vrijdag 16 januari 2015

The Woman in Red: Chapter 13

13. The question
           Jean-Pierre smiled at the woman who shared his bed. ‘How personal can you get when you see me naked, and I’m recovering from the best sex I’ve ever had? Please, ask.’ He kissed her softly on the lips. It was a tender kiss that wasn’t to be compared to the ones they had given during their foreplay.
            She caressed his cheek. ‘You know, nowadays everybody is so unrestrained so that sex is a lot more acceptable for conversation. Some say people talk more about their sex life than about their money. In fact, my question is about money.’
            His affirmative nod confirmed he agreed with her statement. There were a lot of taboos that were broken the last twenty years. However the exposé of one’s financial situation was not one of them. ‘As long you don’t ask me for money, I think we’re okay.’
            ‘No, Jean-Pierre, I would never do that, quite the opposite. Actually, I wanted to ask you how much you earned as a white-collar worker? How much is your net income in a month.’ Katarina observed his face. Had she gone too far? If he would be disappointed by her question, all her effort was for nothing.
            ‘I realize, Katarina, that I’m not of high birth as you. I can’t afford limousines and stays in a French Chateau. I’m not ashamed of that either. Just say if that’s a problem for you. Then we end this before it goes any further.’ It sounded rather harder than he had meant it. However, he didn’t like to be misunderstood in these matters.
            ‘Absolutely not,’ Katarina reacted, ‘no, Jean-Pierre if you give me an answer to my question, I want to make you a proposition. So… how many?’
            Jean-Pierre was thinking for a moment. ‘About 2.500 euro net income a month, but I also use a company car.’
            ‘Do you love your job. If you received the same amount of money, would you like to do something else? Some people have made their job out of their hobby, and they are mostly very happy people. What’s your opinion about that?
            Leaned back against the head of the bed, Jean-Pierre weighed his words. ‘Well, yes, book-keeping isn’t the most exciting profession, I realize that. I like being busy with ciphers, but if you would pay me as much for letting me say… wine tasting, I wouldn’t hesitate to change. Yes, I would.’
            Katarina conjured a smile upon her face. ‘If I would pay you the double for… a kind of special job. How would I describe it? When you would receive money to have pleasure and giving someone pleasure, what then, Jean-Pierre?’
            ‘And I would have fun too? Why not, I should be crazy to refuse that. Is it a job a fixed –term contract or not? Maybe there’s more to earn, but if you’re unemployed after a few years, then you’re still nowhere.’
            ‘You’re absolutely right,’ Katarina confirmed, ‘let's say you can do this job for about ten years.’ Katarina saw him frown. ‘Be we can take that into account. If you would have a career of 35 years and you’ll work for ten years, you have to earn at least four times what you have now. Do you agree?’
            Jean-Pierre thought this was all a bit strange. Katarina was talking in riddles, and if there was something he didn’t like, that was precisely that. However, he didn’t want to offend her, after all she had surprised him with a nice stay at the castle of her mother and he didn’t want to seem ungrateful. ‘Of course, it must be worthwhile.’
            ‘So if you would get 10.000 a month and on the end of the year still a bonus of the same amount, would you consider it?’ Very concentrated, she looked at him. It would be extremely important how he would answer this question.
            It had taken a while before Jean-Pierre answered. He counted and calculated, as he was used doing in his profession. ‘It’s not enough and I’ll tell you why. When you have a nice piggy bank, and you’ll stop working you still have a half-life to live. It’s not enough when you want to have a comfortable life. Fifteen thousand and a bonus of 50.000 at the end of the year would be very appealing.
            Katarina swallowed. ‘That comes as a heavy blow, but okay, it must be worthwhile. Please, have still a little patience with me, dear. Tell me, what do you like in life? I know, I’m a bit of an inquirer. But my curiosity has a purpose, I assure you.’
            At this time, Jean-Pierre needed not much time. ‘That’s an easy one… good food, the best wine, making long and beautiful trips abroad…,’ and now he smiled, ‘now and then making love and of course, making big money. But life, my life isn’t that way. So, why all these assumptions. Come on, Katarina, what are you cooking up. Just tell me now!’ His voice hardened, she was testing his patience to the extreme.
            ‘Jean-Pierre, if you could do all these nice things… and get money for it, if I could provide you with such employment that could make this all true… would you do it?
            ‘Is this hypothetical or do you really have a job for me?’ Jean-Pierre wanted answers now. To beat around the bush made him nervous.
            Katarina slowly nodded. ‘Indeed, I’ve got a dream of a job for you, with all the advantages you have named. You will even get a luxury car you can change every two years.’
            This was outrageous. He knew she belonged to another class of the society. However, such a proposition was incredible. Did she need a financial expert? What else had he to offer?
            ‘What does this employment really means in practice, please Katarina, put it clearly now!
            She was holding her breath for a moment. It was now or never. It would be a shame if he would refuse and she would be sorry, but then she had to send him through to the General. He knew what to do with cases like this.
            Katarina scratched her throat. ‘Jean-Pierre, if your job would be to satisfy the female ‘crème de la crème’ of the world… in bed for the salary you just asked, would you say yes to such a job?

© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere 02/01/2015  

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