Chapter 34: Confession

A meal plagued by guilt and regret is nothing more than ash on the tongue. — Juliet dea Gavin, Tears of My Father’s Sister

By the time the carriage stopped in front of Decon Eur’s restaurant, Lily was tempted to lock the door and pay the driver twenty jems to drive away. Sweat prickled her skin and fear caused her heart to beat faster. She didn’t know if she wanted to fold her hands in her lap or tug on the sides of her corset. She glanced out the window, at the crowded store front, and then back to the seat.

She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t confess sleeping with Hasan. She knew she needed to, the imperative to do so was clear in her mind, but the words refused to rise up even as she tried to practice them.

“Mindil, I…”

She sighed and shook her head. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The door creaked home. “Ku—Bedame dea Kasin?”

Trapped, Lily could only take the offered hand. “Thank you.”

Like most dining establishments at noon, the outside tables were all crowded with the upper middle class mingling with High Society. Even as someone who spent years on the edge of Society, Lily could identify most of the couples that went to the same parties with her when she was younger. They were almost friends many years ago, but time had separated them and she felt a gulf had formed. They were married, apparently happy, and living their lives as members of High Society. She was a kudame, one step away from being cast off.

She fought her tears as she ducked her head and headed toward the doors. A ripple of silence followed after her and she could see looks shot in her direction. Humiliated, she slammed into the door; it didn’t open at first and she had to fumble with it before she managed to pry it open.

Inside, she slammed the door behind her and leaned against it. Panting, she managed to slow her heart before she looked up.

The diners inside were still looking at her curiously. Their gazes were intense, easily penetrating the thin fabric of her sun dress and making her felt like they were staring at her naked body.

A burning flush rose up on her cheeks. She clutched her hands to her sides tightly. She didn’t know where to look to avoid the staring gazes.

“Lily!”

Mindil came bounding up. She still wore the same dress as before, the reds completely out of place among the flowered dresses of yellows and greens. Lily could see the women around her judging as much as they were glaring at her wide hips and large breasts, a stark contrast the delicate doll appearance that High Society preferred.

Then, one by one, everyone looked away as if she no longer existed. Eyes slid to the side, conversations stalled as people stared at each other. In a matter of seconds, Mindil went from the center of attention to being invisible with Lily disappearing with her.

Mindil swept Lily into a tight hug, grinding her body up against her. “I was so afraid you wouldn’t come.”

The guilt slammed into her. She glanced away. “I… couldn’t say no.”

No one was looking at them, not through the glass doors of the restaurant or inside the place. They were in a pool of silence as conversations began to slowly rise up around them.

“Come on,” Mindil said cheerfully. She slipped an arm around Lily’s waist and tugged her toward the back of the restaurant. “I got a little table in the back, away from all of these people and their judging stars.” She gestured to the dozens of people ignoring both of them.

“How are you doing this?”

Mindil grinned. “My talent. No no one will pay attention to me if I don’t want them too.”

“You mean you could do anything and they wouldn’t notice?”

“Like strip naked in public? I used to do that as a teenager all the time.” Mindil’s grip around Lily’s waist tightened for a second as she bumped their hips. “It was making dares too easy though.”

Lily gasped. “You did? And you didn’t get caught?”

Mindil grinned wildly. “Maybe…?”

Something pricked Lily’s thoughts. She bumped Mindil back and grinned. “Then why did you and Hasan get caught fucking on the table?”

Mindil stumbled. “You remembered that story?”

Lily nodded.

“Well,” Mindil rolled her eyes. “I might have wanted to get caught that time. Not to mention it gets really hard to use my talent when being eaten out.”

Lily’s ears burned in a different way.

Mindil started to say something else but they reached her table. It was a small one nestled behind another trellis and screened from the majority of the restaurant. Hasan sat on one side, toying with a knife as he stared at the opposite end of the table. He looked up sharply and then a broad smile crossed his face.

“Lily,” he breathed.

Shoving his chair back, he surged to his feet and stumbled toward her.

Lily froze, hesitating with a response. She shot a guilty look at Mindil but then Hasan was sweeping her up in a hug of his own. In seconds, she was wrapped in his arms, breathing in the scent of his body not unlike the night they spent together. Heat rose inside her and her skin tingled as she sank into his embrace.

Slowly, she looked up as he gazed into her eyes.

A flash of heat rose inside her. It would be so easy to just embrace him and let their secret continue, to fuck when Mindil was out of town or not watching.

But she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t lie to Mindil, she couldn’t betray her. She turned her head away and gently pushed him away.

Hasan resisted for a moment, then relaxed. His hands trailed along her shoulders, leaving tingling lights of pleasure behind, before he stepped back with a sad look on his eyes.

She glanced at him, the guilt rising, and then sat down in a chair.

Mindil, apparently unaware of the interchange between Lily and Hasan, sat down next to Lily. Her shoulder brushed against Lily’s. “You’ll love their soup and they have the best Chanis sandwiches this side of the desert.”

Lily nodded curtly. “Sounds good.”

Mindil held up her hand and snapped her finger. There was a twist of the air and a sense of a veil being pulled away. It rippled through the crowds, spreading out in a wave that flooded the inside of the building in less than a second.

Two waiter’s jumped and looked directly at Mindil.

She held up her menu.

They rushed over.

Behind them, Lily caught sight of sly looks aimed in her direction. She had seen it a thousand times over the years, the subtle art of watching intently through casual glances and repositioning of the body. They were watching the three of them.

She turned away to catch Hasan staring at her. Unlike the subtle glances, his gaze was an intense beam of lust and desire. She could feel his eyes against her naked skin and it sent flutters of lust coursing along her body. Heat pooled between her legs, reminding her how intense he made love to her.

Lily couldn’t look away.

“I want this, and this, and this. Oh, and definitely this.” Mindil was trailing a finger down the menu.

“Small portions as usual, Tadame Kasin?”

Mindil made an agreeing noise.

Lily’s attention was piqued. She had always noticed that Mindil was always bringing in food into the shop but she only vaguely noticed that Mindil rarely took more than a bite before setting the rest of it down.

Mindil gasped. “Oh, will the cook still make those yummy fruit cakes. The ones with the peels?”

“For you, Tadame, we will serve everything.”

“Two of those, one for my husband and one for my lovely companion. She’ll love the candied lemons.”

The waiter nodded and gracefully took the menu away to send in her order.

Lily found the strength and curiosity to break gazes with Hasan.

Mindil smiled at her. Reaching out, she slipped her hand around Lily’s palm. “I missed you,” she said.

Struggling with her emotions, Lily glanced one more time at Hasan and then around at the women stealthily watching them from other tables. She could spy the sideways glanced and the way they leaned toward them. There was a faint prickle of magic in the room, gathering as Mindil, Lily, and Hasan became the center of the attention. As the pressure built, she closed her fingers along Mindil’s and ran her finger along Mindil’s index finger.

Mindil glanced around at the women Lily had noticed. Her eyes narrowed. “I could do without the rest of these ladies though. Every time I drop the silence, they are there listening. It doesn’t matter how far or how quiet you are, they are listening.”

Lily thought back to her order. “Your order?”

Mindil cocked her head and grinned sheepishly. “I really like the different flavors. Of course, they see that I’m fat—”

“You aren’t that—” Lily started.

“Love,” interrupted Mindil. “I’m fat. It’s okay. I know it and Hasan knows it.”

Lily glanced over.

Hasan grinned and shook his head. “I love you, Min.”

Mindil reached over with her other hand and stroked his hand. “Nothing wrong with being fat, except for those Society cows. So I like different tastes and flavors. I order a bit of everything to enjoy that and just ignore the horses when they assume I’m devouring plate after plate.”

“Love, you are going down the path,” Hasan said in a low voice.

Mindil stopped speaking for a moment. Then she smiled brilliantly as she looked at Lily.

Slowly, the veil sensation draped over the restaurant. One-by-one, the gazes slid away. Women lifted themselves slightly to adjust their position, turning away from Lily and Mindil.

Lily glanced around again, thankful they weren’t looking anymore.

Her friend spoke wistfully, “You know what it is like as a debutante. You starve yourself to fit into the dress, shove up your tits to attract some husband’s attention, and then spend the rest of your life trying to keep that look for as long as you can. My mum wouldn’t let me eat for a week before my presentation. I got water and wine and nothing else.”

Lily remembered those days. Her mother had done the same thing, she could still taste the flowered wine that was rumored to keep women beautiful forever. It was one of the many traditions of being a debutante.

Mindil ran her fingers along Lily’s palm, the light touch was electric against Lily’s skin. “Of course, you managed to do that naturally. You are just as beautiful as the day I saw you at your presentation. You stole our hearts away, you know.”

Lily blushed and smiled back. It helped temper the growing guilt inside her.

“When Hasan came in my life, I was so happy that he let me do my thing. He didn’t mind these being so big,” she grabbed her breasts and hefted them.

Lily’s attention drew to the hands squeezing the soft mounds. She wanted to reach out and do the same thing, to let the heavy softness rolling in her palm. She could almost feel the hard nipples teasing her fingers as she brought them up to her lips.

“Nor did he mind having a large ass planted on his face. In fact, he loves me for who I am without question.” Mindil’s attention shifted to Hasan. “He’s probably the best husband I could ever ask for.”

The knife twisted harder and Lily had trouble breathing.

Her gaze returned to Lily. “But then… are you crying?”

Lily looked up, tears burning in her eyes. “I-I’m sorry.”

Mindil tightened her grip on Lily’s fingers. Leaning forward, she asked “For what?”

Lily tried to pull them away but couldn’t.

“Lily, you can tell me.”

“I didn’t mean to. He was so nice and he wanted him and… and…” She glanced at Hasan who had paled. She looked down at Mindil’s hand gripping her own. “I spent the night with Hasan. I’m sorry.”

“The night. All night?”

The tears splashed down. “I know I shouldn’t have, but he was there and I… I tried to resist and I couldn’t. I really tried and I’m so sorry.”

She glanced up to see Mindil’s lips pressed into a tight line. The muscles in her neck tensed as did the lines along her jaw.

A sob rose in Lily’s throat. “Mindil, I-I… I’m so sorry.”

Mindil turned and looked at Hasan.

He cleared his throat and looked away.

“Has? How could you?” Her voice was hard and tense, forced out like a punch.

Hasan opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Lily stared as his lips moved and he gestured with his hands. Surprised, she looked back at Mindil who was also speaking without sound. Unlike Hasan, her gestures were violent and angry.

With a start, Lily realized that she had just been excluded from their conversations. The only thing she could do was watch as Mindil screamed at Hasan in mute silence.

The guilt rose to choke Lily. She had ruined it, destroyed a friendship that she had grown into and also lost a man who adored her. All because she couldn’t kept control of her lusts. She looked down and let out a cry, sobbing as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

The table jumped underneath her, the thud shaking the ground. Mindil lifted her fist and pounded it again, screaming silently at Hasan.

Hasan stood there, his face pale. He would look away but then snap his head back to look at Mindil as she continued to pound the table.

Choking on her sobs, Lily glanced around. No one was looking at her, Mindil’s talent was hiding her from the scandal. Glancing back at the fighting couple, she realized she had to leave. Then, they could go their separate ways and forget how Lily had ruined their relationships.

Grabbing her things, Lily pushed herself away from the table and fled. She stumbled around the corner and into the main restaurant. Unsure of how far away Mindil’s magic would protect her, she wiped the tears from her face and kept her head low.

Seconds later, she was rushing down the street, trying to get away before the sobs started again.