The Food of Angels
Dessert was white and soft as a pillow with patches of dark brown crust clinging to the exterior. A serrated blade had cut the wedge, and a much sharper knife had carved up a ripe peach that formed a ring around the cake. The cake’s whiteness clung to Quentin’s teeth, and he ate slowly, waiting for flavors beside the slight appealing sweetness. But the crust was the prize, firm and brown and sweeter and full of subtleties. He tasted the warm oven where this was baked. He ate slowly and carefully, the men around him finishing first, falling into quiet conversation. Quentin still hadn’t finished when he looked across the temple, hunting for a certain face, and it wasn’t there. She was absent at the beginning of dessert and she was still missing, as was her daughter and the loyal, miserable husband.
Noticing Quentin’s gaze, his Persian friend leaned close, and with a voice a little too loud to be private said, “Accusations were made.”
Quentin looked at the last smiling slice of the peach.
“Spying on the émigré community. A serious, serious matter.”
Quentin sighed. “Maryam?”
“And your wife,” he said, touching the hand holding Quentin’s fork. “They accused each other, and a verdict has been rendered.”
Farah was still camped with her friends. By all appearances, their world was full of reasons for laughter.
“This is not about you, Mr. Maurus.”
Quentin dropped the fork and sat back.
The Persian rose and left.
Quentin looked at Levi, and the little man smiled. Pity and irony inhabited his gaze, and he dipped his head, whispering, “Always remember. Whatever she claims and regardless of what she believes, she is a Persian wife.”
“Which means what?”
“You own everything but her soul,” Levi said.