"And We shall ease thy way unto the state of ease."


Stirring, Zahra twists into a half turn, lifts her elbow overhead, its upraised crook providing a soft-edged frame for facial contours blurred, so close to his that he pulls back to bring them clearly into focus, to engage the eyes whose searching aspect infiltrates, queries, probes, will not be satisfied with his usual dodges: flattery, sweet talk, jesting, will not bless his sensuality sans commitment or let him grope, distract her mind by means of pandering to her reawakened body, nor seduce her heart without communication with her soul. For she insists that Franchone know her before knowing her, lay to rest quandaries, either verbally or inductively. She will read his thoughts, his hopes, decipher motives from the tiny lines attesting to his scruples, dredge intentions from the depths of his sincerity, tap his goals, distinguish substance from the vagaries of his egotistical trappings, peel the skin—so rich and comely—metaphorically from his skull to deconstruct the inner workings of his brain juxtaposed to hers and thereby reconcile each to the raging conflict suddenly re-engendered by the kiss that Zahra plants on Franchone's startled mouth.