‘I’m only his godmother,’ I say weakly, filled with a sharp sense of pain. I am terribly proud of Sorab, and not being recognized as his mother is far more difficult than I expected.
‘Oh, I’m very, very sorry. I spoke out of turn,’ Mr. Nair apologizes. Poor man. He looks embarrassed and flustered.
‘Please don’t worry about it, Mr. Nair. I know you meant no harm.’
‘Better be going. The desk is unmanned,’ Mr. Nair mutters awkwardly and hurries away.
I close the door and turn towards Billie. ‘Oh my God, Billie. He knew.’
‘Of course he did. He is Indian. They are into astrology and all that shit, aren’t they?’
‘Billie,’ I wail. ‘Recognizing a family resemblance has nothing to do with astrology.’
Billie crosses her arms. ‘I know that! I was being sarcastic. For God’s sake, Lana, what’s got into you? Sorab is a three-month-old baby and all babies look alike. I wouldn’t even be able to pick him out from a line-up of six babies.’
I frown unconvinced. I believe that Sorab is one of those children who have very definite features. ‘He does have his father’s eyes.’
‘Look, you said Blake’s secretary sent a whole list of baby stuff, including pram and cot, to the apartment, right? So he’s obviously seen it all go into the lift, put two and two together and come up with four. Unfortunately for him, the correct answer is five. Now, quit fretting over things you don’t need to worry about and give me a tour of this awesome flat.’
I smile. I am such a paranoid fool. Of course, she is right. I give her a grand tour.
‘Wow!’ she enthuses. ‘Guess how much this crib costs?’
‘I don’t know. Five hundred quid?’
‘Add another zero and you’re almost there.’
She pulls the price tag off and holds it out to me. ‘Five thousand five hundred and fifty-nine pounds for a f**king crib when a third of the world is starving.’ She shakes her head. ‘Still it is dead cool to be so stonkingly rich, isn’t it?’
My phone rings. It is Laura. She is calling to tell me that Tom is on his way with my morning after pill and to tell me to be ready for 8:00 pm. She has made a dinner reservation for Blake and me at The Fat Duck.
‘It sure looks good from the outside, though,’ Billie says, having listened to my conversation with Laura.
Billie finds a box of chocolates in the kitchen and then lunges headlong into the bed and, lying sprawled on it like a sultan, makes me try all the clothes on, one by one. She insists I keep a pair of pink leather pants. ‘You got to. They make your bum look all ripe and trapped and in need of saving. Blake is an ass man, right?’
‘How do you know?’
‘Just a guess. Now go try on the long black dress,’ she orders.
The black dress makes her gasp. ‘Very, very sexy.’
‘How many are you allowed to keep?’
‘As many as I want, I think.’
‘Really? What’s that like?’
For some reason I think of the white dress. ‘Nice, I guess.’
‘What happened last night?’
‘He’s angry with me, Bill. Very angry.’
‘He didn’t hurt you, did he?’ I can hear the protective anger come into Billie’s voice. She is such a firebrand.
‘No,’ I say, but I find it almost impossible to discuss how I feel about Blake with Billie. For Billie sex is fun, something to do when she feels horny. For me, and I suspect for Blake as well, it is a clawing need. I know it is the reason why he is angry. He hates losing control. Control is important to him. In fact, if I am given only one word to describe his personality, I would have to use the word controlled. His whole life is about control of himself and others. He is controlled in everything he does, what he eats, how he eats, all his dealings, the precision of his time keeping, his immaculate appearance. I don’t think I have ever seen a single scuff mark on his shoes.
Until I came everything was perfectly in order, compartmentalized. There was room for a fiancée and a mistress. Now it is all a mess. I am like the lock of hair on his head that will not be tamed. He wants to walk away and feel nothing but disgust for me, but he can’t. I look Billie in the eye.
‘His real anger is not directed at me, but at himself for still wanting me.’
‘I’ve no beef with him. I only fear it will all blow up and he will not be able or willing to protect you against his family and the bitch.’
I do not tell her about my near run-in with Victoria in Harvey Nichols. That would be putting the cat among the pigeons. She stays until the five o’clock rush hour traffic abates at six. I send her home with a heavy heart and a couple of tins of the goat’s milk formula.
At seven I come out of the bath and slip into a blue dress. It is long and straight with a demure neckline, but it dramatically deepens the blue of my eyes and suggests the curves that I no longer possess. I am stepping into a pair of peacock blue shoes when I hear him come in. I look at my watch. He is early. I turn in surprise when he comes directly into the bedroom. For a moment we look at each other. He is wearing a silver-gray suit, a white shirt, and a black and red striped tie.
‘I hope you haven’t dressed in a nun’s habit on my account, because it is coming off the first chance I get,’ he says.
Once he might have come up to me and told me how beautiful I looked. My hands flutter upwards uselessly and settle down to my sides. Now he will not accept anything except that which suggests I am a slut. He goes towards the bed. The journal is lying on the bedside table. He picks it up and opens it to the empty first page. He comes towards me expressionless. He reaches a hand into his jacket and emerges with a sleek black fountain pen. Swiss. Very expensive. He holds the journal and the pen wordlessly out to me.
I take the offered items and go into the dining room. I sit at the long, polished table and write.
Blake ripped the first dress that I have actually loved into two and f**ked me hard against the bedroom wall. Then he threw me on the bed, didn’t deliver on his promise, and used the C word on me.
I go back into the living room where Blake is pouring himself a shot of whiskey so large my eyes actually widen. I hand him the book and his pen. He opens the book, reads the two sentences I have written and looks at me with amusement.
‘The C word. May I remind you that you come from a council estate where the…er…C word is almost an adjective?’