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Author’s Notes: This part of the story will be familiar to all who have read or seen the Berubara manga/anime, though I must still issue an advisory note to the younger readers that contents requiring a more mature state of mind are to be found in the latter part of this chapter. Nothing explicit, I assure you, but you’ll know what I mean.
I must be going mad.
For the longest time, I must have been slipping without my realizing it. Fersen’s return and that stupid rumor that he had begun an affair with Francoise had reduced me to a state of panic, but I only came to understand just how near I was to the brink when Francoise did the most unusual thing and announced that she was attending that masquerade ball of Madame du Deffand after months of shrugging it off.
At first, I thought she was joking. “Francoise, where are you going to get a costume at the last minute?” I asked patiently.
I was completely thrown when she said quietly that she just happened to have a gown waiting in her apartment.
I couldn’t believe it! Francoise just happened to have a gown lying around in her apartment?? How long had she been planning this “last-minute” decision to join the masquerade?
Almost immediately, I knew why she suddenly wanted to go. It boiled down to the basic fact that Fersen would surely be there.
“I’ve taken most of your day already. Why don’t you go on ahead, Andre?” she said lightly, “I can imagine that it must be a relief that you won’t be hearing from me tonight.”
And I found myself shaking my head. I found myself tailing her back to her apartment, unreasonably refusing to help out and at the same time unable to tear myself away. I found myself feeling utterly dismayed, unbearably curious and…yes, quite angry.
The arrival of Francoise’s sisters and Granny, excited and disbelieving, did nothing to alleviate my dark mood. I stubbornly remained in my seat in the living room as they crowded around Francoise in her bedroom.
Imagine, Francoise in a gown! I thought, scoffing, aware that I was being unkind as I tried to think of how trying it must be for her to subject herself to be laced up tight in a gown. She would surely look funny. Yes, I was sure she would appear as wooden and artificial as a mannequin.
But she did not appear wooden or artificial at all. She looked even more beautiful than ever--her hair was artfully arranged, her face was exquisitely made up, the gown falling gracefully down her figure accentuated her slender curves. I never realized how slim she actually was; her arms-- toned and muscular as they were from fencing practice-- were so thin that I felt I could encircle the entire width of her upper arm with just one hand.
Equally moving was her awkwardness, her dejected tone as she misinterpreted my look after Granny had dragged me into the room and my eyes fell on her for the first time. I could not suppress a tender smile when she tripped and fell (to the horror of everyone). Only Francoise could be so endearing without meaning to be.
Granny was crying with happiness after having her longtime ambition in seeing Francoise in a gown fulfilled at last. She made her departure back to the mansion soon after Francoise left for the ball, remarking that Mademoiselle would surely be coming back late and would no longer require any assistance in getting out of the dress.
After a while, the absolute silence of the place became oppressive—as oppressive as the thoughts that I was left alone with.
Francoise…Francoise…you look so very beautiful tonight, like a goddess, I thought brokenly. Did you do this just for Fersen? My Francoise…
After a moment more of silent torture, I decided a quick drive around town would help clear my head. As I got behind the wheel though, the question of where to go surfaced.
I could go drinking, I thought. Or perhaps catch a movie…or…
…Or perhaps attend that masquerade ball myself…
That was when I decided I was really going mad, but I couldn’t care less. I wanted to see Francoise. As if I were running on auto, I soon found myself in front of a costume shop where I laid my hands on the first outfit I could find that fit me.
Getting into the masquerade ball was even easier. Entrance into the grounds had been a cinch, and I waited until a group of giddy, masked party-makers were making their way into the massive du Deffand mansion. Unobtrusively, I came up and squeezed myself among their ranks as they went up the steps and drifted into the ballroom with them.
By the time I got there, Francoise was already on the dance floor. To be expected, she was dancing with Fersen. I slowed to a stop as I took in the vision of her moving gracefully in Fersen’s arms. I could feel my heart quicken with both pain and pleasure at the sight of Francoise.
“Lovely, isn’t she?” asked a voice beside me, and I started as I turned around to find Catherine, Francoise’s sister, beside me. As heavily masked as she was, I recognized her costume at once; she had come to Francoise’s apartment already dressed for the ball, after all.
“I wonder who she might be,” Catherine said, affecting a puzzled tone and evidently not recognizing me at all. “Do you have any ideas, Monsieur?”
“None,” I said, smiling at the sisters’ plot to glean as much information and reaction of Francoise as they could from the crowd. “Whoever she is, she’s breathtakingly beautiful though.”
Catherine gave me a gracious smile. “Well said, sir,” she said.
Just then, Francoise abruptly broke away from Fersen. I barely registered Catherine’s surprised gasp as I moved to catch where Francoise was going. She was running off the dance floor, disappearing toward the tall terrace doors leading to the gardens.
Moving toward the terrace through the crowds was difficult, and another obstacle presented itself as soon as I reached the gardens.
From inside my doublet, I could feel the vibrations as Francoise’s phone started to ring. It was Fersen.
“Andre?” He sounded surprised as I answered the cell hastily. “Er…hi. I was wondering if I could talk to Francoise for a moment.”
“She’s in the bathroom right now,” I said, stumbling around for a plausible excuse.
“Oh. Where are you guys exactly?” He wanted to know.
“In her apartment. We’ve got some files to go over from the office.”
“Oh. All right,” he said, sounding dubious. “You’ll tell her I called, won’t you?”
“Of course,” I said and hung up before he could say anything more.
I soon found Francoise in the gardens. She had her back to me; I had never seen her looking so lost as she scanned the area and debated on her next move. Lost but not quite defenseless, though. I must tell you how dangerous it was to sneak up and take the Boss by surprise: I nearly came away with a broken arm after she twisted it around so hard.
Her intense interest in my costume was curious. It was, after all, only a cheap, gaudy ensemble made to look like some ancient highwayman’s garb. There was no time to waste on contemplating the costume though; escape was in order. Still, after all the harrowing events of tonight, I felt pleased now to escort a subdued Francoise home.
I followed her silently into her apartment, afraid lest she trip again on her gown. She had barely managed to emerge from the car without the hem of her skirts getting in her way.
“I swear I shall never wear one of these again as long as I live!” I heard her say as she hastily trailed into her room.
God, I hope so…I thought. Aloud I said, “Don’t speak of things with such finality. Who knows when you will be eating your words some day?”
“Ha!” I heard her retort through the half-closed doors of her bedroom. “That will be the day indeed.”
She seemed to change rather quickly. In almost no time at all, she had emerged wearing one of her familiar silk shirts and pants. She was still struggling with her complicated hair arrangement though.
“Agh!” She cried as she tried to remove the comb and the pins that were keeping her hair piled high on top of her head. “I should have asked Nanny to stay and help me out of these things!”
“Hold on,” I said as I stepped in to help her, “there must be a couple of pins around it somewhere. You’ll end up tearing out your hair if you’re not careful with it.”
“It won’t budge!” She said as she ruefully submitted to my assistance.
For a moment, I stared down at the mass of golden waves just below me, feeling my heart contract painfully at the thought of how I would love to plunge my hands into those fragrant, silken strands, to twine them around my fingers, to feel them against my skin, my lips…
After a moment I saw her tilt her face up a fraction; she must be wondering why I was hesitating, and I hastily took hold of the comb and gently set it free of its pins.
“Thanks,” she sighed as she felt the locks tumble down to settle on her shoulders. She shook them out and started brushing them with a hairbrush she had taken from her room. I followed her casual movements hungrily.
“Andre…” Her voice brought me back to the present.
“Was I…silly back there?” An unusual note of hesitation, almost of shyness, crept into her tone.
“No! How could you think that? You were just…breath-taking,” I said from behind her, feeling my heart twist painfully once more as I remembered her dancing in Fersen’s arms.
She turned to me and smiled wryly. “You don’t have to worry about hurting my feelings, you know,” she said. “I can take some criticism.”
“Suit yourself if you don’t want to believe me,” I said wearily. I didn’t know what was worse: telling the truth that she had looked good in Fersen’s arms or the fact that she did not believe a word I was saying.
I took out her cell phone and handed it back to her. “I forgot to tell you,” I said, aware that she would know sooner or later, “when we were still at the ball it rang. It was Fersen.”
I could see that she nearly dropped the hairbrush. She spun around quickly. “What did he say?” she wanted to know.
I shrugged. “Obviously he wanted to talk to you,” I answered tonelessly. “I said we were doing some files in your apartment and that you just went to the bathroom.”
“Oh. All right,” she said.
Just then the phone came to life in her hands and started ringing again.
“It’s him,” she said quickly and pressed the button to receive the call. “Hello? Oh, hi! How was the ball? Yes, Andre said you called earlier. Yes…yes, we were doing some company files here in my apartment…we’re still going through them right now…oh, really? Well, that’s interesting…”
I didn’t want to hang around to hear her talk to Fersen on the phone, nor did I want to hear her talk about being with Fersen, if only for one brief dance, so I moved to the front door to signal my departure. She saw me about to take my leave and merely waved her goodbye as she continued to talk into the phone. I closed the door quietly behind me.
As if to press the point home that the ball had been a mad, magical moment out of time, the week that followed was so busy that there was little opportunity to talk to the Boss regarding anything not related to work. And in many ways, this helped me preserve my sanity just for a bit longer.
One evening soon after, Rosalie and I were given a chance to rest as Francoise left without us to have dinner and attend the Opera with several de Brun figures.
“I thought this week is never going to end,” sighed Rosalie as she finally turned off the computer and stood up to stretch.
“You want to have dinner out?” I asked as we shrugged into our coats. “My treat.”
“Thanks, but I can’t,” replied Rosalie cheerfully. “I have a date with Bernard.”
Who is Bernard? I thought. Obviously a new guy in Rosalie’s life. Far from feeling resentful, I was actually glad to see her going out with boyfriends.
When she had first started out in the company, Rosalie had gone along the same way as I did: she had worshipped Francoise to the point of misery. She had displayed all the symptoms of the condition from which I still suffered: the possessiveness, the fits of jealousy, and the unhappiness of engaging in endless, paranoid speculation over the smallest thing that Francoise said or did, who she was with, who she liked and did not like.
It was inexplicable, this power of Francoise to effortlessly seduce people and win them over to her side. It did not matter whether they were men or women; no one was safe from her charms. And it was even stranger that Francoise would seem unaware of this hold she had over people’s hearts; she seemed impervious to the desperate attentions some accorded her. She would continue to treat them with the same calm and gracious consideration that she always showed them.
Not many knew her hot-headedness. She would turn as cold as ice to those who displeased her at work. The occasional flashes of temper she reserved for those close to her, and again that carried its own allure. I always felt that it showed Francoise to be completely human and not the Iron Maiden as Madame Dubois was fond of calling her.
Speaking of the lady, it was strange for Madame Dubois to report getting a glimpse of sensuality beneath Francoise’s chilly exterior. As much as I love Francoise, I could not imagine her succumbing willingly to things like romance and physical attraction that she must surely think illogical and therefore alarming.
Even the way she was dealing with her feelings for Fersen showed her in her true form: she was most uncomfortable with the thought that she had fallen in love, and the thought of losing control over the situation had sent her in a panic. Like those nymphs of ancient Greek mythology who detested the gods’ amorous advances, Francoise had tried to break away, succeeding only partially because she was not entirely immune to the strong attraction that bound her to Fersen.
Francoise was imminently sensible and always prudent; her attempts to put Fersen at bay were admirable, though it did little to make me feel better about the whole thing. Perhaps she had sensed danger in any potential romance with Fersen. Office affairs were never her cup of tea and she had taken means to ensure that work was separate from private life when it came to her and all her employees. Perhaps she was trying with all her might to stop this infatuation of hers from taking control over her.
Still, there was enough evidence to point that something can still pluck at the heartstrings of a woman of metal. Perhaps the most heart-rending clue to this was the fact that she was susceptible to Fersen’s charms enough to bring herself to wear a gown just for him…
How I came upon this insight into Francoise’s feelings while suffering from the same thing that held her in its unyielding grip was something that I could not really understand. It was actually a tiresome habit of mine to consider both sides of the equation all the time when all I wanted to do was to concentrate on my own misery, my raging obsession.
At least Rosalie had snapped out of it. I had always known that Rosalie, like so many others before her, would get over her “crush” on Francoise and go on with her life. Things were not so easy for me. There was no simple solution for my madness, no easy way out. If I could have run away from Francoise I would have done so a long time ago.
Instead, I had to carry on as best as I could, trying to stopper my feelings whenever they threatened to run out of control. But please, why can’t anyone understand that I am only a man with a heart that could be broken, with my own share of human failings…with patience that could run out? A man who could lose his head when pushed too far…
I didn’t know that I was reaching the end of my tether until Francoise called me much later that night.
It was actually near midnight when I heard my cell phone ring. I set aside the book that I had been half-heartedly reading and was reaching for the phone when it stopped in the middle of just one ring.
Francoise’s number floated on the list of missed calls. I pressed her number on auto and waited for her to pick up.
There was no answer. Her phone was ringing but she was not answering.
After a moment, I redialed her number. Still no answer.
This is strange…I thought, feeling uneasy as I stared at the phone in front of me. Noting the time, I thought that Francoise was surely finished with the Opera and must be on her way home.
I stared at the phone in alarm. Was that the reason why she was calling? Could it mean that she needed a lift home because she might have had too many drinks? It would not be the first time she had come calling in the middle of the night to ask me to pick her up.
After trying to call her for the third time, I decided to get up. But where to look for her?
Calm down, I willed myself as thoughts started to flood my head. Perhaps I could try calling her apartment first to check if she had already arrived…
Yes, the person manning the Concierge confirmed seeing her enter the building some twenty minutes before.
“Was she alone?” I wanted to know. “She wasn’t…you know…unsteady or anything?”
No, no…she had been in a hurry, answered Concierge, as though she were distressed.
I hung up and started to dress quickly. In no time at all, I found myself standing in front of her closed doors.
I rang the bell and waited. No answer. Without any more delay, I took out her key and inserted it into the lock. Her door had not been bolted on the inside and I swung it open.
“Hello?” I called as I stepped into the lighted hall.
Silence greeted me as I crossed the living room. Except for the half-empty wine glass perched on the coffee table, nothing was out of place.
“Francoise?” I called, wondering where she was.
“Andre. Over here,” her blurred voice drifted from her bedroom.
The door was open, but darkness filled the interior of the room. As my eyes adjusted, I could see her sitting on the bed, still fully dressed.
“What are you doing sitting here with the lights out?” I asked. Clearly something was wrong. She didn’t sound drunk; she sounded as though she had been crying, which was even worse.
As I made for the light switch, I heard her say sharply, “leave it alone!”
Then, in a softer tone, she continued, “Just leave it alone, Andre. Come sit with me.”
There was no chair nearby, so I settled down beside her on the bed. For a while, we were silent. From the open door, a sliver of light shone in from the living room and I could make out a portion of her features, her hair.
“Andre.” She finally broke the silence. “Why did you come tonight?”
“You ring me with your cell and then you suddenly hang up after just one ring. When I try calling you back, you’re not answering your phone,” I said. “At the very least, wouldn’t you say that was weird?”
“You didn’t have to come. I was just planning to ask you something, but I thought it was rather stupid and unnecessary so I aborted the call.”
“I’m here now,” I said patiently. “Ask away then.”
There was a short silence. Then she asked, “Do you remember the first time we ever met?”
The question was neither stupid nor unnecessary, but it was certainly unusual. Still, I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of meeting Francoise for the first time.
“How can I forget?” I answered. “I was eight years old then, newly orphaned. Granny had taken me to the mansion to see you and Monsieur. She said I was very lucky to have Monsieur take me in; the youngest and loveliest of the de la Saigne daughters needed a boy for company—a strange phrase, I thought. Whatever it was I was being asked to do, it seemed pretty easy. I mean, how much trouble can a girl one year my junior be?”
“And what did you come across?” Francoise asked as she turned to me. I could make out a faint smile playing on her lips.
“You,” I replied, unable to keep a chuckle back. “I saw you
coming down the grand staircase in your fencing clothes. You were on your way
down for practice and I thought you were a boy!”
”I did remember asking you who you were,” said Francoise.
“And when you heard my name, did you remember what you said to me?”
Her smile widened. “Yes, I did,” she said.
The seven year old Francoise had told the eight year old me, “So you’re the kid who’s been brought here to keep me company!”
I remembered feeling acutely confused at this statement and I had turned to Granny for an explanation. “She’s Francoise—the youngest daughter,” Granny had said. “The one I’ve been telling you about.”
And I remembered the shock and sense of outrage I had felt as I realized that this was the tomboy I was supposed to accompany from then on. “Sh—she’s a gi—a gi—a girl??!” I had stumbled (As we grew up, Francoise would often mimic this famous line whenever she wanted to annoy me).
Francoise laughed at this point. “I can still remember throwing you a sword and saying you had better know how to fence if you want to be on good terms with me,” she said.
“Then you proceeded to haul me into the practice room with you,” I finished. “That was truly scary. I ended up all black and blue for the entire week!”
It took us a moment to stop laughing. Then I saw Francoise lower her eyes and turn away from my gaze. “Andre,” she said, her voice turning grave, “why did you decide to stay by me and be my personal assistant?”
The question took me entirely by surprise, and I could not answer for a moment as my mind went blank.
Taking this as a sign for her to continue, she pressed on, “you have a university degree. You could have gotten yourself a better job, be somewhere else, do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing. Instead, you shackle yourself to me like this. You don’t have to feel indebted, you know. You’ve paid the university loan back to my father and that’s it.”
“What’s brought this on?” I asked cautiously.
She shook her head. “Nothing,” she said. “I just got to
thinking about what Fersen said tonight, and—“
Perhaps this was the proverbial last straw. I could feel the blood drain from me at the mention of that name. So that was it. I should have known…I should have known…!
“Have you been talking to him about me?” I asked, aware that my voice had come out more sharply than I had intended. “Have you been seeing him? You have, haven’t you?!”
“Andre,” she said as she turned to me, startled.
I could see that I had taken her by surprise, and I suddenly knew what she was going to do next. She was going to dismiss everything by turning away from me and shutting me out. She had always turned her back on a discussion that she did not want to pursue, like that time with the misunderstanding with Madame Dubois.
Well, not this time, Francoise!
Before I realized it, I had grabbed hold of her wrist, her arm. “Andre,” she said as she looked away, “let go of me.”
And I surprised myself by saying, “No.”
“Let me go now, Andre!” she ordered, her voice rising.
That silenced her effectively. She stared at me with wide, incredulous eyes.
“What’s the matter, Francoise? Have I frightened you?” I asked in a trembling voice that I did not know was mine. “You can scream and shout if you like, but I’m not letting you go until you hear me out. You want to know why I stayed by your side all these years? Can’t you even guess why?”
That was when I saw fear creep into the sapphire eyes before my head came down and I crushed her lips with mine. She tried to back away, but I had grabbed the back of her head in a firm, unyielding grip. I made her endure the kiss, so long overdue, so hungry and so savage.
“I love you,” I whispered as I finally moved my mouth a fraction away from hers. I buried my face in her hair and felt the soft, silky strands on my face for the first time. “Do you hear me, Francoise? I love you!”
As I pressed her rigid, unyielding form against me, I gathered the shining mass of silk away from her neck and kissed the soft skin underneath. I could feel her pulse just below her skin, fluttering there like a frightened, caged bird.
“Francoise, Francoise!” I said. “Have you ever thought of how long I had endured this torture? Every time I see you--your shining hair, your smiling eyes, your lips…every time I even so much as think about you, passion such as I had never felt for anyone else would rise until I feel as though I will drown in it. Don’t move, cherie! Just listen to me.”
I drew away enough to be able to look down on her face—a blurred white mask seen through tears. “All these years, I’ve loved none but you. You may not believe it, and you can carry on thinking that I have something going on with Madame Dubois, but I’ve been so blind to you for so long that I cannot even look at another woman. I realize that you don’t love me. How can you possibly? But I’d rather die than see somebody else claim your heart—claim you. I’d do anything for you, Francoise. I’ve always been at your beck and call. My life is yours for the asking, but please…”
“Andre…don’t…!” Sensing my movement toward her, she tried to break away. I merely tightened my grip on her arms.
“Please…Francoise, I am so tired of being hurt!” I continued as though I could not hear her or sense her growing, frantic efforts to ward me off, “Put a stop to this pain for me. I can’t let it linger any longer. Only you can make it go away. Please…”
“I’ll—I’ll call someone!” she shouted as I leaned into her, seeking her mouth. I could feel her hands pushing against my chest as she attempted to put some distance between us, but it was too late. Reason had fled from me entirely.
“I don’t care! I love you! Only you…!” I heard myself say as I brought her down on the bed. In my desperate grasp, she seemed to weigh no more than a rag doll. In a moment, I had flung her onto the rumpled sheets and I had pressed down on her to graze her mouth with my lips.
“NOOOOOOOO!!!” She screamed as she turned her head away from me.
I don’t care, Francoise…my mind was saying over and over as she tried to fight me off, as she arched her body away from me. Somehow my hand had found its way to the front of her blouse, and the fine material came away in my tearing fingers with a loud ripping noise.
At the sound of the torn cloth, Francoise suddenly went limp underneath me and I felt as though I had been turned to stone. For a while the only sounds in the room were our labored breathing.
Underneath me, Francoise had her head turned to the side, but I could see the tears flowing from her eyes. “So this is it, then, Andre,” she said softly. “What are you going to do with me?”
Oh God…what was I going to do just now?
I felt the scrap of her blouse slip and fall from my nerveless fingers as the full realization of what I was about to do to the woman I love hit me.
Andre…you fool! You stupid, stupid fool! After years and years of waiting…one mindless moment is all you need to blow your chance of ever getting her!
I let out a ragged sob. She was crying quietly into the pillows now. Slowly, I got off the bed and pulled the blanket over her shoulders. I saw her limp hand protruding from the blanket, and I held it, raised it to my lips.
“Francoise…I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “I swear to God I shall never touch you again. But I love you so. I just can’t help loving you. These feelings…you cannot stop a man from having them, or make a man stop feeling them just because they’re not wanted; it just doesn’t work that way. Now you know why I chose to stay by your side.”
All throughout my words, she had kept her back to me. I let go of her hand. After a moment, knowing I had nothing else to say, I went out of the room and closed the door behind me.
I came into the office tired the next day, as I hardly slept a wink the entire night. Never had a situation been so hopeless, so irremediable as the one that occurred last night. After what happened, there was only one decent thing left to do.
Rosalie was already at the computer when I arrived. “Hey,” she greeted me, not even glancing up from the screen in front of her as she continued to type.
“Is the Boss in already?” I asked quietly.
“No. She called and said she’ll be late,” answered Rosalie.
It was perfectly understandable why. “Okay,” I said and made my way into Francoise’s office.
I stopped a few feet inside. This spacious office had almost felt like home in the past ten years. How I would miss it.
Walking over to her desk, I put my letter of resignation on top of the files that Rosalie had prepared for the day. On top of the letter, I placed the key she had given me for her apartment. For a moment more, I lingered at her tablek, tracing the smooth contour of its polished edge and remembering how smooth her skin had felt last night. I would have to be content with the memory of it.
She arrived half an hour later and barely spared me a glance as she strode through the reception area. She had looked as she always did and there was no sign about to her to indicate that she had desperately fought off a man’s advances last night.
As she went into her office, I sat down and quietly waited for the inevitable summons.
After what seemed like a nerve-racking eternity, I was called into her office. She sat behind her table as usual, her face hardly with any expression. I could see my letter lying open in front of her.
“Sit,” she ordered curtly.
After I did so, she moved a hand to the resignation letter that lay on her desk. She lifted it between the tips of the index and middle fingers of her right hand, as though handling something very unsavory and contagious.
“Would you mind telling me what this is all about?” she asked, voice still perfectly level and blank.
“You know what it is,” I said. Was she so sadistic as to want me to spell it out? How could she possibly even ask me that after what happened last night? “I have no other words to say apart from the fact that I have behaved abominably. I don’t think you would want to see me on a daily basis after what has occurred between us, and I can understand that perfectly. I—“
“Is that the only reason behind this?” she wanted to know.
I nodded mutely.
She held up the paper and tore it in half, in quarters, into tinier pieces, before my astonished gaze.
“Consider that my answer,” she said as she leaned back in her seat, her cold, hard gaze never leaving me. As if to mock my words last night, she continued, “I’m afraid it just doesn’t work that way. What happened last night has absolutely no bearing on your work. How is the de la Motte investigation coming along?”
“I will be able to finalize our report by tomorrow. The Auditor’s Office and Dagout will probably have their reports ready by next week at the latest.”
“You’ve better tend to it, then.”
As I stood up, she pointed out, “And don’t forget that key.”
Without another word, I collected her apartment key from her desk and walked out of the office. It was only when I got outside that I realized that I had broken out in a cold sweat. Inside, I had never felt more miserable.
That was to be the only time we ever alluded to the incident of the previous night.
To Be Continued…
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