I said as I petted his head.

"Thanks, bebe," he said looking up at me with appreciation. "I don't know what we'd all do without you sometimes. It was really nice of you to bring me breakfast, Cindy-Lou," he said sweetly. He tried to focus his eyes on me but they were glassy. "Hey, you know what? I am totally fucked up right now. I like that shit, whatever it is. I'll have a six-pack to go, please," he said with a grin.

"You'll have no such thing, Ivan-ho. The eel tongues in that shit kill your brain cells. The pixie dust fucks with your biological clock, and frankly, I don't think you can't afford to lose many more brain cells. You'll doze off and wake up looking like Rip Van Winkle," I teased him. I leaned down and kissed his forehead. "I'll see you tonight, Cher," I said before I let myself out of the apartment and headed to Jon's.

I drove to the other side of the complex and let myself in Jon's apartment. He was still sleeping when I leaned over him and kissed his forehead. "Wake up, Prince Charming," I coaxed. He groaned at me and patted the empty bed before he opened his eyes.

He looked at the unused pillow beside him and then at me. "You didn't stay last night?" he asked as he rolled over and tried to sit up. I shook my head and opened his coffee for him. He took a sip and asked, "Where did you go?"

"Out. I had a couple of drinks and now I'm delivering breakfast to you and Ivan," I answered.

"Aw, honey, thanks for the coffee, but I couldn't eat a thing right now. I think I'm gonna be sick all day, Cher," he moaned as he put a hand to his forehead. "Is Ivan still alive?" he asked.

"Ivan's fine. He's eating his breakfast right now," I replied.

"Ivan is eating breakfast?" he asked with disbelief. "How? He was drunker than I was. That isn't even right," he complained with dismay.

"Oh, he was pretty bad off before I fixed him," I said laughing.

"Dare I ask how you fixed him?" he asked with a scowl.

"It wasn't what you think," I said frowning back at him. "Now, do you care to take back that nasty little remark, or would you rather feel sick all day?"

"Okay. I take it back then, but only for the purpose of you fixing me," he grumbled. "I feel like shit warmed over." I took out another joint and handed it to him.

"Be careful with that. It isn't what it appears to be," I said.

"What is it and where'd you get it?" he asked looking wary.

"I got it as a Christmas gift from a friend. And, it's what is going to fix you, so light it and prepare to be amazed and bedazzled by my magical powers of healing. And before you ask again, it's a secret family recipe passed down for umpteen generations," I laughed. The phone rang and I reached for it. "It's Sonny," I informed him before I picked it up.

"Hey, Sonny," I said. I gave Jon a look of 'I told you so' and he glowered back at me.

He mouthed the word 'witch' at me before he lit the joint and inhaled.

"Yeah, he's awake, but give him just a minute Talk to me instead while he gets his head back on straight," I said to his brother. I watched Jon as he took another hit and I listened to Sonny rambling on the other end of the line.

I interrupted Sonny to relate to him the new development in their Mardi gras plans. "Hey, Sonny, let me be the first to inform you that you're taking me to Endymion." Jon arched an eyebrow at me and held his hand out for me to relinquish the receiver. I waved him off and listened to Sonny instead.

"Sure. Yeah, I can do that. Seven? I'll see you then. Here's Jon," I said finishing our conversation and handing the phone over.

Jon looked more alert as he took the phone from me. "Hey. Yeah, I don't know how she does that shit. I keep telling you guys she's a fucking witch." He paused for a moment and then said, "Fuck if I know. I just woke up and I don't remember what happened last night. I'll have to ask her and get back to you on it. Yeah, I'll call you later and let you know." He said his goodbyes and hung up.

"So, what's this about you going to Endymion with my brother?" he asked as he took a third hit from the joint. I took it away from him and set it aside. I placed his breakfast still in the to-box on his lap.

"I told you to take it easy with that, Jon," I admonished him. "I'm Sonny's date for Endymion," I said flatly.

"Since when? Who decided that?" he asked with a frown, as he tasted the breakfast.

"You did. Last night. Ivan is taking Katherine," I explained.

"Well, if you are going with Sonny, whom am I taking?" he asked looking displeased.

"Christina. Hey, don't blame me. You and Ivan arranged everything just the way you wanted it. If you don't like it, then you shouldn't have set it up that way," I scolded him.

"Christina said yes?" he asked. I nodded.

"She and Katherine are going dress-shopping tomorrow," I assured him.

"Already?" he asked. Before I could respond he posed another question. "So, everybody is okay with the plans?"

"I guess so," I sighed.

"Well, are you okay with the plans? Because, the last time we talked about it, I was planning to take you as my date," he said looking doubtful.

"What difference does it really make, Jon? I mean, we're all going together. Isn't that what counts?" I countered.

"That's what I love about you, Cher," he reached over, took my hand and gave it a squeeze. "You never complain about anything. No matter how much stupid shit I do, you just take it in stride."

I leaned down and gave him a soft kiss on the lips. "Do you know what I love about you?" I asked. He shook his head. "Absolutely everything," I said as I kissed him again. The phone rang again. "That will be Ivan," I informed him.

I answered it with, "Hold on, Ivan. He's eating." I climbed over him and held the phone to his ear for him.

"Yeah," he snapped into the receiver. I traded the receiver for his fork and began feeding him instead while he talked to Ivan. He leaned his head against mine and tilted the receiver so I could hear Ivan as well.

"Are you still alive over there?" Ivan asked sounding perfectly fine on his end. Jon grunted at him in response as he chewed on a piece of bacon.

"I thought I was a goner until Florence Nightingale showed up on my doorstep this morning," Ivan said with a chuckle.

"Yeah, I think the troops are going to rally again today after all," Jon chuckled back at him.

"Just so you know, I think I'm in love with that woman of yours, my friend," Ivan informed him.

"Yeah? You and every other guy in town," Jon retorted. "She feeds you one time and now you're a fan."

"Well, don't tell her I said that, but if you ever want someone to take her off your hands, just let me know," Ivan taunted him.

"Fat chance. Find your own, or take a number," Jon replied.

"Tell me something. When are you going to marry l'petite fille and make an honest woman of her?" Ivan asked.

I threw down the fork and rolled from the bed. I heard Jon snarl at Ivan as he wrestled with trying to get up out of bed.

"Goddamn it! Ivan, tuat t'en grosse bueche?!" I heard him call my name before I slammed the front door shut behind me.

**********

Like dust in the wind, I disappeared for the next five days. It wasn't strictly because of my annoyance with Jon. I had a multitude of reasons for wanting to get away.

Only two people heard from me, and neither of them knew where I was staying or where I was going. I called my boss to rearrange my schedule. And, I took my girls to go visit for a few days with a woman who they thought of as their second grandmother. She was delighted for the opportunity to have them stay with her.

On the evening of the fifth day, I was comfortably hiding out in my new home away from home. I had been there every night since I did my disappearing act. Sometimes, people refuse to see what is right in front of their faces. I could literally toss a stone and hit the building where I worked, and yet, no one could see me.

I had only to walk across two parking lots and I would have been at Jon's or Ivan's front door, and with twenty minutes time and the initiative to stretch my legs a little, I could have walked to my own front door. The fact was, I had been home after the club closed in the early morning hours. I went home to catch a nap in the downstairs guest room; the door stayed closed at all times and no one ever so much as looked in there.

I waited for Roger to leave for work in the mornings and I took my showers after he had gone. My car was parked right down the street in the parking lot of Ed's office building, and yet, no one noticed it. No one noticed me. Not even the neighbors saw me coming and going at all hours. For a moment, I was invisible.

I was seated in my usual booth, the same one where I'd held court each evening for the past week, surrounded by an unlikely crew of admirers. It was a quiet evening and Chris had abandoned his post at the door to sit to my right, as he always did, with his arm draped around my shoulder. Steve also was at his usual post to my left.

Four others crowded into the booth with us, leaving no wiggle room between us. We were having great fun as I entertained them with stories of my time in California after sharing with them the same medicinal magic I had shared with Jon and Ivan. We were all wasted in one form or another. The members of court had newly dubbed me the 'Voodoo Duchess' due to the magical powers in the joint I gave them. They now called me 'Duchess' for short.

Having just said something of profound wisdom, Chris ran his hand along my cheek and turned my face in his direction so he could kiss me. Chris was fond of kissing and I didn't mind, because I was a bit of a fan myself when I was so inclined. I was engrossed in the kiss and the feel of the leather vest he wore. Neither of us heard the approach of the intruder until the others at the table went silent and Chris stopped kissing me.

I looked up to see the last person on earth I would have ever expected standing across the table from me. My husband, Roger, feet planted apart and looking ominous, uttered an explanation for his presence. My face must have reflected my surprise.

"I saw your car in the parking lot. I thought I'd drop by and have a drink with you."

The men at court were still silent and cautious. "How nice," I replied coolly. "Pull up a chair. I'll buy you a drink, if you like."

"I'd like," Roger said with a nod. "Jack and Coke. I'd also like it better if I could sit down with you and not in a fucking chair across the room." He scanned the faces of my companions and waited expectantly for someone to relinquish their seat. No one did.

"Duchess, do you know this guy?" Chris asked staring blankly at Roger.

"Yes, I know him. Roger, this is Chris. Chris, meet Roger. Could you order him a Jack and Coke for me please?" I asked. Chris called to the bartender for Roger's drink as well as a bottle of the champagne he frequently indulged me with. A moment later, the drink and the wine were delivered while the table remained silent.

Roger took the drink from the bartender and then cocked his head at Chris and I, just as Chris gave me another lingering and very sensual kiss. Roger seemed unimpressed.

"Really, Cindy? This is where you've been for the last fucking week?" he asked with his eyes narrowed at me. "Do you have any idea how many people have been looking for you?"

"Duchess, who is this guy? Do you want me to throw him out?" Chris asked sounding irritated but undisturbed by the prospect of barring Roger.

"What do you want, Roger?" I asked ignoring Chris' question. I felt Steve tense as he nonchalantly took his arm from around my shoulder. He was awaiting Chris' orders to show Roger the door.

"Like I said, I saw your car, and I thought I'd have a drink and a conversation with my wife for a change," Roger snapped with irritation.

There was a sudden deep inhale from several of the men seated at the table. They began to scramble from the booth. In a split second, only Steve and Chris remained. Chris was still unflustered.

"Well, Roger, is it?" he asked lazily. Roger nodded. "Well, Roger, you're welcome to have a drink with the Duchess if you like," he said. "As long as she has no objections and as long as you're not here to cause her any problems," he warned. "You'll have to forgive the others, they have no manners and they're just a little surprised. I'm afraid the Duchess never mentioned she had a husband before," he explained.

"She usually doesn't," Roger snorted with contempt.

"Are you really her husband, Roger?" Chris asked looking him over with suspicion. "You don't exactly look like the kind she would marry."

"I'm really her husband. And that would make you...?" Roger asked snidely.

"Steve, let the man sit down," Chris ordered. Steve reluctantly slid from the booth and Roger took the empty spot beside me.

Chris leaned forward and peered at Roger now seated to my left. "That would make me her friend, Roger. I'm not fucking your wife. No one in the club is fucking your wife. She's just a friend and everyone here loves her. She's good for business, and like I said, we all love her.

"If you want to stay, and you don't have a problem with her, then that's fine. But, if you're here to give her a single minute of grief, don't. Husband or not, you'll never even make it to the front door on two feet," Chris warned again. "Do I make myself clear, Roger?"

"Perfectly," Roger replied. He turned his attention to me. "Is this where you've been all week?" he asked again. I appeared to be bored when I returned his stare.

Chris opened the champagne and poured me a glass. "If you're all right, I'm gonna go make my rounds," he said to me. I nodded and sipped at the champagne.

I placed my hand on his arm as he rose from the booth. "Thanks, Chris." He paused, gave Roger a tentative look and then leaned over and kissed me again. Roger said nothing as he played with the napkin wrapped around his drink for a few awkward minutes.

He suddenly sighed and sat back in the booth. "Where are the kids?" he asked.

"They're being taken care of," I replied.

"I haven't seen them in a week. I haven't seen you for longer than that. I thought you were gone."

"You look simply heart-broken, Roger. Cheer up. I really will leave you someday, and you'll be rid of me for good. Someday may be sooner than you think."

"Look, don't do this, Cindy. I was worried about you and I've missed the girls. Bring them home. Better yet, tell me where they are and I'll go get them," he said quietly.

"Nobody is going to give you my kids, Roger. Not without my permission. If I say so, you'll never see them again. I think you've forgotten that fact, Roger."

"I haven't forgotten. They're your kids. You never let me forget it," he said.

"That's right. And, I never will, Roger. You didn't want our child. You don't want me either. So, tell me again why you are here now."

Roger looked around the bar. He looked anywhere that would allow him to avoid looking at me. "There are people looking for you. The phone is ringing off the hook night and day. I ignored it at first, but then I started answering it, and there are people calling that I've never even heard of before."

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