Philippe does a vanishing act on Lorraine.
If Lorraine had her way, Philippe would leave without another word spoken between them. The possibility to convince him of that was minute at best. His squinting eyes revealed his rising suspicions in her. Once they began, nothing deterred him from getting to the heart of the matter.
"Philippe," she said," "you're making something out of nothing."
"Because you're lying about- nothing," he replied. "Why is it so difficult to say what happened?"
She gave small nervous grin. "It's embarrassing," she answered.
"I don't have the tolerance to deal with procrastination. Just tell me-" Philippe stopped to see who belonged to the footsteps he heard entering the room.
"The first face I expect to see, but the last I find," he said.
Philippe rose to greet Basia as she walked into the room. He kissed her hand as he did with any woman he was fond of. He gazed up to see a face filled with pure joy. Then, they hugged each other.
"It is so good to see you," Basia said. "I'm sorry that I didn't know that you were coming. I would've changed my off-day and prepared a special dinner for two. Are you visiting for the entire evening, or the night?"
"Basia," Lorraine replied. "I'll thank you to keep those types of questions to yourself."
"I don't see what's wrong. If Mr. McIntyre is staying for the night, I would like to prepare the guest bedroom. I only returned to change my outfit. I'm going out for the night." Basia walked to Lorraine. "Think about this," she said. "If you date Philippe, you won't have to worry about that happening again."
She pointed to Lorraine's bandaged forehead before she left the room. She didn't intend to antagonize Lorraine. Rather, she wanted to get a simple message to her employer.
She remembered how much Philippe loved Lorraine. She wouldn't be surprised if that was what they were talking about just before she saw them. She had no doubt that Lorraine's visitor would question the injury. Lorraine's recent choices for lovers were much to be desired. She thought Lorraine a fool to have left the man that was most suited in the world for her. She prayed Philippe would finally talk some sense into her boss' stubborn brain.
"You tell me it's nothing," Philippe said. "Yet, Basia seems to think it's an issue worthy of a chat. All right, I want the real story. I'm asking you one last time. How did you hurt your head?"
As angered she was by Basia's revelation, Lorraine would not act upon her disapproval. The matter was out of her hands. Philippe would not allow her to reprimand her maid. The only option she held was to save herself from Philippe's immovable interrogation.
"I want you to add an extra element into your answer," he said.
"What's that?" she said.
"That is what you just got. I can't give anything else."
"If it really happened that way, you would've said so a long time ago. There has to be a serious reason why you're lying to me."
"That's typical for you to say. Why do lawyers think that everyone lies to them?"
"Because they do."
"That's not fair."
"It's fair, and true."
"You can't prove it Philippe."
"Are you kidding? What have you done that is so horrible?"
Philippe gazed at Lorraine. He awaited her confession to her fibbing, but realized the wait could prove to be an enduring one. He wondered if she convinced herself she was telling truth.
She shifted herself to the end of the sofa. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked.
"I'm thirsty," she answered. "I'd like to get some water, if you don't mind."
"Wrong answer. You're trying to run away again. I won't let you do it." He kept hold of her as he moved next to her. "How one woman can be so irresponsible and run a large corporation is beyond my comprehension. Stay on this couch and don't even think about moving." He walked to the kitchen, poured a glass of water, and returned to Lorraine who stood next to the sofa.
"I told you not to move," he said.
"I'm in the same place," she replied. "Even you can't stop me from standing up."
Philippe frowned in response to Lorraine's answer. She made her move for no reason but to be defiant and to annoy him. Knowing she succeeded in doing both, she returned the sneer with a smirk of her own.
He approached the coffee table and placed the glass on it. "There's your water," he said. "No more excuses or stalling." He walked up to her: his eyes never left hers. "Who did this to you?" Philippe asked in a stern voice.
"No! I told you I won't stand for it. Tell me now or I'll find out on my own. And I don't think you want me to do that."
"You'll waste your time. No one knows besides me."
"She works for me. She knows better than to tell everyone what goes on in my private life."
"I'm not everyone. She already brought up the subject of your head wound in front of me. She did it on purpose Lorraine. It won't take much to convince her to tell the rest to me."
Lorraine tried to stop her lips from quivering but failed. Part of her concern continued with Gene. Now, her worries began to focus themselves on a new plight: one she feared as much as Gene.
"It happened a couple of days ago," Lorraine started. "I did hit my head on a table but- not the way I said."
"Someone else is involved," he inquired.
She nodded an affirmative response. Talking to Philippe became more difficult with each answer. "It was Gene," she said as she lowered her head. "I told him it was over between us, but he paid no attention. I told him to get out of my house. Everything happened so fast after that. He grabbed me and said he would never allow me to see another man. He'd kill me before that happened. Then- then-"
Philippe gazed at Lorraine as she relived her horrific experience. He remained unsure of the details, but was able to make one conclusion- Lorraine's altercation was more serious that she was willing to say. As her pain and fear rose, so did his anger. She struggled to continue her story, but her crying made it impossible to do so. He placed his arms around her. He wished she finished her story before began weeping, but that didn't matter now. His concern now rested in calming and assuring her that she was safe. He had only one question to validate his theory of that frightening night:
"Lorraine, did he hit you?"
Lorraine managed to compose herself long enough to mutter her answer. "Yes," she said in a whisper.
"You're ashamed of this?"
"You shouldn't be. It's not your fault. That's not a good reason to hide something like this."
"Well, to be honest, that's not why I didn't tell you."
"It can't be that you're protecting him."
"No. It's you who needs protecting."
"From whom? Not your boyfriend. I'm not afraid of him."
"Philippe, you need protection from yourself."
"I haven't forgotten your temper. As a lawyer, you keep it under control. Outside of the office, it becomes a totally different situation."
"I have total control over my emotions."
"All- except one."
Philippe stopped in his tracks. He began to consider the unthinkable. "And have you ever been on the receiving end of my wrath?" he asked.
"Not me," she answered. "You would never do that to me."
"Do you think I need therapy?"
"You're not crazy Philippe. But you may want to talk to someone to find ways to get a better grip on your temper."
As long as he wasn't a threat to his beloved, Philippe was content to accept his imperfection. He needed to focus his attention on a much more crucial subject.
Without warning, Philippe walked to the front of the house, picked up his coat, and proceeded to open the door. Sensing something of out of the ordinary, Lorraine ran after him. She grabbed his arm as he stepped in the door frame. "You're leaving without saying good bye?" she asked. "Why?"
"I have a task I need to take care of now."
"You can't tell me what it is?"
"You don't need to know."
His solemn tone sent a chill through her. She realized why he was evasive in answering her. "No," she said. "You can't."
"I can and will."
"This is what I was talking about. You can't take matters into your own hands. You'll get into trouble."
"Nothing I can't get myself out of. I am familiar with the law."
He can't leave this house, she thought. She wasn't sure of the exact location he planned to go to, but that didn't matter. Wherever he arrived would result in a long prison term for him.
"You can't simply go out there and search," she said. "You don't know anything about him. How do you expect to find Gene?"
"I will find him!"
"If you go after him, you won't be any better than he is."
"No matter what happens from here on, I will always be better than him."
"Not if you go after him and stalk him like prey. What will that make you?"
He paused to think about her last remark. Knowing she had his attention, Lorraine took advantage of Philippe's immobilization. As he continued to ponder her words, she positioned herself to the door. His inability to leave drove him to let out his frustration through alternate means. He tossed his hat and coat onto the Chippendale chair. He shoved his hands into his pockets and commenced to pace the width of the corridor. The situation remained tense, but Lorraine's fear was depleting. She succeeded in convincing him to remain in her house for the time being. With luck, she would talk him out of going after Gene. She made sure the door closed without him noticing her movement.
"I can handle anything this world throws at me," he said. "Bad or good, it make no difference, but this- the thought of him, hitting you-"
"I know how you feel," she said. "But you can't act on impulse. You're a lawyer. What will happen to you if you go to jail?"
"I can handle myself."
"Against how many men Philippe? And, how could long could you keep it up? Eventually, everyone falls asleep."
"If it means teaching him a lesson, it'll be worth it."
"At what price? Is it worth loosing the chance to be with me?"
He stopped pacing and glared at her. Philippe was willing to sacrifice everything he had to avenge his love, until she put forth that idea. He was still angered, but no longer enraged. "I don't know how long I can stay like this," he said. "I can't let him get away with this."
"That's why you're staying here tonight."
"I think it's best."
"That wouldn't be appropriate. Aren't you worried something will happen?"
"That's not a problem. You can stay in Gene's- I mean the guest bedroom. I have a lock on my door. That should relieve any temptation on your part during the night."
Philippe thought for a moment. "The guest bedroom will be adequate," he replied. "Well my dear, I'll see you in the morning." He kissed Lorraine on the cheek. "Surprised?" he added. "You shouldn't be. You should know that nothing was going to happen tonight. It's too soon. I refuse to be a rebound from- him. Anything more than a mere kiss now will lead to-"
Lorraine held her breath in anticipation of Philippe's next words. As the silence continued, Lorraine soon realized that he would not finish his statement.
His mind was the only dependable and rational part of his body now. The only recourse he had was to rely on it. He wished the evening had a different ending. Lorraine was the only woman whose passion matched his. His entire body ached for her. Yet, he dared not act on his emotions. As Philippe stood before Lorraine, his heart yearned to carry her upstairs to her bedroom. She deserved nothing less than a man who was willing to fulfill every lustful desire she possessed.
"Good night my dear," he said. He tore himself away from her. He frowned as he walked past her, entered the guest room, shut, and locked the door.
* * *
The rays of the morning sun exposed Lorraine's bedroom to that of picturesque beauty. She awakened to find two items on a pillow next to her head; a pink carnation and a card. She picked up the card and read:
Very soon you'll wake to me instead of a flower.
Lorraine placed the card next to the carnation. Expecting to see Philippe, she grabbed her robe and ran to the living room. Instead, she was greeted by Basia. She noted of a tray her housekeeper carried that contained half filled cups of coffee.
"Mr. McIntyre is gone," Basia said. "He left a couple of hours ago."
Lorraine's head turned with disappointment. She looked forward to starting her morning sharing a cup of coffee with a well known acquaintance.
"I'm sure he'll come over again," Basia said. "He did say he enjoyed seeing you last night." She began walking towards the kitchen. She paused before she entered the door. "You're still in love with him, aren't you?" Basia asked.
"What makes you say that?" Lorraine asked.
"The way you looked at him last night. He's the only man you've looked at- that way."
"What are you talking about? I've looked at other men with love and admiration."
"Not as much as him. Not the same way."
Once again, she overstepped the boundaries of an employee, but that didn't matter. She had to make a final attempt to get through to Lorraine. "The two of you belong together. He can save your life, Ms. Ravenshire."
Appalled by her employee's meddling in her personal affairs she was set on putting a stop to this before it got out of hand. "I can take care of myself," Lorraine said. "My life is complicated now. I don't need extra problems."
"Which proves my point. Your life was the opposite when you were dating Mr. McIntyre."
Lorraine's manner became very sarcastic. "I suppose he could protect me from Gene too," she said.
"I will not waste my time talking about something we both know." She turned around and went into the kitchen. With the luck she had lately, Lorraine would fire her by the evening. Basia made a mental note to pick up a newspaper and review the want ads.
Lorraine leered at Basia as she left the hallway. Basia was the second person to speak on behalf of Philippe. She hoped this conversation about her former lover would be the last one. She was growing weary of this topic.
Lorraine entered her living room to see jasmine tea waiting for her. She held her hand over the cup to test its warmth. As she sat down, Lorraine reached for a magazine. She would have to wait several minutes for it to cool down and she didn't wish to sit and do nothing. The more pages she turned, the more frustrated she became.
The voices of both Oscar and Basia dominated her mind. She was finding it impossible to conclude that both were wrong. Like it or not she contemplated her past relationship with Philippe. She was sure she remembered everything that happened- their love, good times, and painful breakup. All of that happened two years ago. Yet, it was worthy of conversation for those close to Lorraine. Perhaps the time had come to listen to others who had a more objective view of this affair.
She leaned forward to lift the cup of tea- and see Basia standing in the doorframe. Reluctance prevented Basia from entering the room. Seeing her hesitation, Lorraine gestured Basia to enter the room.
"Where would you like me to place them?" Basia asked.
"Here," Lorraine answered as she pointed to the coffee table.
"Whoever is sending the flowers is very persistent."
"Yes, very persistent."
Basia gazed at Lorraine's expression. The puzzled look from past deliveries was replaced by one of insight. "You know who's been sending the flowers," Basia said.
"Don't you?" Lorraine replied.
Basia gave it some thought. There weren't many people who knew Lorraine's favorite flower. She created a mental list: Lorraine's daughter, parents, Christy, and perhaps Oscar. Maybe each of them would send one bouquet, but all of this? She couldn't think of anyone else Lorraine was close to except- "Philippe! He's sent the flowers all this time."
"Very good. Before you go, I'd like you to answer a question. There was a carnation and note in my bed when I woke up. How did it get there?"
"Philippe put them there," Basia answered.
"How did he get in? The room was locked."
"No ma'am. Philippe opened the door, walked in, then came right out. He didn't stay if that's what you're worried about."
He left on purpose, Lorraine thought. She was positive she locked the door to her master bedroom before commencing to sleep. She could only ask herself if her lack of action was accidental or intentional. Did her subconscious wish for Philippe's presence, even his love?
"They're beautiful," Basia said. She stole one last admiring glance of the carnations as she left the room.
Lorraine leaned towards the bouquet and pulled out one carnation. How delightful that Philippe recalled such a minute point of her personality. Even his words were now entering Lorraine's mind.
She finally acknowledged her evasion from Philippe. He confronted her of past incidents as if she had made a habit of this. Philippe went even further and reminded her of past incidents as if she had made a habit of this. She wasn't ready for a total concession to her former lover. Yet, the time had come to face facts. Her overdue reality check had arrived.
Could it be her mind fabricated the pain from this relationship? She told Philippe that she wanted him, but she only confessed her physical desires for him. Was she the only one who declared their relationship to be a casual one? She now wondered if Philippe was right that she used Gene as an excuse to keep them apart.
What of this morning? She almost fell down the stairs running to greet Philippe. If they only shared a physical relationship, why she was brokenhearted by Philippe's departure? Her actions spoke louder than words she used. Her concern for Philippe was more than a casual one. She feared the altercation between the two men as much as Gene's return into society.
Philippe was a very resourceful man. Although Los Angeles held more than one jail, Philippe would not be deterred. As a lawyer, he would learn of Gene's whereabouts by nightfall. It wouldn't take much work to access Gene's release date.
She deduced the reason for Philippe's absence this morning. He had to leave before she made a second attempt to prevent his departure.