“Did you know about my new job, Eli?”
“’Know’ is the wrong word. I suspected something was brewing and I realized it came to boil when Alex appeared unexpectedly at our breakfast table. Evidently, his plans depended on the impressions you made on Dunaev last night. Alex and Dunaev are cooking together something big and Alex needs to keep Dunaev under surveillance. Do you mind to work for him?”
“I don’t know yet. Alex must be in a pretty fix to throw a snack he is reserving for himself into another lion’s jaws and I don’t think he really likes it. See how he treated me for being nice to Dunaev!” She pulls down her T-shirt and pushes her bruised flesh under his nose.
“That obnoxious brute! He must have been mad with jealousy to mangle you so badly! You know what, Magda? Let’s elope! We have moneys for the start and something will crop up later. I won’t allow you to be treated like that! Since Nathalie left him he has gone completely psychotic. Next time he could bludgeon you to death for servicing his clients. Don’t worry, we won’t starve. If the worst comes to the worst I’ll take a job and once you have finished your studies we’ll find some interesting and undemanding gallery to hire you.”
“It is not only a question of money, Eli. Do you think Alex will let me go?”
“Why not, he didn’t take any revenge on Nathalie, did he?”
“Nathalie is a completely different case. He did never, except in the very beginning, use her as a lure and losing her didn’t cause him any financial harm. There is another more pertinent reason why he will hit back. Loving a woman is completely different from lusting after her and my affair with Alex is skin deep. I was his sex toy and to break it not to let it anybody else play with it comes natural to him. Alex will become nasty if we elope.”
“You disappoint me, Magda! I have never expected you were such a coward. What harm can Alex do us? You aren’t married to him and even if you were we don’t live in a totalitarian country where a man has an absolute right over his wife. Are you reluctant to my plan as you don’t want to live with me?”
“Don’t be an idiot, Eli! Haven’t we always been thick as thieves? Believe my instincts, Eli. Alex is dangerous. Have you forgotten what happened to Polland? If I hurt his feelings he’ll make us pay for it - both of us. He is quite capable to put Polland’s murder on me and, why not, also the extermination of his family. Knowing it are you still so keen on running away with me?”
“Of course I am! All your fears are just idle fancies, sweetie. We are all so tightly knitted together that if one of us falls he will pull the others down with him. Believe me, Magda, Alex will never stir the muddy waters and get drowned with us!”
“If I say “yes” will you walk me down the aisle?” Magda asks after some hesitation. ‘There are many advantages of staying with Eli, firstly his Parisian apartment, secondly he has never hindered her from pursuing her other interests and there is no reason why to start it now, thirdly there will always be some men willing to pay her for being nice to them, so she needn’t be scared to be lacking in anything.’
“OK, Eli, you may be right. One last thing: if we live together can I be certain to keep my total independence?”
“Have I ever limited you in any way, Magda?”
“Of course not; I’d just like to know how you envisage our escape from Alex.”
“It’s simple as a pie, sweetie. You pack, get into the car, I drive, we are gone. From now on Alex will cease to exist. From now on we’ll be on our own, just the two of us.” He exclaims with a boyish enthusiasm.
A fairytale says that a frog turns into a prince under a kiss. Will the prince then by a second kiss change into a lover man?