“A Maid For All Seasons, Volume II”

Excerpt from A Maid for All Seasons, Volume 2

Lisa took a deep breath and pushed away from the bedroom door. She shivered and hugged herself as she walked toward the kitchen. Greg sat at the table and turned when she walked in. The kitchen was dark except for the 40-watt bulb above the range. Fat snowflakes drifted in the floodlights outside.

“How is she?” he said.

“Fine. She’s … she wants us in the office in twenty minutes.” Lisa looked at her watch. “Fifteen minutes.”

He nodded and Lisa sat in the chair next to him.

“Did she say anything about me?”

“Oh, Greg, I’m so sorry!”

He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her onto his lap. “Shh. It’s OK. Am I fired?”

She shook her head like a wet dog. “But ….” She bit her lip.

He hugged her tighter and chuckled. “But maybe I’ll wish I was?”

Lisa wiped away a tear with her sleeve and looked at him. “She’s going to blister us both.” He nodded. “I’m sorry!”

“Me, too. I shouldn’t have … you know.”

“I … it was my fault, too.”

He smiled and whisked a stray blonde lock from her eyes. “It’s my charm. You fell under my spell.”

Lisa stared at him for three seconds, swallowed, then giggled. “You are so full of it!”

“Charm?”

“No, doofus! Something you find in a barnyard.”

He squinted at the ceiling. “Free-range chickens?”

She kissed him. “Manure.”

“I love it when you talk dirty.”

He squeezed her rear cheeks while he kissed her hard and long. Lisa panted and stroked his neck as he rubbed her bottom. She broke the kiss and leaned toward his ear.

“Will … will she cane us?”

“I doubt it. The only time she ever caned me was when I drove home drunk, and she was a lot madder than this.”

“That’s a relief. Her paddle’s bad enough.”

He nodded. “It will be on these yardstick marks.”

Lisa smiled and kissed his ear. “They feel pretty good right now.” She reached back to press his hand harder into the back of her trousers.

“I’m glad. You want a drink before we face the music?”

She nodded. “I could use a Diet Coke.”

He kissed her and pushed her off his lap as he stood. “I was thinking more of general anesthesia. I’ve discovered that blisterings go better with a couple ounces of whisky inside you.”

“I always get in trouble when I drink.”

Greg laughed as he opened the liquor cabinet. “You’re already in trouble, doll face.” He curled his lip and slurred the c in face.

Lisa smiled and covered her mouth while he poured two fingers of twelve-year-old single malt into a couple of low-ball glasses. He handed one to her and raised his own.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

She took the glass and sniffed. Peat-fired fumes played in her nostrils and wrinkled her nose at the bridge. She sipped and coughed.

“That’s terrible! I don’t know how Michael can drink it.”

He gulped and grimaced. “Nectar of the gods.” He slurred the final s.

She tipped the glass and swallowed fast. “Ew!” Greg chuckled and Lisa looked at him over the rim. “So if you’re Bogart, who am I?”

“Pretty good, huh?” She shrugged and waved an open palm at the floor. “No? I thought you looked like Lauren Bacall just then, but maybe I was wrong.”

“The one in Casablanca?” She sipped. The liquor burned her mouth.

“No, that was Ingrid Bergman. Bacall was in To Have and Have Not. Really sweet, in a rough sort of way.”

“You think I’m sweet?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Or rough?”

Lisa drained her glass and he gaped. Orange embers slid down her throat, tears welled in her eyes and she grabbed the table edge as a hot flush bathed her face. He took her arm and pulled her close. Their lips clapped as they kissed. She trembled and took long breaths when the kiss ended.

“This must be Paris.”

“Just don’t stand me up at the rail station. I hate standing in the rain with my insides kicked in.”

She smiled and shook her head. “I’ll remember that.”

“You ready for this?”

Lisa nodded. “Kiss me as if it were the last time.”

He grinned. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Lisa’s feet left the floor as he squeezed her. They played with each other’s tongues for almost a minute. She whimpered when he set her down.

“I think you’re both,” he said.

“Both what?”

“Bacall and Bergman.”

He sloshed down the rest of his whisky, wiped his mouth and steered her into the hallway.