“So, how was your weekend in London?” Rosalie asked Maxime.
“It was extremely enjoyable.”
“Really?” Rosalie replied. “And what did you two do that made it so extremely enjoyable?”
“As you know, we went to see Swan Lake matinee show.”
“Yes and what did you do afterwards?”
“Why are you so interested in how I spent my weekend?”
She shrugged. “Was just curious.”
“We went for dinner after the ballet.”
“How nice. Did you take her to your flat afterwards?”
“No. I took her home. She came to my flat the previous day after we went sightseeing.”
“Did anything happen at your flat?
“That’s really none of your business, Rosalie,” he told her flatly. “You’re my sister-in-law and my secretary but my love life is off limits.”
“Your love life. Since Virginie died you hadn’t shown any interest in other women then you go to New York where you meet this girl. What do you really know about her?”
“I feel as if I’ve known her all my life.”
“Yes, really. I intend to see a lot of her and I’m thinking of inviting her to spend a week here.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“I’m quite serious.”
“You can’t invite her here, Maxime.”
“What is she going to do while you’re busy working?”
“Who says that I’ll be working when she’s here? I’m entitled to take at least a week’s vacation, aren’t I?”
“And what am I supposed to do while you and the girl are loafing around?”
“Hold the fort down, of course. You’ve done it many times.”
“Maxime, what about this girl’s family? Do you think they would approve of her association with a widower who’s more than twice her age? I’m sure they would have a problem with her spending a week her at the mansion unchaperoned.”
“I will ask her aunt for her permission although here in England, an 18 year old girl is legally an adult and can get married without her parents’ permission. I think I mentioned before to you that Sarifina is 20.”
“You’re not thinking of marrying her, are you?”
Maxime got up from the chair. “I won’t be the first man to marry a girl much younger than him and I won’t be the last.”
“If it will assuage that moral sensibility of yours, I will invite her aunt to come with her.”
“Maxime, you really don’t have to do that–“
“I think it’s a very good suggestion. Next weekend I will ask them in person.”
“Next weekend? You’re going to London again next weekend?”
“Yes and every weekend until some urgent business comes up. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of calls to make before my meeting with the board of directors.” He walked briskly out of the room.
Rosalie stood there, seething. Damn him. For years, she had to put up with his marriage to Virginie and then when, Virginie died, she thought perhaps, he might see her as more than his dutiful sister-in-law. When he hired her to be his secretary, she was ecstatic. He could never have done that when Virginie was alive. Virginie was an insanely jealous woman and she resented every woman whom Maxime associated with, including her own sister.
Once when they were alone in the drawing-room, Virginie walked up to her, tossed her luxurious black hair over her shoulder, her eyes filled with disdain and a cigarette between her manicured fingers, deliberately blowing the smoke in her sister’s face. “You want Maxime, don’t you?” she jeered. “Poor, pathetic Rosalie, pining for a man you will never have. As long as I’m alive, no woman, especially not you, little sister, is going to take Maxime away from me. He’s my husband. We married for better or for worse. Only the cold fingers of death will separate us and I don’t intend to die before him.”
Rosalie wondered what her dearly departed sister would say now if she knew that her husband was infatuated with a 20 year old girl. She was probably turning in her grave. The thought gave her little satisfaction. With Virginie gone, she had hoped that she had a clear path to Maxime and then, along comes this girl. And to add insult to injury he wanted to invite her here, here of all places–here where she fancied herself to be the mistress of the house because she ran it just as Virginie did. She took care of everything. Maxime didn’t have to worry about anything. He knew he could depend on her to take care of the house and him. All he had to concentrate on was his business. And now all of that was about to change because of this girl.
Rosalie’s mouth tightened. Well, I won’t let her ruin things for me. I’ve known and loved Maxime longer. I would have made him happy if he had met me first. Virginie didn’t deserve him. She was unbearable and she made him miserable. Well, I’m glad she’s gone from our lives forever. This house felt a lot brighter and airier after she died. It used to feel dark and oppressive. I love this house and I will not I will not stand by and let that girl move in and take over. I will be the next Mrs. Lambert.
Source: Office for National Statistics