Pearl Loverby Kea Noli
Genre: Young adult
On sale: $2.99
Book publisher: Createspace
Page count: 275
Release Date: 4th July ‘12
Amazon Link: Pearl Lover E-Book
Website: Pearl Lover, Coming-of-age
French heiress coming-of-age
Although Nixie Veidt loves a Russian danseur, she marries a bureaucrat to save her inheritance from a
domineering mother. If she is unfaithful, her mother, a wealthy socialite, will become guardian. When Nixie
hires the danseur for her ballet company, her mother hires a private detective and spies on her daughter.
A debutante’s conflicting love for two men and the struggling rebirth of Ballets Russes, a ballet company
Is it moral for a woman to love two men?
Nixie Veidt closed the door to an empty safe.
She took the last piece of gold, the size of a chocolate bar, but shiny, yellow and heavy, and packed it into a small bag with the others. It was part of her inheritance, some of her dad’s wealth that he had accumulated over forty-years, a small fraction compared to her mother’s wealth.
Although the bag was on wheels, it was as immovable as concrete. She gave it a jolt to start it rolling.
Father Voclain had told her to remove everything from the safe and depart quickly before her mother returned.
She moved swiftly but lightly in dusty velvet clothes, a robust figure that was athletic and graceful. She closed the door, quietly, considerately, pausing because it was the last time she would be at home.
The first room that she passed along the corridor was her mother’s bedroom, a room that always smelled of rare French perfume and looked like the first blossoms of spring. The floral designs were across the bedspread, curtains and rugs, and on the walls like ivy.
Nixie continued along the west-wing, passing eight doors, bedrooms in sunlight on one side, while on the other, bedrooms in shade.
She stopped in front of the last door, her dad’s bedroom, where an odor of chicken consommé was strong, an odor that had become frequent because he could only consume liquids.
She peeked inside the room. It was unpleasant for her to see him, the sheet lying flat across the sunken chest, and unpleasant to hear the suppressed breathing.
She recalled Father Voclain’s words, that he had told her earlier, when she crept inside the sullen dark chamber, where the curtains squeezed a slit of sunlight onto the floor. She recalled how her dad greeted her, a skeletal grin, and bony fingers reaching out.
“Your dad has something to say,” said Voclain, a tall figure dressed in black, but not an ordinary priest. “He can’t.... So I will. Hopefully … the way he wants. If things were different … if he had more time … he would help you. But, he can’t.”
Max Veidt looked up, swollen eyes in yellow skin.
“You will not come back after today. Don’t protest. It’s about your inheritance. Your mother wants a trust. Control … until you are twenty-one or twenty-five … Your dad disagrees. When he is …” Voclain paused, looking away, his voice cracking. “The will has been changed. She won’t know until it is read. The lawyers have sent a letter about the trust.” Voclain gave Nixie a file, containing her net worth, details about investment funds and bank accounts. “Remember Conrad…?”
Nixie recalled the days when Conrad visited the house, played the grand piano, and sang songs.
“You’ll go to him. He’ll advise you about the bank accounts and investments. When she fights—”
Max interrupted, coughing, “And…she…will.…”
“W—what about … the funeral?” blurted Nixie.
Voclain continued: “Forget the funeral. A waste of suffering. For miserable bastards.” He saw the perplexed face, fear mingled with sadness in the twisted mouth and oscillating eyebrows.
The raspy voice added, “Tell…her….”
“B—but there’s no need,” replied Voclain, protesting gently.
“She…she…has…a right … she…must…!”
Voclain looked lovingly at Max. “I will. Calm down. Some would call your father a materialist. No time to explain all the details. But he started with a few hundred francs. Turned them into millions. None of his ways are so called ‘respectable.’ He hid the money …”
Voclain chuckled, whispering in a stealthy voice, “Conrad sells false I.D., amongst other things. Helps the wealthy hide their money. The reverse of Robin Hood. He’ll guide you with your inheritance. Help you keep it —a financial genius—a black marketer. You’ll meet him tomorrow for lunch. The Neapolitan outdoor Restaurant. Don’t know what he’ll advise you. I can’t come with you.… Are you up to it?”
Nixie tossed her head back, forcing an unhappy smile on the tremulous lips and replied: “You look worried. I can do it.”
Voclain tore a piece of paper from a larger one, hastily. “The combination to the safe. Take everything from it.”
Nixie held the paper, her fingers trembling.
“Pack and leave before your mother returns.”
Max’s eyes smiled, obtrusive sparks glinting defiantly and glowing with light that did not come from the room. “Go…get…the…hell out— The …Russians…say: ‘Never… look… behind.’” These were his last words, before she went into the den, read the combination, unlocked the safe, and removed the gold and cash.
She had to hurry with the bag. Pulling the muffled wheels over the Persian runner, she passed a row of windows. The corridor separated the entertainment area from the bedrooms; a buffer from the happier days when flamenco dancers clipped the dance-floor; and when her mother, Maria, had strutted as the prima dancer.
Nixie approached the threshold to the living room, where she paused and looked across the ruby-red lounges, against the background of snowy limestone floor.
She looked through the diamond shaped windows for her mother’s sports car beneath the porte-cochere, the grand entry where in a different century carriages had arrived under cover. Had Maria been alive then, she would have worn the hoops of a crinoline. The car was nowhere to be seen.
Nixie crossed the living area, the noisier part of the house whenever her mother entertained. She passed the ballroom and dance-floor; and the stage, a raised platform where she had danced when she was a swan.
She headed towards the side courtyard, where she had parked her car by the servant’s entrance that Maria avoided.
Thinking of her father’s words: ‘never look behind,’ reminded her of the Russian danseur, who was waiting for her at the villa.
There were mottled shadows from the trees across the garden where vines grew between tropical fan palms.
Through the arched opening, Nixie saw the fountain and heard the splashing streams, as they fell in curved trajectories from the lion heads into the agitated basin.
In the cool and shadowed arch was a sweet fragrance, lingering and drifting in waves, a familiar fragrance that was in Maria’s bedroom.
The first thing that Nixie saw was a sports car parked beside her car.
Then she saw her mother, a short woman in a fluttering dress, prancing on pencil-heels, a red bandana tied around her neck, a wide brimmed hat with curls bouncing beneath.
Nixie heaved the bag onto the passenger seat. She walked to the driver’s side.
Maria smiled, white teeth sparkling in a concave band. “Nyx, darling, imagine finding you here? What do you have in the bag? Mmm? Bricks?” asked Maria, flippantly, suppressing a chuckle. “I have something to ask.” She kissed her daughter’s cheeks, the smell of alcohol on her breath. She held a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, probably a gift from a male admirer.
The smile vanished, as Maria surveyed her daughter. Although Nixie wore tailor-made clothes, and handmade shoes, Maria hated the braided hair, and the gray clothes that reminded her of soot, as if her daughter were a railroad engineer.
Her daughter’s eyes could have looked dreamy with blue eye shadow; the lips fuller with plumb lipstick; the possum-eyebrows plucked into crescent-moons; the streamlined body softer in a pleated skirt and a laced bodice.
“The flowers are for your father.”
“You plan to go into his room?” Nixie asked incredulously.
Maria shook her head no. The thought of going into a room where a person was dying horrified her, even though the man was her husband.
Maria held out the flowers.
Nixie scolded: “I won’t carry them in for you.”
Maria gasped. “My, my…! What a bark…!”
“You won’t,” added Nixie, “but you’ll get Father Voclain to.”
Voclain cared for Max. Maria disliked him because he rode a motorcycle and wore a black leather jacket. “Father Voclain…! Ah. Father! Don’t insult the church. A disgrace. Mocking God.”
Maria described a cross over her low cleavage. “Voclain the insane spoke about a burial in the garden. Your father’s body under the elms.” Maria shuddered, hoop-earrings oscillating.
Max wanted a burial in a bomb-shelter, the remnant from World War II in a rising mound, where the sun shone its yellow patches during the mornings along a vista of elm trees.
Maria removed a letter from her handbag, unhooking the gold clasp. She added, “I wanted to ask you about ... Rollinard and Rollinard. Why this letter? So formal. Something about the trust. Changes. Mmm…? I can’t ask a dying man. You know anything? You talked to him, no?”
“I don’t need a trust,” blurted Nixie. “I can look after my own money.”
“We will see about that,” scoffed the imperial voice.
Nixie opened the driver’s door, and sank into the seat that was reclined like a chaise lounge. She started the engine and closed the door.
“Where are you going?”
“When are you coming home?”
“Not for a long time,” droned Nixie, like the engine.
“Go for one hour. But come back. He needs you. I need you,” ordered Maria.
“He doesn’t want me here.”
“What…? But. What about the funeral?”
“I’m not going.”
Maria gasped. “To her father’s own funeral? She’s not going…?”
This was a strange conversation in the grounds of the palatial home on the French Riviera between privileged women, who should have comforted one another, during the death of a loved family member.
Maria had the look of a scornful flamenco dancer. She placed the flowers on her daughter’s lap, and said: “Take them. They are my love to you. Hate against love. No contest. You need me. You will see.”
Nixie drove towards the gate, stopped, picked up the bouquet, shook her head, and then tossed them out of the car.