Lisa Sheridan — a beautiful woman, alone and unfulfilled, driven by unnatural desires... Avery Lawes — only half a man because he had never loved a woman... They met, and each saw in the other a chance for escape. And so, in a frantic flight for normality, they were married. But they could not know the terrible depths into which their union would plunge them.
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Emerson Page thought about the girl waiting upstairs, and wished very much that he was up there with her. The girl’s name was Edwina and Emerson’s thinking of her was always pleasant and frequently glandular.
Edwina, whose name was lovingly abbreviated to Ed, was Emerson’s wife, and at this moment he was wanting her very much, and he knew that she wanted him also. He regretted that this was not possible, or at least not practicable at the moment, but he consoled himself with the assurance that it would later be both.
The time was eight o’clock of a Saturday night in November. The place was the kitchen of a small restaurant and bar of distinction, of which Emerson was owner, in the town of Corinth, which was not in Greece. Emerson stepped out of the kitchen, where he had just eaten his own dinner, into the dining room, where he stopped and looked around and was conscious of a familiar warm diffusion of pride in his work and his accomplishment. It was not a large dining room, but it was relaxed and pleasant and good for the digestion. The napery was snowy. The silver and crystal caught and reflected the light from the ceiling. The woodwork was fine walnut, shining softly as satin. On the beige carpet from wall to wall, the footsteps of patrons and waitresses fell without sound. It was a nice room, and he had raised it like an only child from a short-order diner, and he was very proud.
Moving slowly, he skirted the room, nodding and smiling to guests at dinner, and turned under an arch into the bar. Here, light had been reduced even more than in the dining room, and he stood for a moment just inside the archway while the pupils of his eyes dilated in adjustment. A couple of men occupied stools. At a table in the rear, a man and a woman were drinking Manhattans. The woman reached over and lifted the cherry by its stem from the man’s glass. The man said something and the woman laughed, putting the cherry daintily between white teeth. Beyond the man and the woman, in an automatic coin machine with its volume carefully modulated, a platter was spinning out under a needle the reproduction of a throaty female voice: Let me go, let me go, let me go, lover.
He listened to the voice, still thinking of Ed, and he knew that he would never want her to let him go. Never in the world. Thinking of her, he could see her. Upstairs in the apartment, as he had recently left her, wearing the red velvet toreador pants that were enough to excite the bull in any normal male. Curled up in the biggest chair in the room under a reading lamp, concentrating with childish intensity on one of her interminable books. Books were an obsession with her. Books on history and art and literature and all such heavy stuff as that. Even books on psychology. Stuff about what made you do things. Her hunger to know things was created by an early and deeply instilled feeling of inadequacy that was a result of her never having finished high school.