Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (53)

It had been a particularly bad night for Elle, partly because of jet lag but mostly as a result of her concern for Blake’s plight. After tossing and turning for hours, she had eventually fallen asleep just as the first few sunrays crept under the heavy curtains of her room, to be woken only minutes later by the shrill ring of her wake-up call. Pulling herself together with the aid of a pot of room service coffee, she had managed ultimately to convince herself to visit her supplier as planned. But once there, feeling tetchier than was common for a go-getter such as her, Elle was less able than usual this particular morning to suffer the unwanted attention of the laboratory’s head stem cell biologist: a man who was seemingly unable to keep his hands to himself. Fending off yet another ‘accidental’ brush, Elle’s patience finally snapped: “Look, I’ve told you before,” she said, irritably. “I’m a businesswoman. I come here to do my job and then go. That’s all. Would it help if I lied and told you I’m a lesbian?”

As had been the case during previous visits to her supplier’s laboratory complex, Elle was about to find that the amorous Frenchman was unable to take “no” for an answer. “Ma chérie…” he began his reply, while grabbing her reluctant hand in his. “Why, that would only er, ’ow you say, make you even more, er énigmatique… and, shall we say, sexy.” “Right, that’s it!” chided Elle, sharply. “I’m going. You’re a filthy old lech, and damned lucky I haven’t reported you to your management. I’m going back to my hotel. I’ll leave you to complete the testing. And if you fuck this up, I will cancel the entire contract. That’s a promise!” Pulling her hand from the biologist’s slimy grip, she hurriedly unbuttoned her lab coat before throwing it down angrily, on to a nearby bench. “But Elle–” the Frenchman pleaded. “Shut up! You heard what I said. Now call me a taxi!” Turning her back on his Gallic shrug, Elle stormed out of the room, almost knocking over a young laboratory assistant as she clattered through the swing doors. “And it would also help if you could stop eating garlic for breakfast!” she yelled, as a parting shot.

What the hell was that outburst all about? she began to reflect a little later, while being driven back to the Vendôme. For Elle So was someone who rarely exposed her emotions – she was generally under better control. And now, as she journeyed through the drizzling rain of what was turning into a rather gloomy Paris day, she began reflecting on the change that had recently come over her. Not for many years had her thoughts returned so persistently to one man. The only man she had invited to her bed since separating from her husband, two years before. A man who had come into her life purely by accident, but for whom she had fallen, instantly. What was it about him that drew her like a moth to a flame? But I’m still married, she now reminded herself. Shit, what a mess! And now I’m intending to walk out on my business. Away from the biggest contract I’ve ever landed. Something I’ve worked towards for years. Looking glumly through the rain-streaked window of her taxi, she set about attempting to restore some of her usual confidence. Temporarily, girl. Only temporarily, OK? Just until he’s got his little girl back, safe and sound. Then things’ll get back on track. Right? But the stench of stale Gauloises that was permeating the fabric of the taxi’s interior suddenly made her retch, forcing her to open the window to let in some air, and with it the rain. Fuck! What is happening to me? she quizzed herself, angrily, as the droplets spattered her face.

Entering the Vendôme’s palatial lobby just under an hour later, Elle made a beeline for the Concierge, where she took out her flight schedule from her briefcase. “Excuse me,” she called out, seeking his attention. “I need your help to change my flight. Can you try and get me on the next available Air France flight to Hong Kong, please?” “Oui, Madame,” the impeccably attired hotel staffer replied. “And could you also get on to an agent for me? Book me the first available connection from there to Guilin, in China?” “Bien sûr, Madame… But, er, ’ow you spell… Gwe… Leen…?” he asked.

posted by Kirk at 8:45 pm  

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