2307: Attachments

Posted: February 25, 2012 by Kelly in stories, the world

The twins were born during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. I remember, because Berntsson told us so, when he came in the office with cigars and expensive whiskey on the second of January. “I wasn’t even there,” he said, while pouring us glasses of whiskey. “I was in the Compound.”

“Heh, is there anyone of us even celebrating New Year’s Eve, then?” Weisz asked ironically. She took the drink from Berntsson and swirled the amber liquid around in her glass. “We should really get a life.”

“Oh no,” Berntsson said with a smirk. He raised his glass. “I /was/ celebrating. Jill wasn’t due for three more weeks and she said I should go and enjoy myself. I just never caught her messages. She was fine, though. Presented me with two beautiful children in the morning when I came home.”

“Yeah, that’s just like you,” I said. “I bet she was glad to finally see your tardy ass,”

Seriously. The guy would be late or absent for his own /funeral/, if it were up to him.

***

It’s a year later and we’re on the annual Corporation Christmas Party. It’s a formal attire gala that’s supposed to raise money for some charity dedicated to the poor radiation victims in Cuba. We do it every year and it’s boring as all hell. Still, it’s a required number so we’re all there.

Even Weisz has dressed herself up in a gorgeous dark green velvet dress. Her dark hair is done up in elaborate curls and she would look gorgeous if it wasn’t for the scars on her back. She doesn’t give enough of a fuck to cover them up, though. I kind of admire it in her, just like I admire Huey’s attitude. Neither of them denies their past. It defines them, in a way. Unlike so many people here, they make no bullshit excuses for who they are.

I down another glass of champagne and I look out over the throng of people. Everyone is glittering and shimmering under the dimmed lights. In the background, a band is playing inoffensive music that’s too simmering and uninspired to get anybody to dance. People are just mingling, talking, laughing too loud at each other’s jokes. As the night progresses, the laughing gets louder and the stories get bigger. I immerse in the conversations, politely conversing and smiling at everybody, like I’m supposed to. Stender is at the centre of the liveliest conversations, with Valentina trailing him like a shadow. He always attracts the crowds, everyone wants to hear what he has to say. Even from a distance I can tell that he’s having a great time. He prides himself in throwing great parties.

Me, I’d much rather be elsewhere. I could be doing so many other things. Useful things.

I look up in annoyance when I hear Berntsson laugh out loud, a little to my right. He has an Asian girl hanging on each arm. The girls are gorgeous, scantily clad, and they look up at him in adoration. They can’t be much older than seventeen or eighteen. Then again, with Asian chicks you never know. /Guess I know who won’t be going home alone tonight. Unlike me./

Not that I mind. I’m not the type that hooks up for Christmas anyway. I’m usually working anyway.

“I wish he’d stop doing that,” says a warm voice next to me.

I look up and find Jill Berntsson standing next to me. She offers me another glass of champagne and I take it wordlessly. I don’t really have anything to say to Berntsson’s wife where it concerns his behaviour. She should have known he was a womaniser when she married him. I am fairly sure she married him for his public profile and his money. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I finally say.

She chuckles drily. “I know. I just wish he wouldn’t do it in public. I’m right here, you know?”

“So you are.” I glance over to her. The subtle lighting from overhead makes the crystal hairpins in her blond curls glitter. She’s a lovely girl; the kind that doesn’t have to rely on surgery or make-up to be beautiful. She was been a super model before she got pregnant with Berntsson’s brood. As my eyes travel over her body, I suddenly see how the cut of her dark blue dress flatters her body, cleverly disguising the fact that she hasn’t worked off the excess weight she gained when she was pregnant. She has a bit of a belly. On any other woman it wouldn’t have been an issue, but it is obvious in her stance and the less secure way she handles herself that Jill Berntsson feels horrible about how she looks. “How are the kids?”

She smiles. “A joy and a pain.” There’s a bit of fatigue showing in her face, underneath the make-up. Yeah, she’s a young mother alright. “They’re with the babysitter tonight. It’s my first night out in a long time.”

“Are you enjoying yourself?”

She gulps her champagne and looks at me with a challenge in her luminous and carefully make-upped green eyes. “No thanks to him.”

We both look at her husband, who is completely oblivious to our attention and pinches one of the girls with him in the ass. She squeals delightedly and tries to pull it off as if she’s offended. It’s supposed to be coquettish, but it just makes my stomach churn. I’ve seen this shit so many times before. “Are you expected to return home tonight?” I suddenly ask.

She looks at me and realisation dawns on her. Her lovely face lights up with mischievousness. “Are you making me an offer?”

“Perhaps.”

She regards me with amusement and tucks a strand of curly blond hair behind her ear. “Because if you are, I am sure the kids will be alright without me for a night.” /He sure is,/ goes unsaid.

***

We are completely alright as well.

We end up fucking the night away in a hotel room where the party takes place. It’s great.

In the grey light of morning I watch her slip from between the tangled sheets and pad over to the shower. Her body is lovely in the morning light, slight stretch marks and all.

When she comes out of the shower, I’m already on the pod back home.

/I’m not going to form any attachments,/ I tell myself sternly.

Yet for some reason, when Stender suggests that we should do something for Berntsson’s kids because they’re having their first birthday, I find myself standing on their snowed-upon doorstep with two huge stuffed animals.

Jill’s green eyes light up with genuine happiness when she opens the heavy wooden door for me. She invites me in with a warmth in her voice that I have never heard before. The kids are not even awake. They’re having a nap because there will be a party later today, she tells me. “That gives us about an hour or something for ourselves,” she says with that amusement in her eyes that I’ve seen at the Christmas party as well. “Plenty of time.”

“Where’s your husband?”

“Fuck knows. Come on,” she says, and leads me to the bedroom.

I follow her and smile.

***

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