They knelt in front of me and ran the palms of their hands over the tops of my toes, my feet and slowly up my legs. Dommi recovered herself and pulled back. “Lie down on your stomach.” I pulled off the bed cover and lay down obediently. Well, most of me lay down.
Dominique went to the chair, pulled out from under the cushion a camera.
“We got a Polaroid camera. Cherine and I decided we want some pictures of you.” She took a quick picture and pulling out the photo we waited. When she parted the film the photo really made me look awful. The girls burst into hysterical laughter (even this kind of laughter I store in my heart).
That camera gave us the freedom to play and experiment without having to worry about any developer seeing them. As with everything else, with the happiness came tears also. Dommi took a photo of Cherine and I and she decided it was cute, so she put it in her wallet. Cherine then also wanted one. I made Dommi take it out. I made a rule that nobody is allowed to carry any compromising photos out of the house. A wallet stolen, a picture found in a school bag would have dire consequences for us. I even decided we must, soon as I can afford it, get a wall safe.
They were soon by my side again, their faces tender with their love. Their hands massaged my back and shoulders. It was not really a massage, more a soft searching of my body, an imprinting of my texture, of the shape of muscles and bone. The sensation of four hands re-acquainting themselves with my participation as myself and as part of their sensations, feeling myself twice over in their loving minds and nerve endings. I could have lain there like that all night. I sighed in the warm bathing of their love and relaxed, accepting myself.
“I’m hungry. Can we eat now?”
“It is time for supper, I’m also famished” Dommi replied.
Unbelieving I turned over. The two were busy undressing themselves. I willed them to slow down so that I can enjoy the sensations on their skins and the sight as they stripped themselves of all clothing. I hungrily looked at them, also aching to feel them against me and under my fingertips.
“Robert can we eat now. We’ve been too busy to eat all day and we are starving.”
I gave up. “Okay.”
They both squealed with delight and jumped on me, in a competition to grab hold of me. I threw them both off.
“You are both still young growing kids and you must get some healthy nutrition. Up you get, let’s see what we have in the kitchen.” I led the way under their protests that it is healthy and nutritious. I could sense their feelings that I was being a spoil-sport and was being quite irritating. It amused me.
I looked in the cupboard. I waved the bottle at Cherine, “You love this Nutella stuff right?” I searched to get something for Dommi. “What do you want” I asked her,” some honey?”
I gave them the bottles and put my arms over their shoulders and shepherded them back to our bedroom, “Now you may eat.”
A puzzled Cherine said, “But you did not get any bread Robert.”
“Don’t be silly wife.”
By the time we got to the bedroom, Dommi’s mind was boiling, she had understood, but Cherine was still puzzled. I handed the opened bottles to them and lay down. “Now smear your bread and eat it all up.” I had a huge grin on my face, this had been a secret little fantasy of mine, though I had mostly dreamt of doing it to them, since I could never imagine any female wanting to do it off my body.
I expected this to be a sort of torture for me, but, at the same time, I was wild with the need to feel their sensations as they (experienced) eating off me. They good-naturedly argued as they both wanted the same part. They finally settled on starting at my nipples, at least there they had one each.
They smeared me and their tongues were soon licking me clean. Of course Cherine could not avoid ‘accidentally’ nibbling at my nipple. Then they both smeared my belly, on either side of the line of hair in the center. They licked in a downwards direction. When I was all clean they looked at each other. I swear I could have come there and then if I had not been so involved/caught up in their own feelings and sensations, but then the body took over and I did lose control and then the throbbing slowly settled down.
Neither of them had orgasmed and their need, felt within me, between my legs, but in the slightly different feelings they enjoy, ensured I was soon excited and hard again. As Cherine felt me harden she give a final lick and climbing over straddled me, placing my penis in her, but facing upwards. She was so single-mindedly involved in her own needs that Dommi sat back and watched, not wanting to spoil it for her.
The slippery sliding of her soon had me ready to explode again. She crushed herself against me and as she spasmed, I felt the rising heat as the pressure within me burst. She quickly lifted herself and stuck the head of my penis, outside her virginal entrance. She held me there and we both felt me jetting into her. In her wild excitement she tried to thrust herself onto me, but I held her up. She gave a cry and collapsed onto me.
Dommi quickly turned her over, checking for damage. She realised what had happened and sighed in relief. Tenderly she kissed her. When I felt her rising heat burning through her I raised my head and stared as she orgasmed without her own body being touched.
We spent most of the night making up for the weeks we had missed. The whole time the happiness in Cherine warmed my heart. She had finally managed to get a small part of me into her. The arousals and passions, the pleasure of just being able to hold each other, drink in the scents, feel the warmth of beloved flesh, were a balm that brought us a deep peace.
I had lost track of time, so was pleasantly surprised to find out that Cherine had started her Easter holidays. We would have days and nights uninterrupted to enjoy our love. Sensing or guessing our need, Alki did not call or visit. He probably also stayed away so as not to lead the press to us.
As we went about the normal acts of running a home, our relationship grew and we became a family in the normal sense of the word. The domesticity did not only satisfy the females, it gave me just as much a feeling of belonging, of being a part of something larger than myself. During this time Cherine blossomed. She not only needed to be lover, she was still a child and needed our fathering and mothering. She was our adored wife, lover, but above all, our daughter.
One evening, as we relaxed in our lounge, Cherine stared into my eyes with love as she asked, “Robert, you teased me one day on the island, I have not forgotten. You said you would tell me about your childhood, the story of your life. Can you tell us now?”
“What for? That was before, you have now seen into me, my life, my memories, whatever is me is now in you too.”
She shook her little head, “It is not the same. I need to hear you tell me with your feelings.”
Dommi stood up for Cherine and explained, “Cher is right Roberto. When we talk, we colour our memories with our feelings. Where I see a memory in you, I may colour it with my own feelings, because of the way I interpret it according to my own experiences. I need to know how you colour your memories, what hurt you, what filled you with love or happiness.”
“Sorry, you are both right. You mean to say Dommi, all those years of our childhood you did not know? Sometimes when I spent the weekend with your family, once I was in bed, alone, I would feel my face turn a hot red, for I would imagine everyone discussing me and my shitty father. I hated the idea of being pitied.”
“No, but I heard my parents talking one night. They said you had been badly hurt and were glad you found a family and love with us, but nothing else was said and I do not remember anyone pitying you - I think, without anyone saying anything, we mostly admired how you dealt with your pains.” Tears came to me at this evidence of their kindness. She read my mind of course and hugged me. “Don’t worry love. They will accept us back. They just need time. I could not live knowing I cannot see them ever again.” I nodded and buried my face in her hair. After breathing in her delightful scent I gave her a grateful peck on the lips.
I asked, “And you my Cherine. How are you getting on with Marian?”
“I’ll tell you later. Robert whenever you don’t want to tell me something you try to make me talk about other things. I want to hear it now.”
Instinctively both cuddled up to me as I sank into my memories. With the comforting warmth of their touch, I brought out those sweet and painful memories I hid from, as a gift to them.
“My early years were on a coffee farm in Kenya. Those were good years and I still find the aroma of drying coffee beans returning to me, provoking feelings of nostalgia, but I never get any images. My mother was a slight, dark-haired women, half Greek Cypriot, half Irish, who had grown up in London. I do not remember much about her. Apart from her laugh. She had a gay happy laugh. She had green eyes and they sparkled when she laughed. I remember that and a strong sense of being loved deeply.
When she left me, I think I forgot everything about her for a long time. All that comes back to me is the pain, the loss of my place in the world. For a very long time I thought that she had left because of me, there was no other believable explanation. I refused to believe what my father told me - he told me she left because she does not love us, that she loves somebody else more than him. At that time I loved him and could not imagine my mother not loving him.
My father, a thin smallish man, shorter than my mother, had always been a rather cold and stern person, but with moments of humour and tenderness. When my mother left he became bitter and hard, the change in him not confined to us at home, but with everyone, so that he soon had no friends or visitors.
He had always, I think, been a loner, but now he had no time at all for me, even though I needed him. I still remember the day he came and woke me up very early in the morning. He stood at the entrance to my room at dawn, his body stiff and with no emotion visible, and told me, coldly, that my mother had died. He then turned his back to me and left, not answering any of my questions. He would not discuss it further, except to tell me once, abruptly, that it had been an accident. I had no choice, I had to believe him, but later I did overhear others talking and I began to have my doubts. Those doubts tormented me for years until I grew old enough to realise I had been grabbing onto hope where none exists.
Soon as he could, my father brought me to England and placed me in a boarding school, arranging that I be taken care of by the school during holidays. During long weekends, when other kids were allowed to visit home I stayed at school. Those were the only times I could cry. That is, until Nicko and I became friends. Then, thanks to him, I sometimes was invited for the weekend with him and his family and it evolved into a regular invitation that I could rely on. I never grew to take the visits for granted. You cannot know how I hungered for those moments, it was as if I were in another world. A place where parents love their children and don’t leave them. I don’t understand how the heart works, using logic I would expect that being with a family who love each other, I would feel the loss of mine even more strongly. I did not, what I did feel is a deep need to be accepted and loved by this family who know how to love each other. I also sometimes wonder, if Nicko did not have such a big heart, what would I have become? Whatever happens Dommi, I will never forget that I owe him big time.
They had a little daughter who reminded me of my mother because of her dark hair and infectious laughter, so I secretly began to fantasise that she was my little sister. As her brother felt too grown up to play with her and I did not want him to think of me as a sissy, otherwise he would stop wanting me to visit, I did not often play with her. But Nicko did not mind me being polite, so I would sit and listen to her when she came and talked to me. If I teased her, I hope it was never in the way of little boys, it was gently and to make her laugh. In a world where there is no laughter, you cannot imagine how sweet that sound is.
I have not seen or heard from my father since. When I turned eighteen a firm of attorneys advised me he had left an amount with them for me to use as I wish, either to further my studies or set myself up. I never called on them, never accepted the money. He could not fill that empty space in my life with money.
Can you understand why I make such a big thing of having my own family?”
I felt the catch in their hearts, the sweetness of their pain for me. I also felt the background of guilt in my Dommi.
“Dominique! I have caused you both pain so many times. I have nearly killed Cherine. All because of my pride, or fear. Never, not once have I felt the slightest sliver of blame in either of you. Your love that has no place in it for blaming or accusations has opened my heart, helped me learn to forgive and accept myself. Why can’t you also learn to live with the past? If you can forgive others, why not yourself? I will not argue with you that you do not have any reason to blame yourself. Self blame is always unreasonable, so I would be fighting a losing battle. What I ask then is that you give yourself absolution, so that your love for us is open and free.”
She exploded. “Leave me alone Roberto. You do not have the right to look in my mind all the time. All you do is criticise me.” In shock I pulled back, blocking her. Cherine gave me a squeeze, but kept her heart sending love to our Dommi. We sat in silence and Dommi began to weep.
“I’m sorry Robert. Please don’t be cross with me.” She put her head on my shoulder. I felt her tears and held her. I noticed her calling me Robert and wondered what changes how she names me. If I am Roberto when she is feeling emotional, I hope I remain Roberto permanently, for her.
Cherine said to me, “Robert don’t stay out of her. She needs to know you are there. Please?”
Dommi looked up, her eyes red. “You’re not in me?”
“I do not have the right to be. I can only stay when you want me.”
“But I do.” Gently I unblocked, but was not entirely comfortable yet. What if she was only saying she wanted me in her, a part of her secret self?
She rubbed her hand on my chest. “I don’t know why I said that. I did not mean it. Sometimes I get the feeling you are both being too nice to me, that you are only doing everything you do and show me love so as to keep me happy.”
In a flat voice I told her, “That I would say is because you do not deserve the love we give you.”
While Dommi nodded in agreement Cherine cried out, “Robert! How can you say that!” Boy was she angry with me!
“I’m not saying that, she is. Don’t worry sweetie, she understood me.” I turned to Dommi. “I do not understand, you have spent your whole childhood loved. Why have you grown up so insecure? I have read about the children from wealthy families who were ignored, not loved, just given things and so on, causing them many emotional problems, but your childhood does not reflect theirs; your mother and father showed you a lot of love and even Nicko, despite his being embarrassed to play with you in front of me, was always loving. Why else would he be so angry with me, if not out of love for you?
Dommi, you have danced with us and felt directly the power of our love and your place within the very heart of our existence. Yet you still have a sneaky suspicion that we are only tolerating you, humouring you - and I can’t help wondering why you think we would, if we don’t love you. This is something I do not know how to handle. I thought for a while that it was because you felt yourself an outsider, but since you have been one with us and developed your own gifts, I was hoping you would accept us for what we are and for how we truly love you. Tell me my love, how can I take that ache from you?”
I sensed a hint of tears in her voice when she said, “I don’t know. Oh Cherine, I do know you love me.”
I felt as if my shoulders sagged as I told Cherine, “That is the strange thing. She does truly accept and believe in your love for her. It is only my love she does not.”
“Please Robert, don’t be hurt. I do love you and I know you love me. I’m just afraid you will stop.”
“You now know for a fact, not just promises of a lover which mean not much more than nothing, you know from being merged in the Kaleidoscope World, from knowing that you are a part of it, that the love we three feel for each other will last till death and then beyond. You have seen that we were returned so that our children can be part of us and one day grow our World. How can you fear, what is there to fear? Do you fear we will suddenly discover you were not worth loving? How? How? How can I stop loving a part of myself?” In frustration and anguish I asked her, “Do you need me to stop loving Cherine, to love only you?” Shocked she pulled away, her face pale. “Dominique, I will never stop loving our Cherine, our child lover, wife. You know that I cannot.”
“Yes - and I don’t want you to!”
“Then you should know, neither can I stop loving you, my child lover, my woman, my wife.”
Cherine piped up, “My mother wants me to stay with her during the weekends.”
I almost laughed. “If you were trying to change the subject, magical child you sure managed it.”
“I don’t want to.” She gave me a rebellious look.
“Roberto, I have an idea.”
“Anything my love. When it comes to matters to do with Cherine and her mother, I always need help.”
“What if we organise it that we go out on Saturday nights and take Marian with us. She can then sleep here with Cherine and spend Sundays with us. That way we keep Cher near us.”
I could feel her, but I asked anyway, “Cherine?”
“Why do you want me to? I don’t want to be with her. I don’t belong to her anymore.”
I asked, “What is it with you two tonight. Let’s make Robert be nasty to us? Cherine, I do not like what I hear. First of all, she is still your mother. I’ll tell you this, if I were lucky enough to still have mine, I would put up with a lot just to know she is there. I think her recent acceptance and help show that she does love you. She just needs a little help.”
I spoke as if musing, surprised. “When Alki had to bring her to us, I could not help thinking that if she wants, this is her chance to destroy me. She could do so without worrying that it would place you at risk, for I think she knows me well enough to know I would not allow you to become involved in whatever happens to me. Instead, she volunteered to speak out on my behalf! Cherine, if you are allowing your gift to blind you to the positive changes in her, then you are not the girl I think you are. Have you used your gift to look deeper, beyond the feelings of hardness?”
I got up and began to walk around, so Cherine did not reply, waiting for me. I had a glimmer of an idea, but did not like it. I struggled with the ethics of it, but I had to give in. By the time I had made up my mind, the girls were chatting, but they turned to me as soon as I returned to them.
“I told you, and I was very adamant about it Cherine, that I will not tolerate any manipulation by you, especially using your…”
“I know, I was about to say that you will have every right to get angry with me. I am going to suggest we manipulate your mother.”
I sat on a separate sofa. This was not the time to be touching and maybe influencing them. “Dommi, she told me she wants to change, but does not know how. She said she could not afford professional help. So, in a way I think she was asking me for help. Under any other circumstances I would not suggest this, but it is important that Cherine has her mother, but, Cherine, a mother who has matured and is capable of loving the way you would want her to love you. Cherine I do not know whether we can do it, we can’t even solve our own problems, but do you want to try?”
I noticed her hands were curled into fists, “Will I have to stay with her?”
I smiled, “No. We can do as Dommi suggested and it will also make us go out a bit more often. I would enjoy showing off the two of you.”
She was forcing herself not to feel. “If you want to, but I do not think it will work.” There was still a bit of defiance in her attitude, but I hoped that as we help Marian, she’ll thaw and allow herself to remember that she needs her love - for me, it is just as important that Cherine loves her mother, the way things are, it is not healthy.
“Remember that time she walked in and picked up the sheet and looked at you? Dommi you were not there. She saw our Cherine with her legs wrapped around me, both of us in the nude, the room full of the scents of our lovemaking, and she softly slapped Cherine’s bottom and told her she has a sexy bum. Try and imagine your mother being so tolerant.”
Dommi gave a loud laugh of disbelief. “Mine? She would have killed me - or you!”
Weeks went by and we were starting to establish a routine to our lives. I had begun to create circumstances for me to have time alone with just one of them at a time - never more than two hours, so that the one left alone does not suffer. I kept account, though it may sound cold-blooded, so that this time was shared equally between them. I found and hoped they too found a certain intimacy, the same as I needed now and then (of course I was getting twice as much as either of them were).
Truth be told, I saw with regret that my sweet child lover is growing older. It is almost her birthday, she will soon be nine and whatever my feelings about it, I must do what I can to make it her happiest birthday ever. Dommi and I conspired with Alki and Marian, so that all who love her are part of making it her best birthday. She is so unspoilt and appreciative of everything done for her, that we might actually succeed.
With my private life settling down I found it easier to spend time on creating new graphics for Alki. Some of them I thought were quite good. Those were the ones Alki usually did not prefer. As the more discerning section of the public seemed to agree with his tastes I did not argue. I also have to spend time studying, for the internet is evolving very fast and if I want to maintain the reputation I have built, I must learn how to continually integrate the latest developments in my work. I do not believe in doing so slavishly. Sometimes new effects can be achieved by old and simple routines, without using massive amounts of memory or opening the visitor to dangers on the web. I’m actually beginning to look forward to having an order for a site - the bigger and more complicated, in other words, challenging, the better.
When I found a moment alone with Alki, it was at the office, I told him about Thanassi. He was awed, but also delighted to hear that he had seen me with a lot of girls and others. He felt this confirmed our future for us. I want him to feel happy now and then, he has had to bear so much for my sake, I feel I owe it to him, so I did not argue my point of view. However, I admit I am not of the same mind, I think that the future always demands of us that we work for it, if we want the good parts to become true. I’ll add here, at this time, that I later found out that Alki sent someone to find out about Thanassi and when he learnt that his history was true, he arranged for him to be employed at a decent salary. I know Alki, he did not do it for Thanassi, he did it for me, and I cannot help feel my love for him grow.
When I asked, Alki was willing to advance me an amount for my plans. Cherine was a darling. She realised we were planning something and without being asked to, kept her link slightly muted, not encroaching upon our minds. It is impossible to keep secrets totally secret between us, but with a bit of assistance from the party to be surprised we can achieve a degree of secrecy. She did not know what we planned, but that we planned.
The day before her birthday we sent with her a note for the school, advising them she would not be attending the next day. When she returned from school we went to Kefalari square and she had her favourite, a Baked Alaska. It was early evening when we returned home. I demanded she go to sleep, since we would be up until early morning. I asked but one hour; Dommi lay down with her and they slept for over three.
Dommi had suggested our evening entertainment, remembering the effect it had on her. The owner remembered me, but having Alki and Dommi at my side helped and he was very friendly and agreed to our plans. Alki, being part of our plans, went overboard, as it is not often he has a chance to spoil his granddaughter…without me being a spoilsport and objecting - always for her sake of course.
As we dressed, Dommi dabbed a spot or two of perfume. I saw/felt Cherine’s longing and her reluctance to ask because she knew I do not like perfumes and scents. “Dommi, you think our birthday girl is old enough to have a dab or two of that lovely perfume?” With the scent flowing from her she came and hugged me, without a word, just emoting her love and gratitude. I sent her images of me melting into a pool that took the shape of a heart. If I had intended her to giggle I failed. I just felt the remarkable warmth of her love deepen further.
When we arrived at the club the owner greeted us warmly, gravely shaking Cherine’s hand. He gave her his arm and led us to our table. He courteously seated the ladies and bending over me, whispered, “Now I can tell people that even angels come to my club.” I was not certain whether he was referring to me and that awful story, or to my two lovely wives, but I gave him a smile anyway, as I enjoy that kind of humour.
Marian arrived with Alki and soon Themi was with us and the party was complete. From the sounds around us and the way people were looking, it was obvious a number of patrons had recognised us and the news was spreading like wildfire. It would have been considered very ‘low class’ for them to intrude on us and they are used to seeing celebrities, so we were not the subject of scrutiny and conversation for long.
I saw the table had been set for seven people instead of the six that we were. I asked Alki who we were still expecting. I/we had wanted this night to be just the three of us with our dearest friends and family. He put his finger to his nose and winked. “We will have to wait and see.”
About ten minutes later a waiter whispered to him and he walked to the entrance. He returned with a young boy by his side. It was the youngster from the accident.
“I felt that this young man, Pavlo, who owes his life to Roberto, should be included in our party. In my village, we believe that if you save someone’s life you are under obligation to that person. Is it not proper that he join us for such a moment of celebration and happiness?”
I recalled how he had cried at the hospital, wanting me to be saved. I thought, he did not just walk away from the accident, he fetched his parents and came looking for me. He must have a good heart. I saw Cherine smile at him and I knew.
“Yes Alki. You have done well. Thank you.” I turned to Pavlo and welcomed him in Greek. He was slightly uncomfortable with me, maybe he still thinks I am an angel (?), but he answered in broken English and stretching out gave a small gift to Cherine. “It is for birthday.” He furiously blushed when she kissed his cheek as she thanked him.
The food was delicious and Cherine ended up tasting a variety of dishes, taking morsels from our plates. I had made a conscious decision not to keep Cherine/Dommi muted and was being inundated by their sensations. My mind being so open to Cherine I could sense her every moment of pleasure. I was able to see everything with the freshness and newness that she did. It was delightful and overwhelming and of course I just had to share with Dommi - I wish I could have shared with Alki and Marian, they too deserve to feel as happy as I am.
“So Robert, Dominique, I see you are not ashamed to flaunt yourselves in public, still determined to drag our name into the sewer where you belong.” Nicko was standing over us. I quickly lowered the intensity of my link to Cherine, in case I have to fight him.
“Nikola, leave them alone. Either go back to your table or leave the club.”
“Or what old man. Do you think you can run to my father and tell him I upset you? You really think he cares about you after the way you sided against our family? Why don’t you go now, there he is, go to my father and mother and explain why you, their friend, are supporting this bastard and this slut of a sister against our family.”
Watching the pain-filled eyes of Dommi turn from her brother to her family, I put my hand on Alki’s arm to restrain him. This old man as we called him, I knew, could beat Nicko to a pulp, but I preferred I be allowed to fight my own battles, in my own way.
“Nicko, you have a gift for turning up when you are least welcome.” I turned my chair and leaned it back on its two legs, making my point that I was totally relaxed. I smiled at him with my lips only. “I am not going to demand an apology from you for either Alki or Dominique, since it would be insincere and would not mean anything. However, I am going to give you one last piece of advice. Turn around and walk out while you can.”
His posture became even more aggressive. “I was always able to beat the shit out of you. Why don’t you stand up and make me leave.”
“I do not need to. Nicko, how would you like to have a heart-attack. Or a stroke paralyse half of your body. Or, let’s see, anybody got any other ideas?” I looked back at him coldly, at this moment he was no longer even the ghost of the friend I once had; this was an enemy attacking my girls, I felt the glow writhe within. I spoke softly again. “I have not only the power to heal myself, I can cause any damage I want in your body. Nobody will think I was to blame, not even your parents, and I’ll be welcomed to your funeral. Give me an excuse and I will kill you, you understand?”
He did not believe me, though his eyes were now wary. He glanced at Dommi and seeing fear in her eyes thought I was bluffing. As he opened his mouth to speak I knew there would only be more vitriol to hurt my girls. I sent out the power to attack, but with a control I had not believed possible. No words came. He struggled to speak and began to choke. His eyes turned to me in terror. I released him.
“If you are not gone in five seconds I will finish the job.” I set my chair down and turned to Dommi and took hold of her hand. “I’m sorry my love.” In the confusion of everyone’s minds I felt Cherine, puzzled, send on to me the emotions of Themi. He was nearly fainting from excitement. I chuckled in my mind as I thought it must have been quite something for him, to spend thirty years trying to find such powers and then have them so casually used in front of him. I smiled at him. I did not need to look up to know Nicko was gone.
“Roberto, you should not have done that, now he knows you are not normal and will try to use it against us.” Perhaps over-confident from my first use of my power as the groups’ warrior, I calmed Dommi. I could not see him being able to use the knowledge in any way to harm us. I was pleased to see that her parents had not also left. They sat at their table till late, her mother stealing secret glances at her daughter.
The audience, in Greek clubs, know that the main act does not come on until after one in the morning. There was a sudden hush as the star of the show came on stage at midnight, interrupting the fill-in singer. Behind her came violin players. They split into two groups and walking past her surrounded Cherine. She spoke in Greek, with a small part in English.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I had to make a special appearance tonight as I wanted to come and greet a very special young friend and wish her a happy birthday now that it is midnight.” The violins began and she sang in Greek and then in English to Cherine, wishing her a happy birthday. When she finished a waiter brought her a package and flowers. She took them and giving them to Cherine she kissed her on the cheeks. Cherine stood up and thanked her.
Looking at me she said softly, a laugh in her voice. “We will be seeing you here more often now that you have two such beautiful girls?”
Cherine stayed wide awake the whole night, determined to stay as long as her ‘friend’ was singing. A couple of the songs she sang to Cherine and when she finished she came and kissed her goodnight. This lady with the big heart upset all our plans. After she had wished her happy birthday and the audience had clapped for Cherine, we drank champagne and toasted her. Somehow though, it seemed it would be anticlimactic for us to present her with her gifts. They were put in the boot of our car for us.
As we were putting on our coats, Marian asked me discretely, “Would you have killed him?” I sensed Alki and Themi had heard and were also waiting for an answer.
“No, I don’t think so, not if I can help it. I don’t know...” I hesitated, thinking it out. By now the girls had picked up that something was happening and were also watching me. “No, I would not. I cannot kill anyone, never mind the brother of Dommi. Not just for hurting them. If he was a serious threat to either of them I may not have the choice. The protector is not willing to listen where there is serious danger.”
We all left the club with white faces. We agreed to meet on the beach to watch the sunrise. I needed time to think of what to do about Pavlo. He had witnessed and heard my words to Nicko. I did not see how or what to say to get him to shut his mouth. As I walked along the beach, Cherine came to me.
“Pavlo asked me to tell you he will not tell his friends or family what happened tonight.”
“And what made him say that?” I asked suspiciously.
“Oh, I heard you worry about it and I asked him not to.”
“You believe him?”
She nodded vehemently. “Yes I do.”
We put all our gifts on the sand and made Cherine wait until the sun had taken a peep at us over the horizon before she opened them. Although it was chilly, we stayed and talked, nothing serious, until the sun had crept out of the sea, and it helped make the outing even more special for Cherine. I was amused when Cherine went to sit on the lap of Alki and he placed his arm around her in a protective manner.
Back at home, as we made to go to bed, closing the shutters, Marian asked me, privately, “You are going to sleep now? I mean, you will let my little Cher go to sleep, she is exhausted.”
I laughed out loud. “You should be asking her, not me.”
Cherine sent an icy mental shot at me, stopping my laughter.
“We are only going to sleep. Would you sleep with us, so that you can also hold me please?”
For the first time for I don’t know how long we all slept in pyjamas. It was worth it, feeling Cherine, her need that she had not admitted to herself, flood her with happiness. Hours later both Dommi and I woke up as Cherine moved from us, turning to her mother. She cuddled to her, only half aware she had separated from us in her sleep. Dommi and I lay awake for a while, enjoying her feelings of comfort and warmth that she emoted. I wished I could have passed them on to Marian.
While breakfast/lunch was being prepared by Marian and her daughter, Dommi spoke very softly to me. “I’m so sorry about last night.”
“Why, what did you do? You mean Nicko?” I straightened into an exaggerated pose of indignation. “So it was you who told him to come and cause trouble, to try and spoil the evening for Cherine?”
There was pain in her voice, “You are being hurtful now. You know what I mean.”
I grabbed her shoulders. “No I do not! I see my wife trying to take the blame for something an idiot did. I will not allow it.”
Tears filled her eyes, “I have a bad feeling Roberto. He will do something to hurt you.”
I pulled her to me, “It is not me I’m worried about. He just better not do anything to hurt either of you.”
“I heard you this morning. Please try to remember I still love him.”
“I hear your heart all the time my love. And I in turn will ask you to please remember I love Nicko as a brother also, but I cannot allow him to hurt either of you. Dommi, even if it were not Nicko and it was just a stranger threatening us, surely you know I would do all I can to avoid hurting him too badly - how then can you fear I would hurt our brother?” I gave her a hug and held her as the others trooped in with food and hot coffee. I saw Cherine carrying a tray, and I was touched by the concentration on her face, biting her lower lip as she tried to avoid spilling anything. I whispered to Dommi, in her ear, “Look at her, isn’t she sweet; god but I love her.” She squeezed my hand, her eyes soft. It is amazing that I used to be intolerant of people who showed they uncritically adore their children and spoil them, allowing them to be a nuisance for all other patrons at public places. The truth is, I still cannot stand them, but then my Cherine is not that kind of brat.
We were all in good spirits and Marian joined us in the repartees that were flowing between us. I think for a while she was taken aback by the way Cherine talked and teased us as an equal. It was so obvious though that she has blossomed, is no longer that quiet solitary girl she used to be, I am certain her heart was gladdened.
In a moment of contented silence, apropos of nothing, she asked us. “How do I think of you lot. As a sort of son-in-law? Then how do I think of Dominique? If I think of you as a sort of foster father, does that make Dominique the foster mother?”
She was coming awfully close to the bone, even if she was trying to speak in a jocular tone. To by-pass answering her question I added, “It gets even more complicated. We see Alki as Cherine’s grandfather, for Dommi and I as a sort of father. Try to unravel that lot.” I leaned forward. “I think for people who cannot see into the world the three of us live in, it would be easiest to see us as three extremely close friends, who love each other deeply. The real beauty of our relationship is that we are not self-sufficient. We need as many people as possible to love us and be our friends. Isn’t that by itself an amazing contrast to the way most young people feel?” There is not that much difference between lying and dissembling, but I have to think of it as dissembling on a temporary basis. The time will come when I will have to confess to Marian. I hope that by then she can understand that it also cost me.
I left them to chat or play music, whatever they wished, I had a cake to bake. I’m not much of a cook, but I have a speciality. It is a meringue cake filled with a paste made out of Chestnut puree and a hint of vanilla and freshly beaten cream - the real stuff, not out of a spray tin. It does not need much skill, just patience and an oven kept at a very low temperature.
Alki came for our private birthday party and we sang her our best wishes with all our heart. I then opened the door to the garden and asked Cherine to come out. It caught her by surprise and she shrieked. There was her dream come true - a bicycle with all the girlie trimmings.
“This is from your mother” I told her as she came to embrace me. She stopped and looked at me, her eyes broody for a moment, and then dashed to her mother. Her mother accepted the hug and kiss. “Cher baby, he lied to you. I did not buy it. He did.”
“I know! But thanks anyway, I know you wanted to buy me one.”
She went out and rode her bike in the small garden area we have. When she’d had enough and flopped on the couch, her mother could not wait anymore. “Aren’t you going to thank Robert for the bicycle?”
“No. I already thanked you.”
“I still think you should thank him.”
Cherine gave me a dark look, “Oh I’ll pay him back later for lying to me.” She saw I was amused and shaking her head let the matter drop. I bet she thinks we are spoiling her daughter something rotten.
When Alki left, taking Marian home, we all sighed with relief. I saw Cherine was tired. Too much excitement and the change in sleeping hours were getting to her. I picked her up and carried her to bed.
Cherine said to Dommi, “Next year I want something more special for my birthday.”
“Whatever could that be?” Dommi innocently asked.
“Robert promised, when I’m ten he will make love to me. Make me his woman.”
“Only if you eat all your food and grow big enough for me.” I teased.
“You promised!” she wailed and began to cry.
“She is overtired Robert. Let me.” She lay down next to her and wrapped her in her arms. As she lay within the comfort of Dommi’s arms and love, her sobs turned into a soft sigh. She undid Dommi’s blouse and put her mouth to her nipple. Suckling like a baby she fell asleep. So as not to wake her, we lay in our clothing, wrapping her in our love, and fell asleep.
Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου(Alexander Zenon Eustace)
5th March, 2019
* posted on Steemit: 5th March, 2019