Jeannette made a point of looking at her watch which was all she wore. She wanted Seth to see her do it. When he failed to reflect the fact they were on a schedule and he was throwing them off, she said, “You don’t know my brother.”
“And for this I am eternally grateful,” Seth said as he placed a steaming plate of buckwheat pancakes slathered with butter on the kitchen table in front of her. “From what you tell me, he’s a snake charmer and a charlatan all mixed into one. He’s a mortgage broker specializing in sub-prime loans who buys buildings in default before they go to foreclosure. That’s illegal in this state, y’know. Or, at least you have to make so many disclosures the debt ridden homeowner ought to get the idea maybe he isn’t getting such a good deal after all.”
Jeannette ran a knife through the stack, drizzled several ounces of maple syrup on the fork full she speared off the plate and plunged the mass into her mouth before she dared reply.
Delicious. Yes, Seth knew how to make a great breakfast. What the heck, eat. Take a shower, put on some clothes, get on the road by noon. What the heck. Naked breakfast. The pancakes tasted great.
She made no response to his condemnation of her sibling whom he had only met two times: Once at her mother’s funeral and once in the City when Daryl had business in town and took them out to lunch. Jeannette contentedly sectioned off diamonds of dough drenched in butter and syrup as Seth, too, sat down and began eating.
Because he cooked, she cleared the table. The sink was filling with rising soap suds when Seth walked up behind her and cupped her breasts in his hands. The aureoles grew firm beneath his touch. “Care for a quicky?” he asked as his hard on pressed against her pale pink ass cheeks. How could she refuse such a delightfully salacious offer?
When they were finally in the car and after having driven down Lombard, they came upon the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge and were slowed to a crawl in one of the northbound lanes.
He said, “Now I know why everyone is leaving town. Look at that sign: No Toll Northbound. See, it’s free. Of course everyone’s leaving. No toll.”
Way behind schedule and stuck in traffic trying to get out of the city, no point in letting it get to you. She had a Vogue open in her lap, a soda in one hand and wore dark glasses which made her feel like a famous actress in retreat. “Unh-hunh,” was the best she could muster.
Seth noted her concerned unconcern. He put a hand on her knee, steered with one hand while crossing the bridge slowly. It was a form of nonchalance he liked in her and it was not unusual for him to be the cause of it, the spark of it, to be the formative source of whatever brought her to the brink of this eye fluttering “give me a break” attitude. It couldn’t be their destination, her brother’s house in Chico which was three hours distant if they were lucky and hit no more traffic snarls. More like four.
She didn’t like Daryl any more than Seth did and, Seth would be the first to admit, he had no desire to know the man and his family better than he already did. But it was Maryann’s birthday so Jeannette convinced Seth to take the weekend and drive up, stay the night, come back Sunday in time for him to Bar B Q, drink home brew and watch “60 Minutes” which he did every Sunday night.
“You don’t have to like them,” she said without raising her eyes from a page full of purses. “You just have to go there and be nice.”
“Right. Fish got to swim, man got to fuck.”
Her eyes rolled again.
Three and a half hours later they were in scrub brush country on a dusty private road that led to a sprawling palatial custom built home with an asphalt parking area the size of a basketball court. Over lunch that day in the City, Daryl boasted, although he would have called it “confided,” about his new home which had 7,000 square feet of interior living space.
“Living space?” Seth was astounded. “That’s more like too much space. Why, that’s ten one-bedroom apartments in this city and we’d have three people living in each. Did you have them build a six or eight car garage to go along with it?”
“Sixty feet of garage doors, but that’s just the top level. Why, I dug her out underground and got that much more space for storage.”
They parked in Daryl’s driveway next to his black Mercedes. Seth’s American compact was dwarfed by the German giant. A Hummer sat next to the Mercedes.
“I see Maryann has her own muscle car,” Seth remarked dryly.
“She’s a soccer mom with two kids. She needs the room.”
“Whatever happened to piano lessons?”
“I never want to have children,” Jeannette replied cattily. “That’s why I date them.”
“Yah, well nobody buys a Hummer unless they want to intimidate everyone else.”
The front door opened and Daryl’s barrel chest filled the frame. His arms were crossed and he had the air of someone who could wait until you came to him. None of this Mohammed and the mountain in his world. Daryl was not going to step out to greet his sister and her boyfriend, would not venture beyond the boundary of his fiefdom nor would he volunteer to carry any of their belongings into the guest room.
Seth took all this in at a glance, did not even bother to say hello until he had his and Jeannette’s bags slung over his shoulders and was walking past Daryl into the huge living room with its vaulted 18 foot ceiling.