As the next day passed, out of character and out of sorts with a hangover, Radouan retreated into a cocoon of tangled sheets and blankets and refused to come out.  Delphine, on the other hand, rose early and spent the day by the pool observing Francesco as he ordered his broker in New York to sell so many shares of this and that and deposit the proceeds in her account. 

          As for Francesco, he was busy having an interior dialogue with himself about the many different levels of Delphine’s personality - which was more complicated than he’d imagined: the educated student, the infantile egoist, the combative shrewd Parisian woman and, of course, the sensuality which seemed to vaporize around her body like the fragrance of gardenias on a warm tropical night. Transferring this money into her account, he mused, was a prelude, to the real encounter which he hoped would take place as soon as Radouan was out of the way. 

         As the day passed and money began to flow into her bank account, Francesco noticed her body, became soft and receptive, even penetrable. And later that afternoon when his cell phone beeped and her bank in Paris confirmed the transfer had been completed, it was as though she had reached a climax and floated away in a haze of satisfaction.

        ‘This was the moment I could have had her,’ he thought. ‘At this moment if I hadn’t been so stupido... Ha avouto I non stata cosi stupido!  Had I arranged for us to be alone I could have...’ 

          Just then Radouan arrived, looking like a Fra Angelico angel in a pale blue gandoura and white babouches.  His bright eyes wandered furtively from Delphine to Francesco and he knew something had happened between them, something new.

        ‘The money is in her account, just confirmed from Paris,’ Francesco said cheerfully.

          Radouan took Francesco’s hands and kissed them affectionately, murmuring various blessings in Arabic.  Francesco was touched but not taken in.

           Delphine was put off.  Was he mocking Francesco, or was there some special relationship between them she didn’t understand?  If Radouan was having an affair with Francesco, why couldn’t she?  Generally she was not attracted to Italians, but compared to other older men she’d slept with this one was an Adonis.  Yes, a fifty-year Italian male with a good body and steel grey hair had just given her five million dollars.  A new experience she had to think hard about - five million dollars. Somehow she had to look for his weak points and dominate him. Yes, she must begin preparing herself for a new life. For the first time she would not be a powerless student trying to pay her bills or a mannequin bossed around by photographers, stylists and difficult couturiers. Yes, this somewhat sexy middle aged Italian was going to work for her! Soon people would be worshipping at her feet and groveling! She smiled with satisfaction. For the time being, though, as he was obviously a magician - and a genius, it would be wise to do exactly as he said.

          ‘Give me your phone.’ Radouan held out his hand to Francesco, ‘I’ll book three seats on the morning flight to Paris. I know you hate this place.’

          ‘Vieni anche te?’

          ‘Of course, what do you think? That I would allow her to travel without me?  Are you crazy?’  He kissed Francesco’s hands and held them in his. ‘And remember, you have to pay for her ticket plus expenses... me, I’ll pay for my own ticket.’

          ‘Then you had better call your friend Mr. Segal and have him work out the details of our deal with my attorney in Paris,’ Francesco replied, ‘and FAX copies of our agreement to both of them.’

            While Radouan made reservations and called Martin Segal in New York, Delphine slipped into the pool and soon Francesco was there beside her and they were splashing each other. Observing them, Radouan sensed that now Francesco had filled her up with his money she was like a fish trying to fly. Where would she fly to, he mused, and how would he finally clip her wings?  As long as he was with her, Francesco wouldn’t have a chance, but left alone together? Ah, for sure, something would happen.

             And that evening over dinner, impossible for them to avoid, Radouan found Delphine’s manner even more disturbing!  No longer the flying fish, now she was a young female butterfly, trying her wings, trembling expectantly, hanging on every word that issued from the great director's lips as he spoke on and on about film making, directing, and the importance of casting. Of stars he’d created, intimate details of their lives and the mistakes they’d made which ended their careers - All the time flattering Delphine, exciting her so that, beneath the clinging material of her blouse, the erect nipples on her breasts were clearly visible.

          Later in bed she was moody and distracted - still aroused by him, but not really responding; in fact was fluttering away, far far away. Even when they finally made love, she was not really there for him, not like before.

          ‘Macha’allah,’ he thought to himself, ‘Macha’allah!  She was experiencing temporary insanity due to the sudden ejaculation of so much money. Considering that she had always been poor, was it not to be expected?’

          Early the next morning at the time of prayer just before dawn, he awakened with a jolt from a bad dream with the realization that his passport and papers for entry into France were in his briefcase at Toni’s place in Marrakech. There was no way he could leave with her on that morning flight, no way for him to prevent what he was sure would happen between her and Francesco!  Pacing around the suite, he resisted the temptation to have a drink, and paused every so often to look down upon Delphine, her beautiful hair spread across the pillow, her perfect nose - a faint smile on her lips. Was she dreaming of him, or of Francesco and his money?  He longed to wake her and find out, tell her he would not be going to Paris with her and make love to her one last time. Instead he crawled in bed beside her, took her in his arms and, wondering what to do next, lay awake listening to the call of the Muzziem.

          It would be wiser not to mention the passport business at all he finally decided. Yes. And to say there were people he had to see in Marrakech, and business matters to be taken care of before he could leave; and that he would join them in Paris as soon as possible... Inch Allah?  Perhaps she would feel her slave was escaping and wonder why.  Maybe she would imagine that he really didn’t need her and become jealous and come to her senses. Yes, let her be alone with Francesco for a while, she will be disappointed and out foxed!

           Delphine yawned and opened her eyes.                    

          ‘Sabah el kheir,’ Radouan smiled down at her as she awakened.

          ‘Bon jour Al zeen,’ she whispered, throwing her arms and legs around him, kissing him passionately.

          He resisted the temptation to go on, and the more he held back the more eager she became. ‘You have to get up,’ he said, ‘its later than you think, you’re gonna miss your plane.’

          ‘Our plane.’

          ‘No, azizati, your plane.  I’m not comin’ jus' yet, I have some unfinished business in Marrakech.’

           ‘But you’ve already bought three tickets.’ Delphine sat up and rubbed her eyes ‘So I’ll drive back with you and wait ‘till you’ve finished your business...’

          ‘No, 'bibti, you absolutely must not disappoint Francesco. I’ll be there in a few days... believe me, he will be very disappointed and angry... might call the whole thing off.  You don’t know him. Until everything's settled you must not let him out of your sight... But don’t sleep with him!  That would spoil everything.  Jus’ go with him and suck up, especially as he has just thrown all this money at you. I’ll call Martin Segal to postpone things until I get there... I shouldn’t be long.’

          ‘But it’s you who has given me this money,’ she said sleepily... ‘Come, habibi, ahtajouka.’

          ‘Not now!’ Radouan smiled. ‘Get up! You must...’

          ‘You’re trying to escape me, why?’ she headed for the shower, ‘I think you are...’

          ‘Not at all, ‘Radouan shouted after her, ‘you know I worship you... but now you have a grand career ahead of you... a LIFE... and this is jus' the beginning, this very morning!’  He stripped down and followed her into the shower, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be with you in Paris very soon. We’ll keep in touch by phone and talk tenderly to each other... so you better answer or I’ll think you’re doing something BAD!’ Radouan chuckled, ‘Francesco, he enjoys makin’ sex too much. You will see he can’t get enough.  He may even tempt you with some young gigolos. He’s a Vampire.  Keep your phone with you and if he starts givin' you a hard time jus’call me...’

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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006