The restaurant was crowded. People talked, ate and drank like sponges. Joan took a long sip of red wine while listening to her best friend explaining her last fight with Patrick.
"I can't believe that he asked me to make a meal and only came back home two hours later!"
"And for what reason?"
"He worked a little more for a little more money."
"Is that why you did a scene to him?"
"More or less."
"Carolyn! You should be ashamed of what you did!"
Joan sighed, discouraged by the attitude of her best friend. Patrick was in love with her, but it wasn't like the beginning of their relationship. He always looked the other women, but he didn't touch. At least he kept saying that. Unfortunately, Carolyn had difficulty to believe or trust him. She knew what he had done before they met. And it scared her.
"Trust him a little."
"I know, but…"
They remained silent for a few minutes. Then Carolyn spoke, a small smile on her lips.
"How is Matthew?"
"I don't know. It's been over a week since I have seen him."
"How come? You're not together anymore?"
"He called me yesterday, but I don't think we'll see each other again. He came to take the rest of his stuff while I wasn't there."
"Does he live at Danny's?"
"Yes, I think."
"You should talk to him, Joan. You had wonderful years with him."
Joan shrugged, indifferent. Their relationship didn't end up in good terms. She hadn't come home early from work and he refused to accept it. A colleague had invited her to eat something and she accepted. Matthew began to yell at her, pretexting she could have called him to warn him. She ignored he was waiting for her. Furious, she accused him of being jealous of Charles, her colleague, because he had invited her. In addition, she was supposed to join him to the movie. Matthew was no longer angry, but furious. Joan shook her head to banish this event from her mind. Carolyn asked her something she didn't understand. She frowned while asking her to repeat what she was saying.
"Do you still love him?"
"The jealousy stuff was useless. I haven't the time to tell him my colleague Charles was forty-seven years old, married and kept talking about his wife."
"He was jealous too?"
"Yes! He refused to let me say a word."
"Did you have the chance to explain to him since then?"
"About two weeks ago. I could tell him everything, but we haven't talked for very long."
"You didn't want to see him?"
Joan shrugged and sighed deeply, eyes unfocused.
"I thought you wanted a little action in your life," Carolyn laughed.
"Not that kind of action."
* * * * *
She pumped up the volume of the television before returning to the kitchen to continue cutting vegetables. She listened to the news while preparing her meal. She lifted her head and looked at the screen which stood in the living room. There had been an hostage at the local hospital near where she worked. She sighed, looking down at the knife she was holding. She envied the victims of such events. She wanted so badly to experience something like that. Someone knocked at the door. She wiped her hands on her apron before taking a piece of carrot. She walked over to the door and looked through the peephole. Matthew stood behind the door. She opened the door, surprise.
"Good evening," he said.
"What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to see you. Can I come in? I bought food for us."
She smiled at him before allowing him to enter. Removing his jacket, he told her that he had met Carolyn a little earlier during the day. The young woman seemed disappointed, wondering if he was there because of her friend. He took her by the shoulders and lifted her chin, a big smile on her lips. He stared into her eyes and confessed he missed her a lot. She forced herself to smile.
"Why? Danny doesn't satisfy you anymore?"
"I want you. I would do anything for you to forgive me. I wouldn't have acted as I did. But you should have told me to shut up so you could explain everything to me."
"Charles is sorry for what happened."
"I love you. I want to forget this episode and continue with you. I'm sorry I acted like I did. This is not the first time we're having this kind of conversation and we never slit up."
He pulled her closer to him and kissed her. She didn't resist. She wrapped her arms around his neck. He pressed his body against hers. They burned with passion for one another. They didn't resist very long. They went into the bedroom and made love. She didn't want it to stop. They dozed for a long time before she took her bathrobe and stood up. He lifted his body on his elbows, watching the young woman covering her naked body. She turned to him and smiled.
"What are you watching?"
"The beauty in front of me."
"And it was interesting?"
"Absolutely! It's been weeks I haven't seen this beautiful naked body!"
"Danny must wonder where you are right now."
"He knows very well."
He stood up and approached her, pressing his body against the thin fabric of the bathrobe. She stroked his buttocks and he put his lips on her neck. She asked him why he didn't return in the apartment. It still was big enough for them. He kissed her again before taking her in his arms and laid her on the bed. He took off her robe and caressed her body with his lips. They made love again. Their passion hadn't been that high since a long time. Matthew started to leave around midnight. Joan put her bathrobe back on while observing him from the corner of her eye. He announced he would return a couple of boxes the next day. She gave him back his key. They kissed for the last time before he left. She closed the door behind him with a sigh. She locked it and got into the kitchen to make a vegetable dish she put on the coffee table of the living room. She sat on the couch and tried to work a little. She pulled a sheet filled with slogans and took out a carton. She lay down on the sofa, looking attentively at the paper. She narrowed her eyes, concentrating on the words written before her.
She tried to move forward with her work, but she fell asleep on the sofa.
* * * * *
Her briefcase in hand, she walked into the building to talk with her boss. She worked very hard on the last project her boss gave her and she was very proud of herself. She already had found two illustrated slogans and wanted to get Gunther's opinion. She couldn't wait until Monday morning. Normally Gunther was in the office on Saturday, but the building seemed empty. She frowned. His office was empty. Not a living soul. Something was wrong. She left the building and looked around. The streets were completely deserted. As she was about to cross the street, a car overturned. She fell on the pavement. The vehicle backed up and stopped near her. The driver got out and knelt beside her.
"You all right, ma'am?"
"I think so…"
"Well, in this case, watch where you're going next time!"
He quickly ascended into his car and went on, tires making noise. The young woman didn't understand anything. She stood up and went home. She didn't know what was happening around her. She took the key to unlock the door when a hand slapped against her mouth and pulled her back.
"Open the door quietly," the man behind her muttered.
She shook her head. With trembled hands, she did what he asked. He pushed her inside the apartment. She was scared. He pushed her against the kitchen counter. She closed her fingers on the handle of a knife and tried to hurt her attacker, but he turned and struck her in the face. The woman's head collided violently on the refrigerator. Blood began to flow from her left eyebrow. He dragged her into the living room. She froze when she could see herself sleeping on the sofa. Her eyebrows were furrowed and her hands clenched on a cushion. This is all a dream… She was almost relieved. When she was younger, she was able to control her dreams. She nodded, smiling. She turned toward the intruder and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Where are the jewels, bitch?"
"Find them by yourself."
He threw himself upon her and rushed her with punches. She fell to the ground, protecting her face. The blows rained all over her. He pulled a gun out of his jacket and pointed it under the young woman's chin. A quick glance told her she was still asleep, but she seemed troubled.
"Where are they? Where is your fucking jewellery?"
The door opened, letting Matthew in the apartment. The intruder looked at the young man and turned his weapon toward him instead. Joan screamed, but the shot struck Matthew's chest. He brought a hand to his wound. His shirt was already smeared with blood. He let out a small moan before collapsing on the floor. Joan shouted before running towards him.
"Don't move, bitch!"
She told him to go fuck himself. He shot her. She collapsed on the floor. The bullet was lodged in her lower back. The pain suddenly glared. She moaned and put her hand to her wound. She turned to her attacker and could see her own body on the sofa. She saw with horror a huge stain smeared down her bathrobe. Was she really hurt? Another shot was fired, hitting her in the abdomen. She could see a second pool of blood forming on her bathrobe. The young woman collapsed on the floor. She lost a lot of blood. When he lifted again the barrel of his gun, she knew that she would never wake up.