It was the summer. It was gorgeous outside.
Nadine Grover was petulantly bored sitting outside on the patio. She sat in the only chair out there. It was a huge, grand patio that could comfortably fill a 100 visiting diplomats. It never had. Her ex husband wasn't the partying kind. They never had people over. He was stiff. Boring. And dull.
It was before noon and she already had a martini in her hand.
She had decided to give tanning a shot. She wanted to look healthy and vibrant when she returned from vacation. She reclined nude on the chaise.
She wasn't one for tan lines.
Taking both of her hands, Nadine squeezed them around her waist. She didn't have an ounce of fat in the wrong place. Her body glimmered in the sunshine.
She closed her eyes and decided not to think. Her body was stunning. Her face even more so. Even, sitting out in the sun she put her lipstick and rouge on. It was the one part of her body she didn't like. Her face was just never right.
Her nose was either too big or too small. Flared or invisible. The cheekbones weren't arched enough and her vibrant eyes were never quite vibrant enough. She never pulled her hair away from her face. The more she hid of it the better.
It would probably surprise most people to know Nadine Grover didn't think she was beautiful. If one of the most beautiful women in the world couldn't love themselves. It was hard to imagine anyone else imagining they were good enough.
It was something she would never admit to. Namely that she knew men thought she was sexy. All tits and ass.
She didn't mind. She'd gotten a lot of things in her life, because of that. Men she'd found were very pliable. Easily manipulated. They never looked at her face. She could have been a horse, but all they cared about was how well maintained her hourglass figure was.
A smile played across her lips. She was sexy.
It didn't matter what kind of clothes a director put her in. She was sex. Every man wanted her.
There had actually been quite a few men who hadn't wanted her. She brushed it off. It wasn't her fault that they didn't have taste. Some had morals, they were married men. Others were frightfully old and probably didn't have the right prescriptions on. The men who didn't fall into those categories she didn't know. They must not have been attracted to her.
That was something she didn't understand.
She was the Nadine Grover after all. Hollywood starlet. Brand of sophistication and glamor. There wasn't a person in this world who was good enough for her.
A hand was lightly shaking her. She opened her eyes. Looked right at her and glared.
“You should put some clothes on.” She stood back and crossed her arms.
Just like a school marm, “You woke me up to tell me to put clothes on?” She was annoyed.
“The neighbors might see you,” stated Sarah.
“We're in France. No one cares about breasts.” She was trying not to be irritated with her sister. Her sister was just making sure she didn't do anything stupid. Somewhere Nadine had a grudging respect for her.
Her sister was always the better half. Prettier and smarter. Well articulated, just not as cunning. That's where Nadine won out. She knew less fabric the better. Sarah always took the opposite approach. It was never important to Sarah to impress men. She'd never dated a man and as far as Nadine knew she didn't have any friends.
Sarah was the one thing Gloria Gaines held on to her past. When she moved to Los Angeles she brought her sister with her and she served as her go to for anything. Gloria Gaines became the sultry Nadine Grover, and despite how much Nadine tried to convince Sarah to change her name. Sarah Gaines refused.
She was the one person who never judged Nadine and never needed an explanation for anything she did.
“I'm just worried about someone taking pictures.”
Nadine waved it off, “Let them take 'em. That's how I'll find a new husband.” She stood up, beautifully tanned. Her breasts hanging down. It was wonderful to stand in front of someone who didn't expect them to stay up by themselves.
Sarah averted her eyes.
“Don't be so modest. You've seen me naked before.”
“That's what scares me.” She paused, “We're going to have head back on Monday. We have to renegotiate your contract.”
“Can't you do it without me?” Nadine pouted.
Sarah ignored her, “You have to sign them.”
“Air mail them to me.”
“I've already booked the tickets, Gloria. We still have four days left in Nice.” She hesitated as she started to walk back inside, “Don't be so down trodden.”
Sarah always knew what she wanted. Nadine appreciated that. She didn't appreciate being called Gloria. That was her former self. That's why Sarah did it. To level the playing field. In an industry full of men, Sarah knew rules that Nadine could never dream of. Nadine's approach to men never left room for future dealings. Sarah's always did.
She watched her sister leave.
She wondered what she could do to find her a man. A good looking man, a man who would appreciate her aesthetic. Her sister needed sex. Nadine was convinced of it.
From outside she could hear the doorbell ring.
Nadine heard the front door open as she slid in through the back. She went right into the foyer and saw her sister standing there with a nun clutching her rosary beads.
A single solitary nun.
“Hello, sister,” greeted Nadine.
Sarah turned around horrified, “For Christ's sake, Nadine put some clothes on.”
She rationalized it, “I thought it was a gentleman caller.” She flounced up the stairs. Nadine had never been one who cared for nuns.
Her sister shook her head. Nadine had a great ass.
The nun tried not to be amused.
A fling is what Nadine wanted for her sister. Just a reasonably nice, attractive man for her sister to bang her head into a wall with. Tourists were not Nadine's thing.
In Nice, she never counted herself as a tourist. Tourists don't own homes when they vacation. Nadine owned a proper villa. Language was a barrier. The French really didn't seem like Sarah's type. She needed to find an intelligent, masculine man to sweep her sister off her feet.
Hopefully, somewhere downtown she could find a nice Oxford boy on summer vacation. Or a man on leave from the Royal Navy. Possibly the Prince of Wales would be available to have sex with her sister.
Nadine had an eye for men.
She glided as only a Hollywood actress can. Not everyone recognized her. She had the sunglasses and the shawl on. She always looked so pasty in all her film roles and no doubt the tan wasn't helping her be recognized.
That was a good thing. She was looking for a man for her sister. Not herself.
Technically, she was dating someone. It wouldn't last long.
So, far Nadine had eliminated almost every man she had come into contact with. She was wearing a clinging dress. It was also transparent. Her nipples were protruding.
None of the attractive men had kept their eyes averted.
Nadine didn't blame them.
She had very nice nipples.
It was at a cafe that she stopped. There was a man that looked quite familiar. She told herself not to be so silly. Meeting a man at a cafe. Then, she looked at the cafe. Coco Chanel loved it. This man had taste, a coordinated style, and his body appeared to be in shape. He was young to.
Nadine almost wanted him for herself.
She stepped across the street, almost getting hit by a car. The drivers horn sounded and the man in the cafe looked over at her. It was a brief glance. He didn't linger on her breasts.
That was a good thing.
She went inside ordered something off the menu and found herself outside. The man was sitting there doing a crossword puzzle. Nadine rolled her eyes. He wasn't her type, but Sarah could never resist him. She was about to introduce herself when someone cut in front of her to talk to him.
It was a young woman. A typical boring French girl in appearance and she was asking for his signature.
Nadine leaned in closer. She heard the words “Ivon Chekhov” come across in a lilted French accent. Now she knew exactly who he was.
When the girl left, Nadine saddled up next to him. She took the seat opposite him and he didn't even look up.
She sat there for a minute and he didn't even glance at her.
She huffed. Nadine wasn't used to being ignored, “Excuse me,” She took off her sunglasses and set them on the table, “Your, Ivon Chekhov. The Russian detective.”
“I am?” he took a sip of whatever he was drinking.
Nadine got a little side tracked. It was hard to tell if he was being coy with her, “I hope so.” She smiled with all her charm.
“Is there something you wanted to say to Ivon Chekhov?”
“Of course. Why else would I be asking about him.” She stared at him, “You are Ivon Chekhov.” It was a statement.
“Are you Nadine Grover?”
She was pleased, “You recognize me?”
“I would hope so. I do read the paper.” He lifted up the crossword he was doing.
“Am I in this issue?”
“I haven't checked, yet.”
Nadine was getting flustered. She was flirting with a man. Technically she had her own. Not that something like that ever stopped her. What was bothering her is that if she kept up this way, Sarah was never going to have him. That was a problem, “How do you feel about a drive?”
“Streets are rather narrow for that don't you think.”
“I want to show you something.” Nadine was insistent.
“We just met.”
“So, what?” she defied, “We're both celebrities. You know who I am. I know who you are. We're friends who have just never had the chance to meet before.”
“I'm not opposed to it. I just want to know where you're taking me.”
“How about you find out?”
He shrugged, setting down the paper, “Why not?”
“Tell me,” Nadine hit the accelerator “What do you want to know about me?”
“Who taught you how to drive.”
She laughed. Shifting the car into another gear. “No, really. You must have some kind of questions. The tabloids are salacious. I love reading about myself. Apparently, I'm Archduke Ferdinand's love child.”
“The one that got shot?” questioned Ivon.
“That one. Is there anybody else? Of course it's ridiculous. An archduke wouldn't send his daughter away to America. France perhaps, but not America,” she saw how amused Ivon was, “the worst one I've ever heard was the one where they said I was 27.” She looked over at him again. There was no reaction, “I'm not even 20, yet.” He still didn't react.
“And, yet you've been married six times.”
“Seven,” clarified Nadine, “I know it's easy to lose track. I forget about them. I only remember the things I got from them in the divorce settlements. I'm a very wealthy woman, Ivon.”
“I hope you weren't planning on marrying me.”
“Don't be silly,” she grinded the gears, “I'm seeing someone. I mean I know the divorce between me and Henry isn't final, but.” She shrugged, “I like this man. His name is Mario Maserati. You know one of the car racing men. Although, he paints or does some such nonsense. He's in Italy right now,” she thought about it, “He's always in Italy. Novi Ligure I think. Can't imagine what he's doing there.”
“Painting?” hazarded Ivon.
She laughed again, “You're so funny.” She took her eyes off the road, “Why don't you have a Russian accent?”
“No.” Nadine teased him, “Seriously. I would have sworn you were British. But, it's like a clean accent. You're so British, but you're not at the same time.”
“Is this the kind of thing that Americans do for fun?”
“I haven't offended you have I?” She took a sharp turn, “My mother told me being to direct was a fault of mine. Let me get this straight. Your parents are Russian and you grew up in England. What does that make you.”
Ivon looked out over the coastline, “A bastard probably.”
“What do you want to be remembered as, then. A Russian or British?”
“You're very hung up on this concept that I can't be both. People always want it to be one way or the other. Life is never that simple.”
“Now that's the answer I was looking for,” she was triumphant, “You're a Brussian. I like that a lot Ivon. My last husband. The one I'm divorcing was so stuffy. Henry Rockferry. Even, his name is stuffy. God. I don't know why he insisted on marrying me.”
Ivon peered over at her.
“I mean it's common knowledge that sex can get what you want from a man. I just don't know why Henry wanted marriage. The role I landed was great. The movie's going to be out next year. The studio loves it. Poor Henry can't do anything about it. It's going to be a hit.”
“Wasn't he married to Clara Eden?”
“Poor woman,” Nadine sighed, “Went crazy after Henry left her. It's not my fault that I'm just so good at sex that a man has to leave his wife for me. I don't appreciate being called a home wrecker. Lord knows Henry wanted it more then I did. The role is great, but it's not that great. You know their thinking of nominating me at an award ceremony.”
Nadine was dumb founded, “Acting of course. The only problem is that I'm going up against that bitch Clara Eden. I saw the movie she's in. It's called Dipping Dew. God only knows who comes up with these names. Now she's good. Don't get me wrong. But, she's not better then me. The thing is she could win. I can't lose to my husband's ex-wife.”
“If you really want to win. You just have to have sex with them.” He knew Nadine Grover. He'd seen her movies. She wasn't a good actress. The only way she was going to win is if she had sex with everyone on the committee.
“That's a brilliant idea.” She gripped the steering wheel harder in concentration, almost running a bicyclist over, “I'll show her. I can win.” She slammed on her brakes.
Ivon looked around confused, “Why are you stopping?”
“I needed to look at you.”
His eyes grew wider, “I think you've done enough of that.”
“I just have to look at you when I ask you something.”
Ivon was wary.
“What do you think of me?”
First impressions were starstruck. He wasn't starstruck by Nadine. She was a beautiful woman. The tabloids had her pegged. He wasn't surprised by her. But, he expected her to be dumb, and that's one thing she wasn't. He expected this high pitched voice, but this woman defied all that, “You have a very nice voice.”
“You have a very nice voice.”
“No, I heard you. I just didn't understand. You didn't answer my question.”
“I thought you would have an unpleasant voice.”
“That's what people think of me?” she leaned back in her seat, “They think I have an unpleasant voice?”
“Your voice is actually quite nice.”
Nadine nodded, “Well, there are worse things, people could think about me.” She tried starting the car back up again. Her hands started to sweat, “Damn it. Ah, there we go.” The mirror confirmed that her lipstick was still on, “The house was Henry's you know.”
“Oh, right. I didn't tell you where we were going. God, I'm stupid sometimes. I'm taking you up to see my little villa or whatever it is they call it in France. I got it in the divorce from Henry. He never used it anyway. Dreadfully boring man. My last husband was the exact opposite. Too exciting. Cheated on me.”
“I'm so sorry,” apologized Ivon.
“Don't be. I got half,” her hands gripped the wheel as she ran through an intersection, “I'm about to be a very wealthy woman. People always say the best things in the life are free. Well, I like money. I can't say I even particularly enjoy sex. If I had to give it up I don't think I could do it.” Nadine wasn't worried if that was too blunt.
Ivon was amused.
“Oh, my god,” the car slowed down, “Someone must have robbed the bank.” There was a circle of police around the building, “I hope someone got shot. That will be interesting to read about.” She sped back up when she realized there was nothing to see, “I have a safety deposit box there.”
“You picked the bank that was held up.”
“I don't believe in banks,” Nadine shook her head, “I keep everything with me. Henry was boring as I said. He had a safety deposit box there. When the divorce was finalized I kept it. There are some beautiful jewels in there I need to take out.” She lowered her voice to make sure he knew how scandalous it was, “You know some of the jewels were his wife Clara's.” She laughed.
“You really didn't like your ex-husband's, ex-wife did you?”
“Of course not! She was a bitch. I just slept with her husband. She was temperamental.” Nadine turned her face up at it. “Enough about me, though. Tell me. Are you seeing anyone?”
“Me?” Ivon didn't have to think about it, “No, not currently.”
“An eligible bachelor like yourself alone. You don't happen to have any brothers.”
“No brothers. Not even a sister.”
“That's tragic. Tell me about this girl who broke your heart.”
Ivon let the wind tousle his hair, “There hasn't been anyone, yet.”
“That needs to be remedied,” assured Nadine, “You haven't truly lived until
someone can tear you apart. I can fix that for you.”
“I'm perfectly fine alone.”
“No one wants to be alone. Who was your last girlfriend.”
“I've never dated.”
Nadine clutched at her invisible pearls, “I've been married seven times and you haven't met a girl to take out on a date. How is this possible.” People who waited confused her. She knew she grabbed the horse faster, then other girls. She was twelve when a boy took her virginity. Still. Here was a man older then her fake age and he'd never dated.
“I haven't found anyone worth marrying.”
“That's not the point of dating,” laughed Nadine, “There are plenty of boys I've dated, knowing I would never marry any of them. Dating isn't about that. It's about having fun. It's not anything serious.”
“But, that's the entire point of dating,” said Ivon, “To find someone. I don't want to invest time in someone I could never see myself with.”
There was a slight tremor in the car as Nadine shifted it into another gear, “How many children do you plan on having?”
Ivon looked confused.
She clarified, “If the only reason to date is to get married, how many children are you going to have with this woman.”
“I'm not sure I want children.”
“You can definitely avoid it. I have my entire life. Children aren't worth the hassle. Parents aren't either. Always nagging. You're never quite good enough.” She pulled the car up in front of her house, “It doesn't matter how successful I am. I'm a disappointment. I can just tell. My parents think there's something wrong with me. And, maybe there is.” The car was shut off and she pocketed the key, “My sister on the other hand. Can do no wrong.”
“Yes. Sarah. You'll meet her. She's the only one who supported my decision to be an actress. Travels the world with me.” Nadine was surprised to find the front door opening as she was about to put the key in. “You're still here.”
The nun hid her face.
“Sister Margaret was just leaving,” explained Sarah.
Nadine didn't hide her contempt.
“And, who is this.” Sarah was surprised. Compared to her other sisters conquest, Ivon Chekhov was a miracle.
“You don't recognize him?” questioned Nadine, “It's Ivon Chekhov, the detective.” She brushed past her sister and the nun, Ivon in tow. “Show the woman out won't you Sarah.” Nadine spun around in the foyer to take Ivon in. He didn't seem impressed. That was disappointing. She could see her sister talking in hushed tones to the nun. Probably apologizing for her behavior. It made her roll her eyes.
Ivon stepped forward, “This is the part where I tell you what a beautiful house you have.”
“Don't I?” It was a challenge.
“I know there isn't much furniture,” she acquiesced, “I'm a minimalist. Furniture just clutters things up.”
It was Ivon's turn to give her a look. Neither Nadine Grover the movie star or the small town girl Gloria Gaines could ever be described as minimalist. Nadine did nothing to correct his assumption. She was more concerned with what was happening outside. The nun was coming back in. With a man.
Nadine extended her hand, “Hello,” She took in his outfit and his badge, “Officer Lannion. What do we owe your visit?”
He was blushing. He knew who she was, “There's been a robbery.” He couldn't look her directly in the face, “The suspects are dangerous and we're asking everyone to stay inside until we apprehend them.”
“You couldn't have just rang?” Her voice really was like silk.
“We're going door to door, ma'am.”
She soured, “Thank you, officer. We'll make sure to keep the doors locked.” She watched him head for the door. It was quite nice watching him.
It was only when she left that she looked back at the nun, “What is she still doing here?” demanded Nadine.
“She is Sister Margaret and you heard the officer. She's going to be with us until they catch those men,” informed Sarah.
Nadine did the sign of the cross, “Lord help us all.”
It was a cavern. An empty void with a coffee table and an oversized curved seating area you would be hard pressed to describe as a couch.
Not a single painting was on the wall. It was painted white. The couch was white and the coffee table was a see through sheet of glass. The views were supposed to be the attraction. The wide opened windows, the sunlight pouring through the skylights. The house was culture.
Nadine tossed her scarf across the table and asked, “Anyone up for a martini?”
Sarah glared at her and Nadine ignored it. So, far her and Ivon were the only ones having a drink. Nadine finally gave in, “Would you like wine, Sister?” Her sister continued to glare at her, but the nun conceded and Sarah took a martini.
She came back in with a tray. And passed it out to everyone. Even, Sister Margaret who had yet to make eye contact with her. Nadine didn't blame her. She was a famous film star and she was nothing but a woman with vows of chastity and poverty. She was obviously envious.
There was silence.
Nadine was used to silence. Men were silent around her. It wasn't the same kind of silence as this. The men were thinking. Nadine wasn't sure if a single thought had occurred to anyone.
“I wonder how much they got away with.”
She received a confused dazed look from her sister and the nun continued to drink her wine. The police couldn't catch the robbers fast enough, “The bank,” clarified Nadine, “The bank was robbed. You know the one Henry kept those jewels at. I wonder what the thieves got away with.”
“Money,” conjectured Sarah.
Nadine knew her sister had a dry sense of humor. She wasn't sure if she was trying to be funny or not, “Tell me Sister Margaret. Are the robbers going to hell?”
For the first time the nun made direct eye contact with Nadine. She rested the wine glass in her hand, “Undoubtedly they're going to live in eternal damnation.”
That was not the response Nadine had expected. She liked this nun much better now. “That's fabulous. I'll have to meet them there.” Downing most of her martini, Nadine turned towards Ivon, “As the leading expert in crime here. What do you think the thieves did that caused the police to keep everyone in doors?”
“They probably think they can capture them better that way.”
“Yes, but that's not what that sexy officer said. He said they were dangerous.”
“They might have killed someone,” supplied Ivon.
The nun choked a little. She smiled weakly, “Doubtful. The threat of force is different, then actually using force.”
Nadine listened to her voice. It was soft and deep, “You have a very calming voice, sister.”
“I do?” Her smile was wry.
“Yes.” Nadine looked at her glass, “Do you want more wine?”
The nun nodded.
Sarah stood up, “I'll get it for her.”
Nadine didn't know what to do now. Her sister hadn't said a word to her. Probably because she'd embarrassed her so badly. But, she was a buffer between her and the nun. What was she supposed to do now. Talk to her. What a disgusting thought.
She placed one hand on Ivon's knee. “I'll have to show you my jewels.” Nadine took her hand off. She couldn't be interested, “They are absolutely beautiful. I'll make a show it. I'll look like the Queen of Sheba.” Standing up, she glided away from the room.
It left Ivon and the nun alone.
He looked at her more closely. She had a very nice face. He could tell she was a very pretty woman. In his twenties he still didn't know what to say to members of the church. It's a beautiful day outside. Have you been to the cinema recently? There was nothing to say.
He said what was on his mind instead, “You look very familiar.”
“I get told that a lot.” Her words were slowly put together and they always came out in a soft, gravely voice.
“What order are you from, Sister Margaret?”
“The Order of the Visitation of the Holy Mary.”
Ivon stared at her blankly.
“The Vistandine nuns.”
He nodded. He never had cared to much about these things, “You deal with education right, sister?”
There was a slight acceptance.
“Is that why you're here today. You were looking for donations to your cause.”
“Yes. I talked to Sarah. Lovely girl. I didn't expect to get so caught up talking to her. She was very generous towards helping the children.” Sister Margaret took a calculating look at him, “You solve crime?”
Ivon nodded, “It's more of a hobby really.”
“Yes. Technically, I'm a Lietenant in the Militsyia, but I'm not a 9 to 5 kind of employee.”
“You're paid, though.”
“Of course. I'm like a good will ambassador. It doesn't hurt anything that I'm intuitive. The government uses that. I only work on cases that interest me. It's a symbiotic relationship on the whole.”
“What are the cases that interest you? Do you like rape, murder. What is it that fascinates you about crime.”
“The ingenuity of it all.” Ivon was very quick, “People are so creative. I would never say I like crime. It's not something you like. I appreciate the human intelligence. Cut and dry cases never interest me.”
“This bank robbery does nothing for you?”
“It will if the police don't catch them.”
The nun looked at him curiously, “You haven't made up your mind on whether or not this intrigues you.”
“If the bank robbers are caught, I'm not interested. If they manage to allude the police. I would be curious into looking into it.”
“Would you like to pray Mr. Chekhov?” She held out the rosary beads.
“You never need a reason to pray to god.” Sister Margaret looked up.
There was a high pitched scream. The nun seemed unperturbed. She clarified to Ivon, “Actresses.”
Sarah came out of the kitchen. There was a pounding on the stairs. Nadine was screaming and yet no one seemed that concerned. As Sister Margaret had said she was an actress.
Nadine swept into the living room. “They're gone!”
The three of them looked her over. She was angry, physically she looked fine. It was Sarah who spoke to her, “What's gone?”
“My jewelry,” Nadine languished on the couch, “It's missing. It's been taken from me. Someone has entered my house and stolen from me. I have been robbed. In France of all places. Why would God let this happen to me?”
Sarah tried to sooth her, “Are you sure you didn't just misplace them.”
“Of course, Sarah. You're right. I put every single earring in a different place. My rings are probably in the drain pipes. They are all missing. Every last one. Someone has been in this house.” She looked around, “YOU.” She pointed at the nun, “You took them from me.”
An amused smile was all that came to Sister Margaret.
Nadine ran over to shake her, “You filthy old hag. You took my jewelry.” Ivon restrained her.
The nun just started to laugh.
It was then that Nadine looked closer at her. She wasn't mad anymore. She was horrified, “Take your habit off.”
“Excuse me?” questioned the nun.
Nadine spaced the words apart, “Take. Your. Habit. Off.”
“Sister, you don't have to do anything.” Sarah turned on her sister, “Nadine what are you doing?”
“What?” She looked from her to Ivon, “Do you not know who this is. Can't you see?”
“This is Sister Margaret,” explained Sarah, gently.
“You're not paying enough attention,” she switched her focus over, “Tell me, Ivon. You know who she is.”
He shook his head.
Nadine screamed in frustration, “This isn't a nun. Can't you see that. She took my jewelry. And you,” pointing her finger at Sarah, “You let her do it. You let her come into this house and steal from me.”
Sarah moved over to Sister Margaret, “Come with me, Sister Margaret.”
“Her name isn't SISTER MARGARET,” shouted Nadine, “It's CLARA fucking EDEN.”
Backing away from the nun, Sarah looked at her closer. She hadn't been paying enough attention. It was exactly what Nadine had said. It was Clara fucking Eden.
Sarah was horrified. Ivon knew Nadine was right, and the nun started to laugh.
Nadine was triumphant, “Now take your habit off.” Her voice was steady and direct.
“Or what?” There was a haughtiness about her that wasn't there before. The nun was no longer the nun. It was someone else entirely, “You'll have me arrested?”
“You can do it now. Or later. I want my jewelry back.”
“I didn't take your jewelry.”
“Bullshit.” Nadine left her language unchecked.
“What do you want me to do? Take my clothes off. Just so I can prove to you, I didn't take your jewelry? Fine.” The nun handed Nadine her rosary and stood in the middle of the room. She had three pairs of eyes on her and she seemed to relish the attention.
First it started with her habit. Once, that was off. They weren't looking at a nun anymore. Her hair was thick and luscious. They were looking at a film star known as Clara Eden.
The rest of her costume came off until she was in her bra and panties. She flung all of her clothes at Nadine, “You can check them if you want.”
Nadine checked everything twice. She cringed at the cheap muslin fabric. But, her jewelry wasn't there. “Take everything else off.”
“You want to do a cavity search now?” Clara was playing with her. She unhooked her bra and slid out of her lingerie. Fully exposed she stood there with more confidence, then anyone could know what to do with. “Satisfied?”
“You stole my jewelry.”
Clara sauntered back over to the couch and curled up on the end, “I just proved to you I didn't.” She shifted her hair over her breasts in a sign of modesty.
Nadine had to look away. The performance she gave this morning wasn't nearly as good as what Clara was doing now. Nadine had no idea why Henry left his wife for her.
They were all silent.
Sarah finally took a seat and they all looked towards Clara. She was busy assessing her nails.
She sighed, “This is awkward isn't it? If only the police could catch those robbers. I could go.”
“You're not going anywhere until I get my jewelry back,” stated Nadine evenly.
“Don't be such a psychotic bitch Nadine. You probably misplaced them. I can't help that. There is not a single article of clothing on my body. Where in god's name do you think I put them?”
“You probably hid them somewhere.”
“Yes. In the house I would never get access into again. That sounds like a strong plan.”
“You were here with my sister for over an hour. I can't imagine what you did the entire time.” Nadine was critical.
“How about that as an idea. Your beautiful sister stole your jewelry and it had nothing to do with me. I'm a great actress, but do you really think she thought I was a nun for an hour. I'm Clara Eden after all.”
Sarah defended herself, “That's not fair.”
Clara turned her cat eyes on her, “You might just be unobservant.”She looked her up and down.
“Why are you here then?” said Nadine to Clara.
“To raise money for the children. I'm sure you've heard. I've lost my mind. I believe you started that rumor, actually. I'm just here making sure your prophesy comes true. My film career is already dead if I don't win that award.”
There was a distinct eye roll from Nadine, “Stop being so melodramatic and tell me where you put the jewelry. And, maybe I won't have the nice officer arrest you.”
“Arrest me for what? God. You're a persistent bitch. No one wonder my husband fell for you.”
Nadine brushed it off, “As if Henry was such a catch. His last name was Rockferry for Christ's sake.”
“I loved that man.” It would be cliched to say Clara had a fire in her eyes. She had a fire in her eyes, “Loved,” she corrected herself, “You had to steal him. This house. You married another man right after. You never loved Henry.”
“I did you a favor. Henry was lousy in bed. He didn't understand foreplay and he finished quickly.”
Ivon and Sarah cringed. Clara nodded.
Nadine continued, “If you just hadn't lost your mind. You would have found another man. A wealthier, more attractive man. Look at you. Good tits. A killer smile. Your hair is full. I mean who does your waxing. You look like a prepubescent baby.”
Some of her pride came up, “I do it myself.”
“Really? If I didn't hate you, I would ask you to teach me.” Nadine almost forgot Clara had stolen her jewelry, “Now tell me. Where is it.”
“For the last time. I did not steal your jewelry.” Clara was annoyed, “Why don't you ask your sister where it is.”
Nadine turned to her, “Where is it Sarah?”
“I didn't steal your jewelry, Nadine. I didn't even do that as a child,” Sarah was disgusted with her sister's faith in her.
“You should see the check she wrote me,” goaded Clara.
“How much was it for, Sarah?” questioned Nadine.
“A few hundred. But,” she held her sister off, “It's tax deductible, so it doesn't even count. I even thought I would get the local paper to do a good will story about it. Miss Eden you are giving the check back now that we know your not really a nun.”
“Figures,” she admitted.
“That still doesn't explain who stole my jewelry.”
Clara pointed at Ivon, “You have a living detective or sergeant or whatever he calls himself in your living room. Why don't you ask him who stole your jewelry.”
Nadine echoed Clara's thoughts, “Yes, Ivon. Tell me who stole it.”
It was necessary for Ivon to sit back. The look on Clara Eden's face was defiant, “It's obvious who stole your jewelry, Nadine. What possible reason could Clara Eden have for visiting your house.”
“Oh. Come on, Mr. Chekhov. You know that's ridiculous,” patronized Clara Eden.
“Let the man talk, Clara,” interrupted Nadine, “Continue.”
“You are right that Sarah would have a reason for stealing the jewelry. But, why now. If Nadine hadn't found out that you were Clara Eden, she would have never suspected that the nun stole from her.”
Clara nodded, “Very true.”
“This was your former house. You knew where the bedroom was. You probably asked to go the bathroom or something mundane like that.”
Sarah concurred, “She did.”
“Exactly,” motioned Ivon, “The real question is where did you put all the jewelry. We all know you have motive. Your husband cheated on you with Nadine and you're a lovely lady,” reassured Ivon, “But, she is a slut.”
A part of Nadine wanted to be offended. Then, she realized something, “It's true.”
Ivon pressed forward, “You probably wanted revenge on her. Stealing her jewelry. It was yours as well wasn't it?”
“Henry got it in the divorce.”
“Exactly. You just wanted to take something from Nadine. Nothing wrong with that other then the fact that it's stealing, and you really should be mad at Henry instead of Nadine.”
Clara took it all in, “Your right. But, none of this would make me want to give you the jewelry back. I'm sorry Nadine. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that I hate you.”
“Hate is such a strong word,” Nadine ran her pointer finger around the edge of her martini glass, “I hate you to.”
In the strangest way possible. These two women were bonding.
“Now what was it that was stolen exactly?”
Nadine shrugged, “Earrings, rings, some of my studs. All of it expensive.”
“Was anything not taken?”
This was something, she had to think about. “None of my necklaces. Chokers. Hair pins. Bracelets. I didn't notice any of that missing.”
Ivon got up to look at the costume piled on the coffee table.
This made Clara sit up, “What are you looking for?”
He took the robe and the habit in his hand. He was dissatisfied, “You had something else with you. Didn't you?”
Clara's eyebrow arched up, “So, what if I did?”
Ivon scanned the room. With a quick motion he held the rosary beads in his hands. No amount of restraint could stop Clara from betraying her interest in them.
“Every good nun needs a set of rosary beads.” Her voice didn't falter. If Ivon hadn't looked at her face he would have thought she was telling the truth.
Sitting back down he held it in his hand. Sarah and Nadine crowded him now, while Clara watched them from a distance.
“You think she put my jewelry in that?” questioned Nadine.
“I think so.” He tried using brute strength on it, but nothing seemed to open it.
Clara was laughing now, “Still convinced I stole the jewelry?”
“We can just smash it open with a hammer or something,” suggested Nadine.
“They're rosary beads,” reminded Sarah.
“What is your point?”
Ivon held up his hand, “We can't take a hammer to your jewelry. There's a way to open this. I just don't know what it is.” He played with it in his hands, looking at the inscriptions, rolling his hands over the beads.
Nothing stopped Clara Eden from being amused, “I thought you liked ingenuity, Mr. Chekhov.”
“I do. It was cunning of you to use rosary beads. Who would ever think twice about a nun with rosary beads.” He felt his hands count the numbers again. It was a heavy rosary bead, and he counted the number of beads. He shook his head and counted again, “26.” He whispered.
“What was that?” Nadine was highly perturbed.
Ivon looked closer at the etchings. They were animals. He didn't know what to make of that. Animals on a rosary bead. There were 26 beads. He looked at the animals again. They were double sided and the same animal wasn't on each side. And, there were 26 beads.
Some of it was conjecture. That was an antelope and that could be a fox. What if it was the alphabet. He spun the animals around until he heard a satisfying clicking noise.
With a little prying the circles started to spread in half and Ivon took the jewelry out. Extending the ring out on his pinkie, he said, “Is this one of yours.”
Nadine was smug, “Care to explain this, Clara?”
“Doesn't mean anything,” she denied.
“Shit it doesn't. Your rosary is full of my jewelry.”
Clara was handling it calmly, “What are you going to do now? Really have that officer arrest me.”
“You stole from me Clara.”
“It's payback you bitch. You stole from me first.”
“Is this still about Henry.” Nadine was exasperated on the subject.
“Yes.” She hesitated, “It's not all about Henry. I wanted to get back at you of course, but that's my jewelry. And, it pains me to say it. But, I didn't get much from the divorce. I'm destitute.”
Now Nadine was upset.“That cheap bastard didn't give you anything?”
“A stipend really.”
“Honey, why didn't you tell me.” Nadine was much closer now, a hand on Clara's knee.
“Funny enough I didn't think of running to my husband's mistress for advice.”
“I wish you'd come to me. I know a great lawyer. I only had sex with your husband for a film role anyway.”
“You must have been pretty good for him to convince himself that he was in love with you.”
“I would hate to boast about something like that.” Nadine got this dead serious look, “But, it's all true.”
“My husband would have taken a blow job by the way. It's not something I enjoy doing.”
Nadine snorted, “If only I'd known. I'm good at that too.”
They were both laughing now.
Sarah turned to Ivon, “I don't know how I feel about this.”
Ivon tried to respond, but all that he could accomplish was a nod of agreement.
Not just amicably, they could stand in the same room as each other. They were talking as if they were friends. Not embattled enemies who had done there fair share of trash talking.
At the moment Nadine was helping Clara out to her rags. Or more accurately what Nadine was calling rags. It was all designer. It just wasn't in Nadine's taste anymore. She'd worn it once. She was over it. She couldn't be seen in something twice.
Not to mention she could hardly have Clara walk out as a nun. She went as far as to give her some of the less pretentious jewelry she didn't want. The emerald pins she had to keep and anything with a ruby, but everything else was up for grabs. She was never going to wear it.
Sarah and Ivon made polite conversation in the living room. He found out that Sarah was the younger sister. She was very straight forward about her age. She told him unflinchingly that she was 25.
Their conversation was pleasant.
Restrained and she seemed to have a tepid level of interest in him. Ivon reciprocated the feelings. She was intelligent and beautiful. But, he was similarly bored in her.
They both finished their martinis. They both talked. They both got along. That was all that mattered.
After an hour Nadine and Clara emerged from her bedroom. Clara draped in evening wear and a Louis Vuitton travel case.
Nadine segued her way over to Sarah and asked her to join her in the kitchen.
Dragging her into the pantry, Nadine closed the door on them.
“How did it go?” questioned Nadine.
Sarah protested, “I can't see anything.”
“You don't have to be able to see something to answer a question.”
“Honestly at the moment, I'm more impressed that you know where the pantry is then anything else.”
There was silence.
“Did you just glare at me?” questioned Sarah.
“See,” retorted Nadine, “You don't need to see anything. So, tell me how are you Ivon doing?”
A hesitation, “Well.”
“What kind of well is that? Well, I'm doing great or well I'm hoping to be able to tell you more if you just get out of this closet. I brought that man home for you Sarah.”
There was another silence.
“I have no idea what kind of look your giving me. Are you upset that I'm meddling? I just wanted you to find a nice eligible bachelor.”
“No,” reassured Sarah, “I just don't know if this is really the right time.”
“The right time for what?” Nadine's curiosity was piqued.
“I don’t,” she didn't quite know how to say it, “I don't really-.” Another hesitation, “like men, Nadine.”
This was something for Nadine to process.
“Do you hate me?” Sarah's voice remained steady
“No. Not at all,” she fumbled for her sister in the dark, “It just makes so much sense. I wish you would have told me. I thought were sad, pathetic, and alone. If you'd told me I could have had Ivon for myself.”
“But, you're still seeing Mario.”
“As if that's ever stopped me,” scoffed Nadine, “So, are you seeing anyone? Is it that mail woman. She seems like a really nice person, but you could do so much better. Those calves are not flattering.”
Sarah was suffocating in the hug, “You know you're handling this quite well.”
Nadine squeezed her tighter, “We're sisters. I love you. I'm not our parents. Heaven forbid if they found out. They would think there was something wrong with you. But, I don't think that. I think this is beautiful. I just can't believe you didn't tell me.”
“If I had told you. You would have wanted to know who I was seeing.”
“Oh, my god,” gasped Nadine, “Don't tell me she's ugly.”
It was almost disappointing when Office Lannion stopped by to tell them that they had caught the five men who had robbed the bank.
Nadine shoved her cleavage forward at the officer, “Was it hard catching them officer?”
He kept his eyes on her face, “Time consuming.” He said it hesitantly in his little French accent. Nadine wanted to eat him alive.
“And, you recovered the money they stole?”
It was at this point that Clara started to make her way out the door, luggage in tact.
“They didn't steal any money,” said the Officer.
“What else could you possibly steal from a bank?”
Clara was skirting past them now, she uttered a muffled goodbye to Nadine. But, Nadine wasn't paying attention.
“They only took a safety deposit box.”
Nadine plastered a smile on her, “A safety deposit box?” Her face was twitching now.
Nadine mouth dropped open, “ARREST THAT BITCH!”