Genevieve waited for them on the other side of the green velvet curtains in a cozy parlor warmly decorated in tapestries and lace. She brought iced tea, sherry and mimosas in crystal pitchers with crystal glasses on a silver serving tray. She gestured for them to sit in the upholstered armchairs and gathered their handbags—Locke’s brown MZ Wallace satchel and Iris’ black Kate Spade crossbody—and hung them carefully on a nearby coat rack. While the ladies sipped their sweet tea, Genevieve brought out boxes of shoes and placed them on a nearby table. She brought Locke a pair of exquisite handmade shandals first. Then, she brought Iris a pair of nude Louboutin pointed toe slingbacks. When Iris smiled and sighed, Genevieve smiled and nodded.
“Oh! These are beautiful!” Iris giggled. “Did you tell her what I like?”
“No. That’s Genevieve’s power of deduction. She’s mute, you know. But she can read a woman’s feet like a book. The more she gets to know you, the more she will amaze you by discerning your likes, dislikes, and what will look and feel good on you. ” Locke said nodding her approval to Genevieve.
The forty-year-old French woman with waist length hair gathered the boxes and set them aside. She refilled Iris’ glasses with sweet tea, poured Locke a fresh glass of sherry, and disappeared behind the curtain again.
“You can only shop with Genevieve by appointment. I’ve been knowing her and Jean Paul for years.” Locke sniffed awkwardly. “My Clive was Genevieve and Jean Paul’s investors, you could say.”
Genevieve returned with two smaller boxes. Sandals. She opened the box for Locke and slipped the leather thong on her foot. Then Iris, but Iris had already opened her box and was sliding her foot into the shoe. Genevieve smiled and nodded.
When the appointment was over, Genevieve had sold Locke a pair of RED shandals and a pair of Daniel Greene slippers. Belle Lynne Locke had also consumed several glasses of sherry. Iris noticed how Locke fumbled just a little with the little pink gloves. Genevieve had sold Iris two pair of Louboutin sling backs—in nude and black and a pair of white leather thong sandals. Iris was just as drunk with the wine of shoe buying. Shoes were the one purchase Iris preferred not to make over the internet. Here at J & G’s Dolce Chaussures, she knew no one else had ever put her foot in the shoes she’d purchased. The ladies paid for their shoes, hugged and gave both Jean Paul and Genevieve air kisses near their cheeks. They stepped out into the sunny sidewalk.
They walked next door to the café and had a light lunch, al fresco. Iris’ lunch consisted of a Caesar salad, while Locke nibbled on chicken salad served on a bed of lettuce. As they chatted, Jackie cruised by in her red convertible. Her eyes fixated on Iris and Locke as she slowed while passing the cafe’.
“Alright. What’s her story?” Iris asked peering over her sunglasses. Belle Lynne Locke looked back at Iris, and her lips curved into a teasing smile.
“Before we talk about Jacqueline, I want to talk about you.”
“What about me?”
“I want to know whatever it is about you that has everyone whispering.”
Iris knew it was going to come up sooner or later. She was glad for the opportunity to talk about it. She had been quiet for so long. She had hidden for so long. She might cry. Just thinking about Lloyd made her cry. She sighed and removed her sunglasses, smoothed her black cigarette pants over her thighs, and touched the diamond pendant resting at her neck.
“Well, what do you want to know, Belle?” Iris asked calmly.
Locke moved her chair over an inch or two, leaned in, and said quietly “whatever you want to tell me, but I’d prefer if you start at the beginning.” She smiled and Iris relaxed a little. She had to tell someone. Right now, Locke was the only friend she had. So Iris sipped at her mimosa and started at the beginning…