She and Selim sat on the deck after dinner, smoking cigarettes and talking, sipping a Fernet-Branca.
“I was thinking of coming to Istanbul sometime,” Francesca said, looking out over the dark expanse of the sea.
“I’d like that,” he replied.
“I thought we could look for a place.”
“I already have a place.”
“Then you could show it to me,” she said. “I’ve never seen where you live.”
“It’s just a flat I got when I moved out of the house, I don’t think you’d like it.”
“So we could find a new place,” she said. “I could start spending more time there. We could be together more.”
“You’re not worried about your work?” His question seemed strangely pointed to her.
“I can do my work anywhere. I’ve told you that. And I could even do some work for you,” she said, running her fingers up his arm.
“That was amazing this afternoon,” he said, his voice quieter, huskier.
She felt her face coloring at the memory of it. It was amazing, her body as a vehicle for the climax of the sun through every one of her pores, the sea enveloping her afterwards in its cool depths. When she didn’t reply he kissed her, hard. Through a vent she could hear Ricci and Giulietta, they were arguing, and Francesca tore her face away from Selim’s mouth to listen.
“You don’t know what you heard,” her brother said.
“I don’t know what the words were but I could understand what he meant,” Giulietta yelled back.
“There you go again, making things up in your mind,” Ricci said angrily.
Selim looked at her. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m listening to them,” Francesca whispered.
“What are they saying?”
“Shhh,” she hushed him, clapping a hand over his mouth.
“–think I should say something,” Giulietta said.
“There’s no basis for anything you could say,” Ricci replied.
“I know what I heard,” Giulietta repeated.
And then their voices were more muffled, and Francesca couldn’t understand what they were saying any more. She had an awful sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that it was something to do with Selim, and when he touched her again, she recoiled.
“What is it?” His voice was still husky, still weighted with desire. He was insatiable, this man. Like her.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything.”