Ivy Kedem stands in the doorway, still taking it all in. She sees how happy Junior is, happier than she has ever seen him. She sees how relaxed Ken Kedem is, far relaxed than he has ever been with Steve. Ken and Chris had always had that relationship closer than in-laws. She remembers many years ago, when Chris had first come to their house with Steve. He had been Steve’s best friend at school, and had come home with him for the vacation. Steve had been a little bit intimidated by Ken Kedem all his life, and had been docile and very respectful.
Chris had been brash, joining Ken to defeat one of their old friends in a game of partnered poker, relating to Ken without fear, making Ken laugh and enjoy his company. That evening, as they prepared to sleep, Ken had remarked to Ivy that he really liked Chris, and Ivy had known that Chris was trouble. It is the same now. Looking at them, she knows that something urgent needs to happen otherwise Steve can lose Effe a second time to this violent man who Ivy Kedem doesn’t like one bit.
Chris and Junior later go to the boy’s room. Effe sees her parents off.
Are you not letting him leave, dear?
Mom, he’ll be leaving soon. Junior asked him to fix a bulb in the bathroom. He’ll leave immediately he finishes.
You shouldn’t entertain him, Ef.
Would you please lay off, Ivy? She’s old enough to know what’s good for her.
I know, honey, but Chris’ bad reputation can harm Effe’s career! And of course, there’s Steve to consider. No need to do something that might hurt Steve badly.
Effe does not reply because she knows that when her Mom gets like that nothing will dissuade her from having her say.
That boy can cook! The noodles was stupendous. I wouldn’t mind a package of that now and then, you know.
I’m sure Junior can arrange that, Dad.
Mr. Ken Kedem, don’t you start encouraging that man!
They get into their cars, and each drives away, but Ivy Kedem gives her daughter a final meaningful look before driving away.
Effe returns to the living-room, and she feels her heart fluttering. She sees Chris on the landing as he emerges from Junior’s room and closes the door gently. He turns and sees her, and stops. Their eyes hold. It is a most poignant moment, a slice of magic when time completely stands still. It is the first time they have been completely alone in five years. He comes down the stairs slowly, and she moves forward. Her heart is beating so fast and so hard that she can literally hear and feel the thudding in her ears. This is the effect he has on her, the only man who has ever succeeded in making her heart misbehave and making her lose control of her tight set of characteristic principles.
She can see a tight faint of perspiration on the tip of his nose.
She knows that tell-tale sign; it always signals that he is tensed up. He moves forward quickly, as if heading for the front door, and she cuts him off, standing squarely in front of him. She does not look into his eyes. She cannot. She looks instead at his throat.
Junior is asleep. I’m leaving now. Thank you for everything.
He steps past her and takes fast steps towards the front door. She whirls round, and her face is anguished as she stares at his broad back.
He stops and turns slowly and faces her. His face is inscrutable, his eyes flat and unreadable, but she can feel the tension oozing out of him. It is their language, the incredible chemistry that had exploded between them the first time they met.
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She walks towards him slowly until she is standing in front of him. This time she looks up into his eyes, and when she speaks her voice trembles, and her hands are not quite unsteady, and the trace of tears swim across her eyes. She raises her right hand, and she places it flat on his chest. She feels him flinch, but he relaxes, and she can feel his heart beating under her hand.
I’m sorry, Chris. I’m so sorry for not visiting you in prison. It is true you did heinous things, and you killed me when I found you on top of Elaine, even though she was screaming her lungs out for you to stop. But I should’ve visited you in prison. Today I spoke to the Attorney-General. And I’ve spoken to some Supreme Court judges. They’re going to find out who tortured you and left those hideous injuries on your back. Who did that to you, Chris?
The tears are real now, but not falling yet. They shimmer in her eyes, and she is so lovely that he shivers as he is filled with the most urgent desire to take her in him arms. He takes a step back, and her hand falls.
What’s done is done, Effe. It’s okay.
He turns away again and has to force his legs to move. His whole body screams for her. His soul yearns for her. His heart is beating with rhythmic regularity with a cadence to the sound of her name… Effe, Effe, Effe! Now the tears stream down her cheeks as she watches his retreating back.
Why? Why did you do it, Chris? Why the hell did you have to rape Elaine, a girl who is like a sister to me? Chris, why??
He turns and looks at her, and this time his handsome face is tortured, and filled with sudden fury and bitterness.
You ask me why?
Yes, Chris Bawa! We had a wonderful life! We had the son of our dreams! We were so happy! Wasn’t I enough for you? Do you know what happened to me when I walked into that hotel room and saw you naked on top of Elaine? Do you know what happened to me?
He crosses the room towards her, and his face is tortured. He reaches out and grabs her upper arms, and she moans with a bit of pain, causing him to release her immediately.
You better stop crucifying me with the cross of Elaine, Effe. I don’t know if it eases your conscience, or somehow makes your guilt lighter, but whatever you wanted to achieve, you achieved it. So just stop trying to bury me with it, would you? Just stop!
He turns away again, but she catches his arm and draws him back.