‘I really don’t mind the scars,’ Julia said, running her middle finger along the caesarean wound, thumbing the stretch marks, ‘it’s the bastard who created them I hate.’ She was sitting on a recliner next to a clear blue pool, wearing a lime green bikini, a large floppy hat, and a pair of sunglasses that seemed to mask half her face.
‘You hate Danny?’ Lisa said from the pool side, her arms resting on the warm concrete, her chin placed on her hands.
‘Danny? I don’t hate Danny. He’s six months old, for god’s sake, Lisa. He eats, pukes, shits, sleeps and giggles. If it wasn’t for the giggles I’d probably hate him, but, well, y’know.’ She took a sip from a tall cocktail glass. ‘Richard. He’s the one I hate.’
‘He’s made my life hell.’
‘Richard? You have everything you want, Julia. A nice house, a pool, a BMW, home help. How is your life hell?’
‘You don’t live with him. He’s manipulative. He lies. He hides things from me. And he snores. And now I have him just where I want him. We’re married and I have Danny. The divorce will set me up for life. I can make a fresh start.’
‘You had Danny to trap him?’ Lisa pushed off the side and floated across the pool. She was wearing a plain black all-in-one bathing suit, her long legs tapping the surface, propelling her slowly.
‘You make me sound like a gold digger. Danny was insurance. These scars are the price.’
‘Insurance? Insurance against what?’
‘Him cashing me in short for a younger model.’
‘Jesus, Julia. This is Richard we’re talking about, right?’
‘You don’t know him like I do. He has a dark side. He might seem like he’s a family guy when he meets you, but believe me, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s been having affairs.’
‘Affairs? Are you sure?’
‘Of course I’m sure. A wife has a way of knowing these things. What I need is hard evidence. That’s why I want you to ... to test him.’
‘You want me to ... to have an affair with Richard?’ Lisa swam lazily back to the pool side.
‘No. I want you ... I want you to tempt him. Be photographed with him. Kissing him. Anything past first base.’
‘I don’t know, Julia. I’m ...’
‘You’re my sister, Lisa. You’re perfect for this. What man can’t be tempted by his wife’s younger, single sister?’
* * *
‘She thinks you’re having an affair,’ Lisa said, running a fingernail across Richard’s chest.
Richard chuckled and tangled his fingers in her long hair.
‘She wanted me to set you up. Get some sleazy PI to take photos of us kissing. She intends to take you to the cleaners. A divorce. The works.’
‘She wants what? The little ... bitch.’ He worked his fingers free.
‘Danny is her insurance.’
‘Insurance? He’s our son!’
‘There’s no need to shout. I’m trying to help you here. Let you know what she’s planning. She’s my sister, Richard, and you are having an affair. And I’m not the first. We need to careful is what I’m saying.’
‘Careful? She’s threatening to leave me and take my son!’ He pushed her head off his shoulder and slipped naked from the bed. ‘Insurance? Two can play that game!’
‘Richard? What are you planning? Richard?’
‘Our future,’ he said, pulling on his underpants.
‘Our future? What about Julia? Danny?’
‘Danny will be fine,’ Richard said, tugging on his shirt. ‘He’ll have has aunt. As for Julia, that bitch has it coming. I’ve given her everything. There’s no way she’s taking Danny. It’ll be over my dead body.’
* * *
‘Does it hurt?’ the young man said, tracing his finger along the scar.
They were naked, lying on top of the sheets, the man leaning up over her, studying her form.
‘No, though sometimes I dream that it opens up. That it becomes a gaping wound.’
‘And you don’t mind it?’
‘Why should I? It’s part of who I am. Beauty is in your aura, not some perfect scar free body. Having children; that’s what women do. It’s a mark of life.’
‘I think it’s beautiful.’ He lent down and kissed the scar tissue.
There was a bright flash from the window, quickly followed by another two.
‘What the ...’
The young man was dashing to the balcony, but the photographer was already making good his escape.
* * *
‘Did you get the photos?’ Richard said, blocking out the sun.
‘Did you get mine?’ Julia asked, looking up from the recliner, her glasses slipping down her nose, her brown eyes gazing out over them.
‘You had our bedroom fitted with a secret camera.’
‘You had my sister in our bed, Richard. My sister, for god’s sake. She always was unreliable and impressionable.’
‘I’ll fight you all the way, Julia. It’s worse for the mother to have an affair.’
‘Don’t be an idiot, Richard. We’ve both had affairs. They cancel out the other. Perhaps we should bury the hatchet, so to speak? Take another shot at it? For Danny? We both have our insurance now.’
‘You want to try again?’
‘What about Lisa?’
‘Lisa’s off limits. And there can be no others.’
‘Of course. We’re both on notice.’ She turned over onto her stomach and held out a bottle of sun cream. ‘Can you do my back?’