Daughters of the Jaguar #2
By Willow Rose
Copyright Willow Rose 2012
Published by DMC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work.
Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by by Dana Sitarzewski http://Jaguarwoman.com
and Jan Sigetty Boeje
Special thanks to my editor Jean Pacillo
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"If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were."
To my daughters Lea, Caroline and Christina.
Because you fill my world with magic.
She came to me in a dream. I hadn't even realized I had dozed off. It happened a lot lately. I was dozing off in the middle of the day in my office between patients. Maybe it was caused by my not sleeping at night for about a month. But there she was. Looking as gorgeous as she had ten years ago when I last saw her. She walked towards me with her stunning smile and glowing eyes. She was smiling her mouth muttering something. Her voice was small, distant and I couldn't decipher what she was trying to say. I enjoyed seeing her again immensely and woke up laughing. Torn out of my dream by the buzzing sound of my secretary.
I was still in Florida, St. Augustine to be precise. It was my hometown now. The year was now 1993. It was the year of the first bombing of World Trade Center, the year of Jurassic Park, Sleepless in Seattle and Schindler's List. The year when Ben Johnson was banned from athletics for life while the World Wide Web was born at CERN, not that anyone knew what that would mean to the world at this point. It was also the year that my former music-hero Michael Jackson was accused by a 13-year-old Los Angeles boy of fondling him to the shock of all of his fans. It was the time right after operation Desert-Storm, the first TV-war transmitted live on CNN. It was the era after the fall of the Berlin-wall when we no longer feared the threat from communist Russia and a nuclear-war. The Cold War was over and we had just entered the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history, it was the time of Bill Clinton before his sexual escapades were even suspected. It was also a time when the shirts were short and the jeans high-waisted. Everybody was talking about saving the rain-forest and Michael Jordan. A gallon of gas cost one dollar and sixteen cents, a movie ticket four dollars and a loaf of bread was only a dollar and fifty cents. Not that I cared much about those things since money had never been an issue in my life and certainly wasn't at that time.
"Mrs. McCoy is ready for you in surgery, sir," the secretary said.
I leaned forward in my chair and pushed the button. "Thanks, Julie. Be right down."
Slowly I closed my eyes once again hoping to somehow recall Aiyana's face and hear her slightly singing voice say my name. But she was no longer there. I drew in a deep sigh and got out of my chair. I left my office at the clinic and took the elevator down to the basement while a nurse caught up to me, walk-running slightly behind me. I didn't slow down.
"Mrs. McCoy. 78 years old, cataract in her left eye, causing severe myopia and ‘cloudy’ vision," she said as we walked down the carpeted hallway towards the surgery-room. We entered room four where another nurse had prepared Mrs. McCoy for me so all I needed to do was to walk in and perform my procedure. Like the magician in a show. The first nurse handed me the paperwork as I entered the room and then she left us.
"So, Mrs. McCoy. Let's get this over with so we can get you home to your husband in time for dinner, shall we?"
She nodded, slightly nervous as I sat in front of her and examined her eye through our newest instrument to laser-operate. We were among the first in the country to introduce this way of operating on the eyes and that made our clinic among the top five in the country. In six months our clinic had gone from having one operating-room to four in which clinic doctors performed eye surgery. That meant we made four times as much money as Dr. Kirk had back when he ran the clinic. Mrs. McCoy was my fifth patient this day. It took me about five minutes to cut away a small circle-shaped area of the lens capsule in her dilated eye and replace it with a new lens causing the cataract to disappear forever from her eye. Less than a year ago I had been operating on the old-fashioned way; using physical instruments like a phacoemulsification probe to cut out the lens. So it is easy to say that the new technique had improved my life a whole lot. And Heather's as well since we now had more money for her to spend.
"The nurse will provide you with glasses to wear as you leave the clinic," I said as I completed the procedure. "Your pupils are still dilated and you need to protect them from the sun." I rolled my chair backwards and looked at her. This was the only few seconds I actually spend with the patient. The rest was taken care of by the nurses. They prepped them and dilated their pupils and so on. This small procedure was all I had to do. But this was what they paid us for. I nodded and sighed. "Any questions?" I asked, glancing at the clock on the wall behind her.
Mrs. McCoy shook her head. They always did. They never dared to actually talk to the doctor when he finally made his appearance. They spent all day waiting for this moment and just like that it was over. "Okay, then. Feel free to call the clinic at any time and if you feel any pain or discomfort. Miss Maria here will take care of you from now on."
"It's Mrs. now," the nurse said.
"What's that?" I asked.
She lifted her hand and showed off a ring. "Tied the knot last Saturday. You sent Buccellati torchon salad serving spoons."
"That must have been Julie," I mumbled. "Anyway. Congrats on that."
I put on my "doctor smile" that had once been my irresistible one. "You take care now, Mrs. McCoy and don't forget to call if anything comes up and if the other eye starts acting up we will take care of that too." Then I walked toward the door. The nurse followed me outside. She handed me the papers and I signed them. As usual, I didn't even have to use my own pen. She smiled shyly and disappeared back through the door, back to the patient whose name I would forget as soon as I entered the elevator again and pushed the button that would bring me back to my office. So many faces, so many destinies and yet they made no impact whatsoever on me. I was doing something good, I kept telling myself. I was actually helping these people. Being able to see is one of the most fundamental things in a human's life. And she would definitely go blind if she hadn't come to the clinic. So yes, I was helping her. I was helping people just as I had always wanted.
It just didn't do anything for me.
"Mrs. Langaa is on line one," Julie said as I passed her desk on my way back into my office, the place that had become my hide-out, my sanctuary during the past few years.
Mrs. Langaa. How Heather despised being called that name. Once we got married she wanted me to take her father's name instead since my Danish name was too hard for anyone to pronounce. But I had refused. She had gotten her way in so many other areas where I didn't want to fight her. But on this one subject I wouldn't bend. It was my family-name and I wanted to keep it. I wanted my son to have it and pass it on. I owed my father that much. My father, who was so proud of me even if it meant there would be no one to take over his practice in Denmark once he was gone. My father who was now all alone in that big old white house that I had grown up in. The same
house where my mother had died when I had been no more than thirteen.
I sighed as I stepped inside the office to my big mahogany desk that had become just as intimidating in size to visitors as Dr. Kirk's had been it to me when I sat in front of him while he had offered me the opportunity to one day take over his clinic and marry his daughter.
The light next to line one on the phone was flashing red, signaling that someone was waiting. I didn't pick it up right away even though I knew she probably had been waiting a while furious that I wasn't always available for her to call at any time and moment to discuss what color cushions we should get for the new couch in guest bedroom number three or whether the lamps for our five-year old son's bedroom should be brown or blue. I poured myself a scotch while thinking of William. The only good thing in my life. The reason why I got up in the morning. It had been the most precious moment of my life the day he had been born. Five years had gone by so quickly and I had missed most of it. Work had stolen those years. And I would never get them back. I emptied the glass in one gulp and set it down. The alcohol rushed through my veins and sedated me just enough to be able to pick up the phone.
"You haven't forgotten about the benefit tonight at Regina and Ralph's, have you?" Heather said without so much as a hello.
"Of course not," I lied with a sigh. Of course I had forgotten all about it. Why should I remember? It was nothing different than last week when we went to the benefit at ... who was it again that hosted that thing last week? It didn't matter. They were all the same. Same people, same faces, same food, same conversations, same drinks, same wife who would surely get too drunk and have to be dragged home. Same old, same old. There was no way out. This was it. This was my life. Thirty-two years old going on sixty before I knew it. It was of course the beginning of the end, no doubt about that. I couldn't help but wonder if that was it for me? Was this all life had for me? I sighed again and missed Aiyana violently. I felt tears pressing on from behind my eyes as Heather rambled on about clothes to wear and money we should donate to this good cause. I wasn't listening any longer. Having seen Aiyana in my dream earlier that same day was just about to make me break down and cry.
"Are you even listening?" Heather asked.
"Of course dear," I replied, images of my beloved Aiyana running in the yard of her mother's house ten years ago flickered before my eyes. I suddenly remembered everything. Everything that I had been so busy trying to forget: her naked body, her curves, her smile, her scent. I had tried to so hard to forget her scent, but it lingered with me through all these years. Constantly reminding me of what could have been, but what wasn't meant to be. Through all these years I tried to forget her, let her go, telling myself it was nothing but a fling, a short crush that would surely disappear, evaporate from my mind. But who was I kidding? Who could stop the rain?
Now that I had seen her again in my dream I missed her desperately and finally I let go. I let it all out. While Heather chattered on about one thing or another I leaned back and closed my eyes. Then I let the tears run like a flood of water. Just let it out. Silently, soundless so Heather wouldn't know.
Heather lifted a delicate glass of champagne to salute someone who walked by. She wore her fake, aristocratic smile along with too much make-up for my taste, but just enough to hide the small signs of age that had slowly started to show on her cheeks and around her eyes. She was still young, younger than me, but next to me she was beginning to look like the older one. I made her look older, she would say. She said exactly that before we left our house that evening to go to the benefit. She was sitting in her chair in front of the vanity, dressed in only her midnight blue negligee and smoking a cigarette. Her hair was pulled back by a hair band so it wouldn't touch the make-up while she put it on. Her expression showed both bored disdain and irritation.
"Ugh," she suddenly said and pulled the skin in her face backwards to reduce the fine lines in her face that no one but she noticed. "How come I am the only one in this house aging?"
"You look fine," I replied. "It’s probably just because you lost weight again. You should eat more. Nothing but skin and bone left."
She turned and looked at me. "It's amazing. You look just the same as the day you came to my house, same face, same eyes, not even a wrinkle, not a damn line in your face. What is it? Is it your Viking genes? Maybe you did find the Fountain of Youth after all," she laughed. Then she stopped and stared into the mirror at her reflection. "Maybe men just age nicer than women. It's really not fair. We carry the babies and we get to look the oldest and become ugly. You guys get more handsome with age. Like a fine wine they say."
"Baby," I said while putting on my black jacket.
"What was that?" she asked. She was now putting on a thick layer of foundation trying to smooth the skin.
"Baby. You only had the one, remember?"
She shrugged. "Yeah well ... you know. It's that second one that ruins the body."
"So you say," I sighed.
Back at the party I emptied my glass thinking of that second child I had wanted so badly. A brother or sister for William. I was an only child myself. No one should ever have to be an only child, I had argued. But there was no way I could persuade Heather to carry another child. She even had me have a vasectomy. One child was it for her. That was all she wanted. One child and then she could check that off her to-do-list. Just like her own mother whom she had started to resemble more and more each day. I had pleaded and said that I wanted a flock of children to light up our life and bring laughter to our big and awfully quiet mansion. Money wasn't a problem, so that couldn't be her argument. But even having the one was too much for Heather. She loved William, of course she did, but she didn't love taking care of him. I had hired nannies and nurses to make sure Heather wasn't overburdened after the birth, with the result that she had just left all of the upbringing in their hands, while she had lunches and went shopping with her rich high-class friends often to return tipsy in the afternoon needing to lay down instead of playing with William who so desperately sought and hungered for her attention and affection. It was really sad. And it made me resent her for not living up to her obligations as a mother and wife.
"So, how are things at the clinic?" asked a familiar voice. I turned and looked into the eyes of my old friend Jim. He was limping towards me on his prosthetic leg leaning slightly on his cane. He was smiling showing perfect straight white teeth.
"Jim!" I said, truly happy to see him. I reached out and shook his hand. Finally someone I knew I could talk to between the crowd of high hair and bare necks in elegant colorful dresses and men in tight bow ties. "How is life treating you?" I asked.
"Pretty good," he said and rubbed his fingers against each other with a grin. I nodded with a smile. I knew what he meant. Like me he was making a lot of money.
"You look great by the way," he said. "Not a day older than last time I saw you. The last ten years have been merciful to you my friend."
"Thanks. Still collecting those big bucks, huh?" I asked.
"Oh yeah, the stock market never fails me," he answered and drained his glass when he saw that mine was empty. He signaled to a waiter to bring us another round. Even though I considered Jim to be a good friend we had hardly seen each other the last five years. He made a lot of money on the booming stock market and even if he never married he had a lot of women and every time we bumped into each other he would be with another one that I had never seen before. Each was younger and more beautiful than the last. This time was no exception. A stunning woman in her mid-twenties came up to him and whispered something in his ear making him laugh before she left us. I sucked in air between my teeth.
"Yeah, I know," Jim said glancing after her as she walked across the room causing conversations to stall and eyes to stare at her. "Oh yeah I know."
I looked at my friend and smiled. He deserved it, I thought to myself. With all he had gone through he deserved to live the sweet life. Even if
it wasn't the life for me.
Shortly after the accident in the swamps where Jim lost his leg he had his first stroke. It was caused by a blood clot in his hip. He chose to drop out of med-school and shortly after a friend introduced him to the stock market. Soon he had investors working for him all hours of the day making him richer than he was the day before. A few years later I heard he had another stroke cause by a blood-clot. But like the first one he survived it without any vital injury. He was still keen on killing my Aiyana whom he only knew as the jaguar that had taken his leg, but as far as I knew the stock market took up most of his time so he only ventured into the swamps occasionally with his rifle. I was hoping he would give up eventually like he had given up on ever marrying Heather.
"Thanks," I said as we toasted.
"To money," he said.
"And loads of it," I answered as our glasses touched.
"You're not doing too bad yourself I hear," Jim said after our glasses had left our lips.
"I can't complain."
"So you've taken over the clinic completely now? Since the old doctor had the stroke?"
I nodded and drank again. "He can't operate anymore. His hands are not steady enough. So I took over last year. He is still in on most of the decision making, but the clinic is practically mine."
"That's good news. I am sure Heather is enjoying it."
I looked at my wife in her silver dress showing her back and expensive jewelry talking to a similar looking woman with no expression to her face. "I am sure she does," I said and emptied yet another glass.
"And you're doing the laser now? That should bring in the big load. You gonna get a new house then? I bet Heather is getting tired of the old one, huh? A woman like her gets bored easily. You need to keep her busy if you know what I mean. Give her some decorating to do." Jim glanced in her direction with longing. She barely noticed him.