I’ll find you a husband
But this was not worse than the time Janis had been caught gambling, I thought. Worse than the time she’d tried smoking Oscar McCall’s Cigar at the Courtney’s ball. Worse even than that which I had previously considered the most heinous crime possible- when Janis was all raunchy.
No, this time she’d actually done the unthinkable. This time she laid with a man.
The swift stab of emotion i could not identify penetrated my breast and caused my cheeks to flame i covered my mouth with my fingers paralyzed with realizations.
I was jealous.
“All right I won’t visit a doctor ” Janis conceded.
“Sit down would you?” Before you faint and knock down mom’s noble eternal Del Rivera vessel” I gestured towards the vase on a nearby table.
I grazed at my sister, seeing her now a possessor of hidden truths a woman who had crossed the Rubicon and appeared unremorseful. Janis knew what it felt like to be kissed Not pecked in a stolen drawing room moment but really kissed- open mouths searching — hands — the way I once seen a lady of uncertain morals kiss a man on the corner of wall street.
Janis knew what a man looked like naked She knew what that bulge actually was, what it meant what it could do what it felt like.
I sat down stunned by the enormity of my own curiosity.
” what?” Janis demanded irritated. “Why are you staring at me like that?”
I chewed on my lower lip then realized what I was doing and stopped . “what was it like?” I asked Janis softly.
Janis’s eyes grew wary. “What?”
I pressed my lips together, appalled at my gross interest But the persistence of the feeling would not abate.
“What did it feel like?”
“What?” Janis asked irritably Then comprehension dawned. Janis raised her eyebrow and look at me through heavy lidded eyes. “You mean, it? The dreaded act?”
I could only nod once.
Janis face softened a fraction and a smile nothing like the sultry one she issued earlier caressed her lips
‘Oh Mimi’ she called at me it was wonderful, Janis said breathlessly.
” I’ve never felt so good in all my life.”
The words were a shock and at the same time they were strangely exciting After years of hearing the disgusting murmurs quickly hushed of the married women in our mom’s club and then the sly whispered musings between my own contemporaries to speak with someone who actually knew about the deed and thought it wonderful was completely unexpected.
And for some reason I found it exhilarating.
I try to maintain my comfortable position, “it was wonderful? ” I repeated breathlessly.
Janis closed her eyes and nodded. “Oh yes.”
“Tell me who the father is!” I said leaning forward in the seat toward my sister hungry to know the identity of the person who had wrought such pleasure.
Someone I knew? How strange that one of the shallow young men who hung around Washington streets was capable of such a mystery which of those silly dogs was able to transform my sister so?
But at the question Janis’s face closed up “No.”
“Why not?” I blurted.
” Because I don’t want you to know.” Janis toyed with the fringed sash of the morning negligee.
I threw up my hands with frustration and embarrassment swallowing me.
” alright Fine, Can you tell me this? Will he marry you? Will he do the right thing by owning up to his abhorrent behavior? ”
Janis pursed her pretty lips and stared obstinately off towards the Ireland marble fireplace her fingers on the hems of her gown.
She was fabricating a lie, I knew. She always got that dazed look on her face when she was making something up.
“He’s dead” Janis turned her face back to me and raised her chin.
“how’s that? He wanted to marry me and now he’s dead will you help me now? will you make people accept that ?”
I slumped in my chair. ” they won’t believe it and neither do I, i ignored Janis’s exasperated sigh, there’s only one thing to do.
“What’s that?” The stilling of Janis’s pale hands told me more than i wanted to know about my sisters true measure of concern. For Janis to turn to me at all should have been an evidence enough that I was desperate despite Janis casual attitude.
The both of us had never been close. I had always been the smart one and Janis the pretty one while I used to think the enmity had originated on Janis’s side my own jealous reaction to Janis’s predicament shed an uneasy light on the subject.
“I’ll help you” I said finally and looked Janis in the eye. I’ll do the only acceptable thing.My fists balled in Janis lap.
Janis licked her dry lips and looked at me at once defensive and expectant.
I swallowed hard. I’ll do the one thing that will allow you to have your baby and keep it too. ‘I’ll find you a husband’.
“What?” Janis spat out with a surprise face of ‘that’s not what I ever expected from you Mimi McCarthy’
” I’ll find you a husband?”
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