The Two of Hearts
By Marilyn Douglas
Date: April 29, 2019
Ch. 4Tapestry of Lies

The story she told Charles was simple- Cassandra lived with her best friend in Hotel Venice after her father died a tragic death leaving his small catering company to her. She sold a family recipe for Chicken fried steak to a major food chain that in turn rewarded her handsomely. Occasionally, but not often she oversaw the running of the company and that was the reason she couldn’t make it earlier in the day. As a matter of fact, whenever she went to work at Shelly’s as a waiter, Cassandra told him this excuse.
She tried to keep the details of her past as truthful as possible, telling Charles about her parents passing and where she went to school, while adding memories of her childhood. This was the only way Cassandra could calm her conscience when it screamed that she would be caught. It wasn’t a total lie -Cassandra did have a recipe for chicken fried steak and she did have aspirations to open a catering company but under no circumstances could she reveal that these were all dreams and not yet a reality.
Tonight he was taking her to an art gallery. A place Charles loved simply because he found all artistic expression to be a type of bloodletting and purging. He loved to interpret the artist’s mind as he studied the brush strokes and composition of their pieces, but tonight his artistic musings would be quite different.
Charles wasn’t born into money and appreciated the struggle of the average man and woman. Because he was so socially aware, he wore clothes and shoes only from companies who donated to the poor and he tried to support restaurants that engaged in feeding programs. It was a more satisfying way of living he said.
The only indulgence he allowed himself was that of a rugged vehicle. The hummer was brand new and a smooth army green. It purred as he navigated through a neighborhood with houses that dwarfed hers and she tried not to stare. Charles was excited and glanced her several times, smiling before finally announcing, “I have a surprise Cassandra. Cover your eyes for me and don’t open them until I tell you to.” His unusual eyes sparkled a mischievous shade of violet as they turned onto another street lined with older more stately homes.
“Suppose I don’t wanna close my eyes? What will happen then?” Cassandra teased.
Breathing exasperatedly, Charles exclaimed, “Well, I will have to deliver just punishment for disobedience then. It’s a tough task, but I am up for the challenge.
A slow wide grin spread across his face before Cassandra obeyed, grinning too in the process.
The vehicle slowed to a stop and she listened as digital tones and beeps came from the driver’s side. The sound of metal moving came next and soon they were moving again. Another two minute drive later and they pulled to a stop where Charles got out and came around to open her door.
“Are you ready to attend your own personal art show?” He asked.
Nodding excitedly and laughing, Cassandra felt herself being led forward and to the left, where Charles took time to keep her steady. After the ping of elevator doors and a sixty second descent, he was ready for her to open her eyes.
As Charles dramatically removed his hands from her face, he stood aside to admire the way her cute heart shaped face exuded happiness and that in turn made him feel accomplished. Pleasing her was his number one desire.
Fluttering her eyes open, Cassandra stared at the scene before her with amusement. The room was bare save for blank canvases on the wall and the one propped on the easel to the far side. Also in the room was an antique chaise lounge and a robe. Turning to Charles with an inquiring look on her face, she tried to make sense of the blank space.
Before the words could form, he said, “This is our room of memories. Every time we arrive at what I consider to be a milestone in our relationship, I, personally will add another painting to the wall. What do you say?”
A searing stab of guilt ripped through Cassandra’s soul. She knew she had deceived him. Charles thought she was someone classy and refined, a woman of wealth and status. Sadly, she was just a simple girl devoid of the luxuries of life and ultimately undeserving of his love. Trying to mask the deception and sadness in her heart, Cassandra smiled and tried to be enthusiastic about his plans.
“That’s a brilliant idea Charles… that’s the reason I like you so much. You are just…”
Closing his lips over hers, Charles invaded her mouth with his tongue, searching her and trying desperately to inhale her essence, with fervor Cassandra kissed back, matching his passion sincerely. Drawing away from her suddenly, he announced, “Tonight, we shall add the first painting to our little gallery to commemorate our beautiful beginning. Will you be my muse?”
“You never have to ask me that twice, you know I am willing… tell me what you need.”
“Take off your clothes, I want to capture you in your purest form… you are so perfect, I want to remember your body and engrave it in my mind…. Are you ok with that?”
The words had barely left his lips before she deductively sauntered over to the lounge and slid off her heels, her eyes never leaving his. Charles moved with the stealth of snake over to his easel where he took up his pencil to wait for his subject to disrobe.

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