Rosalie went over to the desk to put that day’s mail into the in tray when her eyes fell on a piece of notepad paper with Maxime’s handwriting on it. It had flight details from Newquay to London that Friday afternoon. She picked it up and read it again. Why was Maxime going to London? And why hadn’t he bothered to mention that to her? She put the note back on his desk in exactly the place where she had found it.
Opening his appointment book which also lay on top of the desk, she opened it and flipped through the pages until she found Friday, February 11, 2022. Besides that date, Maxime had written down the details of his departure to London as well as the details of his return to Newquay. And there was other information too such as a neatly handwritten note which said, “Arrange to meet Sarifina at 7:30 for dinner.”
She started. Sarifina. That name sounded familiar. Where had she heard it before? Then, she remembered and her lips compressed. It was that girl who had called on Sunday. She had asked for Maxime. Who was she? And why was Maxime flying off to London to meet her? As she stood there, staring at the page, Maxime entered the room.
“What are you doing?” he asked, making her jump.
She placed her hand against her racing heart and felt the color flooding her cheeks. “You startled me,” she said, moving around the desk so that she was standing in front of it.
“You were so engrossed in something that was on my desk that you didn’t hear me come in. What is it that had your undivided attention?”
“I-I was putting your mail in your tray when I noticed your note.”
His eyebrows rose. “My note?”
“Yes. The one which says that you’re flying to London this afternoon.”
“Oh, that note. And is that why you were looking in my appointment book?”
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were flying to London?” she demanded. “I’m your secretary.”
“My flight to London has nothing to do with business.”
“No, it has to do with someone named Sarifina. Who is she?”
“She’s the young woman whose call you said was a wrong number.”
Rosalie stared at him, nonplussed. “How did–?”
“How did I find out that you lied and told her that I was unavailable? She called me last night and told me.”
“She called you again last night?”
“Yes and I’m very happy that she did. Why did you lie to her and to me, Rosalie?”
“You weren’t available,” she said defensively. “You were getting ready to go to the office.”
“Yes, but I came into the library just as you hung up the phone and when I asked you who it was, you said that it was a wrong number. That was a lie, wasn’t it?”
“Okay, so I said that it was a wrong number. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have.”
“No, you shouldn’t have. I don’t like being lied to.”
“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“I hope not.”
“Who is this young woman?”
“I met her when I was in New York.”
“Why is she in London?”
“That’s where her aunt lives.”
“So, she’s visiting her aunt.”
“No. She’s living with her because she’s attending the University of London.”
Rosalie stared at him. “She’s a university student?”
“Exactly how old is this girl?”
“And you’re 41, Maxime. What could you and she possibly have in common?”
“We have quite a lot in common,” he replied.
“Is it serious?” she asked, dreading the answer.
“Yes, it is. What time is the meeting with Cartier?”
“It’s a half-past ten. You have a conference call in half-hour.”
“May I have a cup of coffee?”
She nodded. “Yes. I’ll go and make it right now.” She hurried out of the office, her face flushed.
Maxime watched her go. Then, reaching his pocket, he removed his wallet to make sure that he had remembered to put the tickets to Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake in it. He was going to take Sarifina to the matinee show at 3pm and then for dinner afterwards at Prezzo Restaurant. He had called the ticket office himself on his drive home. The last thing he wanted was for Rosalie to know about any more of his plans with Sarifina.
His lips pursed as he thought about his sister-in-law. He was still annoyed that she had lied to him about Sarifina’s phone call. He had let her off this time with a warning but if she did something like that again, he would summarily give her a week’s notice to find another job. One thing he couldn’t tolerate was dishonesty. There had been enough of that in his marriage to Virginie. His expression darkened. It must run in the family, he thought. It reminded him of Rebecca and Laban from the Bible–how Rebecca had deceived Isaac and Laban had deceived Jacob with devastating results.
He pushed all thoughts of his unpleasant and unhappy past as he went over to the desk. As he sat down on the chair and drew himself closer to the desk, he thought about Sarifina. She was his future now. A smile tugged at his lips at that happy thought.