“Bull’s Blood”, part of Chapter One

Cover for Bull's Blood

Chapter 1

 

“Elizabeth.”

Aunt Irene was on the phone. Although Irene was born in Hungary, long ago she picked up a New Jersey accent. Every sentence was now a whine, interspersed with more Hungarian whining.

“Come to dinner with me. Oh, you would love this restaurant. Such good people are here. It’s like Thanksgiving with the white linen. Dress nice like a good girl. Make me proud of my family, and don’t wear those tight jeans. Wear the pantsuit I gave you last Christmas.”

Uncle Izsák died the year before and Irene was lonely. She was also the closest of family to Elizabeth. If she was honest, she would admit to being lonely, too. Elizabeth had been divorced for nine years. She fled the south where she had lived for the past three decades to the dull north of her youth. It was now alien territory, but at least it wasn’t the south. A fresh start well above the age of fifty was still a fresh start.

Elizabeth considered what to wear. She should make an effort for Aunt Irene’s approval. That would mean her Christmas gift of the horrible print pantsuit and the necklace with tiny elephants made of faux ivory.

She decided to please herself with a bit of compromise. Dressing for dinner, she rolled black sheer thigh-highs, topped with lace onto her legs. It was a sensuous act, the silky nylons outlining her painted toes, clinging to her ankles and still shapely thighs. She adjusted the lace at the top. They came all the way to her crotch, a bit too long. Feeling around her lingerie drawer, she looked for a modest bra, not a push-up. That style of bra would draw some disapproving clucks from Irene. Elizabeth’s dressing for dinner became a game: one piece for her aunt, one piece for her. A calf-long black skirt (for Irene) and an ivory silk blouse (for Elizabeth) was compromise enough. She would wear her silly ivory elephant necklace, just because it was a gift from her favorite aunt. With all the dying-off in her family, Aunt Irene was about the only family left. Aunt Irene had two sometimes rotten sons, and always wanted a daughter. That was fine with Elizabeth: she had always wanted a mother.

It was early spring, and though it was drizzling outside, she decided on a bright yellow shawl. It was a striking color, hard, almost neon yellow. The shawl was like a beacon in the rain, something no cabbie could miss.

The restaurant was in an older part of town, the city bleak from the gray color of the stone buildings, a remnant of a century ago. This part of New Jersey had been an industrial town, the stone and brick buildings pitted by acid rain. There was little greenery. The rain didn’t help. Springs were later in the north, sometimes six weeks later than the south. This was something Elizabeth had forgotten. She missed the azaleas of an early southern spring. The dogwoods, too. There didn’t seem to be any up north.

Elizabeth was surprised at the place Irene picked for dinner. Irene was in her mid-eighties and venturing beyond cafés, cafeterias and casinos was rare. This restaurant was the one Elizabeth’s father took her to when she was very young. Much had changed in New Brunswick, but this little street in the drab north of her childhood was still the same. Dull brownstones, bakeries, bookstores, and a tavern on every corner. Centuries ago, it had been a settlement of the wily Dutch. Now it was populated by Hungarians, Russians, Romanians, Poles and other central European immigrants.

Her mother had fumed when she heard this. It was barbaric, just what she expected from Elizabeth’s Hungarian father. Elizabeth and her father were locked in a conspiracy against her mother until her father died and then she had to go it alone. She was never easy with her mother. Conflict was always there or right around the corner.

Now she was looking for Aunt Irene in the same restaurant fifty years later. Her hair was touched by rain and despite the bright yellow shawl, the silk of her blouse was spotted. She stood at the entrance to the dining room and wondered at its rebirth. It looked like someone’s idea of Budapest, but a Budapest before World War I. When she was here with her father, it was very different. The long counter where food was picked up by old waitresses was gone. The little two-seater tables were gone, the dingy lace café curtains had disappeared. She was very young, but she remembered the customers being older men. She also remembered an incident when a handsome, grey-haired man stopped at their table and addressed her father in Hungarian. He rose and they kissed on both cheeks. Then the man grabbed Elizabeth’s hand and kissed it. He wore a large gold ring, studded with diamonds. He pointed to one diamond (a rather small one as she remembered) and said that when she was older, he would carve that diamond out of his ring and give it to her. Her father said something to the man in a low, sharp voice and in a language she couldn’t understand. The man bowed and quickly left them.

Elizabeth now saw a transformed room. Red- and gold-brocaded walls with dark red velvet drapes puddling before the high windows, gleaming black floors and rose-tinted lamps upon each white, linen-covered table. Hungarians were such romantic people. The tinted shades cast the best light on aging Hungarian skin. The women were vain that way, and Hungarian complexions were known to be some of the best in Europe.

The hostess, a woman almost as old as her aunt, knew Irene and pointed her out. Irene was at a small table by one of the long windows past the middle of the room. Elizabeth had to walk through the room, being careful to avoid the closely placed tables. She clutched her shawl around her, afraid of sweeping the tables with the ends. Aunt Irene looked up with her usual, careful smile. Her wrinkles had deepened since the last time Elizabeth saw her.

“Hello, kis galamb”. Aunt Irene’s eyes shone with sadness.

Elizabeth was surprised how old Irene had grown, how thin, and that she had missed her. They held hands across the table as Irene told Elizabeth what she had been doing. Not a lot, but she had gone to Atlantic City with her girlfriends and lost money on the slots there. Elizabeth’s shawl was too warm for the room and she flipped it over the back of her chair. Aunt Irene clucked her tongue and laughed. The rain had made her silk blouse almost transparent in places. Good she was wearing a bra. Most times she didn’t.

Elizabeth looked around as Irene greeted an elderly woman at the next table, apparently a friend. The restaurant was full. Perhaps it was the rain. There were the usual men and women of Irene’s age, and some younger couples. At one table, three men were eating, burly men, in dark suits. They had finished three bottles of wine and a server was opening a fourth. One man looked straight at Elizabeth, and for a moment she returned his gaze. Dark hair shot with gray, not a slender man, wearing a charcoal gray suit. His face startled her for some reason. She broke contact with his eyes and to her surprise, blushed and looked down. What a crock! Why should a man make her blush? Hasn’t she seen the worst with two failed marriages? Yet there was something in his appearance that made her pause. His face was striking, beautiful and brutal at the same time. A sensuality hung about him that she could not define.

Elizabeth glanced back and found the man was still watching. She tried to look haughty. He passed his hand over his mouth and smiled behind it. It was a mocking and seductive gesture, and his eyes expressed a boldness that annoyed her. Too cocksure, this man. Elizabeth turned back to listen to Irene, determined not to look at him. They were served, Irene telling her about gambling luck and aging friends.

After dinner, when they were drinking coffee, Elizabeth had to pee. The combination of rain and coffee conspired against her. She excused herself and went in the direction Aunt Irene pointed. The bathroom was occupied, so she waited, leaning against the wall, staring at her toes peeking out of her heels. Suddenly, she felt a presence and looked up. It was the man from the dining room. Elizabeth straightened from a slouch, feeling a bit apprehensive, for she had been thinking of him, trying to dismiss him and not being able to do so. He was about four feet away, looking at her, smiling. He put one hand above him on the wall, came closer, turning his body towards hers. It was a very confident move, but he did it so naturally she didn’t have time to react. She was confused by his presence. He disturbed her and she didn’t know why.

“You look miserable with your…what? Aunt? Mother’s friend?” He was smoking, which was still allowed in these ethnic restaurants. The smoke from his cigarette floated above his head creating a halo around him in the dim hall light.

“I’m not miserable. Why would you say that?” Elizabeth sounded defensive.

His eyes were dark brown, rimmed with thick lashes. Black brows and a generous mouth, lips almost too full. He radiated confidence, or perhaps she hadn’t been in the presence of a man so sensual for a while.

Elizabeth looked at him, her voice changing. “She’s my Aunt Irene,” she said softly. He continued to smoke, blowing the smoke to the side, but holding his gaze on her. He looked like he was contemplating something, making a decision as he blew out the smoke in a sharp stream. He dropped the cigarette to the floor tile and ground it beneath his black loafer.

Then, almost before she knew it, the man pivoted his body, his broad chest pushing her into the wall, his pelvis up against her. He spread both his arms outward against the wall, trapping her. His mouth swept down on her lips. He kissed her hard and only at the end did he part her lips with his tongue and push it into her mouth. She moaned, weakened, her legs feeling like water, her arms spread against the wall behind her. His chest and pelvis were hard against her, pinning her to the wall. He was broad enough to cover her and bringing his hands down, he sought her ass, digging his fingers into each cheek, pulling her to him. Elizabeth groaned, lost in the surprise of his behavior, lost in the surprise of her own behavior.

For a moment, Elizabeth forgot her surroundings. She didn’t care where she was or that Aunt Irene was sitting in the dining room awaiting her. This was raw, a kind of passion she didn’t know, because she had never had it. Her body jumped, aching with the sudden rush of arousal. Their clothes didn’t matter, they were no barrier. There was lightning between them, an electrical charge. She was almost dizzy. She felt alive.

The man broke off his kiss and whispered in Elizabeth’s ear, still pressing his pelvis to hers, holding her tight in his arms. “Go kiss Auntie goodbye and walk to the front door. I’ll have her taken home by a man at my table. She will be pleased.”

“What? How do you mean–”

He put his hand gently over her mouth and smiled. The overly confident pursing of his lips drew her eyes like a magnet.

“Don’t ask questions. Obey, like a good girl.” He smiled, pressed a card into her hand and walked away. Elizabeth heard the water of the bathroom sink turn off and a woman walked out, adjusting her waistband. They exchanged brief smiles. She was thankful for not being caught.

Elizabeth looked at the card in her hand. It had a name “V. Dohendy” and just the words Budapest and Paris. Obviously, a business card, but it meant nothing to her. One kiss from this man and she was acting like a slut. Enough to want to break her bones on the cock she felt pressing her into the wall. She was ready to be a bad girl. Not a good girl.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019

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