‘Daddy’s home,’ I announce rapturously, and, scooping Sorab off the floor, I run out to the front door to meet him.
‘Hey,’ he says, pulling a large smile into his face.
Sorab begins to wriggle and lifts his arms in his father’s direction. Blake takes him from me and lifting him high into the air blows raspberries on his belly, while Sorab laughs, squirms, and kicks.
He turns his head to look at me and sniffs the air. ‘What’s that?’
‘That,’ I grin, ‘is your dinner.’
‘It smells amazing.’
Holding Sorab to the side of his body he bends and kisses me, bathing my body in a languorous, sensuous glow. There is delicious food waiting in the kitchen, my man is home, my son is in his arms: there is nothing more in this world I could possibly ask for.
Blake reaches for my hand and suddenly stills, his eyes narrowing. ‘What’s this?’ he asks softly, touching the plaster on my finger.
‘It’s nothing. I nicked my finger while I was cutting some vegetables.’
He frowns and envelops my hand in his. ‘I don’t want you cooking anymore. I’ll get Laura to sort a chef out for you tomorrow.’
‘No,’ I say immediately. ‘I don’t want a chef. I enjoyed cooking for us today. I don’t want a nanny either. I just want it to be the three of us.’
He looks at me, his jaw is tight.
‘Just for a while, Blake. Please.’
‘OK. For a while. We are moving to One Hyde Park Place next week anyway.’
‘It’s much better there. You will have access to the Mandarin Oriental’s chef.’
‘Can’t we just stay here for a little while longer? Everything has happened so fast and I’m still so confused about so much. This is like my home now. I feel comfortable here, and Billie’s just around the corner.’
He puts an arm around my waist. ‘If it makes you happy to stay here then we will stay here for a while longer. But we will have to move eventually.’
‘Thank you.’ I smile up at him. ‘I’ve got a surprise for you.’
I give him the box. ‘Give me that child.’
He hands over Sorab to me, opens the box, and looks up at me quizzically. ‘Slippers?’
‘Yeah. It’s comfy. For around the home.’
‘Like a grandfather?’
I laugh happily. ‘You couldn’t look like a grandfather if you tried. Now try them on.’ Sorab takes the box and bites the corner while he takes off his shoes and puts on the slippers.
‘Like walking on air.’
He gazes into my eyes—his are dark and moist. ‘Do you know I have never worn slippers?
‘Never. You’ve totally changed my life, Lana.’
‘I’m not finished,’ I say and pass him the next package.
He opens it. ‘Sweats?’
I stand and watch him strip off his office wear and get into the dark blue sweats.
‘What do you think?’
‘Edible,’ I say, and I really mean it. Low-slung pants on slim sexy hips. A little bit of skin shows and I reach out and touch it.
Instantly, he looks deep into my eyes, his expression changing.
‘I’ve got other plans for you tonight,’ I tell him and retract my hand. ‘Here,’ I say and hand the baby over to him.
He takes Sorab and goes off to the living room. I return to the kitchen. Food will be ready in twenty minutes. By the time I put the stretched bread lightly brushed with tomato sauce into the oven, Sorab is sound asleep on his father’s body. While Blake puts him down for the night, I turn down the lights in the dining room, and stand back to admire the glow of the candles on the white table linen heavy with all kinds of foods.
Tart giardiniera in oil, olives, cured meats from the deli, salads, ribbons of fried dough dusted with powdered sugar and an intricate terrine of fruits layered with alcohol-soaked sponge. And of course, a very special bottle of red that I have opened and allowed to breathe.
The first piece I slip into his mouth. The expression of rapture and astonishment is gratifying.
‘It is how I imagine the food in the paintings of Caravaggio to be—real, hearty, Roman—a bird roasted in a wood oven, ’ he says.
‘Really?’ At that moment I make up my mind to learn about art and music, to become, culturally, his equal. He will never have cause to be ashamed of me in front of his peers.
The rest of the meal becomes a dreamy evening that will forever echo in my heart. Everything was perfect. I watch Blake eat, as a mother watches her child eat. Protectively, proudly.
And he eats without inhibition or his usual control and care—cutting his food into dozens of pieces, which he then carefully picks at as if they are something dangerous. He eats with genuine pleasure, sucking the sauce off his fingers, reveling in every new flavor.
Finally, among the crumbs of our feast, Blake dips a lemon cookie into the dessert wine and brings it, still dripping golden drops, to my lips. I quickly swoop down and bite. The sweet raisin-like taste explodes on my taste buds, as a drop escapes from the side of my mouth. Before I can bring my napkin to my lips he leans in and licks the corner of my mouth. As if he is a wolf or some animal that uses its tongue to wash the body of its mate.
He carries on licking diligently until every last lingering trace is gone and still he licks until he happens upon the two tiny drops on my neck. I stare at him. So close to me, still so foreign and yet, my whole life. This is the man I had not intended to love. And now I cannot imagine my life without him.
He raises his eyes to me. ‘I couldn’t understand the concept of eating food off a naked woman before. Now I can.’ He slips his hand along the inside of my thigh. ‘The grace of the human figure, the delicacy of its form is the perfect plate. I’d love to fill your body with all manner of food and slowly lick it off.’ His fingers reach the apex of my thighs. I part my legs willingly. ‘Soufflé aux fruits de la passion on your ni**les, sabayon sauce on your belly, caramel on your pubic bone and bananas en papilote between your legs.’ One long finger enters me.
I blush as if he has not done far more outrageous things to me. Perhaps the thought of lying on a table and being a platter for food that will be consumed off my body is incredibly erotic. And the thought of Blake slowly licking and sucking actually makes me wet.