The Woman in Red: 13. The question
Jean-Pierre smiled at the woman who shared his bed. ‘How personally can you get when you see me naked, and I’m recovering from the best sex I ever had? Please, ask away.’ He kissed her soft on the lips. It was a tender kiss that wasn’t comparable to the ones they had given during their foreplay.
She caressed his cheek. ‘You know, nowadays everybody is so unrestrained so that sex is a lot more acceptable for conversation. Some say people talk more about their sex life than about their money. In fact, my question is about money.’
His affirmative nod confirmed he agreed with her statement. There were a lot of taboos broken the last twenty years. However, the exposé of one’s financial situation was not one of them. ‘As long you don’t ask me for money, I think we’re okay.’
‘No, Jean-Pierre, I would never do that, quite the opposite. I want to ask you how much you truly make as a white-collar worker. How much is your net income in a month.’ Katarina observed his face. Had she gone too far? If he would be disappointed by her question, all her effort was for nothing.
‘I realize, Katarina, I’m not of high birth as you. I can’t afford limousines and stays at a French Chateau. I’m not ashamed of that either. Just say if that’s a problem for you. Then we end this before it goes any further.’ It sounded rather harder than he had meant it. However, he didn’t like to be misunderstood in these matters.
'Not a problem at all,' Katarina reacted, 'no, Jean-Pierre, if you give me an answer to my question I want to make you a proposition. So..., how many?'
Jean-Pierre was thinking for a moment. ‘About 2.500 euro net income a month, but I also dispose of a company car.’
‘Do you love your job? If you received the same amount of money, would you like doing something else? People sometimes have made their career out of their hobby, and they often are remarkably happy. What’s your opinion about that?’
Leaned back against the head of the bed, Jean-Pierre weighed his words. ‘Well, yes, book-keeping isn’t the most exciting profession, I realize that. I like being busy with ciphers, but if you would pay me as much for letting me say… wine tasting, I wouldn’t hesitate to change. Yes, I would.’
Katarina conjured up a smile on her face. ‘If I would pay you the double for…, a unique kind of job. How should I describe it? When you would receive money having but also giving pleasure, what then, Jean-Pierre?'
‘And I would have fun too? Why not, I should be crazy to refuse that. Is this job a fixed –term contract or not? Maybe there’s more to earn, but if you’re unemployed after a few years, then you’re still nowhere.’
‘You’re right, of course,' Katarina confirmed, ‘let's say you can do this job for about ten years.’ Katarina noticed him frown. ‘But we can take that into account. If you would have a career of 35 years and you’ll work for ten years, you'll have to earn at least four times what you hold now. Do you agree?’
Jean-Pierre thought this was all a bit strange. Katarina was talking in riddles, and if there was something he didn’t like, it was precisely that. However, he didn’t want to offend her, after all, she had surprised him with an excellent stay at her mother's castle and he wasn't to be ungrateful. 'Of course, it has to be worthwhile.'
‘So if you would get 10.000 a month and on the end of the year a bonus of the same amount on top of it, would you consider it?’ She looked concentrated at him. How he should answer this question was of extreme importance.
Jean-Pierre took some time before answering. He counted and calculated, as he used to do practicing his job. 'It's not enough, and I'll tell you why. When you have a money filled piggy bank, and you'll stop working after ten years, you still have a half-life to live. It's not enough when you want to have a comfortable existence. Fifteen thousand and a bonus of 50.000 at the end of the year would be very appealing.
Katarina swallowed. 'That's a lot of money, but okay, it must be worthwhile. Please, have still a little patience with me, dear. Tell me, what do you like in life? I know, I’m a bit of an inquirer. But my curiosity has a purpose, I assure you.’
At this time, Jean-Pierre needed not much time. ‘That’s an easy one… good food, the best wine, making long and pleasant trips abroad…,’ and now he smiled, ‘now and then making love and of course, making big money. But life, my life isn’t that way. So, why all these assumptions. Come on, Katarina, what are you cooking up. Just tell me now!’ His voice hardened, she was testing his patience to the extreme.
‘Jean-Pierre, if you could do all these interesting things…, and get money for it and if I could provide you with such employment that could make this all true…, would you do it?
‘Is this hypothetical or do you indeed have a job for me?’ Jean-Pierre wanted answers now. To beat around the bush made him nervous.
Katarina slowly nodded. ‘Indeed, I’ve got a dream job for you, with all the advantages you have named. You will even get a luxury car you can change every two years.’
It was outrageous. He knew she belonged to another class of the society. However, such a proposition was incredible. Did she need a financial expert? What else had he to offer?
‘What does this employment truly means, please Katarina, put it clearly now!’
She was holding her breath for a moment. It was now or never. It would be a shame if he would refuse and she would be sorry, but then she had to send him to the General. He knew what to do with cases like that.
Katarina cleared her throat. ‘Jean-Pierre, if your job would be to satisfy the female ‘crème de la crème’ of the high society world… in bed for the salary you just asked, would you say yes to such a job?