Love and Other Murders

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Chapter 13

“I talked with Alex. All he asked me for was to keep you happy.” He says with an awkward smile.

She watches him searchingly. He changed. Not just into another clothing. It’s unbelievable that a man can be that handsome and yet he is. Do they live at the same hotel? Better not to ask. She decides to tow the line. It’s all she can do at present.

“There is something I’d like to show you, Nathalie, a former jail converted into a mundane cocktail bar. It serves the most inspired concoctions.” He says on a light conversational tone.

“It looks like fun.” She hides her lack of interest under a mannerly smile.

“Should I dress up to the occasion? I caught a glance of an appropriate striped outfit with a convict’s touch among my wardrobe, Alex’s choice. A propos, did he provide you with a detailed Oslo program?”

He shoots her a glance hard to interpret: irony, hurt, anger?

“No need to change, little girl. I’m glad you opted for something warm. This Yves Saint-Laurent suit looks just perfect.”

He stays deadly polite in the taxi. The dim-lighted cocktail bar with its attentive service is a perfect place for two casual acquaintances wishing to remain so. They nurse the cocktails in their rigid hands. How many of Alex’s go-betweens has he brought here to make them high on cocktails and his presence?

“Let me congratulate you on your choice, Vincent. These “Violet Hands” are awesome!”

“I try my best to keep you entertained, Nathalie.” He sips demurely his whiskey, light- years away from her.

How simple it is to fall for his charm. There is a certain something in his beauty, alluring and repulsive at the same breath.

“A penny for your thoughts, Nathalie!”

“You are an extraordinary handsome man, Vincent. This isn’t news for you, is it?” She shoots from the hip.

He gives her a look of genuine surprise.

“You can’t be serious, Nathalie. Something like that has never occurred to me!”

“I can’t believe that, Vincent! Don’t you know that women swoon over you in hope you’d make their boldest dreams come true?”

To her surprise he blushes crimson.

“If you don’t mind I’d prefer not to elaborate on this subject.” He says avoiding her eyes.

“I understand your reluctance. A gentleman doesn’t brag, right, Vincent?”

“Is that so? I have never thought about it. Let’s move now on to a more serious matter. I have to feed you or Alex’s wrath will strike me. May I tempt you to a sea-food supper?”

“How do you know I like sea-food?”

“You’ll be astonished how much I know about you, little girl! Alex’s requirements concerning your precious you, are of encyclopedic dimensions. They include your tastes, and not only the culinary ones.” He says cryptically and now it would on her to blush. She doesn’t and advances farther on the slippery ground.

“What other tastes? Tell me, Vincent!”

“The tastes a decent girl wouldn’t know about.”

“Am I a decent girl, Vincent?”

He smiles. “According to a famous English socialite, Helen Gurley Brown- good girls go to heaven, bad girls go anywhere-. You are smart enough to know where you wish to go.”

“You haven’t yet answered my question, Vincent. Am I a decent girl?”

“You are you, period. Let’s go to dinner before hunger makes us mad and we start devouring each other.”

“As for the first, it’s a brilliant idea and as for the second, it would be a thriller for your writing, Vince, I’m all for it! What about something soft and juicy for a starter!” She nears her lips to his.

“Stop it, Nathalie. This is getting beyond a joke.” He backs from her speedily as if his life depended on it.

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