“Come and play something.” And when Therese started to refuse, she said imperatively, “Oh, I don’t care how you play. Just play something.”
Therese played some Scarlatti she had learned at the Home. In a chair on the other side of the room, Carol sat listening relaxed and motionless, not even sipping the new glass of whisky and water. Therese played the C-major Sonata, which was slowish and rather simple, full of broken octaves, but it struck her as dull, then pretentious in the trill parts, and she stopped. It was suddenly too much, her hands on the keyboard that she knew Carol played, Carol watching her with eyes half closed, Carol’s whole house around her, and the music that made her abandon herself, made her—defenseless. With a gasp, she dropped her hands in her lap.
“I’ll wake you in half an hour.” Carol pulled the blanket over her when she lay down. Carol sat down on the edge of the bed. “How old are you, Therese?”
Therese looked up at her, unable to bear her eyes now but bearing them nevertheless, not caring if she died that instant, if Carol strangled her, prostrate and vulnerable in her bed, the intruder. “Nineteen.” How old it sounded. Older than ninety-one.
Carol’s eyebrows frowned, though she smiled a little.
Therese felt that she thought of something so intensely, one might have touched the thought in the air between them. Then Carol slipped her hands under her shoulders, and bent her head down to Therese’s throat, and Therese felt the tension go out of Carol’s body with the sigh that made her neck warm, that carried the perfume that was in Carol’s hair.
“You’re a child,” Carol said, like a reproach. She lifted her head. “What would you like?”