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While Ephraim went up to their bedroom, Jude poured them each a drink, a glass of sherry for him (his favorite) and another bowl of white wine for herself. She set them on top of the red mahogany dining-room table under the beauteous chandelier. It was a spot she had always been fond of. The table was long and narrow and clutter-free as minimalism had always been her thing. It was the type of table that you have sex on.
Ephraim re-appeared in his gold Calvin Klein bathrobe and joined her at the table. He took a sip of sherry.
“How did the trip go?”
“Very well,” Ephraim began, “Oliver, the cancer boy, really enjoyed his jaunt to Disneyland. What twelve-year-old wouldn’t?”
Jude smiled. “That’s good.”
“It seems like you have some story of your own to tell. Mind letting the cat out of the bag? Haha.”
Jude inhaled deeply. For a moment she floundered, nearly losing her footing. Then she decided to plunge headlong. “Ephraim, I have decided that I want to live as a cat. It may sound strange. But it’s not. I feel very feline. I relate to all things feline. I have for a long time in fact.”
He stared hard at her. “Is it because of D’Angelo? I know you took it hard. We can always get another cat.”
Jude shook her head. “I miss D’Angelo terribly. But that’s not the reason. I just feel cat and I want to live it.”
Ephraim was staring, slack-jawed.
“That’s all?” he queried.
“That’s all,” she repeated.
There was a long pause. Ephraim blinked. Stared at her. His face shape-shifting with emotion, fear, wonder, then finally settling into a sort of pained awareness.
Hate to put him through this, Jude thought. This is so much worse than the fender bender.
Ephraim drained his glass in one gulp. He sighed wearily. “Funny,” he said, “I was watching a documentary the other night in my hotel room...”
He leaned forward. “Cats were worshipped in Antiquity, notably Egypt. There were cat deities like Bast and others. The Japanese had shape-shifting cat courtesans. It was fascinating really.”
Jude listened enraptured. He always had this effect on her whenever he spoke at length. He had a sexy voice. It made her desire him fiercely.
Ephraim poured another glass of sherry. “Must have been meant to be, me watching that show. Perhaps the universe was readying me for your revelation.”
Jude grinned. I like that, she thought, the Cosmos as my co-conspirator.
He exhaled deeply and settled into his usual congenial self. Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “I suppose it really doesn’t matter one way or another.”
Jude bent over and began lapping from her bowl of wine.
“At least I know where to take you now,” he said. “CatCon, if it comes to town.”
Jude wiggled her nose. “So you really don’t mind? You’re good with the whole thing?”
He took her hand and squeezed it and said, “If I grant wishes for the dying, then I guess it’s only fair that I dole one out for the living. And who better than you dear?”
They stared into each other’s eyes. His blazing, blue eyes reminded her of a scorching sky, heat rising. She could hear his breath become heavy. She could smell his cologne.
Reaching over, he began to stroke the nape of her neck. “Besides,” he said, “you’re such a sexy kitty.”
He smiled. He traced the hollows of her neck with his fingertips. Jude felt tortured with desire. “I like that,” she said coyly.
A certain notion came into her mind. She cleared her wine bowl and the sherry glass off the table. The long, narrow mahogany table under the chandelier.