The Fool’s Dance

“At least you clean up well,” Beth said when they walked toward the senior partner’s mansion in Gladwyn, “Just try not to embarrass me, Ken.

She’d taken to calling him “Ken” after his first T.V. appearance, but he just smiled.

“Come on, Barbie, let’s go party.” He watched the corners of her mouth twitch, either in aggravation or in an effort not to smile.

Since the place was the size of a small museum, Danny had figured he could escape to the many side parlors so as to avoid the inevitable political debates. He’d hold his own against them, but it always led to an after-party fight with Beth.

“You can’t call my father the standard bearer for toxic waste in Pennsylvania,” Beth had said after one gathering.

“Then they shouldn’t ask my opinion.”

Beth had the big money, but he had the celebrity, even if it was of the minor sort. He’d just published a book on the growing social divide in America that had received critical praise and decent sales. At parties her friends didn’t know whether to slither up to him or treat him like a rabid socialist.

It had become simpler to hide.

He’d consumed his third glass of club soda and was pretending to study the painting with the bright geometric patterns of color in the music room when she’d appeared at his side, the blonde with sympathetic smoke-colored eyes. She placed a hand on his arm and nodded toward the picture.

“You like Kandinsky?”

The most he knew about Kandinsky was that he painted abstracts. “Sorry, I’m not an art expert.” He should have added he wouldn’t know a Kandinsky from a can of worms, but thought it sounded snarky.

“You were staring at it like meant something to you.”

He wanted to make up some lie but couldn’t do it. “I was just faking it.”

“You mean you were wishing you could escape.”

“Wishers were ever fools.”

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” She’d shrugged when his eyes widened. “Okay. I was showing off. I was an English major before law school. Please don’t hold it against me.”

“Harvard?”

She gave him a wry smile. “Yale.”

They spent the rest of the evening talking literature and politics, and he’d felt like he’d been starving, even more so when she slipped him her card. For the first time in years, the night had seemed too short.

Beth sulked in furious silence until they’d reached the driveway.

“That bitch latched on to you because you’re my husband. You embarrassed me in front of our friends.” Beth kneaded her evening bag like it was bread dough.

“Nothing happened, Beth.” He didn’t understand her fury. He wasn’t looking to wander; he was hers. He had always been hers, but so much had come between them.

“Do you think no one noticed?”

He pulled into the garage, and she sat still for a moment before she lunged at him, and began to beat him with her fists. “You bastard! I hate you!”

He caught her wrists, pinned her back against the seat, and for a moment they stared at each other. He watched the pulse pounding in her throat, her breasts straining against the deep red silk of her dress with every breath, and Christ, he wanted her so much his insides bled.

In the dim light her eyes had looked black, then they’d changed as if a fire began to simmer in their depths. Her mouth had begun to sear his, her impatient hands ripped at the studs on his tuxedo.           

They hadn’t cared about anything but that moment. It was always that way, a dangerous dance.

And he was very much the fool.

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