Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
remembered. Cliff was not in the bed, but the warm depression there let
he had stayed the night with her. She smiled to herself.
where was he?
He stuck his head
while she was taking a shower.
“As soon as
here, come on down to the
kitchen for some breakfast.” He left a steaming cup of coffee next to the
She brought the empty cup
down with her a short while later.
Cliff was setting out two bowls, spoons and some milk. He turned to
smile at her. “I’m afraid this is
Hannah’s day off. We’ll have to suffer with cold cereal.”
Vickie scanned the boxes in the cupboard. “Hey, look—Fruit Loops! My favorite!” She blushed. “Uh, I’ll bet you’re thinking I’m being a bit childish…”
Cliff brought the box down calmly. “Would I have gone out and bought some if I thought you were being childish?”
She stared at him with saucer eyes. “You knew?”
He opened the box and poured cereal and milk
for each of them and shrugged.
“I thought it might be advisable to have something around you might like…for
“Why, you, you overbearing, egotistical
Vickie sat down and shut up. Conceited man, she thought. Conceited, wonderful man.
“So,” Cliff said as he took the seat across from her, “I thought we could
Vickie munched Fruit Loops. “What about the project?”
the zoo here is the best in the Mid‑ west.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“Fun—what a concept.”
“Now, Cliff, sarcasm doesn’t suit you.
I’d like to go
[M5] theme park today, and we can visit the zoo
tomorrow . Can we stop by
my apartment and get a change of clothes? And maybe my car?”
The day at the theme park was lovely. For all his sophistication, Cliff
was just like
boy at heart, wandering around the park with wide
eyes, laughing in delight on the rides. She was amused to watch him [M6] try every
new food stand, and touched when he gave
her a plush teddy bear he’d won at the ring‑toss.
They spent the night at his house again. A wonderful night, filled with talk and love‑making—and a little sleep.
The next day they spent at the zoo. Vickie felt like they were a pair of children, holding hands, oohing at the lions and laughing at the monkeys. He bought her ice cream, and took her on the little train that ran through the zoo grounds.
She amazed him in
the reptile house with her extensive
knowledge of snakes, acquired from many years living with a younger brother. On
the way home, they stopped for pie and coffee, and talked about all sorts of
absolutely amazed her how much they had in common.
Too soon, however, it was Monday morning, and time to go back to work. Cliff had a breakfast meeting with a prospective employee, so Vickie arrived at the office alone.
Tess met her.
“Well, you all
packed, you lucky devil?”
“What are you talking about?” Vickie
brushed out her red‑ gold [M7] hair and put her
“You and the boss and a sexy foreign location, that’s what I’m talking about. And don’t pretend you don’t know about it. It’s been in the schedule for a week.”
“I haven’t read the schedule for two weeks. I’ve been on ‘vacation.’
“ And what a vacation , Vickie thought with a smile.
“So no, I don’t know about it. What sexy foreign location are we headed to, ?” Chicago
East! The Arabian Peninsula!
“The hotbed of unrest! The…” Realization hit her. Middle
“No, he can’t
!” She moaned, sank into her chair and covered her face with her hands.
Tess shook her shoulders. “Vickie, what’s wrong
? Are you okay?
What is it?”
Vickie simply shook her head
with a terse motion.
Tess waited for a moment , then left the office, shutting the door quietly
She tried to remember the little boy Cliff must have been, small, defenseless, misunderstood.
Or had he lied about that, too?
Vickie had thought she finally knew Cliff
she didn’t know him at all. There was a
part of him , the
part that negotiated with Fahrrad and ran away for two months without
explanation and dealt with Kulinahr as a head of state rather than a
As she waited for Cliff to arrive at the office, she gradually painted him deeper into the role of cunning seducer, conniving businessman. She had been right all along
it was only when he touched her body
that her head had been outvoted. She should have paid attention to her head. She
knew how bad office romances were. She should have listened.
The door flew open, startling her. Cliff strode in, smiling. She stood up and
looked at him,
the sight of himand his damn self‑assurance triggering
all the feelings of professional inadequacy and personal vulnerability , and she felt[M8] used . She let him have it.
“How could you even think I would go to Middle Yemen after what happened there? How dare you?”
He looked as though she had slammed her fist in his gut. The impostor, trying to play on her sympathies.
“We’ve been working on Fahrrad’s system all along, haven’t we? You
dirty liar. You know what he’s planning , you
know he’ll only use the money for upheaval and
cruelty and suppression, but you don’t care, do you? All you can see is the
profit, the bottom line. Well, here’s the bottom line from me , Mister.
Go. Get out! Good riddance !”
He closed the door gently and stood in front of it. “Please don’t jump to conclusions
just yet, Vickie. I only finalized
the deal two weeks ago. I would have told you sooner but you were on vacation , after all.
And the bank version is still viable …”
He moved closer, cautiously. “It’s not what you think.”
She retreated behind her desk, where she stood, trembling.
“What is it, then? Oh, no, wait.
You expect me to trust you , right?
Like I trusted you for the past three months? Like I trusted you this weekend?”
Like I trusted Ron?
[M2]I was taught that the paragraph leads to the statement with the most impact, that the important sentence is at the end. Well, yeah but. Many people sample the beginning of a parargraph but if it doesn't grab them, will skip it. If you put important information at the end, MANY PEOPLE WILL MISS IT.