Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chapter 33: Expectations

I was disturbed once during the night by Alina climbing into bed with us, but she said nothing, just snuggled up to me on the opposite side to Daise, so I soon dropped off to sleep.

The morning light coming through the window woke me up again. I extracted my arm from under Daise’s head and checked the time. 05H20. It took some effort to untangle myself from the two bodies entwined with mine, but aside from some muttered complaints, I managed it without waking either of them. After a quick change into my baggies, I headed down to the pool for my morning swim.

As usual, I swimming helped me to clear my head and start focusing my thoughts. I had been too focused on Daise’s reaction to the short fight we had had the night before to spend any time doing any thinking of my own, and I needed the space to get my thoughts in order. It seemed to me that I was just reacting on instinct with the whole situation and I needed to think my situation through properly. In a few short days, I had moved from a fairly normal life on my own, with it’s associated problems of boredom and loneliness, to one where I was rapidly filling my house with assorted women and my life with all kinds of complications.

I had been quite happy with Daise coming into my life, and thought that adding Alina would add a friend for Daise. The signals that I was picking up from the two of them were a little worrying though. It felt as though they were both acting like they were my partners, with Alina’s focus moving from Daise to me. I knew that Alina had some very bad experiences with men, and I suspected that my treatment of her had started to shift her expectations. There had been some clear indications that she wouldn’t be too averse to getting sexually involved with me, at the same time that she was involved with Daise. I was fairly straight-laced in some ways, so this was an eye-opener for me. On the other hand, having two beautiful young women who wanted to be with me was enormously flattering.

On the gripping hand, I had now added both Bettina and Kate to the mix the previous evening. Bettina’s comment in the hot-tub indicated, on reflection, that she wasn’t too averse to some sort of similar arrangement. I considered that my rescue of her from the club, along with her daughter, obligated me her. The sense that I got in the hot-tub though was that she might want to extend her stay beyond just a few days. Kate was another wild card. She had been extremely effusive in her thanks the night before, with a world of implied promise delivered in her affectionate kiss.

I decided to play it by ear, and see what developed. I had long since learnt that women run a man’s life, and not the other way around. What was much more worrying to me was the situation with Dimitri and his crew. The previous night’s events had definitely thrown down the gauntlet, and I suspected that the confrontation would become a lot more immediate and personal, as what I had done would be seen as a direct challenge. Much more so than the initial arrangement with Daise, or even my ‘turning’ of Alina.

I finished my swim and towelled dry. My Labradors were hanging around the pool and I felt a little guilty that I had given them so little attention the past few days. Jaxon, the large male, was looking mournfully at me and holding his rubber ball in his mouth. I called him to me and he suddenly looked like a big puppy as he dropped the ball at my feet and ran a few meters away, waiting for me to throw it.

I walked out onto the lawn and started throwing the ball for him, which he would pounce on as if it was some rabbit he had to subdue, then return it to me to be thrown again. Holly just lay quietly and watched. Her hips were giving her problems and she seemed to be in pain again, so she didn’t chase the ball with Jaxon.

After ten minutes or so of this, I noticed that Bettina’s daughter had come out of the house and was standing and watching the game. She had an incredibly sad, yearning expression on her face.

“Hi,” I greeted her. “We didn’t have much time to introduce ourselves last night. I’m Rupert. What can I call you.”

“Lisa,” was the shy response. I paused to take a proper look at her. She was fairly tall for her age, with very long light brown hair. Looking at her, I decided that she had either gone through a growth spurt recently, or she wasn’t eating well. She was all sharp angles and long legs. There was no baby fat at all. She was wearing blue-jeans and a Hannah Montana T-Shirt.

“Hi Lisa. Would you like to meet my dogs?”

“Yes please. They won’t bite me will they?”

“No. This is Jaxon. He’s an absolute baby. He would be very upset if he thought that you were afraid of him. You aren’t afraid are you?”

“I’ve never had a dog. We’ve always lived in a flat and we weren’t allowed to have pets.”

“Ok, come over here and meet Jaxon then.”

Lisa walked over to join me where I had stopped Jaxon and was scratching his neck. She reached out very hesitantly to touch him on his back, and slowly started petting him. When I stopped scratching him, he turned to investigate this new person and to Lisa’s embarrassment, nosed her in the crotch. It was very difficult for me to suppress a laugh and I had to explain to her that it was just his way of smelling her so that he would know who she was.

It didn’t take too long before I knew that the two of them were going to be fast friends. After she had thrown the ball for him a few times I left them for a second and grabbed some dog biscuits from the pantry in the kitchen and brought them back. Lisa was very impressed with the fact that Jaxon sat and waited for her to give the biscuits to him and didn’t snatch them from her.

While Lisa played with Jaxon, I very carefully drew her out. It was quite obvious that she didn’t realise that I was doing so, but over the course of the next twenty minutes, I learnt a lot about both her and her mother. What I heard both impressed and depressed me. It was clear that everything that Bettina did was aimed at providing for Lisa’s needs, but Bettina hadn’t been able to avoid closeting Lisa in a small cycle of home and school, and Lisa was quite clearly a very bright little girl who had realised that there were some people in her mother’s life who weren’t very nice. She let slip that she had seen various bruises and contusions on her mother and that there had been a few visits to the hospital as well.

When Jaxon decided that he was tired, and disappeared into his kennel with the ball, we went back into the house. Nqobile had started on breakfast and Lisa and I sat down to eat. Lisa was very excited with the choices that she was given for breakfast and explained readily that she wasn’t given any choice normally. After much negotiation with Nqobile, she decided that fried eggs, sunny-side-up, and bacon was a wonderful treat. I decided to have the same.

While we were eating, the rest of the household slowly came awake, with first Daise and Alina joining us, then Kate and finally Bettina. Everyone was fairly quiet and subdued, except for Lisa who was bubbling to her mother about the fun she had had playing with Jaxon. This eventually culminated in a question to her mother.

“Are we going to live here now mommy?”

Bettina glanced and me, then answered her daughter, “Yes, for now. We will probably have to find a new place to live though.”

“Bettina,” I interrupted, “we haven’t really discussed it, but there is absolutely no rush. You are welcome to stay for as long as you wish.”

“Oh thank you Rupert,” Lisa gushed. Bettina just looked at me, then mouthed ‘Thank you’.

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