All of this observation has made me think about how people influence each other knowingly and unknowingly. Purposely and ignorantly. For better or for worse. Which brings to mind my characters. It's time they stirred the pot.
At the end of the performance, the group was ushered into a formal dining room, where they were served a more formal tea service. A beautiful silver samovar with zavarka sat on an ornate side board. Caviar and champagne were in abundance, and Natasha and Vica, with two of Rimma Chen’s secretaries served the guests. Dave and his business partner were seated catty-corner from Drew, giving her the opportunity to admire him out of the corner of her eye. Rimma Chen ensured Dave sat on one side, while Caitlin sat on the other. Anatoli watched the governor with a thunderous expression, and Natasha seemed extra attentive and subservient to Rimma on this day, though slightly agitated.
The conversation and review of the performance was lively and fun. Today, the group seemed to prefer champagne and vodka over tea, which ratcheted up the frivolity rather significantly. Mimi demonstrated her lack of ability to even touch her toes, let alone kick up her heels as they had just witnessed from the young dancers. “Is there an enhancing surgery I can get for that, Dr. Rico?” she laughed. “Wait!” she held up her hand. “If it’s lipo, I don’t want to hear about it!’
Dr. Valenzuela smiled good-naturedly and answered, “Mimi, you are absolutely a work of art. I wouldn’t alter a thing!”
“An abstract work of art,” Caitlin whispered too loudly to Angela. “Not for all tastes. No wonder her husband left. He has quite an eye for art, if I do say so myself.” And she smiled smugly.
Drew noted Mimi stiffening almost imperceptibly. With the din of conversation in several languages around the room, only a few people could have heard the comment, but she was obviously one of them.
“Of course,” she continued a little louder, “Maybe the good doctor could pull a Marie-Laure and just put that work of art in the archives. Permanently!”
Angela went white and seemed to be searching for a response, when Anatoli came around and offered to show Caitlin a small display of Fabarge eggs on loan to Irkutsk.
Tea and other beverages were consumed, food was eaten, conversation and laughter abounded. This was as good a time as any to use the ladies’ room. There were the general facilities, but Rimma Chen had pulled Drew aside to show her to the private facilities adjacent to her office. Whereas the public restroom lacked things like toilet seats and toilet tissue, the private restroom provided plush accommodations, toiletries, music, comfortable seating and even the latest fashion magazines. Using the key that had been lent to her, she strode in, luxuriating in a moment of peace and solitude. As she turned the corner to enter one of the water closets, she stopped so abruptly, she nearly lost her balance. Lying face down on the smooth, marble floor with arms outstretched toward the toilet bowl lay Rimma Chen.