Check out part 1, 2 and 3 before you move ahead!
The night went off well after that. Surprisingly, John didn’t leave my side even once, and avoided any talk with the beautiful women in the party.
Martin talked about how he found these parties superficial, with loads of unwanted gossips and just showing off in front of the counterparts. John listened to him intently. While Martin spoke my eyes were fixed at him, but whenever I glanced at John, I found him looking at me. I’d smile and look away.
Something was queer in his behavior and his eyes tonight. I was having a nice time. Martin not only had drop-dead gorgeous looks, he had a nice humor. His witty sentences and keen observations were impressive. I was enjoying his company. Here I was tonight, making a friend in these unbearable socialites.
When it was nearing midnight, and we had had our dinner and talked much longer than anticipated, John suggested, we should leave. He always asked, and he always knew my answer would be yes. But tonight the tone of his question seemed like he was unsure about my reply.
Oh yes! It is getting quite late. I have to be back at office tomorrow morning! I said as I slowly got up from the stool near the bar where we had been sitting.
Would you mind staying a little longer, Sandra? Martin asked slowly as his fingers moved along the rim of the glass from which he was drinking. He was moving the fingers, feeling the outlines of the object in front of him.
I think I should be leaving! I said, seeing John’s jaw set firmly as though he were trying to control his words.
Never seen him so cranky. He was always the calm and composed, but tonight I felt as if he had been left imbalanced by something. Wonder what it was!
Slowly Martin got up and walked along us.
Is he coming home too? I heard John ask no one in particular. It was a whisper, as the skin on his forehead formed lines and his eye brow raised in question.
I turned at him and he shrugged, pretending innocence, but I had heard his voice and knew it was a sarcasm fit he got into, once in a while.
It was amazing with you two tonight! I would love to meet you again, said Martin as we neared the car.
I smiled at him, wondering what he was struggling to find in his pocket. His right hand was in the pocket of his coat and his fingers moved in there, very hastily.
Here’s my card. Let’s have a luncheon or dinner together some day! He said holding his visiting card which his right hand had found in the coat’s pocket.
Though John stood in front of him, Martin’s hand with the card was outstretched towards me. John stood in the middle, watching the card laid out in front. I looked at him, hoping he would take it. But he did no such thing. His eyes darting between me and Martin.
Thank you! I said and quickly moved closer, for it looked queer, that we both weren’t touching it as though it were a hot piece of coal.
Let’s see when we can meet up! I said as I took the card.
Executive Director at Taylor & Sons Inc.
His name, his position and then were his phone number. Feeling a ridge at the back of the card, I turned it over. Behind it was the photograph of the rare scene of two rainbows engraved. I had seen rainbow in real just twice and both times I was amazed at it. Below the rainbow, written in small print was: Martin. It was just a small scribbling of the name at the corner of the card. The way painters sign on their canvas after completing their creation.
John was already at the door of the car, he unlocked the doors with his automatic key.
You drew this? I asked completely amazed by the colors of the rainbow, embossed behind the card.
You like it? He asked, without answering my question.
Of course it is beautiful! I replied, my eyes wide, mesmerized by the little painting.
Silence prevailed as I kept my eyes on the card, unaware that John was in the car and Martin stood before me.
Sandra! John’s voice boomed in the place.
Let us go! He said impatiently.
I slowly opened the door of the car and sat in. Still holding the card tightly in my hand, I waved him while he kept looking at the car leave from the place. He stood there till we had moved out of the gate.
The drive was always something we enjoyed after the party. We would laugh at the different things we heard and saw. We would joke about which girl was making the most advances and who was falling on John, head and heels!
But not tonight. John drove in silence, not a word was spoken by him. I was so lost in those rainbows and the colors that I didn’t really realize that we were already half way.
How foolish! I heard John’s voice break the silence.
I looked up at him. He pointed out to the card in my hand, as though I held some piece of trash.
What’s wrong? What’s foolish, John? I asked baffled by his comment.
A visiting card with a painting at the back! That’s foolish, he mumbled, distaste clear in his tone.
Foolish?? I asked surprised. It is beautiful, I exclaimed looking back at it with awe.
He looked at me as though I had grown snakes in place of my hair.
Cmon Sandra! Who gets a miniature painting done at the back of a visiting card? He remarked whimsically. I hadn’t shown it to him but he knew it already.
Keen observant! Lawyers!
I kind of liked it John, I said slowly. Not pleased by John’s reaction and words, I slowly tucked the card in my purse. The rest of the journey back home was contrary to what we always had. It was a silent and cold ride.
John was a serious guy. Why would he like paintings and such stuff! I thought to myself as I slept that night.
The next morning, at work, things between John and me weren’t going as usual. He was being forgetful, asking me again and again for the same things. He kept finding faults in the memos and documents I typed, he canceled his appointments, and sat silently in his office. Anyone could feel the atmosphere in the office was tense. We all concluded that may be a big client had withdrawn some case or John was tweaked up for some important case he was preparing for. But no one was ready to bell the cat, ermmm ask him what was wrong.
By the time it was lunch, it was getting unbearable to see John shouting and annoyed at everyone. Before leaving for lunch, all of them collected at my desk.
Sandra, what’s wrong?
Why is he behaving like this?
What’s gotten into him?
Everyone had the same questions, and so did I.
Please Sandra, talk to him.
You can help it out dear.
It is torture today!
Maybe he will tell you.
Why don’t you try!
They all kept telling and cajoled me into agreeing to find out what was wrong today with John.
I stepped into his room slowly, and started arranging the side table with the lunch I had asked one of my colleagues to get. Two veg burgers with a big pack of French fries, and two cans of Pepsi.
Whose having a party here? John said sternly as he saw me taking the things out of the bag.
You and I! I replied slowly.
What are we celebrating Sandra? He asked as though it was really a party we both were having.
Come and eat John, I said, not paying attention to his question or his temper.
He silently came and sat on the opposite chair. He slowly rolled up his sleeves and sat there drumming his fingers on the table.
I placed the soft drink and burger before him and lifted the burger to my lips. As I bit it, I saw John looking at me intently.
Now what! Eat it! I remarked pointing towards the hot spicy burger that lay before him.
He smiled. The first smile of the day. Good progress, I patted my back in my thoughts.
He picked it up, unwrapped it slowly and started eating. Glad at my achievement, my heart flashed a victory sign to my mind!
Though he was looking as breath taking as everyday, today his anger and mood had changed him into a fire breathing dragon. He was eating now like a hungry dragon, the fire could erupt out of that little mouth of his anytime. Observing him silently, I thought to myself and a giggle disturbed the silence of the room.
His eyes moved to mine, questioning me. I nodded my head and kept eating.
I had to control my imagination.
When we were done eating and were left with the last sips of Pepsi, the office guard knocked on the door. When he entered, he announced, A parcel has been delivered for Miss Sandra.
Shall I keep it at your desk ma’am? He asked not wasting a breath in between.
For me? I asked, confused. I didn’t order anything.
John looked at me and was equally lost.
From whom? John asked the guard.
I don’t know sir. The delivery man said it was for her and left.
Bring it here then! John ordered.
The guard left and we both were left anxious, waiting to know who had sent it, for me.
I saw a big flat piece in his hand. When he gave it to me, I saw that it was quite a big box, the size written on the sticker of FedEx as 16×20, rectangular in shape. Not heavy though. Neither did it move around in the box.
The guard left us. John went towards his table and brought out a small knife, which he often used for cutting open envelopes or packages. There was no name on the cover except mine and the address of the office.
I slowly passed the blade across the edge of the box and opened it. Inside was a frame kept upside down.
Wondering who would send me a frame, I picked it up and turned it around.
A gasp was what came out of my mouth.
The same rainbows were right there in front of my eyes, bigger than the ones I saw last night.
The sign now larger, at the end of the canvas.
The beauty of nature, set in a golden frame of carvings of flowers and leaves.
At the top right hand corner of the frame was a slip of paper attached. I pulled it off slowly and read it to myself.
Shocked out of my senses, I stood there silent.
John walked up to me, he knew the painting too. He knew the sender too.
Yet, to confirm his doubts, he slowly took the slip of paper from my hand and read it. I turned to look at him, I called out his name, but he made a swift move and was out of the door. He left me there standing, alone and bewildered! The small piece of paper, lying on the floor, looking back at me. The message was small in beautiful hand-writing:
Sandra – the most beautiful woman I’ve met!
P.S. Oh dear! Where is this going? I have a problem here now! 😕
John or Martin?
Love at first sight or Hidden and unspoken Love?
Who gets the vote? 😮😮