"Good morning," the housekeeper says as she presents a glass of nasty green juice, juice that exactly resembles what she was drinking a few days ago in the police station. She eyed it closely, there was no way that he could have seen her drinking it. She smirked, he clearly did his homework as well as she did, and she found herself pleased with the caliber of his dedication.
She reached for the glass after it was set down and cordially greeted the woman, "Good morning," Jean replied resting back in a white bath robe while reading the newspaper on his balcony as if it was the most natural thing she could be doing at the moment. It seemed that the housekeeper was nonplus about the fact that a strange woman was lounging here with her employer.
"Morning Patricia," Lucien offered up without looking up from his paper and using his freehand to take a sip from the hot tea she'd brought up along with his toast and fresh fruit. He wasn't one to eat much in the morning, usually opting to have a cup of coffee and a slice of toast as he headed into the office. Admittedly, he'd worked up quite the appetite after last nights activities and he was grateful to spot the hardboiled egg left on the corner of the tray.
Patricia took a step back placing her hands to her sides, "Can I get you anything else?"
"Not a thing." "Thank you." They replied on top of one another's words now pretending to pay attention to their sections of The Courier when both knew that their minds were less interested in the cricket score or the stolen produce that blazed across the headlines.
Once Patricia left the balcony Jean decided to address the green elephant in the room, she raised an eyebrow, "I suppose she didn't just run out for that." Not that she'd mentioned that she wanted it for breakfast.
"No," he smiled as he took a bite of his marmalade covered toast. She watched his mouth as his teeth tore into the bread, it was primal and she couldn't stop staring, wanting his teeth on her. She smiled and muttered, "No," lowly under her breath.
She stirred her drink aimlessly, eyes still stuck on his mouth as he knowingly ate finally breaking the silence, "Damn I hate being a forgone conclusion."
He chanced a look up at her as she sipped her odd green concoction. He hazard to guess what was in it, but was pleased that she was both surprised and content with something familiar. He found himself wanting her to be comfortable, wanting to be happy with him. It was a strange stirring building from inside, one that was unfamiliar and putting him keenly off balance.
He studied her as she studied him in return. She broke the silence again, "You live very well."
"Thank you," he smiled at her obvious statement, curious about where she was going with that line of unspoken inquiry.
"It would be a shame to lose it all," she shrugged, the comment almost blew by him untouched until her eyes caught his.
And there it was. He set the paper down in front of him, folding it and turning his full attention to Jean, "That depends on a very large presumption."
She leaned forward across the table, "Yes it does, I won't back off you know. Not even for a minute." She slipped her fork across to his bowl of fruit and plucked out a ripe, plump strawberry.
This time he couldn't keep his eyes off of her as she seductively bit into the berry, watching the red juice slid down the corner of her lip, "I would be hugely disappointed if you did," his finger swiped across her face catching the juice. Their eyes remained locked on one another as he sucked his thumb and let out a small hum of delight at this game the two were playing.
"How do porcupines mate?" Blake asked his sometimes friend, sometimes psychiatrist Dr. Alice Harvey.
"Old joke. Very carefully," she replied staring at him quizzically knowing that something was up.
"Or unsuccessfully. Don't see many porcupines," he stated matter-of-factly while staring out the window.
Alice was intrigued by this round-about conversation, knowing that it was revealing a lot more than he probably intended, "Creatures with highly evolved defense systems—" she started to say before he interrupted, "Like porcupines."
She shook her head, he was intent on sticking to the analogy, "Like 42 year old, successful, self-involved loners." She watched him closely, reading his reaction to her bluntly bold statement. He bowed his head but kept his vigil at the window.
Alice continued, "If you've found a female mirror image, and think you're going to form a rewarding relationship —"
"Think again," he interrupted again this time because he didn't want the answer, he already knew it. Lucien was crazy to think there was any possibility of a future between he and Jean, by design they were the same but also enemies of the other. Without wanting to they could inflict enormous hurt on the other professionally, and without a doubt personally. Porcupines.
She couldn't help but let out spontaneous and unfiltered laughter. "Oh he's got a problem."
Alice looked at her friend and felt sorry for him as she often did. He was a playboy by trade, but certainly not from need. It wasn't something he spoke of often, but she knew of the pain he'd experienced years ago, the heartache. He wasn't interested in opening himself up to that again, which is how she knew that if he found someone else that was equally closed off it'd spell certain disaster. He turned towards her and nodded, there was nothing left to say.
Jean walked, arguably she sashed still feeling that tingling feeling in her lower abdomen as her mind drifted back to last night. She held in a lustful sigh as she strode confidentially through the station, until she reached Danny. He was standing across from Charlie's desk flipping through a stack of photos. Jean didn't have to look over his shoulder to guess what they were ogling over. She also didn't need more than one guess to figure out what bee had flown into Charlie's bonnet. His jaw was clenched tightly as his eyed narrowed on her.
Jean opened to take the high road, and gave a cheery "Morning," to the two detectives.
"Nice dress," Charlie spat out unable to hid his displeasure. Jean also thought there was a touch of jealousy behind his expression.
The air was thick with an impending argument, and it didn't take long for Danny to get the hint and set the photos back down on Charlie's desk. He paused next to Jean, "It looked like it was a great party," Danny whispered to her on his way out. She liked Danny and took the joking the way it was intended and gave a sisterly hum back and he chuckled as he quickly left the office.
As soon as Jean felt the room empty she turned her attention to Charlie, no longer desiring to take the high road the moment she saw his smug smile, "Are you going to be a cliche?" She remained standing, wanting to loom over him, maintaining some of her power. Men seemed to think that the minute a woman used her sexuality to gain an advantage it meant she was a stupid whore, she was neither and wanted him to know it.
Charlie took the bait waiving in his face, his chair jumping up as he leaned forwarded in annoyance, "Did you even think twice?" His anger was no longer thinly veiled now that they were alone.
"No," she kept her stance in front of his desk, she wasn't interested in being lectured by someone acting like she'd been sent to the principal's office for sneaking out of class.
Charlie glared at her, completely confused by her. It was like she was doing this all on purpose and he couldn't figure it out. "You knew what you were doing?" It was said both as a question and as a sarcastic realization.
She nodded, proudly with her head held high. There was nothing for her to be ashamed about and she wasn't about to let some backwater mid-level policeman upset the balance of her world by thinking otherwise. She leaned forward, "My job. He likes me," she added a shrug,
"He'll keep liking me and it keeps me right next to him." The fact that he wasn't bad looking and a pretty good lay didn't hurt either.
Charlie ran his hands through his dark brown locks and shook his head still puzzled by what she was saying, "And you're okay with that? Do you even care what that makes you?" It came out harsher than he intended.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself from ringing his neck she avoided the low blow. If he wanted to think she was a whore then fine, his opinion of her didn't recover the painting, didn't pay her. She looked down at him, "I know what I'm doing." Her voice was low and dangerous, urging Charlie to shut his mouth before he made the situation even worse. She didn't have to work with law enforcement to do her job, but she always tried to — mutually beneficial she thought most days but today she was questioning her methods. Just not the methods that Charlie was.
He couldn't believe what she was saying, it was all beyond him and even though he seemed to get that she was about to throttle him he couldn't stop the words of judgment from spilling from his mouth. He wasn't sure why he cared so much about her or what she was doing, but he did, "Do you really?"
She took the photos and walked towards the door of his office. There was no reason for him to keep these, they weren't evidence of anything. No crime was committed and while she knew what she was doing it didn't mean that every man with a pulse did. She turned to face him a final time, "This is just about money Charlie." She was aware that her words seemed to suggest the very thing he was driving home — that she was being loose and getting paid for it. But Jean thought there was something deeper in all his boastfulness, some air of protector and perhaps he was still interested in her. This wasn't about love, she needed him to know that. It was sex, just business and nothing more. She didn't wait for his response before stepping out into the hall.
Jean flipped through the black and white surveillance photos taken of her and Lucien last night. She knew the cops were annoyed, but she didn't care. It wasn't her job to care. She went last night because she had a job to do, if it meant that she needed to sleep with a handsome man to do it then so be it. Jean knew she was lying to herself, but for now she was fine with it. Her brain went fuzzy as she thought back to the sounds of the trumpet and bongos playing, the way her body felt as they did the rumba together. It was perfect, too perfect. Who was she kidding, looking at these photos she knew she was already in too deep. Her fingers touched her lips, almost feeling him on her now. She felt the stares from the detectives and the all to familiar pounding returned to her head.
When Lucien called her and said to put on something warm and meet her at the airfield, this hadn't been what she expected. He stood at the other end of the runway poised next to his stearman biplane waiting for her. She chuckled as she approached him, he was wearing a classic brown leather aviation jacket with the matching cap and goggles. When he held out a pair for her though she shook her head, she had no desire to get up in this rust bucket of a plane with him. Jean loved to fly, but she wasn't sure whether she trusted Lucien after all she'd seen what he'd done to his yacht only days earlier.
He wrapped a cream silk scarf around her neck and whispered, "Trust me."
She merely nodded at the deep rumble of his voice. Although she'd been in an open cockpit plane before it had been several years. Lucien gave her a leg up to the front seat and let her get settled in as he stood next to the propeller. He gave her a wink and then shouted, "Contact" before giving the silver blades a hard yank. The engine roared to life making Jean shriek in surprise. Lucien returned to her side and waited for her eyes, covered now by plastic glass goggles, met his, "Trust me." He yelled. Jean nodded and watched him climb in behind her.
Moments later the plane began to move and then roll down the runway, picking up speed as Lucien pushed down on the stick until all at once the plane lifted off the tarmac and into the air. The sensation caused Jean's stomach to drop, she felt like a kid again it felt the same as dropping down one of the rollercoasters in Luna Park. This time she couldn't help but let out a child-like laugh, filled with glee and memory.
Lucien listened to the sound as it floated back and a wide grin spread across his face. Even though he'd done his homework and knew this was a safe bet, one could never be entirely sure about taking a date flying.
After what felt like hours soaring through the sky Jean finally shouted, "I could get used to this!" While she meant more than just flying around the skies of Australia she chose to ignore those thoughts tugging at her heart, after all she'd told Charlie love was not part of the job. She raised her arms out of the cock pit feeling the air whistle by around them, it was intoxicating.
Lucien was delighted, but the surprises weren't over just yet, "You just hold on now."
"Hold on why?" She immediately gripped the inside of her seat worried he was going to start getting fancy and show off by doing barrel rolls or something.
Lucien flipped a switch from the cockpit, "Okay," he yelled back to her, "Take the stick!"
"NO!" She panicked, hoping he hadn't actually let go yet. She'd pretended to fly as a kid, but was ill-prepared to start doing it for real right now.
Despite him having to shout to be heard over the sound of the wind blowing at 12,000 feet his voice sounded calm and even, "Take the stick."
She was tempted by his voice to do it, but as she looked down at her trembling hands she couldn't, "Oh no," she shook her head, "I'm not taking the stick." Her voice as firm as she could manage.
Lucien kept a hand on the controls, but knew she needed to do this. Jean was a woman that loved being in control that like him needed it, practically craved it. In a way he was surprised and touched somewhere deep that he didn't want to acknowledge that she would relinquish it so willingly to him, "Take it." If not for the wind the words would have been a whisper to her ear, buoying her with confidence. He needed her to experience this.
While she was still nervous his urging finally broke through. She put her hand on the stick and she felt it jerk forward, "Oh!" She cried out in surprise as her slight touch moved the plane to the right.
He wasn't sure he would get her to do it, but as he felt the stick moving by its own accord beneath his hands he knew she had, "That's great!" He kept his hands near the controls just in case, but otherwise just looked on wishing he could see her face right now. Jean pushed the controls to the left and the plane soared into a small turn, "You're getting it!" His voice was filled with an unexplained pride, feeling more excited by her doing this than any of his own attempts to push thrills to the edge. He looked over the side of the plane and saw a plane in the distance further to the left. Raising his hand he tapped on her shoulder, "Head for the hill over there," then pointed towards the direction he wanted her to go.
Jean nodded her head, gaining more confidence by the second she carefully pushed on the stick once more pointing the plane into the direction Lucien wanted to go. As he felt the plane moved he quickly praised her, "Yes that's great!"
The blood in her veins was filled with adrenaline, more than she'd ever experienced before. Her heart pounded as she continued to push the plane in the direction of the hill. "Oh my god!" She shouted realizing what she was actually doing.
Lucien tapped on the stick, "Don't lose it, there you go" he reminded her as he noticed her drifting off line a bit. Jean felt the stick move on his control and nodded as though she understood his correction.
The pride continued to swell up inside him, "You're doing it Jean! You're flying!" This exceed every board presentation, every yacht race, every experience he'd had to date, for once he truly felt alive.
Jean took a moment to finally look out at the vast expanse in front of her. From this height you could just see the gentle curve of the earth. The quilt like pattern of farm land below. "This is wild," she shouted but mostly to herself.
"Feel the wind?" Lucien tugged off his leather cap letting the cool air blow through his hair.
"I do," she lifted her chin and for a brief moment closed her eyes allowing her other senses to remember this moment.
He let her continue to "drive" the plane for another few minutes before realizing that they needed to set down soon. They'd gone further away from the airfield than he intended and didn't have enough fuel to return. He surveyed the ground below and found a long dirt road, it was probably a private farm road, but he could pay the farmer to let his plane stay there for a little while until someone could fly it back. Jean looked below and shook her head, suddenly concerned about where Lucien was going, "Uh I don't think this is a runway!"
"It is today," he said as the wings twitched up and down as he began his descent. With practiced ease he brought the plane down to the dirt road, bouncing the wheels a few times as it settled back into gravity. It idled as it coasted for another several hundred feet until it slowed to a complete stop. It wasn't until the propeller had still that Jean realized just how noisy the ride had been, and how quiet things were now. She turned back towards him and then looked around. The sun was beginning to lower on the horizon, it would be dark soon and there was nothing around except, "Cows."
He nodded at her obvious remark. "It is a farm Jean," He jumped down to the ground.
She unhooked her harness and lifted off the goggles then climbed out to Lucien's waiting hand, "Oh well, that's fine," she said enjoying the comfort of his gloved touch as she reacquainted herself with terra firma, "We're only about two towns over from your car," she added realizing that she had no clue where they were or how they'd even get back to Ballarat.
Lucien merely winked, not in the least bit disappointed that they were so far away from where they were supposed to be.
AN: The Alice scene was the very first thing I wrote for this story. Once I rewatched the film I couldn't help but see anyone else in that chair across from Lucien acting like a therapist besides our ever-honest Alice.