Linda was uncomfortable at Diane's party. She found the people and the party to be too perfect. Everyone was beautiful. The glass house sparkled like crystal. Just too perfect.
Count Vladimir walked over to her. “We would also like to welcome you to visit our country. Russia is beautiful, but it is also tough on its inhabitants. Everything in Russia is held very dear, since at any moment in time, everything that we own and even the people we love could be easily taken away. The Russian way of life teaches you to appreciate life and family. You will never forget your trip to Russia.”
The count seemed very impassioned about his speech and his country. Linda didn’t know if she was so eager to visit such a tough country. “Yes, we need to discuss this further at some other time—maybe the next time we meet.”
She hoped that he would forget her and his hastily given invitation. They’d only just met, and who knew what kind of people the Stravinskys really were?
Todd must have noticed her uneasiness, because he rushed over to rescue her. Bowing to her, he asked, “May I have the next dance? I’ve always wanted to dance the waltz with you, my love.”
She placed her hand on his extended arm and followed him to the dance floor. She didn’t know what game he was now playing. He had introduced her to his friends—who had strangely never met any of his other women. He was a young and healthy male; so of course, he must have had many women over the years. But what kind of women were they that they couldn’t be introduced socially? Then he’d treated her like a sister in front of them, giving her a kiss on the top of her head. What was that about? And what did they think about her? Were they wondering if she was his girlfriend or just his buddy?
And the serious Russian couple, they looked big and
strong. The countess wore animal furs—with the animal faces and tails still attached to their skins. When she’d spoken to Leona, she’d felt like the dead animals’ beady eyes, their bodies wrapped as scarves around the countess’ neck, were staring back at her. All she had been able to think about was how the animals had been ruthlessly chased, caught, brutally killed, and then uncaringly stuffed for a large pompous Russian woman. She had no desire to visit Russia or Romania: these countries had no respect for wildlife. She was happy enough in America.
During her wandering thoughts, Todd had somehow led her onto the dance floor and in the correct position for the waltz. She looked up and was surprised to find Todd across from her, ready to begin the dance. She didn’t even remember walking there.
The orchestra began to play. The dancing partners bowed to each other. The waltz began.
Oh no! She panicked. She didn’t know how to dance the waltz. She realized that every person in the room was dancing, but somehow there was more than enough room for everyone. The dance floor seemed to have expanded to accommodate everyone. Then she looked down and realized that she was also dancing. She had never danced the waltz, but somehow she knew all the correct steps and positions.
Todd twirled her around and around the room. She felt as light as air, flying high above the other dancers. Her feet didn’t even hit the ground. Looking down, she saw that her feet were not touching the floor…maybe she’d had a little too much to drink.