I’m revisiting my fourth novel, “Love Quadrangle”. The original title was in French, “Menage a quarte” or something to that effect. The story revolves around Miranda (a writer-turned-photographer, Pierre (sustainable architect from Quebec), Francois (a travel photographer from France) and Justine (a writer and bookstore clerk from Washington State).
I chose scenarios that appear in the middle of the novel where four lives cross paths in creative ways. Pierre and Miranda are the main couple. Justine is trying to steal Pierre from Miranda and Francois is trying to steal Miranda from Pierre. But then Justine and Francois get entangled. All does not go well in love and war.
In Canada, at the newspaper office, François thought about the blonde woman he met, Justine, at the beach on the day of the race. He viewed the photographs he took of Justine in her seductive dress and heels, not exactly appropriate for a sporting event. He recalled how she hungrily kissed him later that evening, after he wined and dined her at a nearby restaurant and she agreed to share a night with him at the spa where he was staying. They made love with the passion of two people who had lived in a sexual wasteland for too long.
They spoke about Miranda and Pierre in between lovemaking, but those conversations didn’t last long. By dawn, François and Justine were completely spent and both needed to get to work–surviving on embers of arousal they had for each other.
Now, at his office, François wondered why Justine hadn’t returned any of his phone messages or responded to his e-mails. He was hoping to repeat that seductive night with her, if only.
Justine remembered that night too and her face flushed every time she thought of François’ caresses and his tongue rolling around her mouth. He had given new meaning to French kiss, but Justine was still hung up on Pierre or at least the challenge the architect provided. She had seen him working a few times at the upstairs café but she kept her distance from him. Perhaps, she didn’t stand a chance with Pierre, but he was closer in proximity than the Frenchman who was across the annoying US/Canadian border.
And she had made those vision boards with Pierre’s image which she couldn’t let go to waste. However, when she picked up a Law of Attraction book at work she came across a passage about not desiring someone against his will. When she read about the consequences, she tossed the book against a wall, nearly hitting an unsuspecting customer.
On her break, she listened to an Abraham Hicks teaching CD and experienced a rampage for soul mate and relationship along with the woman in the “hot seat” on the recording. This seemed good and right to Justine. But then what would happen to Miranda if Pierre left her? And maybe her manifestation was the French photographer and not Pierre. What difference did it matter which French-speaking man she ended up with?
She fought her temptation to respond to François’s seductive e-mails and she listened to his voice messages repeatedly. And yet, she wondered if that primal outdoor type would destroy her. She preferred urban men or so she thought.
She also wondered if something happened between the French photographer and Miranda even though Miranda had sworn nothing of that kind, but Justine wasn’t convinced. After all, Miranda had sex appeal and she seemed too vulnerable to not give into the Frenchman’s charms. So because of that, Justine decided not to respond to the Frenchman yet. She thought of making him wait, but she also thought he would find a wide-eyed university student obsessed with French culture to seduce in Vancouver.
On the waterfront, Pierre sat on a bench staring out at the sailboats floating on the bay. The sun sparkled on his skin as he ate a baguette sandwich that Miranda made earlier for him. He thought of taking Miranda on a ferry ride to Lummi Island, where they could ride rented bicycles and spend a few hours together. Since a break from work would calm his nerves, he thought of spending a weekend with Miranda and they could eat at the famous inn restaurant, which they had both read about, but hadn’t gotten around to dining there.
Meanwhile, Miranda drove out to Lake Samish with Racine. As the blue healer ran on the beach with a large stick hanging from her mouth, Miranda remembered the first time Pierre showed her the beach. That was soon after they had met at the lookout point on the Chuckanut Highway, but after months of only communicating telepathically.
She thought that it hurt too much to lose Pierre. Besides, she couldn’t do anything about François and since he hadn’t tried to phone her, she was out of the woods. It was possible that the Frenchman only represented a lost part of her soul or he reminded her too much of her past relationships, which should have healed by then.
Or maybe she envied the Frenchman’s independence as he traveled around the world taking award-winning photographs and grabbing lucrative opportunities out of the air. Meanwhile, she struggled to get any magazine assignment.
How did François end up on the West Coast? Maybe she should accept his invitation to get together. But she couldn’t take the risk, because eventually his charm would seduce her and for what, a short lived affair that ended in remorse? No, she loved Pierre, and the Frenchman was just a test thrown in her path. Who was to say, he wasn’t seducing women in every port?
Meanwhile, Pierre made ferry reservations for the weekend and he rented two bicycles with twenty-one gears, not knowing the terrain on the island. He had no idea how Miranda would respond to his surprise, but he aimed to impress her and get their relationship back on course. Besides, he missed her companionship.
In Vancouver, François ambled on Hastings Street. Later, he stopped by a shop and bought Justine a local designer T-shirt and a silk scarf, not even knowing her tastes in clothing. In the past, Catharine told him that every woman needs a black T-shirt and most women found silk flattering.
The Frenchman refrained from purchasing lingerie for Justine, but this left him wondering what she hid in her dresser drawers in her cramped apartment. Of course, he hadn’t seen the inside of the apartment because he was in a rush when he dropped Justine off after the night of making love to her. He had a good hour’s drive ahead of him and a deadline at work so lingering over coffee at Justine’s studio didn’t appeal to him. Besides, he never cared much for post-coital conversations which he found tiresome.
Moments later, François found himself walking towards English Bay. With his thoughts lost on Justine, his feet took over and headed towards the water with its breathtaking view of the North Shore Mountains. Sitting next to a large body of water with the sunlight reflected in it calmed the Frenchman’s nerves and gave him time to plan his next move with Justine.
Finally, Justine responded to his e-mails. However, her response seemed businesslike. The mystery intrigued him and he knew that he couldn’t just show up at Justine’s studio, but he could show up at the bookstore and say he just came to browse the nature photography books. Or he thought of feigning an assignment in Bellingham finishing up his Ski to Sea article for his blog. He had phoned the bookstore earlier and knew Justine worked that evening so he put his plan in motion.
On the shore of Lake Samish, Miranda sat on a log patting Racine on the head absent-mindedly. Her thoughts wandered to Pierre’s changed mood and she sensed him warming up to her once again. Though she had remained detached from her emotions–not easy to do when she worked in the same office and lived with Pierre, she knew her patience would pay off. She noticed Pierre thumbing through tourist brochures that morning and a gleam in his eyes. She didn’t dare ask about the brochures because she felt anxious that Pierre would say another cutting remark about François.
When Pierre had a bee in his bonnet he reminded Miranda of a dog with a bone in his mouth and just like she wouldn’t attempt to pull the bone out of a dog’s mouth without consequences, she also chose not to stoke Pierre’s wounded ego.
And wasn’t that what the tense home situation was about, Pierre’s wounded pride? Had Miranda known that their lovely couple outing to the Ski to Sea race would end that way, she would never have suggested it. If they had headed to Mount Baker or Nooksack River instead of Marine Park, Miranda would not have encountered the annoying French photographer. If only.
Staring at the foothills across the water, Miranda took a deep breath and brought herself back to the moment. When she looked away from the scenic background, she noticed Racine with a stick in her mouth.
“You want to play, do you?”
Miranda tossed the stick into the water and Racine rushed towards the water on a mission to bring back the splintery mass to her human companion. Miranda tossed the stick for the dog two more times and decided to drive back to town.
Later that evening in another part of the city, Justine arrived at the bookstore late because she had waited for a plumber to fix her broken toilet. Then when the plumber did show up, he didn’t have the right equipment and he needed to make a trip to the hardware store to pick up a new toilet.
Only ten minutes late for her shift, the clerks seemed too laidback to notice. Besides, Justine was on duty that evening buying used books. Those shifts usually crawled along at a snail’s pace with few people coming into the store to sell their books. However, that night, one of Justine’s favorite authors arrived at the store to give a book signing. However, the person trailing behind the author as she made her way down the stairs took Justine by surprise.
Though her heart beat wildly and her thoughts reverted to a night of lovemaking, Justine played it cool when François approached her.
Justine rearranged the books on the desk then she slowly looked up to François’ face. “What brings you here?”
“I had some research in town.”
“And you were…?”
“Okay, so I lie. I came here to see you because I thought that night was special.”
Justine turned her flushed face away from the Frenchman and she glanced around to make sure that none of her colleagues were in the vicinity. The guy in the metaphysical books section glanced over at Justine and François, but then the author called to him and that left Justine in the clear.
“Look, I’m at work and…”
“I know, but I thought we could meet afterwards. What time do you get off work? I will take you out for dinner to anywhere you want to go.”
Since Justine was in the mood for wining and dining, she remembered the cushy restaurants on the Bellingham Port. She tested the Frenchman. “Okay, could you take me to dinner at Anthony’s?”
“What is Anthony’s?”
“It’s a highly recommended restaurant that serves mainly high quality fish and it’s on the port so we could take a moonlight walk near the bay.”
François looked up the restaurant on his Smart Phone. “Okay, I made a reservation for 9:00 p.m. Is this too early?”
“Make the reservation for 9:30 p.m. and pick me up here.”
Glancing at his watch, the Frenchman wondered where he would hang out for three hours.
As if reading his mind, Justine pointed upstairs. “You can hang out in the café and enjoy the view or wander around Old Fairhaven. If you enjoy author events, you can stay for the book signing.”
“Who is the author?”
“On second thought, you probably wouldn’t like the author because she writes relationship comedy.”
Justine laughed, “You know, like When Harry Met Sally.”
“I don’t know this one, but you are right, this author probably focuses on women readers and not hardy men.” François glanced at the room filled with women. “Ah, I am right. I guess if I wanted to meet women, this would be the place.”
“And this isn’t what’s on your mind.”
“I am fine in this department. I will go upstairs and work on my laptop. I am researching the resort at Whistler. Have you been there?”
Justine shook her head just as a customer approached her with a box of books. She glanced over her shoulder at François, “Okay, so meet me upstairs in the front of the store at 9:00 p.m. Oh, and I’ll need to go home and change clothes.”
“Then, maybe we need to make the reservation for later…” With those words, François bounded up the stairs like a real woodsman.
In the Columbia Neighborhood, Miranda stood over a boiling pot waiting for the pasta to cook. She had picked up pasta sauce at a local restaurant and with the price she paid for the sauce, she decided it was more economical to buy the pasta at Trader Joe’s and cook it herself. She tossed a salad earlier and found the homemade dressing Pierre had made the previous week.
Moments later, Pierre arrived with two hybrid bicycles in tow. Miranda nearly lost her cool demeanor watching Pierre balancing the bicycles with each arm while keeping the front door open with his foot.
“I have a surprise for you?”
“Did you buy those bikes?”
Pierre shook his head vigorously. “I did something crazy and I rented the bicycles. But you know that I haven’t rode one in years.”
“That makes two of us. So what’s the occasion?”
“Remember the Lotus Inn?”
“This is the inn on Lummi Island that you take that little ferry to, am I correct?”
Miranda left the pasta boiling on the stove and she helped Pierre push the bicycles up against an empty wall. “These are nice. How much did it cost you to rent them?”
“Only $25 each a day and we have them for the entire weekend. You see, we aren’t going to take the Jeep on the ferry.”
Miranda chuckled, “We’re not?”
“How long has it been since you have ridden a bicycle?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe twenty years.”
Pierre chuckled. “We’re riding bicycles all weekend because I booked a reservation at the inn.”
Pierre took a deep breath and smiled. “What are you making? I smell basil and…”
“Oh no! I forgot about the pasta.” Miranda rushed to the stove and turned off the burner. She took a fork and tested the pasta. “Oh, darn, it’s mushy. Well, at least the sauce is extraordinary.”
Pierre ambled to the kitchen and pulled a baguette off the top of the fridge. “Let’s eat the sauce with bread. My brother, sisters, and I did this when we were children. We dip the bread in sauce. If we still have some of the goat cheese left we can have that too.”
Suddenly, Pierre had the urge to cook. He pulled zucchini from the fridge, chopped garlic, drizzled olive oil into an iron pan, and sautéed the vegetables. He added the sauce while Miranda warmed the baguettes in the oven.
“Have you ever been to Lummi Island?”
Pierre shook his head. “But I have brochures and a map.”
“That’s encouraging that you have a map. I know men who won’t consult maps.”
“These men get lost and then blame it on their partners.”
“Oh, so you know that routine too?”
“And I prefer to read maps instead of fight with my partner for several hours. It’s more peaceful this way.”
Pierre poured the vegetables onto a large plate while Miranda sliced the baguette. Then she handed the leftover goat cheese to Pierre to spread on his baguette. After taking a bite of his masterpiece, he grinned.
“Maybe we don’t need a five-star chef.”
Miranda savored the bread and vegetables. “So then we can skip the ferry ride to Lummi?”
“Ah no, I already made reservations, besides, I want to see you ride a bicycle.”
“Is this your sadistic side coming out?”
“I don’t have a sadistic side.”
“All humans have a sadistic side.”
“Who told you that?”
“Racine told me when we were out on one of our walks.”
Pierre glanced over at Racine stretch out in her dog bed snoring. “I forgot about the wisdom of a blue healer and her trusty stick.”
“Don’t make fun of Racine. She knows things.”
“And she tells you about my sadistic side, no?”
“She didn’t mention you in particular.”
“Okay, so now you are playing with me. But you’ll see me on a bicycle too and maybe when you see how graceless I am, you’ll leave me.”
Glancing at the bicycles resting against the wall so smug and shiny, Miranda suppressed laughter. “No, but I will bring my camera and then blackmail you later with the photos.”
“And who is sadistic now?
Miranda guffawed. “Now you know the truth about me.”
As she ate the last bite of her baguette, Miranda’s mind wandered to the romantic weekend that awaited them. She sensed that after they digested the heavy dinner, they would make love that night too. She could smell the scent of lovemaking lingering in the air and it had been too long since the couple held and caressed each other. Beside, garlic and tomatoes had that effect on Pierre. There’s an Italian lover hidden in every man.
At the port, after an expensive dinner at Anthony’s, the evening felt anticlimactic as Justine and François headed back to Justine’s studio. Even though the apartment resembled a college dorm room rather than a home, Justine could at least boast she had a brand new toilet, even if pink toilets didn’t suit her.
Her partner didn’t seem to mind and as soon as she locked the door, he began undressing her. They barely made it to the futon couch when François remembered the gifts he bought for Justine in Vancouver. He pulled a lavender boutique shopping bag from his pack and handed the bag to Justine.
“Here, I bought this for you.”
Justine peeked in the bag and then coyly smiled at the Frenchman. “So you had plans all along, didn’t you?”
“But of course. After the last time we spent time together, I thought I would enjoy spending time with you again.”…
All Rights Reserved Copyright Patricia Herlevi