Love and Other Murders

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Chapter 23

When crossing the street Magda stops abruptly short of dropping her precious purchase on the pavement.

“You must hate me, Nathalie! The check was for both of us and I behaved like a selfish bitch! Here, have at least my five hundred euros. As I have just found out it isn’t much for shopping at a designer’s but let’s hope you can find a little something, maybe some lingerie? I’ll make it up to you later when the chips come home.”

“Keep your money, Magda. You earned it and I am sure you know what to spend it on. There’s nothing I need. My closet is full of designer stuff that I haven’t yet even tried on. Thanks anyhow.”

“Then let me at least treat you to a bite. Back home in Budapest I heard about Fouquet’s, the most glamorous restaurant on the Champs Elysées. Then it was at an unreachable distance. Now it’s just a few steps from here. Let’s try another new experience!”

“Why not, Magda?”

Not waiting to be seated Magda grabs Nathalie’s hand, runs to a table by the window, falls down on the chair and shoots an enticing smile to a middle-aged gentleman who is sipping his coffee while being absorbed in the Financial Times.

“May we join you?” Magda asks with a voice that would charm the birds off the trees.

The man looks up from his paper and his irritation changes into a rapturous smile.

“But of course, Miss!”

”I just need another chair for my friend!” Magda says poignantly and he signals the waiter to bring it and take the ladies’ orders.

“My name is Magda I am an art student from Hungary and this is my friend Nathalie from Prague. We did a lot of shopping and now need to rest. It was extremely exhausting though I enjoyed every minute of it.” Magda points at the Valentino’s bag.

“You couldn’t have opted for a better designer, Miss. It’s also my daughter’s preference. Valentino is one of the last ones who know how to enhance the beauty of a woman’s body.”

“Don’t tell me you have a daughter old enough to do her shopping at Valentino’s! It’s quite impossible for a man of your age!” Magda’s display of stunned disbelief is a masterpiece of the target deceit.

“And yet it’s true.” The gentleman avows, devouring Magda with covetous eyes.

“Your daughter is a happy girl, not talking about your spouse! I’m certain you are spoiling them both rotten!”

“Unfortunately, my ex-wife didn’t think like you. Michelle was a black hole. Nothing I have ever done for her was enough. There was also that unfortunate discrepancy between our characters. She is a hundred percent French and I am a hundred percent Texan. She left me taking off with a more than generous allowance and our daughter when she moved back to France. I quite understand that life in Garland was boring for a born Parisian. She found relief in casual sex with her tennis instructor. Of course, a man many years her junior was more fun than her hard working husband and I don’t blame her. The irony of destiny is that, some time after our divorce, I went on an assignment to Paris, have been here ever since and she went back to the States as her tennis instructor couldn’t get used to France. They live now, I hope happily ever after, in Garland.”

“That’s something I can’t understand. Being with a beloved man and, to top as handsome and charming as you are, must be heaven on earth! I would be happy with you anywhere where destiny may lead us.” Magda says convincingly.

He listens to her more and more enchanted: an alcoholic leaning over the pool of booze ready to fall inside and drink himself to death.

“How charming it is to see a woman who enjoys her food!” He says watching Magda with dewy eyes and calls the waiter to bring another macrons and cappuccinos.

“Your friend is very reserved, isn’t she?”

”Don’t mind Nathalie. She is a special character.”

Magda gives her friend a kick under the table and Nathalie dutifully smiles at their benefactor.

“So sorry to leave you, Miss… Magda, if I may call you so. I have a meeting shortly. Here is my card, I’d be happy to see you again, Magda!” He sighs out and her name in his mouth is full of joys of spring.

“Give me a call and I’ll make myself available for you anytime. It will be a pleasure to show you my collection of paintings that may interest an art student like you. Most of them are by famous artists, I have even a Warhol. I live in Neuilly, a lovely location, have you ever been there, Magda?”

“Not yet, but that will change soon, won’t it?” Her smile is confidently bright.

He signals the waiter for the check and leaves discreetly a hundred euro bill on the table.

He kisses their hands and is gone in pursuit of his business, the only world where he had felt at home, until now.

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