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Parthian Shot

by Susan P. Blevins

Elspeth was a sculptress living in Rome, creating exquisite small sculptures, such as commemorative plaques and coins, all meticulous works of beauty, for presidents and monarchs, and many other influential world figures of the day. She herself was also extraordinarily beautiful. She had big, vivid green eyes, an almost translucent alabaster skin, and a full, voluptuous body which reflected her sensual nature. But perhaps her crowning glory was the mass of luxuriant Titian curls that cascaded to her shoulders, the reddish tones betraying her fiery Irish blood. Rubens would have leapt at the chance of using her as a model for his paintings of Venus. She was irresistible to Italian men of all walks of life, and she certainly had plenty of lovers, including, for a few years, a very high profile Italian politician, about whom she would reveal nothing to satisfy the prurient curiosity of her friends, though her mystery man was thought to be the Prime Minister himself. Italian wives are quite used to their husbands having mistresses, so there was no scandal when he generously bestowed upon her a small, but very pleasant apartment in the center of Rome.

The years passed, and sadly, nearly all her lovers were married, causing Elspeth much heartache and inevitable disappointment of late. She had been having a particularly torrid love affair with an eminent architect, when he unexpectedly dumped her. It turned out that his wife had found out about her and kicked up a huge fuss, (obviously not one of the wives who condoned their husband’s extra-marital affairs). Elspeth was mad as hell, and for a while she was bitter, and felt betrayed by her lover, accusing him of being spineless, of having no balls when confronted by his wife. One thing she was not short of was temperament. Her red hair and Irish blood guaranteed that.

Some time after the tempestuous split with the architect, Elspeth went for dinner with her latest beau at one of her favorite restaurants, La Buca di Ripetta - she absolutely loved their tagliatelle con i frutti di mare - and who should also be dining in the restaurant, but her perfidious, pusillanimous ex, who had shunned her. His shrewish wife and two other couples were at the table with him. She spent the entire meal glancing furtively at him, fuming over her sorry plight and her wounded pride, and as a result was singularly unresponsive to her date’s overtures. The ex noticed her, and kept his apprehensive gaze pointedly on his food and on the faces of his dinner companions.

Elspeth and her hapless partner finished their meal sooner than the other table, and on the way out of the long, narrow restaurant, as she passed by their table, she just could not resist stopping in her tracks and walking back to her ex and his wife. The look of horror and concern on his face should have been satisfaction enough, but she wanted more. She was still smarting from his betrayal, and the demon of vindictiveness reared its head, scattering to the four winds the idea of good manners and just how a nice girl should behave. She stood behind the steely-faced wife, then bent down to whisper in her ear, “He’s all yours now, and you’re welcome to him.”

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