The Last Emperors
Chapter Nineteen: A probable scandal.
By Jolie Adam
The pungent smell of coffee and citric aroma of orange juice had long gone stagnant. Sitting at the island table in the kitchen, the trio ogled the food to avoid facing one another. Betrayal hung thick in the air with a veil of deception and unanswered questions. Yet no one, not even Julia, could utter a word. It felt like only minutes ago she had walked in, like the unwelcomed messenger, sharing bitter news – or rather, blog post when Tokyo Girl had updated her page with a reader’s story to back up her claims. The story had been poorly written but vivid and detailed. An affair with Lau, a probable scandal and a definite revelation. All the places and counters they had soiled as a result of his sexual prowess and resilience. A resume of excellent lovemaking that read like an erotic novella. The writer hadn’t held back, painting a very vivid picture, downright to what she hospitably offered him to drink. Peach Juice. Lorra read the story word for word, reeling in confusion, anger and embarrassment. It was her story. It was exactly what happened the first time they’d slept together. She could remember the smell of the fizzy peach juice and as usually sweet and pleasant as that memory normally was, it just made her nauseous now. This was no longer some inconvenient, unreliable, anonymous gossip blog, it was a creepy, spot-on account of something that had happened in the privacy of her own condo, behind closed doors. Except another memory surged to the forefront of her mind. The first time with Laurent wasn’t in a condo, it was at the hotel – with Dawn and Julia listening in. She shuddered at the thought of one of them possibly being this vicious, vindictive blogger trying to frame her as a exploitative groupie detailing her private encounter with Laurent for 15 minutes of cyber fame.
“What’s wrong?” Lau had finally turned off the fire under his frittata and turned around to take notice of the consumed expression on Lorra’s face.
“Um…Just another silly post from TokyoGirl.” She stammered indicating that it was a lot more serious than she was trying to let on.
“Show him.” Julia urged.
The phone was in her hand but the will to relay it to him wasn’t. Julia wasn’t aware of the most recent update and might not recognize the story with all of its details but he might. No, he definitely would. There was nowhere to run and certainly nowhere to hide this phone, this piece of evidence weighing a ton in her hand. She was still trying to make some sense from the last post. The swapping and the sharing? It was all too entangled for her to fully comprehend the implication. If Tokyogirl was referring to Larry forcefully hitting on her in the library then where was Lau? And who was he with? She pressed the off button as hard as she could muster while trying to make it seem accidental.
“Oh shit, I think I turned it off.” With that, she sat at the table, placing the phone next to its rightful owner. By the time Julia would turn it back on, they’d be attacking the accusations rather than reading them. Except ten minutes has passed and they were still unsure where to start. Julia briefed Lau, giving him a chance to give an input, to deny or even reply but he had just served the dish in silence and sat.
Lorra was getting exasperated, sitting in anxiety and muteness.
“Larry hit on me in the library.” She blurted out ungracefully like the words were tangled in a web on her tongue. What she’d really wanted to say was, your brother has serious issues and he tried to rape me.
Lau and Julia both whipped their heads up to look at her in expectancy. For some reason, looking back at Lau, Lorra felt the need to soften the details of the incident that actually occurred as she continued,
“I think he was drunk. It was just a flirtatious come-on, nothing that..bad.” She gulped after her sentence, trying to clear the path for any additional information should it be required. Larry was definitely not drunk, that much she recalled perfectly.
“Why didn’t you tell me this?” Lau asked, seemingly appalled. Julia eyed them both feeling like an intruder.
Lo released an uncomfortable laugh, “I didn’t think it was worth retelling.”
“Larry hit on you and you don’t think that’s important enough to tell me? What else happened that you don’t think I need to know?”
She really hadn’t expected this reaction from him, considering she hadn’t done anything wrong. But he didn’t know that.
“Nothing happened and at least I can say that confidently. What about you?” She felt her voice raise unintentionally, angered that he would even accuse her of such a thing. “Who the fuck were you with?”
Julia’s eyes shifted accordingly, awarding Laurent with a keen, suspenseful gaze. He replied immediately,
Now both girls were floored. This wasn’t even in the vicinity of what either was expecting to hear.
“Ho-ho-hold up this hot mess train. Tatiana Shori? As in the birthday girl? The boss’ daughter?” Julia asked, suddenly invigorated by shock and disbelief.
His remorseful expression and lack of reply was all the answer they needed.
“Oh hell no. Are you THAT stupid? I’m not even here. I’m not and never have been a part of this conversation. Because when the fucking Japanese mafia is knocking on doors looking for your ass to cut off your golden balls, I don’t even know you.” Julia huffed, dramatically and enthusiastically. If Tatiana was involved, she wanted nothing to do with any of it.
“Calm down. Nothing happened.” He said, avoiding Lorra’s glare. Surely, he realized the hypocrisy of it all. Just a moment ago, he was reprimanding her for not mentioning the fact that Larry made a move when he had purposefully avoided Tatiana’s name all week.
“I think you guys need to really grasp the understanding of ‘nothing happened’. For a couple of people who haven’t ‘done anything’, you guys sure like to omit important shit. You know, shit that did happen and is now broadcast on the internet for everyone in Japan to read. Shit that’s about to hit the fan.” Julia sighed, “This is too much drama for free breakfast. I don’t even like eggs that much anyways”. She picked up her phone and left without a goodbye.
Before the door even clicked shut, Lorra’s voice boomed into the small kitchen space.
“When the fuck were you going to tell me about Tatiana?”
“Probably right after you told me about you and my brother?”
“Don’t patronize me. And don’t try to make me feel guilty for something you did.”
“Believe whatever you want. Aren’t you just mad that you got caught?”
The rhetorical question stung. It made her feel dirty and untrustworthy. Two things she certainly wasn’t.
“That I got caught?” She scoffed in disbelief, “Larry tried to rape me. In the library.”
Laurent’s mouth dropped in disgust and she wasn’t sure if it was because of her sight or her revelation but she continued nonetheless. He’d opened a can of worms that were just ready to burst out since last week.
“I practically had to beg him to stop. And he wasn’t drunk. In fact, I didn’t even smell any alcohol at all on him or his breath.” She stood defiantly, looking right at him, silently challenging him to deny the claim, to digest it, anything. He lowered his head sadly and began to breathe hardly. She could see his nostrils flaring in and out, like an intoxicated raging bull, ready to attack its prey. Finally, he looked up, piercing right through her, spitting his words like harsh venom and hot lava all at once,
“It’s one thing to say he came on to you but to call my brother a rapist? Are you that desperate?”
His insult was simple but it had the impact he wanted it to. Her strong armor broke and it showed immediately on her face, drooped eyebrows and disappointed sad eyes. Another word and she would undoubtedly burst in tears. He left everything on the table intact, moving to the couch to grab his phone and walked out, slamming the door on his way. Her chin wobbled as she felt the hurt and ache stir deep in her chest, making its way out like an exorcised demon. He cut her right in the chore of her being, where she held all of her hopes and dreams and unexpressed love for him.
Chapter 20 by Wednesday.