Celene set down the long-stemmed silver pipe, balancing it in the glass bowl on top of the end table in Peirce’s den.
A thin stream of sweet smoke curled and wavered into the light, which poured through the prisms of the leaded glass windows.
The opium made her see everything in shades of purple.
She admired herself in the mirror, and her naked body barely concealed by the thin silk of her bra and panties, garter belt and stockings, which were intended to draw attention to her figure rather than conceal it.
She wore the same lingerie as the woman lounging on chaise beside her, drinking for a tumbler of absinthe.
The green genie will be dancing soon, she thought.
In the next room Dr. Peirce Johnson was busying about the parlor, adjusting lights and preparing a roll of film for one of his cameras.
He was a professor of antiquities, not a pornographer, but the pictures he would be taking of them would be bold enough to make a sailor blush.
She sipped from her own glass of absinthe.
“Ingrid,” she said to the woman, “Will you call your girl to come over and do our make-up, and dress our hair. I want everything to be perfect for these photographs tonight.”
The woman, who was not Ingrid, but was in fact her Ingrid’s twin sister Helga, stammered an excuse regarding why she could not, and that told Celene two things.
The first thing was that Ingrid’s assistant, Miss Angela Guthrie, would not be coming over to play with them, and that made Celene angry.
The second thing it told her was that the woman calling herself Ingrid, was not who she said she was, the confirmation of which delighted her.
Something unexpected would happen tonight.
Celene had heard about Helga Magnusson, but she had never met her.
Ingrid never spoke of her, but Pierce had. More importantly her brother in law had.
Bjorn Elmquist, who was married to Celene’s older sister, Amelie, had once been in love with
Helga, who was herself married, though estranged from the most notorious gangster in Saint Anthony.
Celene was very pleased to have learned this, and it was going to make the rest of the evening very exciting for her. She loved a surprise.
Helga was up to something, she wasn’t here to fool us that she was Ingrid. There could be no good reason for that, and from what she had been told helga was not the type of woman who would be interested in playing the games that she played with Ingrid and the tall, ostrich-like Peirce Johnson.
Celene was high on her opium concoction and well on her way to drunkenness, she was having a difficult time discerning the motives, but Charlotte was glowing with the light of woman intent on something…and it looked very much like revenge.