There is something about how she swirls her tea that always makes him suspicious. She hula-hoops it gently in her hands gazing in it as if searching for the bounty of a riptide deep, peering into its tide-pooled chamber. She searches the depths, and swirls the detritus in her handheld eco-system, instead of answering his questions. There is something about her demeanor that has changed ever since she lost the uncle he never met, the generous one who changed her life with the charitable act of dying. Something about that sudden moment had changed the way that her eyes were unable to meet his, the way she paid more attention to her sunken tea leaves as if trying to read them as if trying to re-arrange them to a fate that she preferred to be her fortune. He wondered if she still loved him now that she didn't need him. Of course, she offered to share some of her inheritance with him being that he had provided for her for so many years and that the preacher had commanded them to the promise of thick and thin and all of that. It was his wedding, his lilies that lined the windows and walkways, his fitted tux that still sat neatly pressed in his closet as if it had been filed by his secretary. His wife never liked Teresa, and somewhere he knew better than to blame her. Desks disorganized by passion, papers marked by indiscretion could do that to a person, over time. But he had been good to Jolene, the roof over her head and precious stoned promise insured that. And now she dodged his glance almost like a stranger on a bus who reluctantly makes some space while staring into the forever forward of their journey. There was something he wasn't grasping about how it all happened but Jolene seemed somehow freer, it was as if the passing of her uncle had granted her a serenity that didn't previously exist and so he stared at her envious of the light from the window that tossed her hair and held her face in its hands. Envious that something other than him could still warm her. She took a sip her eyes darting upwards at him for a fraction "hmm, hmm" she hummed to one of his inquiries which one had become indistinct. She put the small cup down enclosure. I have to be going now she said as she slipped off of her chair the way that a cloud traces the sky, caught in a draft of her own thoughts, cooling him as she left. The front door closed and he was again alone with his thoughts and unanswered inquiries. He looked into her teacup for an answer. The Rorschach smears of the cup looked the face of a dollar bill. It was folded a bit like a mosaic jig-saw but everything is was slight disarray of order, the circle, the pyramid all the elements sitting there. He pressed his lips to the edge of the teacup tracing the outline trying to sense the remaining warmth from Jolene's lips. He breathed in the smells of flowers and earth, a faint whisper of what was now a part of her. Stealing a kiss from the rim that he tried to savor by the second in a permanence that was not permitted. He longed for Jolene to be with him the way that she once was. The days where she had looked at him with innocence and wonder, for the days that she looked at him at all. They had met at a cafe where she had waitressed. Her hair hopelessly rebelled against her buns, always a mess but full of grace somehow. He had been well dressed, he wondered if the sine of his watch or cut of his suit had intimidated her somehow if it had added to her nervousness in the way that she always made a mistake on her order. Whatever surprise that she served him he accepted without question, he didn't have the heart to expose her ineptitude. He wasn't there for the food, he was there to feel the way that she attended to him, more than most other customers, checking in on a half-full cup or replacing a napkin, double and triple-checking that the food was satisfying to him. If he had been a soldier wounded by war he trusted that she would cure him in half the time as the others, with her willpower and attention alone. Now the dialog seemed stronger in the steeped leaves still brewing in the bottom, the heat quickly evaporating with the answers to his mysteries still in mind.- A door parted curiously in a nearby apartment. Jolene's new car is safely out of view. She fixed her hair in the window's reflection, carefully pinning it down to near submission for a change. She straightened her shirt, tucking it into her skirt and straightening her back. She was well pressed and not pressed for time, a little early for once, in fact. This should make for a kind surprise she thought. The gardenia that lined the walkway smelled with rich honied sweetness, a deep base of aroma that almost seemed a little too festive and decadent for the average apartment building. It was almost a con to the scene, exposing the faded paint and the lost stones on the walkway in its comparison. The thing about the gardenia is that for all of its beauty, with the wrong touch it would wither quickly and die in an instant. She knocked on the door, a quiet knock half apologetic to its self and a little self-conscious. If she had been a bird at the window hovering over that gardenia she would have not recognized the person who she had become, so organized and calculated from where she had started. Flapping of the wings, in steady suspension, listening in to this key moment. "And he doesn't suspect a thing right?", Ethan asked both serious and hopeful. "Right," Jolene said with a wild glint in her otherwise calm eyes. "He thinks he is losing money to bad investments, don't worry he doesn't suspect a thing." Her hand's outlined Ethan's strong jaw-line. "And he believes that you had, had an actual uncle?" "Yes," she reassured. "Good, he said." holding her close and parting her lips with his, savoring the smell of the earth and flowers still on her breath.