The Chaser (Continued)(A continuation of the short story, The Chaser by ???)

"Thank you again," said Alan. "Good-by."
"Au revoir, " said the old man.
Upon leaving Alan hopped onto the cross town bus back to his own apartment, smiling and fondling the little bottle the old man had given him as he went. He turned his key, opened the door, and collapsed back into his sofa with a sigh. There were so many ways that he could set about dosing Diana. After pondering each option, he finally decided to invite her to tea and cake. Well, maybe tea and sandwiches. No, just tea. He then set about making arrangements.
In Alan's small, slightly messy apartment, there was very little in the way of luxury. There were barely even necessities. He had however, one small, slightly dented aluminum teapot, and one tin of very expensive, very unopened, tea (a gift from his mother). Alan filled the teapot, fished about for a tea strainer, turned on his small electric stove, set the water on it, and finally phoned Diana.

At home, Diana was watching her small black and white television set in lonely boredom. The man she had met in the nightclub, though he was attentive for their brief courtship, had left in the morning, leaving nothing behind, save for the cryptic message he left scrawled on her notebook: "I'll call you." Of course she had never given him her number, but she hoped maybe he had copied it from the label on her phone while she was sleeping.
So here she was, another lover on a long list of one night stands had left her sitting alone on the couch all day with the phone in her lap, watching reruns. What a pathetic way to spend a Saturday night. Just as she was about to give up and go drown her sorrows in a box of ice-cream, the phone rang.
"Michael?" She said breathlessly, nearly yanking the cord out of the phone.
"Um, nooo. Uh, this is Alan. Hello, um Diana?" The unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line replied. Alan, who did she know named Alan? Oh, of course Alan, the irritatingly shy, but harmless young man across the hall. She was so disappointed that she was on the verge of tears.
"Oh, hello Alan," she responded wearily. "What do you want this time, an egg? A cup of sugar?" Teaspoon of cyanide? she thought wickedly.
"Um, hehe, heh, no. Actually this is on a more personal level," Oh boy, here it comes. "You see, um, my mother sent me this really nice loose tea, and it's never good to drink alone, even if it's just tea, and well..."
"Of course, Alan," she broke in, saving him the trouble. "I would love to have tea with you."
"Wow! Really? Great! Um, if you could, er, bring some sugar and milk, I would be grateful. Cups would be nice too. I don't mean to impose. But I seem to be out, and my dishes are all dirty."
"No problem. Really, I need to get my mind off of a few things."
"Okay, well, come on over when you can. I've got the kettle on now, and plenty of water."
"Alright, see you."
"See you"
Poor Alan, she thought. She had been expecting this for a long time. Part dread, and part relief she felt at his invitation. Finally someone she could just sit with and perhaps talk, finally get her mind off Michael. Not to mention, Peter, Stephen, Andrew, Lawrence, Thomas and pretty much the entire single male population of her neighborhood, plus a few tourists.

Alan's tea kettle let out a sputtering screech, like a wounded weasel, and he jumped to remove it from the stove. Before he could do anything with the water he heard knocking at the door. Setting the kettle down on the counter, he stumbled to the door and opened it.
There in his very own doorway, stood Diana, with all the beauty of Venus, and the purity of, well the goddess of her namesake: Diana. Carrying a tray bearing two dainty teacups, saucers, and spoons, along with sugar bowl and creamer, filled carefully with sugar and milk, respectively, she stood there, smiling radiantly. For an instant, he thought he may not even need the potion, before realizing she was probably just being polite.
"Well," she said expectantly. "Aren't you going to invite me in?"
"Oh, of course. I'm sorry. Come in, please." He felt so ashamed.
"Well, I've never been in here I see why..." she looked around, apprehensively. "Maybe you just need a woman's touch. A nice window treatment, a throw rug, a couch, some basic furniture, a wall hanging, or some nice prints, other than 'Dogs playing poker,' maybe new paint..." As she continued to ply her trade of interior decoration, Alan tuned out and began simply listening to the sweet melody of her voice.
" where is it?" she finished by saying.
"Where's what?"
"Your teapot," she replied, playfully impatient.
"Oh, of course," Alan said as he rushed over and presented her with the dented aluminum kettle.
"That's a tea kettle, where is the teapot?"
Alan was completely baffled.
"It isn't a teapot?" He had always thought it was a teapot.
"No, no, no, silly, that's a kettle, you boil the water in that then you put it into the teapot. I suppose this means I will have to go get mine...sigh." She set the tray down on his counter and left out the still open door. Alan quickly crossed to the tray and emptied the entire contents of the bottle into the teacup on the left, and threw the bottle away. When Diana returned he was smiling with the tea already in the strainer. She told him how to steep the tea, and he followed her directions, then he poured the tea into his own cup, into which he had already put milk, and into hers. They sat down on his floor, at his makeshift coffee table (two cinder blocks, and a piece of plywood, draped over with a sheet), and began to sip their tea.

Diana sipped her tea quietly, and the instant she swallowed it, she felt completely overcome with giddiness. Not a giggly unpleasant feeling, but a feeling like a young lover about to kiss her sweetheart. This feeling swelled until she felt almost about to burst if she didn't release it soon. She exhaled a shaky breath and looked at Alan. Before her eyes, he seemed to change. It was as if blinders were being taken from her eyes, or the distorting filters were being cast away one by one. She began to see all of Alan's finer qualities, his quietness, his eagerness to please, his eyes, his kindness, gentleness, and sweetness all seemed to be clearer, more focused.
Diana began to grin uncontrollably. She found herself staring at Alan, seeing what she knew then and there to be her ultimate mate. She could see all of her maternal and domestic instincts being put to use, her life becoming happier and more fulfilled. She saw her lonely nights disappearing, and her times with Alan being the best she could ever want.
Then, Diana saw among these wonderful things, a darker side: if she could see this wonderful person in front of her, that meant that others could see him too. Unless she acted upon her feelings right now, he could be snatched up in no time. She frantically tried to find the words that expressed how she felt, and at last she arrived on three short words that she had been afraid to say for a long time.
"Alan," she said, her voice brimming with emotion, her eyes brimming with tears.
"Yes, Diana?"
"I--I love you." She said, and began to cry with joy, release and sadness all at the same time.

Four months passed, and Alan began to feel the yoke of love around his neck. That night, he had not expected her to react so quickly, or so effectively. She said, "I love you," then cried for two hours in his arms, from whence they moved to the bedroom, and consummated their love. She was not nearly as innocent as he thought she was, but that did not matter to him at the time. After that evening, she wanted nothing but him, morning noon, evening, hour after hour after hour. He would sometimes fall asleep on top of her from sheer exhaustion. But, he thought, this was a good thing. No woman could become addicted to a man's body unless she truly loved him. She entirely remodeled his apartment, bringing in her own furniture, and decorating his place to be a love nest for two, instead of the pad of a lonely bachelor.
The following weeks he began to see signs of her going too far. She started introducing herself as his fiancee, before he had even proposed. She would cry and yell for hours because he smiled hello to an old female friend. She started inviting his parents up from Florida for weekend talks. Once he came home late and she threatened to kill herself and him if he was having an affair with his assistant. She read bridal magazines and phoned her mother to plan the wedding, and he still hadn't proposed to her. No longer was she the strong, vivacious, energetic girl that he had fallen in love with, she was a jealous, nymphomaniacal housewife, that had fallen, artificially in love with him.
Alan was on the cross town bus, and he disembarked a block away from the house of the old man from whom he had purchased the philtre. He knocked on the door, and it opened a crack.
"Ah, young man, it is so good to see you back again, what is it you desire this time?"
Alan replied by holding up a check for five thousand dollars, an accumulation of two years' savings.
"Come in, my friend."

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