She looked at his shadowed face in the flickering light of the street lamps. He seemed to be relaxed, enjoying himself. A half smile on his calm face conflicted with his angry tone.
"Calm down, Miss de Larra. I'm not one of your Club cops. Those incognito Willmark Reps who come to spy on the Bunnies to see if they're hopping where they shouldn't." He reached over and patted her hand in the dark. She flinched at his touch. "I'm not going to submit a report on your behavior outside or inside The Club. So," he said in a complacent tone of voice. "You play the cello Miss de Larra? How well? Could you play a duet with another musician, an amateur, of course, like yourself?"
She was bewildered and wondered how he had got the information. Had he seen the article in the Entertainment Section of The Toronto Star? How much information was in the paper? She hadn't seen it herself. She recalled that she had asked Wendy not to print anything about her past as the young girl,who had made her debut, at the age of twelve, playing Bach's solo cello suites. Surely he read The Montreal Star not the Toronto Star. A ray of hope.
"You did not lure me into your car to ask if I played the cello," she said at last, trying to keep fear out of her voice.
"No," he replied, "of course not. My purpose in intercepting you tonight was for your own protection. I wanted to point out to you that you ought to look before you leap so to speak. Next time you might break your neck or someone might break it for you."
His voice was hard with a touch of brutality as he turned off the Côte into another street and into an empty parking lot. Fear rose in her in leaps and bounds. The lot was deserted. He stopped his car under a lamp. What was he going to do now? Rape her? Kill her? Maybe nobody knew his hidden life as a predator. She could get out and run? But she froze as she looked over at him. The light shone softly on his face. It had a mysterious quality, almost of deep kindness that soothed her growing fear. His white shirt emphasized the dark tan of his skin. There was about him a sense of painful expectancy that conflicted with his worldliness, as if all that mattered to him was her response, and he was waiting, almost breathlessly, for it.
"Ah, yes, I remember now," she said with some bitterness, "you treat me like an ignorant slut and flaunt your knowledge in obscure parables that I can't understand so I appear even stupider than you think I am. What have I done that my neck should be broken?"
"Just this!" he replied in harsh tones. She felt a newspaper come sailing into her lap with a thump. He reached up and turned on the dome light. "I have to do my job," he said flatly. We all have our obligations, as you know."
Again she had no idea what he meant. She picked up the paper. It was folded open at the Entertainment Section of The Toronto Daily Star. There was her picture in the Bunny costume. She saw her full breasts, the tiny waist, her long slender legs as she rolled her foot on the coke bottle and Yolanda smiling up at her. She was stunned. How immodest he must think her! She glanced at the title, but he snapped off the light.
"Slick, Angelica. But you've stepped over the line."
She held the paper in her trembling hands and saw, before
he turned off the light, the angry red underlining. She put the paper down on her lap.
"So," she said softly, "it's all in fun isn't it? I said you were tyrannical. Everybody in Paradise says the same thing," she said with exaggerated mockery. "So what! It's true, and you know it."
"To say I'm tyrannical is the least of your sins. Mlle., you may have forgotten but you used the word rape and the context is somewhat ambiguous," he said sternly.
She had? She couldn't remember. Was it that specific? She looked at him again to get some confirmation of his mood. He was not smiling. Clearly he did not treat the article lightly. For an instant, she felt very intimate with him, here in the closeness of the small car, the motor purring. The tension was sharp and focused and, in some ways, like the atmosphere when she went out upon the stage. His hair was casually ruffled and his white shirt of rough weave was open at his throat over a v-necked fisherman sweater. It was a studied casual look, but, around his neck, was a gold chain that disappeared into the soft, curling, dark hair of his chest. He looked very healthy and strong and she was reluctantly attracted, for a moment, to his magnetic presence. Above all, his deep mystery. ..
When she raised her eyes to his face, they stared at each other silently and mercilessly for a few moments, and she recalled, unwillingly, how he had kissed her in his office. Despite her dislike of him, she was drawn relentlessly toward his power, his vitality, and, she had to admit ruefully, his incredible magnetism.
But there was something else, more important than any other feeling. She had a sense that he held, somehow, clues to her deepest, divided self, maybe even to her future. In his presence, she always became strangely alert, keyed up, as if she were subtly faced with a tremendous challenge, as if she were, and a tear came to her eyes, about to go on stage. That was what she thought of as the mystery in him. That he could make her feel this way. Make her think about music.
She picked up the paper again. It was too dim to read, but she could see the heavy underlining. She longed to know just how much she had said to Wendy was printed. But she had not yet seen the article and couldn't remember exactly what or how much she had said.
"You need not read it now since I'm prepared to discuss it with you. You can keep that copy. Put it in your handbag. I have several I assure you. I’m deciding to whom I shall send them for reaction."
"Why on earth would you..."
"Miss de Larra," he said gravely, "has it ever occurred to you that I could charge you with libel for your damaging remarks. Bluntly, I could sue you for all you're worth."