– 6 –

‘I trust you, Linda. The instant I saw you with him, I thought Jack was up to it again.’

‘This is what bugs me the most about you, Rose,’ Linda just snapped at that, ‘You know about his lecherous ways and still choose to stay with him.’

‘But he loves me, Linda,’ reasoned Rose.

‘Get real, Rose. He’s a cheat and he knows that you know his cheating ways. He does it all in your face,’ snarled Linda.

‘You don’t unders…,’ Rose tried to interrupt.

‘And what about the time when he told you flat he loves you for your body. I can never forget when he told you in that freezing cold way of his. ‘It’s just a body thing, get it? You better get it.’ Yes, I heard it all, Rose. I had just come through the front door. Just hiding in the living room and waiting for an appropriate time to go in your bedroom. I am surprised you even survived the onslaught that evening.’

‘You don’t understand, Linda. He does love me. Just that he can’t help saying all those hurtful things to get back at me for doing something he didn’t like. About that onslaught, like you say, the next day he came and apologised. He got on his knees, wrapped me in his arms, and said he was extremely sorry. He made up for that evening.’

‘Nothing can ever make up for a treatment that harsh, Rose. You will understand it once you get over him and look at everything he’s doing to you in an objective way. Right now you seem to be too blind to see the forest for the trees. This is precisely the reason I am so keen on hooking you up with Peter.’

‘Peter has come at the wrong time, Linda.’

‘Peter has come exactly at the right time and don’t you counter that,’ Linda shot back, ‘You need a guy like Peter in your life. You need him to get over Jack.’

Somebody knocked on the door.

‘That must be Peter. Always there at the right time. Read the signs, Rose.’

Linda went to open the door. It was Peter as Linda had conjectured.

‘Hey, Linda! Good to see you here. You didn’t come to work today. Why’s that?’

‘Just wasn’t feeling right this morning. I did give sick leave.’

‘Oh did you? You feeling OK now?’

‘Yeah, I am alright now.’

‘Is Rose home?’

‘Yeah, she’s in her bedroom. Ah, there she is.’

‘Peter? I wasn’t expecting you,’ said Rose, heading for the sill.

‘Oh! I was just driving by. Saw Linda’s car and yours as well and came in to say hi. You look beautiful this evening.’

‘What, you mean she doesn’t look beautiful normally?’ interrupted Linda.

‘That’s not what I meant. Today she looks absolutely… Umm what’s that word I’m looking for? Begins with a G and ends with an S. Plenty of vowels thrown around in it. It is on the tip of my tongue. Just can’t bloody get…’

‘Gorgeous?’ Chipped in Rose.

‘Yup! You got it, girl.’ Agreed Peter and turned to Linda, ‘She looks absolutely gorgeous today. I wish she was working with us. I could meet her everyday then.’

Rose blushed and felt embarrassed. She could feel the affection in Peter’s eyes. Linda excused herself in the mean time to go to the kitchen.

‘I am happy being a teacher, Peter. Accounting is not for me.’

‘How can I get closer to you then, Rose? Anyway, accounting, you say, is not for you; the classroom, I say, presents even more hostile environment for a girl like you. I know those bastards. I know how they think. They are animals! I reckon every single boy in your class is having a crush on you. You are better off looking for a nursing job, Rose.’

Rose laughed.

‘I wish I were a boy in your class,’ continued Peter, ‘I would just stare at you all day long. If possible, I would take extra tuition classes in private. Rob, steal, blackmail, or cheat, you name it I would do it. Heck, I’ll even break into houses to pay your tuition fees.’

Rose bursts into a hearty laugh. Linda could be heard laughing in the kitchen.

‘No, you wouldn’t.’

‘You’ve got such beautiful set of dentures, Rose. Your lovely teeth in partnership with your rosy lips bring up some vivid imagery to my fertile imagination. Of roses filled with snow.’

‘I don’t know…’ Rose blushed. Peter was not far off in comparing Rose’s lips with rose petals.

‘I better leave now. Looks like a storm brewing up. Don’t wanna get caught in the middle of it.’

Peter looked at Rose lovingly. Rose looked at him, stared, and lowered eyes.

Linda came in from the kitchen. ‘You leaving?’

‘Yup. Gotta go. Some homework waiting for me back home. Plus I can feel a nasty storm coming. See ya, girls!’

‘See ya in the office tomorrow.’

‘Sure thing. I’ll call you later, Rose.’

Peter left.

‘I have never seen him in such a good mood. He hardly jokes in the office. But when he’s with you, he… It’s like you bring out the best in him. And hey! I could even feel you brighten in his presence. I haven’t heard you laugh so much, Rose. Don’t you see why? You like Peter. You like to be with him.’

‘No, I don’t.’ But she smiled when she said that.

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