It was unadulterated vanilla, whisked into a buoyant crème, nourished within a thin, diaphanous wafer of the same Tahitian orchid. It was showered with raspberries and intricate slices of kiwifruit, whilst an orange slice and Valrhona chocolate provided delectable pageantry for the indulgent affair.
She called it Cercle d’Or.
For its richness.
For its ambrosial heft on the tongue.
She laughed, heartily.
“Do you like it?!”
The palatable dessert was coupled with a tawny Niepoort, allowed to bask in a barrel of oak for twenty years. Giancarlo nibbled quietly, in a contemplative manner, returning the partial morsel to the ivory plate. He was patient in his consumption of the delicate confection, as evidenced in his deliberate and careful mastication. The vanilla crème sufficiently imbued within his glands, Giancarlo tended to the corners of his mouth with a linen napkin, of Italian ilk.
He sat momentarily, without words.
“Si.” She conceded.
He paused momentarily, still contemplating the creamy indulgence.
“Come…” he began, “Un baccio fragile.”
Claire formed a breathless smile, her heart submerged in relief.
“Grazie,” she said. “Sei molto gentile.”
Giancarlo raised the glass of port to his lips, rinsing his gratified palate with the aged beverage.
They occupied a bare cocobolo table near the large, picturesque windows, whose views fell out onto the cobblestoned streets of Mercer. The panoramic scenes were dictated by a late vernal equinox, where sundresses, replete with floral prints, strode along the sidewalks in flowing revelry.
Claire partook in an espresso.
“And your journey?” she inquired. “I trust you were comfortable.”
He prepared to speak again, before a pause.
“It was my first trip on an airplane with a sofa. Like a house in the sky.”
She brandished a faint smile, before becoming lost in the contents of her cup. The sagacious Italian, adorned in woven linen and a cardigan of auburn hues, observed the Lady Mulberry, who appeared sullen, despite the vestiges of success surrounding her.
“In the winter of 1944, I marched through a path in the Alps, vicino Ossola. My regiment were pursuing the Fascists through the apli a Milano, con vigore!”
Claire listened, intently.
“Burdened with a man’s weight in gear and supplies and having depleted our fuel, we became stranded in several meters of snow, with more accumulating each minute.”
“I was still a boy. Diciassette anni. Il comandante, he said to me…”
“Do not fret.”
As another summer dress fluttered by the jeweled window, Claire Mulberry stared at the ivory-haired warrior poet, and smiled.
“Thank you for being here with me.”
Implode. Part LV – DK