chapter III


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Author’s Note: The details of André’s dream and perceptions of the portrait are lifted from the RoV anime, while the last scene is taken from the manga. I hope you enjoy reading this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Disclaimer: All characters are not mine. They belong to Riyoko Ikeda.


We reached her parents’ house almost at the same time-- she in her car, I in my motorcycle. The de la Saigne mansion was almost to the outskirts of Paris, and the ride frequently took almost an hour from downtown.

The house was an imposing structure-- complete with gardens and a fountain-- dating back to the latter half of the eighteenth century, and had seen considerable wreckage during the Revolution. The de la Saignes had bought the property late into the nineteenth century, with gradual and painstaking restoration finally setting it into what it could have appeared in its heyday in the ancien regime. There was no stopping some imposition from modern technology, though. From the dark gravel road outside, the windows were lit by the warm glow of lamps from the inside.

“You don’t have to come. I can handle this,” I said as the Boss alighted from the car and strode leisurely over to me.

She responded by raising a sardonic brow. “And tell my father what? That I just splurged a few hundred thousand euros for a painting?” she asked, amused. “I think I’d better do the talking if you still want us to see the light of day tomorrow, André.”

That said, she started for the main door as I trailed behind her. It was just like her to hurry into the rescue, when no rescue was actually needed here.

“You ready?” she asked me in a mock-severe tone as she rang the doorbell and went in first, as customary.

“Oh, Mademoiselle Françoise!” I could hear Granny greet her as she stepped in. “It’s so good to see you this evening!”

Françoise laughed as she took her nanny’s hands. “I’m hungry,” she announced and tossed her head casually to my side, “and I’m sure André hasn’t had dinner too.”

“André and I are going to have a nice, long talk afterwards,” said Granny in an ominously meaningful tone, and I sighed inwardly. Of course, that meant that I was in trouble. She gave me a hard pinch as I bent down to peck on her cheek.

“Françoise,” a pleasant voice called from the top of the grand staircase. Turning, we saw Madame coming down the steps slowly with her hands outstretched.

I watched as daughter bent down to kiss mother, and I couldn’t help but be struck with the similarities and differences between the two. True, Françoise had inherited those glorious, golden locks from her mother, but how could it be possible for Madame-- so frail and delicate-looking-- to have given birth to such a tall, striking Amazon of a woman as the Boss?

Françoise was not conventionally beautiful—if one were looking for the delicate, china-bone face and figure-- but her height and carriage, her large, expressive blue eyes, the high cheekbones and the full, sensuous mouth all combined to ensure that heads (men’s and women’s, at that) turned when she went by. And that intelligent demeanor, in which confidence and self-assurance were very much in evidence, held depths that had room for humor and mischief when she chose to indulge in them. All this combined could drive an admirer to distraction, and there were many.

Françoise spoke very gently to her mother as she always did, and Madame suddenly brought up her head. “Ah, André,” she said, and I was glad to hear the warm note of welcome in her voice. “So good of you to come. You will have dinner with us, then.”

“I’ll take it from here, André,” said Françoise as she ascended the stairs. She turned back to her mother. “Where’s Papa?”

“In the library,” said her mother. “He’s been waiting for you, actually.”

And that left me with nothing to do but to accompany Granny.

“Really, André,” she started her scolding as soon as Françoise and Madame were out of earshot. “At the very least, you could have advised Mademoiselle against making such a rash decision in one afternoon. Monsieur has done nothing but rant and rave about it the whole evening.”

Me!” I asked as I followed her into the kitchens. “Do you think she ever listens to me once she’s made her mind up? Besides, you weren’t there to see the picture, Gran.”

She turned to eye me curiously then. “What’s in the picture?” she asked suspiciously.

“Françoise,” I answered. “She’s in that picture—a picture that’s over two hundred years old. All the details—right down to the last strand of golden hair. It was Françoise, only she’s dressed as this ancient warrior on horseback. Can you believe it?”

There was a short, startled silence.

“My goodness,” was the only thing Granny could think to say. She was silent for a moment more before she continued, “perhaps it is an ancestral painting. You know the de la Saignes are descended from the nobility before the Revolution…”

“--That they left during the Reign of Terror and came back to France after the restoration of the monarchy,” I finished. “I know, Gran. The possibility that the painting might have once belonged to the family has also occurred to me. I’m sure Françoise must have thought of it as well, but I haven’t seen Françoise want anything so badly as this painting.”

Even if it were a striking portrait of a long-forgotten ancestor, what was the chance that one ever got to see a mirror image of oneself in an ancient canvas?

But that wasn’t the only mystery. Ever since I first looked upon the oil painting that afternoon, I felt as though something were not right. I could say in all honesty that I had never seen that particular picture before in my life, but another one kept slipping into my mind—a portrait of the same beautiful figure in battle dress, only, she wasn’t riding a horse. She was in a field of white roses with the horse galloping beside her.

It was madness! I was sure I had never seen that particular picture before either. Why it was suddenly popping up, unbidden, in my head was something I could not quite explain.

Just then, a maid entered to say that the family was coming down to dinner.

That’s awfully quick, I thought as I went out of the bustling kitchens. It was just one example of how good Françoise was in turning people around to her cause. I must ask her to fill me in on how she managed to convince her father to accept her purchase.

But first, dinner.

With the five elder sisters now married and settled, only Monsieur and Madame were left to have meals in the grand dining room. Françoise would join them when she chanced to visit or stay for the weekend and she usually dragged me along to the table for company.

By the time I got there, they were already seated. Monsieur, recently mollified but still looking a bit disgruntled, had already gone into another topic of conversation as he asked Françoise about news from the latest board meeting.

“—Girodelle seems to be making headway with the British and German accounts,” I heard Françoise say as I came in. “Everyone upstairs is very pleased with his performance. I gather he might just be promoted to a position in the head office if all goes well. Which reminds me--” Here, she turned to me, “André, do come along to my room after dinner and let us work out the schedule for next week. I may need to ask Rosalie to come over as well tomorrow.”

I nodded to show that I understood and, turning to the head of the table, murmured my greetings to her father. Monsieur nodded briefly at my direction before talk recommenced along the latest news from the office. I took my usual place beside Françoise.

All through the long dinner, the conversation never veered once into the subject of the painting. Afterwards, a bit of work started as soon as we reached Françoise’s bedroom suite.

Seated by the sofa at her anteroom, we started the usual routine of sifting through her tight schedule for the coming week. There were the business meetings; best left to Rosalie to arrange, as well as the after-hours obligations whose details I had to attend to. Apart from that, there were all sorts of errands to do and calls to make to ensure that she went from one engagement to the next without a hitch.

I worked through it all patiently, knowing that my reward would come at the end of these meetings. Tonight, it came a little after midnight, after I had announced that everything was in order.

Françoise leaned back on the sofa and gave a weary sigh. “Thank you, André,” she said. “We’ve got a tough week ahead, don’t we?”

“We do,” I agreed, “but now is not the time to worry about it yet. Will you be staying here for the weekend?”

“Probably, as I go back to the office on Monday,” she answered. “Can you stay until tomorrow? I can ask Rosalie to join us for breakfast.”

“It depends on whether Granny has got some of my old shirts in store, otherwise I will have nothing to wear,” I said.

We burst out laughing. It felt good to hear her laugh. It had been a while since we last had some time to talk about things not related to work.

I cleared my throat and asked,” Well? What happened with your meeting with Monsieur?”

She let out an amused laugh. “He was furious,” she said as she reached for some wine on the nearby table, “but I said the money is coming out of my own pocket, and I shall have the painting at my place. Naturally he has nothing to say to that.”

“And the picture?” I asked, trying to keep my tone casual, “did you tell him about that?”

“I did,” she said. “He says he knows of no surviving family or ancestral portraits since everybody got out of France during the Revolution. I suppose whatever they could take along, they did. The rest, they had to leave behind. If this were indeed a part of the family’s collection, I can understand why they had to leave it behind.”

I smiled at the idea. “Aren’t you at least a little bothered by seeing that woman’s picture?” I asked gently.

She was silent for a moment. Then she shook her head stubbornly, as if chasing away an unwelcome thought. “We probably won’t find any explanation to it,” she said. “I guess it does happen once in a while that you get to see a doppleganger of yourself in this world, or in the past…”

Here, her words trailed off. There was a pause as she looked at me, her blue eyes turning serious. “André…” she began.


The troubled look lifted from her eyes as suddenly as it had appeared and she smiled as she shook her head. “Nothing,” she finally said. “It’s getting late. Let’s call it a night, shall we?”


The night passed swiftly. Troubled dreams came and went without really registering; but on that one instant before I came fully awake, I remembered a fragment of my last dream…of a young, golden-haired woman on horseback telling me sharply that she didn’t need me anymore and that I go away. With a crack of her whip, she then rode off, heedless of my anguished shout. I was calling her name…

Her name…

When I woke up, I found myself drenched in a cold sweat, heart hammering away in my chest. I felt…as though…I were dealing with a great loss. Heartbreak. The feeling was so sharp, so real, that I almost remembered the name that I had shouted in my dream, but it ebbed from my memory as the last traces of sleep left me.

So real…so very familiar…

As I lowered my hand from my face, I could see that I was back in familiar surroundings. I had passed the night in the mansion, on the bed inside the room that I had used since I came here as a boy. Sunlight streamed in from the tall window. It was still pretty early. I had not overslept, but outside my door the bustle of activity signified that the day had already started several hours ago in the servants’ quarters.

On a chair beside my bed were my work clothes, clean and neatly pressed.


There was hardly time to lose. Quickly, I got out of bed and made my way to the common bathroom outside. A quick shower and a change of clothes, and then I was out to look for Françoise.

As I emerged from the servants’ quarters onto one of the corridors in the ground floor of the house, I saw her just as she was striding out of one of the rooms. She was dressed in her fencing clothes, face serious as she talked into her cell phone. She finished the call and came over to me.

“Rosalie will be coming over shortly,” she announced.

“You’ve finished with your lessons?” I asked as I eyed her outfit. Fencing was more than a hobby for the Boss. It was a passion. If she could spare some time, like today for instance, it was certain she would have a sword in hand.

“Yes, I’ve sent the instructor on his way,” she said. Then her tone became mischievous as she continued, “but if you would care to put the time in waiting for Rosalie to good use, we can have a quick match in the garden.”


Something must be wrong with me this morning. The strangest feeling of deja vu was sweeping over me so strongly that I could not concentrate in my attempts to parry her skilled sword.

At first she had teased, “What’s the matter with you, André? Seriously, you cannot consider losing to me just yet. I’m just warming up here!” After a moment, when my disorientation must have become obvious, she lowered her sword and asked in concern, “are you alright?”

I nodded, panting. I let my arms drop to my sides as I squinted into the sunlight, at the deep blue bowl of the sky overhead, before bringing my gaze back to the figure before me. What was this feeling? I felt as if I had done this before—engaging in sword practice with Françoise in the gardens--not just several times when we had the time, but hundreds…perhaps thousands of mornings in the past.

I heard the Boss repeat her question as she approached me. The feeling departed me as suddenly as it had come.

“Yes, I’m okay,” I said as I set aside my sword.

She continued to stare at me for a moment or two, troubled eyes searching mine, before she smiled and let it go. “I know just the thing to set you to rights,” she said as she turned away. “Breakfast!”

For today, she had requested that breakfast be taken outdoors. As we settled down to coffee and croissants in the bright garden, we heard a voice call from the distance, “Françoise! André!”

“Ah, Rosalie is here!” Françoise said as we saw her approach.

As was their custom when out of the office, the two women embraced, laughing. Rosalie, like me, was considered practically a part of the family. The days were long passed when she had initially addressed Françoise as Mademoiselle, much to Françoise’s amusement and vexation.

Petite and pretty, Rosalie Lamorielle had been seventeen years old when she had applied for a university scholarship sponsored by the company. At the time, she had been hard-pressed for funds, what with an absent father and a chronically ill mother who was constantly in and out of the hospital. It had not been long before she caught the eye of the Boss herself, and a close friendship had sprung between them.

Even with the backing of the company, poor Rosalie had not been able to complete her studies. As her mother grew slowly but steadily worse for a period of time, she had been obliged to drop out of university and the scholarship program to take care of her mama. Again, the problem of funds had been overwhelming for a teenage girl who was supposed to be enjoying her first year in university.

That was when Françoise had stepped in to offer her a position as her secretary in the company. It had been a way to help her out of her financial difficulties. Aside from work to put her mind off her worries, Rosalie would be able to earn enough to foot her mother’s hospital bills and engage a nurse to be with her while Rosalie was in the office.

And so things had remained for the last five years. There would be periods when her mother would get better, and times when she would be worse, and Rosalie had stayed at her job. Needless to say, Rosalie was absolutely devoted to the Boss. Tidy and methodical in her ways, she had cheerfully applied herself to the task of assisting Françoise.

Now as she took a seat at the breakfast table, she chatted animatedly about the latest goings-on in the company.

“Alain de Soisson has been very insistent in setting a meeting with you…again,” Rosalie began, and the Boss turned to me and rolled her eyes heavenward.

Alain was really a big pain in the ass, a very outspoken and trying manager whom Françoise just couldn’t fire because he was very good at his work. Secretly, I suspected his plots to provoke Françoise had more than a bit of that exasperating, childish impulse to annoy a crush. It was good to see that Françoise wasn’t biting into his bait or I didn’t know what I would have done to the man.

“He wanted to have your cell number,” continued Rosalie, “but I told him I’d pass his messages on to you.”

“Very good,” said Françoise with a smile as she perused her schedule for the coming week. “What he has to say can wait until I get back to the office. Besides, he’s got my email address so why doesn’t he just write me? By the way, the staff meeting is on Monday?”

“Yes, as scheduled at 4:30 pm,” answered Rosalie.

“Is Fersen attending?” Françoise asked.

And Fersen was somebody else again.

I looked up at the question, but the Boss had turned to Rosalie and I could not quite catch her expression.

Rosalie apparently suspected nothing. “Yes, he has confirmed that he will be there,” she said.

Françoise merely nodded and moved on to the rest of the itinerary. There were numerous meetings to set down and plans to be made. Daytime office schedules were Rosalie’s responsibilities, and all the rest were mine.

“You should eat something before you go,” the Boss told Rosalie as we finally concluded the meeting.

“I’ll drop you off at the office,” I offered Rosalie. “I have to go downtown to arrange for tickets to the theater on Friday, as well as that affair on Saturday.”

Françoise nodded. “You guys know where to reach me if anything happens,” she said as she took a sip of her coffee. “But let’s eat some more first!”


The rest of the weekend had been a blur, all because there had not been any more calls from the Boss. Perhaps she had intended to give us a short break before the start of the week.

This left me with the entire Sunday in my rented apartment with nothing to do and I found myself being haunted by details from the fragment of the dream that I recently had. What was it about this dream that disturbed me so? Was it because it spoke volumes in terms of my not-so-subconscious anxieties of being cast aside by Françoise?

It was ridiculous, of course, but I had to admit that I sometimes did worry about Françoise not needing me anymore. It was particularly painful when I worried about her falling in love with somebody else, like Fersen.

But I did not want to think about that just now.

Aside from being a mirror of my anxieties, the dream held something else that was even more disturbing. Why did I feel that I had had that dream before? And why Françoise was dressed in a white military uniform distinctly not of the present time was something I could not quite fathom.

Thus, I was actually glad when Monday came around and I had to concentrate at work.

The workday went by very swiftly, with the Boss hurrying from one meeting to the next as soon as she stepped into the office. She took Rosalie with her and I was practically glued to the computer and the telephone in her office, as she would periodically send me a text message from her meetings to inform me of new activities or changes in her schedule.

I was at the computer when an unexpected visitor dropped by the office in the late afternoon.

“André,” he called, smiling as he came over with his secretary in tow. “So good to see you again. How have you been?”

I rose from my seat to shake his hand. “Very well, thank you. She’s already downstairs at the main conference room,” I said to Lars Fersen. It was clear that he had just arrived from the de Brun offices.

Tall, handsome and sophisticated, Fersen was also friendly and thoroughly likeable. Well-read and well traveled, serious when work was concerned, he had a great sense of fun and knew how to unwind after all the work was done. Unlike several of the company executives I had to work with, there was no trace of superciliousness about him, which was probably why Françoise liked him so much. And had it not been for Françoise liking him just a bit too much, I would have liked him immensely, too.


Just listen to yourself, André…! Did you really just think that!

“Oh, so soon?” he asked, oblivious to my train of thoughts. “I was hoping to have a word with her before we go down.”

“She’s been in several meetings since this morning,” I said politely, hoping to make up for my last, rude thought of him.

He shook his head sympathetically. “All right. I’ll catch her downstairs then. Thanks, André,” he said and turned away.

I stared after his retreating figure for a while before I turned my attention back to the screen in front of me. The hours ticked by, and the light was fading from the windows when Rosalie came back from the meeting.

“You’re still here?” she asked in surprise as I looked up from the computer.

“Lots of work to be done,” I merely said. “Where’s the Boss?”

“Gone to have an early dinner with Monsieur Fersen,” said Rosalie as she retrieved her bag and coat. “She told us to go on ahead.”


There must have been something in my tone that made Rosalie pause. Or perhaps she had suspected something all along through the years, for she placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me a light squeeze.

“Don’t stay up too late,” she said simply before she bade me goodbye.

I sat there for a while, silently cursing myself for feeling like a lovelorn teenager. The cartoonists were not kidding though when they portrayed a sinking heart as one plunging down to the level of one’ shoes.

The rational part of me was arguing that people had dinner with other people all the time. It wasn’t supposed to mean anything serious. The other part of me that simply refused to give way to reason had only one thought to offer, and it asked again and again inside my head: how simple…how could it be so simple--so effortless--for some people to get to a person’s heart, when others would try for years and not be able to make it?

For a while, I lay back on the chair and closed my eyes. Enough…that’s enough, I told myself sternly after counting to ten. I sat back straight and continued working at the computer; all the while resisting the urge to call her or send a text message by cell phone that was growing by the minute. Whatever could I say anyway?

If work could provide the temporary anesthetic, then I was prepared to give it my all tonight. But after two more hours of clearing out various tasks and assignments my stomach was protesting, making my leave from work inevitable.

As I turned off the computer and shrugged into my coat, my last surprise for the day came about.

“Ever the hardworking and dependable André,” I heard her remark a few yards away from me.

I started and whipped around. There she stood, leaning against the door as she continued to regard me with amusement.

“I thought you’ve gone to have dinner with Fersen,” I said as she came forward.

“I already did,” she said. “I just forgot to bring some files with me and I thought I might as well come back to get them.”

I watched as she walked past me and collected several folders on her table. As we headed for the elevator, she broke the silence by saying, “he’s decided to go back to Sweden tomorrow.”

“He’s—Fersen’s leaving for Sweden?” I asked, incredulous and—heaven forbid--somewhat relieved at the news. There was nothing about him a few hours ago to suggest that he was leaving France. Of course, I had my suspicions why he would think of going.

“Does Mademoiselle Antoinette know?”

It was a mistake to ask.

Françoise went very still upon hearing this question. Then, in a tightly controlled voice, she answered, “I don’t think she’ll be able to stop him. And you are not to say anything to anyone about this. Do you understand?”

“Of course,” I said, slightly taken aback by her tone.

We went down the elevator and out of the quiet building. Outside, the chilly night sky was already studded with stars. I waited silently beside her, expecting her to dismiss me.

“Where do you go drinking in your spare time?” She suddenly asked.

“Montparnasse, usually,” I said, caught off guard.

“Take me there, then,” she said as we headed for her car. “You’ll want to have dinner as well.”

I could tell that she was upset. She was intent on drinking long and hard tonight. And that meant that I had to navigate myself as though I were in a minefield.

Françoise was strange that way when she became drunk. There was no use prying any secrets out of her, as no amount of liquor could induce her to talk. Rather, she would turn either hot-headed or boisterous.

Luckily tonight, she chose to be the latter.

“Look, André,” she suddenly said after we had downed a couple of rounds in a brightly lit bar in Place Pablo Picasso, “those women to your left.”

“What?” I turned a fraction to the direction she had indicated. I was just in time to see a couple of women smile at our direction. I turned back to Françoise with an inquiring look.

“Can’t you see they’ve been checking you out for quite some time now?” Françoise said as she burst out laughing.

“No they’re not!” I said, startled.

“Yes, they were! How clueless can you get?” She seemed to find my confusion most amusing.

“What makes you so sure they weren’t checking you out?” I countered.

She scoffed. “Why would they want to check me out?” she returned as she drained her fifth glass of wine.

Because you’re magnificent and fiery and so very beautiful…

“Why not? Don’t women check each other out every once in a while?”

She gave me a dry look. “They do, but not for long. Especially when there’s a guy around.” Her tone suddenly turned teasing. “Really now, André, you mean to say you’ve never risen to a come-on made by a woman in a bar? I mean, I’m sure you’ve gotten loads. ”

No, I’ve never risen to any invitation by a woman, I thought. And I just wish you know why. “I’m not getting a come-on from these women right now,” was what I decided to say instead.

“But supposing you did?” she persisted. “Or better yet, show me how you make one.”

I stared at her. “You’ve had too many drinks,” I said flatly.

She shook her head. “No use wriggling your way out of this one, André. I’m not stopping until you show me!”

I let out the sigh I’d been holding back. There was no use dodging it. Better to get it over with rather than have her pester me for the rest of the evening about it.

“Well,” I said, affecting the air of a very patient teacher, “if I did happen to come across somebody I like, I’d probably look at her a great deal. I probably won’t be able to stop myself.”

There was a pause as we stared at each other. “And…?” she finally prompted.

“Until she notices that I’ve been looking at her,” I finally answered, my gaze never leaving her. “That’s when I would smile. If she smiles back, then a conversation is in order. Once that gets started, who knows where it will lead to?”

“Where indeed, I wonder?” She tilted her glass elegantly to her mouth and took a shot of her drink, neat and experienced.

“If I do like somebody very much, I’d probably want to spend a lot of time with her. I’d feel very sad if we’re apart for long,” I said a bit recklessly.

“In short, you’ll be very devoted. The perfect, old-fashioned gentleman,” she finished, smiling. “Wow, I envy your girlfriends. They’re so lucky, André.”

And with that, she finished her sixth glass and called cheerily for the bartender to hand her another drink. I felt I couldn’t take any more and I pushed my glass away.


The perfect, old-fashioned gentleman.”

I could still hear the phrase ringing in the air as I finally bundled her into the car. I supposed that she had meant it as a compliment, but why was it stinging so much? Even more important, why was I sure she’d never regard Lars Fersen as of the same category?

Fersen, I was sure, would be the alluring, worldly, slightly mysterious type of man that could send levelheaded women like Françoise into a swoon. Perfect, old-fashioned (i.e. boring) gentlemen were relegated to the André Grandiers of this world.

After so many years of disappointment heaped one on top of the other, you’d suppose that I would have gotten used to it all by now. But I tell you it doesn’t work that way. To be in love and be perpetually disappointed means having a wound that gets ripped open anew even before it has a chance to heal. It will never heal, so long as I do not stop loving Françoise. And to stop loving Françoise is like having to stop breathing.

In no time at all we had arrived at her apartment. I parked the car and, turning to her, saw that she had fallen asleep on the seat beside me. Her head had tilted to her side, cheeks flushed from that alarming amount of wine drunk throughout the evening. Right there, all the disappointment fled from me, leaving only a trace of sadness and regret that I had been foolish to think the way that I did.

After a while, I tore my gaze away and sighed. From some remote place in my brain came that story I had read as a child—the Greek myth of Endymion and the moon goddess, Selene. Very much taken with Endymion, the handsome shepherd, the goddess had contrived to make him sleep for eternity so that she would have him all to herself. But that very act had also ensured that Selene could only content herself with the sleeping form of her beloved, and very little else.

Françoise was no Endymion, no more than I could ever be the moon goddess, but I could sympathize with Selene’s plight. A sleeping Françoise was all I could ever have to myself, and in that, I would have to be perfectly content.

I slowly got out of the car and managed to get her to stand up long enough for me to sling her arm around my neck. Half dragging and half carrying my precious cargo into her apartment building was no simple feat. She was so out of it that her full, dead weight was upon me, and her legs were like jelly.

Inside the building I gave up and, bringing an arm under her legs, lifted her cleanly off the floor. Thus I was able to carry her in my arms into the elevator and all the way to her front door. I let myself in using the key that she had given me for emergency purposes, and crossing the silent living room, deposited her into her bedroom suite.

She lay still as I removed her shoes and tucked her into the bed sheets. As I straightened up, I saw that loose strands of golden hair had fallen across her sleeping features. I slowly lifted a hand to brush them away.

She looked so beautiful then that I could not stop what happened next.

Almost before I realized what I was doing, I found myself bending over her. Close…closer than I had ever done before…and pressed my lips to hers.

How long had I been fantasizing about this? Just about forever, I thought. I couldn’t believe that I had actually done it.

She tasted the way I had imagined she would: sweet—not just with the wine, but also with herself.

Finally, regretfully, I raised my head and figured that it was time for me to depart. Just then, as I made to stand up, I saw something glisten on her cheeks.

She’s crying…

A trail of tears was slowly winding its way down from her closed lids. An unusual occurrence.

Poor Françoise, to find no recourse but to cry in her dreams…I thought. Hesitantly, I brushed the moisture away with a thumb, wondering what she was dreaming about to make her cry so. Fersen, I suspected.

The stars were still out when I finally left the apartment building. They were shining like droplets of tears suspended on a curtain of black, velvety night.

It was the plight of every man and woman born into this world to shed tears and feel heartbreak; but for once, tonight, my heart was suddenly quiet and content.



To Be Continued…


pubblicazione sul sito Little Corner del marzo 2006


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