“Got a ride in, I see.” Tony greeted me as I got off the
elevator. I gave him a smile and nodded.
“Feeling better today?” he asked, following me down the hall
to my office.
“So- who is that cute girl in the jeep?” he ventured, raising
“Family friend- and you’re not to bother her.” I spun
around and gave him a look to let him know that he wasn’t to pursue
that issue any further. Throwing up his hands, he shrugged and left.
Work passed by slowly, as my mind kept drifting to other thoughts, all
revolving around that young woman who had suddenly, out of nowhere, come
into my life. Finally the clock granted my leave and I happily gathered
up my things and exited.
She was waiting outside in the jeep, and gave me a smile. She had taken
off the patch over her eye, and I could see an angry red line where she
had been cut.
“That looks painful.”
“It’s a lesson to never fall on your car keys.”
“Speaking of cars, can you take me to get mine?” I asked,
already certain of the answer.
“Anything for you, Vanessa Renee.”
“Really? Say that again.” I teased.
“No.” she smiled.
She cooked dinner again, and as much as I hated to admit it, her cooking
was better than mine. I was determined to get some answers out of her,
but somehow it seemed I always wound up answering her questions. About
my boring job as a copy editor for the newspaper, how long I’d lived
in Nafrece, and of course, my parents.
“Madlax. We still haven’t talked about how you know me.”
I said, sipping my glass of wine. She had not wanted any, saying she preferred
She chewed slowly, finishing her mouthful with great care. “It has
to be at the right place and time. Tomorrow might be better. It would
be better.” she nodded, thinking. “Tomorrow evening I’ll
make us a picnic dinner for the park.”
“Tomorrow- that’s Wednesday, isn’t it?” I drummed
my fingers on the table, feeling like I had something to do, but couldn’t
remember what it was.
“Mmmm.” Her mouth was full again.
“Oh! Now I remember. I’ve got that date with Thomasio.”
I snapped my fingers as I remembered, then tried to imagine an outfit
for the evening. “I guess we’ll have to wait till Thursday.”
“Date?” she made a small choking sound, snapping my train
“Well, sort of- it’s a strange arrangement. He runs the advertising
section for our sister paper and drops in every few months. Actually,
the first time was because my boss begged me to do it for him, but since
then…well, he’s just a nice guy.” I finished lamely,
watching the expression change on her face.
“I’m finished, how about you?” she asked, getting up
and taking up her plate.
“Madlax…” I said to the retreating figure. Not feeling
so hungry myself, I got up and took my plate in as well.
She was busily putting the dishes into the sink when I came in.
“Here.” I said, handing her my plate. She took it, but I suddenly
refused to let it go. We both stood there, staring, holding the plate.
“So Thomasio- is not your lover.”
“What? Of course not. I barely see him.” I felt myself starting
to blush, and let go of the plate.
She took the plate, turned and put it in the sink, then started to run
the water, seeming to ignore me. I leaned on the counter so I could see
“I guess you don’t go out on dates then. It’s just good
to get out sometimes.” I tried to explain to her, then wondered
why I was even making an effort. I was interrupted by her cell phone ringing.
She answered it, soap dripping from her hands. I saw her back stiffen
and the tone of her voice changed.
“I’ll be there in ten.” she snapped, then wiped her
hands on her pants before putting the phone away.
“Goodbye for now, Vanessa Renee. I have a job to do.” she
walked past me, headed for the door. I followed her, wondering what sort
of job would call her suddenly in the evening.
“Where are you going?”
“To work.”she was hopping on one foot, putting her boots back
“When will you be back? Madlax?”
“Madlax!” Now I was getting angry, we were at the door and
she had practically ignored me. She opened the door, turned and grinned
“You’re mad because I’m leaving.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Then why are you following me?” her smile got bigger. I felt
my mouth drop open, but no answer came out. She leaned in and closed my
mouth with her hand, and briefly ran her hand over my cheek.
“I’ll be home soon.” with that, she gently pushed me
back inside and slammed the door. I stood there, unable to believe what
had just happened.
“So…so arrogant! So annoying!” I kicked the backpack
she had left by the door. A few clothes spilled out of it onto the floor.
I picked it up and threw it down the hall.