The other woman who won’t behave is named Chai Fox. She has two designated roles; 1) Guide into the Mysteries of all that is New Age (a mutual friend recommended her to Rick), and 2) Rick’s Lover for the middle part of the novel. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 17, where Chai first appears.
Chai Fox looked 95% normal when she opened the door. Long colorful print dress set off by a huge pewter and crystal amulet and another couple of coral and turquoise bead necklaces. Long straight dark hair held back with an ornate hair pin that if it wasn’t ivory or bone was a damned good plastic imitation. A single piercing in her nose with a plain emerald or another good imitation; a gold ring in the corner of her right eyebrow. Large earrings featuring feathers. Tattoo on the inside of the ankle but none visible above that. Chai must have been slightly on the wrong side of forty, but the wild get-up made her look young rather than silly.
“Ah, Rick.” She took my hand in both of hers, much more of a caress than a shake. “Tatum told me that you had an open mind and a first class wit, but she didn’t mention the word, ‘charmer.’ Guess I’ll have to get on her about that.”
Up close the distinct smell of patchouli with a gentle hint of orange teased my smell buds. Chai had a spray of freckles across her nose that added a touch of innocence at odds with the rest of an impression that screamed, “No innocence here.”
I stood in her hallway and made the acquaintance of her Shih Tzu Valentino, a prissy, silken prima donna who demanded adoration, while Chai fetched a wrap and her large, colorful woven bag. When she returned to find me cross-legged on the floor with Valentino sprawled across my lap she gushed, “Why, he’s never like this around men. You must have an old soul.”
I peered down at the bottom of my shoe before replying. “No, he must be mistaken. I got these shoes less than a year ago.”
Chai rolled her eyes. “Oh, you. Well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. About the wit, at least.”
Jay-Lo earned me another eye roll. “Oh, my. A vintage Mustang. I do so appreciate original equipment.” Fortunately, part of Jay-Lo’s original equipment was the bucket seats, sparing my date the decision about whether it was too soon in our relationship to scoot over on the seat.
Chai chatted easily and effortlessly about nothing while we made the ten minute drive to a seafood restaurant on Bay Street. The place was filling up rapidly, but Chai managed to score us a table with a view of the water.
“I’ll have a martini, dear,” she told the waitress. “Bombay Sapphire if you have it. Dry but not bone dry. Please tell me it’s after noon.”
“Make that two.”
“And a martini drinker as well. What was that I said yesterday about destiny?”
“I believe it was, ‘The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.’ Or wait, maybe that was Winston Churchill.”
Chai shook her head. “I don’t know who said that, but it definitely wasn’t me. I would have said something like, ‘You can make your own bed, or you can make your own destiny, but only the truly great can make their own destiny in bed.’”
“Bravo.” I clapped to show my appreciation.
Chai studied the menu for about a minute before closing it. “Tatum is always badgering me about becoming a vegan, but I swear I don’t see the point. Surely the goddess would not have put prime aged beef on earth if she had not intended for her devotees to savor it.”
“Nor would Prometheus have bothered bringing mankind fire if he knew we were only going to use it to boil water for tea.”
“Well, maybe Chai tea. Chai is a taste that everyone of taste loves to taste.”
I intended for Chai to be a bit of a caricature. A humorous opportunity to accentuate the delightful kookiness that generally comes with people of her bent. She’s also the quintessential cougar, as well as frank and open-minded about sex (it is out of fashion to use the term “loose”).
But Chai is NOT BEHAVING EITHER. Absolutely refusing to be a caricature, and has turned into quite a complex character. She is warm, deep, and knows when not to chatter. I confess to liking her a lot, although I didn’t intend to make her particularly likeable, certainly not to fall for her.
I think part of the complication is that the island of Avalon, S.C. is a lot more complex that I originally saw it, as is Rick’s relationship with the island. True, the mystery of the island (more on that later) is the heart of the novel. But Rick didn’t have a lot of sensitivity, at least in the beginning (he’s growing fast. And so when Rick and Chai went out to visit the island, sparks flew. I intended for her to shamelessly seduce him back at his house; instead, they had a deep (no pun intended), spiritual sexual experience on the island.
So now what? She doesn’t really want the role of Woman-that-ends-up-with-the-hero-in-the-end, but she sure is complicating things for now.