At the office, Suzan had to put aside her analysis of the elixir and samples until after hours, not wishing to neglect her official work or arouse her coworkers’ suspicions. Unfortunately, Vanda possessed the same analytical curiosity as her boss. As she sniffed around for information, she asked her boss point blank: Why was the doctor working late nights when she had finished her regular work during office hours, and why the secrecy with this new project?
“Are you working on some secret formula?” her assistant asked, “something for the government, like a blood contamination serum to give to the enemy?”
Suzan tried a breezy laugh as she sought a plausible answer. “No, nothing like that, Vanda! You watch too much TV. It’s something...well, a bit personal. I don’t feel comfortable using office hours to work on my project.”
“All right, I won’t ask any more questions.” Of course, Vanda’s expression and body language belied her words. The woman was bursting with excitement to find out more, and Suzan knew she had to seek another venue in order to finish her analysis of the elixir.
When she approached her lover with her dilemma, Ellen offered an immediate solution. “We shall set up a laboratory in the cellar! It’s perfect, a large enough space to accommodate equipment and private enough so that you can work at your leisure without interruptions and unwanted questions.”
Suzan’s eyes grew wide in amazement. “But I couldn’t ask you to fund a full laboratory!”
Ellen placed her hands on the doctor’s shoulders. “I want to do it, darling. This means more to me, to us, than anything else. I do have money, but if we need more, I will sell the Cézanne.”
“No, not your painting!” Tears welled in Suzan’s eyes. Her lover’s generosity overwhelmed her.
“Bah! As I say, this is much more important, in fact, extremely vital, not only for our happiness but for our survival. I can always buy another painting.”
“You are the most wonderful creature!” Suzan flung her arms around Ellen who laughed in delightful pleasure, as if she had just given a young girl the birthday present of her dreams.
But as Suzan sought her benefactress’s mouth for grateful kisses, Ellen restrained her with a gentle hand. “First things first, my sweet. You must make a list of all the equipment and supplies you need and I will order them posthaste. Tomorrow I will employ a crew to clean the cellar. The only items still down there are odds and ends of furniture that belonged to the former owner. I’ll have them put in the attic. The furnace chamber will remain the same, discreetly separated from your laboratory.”
Suzan finally began to think rationally. “But how am I do private research and still keep my job?”
“Can you take a leave of absence, say, for a few weeks or even a month?”
The doctor nodded. “I work on a contract basis, but I if I need time to attend conferences or pursue other avenues of research, I’m allowed to do so as paid leave.”
“Excellent!” Ellen’s face glowed with pleasure. “I feel very positive about our collaboration, or should I say, your work on my behalf. You are the scientist with the expertise and the wherewithal to find answers. Yes, I’m very positive and thrilled beyond belief.” As she spoke, Ellen caressed Suzan’s cheeks with light fingers. “Se magnifique, mon amour! Je t’adore.”